Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Stuff Christians Like Book Club - Francis Chan - Crazy Love

The Stuff Christians Like Book Club - Francis Chan - Crazy Love

Today, we're going to talk about the first two chapters of Francis Chan's book, "Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God." If you read it, great. If you didn't, there's still time to join the SCLBC because we won't discuss the next section (chapters 3-5) until Wednesday, January 28th. You can buy the book here at or get it at your local library.

My hope is that this won't be me writing a book review and folks then responding to that book review. I'd rather treat this like a discussion, as if we all got together in someone's living room and just started talking about the book. So let's throw out some questions for each other, be honest about the things we liked, the things we were challenged by, the sections we would challenge etc.

The first chunk of Crazy Love - Pages 1 -52

I'll go first in simple numerical fashion:

1. Did you read the preface and the foreword?

2. I loved that Chan says upfront on page 18, "Don't worry-this isn't another book written to bash churches." I'm pretty tired of the whole "church as a pinata" approach to things.

3. I liked that on page 20, he described his initial church teachings as "incomplete" and not "incorrect." I think about that a lot because I'm afraid that as I mature I'll look back on something I wrote on a blog or a book and say, "Wow, I was really wrong about that." But I think to some degree, the more time we spend with God, the more time we spend in the Bible, the more we mature and hopefully grow passed our initial thoughts.

4. Did you go watch the online videos when the book told you to? I did eventually, but not right away. Sometimes I wasn't near a computer when I was reading it.

5. "God will not be tolerated," a statement on page 28, was really challenging to me.

6. "We don't get to decide who God is," on page 31 rocked me a little. All too often I wake up in the morning and try to dress up God like Mister Potatohead, "OK God, today, you're going to be a super helpful generous God. Here's a wheelbarrow to carry all the gifts you're going to give me." But I don't get to decide who He is.

7. I wanted to side hug the sentence, "Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?" (Page 31.)

8. I didn't love the soda can/ocean analogy on page 32. I felt like some of the other analogies in the book were a lot stronger.

9. "As much as we want God to explain himself to us, His creation, we are in no place to demand that He give an account to us." (Page 33) Do you ever do that? I do it all the time. "God, why hasn't this job come through yet, why is so and so being such a punk to me, why haven't you rescued me from this situation?" I think it's good to honestly and openly ask God questions, but demanding answers is a whole other thing. What answers do you demand from God?

10. I struggle with worry. I'm getting better at handling stress and worry, but anxiety is still a drug I sometimes try to get high on. Chan's section about worry starting on page 40 was great. From his excuse of "I couldn't really help it that I was the worrying kind" to his thought, "When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, and my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice," I was blown away. Am I the only one that missed that "rejoice" is a command?

11. I liked the movie extra analogy on page 42. I remember sitting on a train going through Italy once and looking out the window at all the villages and people speeding by and thinking, "None of these people know I exist or how important my silly problems and challenges are. Maybe I'm one small person in a much bigger story." Going to the beach always makes me feel like an extra because the grandness of God feels overwhelming there in a good way.

12. I wanted to clap when I read this section on page 45, "If life were stable, I'd never need God's help. Since it's not, I reach out for Him regularly. I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don’t have control, because it makes me run to God." I want to live that way and sometimes I do. But sometimes, I hate the unknowns, and think that if I was a "real Christian," I'd have a better plan for life and would have it all "figured out." Do you ever feel that way or do you embrace the unknowns like Chan?

13. The story of Stan Gerlach on page 46 made me cry, especially the line, "One second he was confessing Jesus; a second later, Jesus was confessing him!"

14. 1 Corinthians 3:15 is a tough verse to swallow: "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." I've never thought about the idea that I could lead a quiet Christian life and end up "as one escaping through the flames." Have you?

Those are the things I would say if I were sitting on a flowered hand me down couch in my living room.

Did you like the first two chapters? Was there anything you loved or hated?

Introduce yourself if you don’t mind with your first comment. First name and city, state, country. (If you’re comfortable with that)

I’m Jon and I live in Alpharetta, Georgia which is in the United States.

Let's talk about the book.


Joanna said...

Hi, I'm Joanna. I live in the state of Victoria in the beautiful country Australia.

I have mixed feelings about the book so far. He definitely said some good things however some things concerned me. One of those was in chapter 1 where he talks about God punishing sin. The way he wrote it made it sound like we are still the ones taking the punishment. He really needed to explain more of the gospel more clearly because what he wrote there leads to a conclusion of "i better work hard so god won't punish me" which runs against the gospel

Prodigal Jon said...

Joanna -
That's an interesting thought. I think it will be cool to come back to our comments as we progress through the book and see if we would write them differently. For instance, maybe in the second half of the book he goes into the gospel more like you mentioned. That's what is great about the blog world, we'll be able to kind of keep track of how we change our minds as we go.

Joanna said...

I hope so. It did seem really weird for him to say it and then stop there without finishing it.

Helen said...

Hi, my name is Helen, and I am a SCL-a-holic...oh wait, wrong forum. My name is Helen, and I am from Chicago in the United States of America.
I struggled with the foreward, preface, and the first couple of chapters. It seems my heart was resistant to some of the ideas, and I had to push past it anyway. I didn't agree that the Church in America was lukewarm, but figured that individuals in the Church may be, and that they need the support of the fired up to rejuvenate. I thought at first he was too hard on the Church, but he did better explaining himself later. I was also turned off in the first few pages where he seemed to be suggesting that praying with words is hubris because God is too great to be approached. See, God as Father is great, but He wants us to approach Him. He did, however, make it more clear in the same chapter that the problem was becoming so familiar with God that we forget His awesomeness. We can approach Him as Father, but must still remember He is King of the Universe. Some of what Chan was saying reminded me of what I recently read in Job- that we are small and God is big and that we ought not forget it.
Anyway, my heart seem less resistant to the subsequent chapters.
Sorry if my comment is too long.

JasonS said...

Hi, I'm Jason from Fort Worth, Texas.

I've really been blown away by the book so far and would echo a lot of Jon's statements.

I have 2 daughters, ages 5 and 7. While we were riding in the car one evening, I was trying to explain how the earth moves around the sun, but the sun itself doesn't move. When we got home, I showed them the video on the website where he zooms out into space. They were dumbfounded. I turned to them and said, "That's how big God is, and isn't it cool that a God so big can love you so much?"

I think we all need to be reminded of that question daily.

Regarding Joanna's comments, I can see how the passage could be read that way, although I don't think that was Chan's intent. His point was that God has a very specific standard, and that standard doesn't change. As a Christian, I can read that and understand where he's coming from, but you're right: a non-Christian could easily misinterpret it. However, I think the book is mostly aimed at Christians.

Like Jon, I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of the book plays out.

daphne said...

I am Daphne from Prairieville Louisiana (between Baton Rouge & New Orleans), USA.

I have often felt like I lack that 'fear of God' thing and know I talk to much and throw words around too carelessly. Since CHan mentioned these things, I hope to get a fresh perspective.

I do read cover to cover and I watched the videos though not when told. I got a Horton Hears a Who vibe from the Awe video and felt the same when a bible study I was in watched something close on Lou Giglio. The beach, children, trees, ocean life, many things 'awe' me. Not space.

I n the Ch 1 video, I realized 'God' was just another word I see every day and I need to check myself that I do not let God be common to me.

I did like the perspective of God's commands to us are not aweful and hard but something to make life better for me. Often I say, 'but God, that is too hard!'. Maybe it is not.

It is confusing when loving God is hard. I have let that confusion take me down before. Then again, we live in a world programed to focus on what we do not have when all we need is in Him.

I have pages more of notes so let me condence;
I liked the part at the end of Ch 1 about God exsisting outside of time so we can not hold Him to our time. That could be helpful.

Ch 2. Well, I have a different take on death than most people I talk with. I have lost a daughter, brother, 2 women family members that 'mothered me' when my own mother has not, and many other significant losses. I do NOT take life for granted and know tomorrow is not for sure and I am good with that. I just think it is impossible to only live like today is your last day. We need balance and we need to help lay a foundation for the future, even if there is none.

