The Radical Question/A Radical Idea by David Platt

radicalcover The Radical Question–A Radical Idea by David Platt is a small book, what I might describe as a gift book, that basically highlights the key messages from his full length books: Radical, and Radical Together. Reading this book(-let) was quick and easy yet full of deep meaning. I found myself highlighting nearly every line. In short, I loved this book and am inspired to go purchase the other full length books to gain a greater insight into David Platt’s message.

The radical question David poses? “What is Jesus worth to you?” Is He worth denying self and sacrificing the comforts of the American dream to reach the world with His message of life? Just what kind of radical devotion do we really have? Or is our  Christian life more about adding a little bit of Jesus into our personal agendas of health, wealth, and happiness?

And David’s radical idea? What would it look like if churches stopped spending millions of dollars on bigger better buildings and started redirecting those funds to meet the needs of countless millions in poverty around the world? Of course, his reasons and explanations go much deeper than that, but overall it is a question too important to ignore.

One pointed example he brings to light: the front of a Christian magazine proclaims in large letters how a church spends 23 million dollars on a new building. Then in smaller letters on the front page, that same church is praised for sending five thousand dollars to a third world country. I mean, wow. Five thousand dollars versus 23 million? Where is the church’s focus?

More than just preaching a message, David Platt and his congregation practice their words with tangible action. For instance, they cut 83% of their worship budget to use those resources overseas–spreading the gospel and meeting the needs of the poor, sick, and helpless. They realized that having the newest best technology, most talented singers/performers, or fancy productions was not nearly as important as meeting the needs of the world. What a radical idea!

I can say that fortunately I am a part of a church much like this: extremely outward focused. But many churches could use a prod in that direction, and these books by David Platt are a great place to start. Bravo, Mr. Platt, for speaking up and challenging the church to think about what the world would look like if we did unite in radical devotion to Jesus.

(I received this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah for review purposes only and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions here were strictly my own.)

Men of Sunday: Book Review

It’s time for a confession. Despite being a woman, I have been an avid fan of the NFL since I was just a little girl. My dad never had boys so in a sense I became the boy he never had. We would sometimes play catch together and would always watch sports on the weekends, from basketball to baseball. But football was always my greatest sports obsession. Though I lived on the west coast I fell in love with my dad’s favorite east coast teams (where he was from) and to this day I loathe the San Francisco 49ers and love the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, when I saw Men of Sunday, I knew it was a book I needed to review. Anytime faith and football is combined, my interest is peaked, and I love learning about Christian athletes who outwardly testify their love for God.  My hopes were not disappointed.

Men of Sunday is written by Curtis Eichelberger, a sports writer for Bloomberg. It recounts a wide variety of personal faith testimonies from Christian NFL athletes like Aaron Rodgers, Ray Lewis and Trent Dilfer. The book deals with an assortment of every-day issues from raising kids to health crisis.

As a backseat football player (you know, calling plays from the couch) I’ve never felt as if I could relate to these guys who are often seen with beautiful women hanging on their arms and millions of dollars in the bank. It’s easy to think their fame and fortune gives them an easy ride in life, but Curtis dispels that myth in Men of Sunday. Whether Christian or not, NFL players deal with real life issues just like we do. They worry about job security, suffer personal losses, encounter temptation, and make poor choices with lasting consequences.

A few things really surprised me in the reading of this book. I expected it to be more of a biography about Christian guys playing football, but it was so much more. I found myself actually learning lessons from what these guys had to say. One of my favorite quotes was from Trent Dilfer (former NFL quarterback and current sports analyst for ESPN) during an interview about the loss of his five-year-old son (which was a candidly honest and emotional read):

“If the motivation for your faith is what’s going on in the seventy-five or ninety years we have here on earth, then you are missing the truth of God’s promises. What God promises is eternity. This is not our home.” (pg. 95)

And of course I loved reading the nuggets of wisdom from Ray Lewis, who I’ve enjoyed watching from the beginning of his career.

“To be a leader you’ve got to be willing to serve others. Learn your job and become excellent at it. Then seek to help others…what comes first? Servitude.” (pg. 203)

Overall I found Men of Sunday to be refreshing and encouraging. It was inspiring to learn what role Christianity plays amongst a large number of NFL athletes, and it also encouraged me to grow in my own spiritual life. Probably the biggest “aha” moment for me was learning about the heartaches and trials that go with fame and fortune and how much harder it really is to live a life devoted to Christ in such an environment. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have my personal drama splattered all over newspapers and magazines, especially considering much of it probably would not be true.

