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The Hole in Our Gospel

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A wake up call
This is one of the most significant books in my life, waking me up to the call of the whole Gospel and the importance God puts on the well-being of his creation. God actually cares about people having enough to eat, having clean water, being happy in their ability to sustain themselves and about justice, mercy, kindness and true righteousness, the kind of righteousness that looks after people and cares about relationships rather merely about adheriing to a set of rules and rituals. I highly recommend this book. A great companion to this book is Tim Keller's "Generous Justice," which takes a close look at what God intended in Scripture when he gave his Law to the Jewish people.
Review by / (Posted on 7/29/2013)
This is a must read book for anyone who has ever wondered should I choose money or GOD
This was a fantastic book by Richard Stearns that encapsulated the difficulties found within the church. Whether the discussion centered on the often argued subject of tithing or on the definition of poverty and the plight of the poor or the cost of war, Richard delves into these areas with a critical analysis that his expertise lends.

The interesting thing about this book comes from its author, who left a high paying job as a CEO to accept his calling with World Vision. Richard wrestled with this decision and, in essence, with GOD. It was amazing to hear him recall how he kept waiting for the search commitee to move on to another candidate and all the reasons he was not the right person for the job.

While I loved this book and enjoyed many aspects of it, I do not share Richard Stearns opinion of the cost of war. I agree that war is terrible and there is a literal cost in wasted lives and potential as well as in monetary terms.

I also understand his point about how much money is spent in building up each nation's military, while a reduction in that cost could eradicate poverty in the world. That was absolutely correct. However, the world is not that simplistic because there has been evil as long as we have had this world. Therefore, there continues to be evil people who want to us harm.

It is not as easy as cutting back on our military when there is a real threat out there. In this day and age of radical Islam and Jihadists it would be foolish to expect a reduction in the military.

In the final analysis, GOD will prevail in our world and Richard Stearns shows us the steps that need to be taken so we can live as HE intended. Please buy this book if you get the chance because it is well worth the price for it.
Review by / (Posted on 9/26/2011)
Optimistic Realism
Stearns laments, "[O]ur view of the gospel has been narrowed to a simple transaction, marked by checking a box on a bingo card at some prayer breakfast, registering a decision for Christ, or coming forward during an altar call. ... In our evangelistic effort to make the good news accessible and simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of 'fire insurance' that one can buy." He continues, incorporating the title and the premise of the book. "There is a real problem with this limited view of the kingdom of God; it is not the whole gospel. Instead, it's a gospel with a gaping hole" (p. 17).

What would the gospel without the gaping hole look like? Stearns says, "If we are to be part of this coming kingdom, God expects our lives - our churches and faith communities too - to be characterized by these authentic signs of our own transformation: compassion, mercy, justice and love - demonstrated tangibly" (p. 57).

I found this book to be very engaging, challenging, and well-written. It is clear that Stearns is living the message that he is proclaiming. He has experienced the best of times and the worst of times, and they have both combined to form a powerful mixture of intelligence, clarity, and passion.

Using stirring stories, relevant Scripture passages, eye-opening statistics, and personal insights, this book is the best I have ever encountered on the subject of trading in the American Dream of fleeting success for God's Dream of everlasting shalom (peace) in the world.

In the face of such a large agenda, Stearns advocates for neither optimism nor pessimism, but realism. He concludes, "The pessimist here sees only obstacles. The optimist sees only possibilities. But the realist sees the possibilities between the two. And that's who we must be. We must be people of the possible" (pp. 274-275).
Review by / (Posted on 5/2/2011)
Compelling and convicting
Part biography and part call to action, I found this to be quite compelling overall. It's very well written, and the message is communicated effectively. It could have used a few more mentions of other organizations beyond World Vision (there are some, but readers may be curious for more), but overall I highly recommend it.
Review by / (Posted on 2/14/2011)
Balanced view of faith and works
“The Hole in Our Gospel” is an autobiographical book about Richard Stearns’ journey from CEO of Lennox to President of World Vision. Not only is this an autobiography, but also a call to Christians to put their faith to action by helping those less fortunate.
I appreciate Stearns’ transparency and honesty in his book. It seemed like he had the perfect life: good family life, good job, good income. But he trusted in the Lord and gave up his worldly success to work with those in need. Giving up his life of luxury wasn’t easy. He talks about his struggles and resistance to leave his life behind. However, he knew what the Lord was calling him to do and so he finally surrendered all that he had to become the president of World Vision.
I believe Stearns’ outlook borders on the “Social Gospel” trend, but he is also one of the more balanced authors I’ve heard regarding this subject. He uses examples and principles in the Bible regarding putting your faith into action and helping the poor and oppressed. I’m glad that he discussed the balance of faith and works. Christians are saved by faith, but proof of that faith should be good works. After listening to his audiobook, I believe that every Bible-believing church needs to have a ministry/ministries that focuses on the poor and/or less fortunate.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that he seems to admire people that I would consider good humanitarians, but are not Bible-believing Christians. It seemed a bit ecumenical.
The narrator had a pleasant voice, but I thought he read a little too slow for me.
“The Hole in Our Gospel” was inspiring, challenging, and encouraging. It is a call for Christians to get out of their comfort zone and do something to impact the lives of those less fortunate.
This review was written as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.
Review by / (Posted on 12/19/2010)
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