I am not a big stress-er but I do like Chan's approach on life not being about me. To put it my way, I need to put on my big girl panties and get over myself. It is not about me.

Gotta get kids to school. BBL!

Monica said...

I'm Monica from Des Moines, Iowa. I've enjoyed the book so far, and it's interesting to see the comments that people are making. I think one of the challenges for me with this book is to realize that God is a God of paradoxes. He is so much bigger than us that we can never approach Him, and the only proper response is fear of the Lord (holy fear, not simply being scared). Yet, He loves us so much and wants to be intimately involved in every detail of our lives. It is not a contradiction, but an infinite truth that our finite minds have a difficult time grasping.

I don't have the book right in front of me, so I can't be more specific than that right now.

Tymm said...

I am Tymm. In the ATL.

I had about 5 different people recommend this book to me - one whose brother attends Cornerstone. But it was Jon's Oprah Style Virtual Book Club that sent me to Border's to get it.

I have not been disappointed. Actually - truth be told - I read the whole thing in like 2 sittings. As I sat there - convicted beyond belief - I thought "This should be required reading for all humans."

It would go something like this:

"Here's your brand new little girl, here's your Northside New Parents Pack, here's your Francis Chan book, 'Crazy Love', here's your copy of 'Paul's Boutique' and here is your pack of fake bubblegum cigars..."

I may be more in to it because of the overwhelming theme of serving the least - I was very moved by that. I am freshly back from Ethiopia - where our daughter was born and our son is buried - and God has ripped my heart wide open for the least among us.

But he made incredible points in the first 2 chapters that were outside of the least serving.

1. Trying to make God what we want Him to be.
We all do it. I am guilty of it all the time. He can't be the 5-foot-2 gymnast AND the 300-pound Sumo wrestler. I think we all know this - but it was good to have it thrown in my face a bit.

2. God won't be tolerated.
This was another one I am guilty of that I don't want to be. I don't think I fear Him enough - not that I want Him to show me what He's capable of - I get that. I just need to work on a healthy balance of fear and reverence.

3. Demanding of God.
I struggled a bit with this. I mean - far be it from me to make demands of a God I basically ignored for 30 years. I dunno how He puts up with that kind of stuff. But then again - that's why I am Tymm and He is God.

But when our son got sick in Ethiopia and we couldn't do anything for him but pray - we prayed some good prayers but I don't know if we prayed expectantly. Our son passed away - and we thanked God for giving him to us for 76 days even though we never held him.

Then our daughter got sick and was hospitalized in Ethiopia before we could get there. This time around - a good friend had told us we needed to have high expectations of God. We prayed a little differently - not really DEMANDING - well, okay - we demanded our daughter get better. And she did. It sounds harsh - I am hoping God was able to translate our demands as our high expectations we had of Him.

4. The stuff on WORRYand STRESS.
I absolutely loved this. A few years back I started taking on what the bible says about worry - really trying to live that. And it has freed me up to focus on a lot of other things. The way Chan worded it - I thought was great. Worrying implies we don't quite trust God. Boom.

I could probably go on and on and on - but I will save it for the next meeting. I might even jump on Jon's virtual couch.

And Jon - when you recover from the left kidney jab at the Orange Conference - give Francis Chan a side hug for me and top it off with a kiss to his bald dome.

Nick the Geek said...

Nick the Geek here, you may know me from blogs like SCL and MyExperienceAsYouthPastor.

First let me say thank you for recommending this book. It came at a very good time to challenge me personally. I am going to be going through this book with my Young Adults class and the DVD.

I did read the preface, for that matter I devoured the book instead of going slow. Sorry I'm just not able to read a couple of chapters and move on.

As for the contents of the section we are discussing. Let me say that I was very concerned when I got the book and looked at the chapter titles. The very first chapter is "Stop Praying." That freaked me a bit but I guess it was the point. Once I read it I agree with his statement. It really isn't "Stop Praying" but stop praying the way you always do. Stop going to God and rambling but step back and just let yourself be immersed in the awe of God.

That is a powerful thought and something that I have been saying for a while. As a culture we have lost our fear of God. I get that God is love, but I also get that God is holy. Fire is beautiful and useful for some many things but bad things happen when we lose our fear of fire. Fire doesn't come close to the glory of God that shone so powerful on Moses when he only saw God's back that the people begged him to cover his face for their fear when he came down the mountain.

We do need to remember who God is and what He has done.

I would go deeper into God's creation by talking about the details of atomic structure and even quantum structure. When you contrast that with the macro structure of the universe as a whole it really blows me away.

The second chapter was good, but for me I have already begun to understand that I am a vapor so it wasn't like an "aha" for me personally. I guess I was expecting something in the chapter that was so in my face that it might cause me to put the book down and walk away. I was not expecting that he would just be saying I might die before I finished the chapter.

The two stories were pretty challenging. Just before reading this book I was involved with a funeral for one of the older men in the church. He was a pastor before retiring and loved to talk to people about God. I knew he felt his time was close based on things we were talking about the weeks prior to his death. The day before he died he went to a local nursing home meeting with various people and witnessing to them. That night he went to sleep and didn't wake up. That really challenged me to rethink how I impact those around me, then I read this and felt confirmed that I really do need to work harder for others.

@Joanna, did you go to the website and watch the videos? He does a really god job presenting the gospel in the second one.

James said...

Im James from Frankfort, KY; USA

I wanted to participate with you guys in the book club, so I went and bought the book myself. I was like Tymm, I read it in about 2 sittings. I definitely felt challenged. I actually like the soda/ocean analogy. I guess I just really liked the fact that I was reminded of my understanding of God doesn't come close to fully encapsulating the awesomeness that He is.

I agree with you Jon, the movie analogy was good as well. We have to be reminded that its not our story that we are living. When I was a child, I had this really strange thought that I was in a book that some one was reading to their kid. Well, I sort of feared them reached the end. Now, when I think about that its not my story, but God's that He desires me to take part in, its a freeing and comforting thought.

The story of Stan Gerlach also made me cry.

Another side note, I have loved the book enough that I will be using it for our small group this semester.

Kendra Golden said...

Hello from Kendra in Oklahoma, the heart of the US of A. This is my favorite book ever (after the Bible of course). I love the way it has challenged and changed me. I've already read it through twice but wanted to read it again with you guys because I want to keep the thoughts fresh and in my face.

Because God and I have been friends for as far back as I can remember, It's easy for me to get casual and irreverant with Him. From the first few chapters, that's probably my biggest takeaway. The fear and reverance for a God that dwells outside time and space and yet took upon Himself humble human form so he could reach out to and rescue our tiny species. I'm intimately familiar with his love and grace but forget His aweseome magnificent glory sometimes.

Also, about Francis' perpective of the church (he likes me to just call him by his first name), he travels and speaks extensively and probably has a pretty good reading on the temperature of the American church. I think we are quick to rate ourselves hotter than we really are.

Last, many people in my home group felt the beginning of this book was a big downer and struggled with its tone. Don't stop reading though. I promise they all came around and felt better about the rest of it.

katdish said...

Hi! I'm Kathy and I live in Katy, Texas (just west of Houston). And seriously, do I need to tell anyone where Texas is? Psh!

I had a long list of things that I wanted to present here, but much of it has been covered. And frankly, Jon really distracted me with his hand me down flowered couch comment. (You know how I am.)

One thing I will mention that I haven't read here is that reading Crazy Love has brought me back to revisit some books in the bible that I haven't read for quite some time. Namely, Isaiah and Revelation. And even though I have really enjoyed the book so far, even if it sucked, if it compelled me to dive into God's word with renewed passion, how could that possibly be a bad thing?

Of all the things I read, the two things that sucker punched me were these: "We don't get to decide who God is", and "God will not be tolerated." Not that I didn't believe or know that before reading the book, but I find it stunning how often I overlook those two facts.

Megs said...

