A Review of David Platt’s book “Radical”

To be honest I really have mixed reviews about David Platt’s book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Maybe with all the hype, I was expecting more.  If you want my honest and straight forward opinion I think its weak, premature and largely borrows from the work of others without giving them fair credit: While at the same time, I sense that Dr. Platt is pointing us in the right direction.

First, I think Dr. Platt’s arguments are weak.  He is like a doctor who can find the pulse, but has no cure.  Yes, America is consumed with consumerism.  Yes, we are materialistic.  Yes, we are wealthy compared to three-quarters of the world. Yes,  a large portion of the world in need of the gospel and basic humanitarian aid.  Yes, we should change that.  If this book were just about that, it would be prophetic:  Find the issue, declare what God has said about it.  The weakness arises when Platt tries to usher a new way forward based on his limited experiences as the pastor of a mega-church.

That is why it may be a bit premature.  We are in no shortage of books touting short-term and even untried solutions.  Everyone sharing the gospel should have success stories to share.  The fact is that the Holy Spirit moves both in us and sometimes in spite of us as pastors, teachers, and leaders.  The real question is, will the “Radical Experiment” produce long-term results or will we have forgotten about it by next year?

I’m troubled that much of what Platt says appears to be patterned off of messages, books, and articles I’ve read by Dr. John Piper.  I guess I wouldn’t be as troubled if I saw that Platt recognized that he has been heavily influenced by Dr. Piper.  To me this just appears to be complete ignorance of the loudest voice and call to the “radical” lifestyle or intellectual dishonesty on Platt’s part.

That being said, I sense that Platt is on to something.  He is pointing in the right direction.  I heard enough of his voice in his writing to sense that he caries a genuine passion to revolutionize the world with the gospel.  I hope he does.  I pray that God uses him and his book to stir many more into awareness and action.   I really liked his 5 fold challenge to take up the ‘radical experiment’ at the end of the book.  I hope he writes another book or even revises “radical” in 10 years with more of what God has taught him.  He has a voice at the table of American evangelicalism, I pray he uses it well.

If you are looking for an emotional stirring to challenge you to take up the mantle of global missions to the poor,  this book is for you and I would recommend you to read it.  The retail price of Radical is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $5.50. I gave it three stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Seeing Sychar: Seeing Spiritual Realities in a Physical Wolrd (Part 1)

WATCH THE VIDEO FIRST

When I first saw that video I immediately was convicted.  Too often I’m the guy in the first part of the video.  I get frustrated at things like traffic and long lines at the coffee shop.  I don’t ever pause to wonder or think that someone’s mourning the loss of their best friend when they pull in the parking spot ahead of me… I just think that they’re a jerk.  And when I get in the parking space ahead of someone else, I just think that their a loser.  (Just kidding!)

I do wonder what life would be like though if we really saw everything that was going on?  What would it be like if there were an eye-wear service that would let you know more than what meets the eye?  More than just someone’s emotional state, but who they really were?

Often when Jesus spoke with people he was pushing them to see past just what met the eye and see a deeper underlying spiritual issue.  In John chapter two he drives the money changers out of the temple and people ask him by what authority he does this… and he answers, “Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up.”  They thought he was talking about a building.  They thought worship centered on a place.  Jesus was talking about his body, worship centers on the person and work of Jesus.  They thought worship was making animal sacrifices, Jesus was saying, “I am the sacrifice.” They thought death defined their world.  Later they thought they could kill him and it would be the end.  They didn’t know that Jesus was on mission to beat death, deliver us from hell, and that his death was just the beginning.

Later in John chapter 3 Jesus speaks with a man named Nicodemus. Jesus tell Nic that if he wants to see the kingdom of God that he must be born again.  Nic doesn’t get it.  Nic thinks that it’s impossible for old life to have new life.  Jesus wasn’t talking about the physical, he was talking about the spiritual.  Nic didn’t understand that you don’t enter heaven because of who your parents are, you enter heaven because of who God is.  You don’t enter as a master teacher trying to offer God your services, you enter as a helpless babe completely dependent on God for everything.

