89 of 97 people found the following review helpful
One thing is clear as soon as you pick up Sun Stand Still - it's an extremely challenging book! Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor and founder of the growing Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. He's a very talented young man, a passionate and biblical preacher, and someone who demonstrates audacious faith. The tittle of the book comes from a passage in the Old Testament describing a highly unusual event. Joshua prayed and God caused the sun to stand still for a full extra day (!) The theme of the book can be summed up in two words: audacious faith. Furtick's clear goal is to encourage us to trust God to do powerful things through us, to awake a sense of vision "lying dormant inside you for years. In short, I'm out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose and potential."
I found this book to be simultaneously very easy to read, and very hard to read. It was inspiring, but at times discouraging. It was easy to read because Furtick writes heart-to-heart, in plain terms. It was hard because it's so darn challenging! He succeeds at encouraging the reader to consider a faith and a life far beyond what we can do in our own strength, and for this he is to be commended. The difficult part for me is that much of what he talks about assumes the reader has a clear dream or vision from God, a definite purpose that perhaps seems too big to tackle. He says "Before you can pray a Sun Stand Still prayer, asking God to do the impossible you've got to set your sights on the specific impossible thing God wants you to trust him for in your life... When I use the word 'vision' I mean a "clear sense of purpose regarding what God wants to do through your life." Some people would refer to it as a calling or life mission." Therein lies the difficulty. How do you respond when the sense of calling or "life purpose" is but a small cloud?
In any case, there were a number of powerful insights I took away from the book.
- The key to being a disciple is being completely available to Jesus: unconditional obedience.
- Whatever you're good at, that's your calling. Wherever and wherever it may lead you, is holy ground.
- Every member of the body of Christ is a link in the life-change process of other people
- Furtick also hates the phrases "just a volunteer" and "full-time Christian ministry"
- The scope and impact of your vision will be determined by who you believe God is.
- "If you're going to pray for God to make the sun stand still, you'd better be ready to march all night!"
Sun Stand Still is an important and powerful call to trust God to do things completely beyond our own ability, while also giving it absolutely all we've got. If you've got a dream but are lacking the faith to see it come to pass, or if you just find yourself too stuck in comfort and safe prayers, this is definitely a book worth checking out.
129 of 154 people found the following review helpful
Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible by Steven Furtick
I'm not sure where to start with this review. My impressions are all over the map with this book; I like it, I hate it, I'm encouraged, I'm depressed, I wanted to quit reading it, I wanted to read "just one more chapter," and those are just some of my reactions to it. I found it simple at times and profound at times, I found it condescendingly redundant at times and full of inspired repetition at others. Honestly, I still haven't determined if I like it or loathe it. Maybe that is the sign of a "good" book or a "stirring" read.
Let's get some of the technical details out of the way. The book is about faith; faith in God, faith in life, faith in action, faith in purpose... Faith... Audacious Faith (remember that, you'll hear it a lot). The book is not a difficult read and it's not loaded with deep theology. The book is broken into twenty short chapters; helpful for those readers with short attention spans or for those readers who don't have time to read for extended periods. The story is also filled with alliterated one-liner twitterific quotables; great for people who like those types of easy-to-remember inspiration snippets. There is also an equal portion of real-life testimony and personal experience to help support the message of audacious faith... I found the mixture of "cheese" and "classic" content to be almost equal portion. As I said, I have had a love/hate relationship with this book from the start to finish.
I realize that my review may seem a bit unfair or lacking grace, but that is not the case. I'm sharing my opinion and an honest impression from my read. I'm not a shill or a hater of Pastor Steven or Elevation Church. I've followed the history of Elevation since some of its earliest days of posting podcasts of its sermons. I've watched videos and followed the blogs of its ministry leaders. Two years ago, while on vacation, I specifically routed our travel so my family could visit Elevation Church and meet with some of its ministry leaders. I have used some of the model of Elevation's ministry philosophy as example to my own church family. See, not a hater. I believe in the work Pastor Steven is doing and I believe in the work and ministry of Elevation Church. I simply believe there is a little more hype in the book than there is practiced reality. For instance, chapter thirteen "When the Sun Goes Down," is a very balanced and real examination of "what about when you pray audaciously and the sun doesn't stand still." Personally, I think there could have been more than a single (and short) chapter devoted to this. Again, in fairness, Pastor Steven does give time to "the other side of the prayer coin" (what about when God says no or says nothing), but throughout most of the book this balance comes across as an embarrassed whisper... or at least it did to me.