I’m Megs, and I live in Nashville, Tennessee - in the United States.

i too struggle with the God as my best friend/God as awesome King and Creator dichotomy. i think that's tied in with the point Jon mentioned about deciding who God is . . . God is so much more than i can put into words or understanding. And yet i try - and i must try - how else do i share this amazing God?

i'm wondering about the idea of questioning God. i tend to go more the route of, "God, i really don't understand why XYZ is happening and ABC isn't. Why have you given me the desire for ABC if it's not coming? IS it coming?" Usually God answers in the point that Helen mentions from Job (i often think of Habakkuk as well - there's a questioner for ya) in that God is big and i am small . . . God's ways are not my ways . . . and God is the one with the view of the big picture seeing as He created it and all... Tough love for a little control freak like myself.

Rusty said...

Hi, I'm Rusty from Columbia, TN just a few miles from Nashville.

I like on pg 29 when he talked about spiritual amnesia. I often forget how amazing God is. I think many times I get in such a hurry and become so consumed with my life that God becomes an after thought.

When I read chapter one I couldn't help but to think about Morton Kelsey who said that a busy life is potentially more destructive of spiritual growth than debauchery or alcohol or hard drugs.

I liked how he helped me remember how awesome and great God is and how little I am.

In chapter two the story of Brooke got me. Two years ago we lost one of our 16 year old girls. It was amazing to see the impact she had one everyone. She was a quiet reserved person but she made the most of her days constantly writing notes, giving hugs, and listening to people.

Thinking about God's greatness, my littleness, and that this life is so short even if I live to be a 100 make me want to reach out and help someone everyday.

Tigerrama85 said...

My name is Chris from Rock Hill, S.C.

To be honest, I've seen the book in the local bookstores before, but never felt compelled to buy/read it. But I'm glad I did.

I can't say that I "learned" anything new. I've been attending church since before I could remember, so I "know" that God is big and I "know" that I am small, but I don't really think about it. When I approach God it's never in fear (good or bad fear). Chapter 1 may have stuck out the most to me because it focused solely on God and His character. I think we (at the very least I) get caught up with our relationship with God that we lose sight of who it is our relationship is with.
It helped me to come back to a place of awe of God. I'm taking an astronomy class this semester at Winthrop and to remember that not only is Earth not the only planet, it is in a galaxy (full of other planets) which is in a universe full of other galaxies. And God created it and said it was good. When I think about that, and that God is BIGGER than our universe, it should strike fear in me. And then, to think that, despite His bigness, God chose to make Himself accessible to me makes me view grace in a new light.

I'm excited to continue reading the book and everyone else's comments

Josie said...

Hi, I'm Josie from Pickens, SC, USA.

I have to say that I really like the book so far. When I watched the videos online, I was struck by Chan's genuine enthusiasm to marvel at our God. It moved me to tears. I read the foreword and preface too. Right off the bat I was challenged by his statement on pg 21 that this book is for "those who would rather die before their convictions do." Do I live that boldly for Christ?

"God will not be tolerated" jumped off the page and in my face too! All too often I approach the throne with such a casual tone. Or I coast in my walk with God with a ho-hum attitude. I forget that I am the daughter of the creator of the universe. The widest angle we saw in the "Awe factor" clip is His footstool!

On pg 31, I didn't know that "to the Jews, saying something three times demonstrates its perfection." It would be neat to do a study on how this is shown throughout the Bible.

Chan's definitions of worry and stress on pg 42 reminded me of how often I put God in a box and try to rely on my insufficiencies.

Looking forward to more...

Eve said...

I'm Eve, I live in beautiful Birmingham, Alabama .

Like Joanna, I have mixed feelings about the book.

Much of Chan's writing style leaves me cold---He seems to always be exhorting and guilting and scaring people into loving more, doing more, serving more, as if to prove something to God (as if we could fake him out!) and to other people (as if they can be fooled for any length of time.)

Probably the biggest thing I notice is that we often don't share the same theological viewpoints, though from what I have read (the entire book) Chan appears to be solidly Christian.

To your points:

2. "not another book to bash churches"....uhhhh....seems to have a lot of that element going on.

3. In making the statement about having had "incomplete or incorrect" initial church teachings, he is implying "but now I AM right." THEN, I didn't really know, but NOW I do. Ummm....maybe not.

5. RE: "God will not be [merely] tolerated." I think any thoughtful Christian would agree with this---I mean, after all, He's GOD.
What was a challenge to you about pg. 28? From my read, he seems to be saying "revere and worship God." Was there more?
Same thing for #6--- and I'm not believing that you try to "make" God into something different-- Somehow that statement didn't sound like Jon. Yes, we all misunderstand him, and really with our puny human minds, can never really grasp ALL of who He is, but what were you saying here? (Also, didn't find that statement about "tolerated" on pg.28. Could be that different books have different pagination.)

7. DITTO FOR ME. This was a fantastic statement.
A minister at church once said "We have a God that we can do business with," meaning it is OK to pour out your real heart, your junk, your stuff good and bad, and He will work on you. I love that He is too big ---all powerful, all knowing, all present---to ever really get your arms around. Knowing and loving and studying about the Lord is the only "love" I have ever had in my life that I never grow tired of. I enjoy thinking that even when I'm 88 and old in a nursing home, I'll still have my Bible and that love.

OK, this post is already way too long (thank you to anyone who's still reading) but I had one thing to say about the paragraph on pg 32 about sin: He writes that "God hates and must punish sin. And He is totally just and fair in doing so. "

Absolutely true.

BUT, what Chan is missing here (not in his theology, just at this point in the book) is that YES God hates sin, YES he does not excuse sin, YES he punishes sin. But guess what? ALL THAT IS CHANGED BY JESUS.
When we confess our sin, He COMPLETELY excuses it and does not need to punish us for it, becuase Jesus took our punishment on Himself.
And then He said "It is finished."

I believe that.

And I think it's wrong of Chan to end that sin section on that note, (God's need to not excuse and to punish sin) as if shaking his finger in the face of a sinner.


jenn said...

Jennifer from somewhere near Nashville (small town that I'm not comfortable naming online), TN - USA.

I see I'm a little bit late to the party. I was thinking this was supposed to be tomorrow. Oops. So my confession is, I only read the preface, foreword, and chapter 1. I was going to read chapter 2 tonight and be ready for our discussion tomorrow. Oh well, I'll do better next time.

I'm enjoying the book, but cautiously. There have been a few things that I wasn't sure about, like "stop praying," but once I looked at where he was coming from, it made sense. I don't think this is a book for nonChristians, so I don't have an issue with him not explaining the gospel all the time. I think we are just expected to understand that part.

I didn't watch the videos yet (but I still plan to) because I was reading in my car on my lunch break.

Jon, "Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?" jumped off the page at me when I read it. If I only got one thing out of it so far, that was it. I love that!

I liked that he said he wasn't going to bash the church and so far I don't feel like he is. The church as a whole has failed at times, but it's made up of humans, so I think that's where grace comes in. I think we can look at what's wrong without "church bashing." I think there is a difference.

I'm excited to read chapter two, now that I've seen the discussion. I'm a worrier, so I probably need to read it. I'll try to take notes on the next chapters so I sound like I know what I'm talking about next time we have a discussion.

Prodigal Jon said...

Eve -
"THEN, I didn't really know, but NOW I do. Ummm....maybe not."

That's a really good point. I don't think as a Christian you can ever say "There, no I have a complete picture." He's God. We're human. It's not going to happen like that.

And I'm not saying that's what Chan meant, but I like how you summarized the danger of that thought.

Prodigal Jon said...

Tymm -
"I am freshly back from Ethiopia - where our daughter was born and our son is buried - and God has ripped my heart wide open for the least among us."

Thanks for sharing that Tymm with such honesty. I'm glad to know you're in Atlanta too and I really appreciate the way you unwrapped your thoughts.

Sara said...

Hello all, I'm Sara from Houston, Texas, USA.