Men of Sunday is a great book for the Christian NFL lover in your family. Even if you don’t watch football, you would be inspired by the stories of faith, perseverance, failure, loss, and redemption. The biblical truths are applicable to all walks of life. So, stop reading this review and go get your copy!

Men of Sunday was published by Thomas Nelson and released in August 2012. I believe in this book so much I am including a link to Amazon to purchase it (and no, I don’t get any money for that!) Click HERE to view on amazon.

(I received Men of Sunday by Curtis Eichelberger from Booksneeze for review purposes only. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions here are strictly my own.)

WHEN YOU SEE NO WAY OUT

I recently read/reviewed a book written by a friend of mine, and today I have the great honor of having her guest blog for me! To celebrate the release of her first novel, Crossing the Deep, Kelly Martin is answering a few questions you may have about the book. Enjoy!!!!
WHEN YOU SEE NO WAY OUT…
What would you do if you were stuck in a situation, a place, and you couldn’t see any way out? Do you think you’d rely on yourself to get out, or would you cling to God?
What we think we will do and what we would do are totally different things. I *think* I would hold on to God—but in reality, I don’t even totally trust him with everything day to day (ouch, that hurts to say). Do I worry? Yes. Do I stress? Yes…. There; two examples of not trusting God fully… and I’m not even stuck anywhere out of the ordinary. I’m in the same place, the same routine, the same environment as I always am.
But what if… what if something happened and I wasn’t. What if I was thrown in a situation I couldn’t control? What then? Would I trust God to get me out or would I do my own thing and hope (not pray… hope) it turned out alright?
In the book CROSSING THE DEEP (Astraea Press), Rachel and Asher face the same dilemma, but they face it in totally different ways. Rachel tries to believe that God will take care of them. After being lost for four days, she starts to have doubts. Asher doesn’t even think there is a God and IF there is, *He’s* probably against him. Asher wants to find his own way back… Rachel thinks they should rely on God.
That is one of their central conflicts in the story. How do you keep your faith when you don’t see your prayers being answered? Can you even get faith when you see your world crumbling down around you?
In some way, we all face the same issues as Rachel and Asher do in this story daily. Sure, we aren’t all lost in the woods with no idea how to get out, but we are in positions where we have to make a choice: trust the world or trust God.
Rachel and Asher make their choices—have you?
BACK COVER BLURB
Sixteen year old Rachel Harker expects the church sponsored hiking trip in the Smoky Mountains to be short and painless. Four days later, injured and scared, Rachel prays to just make it home alive.
Asher Jenkins, fellow hiker and handsome skeptic who is only on the hike so he doesn’t have to go home and face his abusive ‘uncle’, finds Rachel in the woods and tries to get her back to Deep Creek Trail. A small hole hidden under the fall leaves causes her ankle to twist and forces Asher to leave her to get help. As night falls, he comes back, unable to find the right trail.
As hours stretch into days, an unexpected rainstorm bears down the mountain, flooding Deep Creek and cutting off their way home. Rachel puts all of her faith in God to save them. Asher thinks believing in God is a waste of time and does what he can to prove to Rachel that He doesn’t exist.
With their food gone and the temperature dropping, time is running out. Will Rachel be able to do what needs to be done to get home? And can Asher find faith when he needs it the most?
You can purchase Crossing the Deep for only $2.99 from:
~Kelly Martin is a writer, blogger, mommy, teacher, wife, sleep deprived lady (not necessarily in that order). She writes young adult/Christian fiction. Her second book, SAINT SLOAN, is coming late winter 2013. For more information on her, please visit her blog at http://www.kellymartinstories.com/

Crossing the Deep by Kelly Martin

Crossing the Deep by Kelly Martin is the dramatic story of a teen girl, Rachel, who traveled with her church’s youth group to the Smokey Mountains for a hiking adventure only to find herself lost and injured within the mountainous terrain. Not only is she hurt, unable to find her way out, she is stuck with a relative stranger, Asher, who reluctantly went along with the youth trip only to escape his abusive home environment.

