In the panoply of inspirational books encouraging Christians to be Christian one can find a multitude of definition books. David Platt stresses that we live Radical lives. Thom Rainer suggests that we find a way to Simple Church and Simple Life. It is great to be challenged, but at some point it would be nice to move from motivation to practice. Enter Mike Glenn, senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood (read Nashville), Tennessee. What Glenn does that sets his book apart from others who challenge the church to be Christ-like is to put a handle on what it takes to simplify, and do it radically.
Having grown up in the Southern tradition of nos and don’ts and stop that’s, Glenn has stumbled onto something that is more practical and freeing than the rhetoric that says, “Christians ought to . . .” Simply put, the author opens the reader’s eyes to a fresh emphasis on a couple of Scripture passages. The foundational passage for the book is one that throughout the ages has been used to encourage integrity in the Christian—“Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’” (see Matthew 5:37) Glenn suggests that Christ has a “yes” for every believer, and that to say, “yes” to that yes in our lives will automatically require us to say, “no” to a number of other things, even good things. It is your yes that you must follow, not anyone else’s.
This refreshing take on Christian living helps to free up the believer to be all that he can be without being distracted by all the other good things there are open to us. The principle, as I see it, can be well learned by the church as well.
The writing is not without its hiccups. For instance, in the Introduction and first chapter of the book, Glenn is desperately trying to communicate his epiphany about the “gospel of yes” with limited or little success. However, as the reader moves into the following chapters, the idea becomes a tangible thing that can be grasped. This personal “yes” presented to every believer by God Himself is one that finds its way into all the Scripture.
Approaching a passage used by parents throughout the ages (both in and out of the church) to bully their children into proper behavior from the standpoint of God’s “yes” changes the emphasis from a child towing the line, to helping that child find her niche. The passage found at Proverbs 22:6 advises, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Throughout the ages parents have put the emphasis on the way trying to drag their children along with them on a path of Bible memorization and church attendance (not necessarily a bad thing). But Glenn suggests moving the emphasis from the pathway to the person—train a child in the way he should go—help him find his place and direction. If we will do this then our children will not only excel in the direction that is theirs, but they will also be following the “yes” offered to them by God Himself (which will keep them in the path that He has chosen for them—including the moral places we want them to be).
This is a challenging book in the respect that it forces us out of our comfortable world of nos and negatives, but it is also a more encouraging book for the Christian. We learn that it is okay to say, “no” to even some of the good things (if they are not part of our “yes”), and we learn that even when the going is difficult, following Christ is a reward in and of itself. Thanks for the re-wiring, Mike. Not only could this preacher/reader use it, but I think it will be helpful for the church in general. (four out of five reading glasses)
—Benjamin Potter, May 29, 2012
[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]