Tomorrow as we come John chapter 4 and the story of the woman at the well.  As we read this story, as we examine this truth, I want to ask you to put on your glasses.  Ask God to give us a glimpse of how to see the world as He sees it.  Ask him to help us look past the every day and into the eternal.  Ask him to apply this truth to our lives.  Ask him to help us see people as he sees people

Amazing Book that Clarifies the real issues at Stake in Palestine

Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices is the autobiography of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the primary founders of Hamas.  The book is face paced, action packed, and full of real life drama.  I am not greatly familiar with the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, but became familiar through this book. I am deeply greatful to Mosab Hassan Yousef for his courage in writing such a book.  His heart bleeds for peace and unity in a place where their is violence and chaos.  He truly has a unique perspective to be able to see multiple sides of the conflict.

I don’t want to give the contents of the book away, so I’ll keep this review short. Son of Hamas reads like a spy novel only the accounts are real, first hand accounts of a young man who has already lived a unique and adventure filled life.  Through the book Mosab shares his journey as a good Palestinian Muslim, to understanding the Israeli side of the issue, to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.  In the post script of his book, Mosab reminds readers that while he may be an expert in understanding the Middle-Eastern conflict, he is still young in his faith (a very mature statement).

 

Mossab hassan Yousef has a blog, you can check it out at http://www.sonofhamas.com

If you are looking to understand the Palestinian side of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict,  This book is for you.  The retail price of Son of Hamas is $26.99 (Hardcover), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $17.04. I gave it five stars (its one of the best biographies I’ve read in a while).

You may also be interested in checking out these books.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

On This Day in Christian History (A Review)

I like history.  I really like Christian History.  Just take one glance around my office and you will notice that most of the books on my shelves were written by dead guys (actually they wrote the books and then they died).  You might also notice a long shelve filled with biographies and still another shelf filled with volumes of Church history.  You will also notice a magazine stack of Christian History Magazines.  I’m a history guy.  I’m a Christian history guy.

So when On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes came up for review, I jumped at the chance to review it.  And it didn’t disappoint.  There are so many things that I like about this book and  it is hard to summarize in just a few words, so let me say this… it’s the perfect gift for a guy like me.  I can also see it being a great read for someone who is interested in getting a glimps at the people and events of Christian history.

The stories are generally inspiring.  There is a scripture verse at the bottom of the page that brings relevance and meaning to the previously read story.  There is a fascinating topic index in the back of the book allowing readers to look up stories according to topic. Over all it does a great job at achieving its purpose (a bite sized reading of what happened in Christian history on a particular day) in a way that encourages readers to stay engaged in the book.  I dare you to just read one day’s history when you get the book.

I  highly recommend On This Day in Christian History to anyone interested in Christian history.  To beginners its an easy read, small commitment book that will give you a broad spectrum view of Christian History.  To well educated history nerds like myself it will allow you to pull out of a narrowed genre of Church history (I find myself often in the Reformation and the Puritan Eras)  to appreciate a broader scope of history in a way that doesn’t take a lot of time.  Plus, everyone wants to know what happened in Christian history on your birthday.   The retail price is $12.99 (paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $9.35. I really like this book and at under $10 it makes a great dirty Santa gift when you are getting together with history nerds… unfortunately, we are a rare breed.  I gave it five stars.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Is the Kingdom now, not yet, or both? A review of “Chasing Francis” by Ian Morgan Cron

    Chasing Francis By Ian Morgan Cron is an interesting and engaging book.  The book is written in novel format, but seeks to serve as an introduction to the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was called by God to “rebuild the church” and set about living a lifestyle and organizing a monastic order that set about to live out the Sermon on the Mount. According to the author and those who endorse the book, St. Francis has a lot to offer the Western church today.  I was impressed with how well the modern-day fictional story of a pastor in the midst of spiritual crisis “chasing” the footsteps of Francis on a pilgrimage really did lend itself to being a catchy introduction to the life of St Francis.

    My fear with the book is philosophical in that while the church is being called to action, little is being said about the truth of who God is. A subtle “kingdom now” utopia of good works theme plays throughout the background of the book.  At one instance there is a suggestion for a church to send part of its missions budget to agencies that are formed around protecting the environment.  The question of the hour then becomes… “What makes Mission, Christian?” In other words, while we are preaching the gospel with our actions and using words (only) if necessary, what distinctively shows our actions to be gospel oriented?  Doesn’t Oprah give generously to just causes and Bill Gates?  Are they ushering in the kingdom or are they just giving money to a good cause?  What does saving the planet really demonstrate about the gospel?  I need words to tell me.