While Rachel reads her Bible for comfort, praying continuously and trusting that God will bring them to safety, she is met by constant criticism from Asher, who believes “God” is nowhere to be found and couldn’t care less about their plight. Will Rachel ever be able to reach Asher with the truth? Will they ever find their way out of the mountain? Will they even survive as the weather turns sour?

Crossing the Deep is a Christian young adult fiction novel. Typically I do not read fiction books, but I decided to pick this one up because the author is a fellow writer and friend of mine. I have to admit, despite my trepidation, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I found that I could not put it down–I started it late one night and finished it the next morning. I haven’t read a fiction novel that kept my interest so fully since “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.

If you enjoy fiction (and even if fiction isn’t really you’re thing) you’ll be entertained by this young adult novel. I would certainly recommend it for any lover of a good action/adventure story.

Crossing the Deep was published by Astraea Press on October 8, 2012, and is available for the ridiculously low price of $2.99. It’s too good of a deal to pass up and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to show some love and support to a great writer (and friend) who worked tirelessly to bring the world a wonderfully inspirational—and exciting–tale.

(I purchased this book on my own accord and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not coerced in any way.)

Kelly Martin is a southern girl who lives with her husband and three rowdy, angelic daughters. By day, she is a teacher. By night, she is a crazy-haired, multi-tasker who writes with a two year old standing on her shoulder while watching PBS Kids. You can find her at any of her two blogs: Kelly Martin’s Stories (author blog) and Encourage 365 (daily devotional blog).
Kelly loves God, is addicted to chocolate, and would rather write than sleep.

Crossing the Deep Purchase options:

Amazon

Barnes and Nobles

Astraea Press

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack is the true story of three Mexican fishermen lost at sea for more than nine months. The fishermen were believed to be dead, but in a shocking turn of events, a Chinese fishing crew happened upon them near the coast of Australia, where they had drifted more than 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Woven within this amazing story of survival is another “survivor” tale. The story of Joe Kissack, successful TV media mogul, tells of a man so wrapped up in his own success and wealth he finds himself lost in his own personal sea of misery. Enveloped in addiction and depression, Joe finally hit rock bottom. It was there that he found salvation and recovery in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Fisherman is a compelling tale of an incredible, almost unbelievable, story of survival and hope. Not just for the fisherman, but for Joe—the “fourth” fisherman. Eventually Joe and the fishermen meet face to face where their stories finally converge. Joe fights for several years to make sure the fishermen’s story of faith is appropriately represented in the media. He finds, however, that the majority of Hollywood is only interested in the gruesome, and often completely inaccurate, details of the fishermen’s story. A story—the true story—of faith which led these men to persevere is nowhere on the media’s radar.

This in an amazing book, and truthfully once I started it I could not put it down. Not only is the tale of survival amazing, but also how God worked out the intricate details to allow the lives of Joe and the fishermen to cross, enabling the story of their faith and perseverance to be told. This book reads a lot like a novel and there is not one dull moment to be found in its pages. Joe is honest about his struggles too, which I especially appreciated. I can’t think of a single person who would not be blessed and encouraged through the reading of this story.

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack was published by Waterbrook Press in March 2012 and is currently available for purchase.

(I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)

When Life’s a Herd of Chaos by Rachel Quinley

When Life’s a Herd of Chaos by Rachel Quinley has to be one of the most unique devotionals I have ever read. I absolutely love it. I think I’ve read so many devotionals over the years I’ve become jaded. After all, how many times have lovely sentiments been written with a verse tacked on and a prayer thrown in? Don’t get me wrong, I love devotionals, obviously, because I write them as well. But sometimes they all run together in an ooze of inspiration that never really does what it’s intended to do: awaken spiritual growth.

Such is not the case in When Life’s a Herd of Chaos. This devotional is not only different than anything you’ll probably read (as far as devotionals go); it is also riddled with humor. Rachel has so much charisma as she retells her personal experiences and challenges the reader to examine their hearts. I really cannot praise this book enough. As typical for a devotional, each inspiration has a verse and prayer included, but even the format behind that is much different than one might expect. The illustrations are marvelous and unexpected. I found myself laughing and being convicted in the time span it took to read the short writings—about two minutes or so. The following are some examples of chapter titles to whet your appetite:

Who Gives a Care?

Feel Like a Reject?