First, I am at work at the moment and did not come prepared with my journal full of notes. I got the book as a Christmas present and read all of it right away. I found it hard to put the book down once I started.

I can say this though...this book has challenged me unspeakably. I was slightly skeptical, because I tend to shy away from the books that are "all the rage". So I would just encourage those of you that aren't too sure to stick with it. Even if you feel there are points that you disagree with, because there are defintely some wonderful truths that I desperately needed to be reminded of.

I promise to come back and leave comments later today when I have my book readily available. I really look forward to going through this book with y'all!

Ben said...

Greetings All!
I'm Ben, 20, from the England, United Kingdom (about time we got some British accents around here)

So aside from the fact that this Book was hard to track down, tastes highly American and the picture of Francis made me chuckle somewhat (Star Trek comes to mind)- it has got me thinking...

Chapter 1 made me realise how pathetic I am. Thinking of those angels covering their eyes in the presence of God made me think about how blessed I am that He would even look upon me; let alone love me.

The title of Chapter 2 made me hurry up and get reading. Until I started to get a wee bit annoyed. You see, I'm an implicit worrier.
So for Francis to suggest that my life "reeks of arrogance" pg42 had me stumped.

As I lay there reading after a stressful day of Uni work, trying to soak up some peace, I struggled to grasp what He was getting at.
Stress & Worry he says: "communicate it's okay to sin..." Ouch.
This rattled a few nerves for a man seeking righteosness, but as I thought more, I realised that even in Jesus' darkest hour, there was not a speck of worry. Troubled and heavy-hearted yes. But not worry.
To think my life smells of arrogance because I worry and stress, troubles me. (not worries me ha). I'll be working on that.

"drinking coffee at 12:04 a.m so you can stay awake to study" pg44 made me smile, it's me in a nutshell- and yet I fail to glorify him in my procrastination.

Good, Honest book!

Teresa said...

Hi, I am Teresa from Pennsylvania. I was getting so disheartened reading everyone's comments until I got to Eve. THANK YOU EVE! I could not have written/expressed my thoughts the way that you did. But, I feel so much the same.

I recommended this book and 'book club' to several people in my church as well as my Pastor. (we are a small church at this time) No one had the opportunity to read it at this time, which was hard because waiting for nearly 2 weeks to get to others thoughts has been hard.

I tried to formulate my questions or possibly misunderstanding of the book to my Pastor on Sunday, but since he has not read it, it was difficult to explain.

I have nearly finished the book and I can't say that I don't like it, it is just that - maybe I see things differently than Mr. Chan. I think all of our individual experiences influence our relationship with God and although there are things that are very much the same for all of us, there are things that he works in different people at different times.

I have felt much conviction and have brought those things to God, but at the same time, I felt condemnation in some areas too and I know that is not what God puts in us.

I absolutely believe that we are to love and care for 'the least of these', but I think especially later in the book that Mr. Chan forgets that just because we do not express it the way that he has, it surely doesn't not mean we are 'lukewarm'. We are all called to different expressions at different times.

I would love to sell my house for something smaller and then give more. I HONESTLY WOULD. But, that is not where my husband is - so am I not living to my fullest because my husband is at a different stage? What am I to do about that? Am I not loving God enough?

I think the book is good and it is emotional and....I am not sure what else to write. BUT, I think as with everything there are some things for you and some things that are not.

I think the 'lukewarm' thing really got me. Not even sure at this time which chapter that he goes into the whole thing, maybe 3? I kept thinking that Mr. Chan forgot about Jesus. My only hope for a future, my only hope each day and sometimes each second.

Wendee said...

I’m Wendee from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.

I read the foreword and preface. I think the preface, along with the videos, place the proper prospective on the book and make it easier to see where the author is coming from. Without it, I think it would be easy to misunderstand the point.

Here are some notes I scribbled in the book while reading:

Page 26. Who do I think I am? Why is it so easy for me to lose sight of the big picture and think AM the big picture? It’s not about me. Why do I forget that every morning when I wake up? Why do I remind myself during morning bible study but forget during the day…only to remind myself again during an evening devotion? Am I really that selfish?

Pages 28-29. We are made by God and for God. Our purpose is to worship Him. But why is it so hard to focus longer than 10 minutes on our creator? “Spiritual amnesia” was mentioned. I think it’s more like spiritual ADD. It’s like God takes our face in his hand and turns us toward him, and then we’re like, “Oh, look at the pretty butterflies…what’s for lunch…where are my keys?” Why is it so hard? Our relationship with God shouldn’t be intentional. I don’t intentionally love my daughter. It’s innate. Why don’t I have an innate love for God, when he has it for me?

Page 30. “We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have…We forget that we already have everything in Him.” I can’t say it any better than this. Wow. It’s hard to handle when you say that out loud.

Page 31. We all think we know who God is. We know he’s love, he’s big, he’s been around since before time began, we can’t fathom his love for us...but this section of the book put it in perspective, at least for me. I know it, but I don’t. Our words can’t contain God. When you think about THAT…what else can you do but be silent? We don’t fully understand God, and we never will. Stop and think about it. Our response? Silence. Maybe God planned it that way.

Page 41. When I worry, I take my problem out of God’s hands. When I worry, I say, “My problem is bigger than my God.” I can’t believe how stupid I can be sometimes.

Page 44. Psalm 73:3, 13, 16-17 “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God.” We know God, but we forget. We have problems and forget to let God handle them. We’re small and God is big, and we forget. Then we realize all of this and it stresses us out. But what fixes it? The sanctuary of God. Our time with God. So, why is it so hard to make time?

Random thoughts I had after reading: 1) We get caught up in doing “the right things” and forget why we’re actually doing them. 2) How do I glorify God by just existing in my mundane activities? 3) Am I properly preparing on Earth for my eternity in Heaven?

I’m enjoying the book – I’ve read the first two chapters 3 times…finding new things each time. It certainly makes you think! Sorry about the long post…had a lot to say. :)

Eve said...

Thanks so much for your post, Teresa. The verse "Many members, one body" sort of sums it up for me.
As you said we are all called to different things, and Christ can use us however he wants to use us. Chan's way is definitely one way, and it is quite compelling.
But I submit that It doesn't take selling all you have, giving up everything in order to serve him. If he wants me to do this, He will need to change my heart, and He can, and then I will.

Even people who outwardly seem like "lukewarm" Christians by Chan's judgment, may be tools in God's hand. Where I live, if it weren't for the spoiled rich ladies who live in Mountain Brook holding Bible studies, I don't know where my faith would be today. My early small groups in the church I attend made such a difference in my faith.

Christ knows I am sinful and always will be---My own sin/repentance/confession cycle is sort of like that Whack-a-Mole game, whereby as soon as He works on me in one area of sin, another immediately shows itself.

If he works on my materialism, I start noticing my unbecoming pride in doing good works for the homeless. As soon as He deals with me in the area of exercise, I find it easy to neglect my family's needs in favor of a good workout. Etc.

So Chan's throwing down the gauntlet on p.21 does not speak to me. He writes: "But you will have a choice: to adjust how you live daily or stay the same."

I disagree. There's lots more choices than that.

Chan misses the boat IMO by insisting (passionately and persuasively) that we do more and do it better and harder. This sort of emotional appeal can be very effective. But only for a short while. And then people fall back into despair, because they can't sustain it.

Our only hope is always and ever in Jesus Christ. One day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time.
This verse especially comes to mind:
"His mercy is brand new every morning."
I need that brand new mercy. Every single day.

Our hope is 100% in the work He already accomplished on the cross, and not in any good work we can do here.

Beth said...

I'm Beth. I'm in Indiana, USA. I'm a procrastinator and finally got the book yesterday, and the only place I could find it was in the biggest Christian bookstore in the area buried under thick Oswald Chambers volumes. I don't know why that struck me as funny, but it did. Little paperback Crazy Love just seemed so small and wimpy among everything else so big and bold.

