Friday, March 5, 2010

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan

The following review was written by Tim Challies on the Amazon website.  It is thorough and one with which I agree.  So why re-invent the wheel?  Here's what he had to say:

There are many voices critiquing the North American church today. The voices come from both within and without; from those who love the church and those who hate it. We all know that there is something wrong. But what? In many cases the prescription is the same while the cure varies widely. In his new book Crazy Love, first-time author Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, regular speaker at Passion conferences and other events, and the guy who recorded that "Just Stop and Think" evangelistic video where he walks for miles holding a surfboard, takes his opportunity to challenge the church. "This book," he says, "is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don't want to plateau, who would rather die before their convictions do." It is a book that is meant to change the way Christians live their lives.

There are two ways of critiquing the church. We can critique out of love or out of disgust. Chan is committed to critiquing the church as an act of love. In a recent interview, when asked about the emergent church, he said this: "As a pastor I hear a lot of emergent leaders talk about what is wrong with the church. It comes across as someone who doesn't love the church. I'm a pastor first and foremost, and I'm trying to offer a solution or a model of what church should look like. I'm going back to scripture and seeing what the church was in its simplest form and trying to recreate that in my own church. I'm not coming up with anything new. I'm calling people to go back to the way it was. I'm not bashing the church. I'm loving it." And his love for the church is obvious throughout this book.

The format of Crazy Love is straightforward and effective. Chan dedicates three chapters to renewing our understanding of the character of God and seven chapters calling Christians to examine themselves. Within the book are two ongoing themes that are going to get people talking.

The first theme is that we must painstakingly examine ourselves. We cannot assume we are saved, or to use the biblical metaphor, we cannot assume that we are the good soil. Chan calls the reader to a serious self-inventory through a chapter that provides a profile of the lukewarm. He concludes, "a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are `lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven." God wants all or nothing.

The second theme is deeply counter-cultural, going against the stream of both Christian and secular culture. It is this: live your best life later. Chan wants to see Christians living differently--living in a way that is markedly different from those around them. He wants to see Christians forgoing much of what we consider necessary, what we consider our due, in order to focus on treasures that are eternal. He wants us to get outside the realm of what is comfortable to us and focus instead on radical obedience. "God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."

I found that this is a paradigm-shaking book with a message that Christians desperately need to hear. Too many of us are living too safely and too easily. But for the brief moments we spend at church each week, we are practically indistinguishable from the unbelievers around us. This is not the way it is meant to be. The church could use a loving exhortation and Chan delivers well.


  1. I found the first chapter of this book to be so thought-provoking that I feel one must stop after it is over and reflect for a while on what it has to say. Too often I feel that we, as Christians, think we have it all tied up with a bow, when in fact, we are sorely disillusioned about who He is, who we are, and where it all fits.

    Several years ago, a friend gave me a copy of Louie Giglio's "Indescribable" DVD. It has been one of the most impacting things ever to help me grasp the enormity of God and how much He loves us. (The link to purchase it is at the bottom of the post above.) It is 45 minutes long and I recommend you watch it only if you know you will have no distractions and/or interruptions.

    He is huge. We are very, very small. Our life is a very short vapor. So, we must not get distracted by things that will pass away. We MUST dwell only on the things that are eternal. We cannot make Him nor His Word fit into our lives and our society...we must place ourselves squarely into His eternal purpose, His society.

    Chapter 1 requires extensive personal reflection.

  2. Downloaded the book and read the preface and then the first chapter, and part of the second so far.

    A statement made by Chris Tomlin caught my attention, "Some might say that Francis is a bit of an idealist in thinking that one life can really make a dent in the world. But, I would say that Francis is the ultimate realist."

    That just screamed at me. I desperately want to make a dent in this world!

    I also liked this, "The point of your life is to point to Him."

    Life is not all about me. I just have a few brief seconds on the playing field. It is all about HIM! Lord, help me look at the big picture. When I focus on Him everything else becomes so much clearer.

