Book Review: “Start” – Jon Acuff

The latest book I've finished is 'Start' by Jon Acuff. I've recently been on a Jon Acuff binge, following his own blog, his blog called 'Stuff Christians Like', reading the book with the same name, as well as writing about him too. I hope he doesn't read this. He'll get worried. Anyway below is a quick 4 question book review and some thoughts…

1. What's it about? 'Start' is Jon Acuff's latest book about getting ideas moving. With the tag line 'Punch fear in the face, escape average, do work that matters', Jon uses the pages to encourage us to move on with our dreams. I've heard it said before 'we all end up somewhere, it's just some of us end up somewhere on purpose.' This is what this book sharing about too. Jon outlines a process and 'stages' we can go through in our lives, and outlines what they look like how to pursue them, and assistance in each of then. The stages are 'Learning', 'Editing', 'Mastering', 'Harvesting', 'Guiding'. In the blurb he states that these stages used to be tied to your age, but not anymore. In honesty, even after reading the book I still don't quite get that.

2. What's the best bit? The wisdom Jon shares is great, but for me and Acuff's writing it's the funny quips and side comments he makes that kept me engaged with this book, great fun, lots of laughs and he seems to properly write out what his mind is thinking, going off on one sentence tangents bringing it all down to earth and keeping it real. This might sound a bit hard (and I don't want it to!) but his style outplays his content and wins 4-1, a comfortable victory.

3. Any tweetable lines? When speaking about working clever and hard he simply says “I've never met a farmer who was surprised by his crops.“. I live in the suburbs so I don't meet many farmers. But I get the point! Work hard and you'll see results.

4. Should I read it? In the space of being fair and honest, I'd say that if you want to read a good motivational book to get moving, getting things going and chasing your dreams then there are a LOT of books out there, and I wonder whether the world really needed this book? But, on the other hand, I'm very glad I've read it, as ultimately I do now feel motivated to get moving with some ideas I've had, and the patience to see me progress through the 'stages' he writes of at the right pace. So the book did work. And ultimately Jon Acuff is a good, funny writer too, very easy to read, so why not go for it anyway!

Have you read it? What do you reckon?


Captive In Iran – Book Review.

(Right now I'd like some sympathy as I wrote this blog entry about a month ago and somehow it was deleted before I published it. It's taken me so long to actually get round to putting it together again, out of anger and protest against the blogging app I use. I know you understand my pain here right?).

Recently I read the booking 'Captive In Iran', written by two Iranian women called Maryam Rostampour & Mariziyeh Amirizadeh. In my new, quick way of answering 4 questions, I'm quite enjoying this review of books, it helps me process my takeaways from them. Here is mine for this one…

1. What's it about? Captive In Iran follows the really story of Maryam and Mariziyeh as they are arrested in Iran for giving out Bibles. Although Christianity is not illegal in the country, the regime are strongly against any evangelism and spreading of the gospel there. These two women write about their experience over nearly a year in the terrible conditions of prison in Iran, how they continued to impact the women around them in the prisons for Christ, and how despite pressure, temptation and everything they were put through, they stood up for and close to Jesus in this time. The book also shares insights as to what life is like in Iran and how aspects of the regime are simply not right, for example a law that allows men to temporarily be married to a second wife in order to satisfy 'needs'. Let's remember, this all happened just recently in 2009.

2. What's the best bit? Considering the subject matter it's not right to say that there is a 'best bit', but it's great to read about the wonderful stories of how the 2 women just simply kept reaching out listening, and loving the other women in the prison. Some of them responded well to the girls, and others they had a tough challenge with them. But their determination to love was great. For me, I felt there are similarities in their faith and the stories themselves with Brother Yun in the Heavenly Man, the difference being a sense of vulnerability the women shared, and reality to their emotions they were feeling.

3. Any tweetable lines? Too big to tweet, but this short paragraph sums up some of the persistence these girls showed…”I have live with God for many years, during some lonely and difficult times. He is the only support I have. He is my all. We are inseparable. My life has no value without Him. I love God so much that denying Him would be denying my own existence. How could I ever deny something that is in every cell of my body? I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison if that's what it takes to stay close to Him. I would rather be killed than kill the spirit of Christ within me.”