Anyway, to the book:
1. Preface and Forward- of course
I read those...I'm a nerd.
4. Videos- watched as directed. I'm both a nerd and a goody two shoes. I really liked the space video and hope my church can watch it sometime before worship. I liked the other video, too. It made Francis Chan a real person to me instead of some far off pastor and author-type guy and I liked that approach. In fact, I like the whole tone of the book a lot.
Here's a guy who sincerely wants you to DO something, not just READ something.

Chapter one tied into a lot that I've been thinking about lately. I heard a fantastic message given by the director of our local International House of Prayer last week. He said something to the effect of the how the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God..." and the second is to "love your neighbor..." Many times we try to love our neighbors and "do ministry" before we spend any time loving God. Then we wonder why we're frustrated. Loving God for who He is should come absolutely first, right? But how many people do you know that spend more time with God than anyone else? Just a thought. So I'm trying to spend more time just loving God these days, whether it be singing loud or being quiet or prayers while I'm doing other stuff. The passages in Isaiah and Revelation gave me some good places to go and reflect.

I didn't get quite as much out of chapter two; it felt like I'd already been there and done that...although it's probably always good to be reminded that worry and stress means you're not really trusting God...I feel like that's a battle I(with God's help) have been making a lot of progress on, so for maybe the first time ever, that subject didn't totally seem to be speaking my name! Rejoice! :)
And the whole "you could die now" thing has been presented in many ways...but I don't think people really will start sharing Jesus like there's no tomorrow until they start knowing and loving God so much that it's impossible not to share it. At least that's how it works with me.

Looking forward to reading what everyone else thinks about the rest of the book!

Mandy said...

I love Francis Chan! I just bought this book a couple of weeks ago and I look forward to reading it. I'll try to keep up with this blog.

Tiffany said...

Hello. Tiffany from Tampa, Fl here. USA.

I read this book a while back and have decided to read it again with your book club. I always enjoy your blogs and thought this would be fun.

My favorite part of "Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?".

A lot of times when talking to new people I meet or even close friends and family I find myself bragging on my boyrfiend. How awesome he is. What he did for me the other day... And a lot of times I exaggerate so people will think I am the luckiest girl in the world. It's not true but it feels nice to see the jealousy there if I am honest with myself.

The BEST part about God is that when I am bragging on Him and talking about all He has done for me lately I never have to exaggerate. Though sometimes I am a little sad that I don't do His awesomeness justice.

tiffany said...


Also I hope you don't mind but since a lot of my friends from church read my blog I posted one about your book club. We all read this book together a while back as a part of a sermon series and thought they might enjoy opening it up again.


I sent trackbacks to you from

Estes said...

Hey everyone I'm Ben from Somerville, Alabama located in the U.S. of A.

This morning I had typed this really long spiel about how I like it and such on my Blackberry and without thinking about it, closed out of the browser when my Professor (I'm in college) walked into the room. So needless to say all of that is gone and I really don't feel like typing it all again. So the cliff-notes version is:

I really liked his thoughts on worrying. That's probably my biggest vice.

He also said some great things about being lukewarm. Too many times we try to validate reasons as to why we aren't lukewarm and that in turn brings us closer to being lukewarm.

Sadly, I sometimes need to read things outside the Bible to allow them to truly sink in and those are two examples of where that has happened.

P.S. Jon come to Conclave ( Francis Chan (and I) will be there!

Abby said...

Hi Everyone. I'm Abby from Athens, Ga.

I'm almost hesitant to write because I think I might come across as a Debbie Downer so I'll try to be as quick and painless as possible. I also apologize and ask that you not automatically throw me out of the group.

I skipped the Foreword and read the Preface. I didn't watch the video, but oddly enough my roommate was watching Planet Earth that night and said, "You know, thats what makes me realize how big and unfathomable God is." So I think somehow I managed to get the point he was going for.

I was hoping that his points would make me go, "YES!" but mostly I found myself saying, "yep, yeah, uh-huh, next point please." Which I know is exactly the opposite of what I should've done, perhaps I should've meditated until I was blown across the room, but I think he tried to fit *Summa Theologica* in 20 pages.

Something positive: I thought he was bold to throw Revelation out there. Not many pastors are comfortable with referring to those books when the audience may not be entirely Christian. I like his courage and because the imagery isn't used all that often it was refreshing.

I'm still in, I'm going to finish the book and by golly I REALLY want to like it. So hopefully I'll have something better to contribute.

Prodigal Jon said...

Abby -
I am really glad you shared your thoughts. My hope is that this won't just turn into a book parade regardless of what I think of it.

And the weird thing is that books speak to you in different ways at different times. I just started reading a book by larry crabb that I owned for years and when I initially looked at it I thought "it's OK" but when I started reading it recently I was blown away. So maybe this book will hit you later or hit you not at all. Either way I'm glad you were honest about your opinion.
Thanks for sharing


Peter P said...

Just received my copy today.

Thank you so very much April. You rock - and you have demonstrated God's love to this stranger.

I'm going to do catch-up! I promise!

Rachele said...

Hi, my name is Rachele, and I live in Hudson WI, USA.

And, yep, I too read all the parts, and watched the videos ( though not exactly when I was supposed to)-but I think they are a nice addition.

With regards to Ch.1, I actually think about 'stuff' like that a lot. I work in a hospital, so maybe that puts it in my face more often, or maybe it's the fact that I can be an anxious person, but I do feel small, incredibly small, compared to God and his creation, and actually try not to let it get me down by thinking, how!? How can God truly care for and love me when not only am I so small, but only 1 of 6 billion people currently on Earth, not counting those that have pasted through out time. But, I know he does, and that is truly awe-inspiring!

I supposed that leads into Ch. 2 and the stress/worry stuff. I've suffered from Panic attacks in the past and was literally forced to give 'it' to God, or loss my mind in worry, and He's done the most amazing things in my life since I've 'let go' (or keep trying to!) So I wholeheartedly agree with the statement on p.42 'Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.

Going back to Ch. 1, my worry does does say-I'm so small, why would he care for me. But the command to rejoice, I've never noticed that before, or maybe never took it that way, and I see that as freedom- In that we have not only a God who we don't have to exaggerate, but one that 'just' wants us to rejoice and love-Wow!

By some of the other posts I'm getting an impression of where Chan is going with this book, and
I will say I agree with Eve in her second post. I believe God has not only different plans for different people, but different plans for each person during the different times of their life here on Earth. So I'm curious to see what Chan has to say in the chapters coming up, and maybe it's not for every person right at this moment, but one never knows if it's a direction God may call them too at another time in their life.

Abby Vostad said...

Hey Everyone,

I am Abby. I live in the bitterly cold (ok just right now, but it sounded good) state of South Dakota.

The biggest and still most impactful thing of the book is just how BIG our God is and really what he demands of us is to LOVE. I like how the author uses several examples of love like worship, obedience etc, but in the end it comes down to love.

The second chapter still has me thinking...we are indeed here just for a blink of an eye. Will someone remember me in the future? Will I really make a difference? My goal for 2009 (formed before reading this book) was to live intentionally with each day, love intentionally, and serve intentionally because we don't know how much time we have. Chapter 2 was definately an affirmation of those feelings.

Blessings All,

Abby Vostad

Michelle said...

Michelle here from the area known as the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex.

I did read everything through chapter 2. I have not yet watched the videos mentioned.

I thank everyone for their insights - I'm not sure I have anything blogworthy to add.

The very first thing that spoke to me was on page 20 about believing that being a Christian was all about avoiding the "biggies" and failure led to feeling distant from God. I loved all the details on page 27 about the intricacies of God's creation. It just brings so much wow into my life. Like others have mentioned the statement "God will not be tolerated." really dug into my mind. I haven't fully digested the impact.

I think the thought that I identified with most was on 29 - "It confuses us when loving God is hard." Oh boy. Yes. That speaks to my heart. I'm not ready to deal with the convictions that come with the thoughts on worry & stress. Everyone has something they are good at -- and worrying is mine. I'm letting go, I'm learning but it's still a big one for me.

I'm looking forward to reading on - I am certainly hungry for more Jesus.

