Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Posted by admin | Posted in Love | Posted on 25-09-2010-05-2008


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Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

  • ISBN13: 9781434768513
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God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know somethings wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts—it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everyt

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

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

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

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

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

These two themes and a focus on the Scriptures serve to create a powerful and deeply challenging book. There is a very obvious commitment here to teach Scriptural principles from the Scriptures and to invite the reader to verify what he is writing from those same Scriptures. Not surprisingly, the book’s weakest chapter is the one that depends least on the Bible. It is a chapter providing examples of men and women who have made radical choices to live radically different. At least a couple of examples are of people who are probably not the best examples overall because as they’ve jettisoned their old lives, they’ve also jettisoned too much good theology.

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

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Review by James John Hollandsworth, M.D. for Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
If you can read just one book this year, let Crazy Love be the one book.

It’s that good. It’s beautiful, hard-hitting, easy to read, convicting, life-transforming.

Remember a time when you had fallen in love? How everything in your life seemed to change? You did some crazy stuff. THAT’S exactly how our lives should change, if we truly fall in love with God.

Here is a summary of each chapter of the book, to give you a preview. I’ll say it again, READ THIS BOOK!


This book is to convince you that by surrendering yourself totally to God’s purposes, He will bring you the most pleasure in this life and the next.

Chapter One

Our problem isn’t working harder, but realizing who God is, how “crazy” his love for us is, and falling in love with God. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything in your life.

Chapter Two

On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. It’s crazy that we think today is just a normal day to do whatever we want with. Do you live with the fact that perhaps today you will die? Life is all about God and not about us at all.

Chapter Three

The greatest good on this earth is God. Period. God’s one goal for us is Himself. Do you believe that God is the greatest thing you can experience in the whole world?

Chapter Four

Remember the parable of the soils. DO NOT ASSUME YOU ARE GOOD SOIL. Most American churchgoers have thorns that choke any seed that is in them. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.

Chapter Five

Jesus clearly states over and over he wants all or nothing. We can not give him leftovers, we cannot give him only what doesn’t hurt us or only what doesn’t put us at risk.

Chapter Six

To change our hearts, what we value, what we risk, how we act, we don’t need more guilt or more rules, we just need to be in love with God. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

Chapter Seven

Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.

God wants us to trust Him with abandon. He wants to show us how He works and cares for us. He doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come true.

Chapter Eight

People who are obsessed with Jesus care more about the Kingdom than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress, live lives that connect them with the poor, will do things that don’t make sense in terms of success or wealth, will seek humility, take joy in loving people, will be known as givers, not takers, will orient their lives around eternity, and will be characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God.

Chapter Nine

There are people who really do live with a crazy love for Jesus, and if you look at their lives, it will eliminate every excuse for not living a radical, love-motivated life for Him.

Chapter Ten

How you live your days becomes how you have lived your life.

Love. Risk. Listen to the Spirit. Be committed to live each day as if it is your last before you meet Jesus.

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Review by B. Roberson for Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
I think the message of Crazy Love is GREAT. Christians need a wakeup call, jump start, etc. I have no doubts this book was inspired divinely. I just don’t feel that the way it was presented is as divinely inspired.

Chan spends the first eighty pages right on target with his message: Christians need to live as Christ called us. We should live sacrificially, we should live completely and totally sold out to Him. But Chan’s method is sometimes very disturbing. He makes the assertion that if one believes in Christ, but doesn’t follow His commands, then that person isn’t going to Heaven. Pages 83-84 he states:

As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. To put it plainly, church goers who are “lukewarm” are not christians. We will not see them in Heaven.

He defines “lukewarm” as someone who does not follow Christ’s commands. We’re all guilty of that. So I can lose my salvation? So am I even really saved in the first place? Does one sin after accepting Christ negate my accepting of Christ?

We all sin, even as Christians. By sinning, we are disobeying God’s commandments. Because we all still sin, we are all a little “lukewarm.” Some are “hotter” than others who are “colder.” This I understand. But Chan fails to mention what “temperature” at which we all get to spend eternity with Christ in fellowship. He says that lukewarm Christians will not go to heaven. Mr. Chan, I don’t believe it’s a gray scale, it’s whether you accept Christ as your savior or not. If you do believe he loved you enough to die in place of you to save you from original sin, then you go to Heaven to be with Him forever. If not, you don’t.

