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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
Stephen Arterburn is founder and chairman of new Life Clinics, host of the daily “New Life Live!” national radio program, creator of the Women of Faith Conferences, a nationally known speaker, and a best-selling author whose books have sold more than seven million copies. He lives in Laguna Beach, California.
Visit the author's website.
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church, where more than seven thousand men are connected in small groups. He is an award-winning author and coauthor of more than fifteen books on men’s issues, including Risk, Dream, Fight, and Soar. He and his wife, Chrissy, reside in Trabuco Canyon, California, with their children
Visit the author's website.
Every Man, God’s Man is tailor-made for any man who may feel incomplete in his commitment to God. It’s for the man who wants to become even more authentic, more courageous, more intimate with God in every area of his life. It’s for every man who desires to walk in true spiritual integrity every moment of every day.
Like other books in the best-selling Every Man series, Every Man, God’s Man boldly gets into your head, gives you hope, and equips you to persevere in your individual pursuit of God.
Includes a comprehensive workbook for individual and group study.
List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
in the red zone?
During the past several years, I (Kenny) have witnessed men commit to becoming God’s man through Every Man Ministries. I’ve found that it’s not about asking guys to do more; it’s about asking them to be more. It’s not about asking them to pursue a plan or respond to a cool idea or even to a dare. It’s about convincing guys, deep down, that being God’s man is worth the risk. Why is that?
Doing more puts a man in control.
Being more puts God in control.
Doing more is a safe style for men.
Being more is risky.
Doing more implies there’s an end to it.
Being more is a process—fluid and unpredictable.
Doing more lets a man pick the changes he needs to make.
Being more allows God to reveal the changes a man needs to make.
Doing more requires trying harder.
Being more relies on training humbly.
Doing more engenders spiritual pride.
Being more produces humility through surrender.
Doing more is about correcting behavior patterns.
Being more is about connecting with God’s character.
Doing more attaches to the public persona.
Being more reaches the private self—the man God wants to reach.
So here’s the bottom line of this book: The men’s movement of the last two decades has been challenging men to love more, say more, pray more, read the Bible more, discipline themselves more, love their wives more, and serve their kids more. Men have wanted all those things, but the majority of them are failing over the long haul. The men’s movement has asked men to do what their hearts and characters cannot deliver. Author Dallas Willard got it right: What’s needed is a renovation of the heart before a renovation of lifestyle.
I know there was a time when I needed an overhaul. It happened years ago when I was a credit-card company’s dream customer—young and stupid enough to believe that a piece of gold plastic “had its advantages” and would connect me with some special fraternity of the financial elite. My gold card fed my appetite for all sorts of “needs.” Clothes, birthday and anniversary trips, and lavish dinners out were all benign events for which I supplied perfect justifications. Christmas gifts, home improvements, and repairs on my snazzy foreign sports car became part of my lifestyle. And just as reality should have slapped me in the face, additional lines of credit would mysteriously arrive.
My family’s rise in discretionary spending came after we moved to Orange County, California, in the go-go 1990s. I started to earn more money, but I also started to believe my own rationalizations regarding my finances. I trusted our credit cards more than I trusted God. I certainly didn’t have the faith to believe that if we gave our 10 percent, He would make the other 90 percent work for us.
Ten years ago I was a credit-card
company’s dream customer.
So I gave less to the church and spent more on myself. I refused to deny my family any desire—including a nice home in an upscale neighborhood. After all, I had great credit. I ignored my wife, Chrissy’s, urgings to tighten our financial belts, which only accelerated our insidious spiral into financial bondage. All of the turmoil caused tremendous amounts of anxiety that remained invisible to outsiders but was visibly and verbally incinerating our home and marriage at the end of every month.
SLAVE TO CREDITORS
One night, following a lively discussion with Chrissy about our messed-up finances, I happened to open my Bible. My eyes fell to these words: “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Seven words, seven tons of impact. I was a slave—to my creditors. I had also enslaved my family because of my inability to say no to myself. Worse, my character deficiency had moved God away from the center of my life and replaced Him with financial anxiety. This, I felt, was a form of idolatry. That truth kindled my repentance and a desire to change, which I confessed to my wife.
I also sought help from friends. Not financial help, but prayer and counsel regarding our precarious financial situation. I can remember weeping in front of my close friends after I disclosed that we had rung up twenty thousand dollars in credit-card debt. I was embarrassed in every way, but I was past caring. I was determined to do what it took to get honest with myself and with the mess I had created. The only way I knew to accomplish that was to humble myself before God, my wife, and my buddies and ask for their help. I never felt so humbled. I had been a Christian for thirteen years; during five of those years I was a missionary making a fraction of what I now earned in my California job. I should have been content and debt free, but I wasn’t.
