Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Crazy Love

book cover

Crazy Love
by Francis Chan
and Danae Yankoski

Trade Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: David C Cook
First Released: 2008

Book website

Source: Borrowed from a friend.

Back Cover Description:
Have you ever wondered if we're missing it?

It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.

Whether you've verbalized it yet or not...we all know something's wrong.

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts--it's falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same.

Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

Lately, I've heard or read several good quotes from Crazy Love, so I asked a friend if I could borrow it. She said she'd heard a lot of people say it transformed their lives, but she questioned something the author said and was looking forward to hearing my opinion of the book. So I did a quick check on Amazon. After reading a certain one star review, I almost decided not to "waste my time" reading it since it sounded like it had some bad theology. But my friend wanted my opinion, so I read Crazy Love...and I'm so glad I did.

Crazy Love is a Christ-focused, Scripture-based Christian Living book. Each chapter built on the last. It was easy to read and understand and was written in a causal tone. The author sometimes referred to online videos that the reader should go watch before continuing. I didn't do that, but it might enhance his points in the first few chapters if you do.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book. Don't get tripped up by the author's wording in chapter five and stop listening. Ask God what things in this book He wants you to hear and let work on your heart. And then read a book like More Than a Carpenter by Josh & Sean McDowell or In God We Trust by Steve Ham so that you can rest assured, deep down, that you can trust what the Bible says about God's promises to us and what Jesus wants from us.

Chapter One: The character and nature of God--God is Creator, holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, fair, and just--and what this means.

Chapter Two: We're not in control, but God is. This is why we don't need to worry or stress out.

Chapter Three: How God's love is different from human love.

Chapter Four: Our response to God's it's usually not to value God above all else or to act in a way consistent with a full understanding of what He's done for us. The author gave a profile of the lukewarm Christian (and he pointed out that we all do some of these things some of the time...he means here long-term, unchanging attitudes.)

Chapter Five: Based on his readings of the Gospels, the author believes that you must surrender your life to Christ and desire to be obedient to Him to truly be saved (which I agree with) if you fit the profile of a lukewarm Christian, you were never really saved (which I don't completely agree with since full surrender of every part of one's life often happens over time and a bit at a time). I think his phrasing--especially the use of "lukewarm"--may be tripping some people up. But I agree with the overall idea of the chapter--that Jesus asks us to surrender control of our lives to Him and actively become his disciples.

Also, the author pointed out that if we're not actively pursuing God then the "current" of the world will naturally pull us further away from Him. So we need to be active & deliberate in our pursuit.

Chapter Six: Let God place a longing and a love for Him in our heart. Jesus didn't die just to save us from the punishment for sin but to transform our lives and draw us into a closer relationship with Him.

Chapter Seven: Finding life's greatest fulfillment in surrender to God...or...Living like you believe God (what He says in the Bible).

Chapter Eight: It's about loving differently than the world, not just "being nice." Which is "crazier," investing most of our time, energy, and money in things that are temporary or investing it toward that which will last for eternity?

Chapter Nine: Stories about people who live with what the world sees as "crazy love."

Chapter Ten: How is God asking you to apply this to your life? (And he points out that not everyone is supposed to become an overseas missionary or pastor or sell their house. God wants to use us all in unique ways.)

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 103-104
Are we just fooling ourselves that we really can be in love with God and that it is more satisfying than anything else? I don't believe so.

God wants to change us; He died so that we could change.

The answer lies in letting Him change you. Remember His counsel to the lukewarm church in Laodicea? "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Rev. 3:20). His counsel wasn't to "try harder," but rather to let Him in. As James wrote, "Come near to God and he will come near to you" (4:8).

Jesus Christ didn't die only to save us from hell; He also died to save us from our bondage to sin. In John 10:10, Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." He wasn't talking about the future. He meant now, in this lifetime.

The fact is, I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans. Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.

It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love...

Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies. Besides being self-defeating and sideache-inducing, it would also be near impossible--you would have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies.

In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have opportunity to wonder, Am I doing this right? or Did I serve enough this week? When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love, and give thanks without guilt, worry, or fear. As long as you are running, you are safe.

But running is exhausting--if, that is, we are running from sin or guilt, out of fear. (Or if we haven't run in a while.) However, if we train ourselves to run toward our Refuge, toward Love, we are free--just as we are called to be.

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.

Read an excerpt from chapter one.

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