4. Should I read it? In honesty it's not usually the kind of book I read. I was bought it by a friend and thought I would read it! It's a fascinating story. Whilst I'm on the honesty train, it did take a while to read and at times part of me was thinking 'if there was a 30min documentary about this, I'd much rather watch that than read the book.” But, it's a great story of determination, patience, perseverence and a big dose of a reality check for us Christian Westerners to see what a privileged place we live in as we worship and evangelise legally, in a countries where we have rights. Why not read it, and see for yourself what it really means to stand up for Christ.


Book Review – Stuff Christians Like

I blogged a while ago about Jon Acuff, a guy I have a mini-man crush on at the moment. He is an American author/comedian/speaker who used to work for some other guy and now does something else, and Heather bought me his book, so I read it.

Jon runs a blog called 'Stuff Christians Like', and it's purpose is through using satire and sarcasm, 'to clear away the clutter of Christianity in order to reveal the beauty of Christ' (stole this from 2 YouTube videos of his where he says it in exactly the same way, he's got his mission statement nailed!). The book of the same name is a collection of blog entries from this website. Here's my mini '4 question & answers' review of it…

1. What's it about? Everything from lifting your hands in worship, to finding a mission-trip-boyfriend. Let's be honest, I know it's published by Zondervan (and therefore MUST be important and deeply spiritual), and I know there are some blog entries with a good solid moral at the end, but I do wonder something. The book is mainly about being funny. That's why I read it so fast, and that's what I love about it. Sure, it does get you thinking about all the clutter and 'gumpf' of Christianity, and keeping the main thing the main thing, but it's mainly funny. That's why I love it.

2. What's the best bit? On so many occasions Heather caught me laughing out loud when I read the book (who lol's at a book?). But there is one particularly memorable chapter that speaks of how we all secretly prefer it when other people say 'yes Lord' rather than just 'yes' in response as we pray out loud, as if it carries more spiritual weight and God prefers that prayer to others. So true.

3. Any tweetable lines? Not really tweetable as it's not snappy enough for the twitterverse, but the entry called 'Using “let me pray about it” as a euphemism for “no”' simply begins “I love when someone asks us to help out at church and instead of saying 'no' we say ' Let me pray about it'. Really?!”. Genius.

4. Should I read it? If you have no sense of humour, please don't as it will annoy you and you'll come away thinking that this Jon Acuff guy is definitely not saved and is definitely going to hell. If you do have a sense of humour (or want one) then yes go for it, you'll love it and it's an educating experience for us Christians in the subtle stupidities of Christian culture in the West.


‘The Cost of Discipleship’ – 4 Question Book Review


Sometimes when I read a book it flies by. It's as if I've picked it up, breathed in once or twice and then I've finished it. The latest book I read as the one above – 'The Cost of Discipleship' by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A bit of a classic and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would say “WHAT?! How have you only just read that! It's an essential for all Christians!!!! Are you even saved!?”.
In answer to your questions, yes I am saved, and reading 50 books in 1 hour is above my ability. And I do own an XBOX 360 which really fights against my books for my attention. I won't say who wins usually. But, I do read, I've always got at least one book on the go.
Rather than writing huge amounts to review the book, I thought I'd answer 4 questions so you get the jist:
1. What's it about? It's about the truth of following Christ. It's about the tough calling and gives help as to how we can truly follow Him – not just call ourselves Christians and hope for the best. It's for people wanting to pursue holiness.
2. What's the best bit? There are two best bits- 1. He writes about the issue of 'cheap grace', that Gods grace needs to cause us to give everything to Him in our lives (a challenge to all of us). And 2. He does a great exegesis ('unpacking') of the Sermon on the amount.
3. Any tweetable lines? “You can only learn what obedience is by obeying. It is no use asking questions; for it is only through obedience that you come to learn the truth.” – ooof- there's a challenge.
4. Shall I read it? Yes. Go for it. It's a classic. It's a big challenge to the way we think and live. It can be hard going in places as you're reading it, but worth getting through to the end, I did love the final couple of chapters, so glad I stuck it out!