God’s solution had been there all along. It was only a matter of my trusting in His proposition. All I had to do was live within my means and give the first 10 percent back to God. Oh, I had heard my pastor say over and over that we can’t out give God, and a part of me wanted to believe that. Like the rich young ruler of the Gospel accounts, however, I hedged my bets, preferring my own way over God’s way. My arrogance was astonishing. I could not let go.
Finally unable to buy another thirty days, and with no magical miracle bonuses in sight, reality hit. I had to drive my wife’s minivan to work, since that was the only car in working order, but that left her stranded. The stress on our marriage was enormous, and when I finally mustered the courage to get honest with myself, I gave it over to God. I remember saying, “Whatever it takes, Lord.” Simply put, if that meant living with one car, so be it. If it meant giving to the church when it made no sense, I would give. If it meant submitting myself to an austere monthly budget for two years to get out of debt, that, too, was what I would do.
God’s solution had been there all along. It was
only a matter of my trusting in His proposition.
That day, the last major bastion of control fell into God’s hands, and His victory was both humbling and liberating. Although I was awash in debt, I became the richest of all men because, deep inside, I was committed to the course.
What bastions have you erected against God’s goodness and blessing in your life? Most men can name them in a nanosecond. God has already been speaking to them, convicting them that their priorities are seriously out of line. God’s message, and mine, is that those walls have to fall—for the sake of His kingdom. Or, to use a football analogy (remember Steve’s story?): God isn’t looking for a man’s man to break up the Enemy’s line. He is looking for a God’s man to drive the ball home.
I wasn’t being God’s man. Under the blitz of financial pressure, my drive toward victory in Christ’s kingdom stalled. At a time in my life when I should have been chewing up serious yards of turf in my service to Him, I bogged down in a financial quagmire and fumbled the ball. But this book isn’t about finances; it’s about bogging down spiritually when our offense should be in full attack mode to score for Him. This imagery reminds me of another piece of turf I love so well—the green stretch of grass known as the “red zone” at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
IN THE RED ZONE BUT STUCK?
Every fall, like the swallows that return to the San Juan Capistrano Mission not far from our Southern California home, our family makes its annual return to the Rose Bowl, where the UCLA Bruins play their home football games. Unlike my writing partner, Steve Arterburn, I love football, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t crazy enough to suit up in high school. (Actually, Steve loves football—he just hated playing it.)
Anyway, Chrissy and I are huge UCLA boosters, but that’s to be expected, since we both graduated from UCLA. Chrissy was one of those cute cheerleaders who wore white sweaters and pleated skirts and shook Bruin pompoms back in the mid-eighties when both of us were enrolled on The Westwood campus.
These days we love taking our three children—Cara, Ryan, and Jenna—to several games each fall. From the opening kickoff, I always edge up in my bleacher seat when the Bruins reach the red zone, that patch of grass between the twenty-yard line and the goal line. Everyone knows UCLA has a great chance to score when they reach that zone. The offense is in full attack mode while the defense stiffens in a do-or-die effort to hold the Bruins to a field-goal attempt. As my father-in-law likes to say, “It’s mano a mano in the RZ,” and he’s right. The red zone is all about the heart and desire to drive the ball all the way in.
I’ve long felt that the red zone is an apt metaphor for our spiritual journeys. Early on, we think we’re moving the ball for God, but it’s really more like losing a few yards here and gaining a few there. As we spiritually mature, however, and reach the red zone—where we can score against Satan and for the kingdom—all too often we fail to take the ball all the way in. For one reason or another, we never completely reach full attack mode. For me, finances bogged the drive. But there are any number of reasons to explain why this happens: We lose focus, Satan gets us too busy, we fall into sin, or we lack the experience to make the right call in a hotly contested domain of our lives.
You don’t want to be in a hurry-up offense when you’re in the red zone. But all too often we live in a rush, rush, rush, shoving aside the time to read God’s Word or invest in relationships with other Christian men or volunteer for God’s work. For many men, this lack of time is a major source of disconnection. One guy in the church where I teach a men’s Bible study spoke for thousands of others when he told me, “I’m always running late! I wake up late, I leave the house late, and I arrive at work a little late—really late if the traffic is bad. I must not be prioritizing my time well.”