In closing let me add, I'm living an audacious faith life. I've staked my entire being on following the Way of Jesus. I've left secure jobs (yes, more than one), and left comfortable ministry positions in order to pursue an outrageous dependency on God. I'm in a waiting-for-God to answer my audacious faith prayer even as I type out this review, so I give props to Steven Furtick for living and writing about Sun Stand Still type of faith. I've needed the inspiration, but could do without the cheese. Like I said, love it and hate it... you'll have to be your own judge.
I received this book free from Multnomah Books as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2011
On the front end, I feel it's only fair to admit that when I first received this book, I was not a big fan of Steven Furtick. In my admittedly limited experience with the young megachurch pastor, I had found him to be brash, over-the-top, and borderline arrogant... not exactly qualities I look for in a preacher. Of course, I have generally found that it hasn't been an issue with what he has said so much as how he has said it.
Since my problems with Furtick have been primarily about his methods rather than his message, I was interested to see how he came across in his first book. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, and hoped this new medium would help me to understand what he's really about.
The premise of the book is that most Christians fail to live life to the fullest, and never take advantage of the awesome power that is available to us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and access to the Father through prayer. Furtick's main Scriptural text for the book is Joshua 10, where Joshua commands the sun to stand still. His assertion is that God wants to answer "Sun Stand Still" prayers for all his children, and stands ready to do so if only we will come boldly before the throne and ask God for the impossible. There are positives and negatives in the way the book works this out.
First, the bad: Unfortunately, much of Furtick's bravado comes through in his writing, leading passages of this book to be almost maddeningly unreadable. From his overuse of the word "audacious" to his exhortation that people stop praying stupid, timid prayers, I found my eyes rolling several times. Also, at points this book sounded very much like the self-help pseudo-spiritual nonsense of prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen (whom Furtick has defended on multiple occasions). If I hadn't been provided a free copy of the book for review purposes, I probably would not have continued.
Thankfully, I'm glad I did, because it turns out there is also a lot of good in this book. Once I got over my bias against Furtick's writing style, I began to realize that there is some theological depth here where it is lacking in the type of guys who usually write books like this. Just because many books and sermons about praying for God's miraculous intervention make claims beyond what Scripture supports doesn't mean that the basic idea isn't biblically sound. After all, we do worship a God who is capable of stopping the sun and "able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Personally, I do have a tendency to pray safe, timid prayers rather than trust God to supply all my needs.
Where this book is at its best is in a chapter a little past the halfway mark called "When the Sun Goes Down". It was here I felt the book hit a turning point, and I actually quite enjoyed the rest of it. In this chapter, Furtick balances out the "pray with bold expectation" sentiment with the reality that "sometimes -- a lot of times, honestly -- it goes the other way. Sometimes the sun doesn't stand still. Sometimes the sun goes down... sometimes the sun keeps sinking down, down, down, and no amount of hoping, fasting, or right living seems to stop it." This is where the prosperity theologians go badly wrong. Many times, our prayers are not answered (or the answer is no), no matter how fervently we trust in God. It can really shake one's faith. What do we do then?
Furtick's answer is right on: keep trusting God, and look for ways to glorify Him through your setback. The rest of the book includes many practical suggestions for improving one's prayer life. These suggestions are good ones, and were personally challenging. Readers are directed to "reconcile your dreams with God's desires", using God's Word as a measuring stick for whether our prayers are according to God's will. We are also to "push while you pray", meaning that often the answers to our prayer often require taking action even while praying that God would act.
As Furtick points out, there is a process between the promise and the payoff, and it is often during this process that God is seen and felt most powerfully. The type of prayers which require a miracle are frequently accompanied by uncertainty, anxiety, change, and sacrifice, but these are the very things that form our character and deepen our walk with the Lord.
My final analysis? While I still don't like Furtick's style, I recognize that there is plenty of room in God's Kingdom for different methods. I still question some of his teaching, but finished this book encouraged that there is much more to Steven Furtick than I had previously given him credit for. I would not recommend this book for those whose discernment I do not trust, but there is much to be gleaned here. I look forward to seeing what comes of Furtick's ministry, as he is still only 30, and has many years of preaching and (hopefully) growing ahead of him.
Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to write a positive review.
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2011
I always read the one star reviews before purchasing a book. Most of the time I chuckle and dismiss them thinking that there are always going to be complainers. Unfortunately, in this case, the one-star reviews got it right. How can you write a book about prayer without focusing on Jesus' instructions to his disciples? Faith and prayer are not about audacity, as Furtick claims. Faith and prayer are about humility and holiness. The one-star reviewers are also right in that Furtick seems to shrink back from his own definition of audacity. I haven't seen one example of faith and prayer in this book that ought to be compared to Joshua commanding the sun to stand still. Furtick trivializes a wonderous and miraculous intervention by God in the lives of the people of Israel. I really feel like this book is a waste of time. I was hoping for a little more humility and honest interpretation of Scripture from one of the most popular pastors of my generation. Oh well.
