Category archives: Book Reviews

Crazy Love

I just finished reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I would highly recommend it. Here is a brief overview of the book. Hopefully it will wet your appetite enough to read it.

The first three chapters lay the foundation for the rest of the book. Their main thoughts are as follows…

Stop and think for a moment how great God is. The universe declares His glory. If you could strap a saddle on a sunbeam and fly at the speed of light (186,000 miles/second) to Andromeda, the closest galaxy to ours, it would take 2.3 million years. God created more than 350,000,000,000 galaxies. How unfathomably great is God? Now think of the other side of creation. There are 228 separate and distinct muscles in the head of a caterpillar. The average elm tree has approximately 6 million leaves on it. Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is? He didn’t have to make hundreds of varieties of bananas, but He did. God didn’t have to put 3,000 different species of trees within one square mile of Amazon jungle, but He did. Whatever reason God had for creating such diversity and sophistication in the universe, on earth, and in our own bodies, the point of it all is His glory. God’s handiwork speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like. This is why we are called to worship Him. His creation echoes the truth that He is glorious. After discussing God’s creation the author then reminds the reader of the attributes of God: He is holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, and just. Do you stand in silenced awe before a mighty God whose tremendous worth becomes even more apparent as we see our own puny selves in comparison?

Stop and think how brief and frail our life is. We don’t realize how much we take for granted in the delicate system of our body until something goes wrong. We are too quick to forget God. We forget that it was He that created the world and everything in it for His pleasure and the great drama that exists on this planet all revolves around Him. He is the central figure of time and eternity. How is it possible that we live life as though it is all about us?

Now consider that God Almighty sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem fallen man, that we might worship Him and enjoy Him forever. God longs for us to respond to His extravagant unending love, not with a cursory “quiet time” plagued by guilt, but with true love expressed through our lives.

How should the knowledge of “a faultless, eternal God who loves the frail beings He made with a crazy kind of love” affect our life? Often we treat salvation like a golden ticket to heaven. We shove it in our pocket and whistle our way down the street only to give God a token nod on Sunday or 5 minutes at the close of the day; unless of course we need something. The remaining seven chapters of the book challenge the reader as to whether their relationship with God has actually changed the way they live? Here are a few quotes among many that challenged me…

Chapter 4 Profile of the Lukewarm: “Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them.”

Chapter 5 Serving Leftovers to a Holy God: “God is holy. In heaven exists a Being who decides whether or not I take another breath. This holy God deserves excellence, the very best I have. ‘But something is better than nothing!’ some protest. Really, is it? Does anyone enjoy token praise? I sure don’t. I’d rather you not say anything than compliment me out of obligation or guilt. Why would we think God is any different?”

Chapter 6 When You’re in Love: “As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural. As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him. It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment.”

Chapter 7 Your Best Life… Later: “God didn’t just give a little for us; He gave His best. He gave Himself. John is saying (1 John 3:16-20) that it is no different for us: True love requires sacrifice.”

Chapter 8 Profile of the Obsessed: “People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.”

Chapter 10 The Crux of the Matter: “Most of us use ‘I’m waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life’ as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday? Or to go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it. The point isn’t that vacations or exercise are wrong, but that we are quick to rationalize our entertainment and priorities yet are slow to commit to serving God… You simply need to live out in your daily life the love and obedience that God has asked of you.”

Francis Chan writes in conclusion, “Now close this book. Get on your knees before our holy, loving God. And then live the life with your friends, your family, parents, spouse, children, neighbors, enemies, and strangers that He has created and empowered you through the Holy Spirit to live.”

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7,8

Spiritual Awakening

It took me a while but I finally finished The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. David Brainerd worked as a missionary among the American Indians in New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century. Brainerd was sickly during his life and died torturously of tuberculosis at age twenty-nine. Men such as John Wesley were inspired by his sincere and strenuous labor on the behalf of others as well as his devotion to prayer.

The book is divided between his diary and journal. The diary is intensely personal and was not mean for publication. In it he recorded bluntly his daily conversations with God. Often he recounts his spiritual need and insecurities, as well as his reliance and then gratitude for God’s provision and grace. A sampling of his diary is found below…

Saturday, October 18. In my morning devotions, my soul was exceedingly melted, and bitterly mourned over my exceeding sinfulness and vileness.

Friday, April 30. I was somewhat dejected in spirit: nothing grieves me so much, as that I cannot live constantly to God’s glory.

Thursday, April 8. Had raised hopes today respecting the heathen. O that God would bring in great numbers of them to Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, April 21. Felt much calmness and resignation, and God again enabled me to wrestle for numbers of souls, and had much fervency in the sweet duty of intercession.

