Tag Archives: Multnomah Books

The Chasm by Randy Alcorn

Alcorn, Randy. The Chasm: A Journey to the Edge of Life. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2011. 124 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Amazon for $10.12.

Introduction

Randy Alcorn is founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries. He is a believer in Christ first and foremost, a husband, father and grandfather secondly and then an author. He has written over thirty books and each one stands alone as a best seller.  The Chasm is a continuation of the life of Nick Seagrave in another of Alcorn’s books entitled Edge of Eternity.

Summary

We join Nick on a trek through the wilderness when he comes upon the deepest, darkest Chasm he has ever seen. Across that Chasm is the beautiful city of Charis. He wants to go there but realizes that he needs to cross the Chasm and the only apparent way to do that is to go through it which is obviously impossible.

While seeking to journey to Charis, a guide comes and promises to lead him wherever he wants to go. Nick then follows this new guide and travels down many different paths all the while longing to go to Charis. What happens next is the thing of fantasy….or is it? You will have to read the book to find out.

Review

Obviously, this is a Christian book with a Christian message. What sets this book apart is the vivid description and the wonderful sketches interspersed throughout the book. The journey to the edge of the Chasm is exhilarating enough and one we can all identify with. The journey through (or over?) the Chasm is beyond description. The discussion questions at the end are designed for the reader alone or for group discussion.

The story is familiar to all. The description is other worldly. The thoughts that spring to the reader’s mind are much needed. The questions on the dust jacket—Do I really understand this world I live in? Do I really understand myself? Is there more to all this than I’ve ever dared hope?— will be answered.

Recommendation

One might be quick to suggest this book for the unbeliever, but I hesitate to do that. The message of this book is Christocentric and evangelistic, however, I think the value of the book lies in the hands of a believer for two reasons. First, there are many who profess faith but do not know the Lord (Mt. 7:21). This book can be an instrument to show this. Second, many believers do not think about the battles raging around them that are unseen. The Chasm will get you thinking about those battles.

In the end, I found The Chasm to be as enjoyable as Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress though not as complete and in depth as such. The Chasm will be one of those works of Christian fiction that you will want to read again and again…just as a reminder. Pick up a copy today and prepare to think and worship.

90 Days of God’s Goodness by Randy Alcorn

Alcorn, Randy. 90 Days of God’s Goodness. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2011. 208 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Amazon for $9.97 or less.

Introduction

Randy Alcorn is founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries. He has authored numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps his most influential book on my life has been his “Principle” books: The Treasure Principle and The Purity Principle.

90 Days was written to show the reader that the Lord allows suffering in most cases to grow the Christian spiritually and to trust more in the Lord than before. In many ways, this is an introduction to his much larger work, If God is Good.

Summary/Review

Each devotional begins with Scripture—and not just a verse or two. Rather, Alcorn has offered “chunks” to chew on (my statement). Most passages are 5+ verses thought there are a few with less. Drawing from each passage, Randy offers some insight—usually an illustration or story—of how this passage applies to our life during the ever present seasons of struggle. He concludes each day with a written prayer to guide the reader in going before the Lord.

Each chapter, while independent of the others, will provide many “mountain-top” experiences as the reader will begin to see the glory of God in the suffering. As always, however, it is important that the heart of the prayers not be allowed to replace your heart in prayer. It is easy to repeat the prayer and never actually mean what you are saying. Sadly, this what many do and then believe they had just communed with God when in all reality, they sent a message through someone else that was lost in translation.

I loved particularly day 12 when he took to task a young lady who was singing Amazing Grace and changed the word ‘wretch’ to ‘soul.’ That is such an overlooked problem today. The flesh wants to make everything sound so great and spiritual but forget that we are what we are: sinners in rebellion to an all holy God.

Recommendation

At the risk of telling readers to read more devotionals instead of the Bible, I do recommend 90 Days to the Christian wanting to better understand the age old conundrum why evil exists when God does. This book would be a perfect resource to offer a friend who is experiencing much pain and suffering. I think to those who have lost a spouse or a child first, but then move to those who are just struggling with daily trials in life. I believe the Lord will use the pen of Randy Alcorn to minister to many through this book just as He has already done through his other books.