31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2011
Sun Stand Still
"The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel." (Joshua 10:13b-14)
Steven Furtick claims that these verses (and 12b-13a) form the core of what he calls a `theology of audacity' (7). He goes on:
"You probably don't have one of those yet, but it's essential. In fact, if you ever encounter a theology that doesn't directly connect the greatness of God with your potential to do great things on his behalf, it's not biblical theology. File it under heresy. I'll take it further: if you're not daring to believe God for the impossible, you're sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life. And further still: if the size of your vision for your life isn't intimidating to you, there's a good chance it's insulting to God. Audacious faith is the raw material that authentic Christianity is made of" (7-8; paragraph breaks omitted).
At the heart of my review of this book lie two questions. One is theological, the other personal. First, is Steven Furtick's interpretation and application of this verse from the book of Joshua fair, biblical, and orthodox? That is, why did God causes the sun to stand still, what is the theological lesson learned in the context of The Story, and what are we to take from it? Frankly, this question must lie at the center of our inquiry of any book whose author takes a passage of Scripture and develops an entire idea or principal of living around it--as Christian authors are fond of doing (even though the Bible was not written in a verse by verse vacuum). I ask this question of every book and every sermon I read or listen to. I'm not one who believes the Scripture can be used in a willy-nilly way in order to fashion any old or new idea or justification for an idea. (Many times, while reading this book, I thought, `This is little more than the Prayer of Jabez for a younger audience.')
So I did some research on Joshua chapter 10, consulting some of the more significant commentaries that have been written [among them, Joshua, by Richard Hess (Tyndale OT Commentaries); Joshua, Trent C. Butler (Word Biblical Commentary); The Book of Joshua, Marten H Woudstra (The NICOT); and Joshua, Mark Ziese (CPNIV Comentary)]. What I wanted to know is if Furtick's understanding and application of this prayer of Joshua is valid and not entirely outside the bounds of solid exegetical practice. The emphasis in each one of these commentaries centered around the idea that `God fought for Israel' (Woudstra); of `God's assistance to Israel' (Hess); and of `God's [provision] of victory for his people in battle' (Butler). Ziese took another trail though focusing more on YHWH's specific action noted in the text:
"Readers have the luxury of slowing down to contemplate the portents in the sky (hail, sun, or moon), but the narrator presents and altogether different reason for pause. The true marvel arises when an audacious prayer is coupled with a positive answer: `Yahweh listens' or possibly even `obeys the voice of a man'" (Ziese, 222)
There's that word, audacious. It shows up so much in Sun Stand Still that I was actually sick of reading it by page 21, but there it is--used in the same interpretive context, by another author, as Furtick uses it. Such a person who boldly comes before God with such a request is indeed audacious. What Ziese suggests is amazing about this chapter is not so much the audacious prayer, audacious though it may be, but the fact that God listened to a man!
The book of Hebrews says we are to boldly, confidently approach the throne of God with our prayers (Hebrews 4:14-16). Then there's also this story in Matthew's Gospel:
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly." Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?" The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go,' and he goes; and that one, `Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that moment. (Matthew 8:5-13)
So there is a biblical theology of audacity or boldness and Furtick is careful to define what this means: "Audacious faith is based on who God is, what he's already done, and what he continues to do" (120). Audacity of faith, worked out through the boldness of prayer in the throne room of God, is centered entirely on the person and character of God. Jesus, indeed, admired such boldness. And, furthermore, Jesus listened to the prayers of the audacious.
But is that the point of the story in Joshua? Is Joshua's prayer, uttered during the course of an extermination program on YHWH's behalf, to be used to fix broken relationships, secure financial provision, make career advancements, find physical or emotional healing, achieve important life goals, or to discover one's purpose in life? (This is a partial list from Sun Stand Still found on page 37.) Frankly, it is difficult to square these ideas with the context of the Joshua prayer. There's nothing wrong with those prayers (as the story from Matthew 8 partially demonstrates) but I'm just not certain that is the conclusion the author of Joshua wanted us to come to after reading this story--this story of the conquering of The Land. In other words, I'm not persuaded by Furtick's use of the Joshua story--as if it were a mere outline for us to fill in with modern scenarios. There is far more going on in the story found in Joshua 10 than mere success in battle or overcoming obstacles standing in the way of important life goals.