Brainerd was prone to melancholy and dejection of spirit and to be honest this made his personal diary very tedious to read. I nearly gave up on several occasions but I finally made it to his journal hoping to see what inspired men such as Wesley. His journal was written as a document of accountability for his mission board. The journal is less emotional than his diary and details more his interactions with the Indians…

August 3. I visited the Indians in these parts in June last, and tarried with them some considerable time, preaching almost daily: at which season God was pleased to pour upon them a spirit of awakening and concern for their souls, and surprisingly to engage in their attention to divine truths.

August 7. Preached to the Indians from Isa. 53:3-10. There was a remarkable influence attending the word, and great concern in the assembly… most were much affected, and many in great distress for their souls; and some few could neither go nor stand, but lay flat on the ground, as if pierced at heart, crying incessantly for mercy.

August 15. Preached from Luke 4:16-21, “And he came to Nazareth,” etc. The word was attended with power upon the hearts of the hearers. There was much concern, many tears, and affecting cries among them, and some in a special manner were deeply wounded and distressed for their souls.

September 3. Preached to the Indians from Isa. 53:3-6, “He is despised and rejected of men,” etc. The divine presence seemed to be in the midst of the assembly, and a considerable concern spread amongst them.

October 28. The word of God at this time seemed to fall upon the assembly with a divine power and influence, especially toward the close of my discourse: there was both a sweet melting and bitter mourning in the audience.

I found his journal to be fascinating as I saw the connection between his emotional and choppy private prayer life (the diary) manifested in a powerful and Spirit-filled public ministry (the journal). It so happened I was reading Brainerd’s book as I meditated on the ominous forecast that many of the brethren foretold of ministering in Italy. Things such as Italy being a missionary graveyard, the stony-hearts of the Italian people in receiving the word of God, the Italian people being obstinately set against any faith outside the Roman Catholic Church, not to expect many to be saved, etc.

David Brainerd ministered to a people with pagan notions, idolatrous practices, and obstinately set against Christianity yet he recorded how “God was pleased to pour upon them a spirit of awakening and concern for their souls” and how “the word of God seemed to fall upon the assembly with a divine power and influence.” I serve that same God and I must equally depend upon Him in private prayer for the work He has called us to do in Italy. We must have the power of the Holy Spirit to effectively communicate the gospel and accomplish anything of eternal value in the lives of Italians. Please pray for the Planck family as we seek to reach Italian souls for Christ. Please pray for Italians to be awakened to their spiritual need. We will praise God together for the increase.

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – John 16:8

Whatever Happened to Worship?

The other week while we were flying to a mission conference in Las Vegas I read A.W. Tozer’s book Whatever Happened to Worship? The book is actually a compilation of messages he preached at Avenue Road Church in Toronto from a series entitled “Worship: The Chief End of Man.”

His books are always convicting as they call the reader to a deeper Christian life. This book is no exception as Tozer expounds on the “missing jewel” of modern Christianity. There is one particular passage that I have reflected upon over the past few weeks but before I mention it I have included below some other quotes from the book to give you a taste of its contents…

Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died on the cross and rose from the grave to make worshipers out of rebels!

It was never in God’s revealed plan that the Christian churches would degenerate to the point that they would begin functioning as social clubs.

How utterly tragic to be a barren fig tree, having the outward show of leaves and growth but never producing any fruit! How terrible to know that God intended us to mirror His beautiful light and to have to confess that we are shattered and useless, reflecting nothing!

Some people claim to be normal Christians when actually they are nominal Christians.

Although I could continue listing quotes that moved me in one way or another, the particular passage that I have meditated upon since reading the book deals with our thought life as it relates to worship…

“I want to dwell in your thoughts,” God has been saying. “Make your thoughts a sanctuary in which I can dwell.”

I have found that God will not dwell in spiteful and polluted thoughts. He will not dwell in lustful and covetous thoughts. He will not dwell in proud and selfish thoughts.

God tells us to make a sanctuary of our thoughts in which He can dwell. He treasures our pure and loving thoughts, our meek and charitable and kindly thoughts. These are the thoughts like His own.

How it must grieve the Holy Spirit of God to “share space” with thoughts of pride, selfishness, hatred, envy, lust, etc. that we entertain in wicked hearts. We push the Holy Spirit into a corner and then expect Him to manifest Himself at our command that we might “experience” worship at a time convenient to us. I have come to the realization that if I am to worship God in a way that is pleasing to Him then I must cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I want the Almighty to be welcomed in my heart. I want to be filled with Him. May this temple (1 Cor. 6:19,20) be used for that which it was created… worship.

“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” – Psalm 29:2

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