Bekah Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bekah Jo said...

My name is Rebekah and I’m from West Melbourne, Florida (U.S.).

I love Francis Chan and was thrilled that he has this book out. I also loved that he took it a step further with the videos. I tried to watch as they came up in the book. I found it allowed me to slow my reading down and reflect on the words and challenges more.

I noticed a few felt the writing to be toward the bashing. I sensed Francis was trying to initiate the need to look deeper. I felt he was trying to present the need to be awake to life’s reality. Whatever level we are all at, life is a journey and so our relationship with God should be becoming richer. I didn’t feel he was measuring it all up.

Some of my thoughts:

“It confuses us when loving God is hard (p. 29).” It also brings the element of guilt into the picture. It really is a reflection of the war within and the power of the distractions that pull us. Especially, the distractions of what we don’t have (p. 30).

I really liked going through the basics of who God is. They can sometimes become such familiar attributes that I fail to realize their greatness.

JON- I actually liked the analogy of the soda can/oceans (p. 31). Maybe because growing up down the road from the beach the idea of it is absurd and it’s just as absurd for us to attempt to size God that way. It makes me think of the little bottles or bags of sand that the tourists buy that claim it as their beach front property. These little things are so inadequate of what it’s like to sit in the midst of the grains before the powerful waters and absorb the colors of a sunset. And, the sand and oceans are still a part of creation. He’s so much more.

More than intimidating, I find God’s attribute of all-knowing to be a relief. The fact that there is not a hint of a secret between His relationship with me and He still loves and accepts me. MEGS- I often question God in the same manner, which makes me mixed between desires and reality. As I try to trust Him for my journey and can sometimes be confused myself about who I am, it’s liberating to know that He gets me-to the core.

I also struggle a bit with worry and stress. “Both worry and stress reek of arrogance (p. 42).” This statement was a slap to me. It’s hits hard because although I know this is something I continue to need to work on, it’s often effort to serve in many ways or grow that is how I pile it on. It’s truth though, because in it the focus shifts from God’s strength to “my” issues. It takes me back to the whole Mary/Martha scenario with Jesus in the Bible (Luke 10:38-42).

A friend of mine signs off every email and all he writes with the phrase, “Life is short.” The truth of chapter two is challenging. I have to ask myself, “Am I living in truth or am I wasting my life?” Bottom line-Am I living my life as an investment for eternity?

Wow! I definitely write too much. Sorry!

elkaye said...

I'm Lois, from the Chicagoland area in Illinois, USA. Please excuse the long comment.

I've been reading this book on and off during my school hours, like when I'm on the train commuting or in between my classes when I have time to kill. So I've already gone past the first two chapters. And as the book goes on, it just gets better (harder, but better).

First of all, I became serious about God and devoted my life to Him in high school, so most of the things Chan was saying I understood, and knew that the issues people had at first (like about still feeling like we are taking the punishment) would be addressed.

But of course, this book is still challenging for me, really prodding me and urging me to live out the faith I had.

So my thoughts on the first few chapters/preface/forward:

1. I was automatically hooked when the book started talking about the difference between just believing in God, and LOVING God; it's something that's been on my heart lately.

2. When Chan said that we need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God because of the church, I wholeheartedly agreed. So many people I know have told me, "I believe in God, just not organized religion."

3. The "Awe Factor" didn't really impress me as much as the facts about the rainforest, plants, our bodies, animals, etc.

4. The paragraph about God hating and needing to punish sin really shook me. I'll let things slide, or won't even acknowledge that I sinned, no matter how "small" the sin is, such as speaking harshly to someone just because I'm in a bad mood. But God hates sin just as much as He loves us. "Whenever we start to question whether God really hates sin, we have only to think of the cross, where His Son was tortured, mocked, and beaten because of sin. Our sin."

5. I worry, a lot. So I guess it's saying that I don't trust God, or even worse, I think that my circumstances are too important (more than God), so God is pushed aside. That was hard to read.

6. I loved the movie analogy too. I need to keep that one in mind.

7. Stan Gerlach's story made me cry too. And the story about Brooke Bronkowski was personally hard for me, because my best friend died in a car accident, and she touched so many people's lives like Brooke. The problem is that for me, sometimes I think I'm excused from an early death (aka it won't happen to me) because no way God would have me die early too, just like my friend, and doubly hurt everyone we were close to. But that's just stupid. God doesn't follow statistics or probability or anything of that sort, and I have to realize that.

I'm loving this book, and as I'm reading it, I'm praying God will teach me to love Him more. Thanks for suggesting the book, Jon!

Tori Clements said...

Hey, I'm Tori from Johnson City, TN.

I read the book a few months ago and I need to reread it before posting anything of substance but I do remember loving the videos that go along with the chapters! It's a great book and I'm excited to reread it.

Have you watched Chan's podcasts on iTunes? They are fantastic!

Eve said...

Tymm, I too was struck by your comment about caring for "the least of these," and having an open heart. Only God could allow a feart to be open after experiencing such loss.
@Katdish-- Did you mean what you said about it being "a sucky" book, or were you being ironic?
@Ben-- nice to hear your accent. Now every comment you make will seem especially intelligent to we Americans. (especially to those of us who live in the Deep South.) Quite so.

wv: musiest
Jon attracts the musiest commenters to his site. Such thoughtful, musy people.

Eve said...

oops that should have been "us Americans."
Signed, Wannabe Editor

Marni said...

Midlothian TX (just south of Dallas)

1. I did read the preface and forward. Mainly because I love Chris Tomlin :)

2. I was instantly intrigued on how he wasn't going to beat up on the churches. That is a major turn off I have toward the emergent movement. Quit whining about the current church...just shut up make a difference instead of TALKING about making a difference.

3. I journal all the time. And then 4 years ago, something really bad happened to my family and to me personally. God saw me through the saddest most painful season I've ever (barely) endured. I love going back over old journals to see how much I've grown since the storm of all storms hit me. And I know one day I'll look upon what I write now and think how incomplete I STILL was. It's a process and God keeps growing me if I keep stepping out in faith.

4. I totally went online and watched the videos. I was so fascinated by the satellite/telescope images that I told anyone who would listen to go watch it. And I have developed a new level of awe toward God. I'm becoming more aware of his vast hugeness than I think I've been before...

5. That statement messed with me a lot. In a good way. I think how the churches in my life have done a disservice by concentrating too much on the loving God without tempering that with the just, Holy and wrathful God. God and I have been having some amazing conversations as I'm letting that "tolerant" statement settle in and let Him show me what I'm to do with it and about it in my life.

6. I've spent most of my adult life trying to do that. I've needed Him to be the provider-God, the protector-God, the vengance-God, the sunny-happy-all loving God instead of getting out of His way so He can be what He wants to be to me. Chan's take on this is helping me get out of the way so God can be whatever HE wants to be in my life.

7. Amen to that!!

8. I concur.

9. Back during my awful season, I demanded answers. Alot. But I reached a place where I said to Him, "Maybe I can't understand your answer, so you aren't giving it to me. Or maybe you aren't going to give me the answer because you need me to work at getting your stance in this situation and simply handing the answer over to me on a silver platter will not grow and mature me."

10. I struggle significantly less, but I struggle. God so beautifully showed me the difference between happiness and joy. For me it began with Job is such a gift to let go of worry and pain.

11. Me too! And looking at stars at night gives me the same feeling.

12. All I used to want, was for God to show me the end result so I could be assured it was all going to be okay. But when I was that way, I had some seriously lame faith. Now, although I don't like the trials, I try very hard to embrace them because it's a faith growing opportunity and I'm always better for it.

13. I cried too. Even more so with the story of young Brooke...

14. Yes. Not myself personally b ecause I'm certain of my salvation. But on behalf of people I love who profess to be Christians but don't seem any different than a non-believer. They think they're okay because they do "Christiany" things. I find that to be one of satan's most profound weapons...lulling you into believing you belong to Christ when in fact, you don't.