In a Jam and Can’t Get Out

A Quarter-Back Christian

Don’t Explode—Go Slow! When you’re ready to wrap a golf club around a tree because you missed a shot, step back, lay the club down, and if necessary, pick up your bag and go home. That’s better than ruining your golf club—and Christian reputation.” (pp.21-22)

The above quote is one of many humorous illustrations making important—convicting—points of truth. I love this devotional, I refer to it over and over again, and I strongly urge you to pick up a copy for yourself. Rachel Quinley sent a copy to me personally, and she assures me she will do the same for anyone else interested. You can contact her at rachelquinley@att.net for pricing and shipping information. You can also read more from “When Life’s a Herd” as well as other inspiring devotionals on her blog: Rachel’s Knee Mail.

(I received this book from Rachel Quinley in exchange for my honest review. I was not paid to give a good review, and every opinion here is strictly my own.)

Rachel Quinley is an experienced writer and speaker, having traveled throughout the United Staes, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands, sharing devotions at Christian seminars and conferences. She is also a published writer for magazines and leadership manuals. Rachel and her husband, Ernest, live in Mobile, Al.

Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo

Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo could be aptly described as the Red Letter Revolution Movement’s manifesto of sorts. The text is written out as a dialogue between Tony and Shane, explaining their views/beliefs regarding a wide assortment of topics from racism, abortion, church history, liturgy, and much more. All of these tied in to what they call the “Red Letter Movement”–a group of self-described radicals who believe the keys to living are found solely within the red letters of Christ found in the Gospels.

I was initially interested in the book based solely on the title. What Christian doesn’t want to live out the “red letters” of Jesus? An unbelieving world would likely view a sold-out Christian as being radical, so that term alone didn’t resonate negatively with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get far into the text before disappointment set in. While I didn’t mind the dialogue-type format, I did mind the modern slant and somewhat “new-age” overtones sprinkled throughout the text. I was also quite disappointed in the lack of Scriptural evidence used to back up any of the author’s opinions. Perhaps I was to simply trust their words as truth.

Not wanting to make a rash judgment, though, I stuck with the book as long as possible, but in the end I could not finish it. Certainly my opinion is not a reflection of the authors’ character, as I believe their faith to be wholly genuine and heartfelt. I have no doubt they mean what they say, and live what they believe in an active way.

Most Christians would agree that no one is a judge of the heart except God. It is very possible that there are genuine believers amongst all faiths. What I don’t ascribe to, however, is the need to adopt the practices of various faiths which differ from my own. In the chapter “Dialogue on Liturgy”, Shane talks extensively about reciting certain prayers along with the benefits of using prayer beads. His suggestions, though well-intentioned, set off alarm bells for me. His argument is mostly based on the “works” of many catholic saints and nuns—their works being an outward display of a genuine love for Christ. I have nothing against Catholics, Mormons, Methodists, or anyone else. But I cannot agree with being good (as in doing good deeds) as a sole evidence of genuine faith. A lot of people do great things in the world, but they do not really know Christ. I believe that type of thinking is dangerously erroneous. Tony goes on to say,

“Spiritual disciplines, which include liturgical practices, are requirements for those who are committed to living out the red letters of the Bible. Such disciplines keep us focused on Christ and facilitate our surrendering to an infilling of Christ’s spirit.” (pg.40)

The last thing I need is more practices and procedures to prove to the world I am who I say I am (Christian). Should I cross myself before I pray as well? Will that give me more of the Holy Spirit? I’m sorry, but I do not need beads, books, or regulatory prayers to ensure I am communicating appropriately with Jesus. This is not a judgment against those who do use these things—it’s just not for me. Furthermore, I have no knowledge of such disciplines being a requirement for the filling of the Holy Spirit, and don’t appreciate the implication that I cannot be a “red letter” Christian or filled with the Spirit unless I adopt such practices.

Overall the tone of this book comes across (to me) as very worldly, new aged, and mystical. I would not recommend this book to anyone, unfortunately. My suggestion for someone wanting to live out the life and words of Jesus is to study the Bible—all of it. Not just the red letters, but the black letters of the Old and New Testaments. Surrendering to Christ is the real beginning to reflecting His character. If one wants to study beyond the Bible, I would encourage that person to seek doctrinally sound material and to weigh any books/study guides against the authority and accuracy of Scripture.

Red Letter Revolution is published by Thomas Nelson and available for purchase on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.

**I received Red Letter Revolution from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive opinion–and all of the sentiments written here are strictly my own.**