Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Thoughts - A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker

A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith by Brandon Hatmaker
published 9/13/2016
199 pages

Synopsis -

As a host and guest judge for HGTV and DIY Network (My Big Family Renovation, Brother v.s. Brother, Tiny House Arrest), Brandon Hatmaker understands what it takes to rehab a home. But after twenty-plus years of working with the local church (and as husband to bestselling author Jen Hatmaker), he has an even greater understanding of what it takes to rehab an everyday faith. In A Mile Wide, he helps readers see more clearly how the gospel works in us and eventually through us to transform an anemic spiritual life into a deeper, fuller, and more effective faith.

My thoughts -

I don't remember the last time I read a work of Christian nonfiction by a male author.

Scratch that - I do. I remember getting so mad at John Piper in college that I swore I would never read another straight, white dude's ideas about God ever. EVER.

So fast-forward a whole bunch of years, and I discover and fall in love with Jen Hatmaker. So when I hear her husband has a new book coming out, I am - despite my best intentions - curious. I decide to give it a shot.

And it was good. And honestly, that's saying something, because I've read some pretty amazing books in this genre this year, so he had a fairly high standard to live up to. His book was a nice mixture of big dreams - as Christians, we are called to step out and meet the needs of the world - as well as practical steps - start by slowing down, and identifying what actually needs to be done where you live. Hatmaker introduces a new way of living and relating to the world, but doesn't stop at the ideas - he gives individual people the tools to make change, in their own house, neighborhood, and community. His words are challenging, and I found myself nodding with agreement on one page, and feeling convicted on the next.

For example -

"We like people to share our theology, skin color, practices, politics, health, views, and interpretations, but what about when folks fall way outside those lines? Answer: that is not our responsibility. It's Jesus'. It's not ours to determine how God extends salvation on planet Earth. We don't have one clue how Jesus makes insiders from outsiders. He's been doing it for centuries, redeeming humanity, and not in the safe little evangelical way we understand it in America. Our job is simply to love."

And I'm cheering, YES! YES! YES! And then literally on the next page -

"'s a great reminder to me personally to see that Jesus still loves the insider just as well. Because sometimes I don't.....I've deflected, accused, and pointed the finger. And I realized I still do that from the outside. It's just that now my arrows are pointed in."

Oh, yeah that. Ouch.

 For me, what I appreciate most about Brandon Hatmaker is that he seems to truly do the best he can to live what he preaches. His church is built on the principle of serving the homeless and needy in it's community. He founded The Legacy Collective, a giving community that focuses on funding sustainable solutions to social issues around the world. He's not just a dude standing at a pulpit spouting words. He's a guy who truly believes what he says, and puts it into action. That's what makes me want to listen to what he has to say.

There are a couple of tiny, stylistic things that kept me from falling completely in love, but overall I found it to be excellent. I'm so glad I put my misconceptions aside and gave this one a try. Definitely recommended!

Finished - 5/30/16
Source - ARC from the publisher (thank you!!)
MPAA rating - G
My rating - 4/5

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