I loved the first two much so, I couldn't help but read ahead ;) I love this forum Jon. And I love the book. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention and then setting up this great community where we can share.

daphne said...

Teresa, when I read the part about you wanting to sell your home and downsize in order to give more, I could relate. I am reading a book right now about a couple (mainly the wife) who did such great things that she actually changed the community she lived in. I know of a family in my church that serves and gives back to the innercity in amazing ways. Often I find myself wishing I could do stuff like those people; but I can barely get my husband to church twice a month.

God pointed out my pride in wanting to serve where a difference could be seen. My mission field is my family. If I do nothing more than get my husband to find the way into heaven and raise my daughters to know and love God, I have changed my world in a HUGE way.

We will not give more this year, we will not serve the poor of our community more this year, we will not volunteer more at church this year but I can still be all that God wants from me by solidifying Christ in the hearts of those living in my home. And I need to be satisfied with my call (Heb 13:5) no matter what others think I need to do more.

Leanne said...

Hi, I'm Leanne from Southern California in the United States. I haven't actually made it to the end of chapter two yet.

But he said two things that ignore what other parts of the bible say. And I'm actually debating whether or not to continue reading it. I'm only up to page 32.

Page 31 gained my first protest: God is all-powerful. No argument there, but Chan extends this to mean we should not be demanding or questioning of God. Has this guy not read Genesis? Abraham argued with God to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (yeah, God went ahead and did it anyway, but he did arrange for the "good" people to leave -- these good people who promptly committed incest afterward, but I digress), Jacob wrestled with God. Moses and Aaron argued and complained to God. (To be fair, so did Miriam who was struck with leprosy for a while, which I consider highly unfair.)

Page 32, though, blew it. Chan writes that God is one of justice and goes on to say that he hates sin and will punish it where ever it happens and that intrinsically people are not good, only God is. This is how the thought process appears to go: people are not good ("none of us are good"), only God is good and he hates sin, but because we are not good we are therefore sinners and therefore God will punish us and that Jesus died for our sins because God wanted to show how much he hated sin.

Er. "God so hated the world that he gave his only Beloved Son"? Um, no, don't think so!

My response? Then why on earth did Jesus die for our sins if we are doomed anyway? And how am I supposed to love a God who is going to repeatedly punish me because I am a sinner? I mean, unless you're a sado-masochist, this does not appeal.

So that's where I'm at. I also didn't like that there have been two references to go watch a video to see what he really means about the wonder of creation and some other thing. Um, no. This is a book. Describe it. I actually got sufficient information from the book that I don't feel the need to go watch the video.

werms said...

Just because it's in the bible does not make it right. It makes it true. Examples of sin abound in the bible, OT especially as you have pointed out.
Jeremiah 17:9 states "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" That pretty well covers the fact that we are NOT good.
Sin WILL NOT go unpunished. It is a fact. The amazing truth to go along with that is spelled out in 2 Cor 5:21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus was made sin so that sin would be punished and we are free of the penalty of our sins by accepting that payment.
All I have time for now, but having a proper view of myself (sinful, worthless, wretched / loved, used, cherished) is what allow God to use us.

Teresa said...


Thank you! I could have written this statement:
"Often I find myself wishing I could do stuff like those people; but I can barely get my husband to church twice a month."
But, my husband doesn't go at all. He is happy for me to go and to take our daughter, but he doesn't.

I spoke to my mother about the book and my feelings (because like you - I always want to do more. I don't know that it is in big ways, but just more. I want to be pleasing to God.)

My mother said that my 'mission' was to continue to pray for my husband and to raise my daughter. She said anything else that I might want to do that would take away from those two things, she just doesn't believe that God would support that.

I think I understood then. I need to work where I am. God, if it is his will for me to do any of the other 'extravagant' things i have in my brain, will work out the rest in his time.

Thank you again Daphne.

Ron Jon said...

Let me know when you read something by Francine Rivers.

Leanne said...

Hey werms, thanks for the feedback. My problem is not with that we are sinners. My problem is with the "will not go unpunished". I was under the impression Jesus died for our sins. I was under the impression that God gave us this amazing gift of mercy, when he didn't have to.

Er, when I say "I was", I mean this is what I believe.

I believe it doesn't absolve from trying to be better people, to live up to the commandments He gave us.

But His gifts of mercy and of grace definitely put me in "awe" mode. Almost comparable to when I think about everything He created.

I think Chan missed an opportunity to share that wonder here. And it makes me question his motives for doing so.

Maybe all will be revealed. After skimming the comments (trying not to get spoiled on what I haven't read yet!), I'm going to continue reading...

Oh and thanks Jon for kicking me in the butt to read this book. I've had it since November and have been debating whether or not to read it since I heard Chan speak at the Outreach Convention (where he bugged me with his use of scripture)

I found myself marveling at the eucalyptus trees on the way to work this morning, which was nice :)

Abby said...

Just to weigh in weigh in about what Leanna said I'm not sure I understand exactly what you are saying. In your first post you referenced Genesis where God punishes Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin but then you said God does not punish sin.

For me I believe our "punishment" for our sin is the consequences they bring about. I don't think God would withhold bad things happening to me because I've wandered outside his will.

Corrina said...

My name is Corrina. I live in Henderson, NV, USA. Right next to Las Vegas.

First, I have to say that this book is powerful.

I loved chapter 1. Just sitting and thinking about how powerful and amazing God is...was a humbling thing. I guess it's one of those things I "know". But I can't really wrap my head around how big God is, or how terrifying it would be to actually encounter Him. After I finished chapter 1, I just laid on the bed for a while, not really wanting to pray. I often approach prayer with a casual or flippant attitude, and this made me stop and think and feel a bit of the fear of the Lord.

My favorite part of chapter 2 is the quote from A.W. Tozer on page 50. "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."

What a wise perspective.

Leanne said...

Ok, can I say that Chapter 2 was much, much better?

Although the verse he quoted: Corinthians 3:15 - "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

He made it sound like hellfire and brimstone, but I was sitting there, thinking, thanks be to God that I will escape! Which kinda makes me wanna go back and read the verse in context.

Oh look, it's about building your life on the foundation of Jesus. Well, that does fit in with what Chan is talking about here, although it seems to be more about the soul in 1 Corinthians, rather than earthly things...

Now that I've read Chapter 2 I can read all of the comments now. :)

1. I did read the preface and foreword.

2. I must be reading the wrong books. There is church bashing going on?

4. Didn't watch the videos and don't plan to.

Onto post page 32 stuff.

10. I struggle with worry too. I've been learning to surrender it to God. But "rejoice". Wow. That's more than praying: "God I'm leaving this in your hands". It's like: "Problem? What problem? God you are awesome!"

I think I've acknowledge mortality, although on reading this part, I regret putting something off last night. I plan -- I just acknowledge that those plans mightn't survive what the next day brings.

13. I must be the only person on the planet who didn't cry about Stan G. A great story though.

So there you go. I will probably finish reading the book before our next check-in but I will keep notes.

Word verification: woring
Defined: when you catch yourself worrying and put a stop to it. "I was woring for a moment there and then I remembered to praise God!"

Leanne said...

Abby -- With Sodom and Gomorrah, I was referencing Abraham arguing with God about it -- contrary to what Chan was saying that we should not make demands of God.

But yes, God did punish Sodom and Gomorrah and he did a whole bunch of smiting and punishing in the Old Testament (Exodus, Numbers, the fall of Jerusalem, etc) -- and then Jesus came along.

That's the difference. That's why we don't have to make sin offerings or observe kosher law. Because of what Jesus gave to us in his death and in his resurrection.

Prodigal Jon said...

Daphne -
"If I do nothing more than get my husband to find the way into heaven and raise my daughters to know and love God, I have changed my world in a HUGE way."

I really like that idea. I've written about this before, but sometimes I think "world" means far off people in far off places. And sometimes it does mean that but it also means the people we live with and work with and see everyday. That's the world too. Sometimes in my desire to "do big things for God" I miss the people and places he has me right now.

chriscrossing said...