Radical by David Platt

Platt, David. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010. 240 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Westminster for $10.04.

Audiobook

Narrated by David Platt.  Esconido: christianaudio.  6 1/2 hours.  Download – $12.98, CD – $21.98.

Introduction

I purchased the actual book though I was offered the audio edition to review.  This review is rather long, but, I pray, provides some areas of conversation for all Christians to discuss what it means to be sold out for Christ.

David Platt currently serves as lead pastor at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a noted minister with a love for missions and the Spiritual Disciplines. I can recall him “preaching” at a chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where his “sermon” was his reciting Romans 1-9 and then summing up the chapters with a short five minute commentary. I can honestly say that the power of the Holy Spirit showed up that day in chapelunlike any other chapel service I have witnessed.  The essence of his message is that a radical shift in our understanding of missions and church is needed in America.

Summary

In a short, but challenging, 220 pages, Dr. David Platt takes the reader on a journey from comfort to radical abandonment. He begins by showing how Christ is the Someone worth losing everything for though we may not see it that way. He compares his experiences with churches here in America against churches in closed and third world countries.

He challenges the reader to a biblical understanding of discipleship as opposed to our programmatic understanding of teaching. If we are to fulfill what many call the Great Commission, then we need to train the next generation for such a purpose. Throughout the book, Platt offers numerous examples from his own church as members have moved from a life of luxury to a life of being sold out for the mission work assigned to each one of us as believers. The book concludes with a challenge to churches and Christians alike to take the “Radical Experiment.”

Review

I have benefited much from the preaching ministry of Dr. David Platt.  I have heard him a few times in person at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as on the Internet via iTunes.  He certainly is a devoted follower of Christ and his motives are pure insofar as I can tell.  His heart is enraptured by the awesomeness of proclaiming the gospel to the entire world.  What he has written in Radical needs to be heard by most in the American Christian churches–we have become too lax in our devotion (if you can call it that).  What follows is a critical assessment of an excellent book.  Please know that I criticize as a fellow pastor within the same denomination as Dr. Platt and therefore he is more like family than anything else.

For an excellent theological and more critical review of Radical read Kevin DeYoung’s review and dialogue with David Platt here.  While I agree with much of what DeYoung wrote, I would like to offer a couple observations myself from a slightly different perspective.  Please note that this is not critical for the sake of being critical.  These are merely observations that struck me as I read this excellent book.

First, Dr. Platt is challenging the American cultural context not with Scripture so much as he does with his experiences in various other cultural contexts.  In many ways this is comparing apples and oranges.  While I agree wholeheartedly that we must seek to understand the Bible outside our American mindset, I do not believe it is wise to compare our understanding of the faith to another country’s understanding and say that they have it right.  It must be in accordance with Scripture which David does bring into the discussion.  Regardless, we need to be careful that we do not set another culture’s practices of Christianity above ours and say that there is what we must strive for.  From his perspective, it seems the best manner in which we can better become biblical Christians in the United States is if it were to become illegal and we were forced to the underground.  (For what it’s worth, I do see this as a very viable possibility in the next 20 years or so).

Second, I honestly wonder if this book would have been written if Dr. David Platt was pastor of First Baptist Church Podunk.  There are numerous churches with congregations less than 150 who are radical in their approach to Christianity.  They sacrifice much for the kingdom knowing full well that their reward awaits them in heaven.  Platt pastors a church of over 4,000 members in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Birmingham, Al.

Given our American cultural expectations, I honestly do not believe this book would have been published without the 4,000 member congregation changing their mindset and moving from comfort and luxury for the self to the radical faith in which Platt espouses.  In other words, because it works there, we ought to take note because this is a “mega-church.”

The second point feeds into the third point which is the programmatic mindset that Platt rails against is actually a driving force behind the publishing of this book.  You can go to the book’s website and find out more about “the movement” and purchase resources and materials to help spread the word.  By the way, you can also purchase mini-booklets to give to your friends.

