Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review...Outlive Your Life

I was eagerly awaiting this new book from Max Lucado. I was thrilled to see an author with a following like Lucado tackle the issue of the Church’s responsibility to those in poverty. The book opens with several stories to set the pace and then by Chapter 4, Lucado is presenting the Gospel. I was glad to see he took the time to present the Gospel in this book. All too often, authors focus on the issue but forget WHY the issue is important. Without a foundation in the Gospel, addressing poverty just seems like something else on the “to-do” list. When you view poverty the way God does, addressing it becomes a passion. I loved his description in Chapter 7 of the definition of compassion. Compassion means a “kick in the gut.” Lucado hypothesizes that because the emotions poverty stirs up are so difficult, we have problems figuring out what we can do about it. His premise is that we did to get beyond that paralyzing fear and do something.

Throughout the book, Lucado uses Scripture to prove repeatedly that God cares about the poor, the orphan and the widow and that God expects us as believers to care about them too. In combination with biblical presentation, Lucado highlights practical examples of ordinary people using their lives to care for the poor. He also forces a deep examination of our thoughts and preconceived notions of people who aren’t like us. I was convicted on several occasions of how I have viewed someone on the side of the road or standing in line for food stamps. I was challenged to reframe my thoughts and view all people as how God sees them, someone worthy of His attention and MY attention.

This is definitely not a difficult read. In fact, it could easily be read in a few hours. If you are used to Max Lucado’s deep, thought-provoking works, you might be disappointed. However, if you allow yourself to read this book with an open mind and allow the Holy Spirit to work on your life, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. If everyone who reads it takes it to heart, we could change the world. My only small complaint is that there is not a listing of places or organizations where people could immediately find a place to serve. It would be helpful to give people a game plan to put what they’ve learned into action. All-in-all though, this is a wonderful book! I plan to share my copy widely!

Thomas Nelson Publishers Booksneeze program gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review - Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You've Been Told

I was intrigued by the title of this book and any title like that was begging to be read. I was unfamiliar with the author but willing to give it a try. Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD opens his book with his premise that statistics have been used by the media, Christian pastors and others incorrectly to make Christians look bad. He then sets out to examine a variety of topics using his sociological skills to debunk current theories about Christians and their behaviors.

Wright bravely chooses to tackle some of the more common issues facing Christians and the Church as a whole. He delves into Christian behaviors (drinking, sex, giving, etc.) as well as commonly held beliefs regarding Christians such as how Christians are viewed by non-Christians and trends within the Church. Surprisingly, we as Christians aren't as bad off as people would have you believe. Wright's interpretation of the data shows that Christians actually divorce at rates lower than non-Christians, church attendance is holding at similar levels to past generations and non-Christians don't view us as negatively as the media would have you believe.

While Wright's overall premise is very interesting and he thoroughly explains how he arrives at his conclusions, it's a tough book to read. The subject matter is thought-provoking but if you don't have someone to discuss it with (and I didn't), it's a book full of statistics. This was an enjoyable book but I'm not planning to read it again.

Bethany House Publishers provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of this book.