The Hole in our Gospel – Richard Stearns

In the process of reading another great book. This one, is The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns (President, World Vision U.S.), published by Thomas Nelson, 2009 [ISBN 978-0-7852-2918-6 (hardcover)].

The book, naturally covers a lot of the work undertaken by World Vision and Richard Stearns’ role in managing this large organisation; set against the whole range of the world’s problems – caused by injustice, disease¬†and poverty.

There’s a lot, one could say about this book, but these few lines from the back cover, catch the main theme in a nutshell: What does God expect from us? Is our faith just about going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins – or does God expect more? Have we embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it?”

You can read more at the web site: www.theholeinourgospel.com

It’s a fairly long book, around 300 pages; I’m about half way through it and finding it a difficult book to read quickly because almost every chapter contains elements, which cause me to put the book down for awhile and ask myself the question – how do I respond to this type of issue? It really brings into focus the horrible fact of man’s inhumanity to man.

I love this quote, which I read this morning: ‘Mother Teresa once said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” We are just the ‘pencils’. Once we understand that, we might actually become useful to God.’

It might appear that we can do nothing of significance to help overcome the impact of injustice around the world; but it is God who makes us strong in our weaknesses – we can do something!

This book is well worth your time.

[Footnote: I’ve noticed that if you do a Google search on the title of this book, a number of reviews can be found. One, in particular, by a writer of Christian books – is prominent; however, I feel that the reviewer has missed the point of Richard Stearns’ book, and he ignores the obvious, which is – the title of the book implies that we already know the core elements of ‘our Gospel’. The reviewer also makes unqualified statements along the same lines of his criticism of the book; for example, ‘Not only does this ignore the possibility that military expenditure can actually help the poor … ‘. And, no clarification is offered – considering it’s a very strange comment to make – I would have expected some form of explanation.

Yet, I must say that after I re-read a lot of Richard’s book and checked the figures in many of the tables – there are errors; many have been corrected in the ‘Notes’ section of the book. I was left with the impression that the book was rushed into production but I would have preferred for the more serious errors to have been corrected in the body of the book.

In summary, these errors do not detract from the main message; they are only a concern for statistical purists like myself.

There are other reviews, which question the way organisations like World Vision work with local churches in developing countries. Always a difficult issue to get right all the time. I’ve talked to people who work in this area and most aid organisation constantly review their performance in this area, and try to address local concerns as they arise. One area of activity – disaster relief work – is very well coordinated between governments and agencies; and, this is a result of the many evaluations of past disaster relief episodes. These activities can always be improved – yet, it’s better to do something, even if less than perfect – then nothing at all.]

ForGotten God – Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit

At Christmas, I read another of Francis Chan’s books: Forgotten God. I downloaded it as an eBook from one of the local distributors of Christian material.

This is a book, which I can fully endorse – Francis covers well, the role of the Holy Spirit and he devotes one chapter (3), on the theology of the Holy Spirit.

I think this extract from his introduction will give you a good overview of the type of journey, Francis will take you on – as you read this book.

“You might think that calling the Holy Spirit the ‘forgotten God’ is a bit extreme. Maybe you agree that the church has focused too much attention elsewhere but feel it is an exaggeration to say we have forgotten about the Spirit. I don’t think so.

From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m wiling to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.”

I don’t believe a person can be an effective witness for Christ – if they ignore the workings of the Holy Spirit. Overall, this is a very good book; and, Chapter 6 ‘Forget About His Will for Your Life’, is excellent – even if you only glance at this chapter it may change how you live your life!

There is more online: www.ForgottenGod.com

[Forgotten God Рpublished by David C. Cook, author Francis Chan, co-author Danae Yankoski. First Edition 2009, ISBN 978-1-4347-6795-0 ]