In football, a blitz is intended to distract and disrupt the opposing offense. In life, Satan has been calling in spiritual blitzes on each of us. “Hurry the man” is one of his most effective drive-stuffers for men in the red zone. Or he may blitz our thought lives, leaving our offense spinning its wheels in muddy sensuality. Whatever it takes, he’ll blitz us with any behavior or distraction that limits us to no gain or the equivalent of spiritual field goals instead of touchdowns.
So what can be done about it?
Like a good football team, we must read the blitz and adjust. We’ll explore some adjustments in the coming pages. Look, I’ve been sacked more than once in the red zone. I know that my relationships with Chrissy and the kids have been shortchanged by a state of perpetual hurriedness. More important, I’ve fumbled away my intimacy with God by choosing my own way rather than adjusting according to the gifts and the training He’s given me.
Every Man, God’s Man will help you make better calls when you’re feeling blitzed from all sides. You’ll learn how to complete your drive toward spiritual maturity and lead a fulfilling, God-driven life. By the time you finish reading this book, you’ll be trained to handle any defensive scheme that Satan or others will throw at you. You’ll be able to complete the drive that God has been training you for—to possess a heart that is completely His.
Far too many men do not give themselves
fully to being God’s man. It’s like going
three-and-out in a football game.
I started Every Man Ministries in 1999 to help other men in their spiritual walks and in building better marriages and strong families. That quest has taken me to every part of the country, where I’ve spoken before thousands of men at various men’s conferences. When I’m home in Southern California, I sit down each week with one hundred men to study God’s Word, which often leads to numerous counseling sessions. The chance to be a listening ear, offer advice, and pray with these men has been an awesome privilege. As a pastor friend once said: “If you reach a man, then you reach every relationship he has.”
All of this man-to-man experience has convinced me that far too many men do not give themselves fully to being God’s man. It’s like going three-and-out in a football game; they make three lackluster attempts to run or pass the ball, then they punt away their opportunity.
GE T BA C K I N ZO N E MO D E
I want you to get back into the game and advance the ball downfield, pierce the red zone and ram it home, and enjoy greater intimacy with God as you connect with His plan and purposes for your future. God’s goal is to finish the work in you—to have you stride into the end zone, legs kicking high—“that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
So let me tell you where we are going with this book. You may be aware that Every Man, God’s Man is part of the series that includes Every Man’s Battle, Every Young Man’s Battle, and Every Man’s Marriage. Those three are what I call tactical books—filled with strategies, plans, and perspectives to help men overcome temptation, grow in sexual integrity, and become truly intimate with their wives. This book is different. We’re going to come alongside you and talk about what we see along the way to becoming God’s man.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s easy to be frank with a guy when you are talking about his penis or his wife. A man is attached to both. But for most men, God does not have this same kind of proximity. Men, in general, are not spiritually deep and don’t possess the same connection to spiritual issues as they do to sexual and marital issues.
Automatic connections with spiritual truths are not as easy to come by. It usually takes someone you respect getting into your space and telling it like it is—no sugarcoating. Our goal in Every Man, God’s Man is to identify what God is specifically saying to you in ways that will allow you to get it and get back into a red-zone mode that moves you forward with enthusiasm and joy in the Lord. In coming chapters, you’ll learn about:
• the personal benefits of having an undivided heart toward God
• how to stop resolving to change and instead experience a revolution
• how to move against fear and replace it with faith
• how there is no such thing as a “double agent” believer because
one agent is always compromised
• how to deal with the “mole” within that bids you to indulge the
• how winning or losing a spiritual foothold changes the tide of war
• how and why “80/20” thinking fails; that is, doing things
80 percent God’s way and 20 percent your way
• the importance of “marinating” your mind
• why having other men watch your back is nonnegotiable
for God’s man
• how confession releases God’s power and bloodies the
• how to partner effectively and practically with the Guide—
• the source of real spiritual power and how to tap it
• why perseverance is the mark of God’s man
• the purpose of building and staying within well-marked boundaries
• the need to jettison the baggage in your life
• mastering your spiritual motivation once and for all
So there’s a bare-bones description of the yardage ahead of you. Along the way, I will be telling stories about myself (except for his Texas football stories, Steve has nothing over me) and relating funny, interesting, poignant, and sad stories of men I’ve met and counseled in my years of ministry. (I’ve used pseudonyms to protect the guilty and the innocent.)
As you read about these fellow travelers, you will find yourself nodding your head, because we can all relate to their foibles and their fortunes. We’ve been there.
So, ready to get started?
Good, because I think the head referee just whistled for the opening kickoff.