Hi, I'm Chris from Princeton, Massachusetts.

@Megs, thanks for putting into words exactly where I am right now with God. God seems to be bringing me - or trying to bring me - to a place where I know Him without words. And I've been unable to explain how I've been feeling lately, even to myself, about seeing God as both Holy/removed from me and knowing all about me and wanting me to trust Him to take care of every care piece of my life.

@Daphne, oh did you speak my life! My minister once gave a sermon about God knowing our circumstances and taking those into consideration when evaluating what we've done for Him. A single person or a husband-wife team sold out for God don't have the same challenges an unyoked believer has. I went on a week-long mission trip to Guatemala last year and you know what I got out of it? This is wonderful, good stuff we are doing here, but my mission field is at home. To my family, to my friends (and strangers) who are hurting and need love.

So, to the book. My biggest take-away from these chapters is that it's all about Him. It's God's story. That's the only way anything makes sense to me. How else do you explain the Stan Gerlech thing? Or how else do you make sense of a 14-year-old girl who was sold out for God dying? Why would God take those people who were obviously spreading the gospel home to Him? How can we know? It's His story.

I was in a church for YEARS where God was WAY too small so I related to what was said in the preface. I figured out all that Francis is talking about in the first chapter by reading the Bible for myself. God is HOLY! I had completely missed that in all the stuff I had been taught about God in church. I really identified with Francis saying that God changed his heart largely in the times he spent reading God's Word. And this book (I've read the whole thing) has lead me right back to God's word!

katdish said...

I find it amazing that so many have different takes on this book. (For the record, Eve - I think (hope) I said IF the book was sucky, I like the book very much, and ironic is a very gracious way to describe my comments, I'd probably use another descriptive.)

I love the whack-a-mole analogy, I find that the more I attempt to truly abide in Christ, the more I am made aware of these little moles popping up all around me. I know they were there all along, but perhaps just a little more stealthy, as the ground surrounding them allowed them deeper cover.

The book has been challenging. The comments have been as well. This is really great. Yay! Book Club!

daphne said...

Jon commented at me! *squeel*

Monica said...

I have been intrigued by the recent comments about the God's punishment vs. His love. I have a thought from a book I read one time...God's punishment IS His love. Please let me try to explain before you send me to a counselor!:)

I agree with Abby that a lot of "punisment" is really more a consequence of sin rather than God raining His wrath down on our heads. God DOES hate sin. Why is that? Does it lessen His glory if I hate my neighbor? No, but it hurts my soul, and it may make it more difficult for my neighbor to understand the love of God. He loves both of us (me and my neighbor) so much that He HATES anything that would separate us from Him.

I think punishment or consequences are not because God is vindictive, but so that we can learn to understand just how much sin hurts us. I think that they are the fire that burns away the straw and the wood so that we can be pure gold in His presence. I hope that I learn to hate sin as much as He does, and I hope that I can gladly accept anything (punishment or whatever else you call it) that can bring me closer to Him!

Word verification: clint. Really? That's all I get?

Rachele said...

Monica-"I think punishment or consequences are not because God is vindictive, but so that we can learn to understand just how much sin hurts us."

...and I woulds add, not only us, but how much sin hurts God.

Nice thought, I've never looked at consequences as anything but the way 'to learn a lesson.' Though you should learn a lesson, and hopefully try not to repeat the 'sin,' I feel this is a really loving way of putting it, Thanks for giving me something to mull over.

elkaye said...

monica - i totally get what you're saying, and i agree, except i think the word you're looking for isn't really punishment. because the word punishment implies that you are given the consequences for your sinful/wrong actions. that word gives people the impression that God is not a loving God at all but one who wants to just send out His wrath. but since Christ took those consequences upon Himself on the cross, i believe anything that happens in this life, even if it seems "bad," isn't punishment at all but discipline that God is using to develop us to be more like Him. after all, parents who really love their children will discipline them instead of letting them do whatever they want, because children DON'T always know whats best for them.

Prodigal Jon said...

First up, hooray for Massachusetts. That's where I lived most of my life.

And second of all, I think what you said is a great example of what a great book does:

"And this book (I've read the whole thing) has lead me right back to God's word!"


heartafire said...

Yeah, Jon, but Katdish said it first.

Sarah said...

Hi. I'm Sarah from Illinois.

I had to push to get through the introduction and the preface. When he asked to me to watch a video I was hesitant and didn't watch it at first. By the second chapter I was hooked.

I was so intrigued by his statements about stress and worry that I read them over and over again.

The video was very "NOOMA-ish" but the content was good.

When he told the story about Stan I cried like an idiot.

I can't wait to see what's coming next!

Christy said...

Hello, I'm Christy from North Alabama. I have yet to make it through chapter two, but I'm getting there. So far there hasn't been a tremendous epiphany happen for me. However, I did find the challenge 'not to pray' interesting. I tried it, but I must admit that I love talking to my Father a great deal, so the not praying thing hasn't really worked for me. I do think that I need to respect, yes even FEAR Him more than I do, so I am trying to be more deliberate in my thoughts toward Him. I look forward to reading more and hopefully having more thought-provoking comments to add here in the future. Thanks, Jon, for opening this forum to discuss the book, Crazy Love. I think it's a great idea and I appreciate the opportunity to join in on a great discussion.

Prodigal Jon said...

Elkaye and Monica -
It's interesting to hear the discussion you're having between discipline and punishment. I guess I think about punishment as something that happens before and discipline that happens after. Discipline is about the prevention of pain in some ways. It might feel like it hurts at the time but ultimately it saves me from pain. Punishment is more of an after activity to me. But those are just some rambling thoughts.

mmorgancpa said...

I had heard in the past that being saved got you into Heaven, but your works on Earth earned you status or luxuries in Eternity. Does 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 seen to address this theory?

Tiffany said...

i am ready for more... when are we hitting the next chunk???

Matthew W said...

My name is Matthew, and I'm a native of Henderson, TX. I currently attend Baylor University in Waco, TX. I've been out of the loop for awhile, hence the very belated comment on this post... I fasted (if it can be called that) from all non-school internet stuff this week. Anyway...

1. I don't remember. It's been a few weeks since I began reading.
2. I think if we were to discuss the Church as a People rather than an institution, we could avoid this. If we, as the Church, began caring more about people than we care about legalities, I believe Christ would be glorified beyond our imaginations.
3. This makes me think of a statement I heard at a missions conference this past weekend: "What this generation [or, substitute 'the church'] lacks is not desire... it's development."
4. No.
5. Amazing.
6. Here's a quote from some message boards I visit occasionally: "The older I get, the more I realize there shouldn't be a question I don't like when it comes to following Jesus in a better way."
7. Again... amazing. That statement should be called "the middle finger of writing" to satan. Or, wait... that would actually be the Bible. Oops!
9. See #6.
10. I missed it, too. I praise God that He gives different people different insights into different parts of Scripture and different parts of life so that we can learn from each other... differently. (Is that enough uses of that word?)
12. For this particular sentiment, I would suggest Isaiah 43. One of the speakers at said mission conference this weekend referenced that passage... amazing. (I like that word, too, don't I?)

(this wv is too good to pass up. iness: what Apple is doing. iPod, iMac, etc.)

Sam said...

danggg i wish i had the book :( it sounds good!

Beth said...

Hi, I'm Beth, I'm in Oklahoma (for another month until we move to Alaska), and I am WAAAY late on joining the club, but book took FOREVER to get here.

That being said, I really enjoyed the first two chapters and am excited to read further. The only comment I wanted to add to all those excellent comments already posted is a song.

I was driving home from food shopping yesterday when the song, "Serve Him/Holy is the Lord" by Andrew Peterson came on my ipod. If you haven't heard it, I think you should as it really captures and puts beautifully into song what Francis' message of the first two chapters is.

And now I'm off to catch up on chapters 3-8. :)

Bernice said...

I absolutely loved the book! Very inspiring! Thank you for your comment on the 2 chapters!