Andy Stanley's call to Irresistible faith

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Andy Stanley founded Atlanta-based North Point Ministries in 1995, and today NPM has six churches in the Atlanta area and a network of over 70 churches globally, serivng almost 118,000 people every week. Stanley himself is the author of more than 20 books and, as the host of Your Move with Andy Stanley, his seven million messages each month are reaching viewers and listeners across the globe. Stanley’s newest text, Irresistible, seeks to inform and equip Christ followers to rid themselves and their local church bodies of the anemic version of Christianity which the author believes has undermined today’s believer’s credibility and evangelistic effectiveness. Stanley felt compelled to write on this topic at this time because he was concerned about the next generation’s faith – a generation who has unlimited access to misinformation about faith, the Bible, and Christianity.

Stanley writes, “The rise and influence of the New Atheists have shifted the playing field. In response, students and grads aren’t opting for atheism. They are opting for ‘I don’t know anymore.’ Why? Well, they tell us. They don’t ‘believe’ anymore. They don’t know what to believe anymore. Christianity appears indefensible and untenable in our scientific digital world. But atheism isn’t appealing either. So more and more folks are stepping into what they consider the neutral zone of ‘I don’t know and don’t pressure me to decide.’” In his text, Stanley argues that the faith this next generation has abandoned was a “straw man” version to begin with. The author believes that many individuals have placed their faith in a “text-based version, not the original, event-based version” and thus the need for rethinking what the foundation of the Christian faith originally was and, still is today.

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Stanley cites three main reasons why today’s culture so easily resists Christianity unnecessarily. The author explains, “Christians and our fatally flawed approach to defending and talking about our faith. In the world where people recognized and revered the Bible as a sacred, trustworthy book, it was enough to leverage it as our basis for faith, but those days are long gone. The church has not adjusted. The church hasn’t even responded.” Stanley invites readers to rediscover and embrace the version of faith as presented in the New Testament book of Acts. Stanley cites, “Their faith was based on an event – the resurrection of Jesus.”

Not content to leave Christians wondering how to bridge this gap between an anemic version of Christianity versus a robust, passionate one that will be irresistible to Christ followers as well as non-believers, Stanley shares how today’s believer can become change makers in their communities. Stanley states, “Christianity becomes less resistible when Christians love like they have been loved. I refer to this as the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as God in Christ has done unto you. Christianity becomes less resistible when we shift the foundation of our faith from a true book to a verifiable event. Christians don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible says so. Our case is way better than that. We believe Jesus rose from the dead because Matthew said so. Mark said so. Luke said so. John said so. James, the brother of Jesus, came to believe so. Peter said so. And last and least…according to him anyway…Paul said so. And Paul said so about three years after the actual event.” And because they said so, today’s believer can go out and live and love like these early apostles.

Max Lucado on the need for Unshakable Hope

Max Lucado, best known as America’s favorite storyteller, has written his fortieth book on the desperately needed subject matter of hope…specifically, Unshakable Hope. Lucado, who has been observing how believers and unbelievers alike are succumbing to nightly newscasts’ dismal reports of a world gone crazy, realized everyone needs a fresh dose of hope to face today’s and tomorrow’s personal and global challenges. He accomplishes his objective through, what else? Gripping storytelling that will inspire, equip, and exhort Christians to take their heavy burdens straight to the throne of Christ.

Lucado, like many authors, finds interesting ways to parallel biblical accounts of favorite characters from the Old and New Testament into lessons for today’s Christ follower. Here, Lucado, in his characteristically winsome style, describes how the number forty is key. Lucado writes, “Forty. Noah floated for 40 days in the flood. Moses spent 40 years in the desert. The Hebrews wandered 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus endured 40 days of temptation. There’s something significant about the number 40. So, if you’ll allow me to mention the fact, this is my fortieth book. No one could be more grateful than I am. To think that God would let a converted drunk prone to self-promotion and self-centeredness, write one page, much less forty books’ worth, is yet another testimony to his goodness and grace.”

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The author sets the stage for this decidedly uplifting text by sharing the frighteningly high suicide rate in the United States. Since 1999, the rate of suicides has increased an unbelievable twenty-four percent. Lucado notes that despite the fact that modern society has never been more educated; has more technology available; and is saturated with entertainment and recreation, these advances leave individuals feeling hopeless. He writes, “More people than ever are orchestrating their own deaths. How could this be? Among the answers must be this: people are dying for lack of hope. Secularism sucks the hope out of society. It reduces the world to a few decades between birth and hearse. Many people believe this world is as good as it gets, and let’s face it. It’s not that good.” Lucado reminds Christ followers that they are the “People of the Promise” who have a distinct advantage because they can, “Determine to ponder, proclaim, and pray the promises of God.”

Lucado’s stories continually serve to remind readers that as believers in Jesus’ redemptive work on the Cross, they can choose to view life from a different and eternal perspective. He shares, “When problems surface, People of the Promise can be heard telling themselves, ‘But God said…’ When struggles threaten, they can be seen flipping through Scripture, saying, ‘I think God said something about this.’ When comforting others, they’re prone to ask, ‘Do you know God’s promise on this topic?’ The promises of God serve as an apothecary shelf of remedies. Just as the doctor might prescribe a medication for your body. God has given promises for your heart. He shares them as gifts from friend to friend.”