If Chan’s implications are true, then WHO exactly HAS salvation? Romans 3:23 says that we all sin. Paul spends half of chapter 7 of Romans outlining his own struggle with sin. So I can’t expect to see the Apostle Paul in Heaven, because by Chan’s suppositions Paul isn’t there? Even if I manage to get there, which by Chan’s suppositions, I won’t because I disobey God.

It takes him 86 3/4 pages to mention the concept of grace. This seems to be the turning point of the point, where the shovel goes from digging the hole, to refilling it.

Chan’s vehicle for change seems to be guilt and fear. Romans 8:1 has one cure for that, while 1 John 4:18 has the other one.

This book is great for Christians who need a kick in the butt. It’s also simultaneously not great for young Christians first learning to walk, because it is perilously close to condemning at times, and fails to mention grace until midway through the book. Chan seems to imply (and frequently has to apologize for such implication) that in order to prove that you love God, you have to live “crazy.” If “works-based salvation” were a circle on the floor, Chan dances dangerously around the outside from all directions.

He could have simply said that works are a manifestation of your faith and salvation, and not a precursor to it. Faith happens first, salvation immediately follows, then works is evidence of the faith. It is devoid of the discussion of grace until midway through the book.

I understand that his implications that without the works, the faith can’t be proven alive. He also fails to mention that some people are called to live incredibly mediocre and mundane lives, in which they go to work, make money, and donate generously to charities and to bankroll the missionaries. Jesus does say to the rich young man to sell all his possessions and “Follow me.” This right young man thought so highly of his own possessions, that Jesus wanted to prove a point. But what of Abraham who demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice Isaac? The willingness is key. If we are not willing to sacrifice all we have to God, then we are lukewarm. This is where Chan isn’t abundantly clear, and his message can be misinterpreted easily for “works-based salvation.”

But the message at its core is good. Just be careful in recommending to young Christians.

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Review by K. Harrington for Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
I am not one to throw the baby out with the bath water so despite my few hesitations I like much of what Pastor Chan has to say. The first three chapters are very good. My concern comes in how he gives with one hand while he takes with the other. For example, in chapter four he says “don’t assume you are the good soil” (p. 67) and he asks you to “take a searching, honest look at your life” (p. 68). He then gives multiple examples of what it means to be lukewarm. My guess is a lot of people are going to take his lukewarm test in chapter 4 and decide they might be a little lukewarm only to discover in chapter 5 he considers lukewarm believer to be “an oxymoron, there is no such thing.” (p. 83-84). And yet he goes on to say “I don’t want true believers to doubt their salvation as they read this book.” (p. 87) and “I’m not saying that when you mess up it means you were never really a Christian in the first place (p. 88). After offering those reassurances he’s back to taking them away on pages 97-98: “I know that this whole swimming upstream, pursuing Christ, taking up your cross, counting the cost thing isn’t easy. It’s so hard, in fact, that Jesus said the road is narrow and few will actually find it…and fewer still among those who are rich. Like the parable of the sower, don’t assume you are the good soil; don’t assume you are one of the few on the narrow way.” Then on page 101 back to offering reassurance: “My fear in writing the previous chapter is that it evokes in you only fear and guilt.” How do I determine the difference between when I am merely messing up (even he admits he failed often. p. 20) and when I am a lukewarm illegitimate believer? This is confusing at best and harmful to one’s assurance of salvation at worst. It seems to me that what many will get out of all this is we must not take our salvation for granted and therefore we must continually scrutinize ourselves to determine if we bear the marks of a child of God. I just think a teaching that emphasizes such introspection to see if we pass certain tests which prove we are Christians cannot help but lead to doubt and insecurity.

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Review by L. mironuck for Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
I believe this author has great intentions of giving the north american church a “wake-up” call saying that we are not where we need to be. There were several great statements that will, at the least, get the reader analyzing his or her life. I can appreciate much of the discussion he made on the use of our time and resources.

There were several statements of the “lukewarm christian” that were bold. He further states that these descriptions of lukewarm christians will not enter heaven. Brave and unbiblical statements. Chan is focused on works, what we are doing. If it’s not in the “box” of works and strict sacrifice then God is not going to let us into heaven. He is using guilt as a tool of change, even though he repeatedly states that crazy “love” cannot be motivated by guilt.

Not everyone is called to the mission field, called to begin a ministry, sell all they have and move some where, etc. God is interested in our hearts, our motives, in our growth and interested in us understanding Him on a deeper level. As Christians we are all at different places in our walk with him and it’s by His grace alone that we are saved, not by works that any man should boast.

This book has the potential to scare the new believer, confuse a baby christian and quite frankly lead a solid believer into despair and unwarranted fear.

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