    I know by fan’s of this movement it will seem like I just don’t get it, but the truth is I do.  I get it. I get it all too well.  We will teach social justice and miss the gospel all together.  I know that’s not being said, but I see it being done. Nothing wrong with what has come to be known as social justice (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc…) except when it dominates the platform it eclipses the real issue.  We must not forget why people are hungry, naked, and in need of a savior in the first place.  Social justice is a much needed band-aide to a hurting world, but Jesus is the only solution to the sin issue, please… lets not forget that.

    The book is very well written including a study guide for group study found in the back of the book. I have a hard time recommending it because of the philosophical underpinnings that I have come to find lacking a fair treatment of the gospel.  The retail price is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available at a discount at  Amazon.com for $10.14. I gave it three stars

    Nearly 2 years ago I came across this theme in another book you can read my questions and responses here.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Remarkable True Stories of God’s Miraculous Work in the Muslim World

    Which None Can Shut: Remarkable True Stories of Gods Miraculous Work in the Muslim World is an incredible book of stories from the life of “Reema Goode” (her name changed for security).  “Reema” is a Christian wife and mother living in a Muslim (Arab) community seeking to share the gospel with the women in her region.  She shares heartfelt and compelling stories of how God has opened the door for the gospel to reach a people group.

    “Reema” writes with transparency and simplicity that is both forthright and engaging.  I was deeply blessed and encouraged to hear over and over again of God’s faithfulness to use her and her family to reach their Muslim neighbors.  Many times while reading this book I was moved to prayer and tears for my neighbors in the Muslim world.

    The book is written in a story format, easy to read, engaging, and a great encouragement to those who have been praying for the Arab world.  It provides great insight into how Western missionary women engage women with the gospel in a deeply Muslim culture.  I appreciate the honest portrait that “Reema” paints of Muslim culture.

    Some folks will assume that “Reema” writes from a charismatic background because she shares a few stories of casting out demons and dreams.  I’m not Charismatic (I’m Southern Baptist), and I’ll go on record as saying that many of the things that “Reema” and her family came across are things that I have come across in Mobile and Pensacola.  The truth is that while there aren’t demons around every corner, they are real and a majority of cultures around the world (not to mention both the Old and New Testament) recognize that. God does choose to reveal himself in dreams to some people (I can testify that of at least 2 other American friends besides myself that were driven to the scriptures because of a dream and ended up trusting in Christ). “Reema” may be charismatic, but what she shares in this book appears to be standard fare for anyone heavily involved in ministry or missions.

    If you are looking at going to the mission field, praying for Muslim people groups, or are just looking for some encouragement on how God still moves among people today…  This book is for you. The retail price of Which None Can Shut is $13.99 (paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $11.89. I gave it five stars.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    My Story (Part 4): Waking up From a Dream

    Intercessors Arise by Debbie Przybylski (Review)

    Intercessors Arise: Personal Prayer That Changes the World By Debbie Przybylski was an engaging and challenging book.  That said, I still have mixed thoughts about the book.  On the one hand I was challenged and motivated towards prayer like I never have been before.  I really appreciated most of what the author had to say in leading the reader towards a deeper prayer life.  On the other hand, the author and I part ways on a few theological elements of prayer.  The sentence that probably best summarizes our differing theologies would be… “It’s time to release God on earth through our prayers” (pg 15).  My understanding is that God is already actively at work and we should join what He is doing by engaging in prayer.  Perhaps it is just a subtle difference (as the author really puts God forward as the initiator through most of the book), but it is one that made me uncomfortable giving a full and complete endorsement of the book.

    Beyond the subtle difference, the book is full of great wisdom and insights on becoming a prayer warrior.  Indeed as I shared in the first paragraph, God used this book to stir in me a passion for Him through prayer that I have not felt in a long time.  I often found myself on my knees crying out for God to move.

    The book is very practical and application oriented. I would highly recommend it to discerning readers, maybe not so much for new or immature believers.  The retail price is $12.99 (Paperback), and is available at a discount at  Amazon.com for $11.04. I gave it four stars

    If you are looking for other great resources on prayer I have found that Grudem’s Systematic Theology has several good chapters on prayer, also John Piper’s Desiring God has a great chapter on Prayer.  If you are looking for a great beginners resource on prayer check out R. C. Sproul’s The Prayer of the Lord.  I wrote a review for it a few weeks back you can find it here.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”