Finally, and this is a two-part criticism, the claims in Radical are very paradoxical.  On one hand, Platt is saying you need to sell everything for Christ while at the same time you can download his podcasts on iTunes.  Platt is telling you to sell everything for missions but, before you do, be sure to purchase these resources to better equip your congregation to do the same thing.  (For the record, I have heard him state that all proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards missions.)  Now, please don’t mistake these examples as being explicit in the book.  They are not! However, they are implicit by the mere fact that all of this is available.  As I said, it is paradoxical.

The ultimate last concern I have is that all throughout the book, Platt talks of how easy it is to become a Christian in the U.S. by walking an aisle, praying a prayer, and signing a card (I agree that these sacraments have done much harm to the church) but at the end of the book, he has a card that you can sign and date stating that, [you] “agree with the Radical claim that [you] can find satisfaction and real service to God only in abandonment to Jesus.”  There is even a line for you to sign and date your commitment to the Radical Experiment.

Audio Review

The audio of this book is actually read by David Platt himself.  This is nice in that the author is able to offer insight through his voice as to what he was thinking when he wrote the book.  Nonetheless, having heard Dr. Platt preach on a few occasions, what is read here is nothing like what he has preached in the past.  I am almost positive that I have heard chapters 1 and 2 preached from the pulpit.  As a preacher, Platt flat out “brings it” with a “thus sayeth the Lord” approach that is lost in so many pulpits today.

While it may be an unfair assessment, I believe his reading falls far short of his preaching.  This is an obvious statement to many, especially those who have preached, but is one thing I could not get past as I listened to much of the book.

Recommendation

I realize that I was fairly critical in this review, but be rest assured, this book is a must read.  You will be challenged in many of your assumptions.  There will be times when you will get angry at what David is asking you to do.  But, you will quickly realize that this anger is from your own shallow understanding of the gospel that is found in most American churches.  If you have struggled with what a more biblical approach to the Christian faith looks like, then Radical is a perfect read for you.  You will see things from a different perspective and will learn how to think outside our Americanized preconceived notions of Christianity.

Humility by C.J. Mahaney

Mahaney, C.J. Humility: True Greatness. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2005. 176 pp. $12.99. Purchase at Westminster for $9.22.

Audiobook

Narrated by Sean Runnette. Escondido: christianaudio Hovel.  4 hrs.  Download for $9.98, CD for $15.98.

Introduction

C.J. Mahaney leads Sovereign Grace Ministries–a church planting and sustaining mission.  He served for twenty-seven years as pastor of Covenant Life Church where Joshua Harris now serves as pastor.  (I think being bald is a pre-requisite to serve as senior pastor there!)

Summary

Divided into three parts, Mahaney packs much into such a small book.  In part one, he takes a look at both sides of the issue–humility and pride.  The second part offers an exhortation to look at the One who defines humility and gave us the greatest example of humility.  It is by the standard of Jesus Christ that we can know what true humility looks like.

In true C.J. Mahaney form, the third part offers much in the way of how to live a life of humility; in other words, the application of the exhortation.  Mahaney looks at how you should begin each day, how you should end each day and everything else in between (as well as when you are sleeping). He concludes the book with a list of suggestions on how to weaken the pride in your life and cultivate humility.  One example he does offer is to play golf!

Review (Content & Audio)

The content is dead on.  Humility is written with some strong exhortations mixed with very practical applications.  Granted, we are not all going to play golf, but what Mahaney is saying is that there are many everyday ways in which you can cultivate humility in your life without becoming a monk and secluding yourself from the rest of the world.

The audiobook was very well done as well.  This was the first time I had listened to Sean Runnette read a book from christianaudio.  He read with feeling and emotion.  It was as though he was being deeply impacted by what he was reading and wanted to relay that on to those who would be listening later.  His pace of reading and voice were both steady and strong.  The audiobook was a joy to listen to.

Recommendation

Humility is a topic that is extremely tough to write about without coming off as arrogant.  C.J. Mahaney succeeded in doing just that.  He writes with a genuine humility that is seen or heard whenever he steps into a pulpit to preach.  He comes across as one acutely aware of his sin and God’s grace which is needed today more than ever.

I would recommend to every pastor or leader in the local church that they read and discuss this book with others.  I would also recommend that any Christian read this book.  Perhaps a youth group study would be advisable on the contents of Humility.