Saturday, December 7, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: One of 2013's best books ...

You couldn't tell just by looking at the cover that "Risky Gospel" by Owen Strachan (published by Nelson Books) is one of the best books of 2013.

But it is.

When I received my review copy, my first thought was, "Who is this guy?"

I had never heard of Owen Strachan; I'm glad I have now.

The author page in the back of the book presents an impressive set of credentials for Dr. Strachan, and even that could be misleading with regard to this book. When reading that Dr. Strachan is an assistant professor, the Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, has written six books, and writes essays for noted publications, you might jump to the conclusion you're about to read something complex by a formal academician.

You would be right ... and sort of wrong.

Being a professor, Dr. Strachan is an academic, but in "Risky Gospel" he takes a complex issue and breaks it down into simple terms, then communicates as if he's your study buddy in college. I didn't count the number of times he used the term "dude" but I noticed them.

 Then you open the book and get blown away.

The first two chapters completely captivated me as Dr. Strachan launched into his argument that God has given us a risky Gospel to live out in a big, bold way and that God wants us to "abandon fear and build something awesome."

What I think makes this book one of the best in 2013 is that Dr. Strachan gets right his diagnosis of what's wrong with the church, but then does something extraordinary for many writers today --- he demonstrates a real and raw understanding of human beings as a part of that diagnosis, and thus speaks realistically and practically to his readers while remaining unrelenting in his challenge to them.

And make no mistake about it, "Risky Gospel" is a full-throttle challenge to readers in the likes of the best-seller "Radical," only better. The only reason I believe it is better is because of Dr. Strachan's ability to not just persuasively present a biblical argument, but to always keep his argument tethered to an understanding of people. He "gets" the struggles the common Christian faces with his thoughts, desires, and emotions, and is still able to provide reason for pushing through to living out a risky gospel.

"Something has happened to many of us today. We're not sure what transpired to make it so. We just know that we're a little off. We love the Lord, and we want to love him more, but we don't really know how to ramp everything up. We feel a variety of things, but they boil down to a mixture of fear, uncertainty, and boredom. And what does all this mean for our actual, day-to-day lives? It means, I think, that at the base, we fear making the wrong decision, taking the wrong step. We know God is good and real, but we struggle to act on that belief in everyday life, because our problems feel bigger than God's promises," Strachan writes.

He gets it.

From there, Dr. Strachan walks you through God's call for us to live a risky gospel by abandoning our fears and truly building something awesome with our lives.

Yes, that sounds like a platitude you might read on any given day on a host of social media sites, but it isn't. It's what God really wants from us. And if you want to learn how to make that happen, then by all means buy this book and read it cover-to-cover.

"Risky Gospel" isn't a perfect book. I actually thought the chapter regarding the church was weak, or at least somewhat dull. But like a good friend who cares, Dr. Strachan comes alongside believers and challenges their current state while providing recommendations any Christian can take to change their lives, if only they will risk it.

Scotty

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

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