  3. "Live to be history makers." The older I get the more I appreciate our history/heritage and the faithfulness of those that have gone before us. May all who come behind us find us equally faithful.

    I also loved this quote by A. W. Tozer, "A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy and God's heaviest grief."

    God grieves when I waste myself and don't even attempt to measure up to my fullest potential and purpose.

  4. I have really reflected on your last comment, Bro. Poitras. It is directly related to the parables of Matthew 25. In each of these, the end result of those who "wasted their talent" or chose inaction over action was rejection from God, fire, and eternal damnation. According to Matthew 25, we don't have an option! We MUST push our life and our ability to its fullest potential in order to please God. There is no such thing as "comfortable Christianity."

    I do not have the luxury of wasting even a moment. Every single thing I do must be done with His purpose in mind.

    The story in Chapter 2 of the man who spoke at a funeral about the uncertainty of life, then sat down and died in his chair in front of the crowd was a major attention grabber. Not one of us has the promise of even the next hour. Although our minds resist confronting that fact, it is still so true.

    I want it to matter to the Kingdom and to the world that I lived.

  5. "Crazy Love" simply stirs me. It challenges me. It forces me to move beyond philosophizing about my faith to shutting up and just acting it out. From the scriptural mandates which tell us what pure religion is (James 1:27) and what the kingdom of heaven is really all about to the individual examples of people who have discovered the joy of pursuing pure religion, my mind will not let me rest in my comfortable nest of good intentions.

    On p. 170, Chan writes: "We never grow closer to God when we just live life; it takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness."

    I'm not content for "Crazy Love" to be on my Kindle. This is one of those books that I had to have a hard copy of. I want it in a prominent place...a place that will continue to remind me of the conviction and purpose that it stirred within me.

    Because this is a book that forces me to live beyond myself, my comfort and security.

    This is not a book that will join the piles of books written about a fad in Christianity, a short-lived buzz of the moment. This is a book based on the timeless challenge of Jesus Christ himself.

    James 1:22 sums it up: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

    I pray that I will die being a hearer AND a doer of the word!

  6. okay-i have my book and am joining in now. I am extremely excited.

    I find this very interesting-in Chris Tomlin's 16 "Isn't it interesting that in Acts 11, at the end of verse 26, it says that the Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. He continues on saying, "What I find interesting is the simple thought that the Christians didn't name themselves. But rather they were called (or named) "Christians" by those watching their lives. I wonder if it would be the same today. Could someone look at your life or look at my life, and name me a Christian."

    Now this got me to thinking. Are we named or called Pentecostals because of the long skirt that we have on, the hair do that we have on our head, the "holiness" that we show on the outside...or can people look at us and say, "wow-that's a Pentecostal.." Not just because of the EXTERIOR..but because of the LIFE WE LIVE...through our words and through our actions. Do we truly radiate the life changing experience that was received on the day of Pentecost? Do people feel pricked in their hearts when we began to speak of Christ? Do they ask us what shall we do?

    One thing for sure, I know. I don't want to be just called a Pentecostal because of my holiness standard (though I am glad of it, and the first to say how necessary it is)...I am ready to be called a Pentecostal because the people that are around me can sense that there is something more profound than the superficial..and want to have a true experience with a loving God!

  7. I have been challenged by Crazy Love and have it on my PC Kindle. I have thought several times that I want it in hardback as well. I thought the chapter on how can one tell when he is lukewarm would be a great addition to our Revival Principles class at the Bible college.

    The internet has been a nightmare here so I haven't been able to keep up with the blog postings. But was able to check it this morning.

    I'm finishing up on Crazy Love and have read Louder than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living by Andy Stanley and Second in Command by Dutch Sheets and Chris Jackson. Both were/are excellent books.

    I was challenged by this quote from Crazy Love, "If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream."

    That is so real. Relationships take work. Daily effort!