I'm trying out a new format for book reviews. Let me know if you like it or not.
At the recent NewSpring Leadership Conference, Steven Furtick kindly gave all participants an "Advance Reading Copy" of his new book, Sun Stand Still. The book has been waiting in que, until now. I half expected the book to be an account of the startup and "success" of Elevation Church in Charlotte. I was pleasantly surprised.
Purpose - Sun Stand Still was written to inspire audacious faith in an incredible God. Believers often live life to the lowest common denominator, but God remains a great God, desirous of doing amazing things.
Content - Joshua's battle against the Amorites in Joshua 10 provides the backdrop for most of this book and, obviously, the title. God had promised Joshua victory over the pagans, but night was creeping up, threatening to short-circuit a complete victory. Joshua requested the absurd from God - that God would make the sun stand still. Not a whole lot of precedent for this prayer. Furtick encourages believers to place their faith in an awesome God and similarly ask for incredible things from God, in all areas of life - Sun Stand Still prayers. Furtick also encourages the development of Page 23 visions. He was reading the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and came across this sentence on page 23: "I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf." Furtick isn't promoting a gospel though that promises you the world if you only plant the seed money. In fact, he cautions that "if the dream in your heart isn't biblically based, focused on Jesus, affirmed by the key people in your life, and tethered to your passions, gifts, and life experiences, chances are, you're way off prompt." In short, this book isn't that different from William Carey's encouragement to "expect great things from God, attempt great things for God."
Analysis - For some reason it's natural to start uncomfortably squirming in your chair when someone starts into the "believe in God and watch Him do incredible things" line. However, this book was one of the better sources I've read on the connection between faith, prayer, and our relationship with God. He demonstrates all the biblical reasons to absolutely believe in God for a Page 23 vision while firmly staking our expectations on the word of God and the faithfulness of God. He aptly addresses the cost of asking God for great things, why God doesn't grant us the miracles we desire every time, the delays in God's answers, and the need to "push while you pray. This book would have been less than half the book it turned out to be if Furtick had ignored these questions that press on most of our minds.
Who will benefit from the book? Every believer can and will benefit from this book. The examples given in the book range from the page 23 vision to start a church to reach Charlotte to the passion to reach a loved one for Christ.
How will they benefit? This book is fantastic help for those seeking God's direction and plan for their lifes. It encourages us to looks above the pile of work we are buried in and seek what God desires to accomplish. It pushes us beyond existence to participating in God's plans. Furtick also soberly reminds that there is a price to be paid and that we must put feet to our prayers.
Where does this book fit into the process of ministry design? Reading through this book would be particularly helpful early in the stage of setting up your ministry. It encourages you to think beyond what everyone else is doing and seek God's face for what he would have you to do. Probably not a bad book to read before planning a new year either!
Aha Thoughts - "The world is waiting for change. God's people are the change the world is waiting for. So seize the vision. Activate audacious faith. Make your move."