The problem is: Centurion's Servant Healed doesn't make nearly as good a book title as Sun Stand Still.
The second question is personal: If Furtick's thesis is correct and God does want us to be bold, audacious, and praying-like-a-juggernaut success stories, then why does it come so easily for some and not for others? (And why do those for whom it does come so easily always end up writing books about it?) Furtick provides plenty of answers to this question (especially in chapter 13 `When the Sun Goes Down'--which is a really good chapter in the book.) Ultimately, however, I found his answers unsatisfying and somewhat self-serving (He recounts the story of his `Aunt' Jackie who told him one day after church, "Well, whether you believe it or not, it's true. God always gets his, and I am praying that you'll be one of God's greatest instruments to get the Word out", 168; audacious indeed!) Why God causes some preachers, even some Christians, great success and others great failure is beyond my imagination--and I'm not convinced, per Furtick's argument, that it has anything to do with the sort of prayers we pray. I know plenty of faithful, prayerful preachers who are bold and unassuming and audacious who are mired in the morass of small church life, who pray for years and yet never see what Furtick describes in his book.
Here again is the difficulty: Furtick never talks about failure. That sounds negative and terrible, but it is the reality of life. I think the closest he gets to talking about failure is in chapter 14 (`Pray Like a Juggernaut') where he talks about Furtick's Book of Dumb Prayers. He candidly admits, "Audacious faith doesn't mean my prayers work every time. It means that God is working even when my prayers don't seem to be working at all" (148). But what does this mean in a book full of stories about how his prayers have in fact succeeded every time? I'm not clamoring for `failure' stories, but for those of us in the world and in the church for whom failure seems to be the way, the only way, God works--it's a bit much to read of how one person's prayers always seem to succeed. But that's the point of the book, right?
We know a strange God according to this book. This is a God for whom prayer either doesn't matter at all or for whom only the right kind of prayers matter. I haven't decided which one yet is true, maybe I don't want to. Maybe there's a third option--the one that involves never seeing success, never tasting victory, and never seeing God `move.' And maybe those prayers and the Christians who pray them are not heretics, but faithful in the way God has called them to be faithful. Or maybe we are just missing something.
Since to this point I have been mostly critical of Sun Stand Still allow me a minute to note just a couple of highlights from the book that add balance to my criticism. These are thoughts from Furtick that I believe are wholly justified and would be helpful to write down in your Moleskine for future reference.
* "Seizing his big purpose for your life is not just about figuring out what God wants from you and getting down to business. It's about becoming intimately acquainted with who Jesus is. It's about mining the depths of who you are in him." (26)
* "How will God accomplish the impossible vision he has planted in your heart? By his grace--and through your willingness to sacrifice your life for the sake of Jesus." (80)
* "The very sin you've been ignoring and minimizing may be the one that's limiting your ability to rise to greater heights in God. The most powerful sin in your life is the one you haven't confessed yet." (135)
* "Prayer is the arena where our faith meets God's abilities." (153)
These are a few of the better sound-bites from the book. I'll leave you to interpret them or apply them to your life.
There is a lot to admire in this book, and in the person of Steven Furtick. He seems thoroughly convinced of what he's saying. Evidence of this is found in the prologue. When questioned by a friend as to whether he truly believed he would host a worship service in the same building where he had attended a U2 concert, Furtick replies, without so much as a hint of doubt, "Yeah. I did. I really believed." The main problem I have with this book is its naiveté. Frankly, it reads like the journal of someone who has never experienced a setback or failure in his life (not that he has not). Furtick is the golden boy, charged at the ripe old age of 16 to be `one of the greatest instruments to get the word out.' It's hard to read this with enthusiasm knowing how hard it is for most preachers who struggle day in, day out, praying constantly for change that never comes to their small congregation. It's hard to read this because in the back of my mind I constantly wondered: When is he going to tell us the reality of life on earth, that most of our prayers go unanswered? When a congregation is in the fight of its life to stay in possession of their building, after breaking away from the denomination, it is sort of difficult to understand why God was more concerned about whether Furtick's church would take up space in a shopping mall.
That's not a personal criticism, but a cold hard reality. In my experience, Furtick's ideas and experiences are simply not the norm--maybe he wants them to be? So I wonder why this is true. Is it because those of us who haven't had his success have simply not prayed the right prayers? Is it because we didn't have an aunt or uncle who prophesied over us? Is it because we were unwilling to do something for Jesus? Is it because we are, gasp, the sort of heretics Furtick described in the opening salvo? Or is it because God gave only Steven Furtick the wisdom to figure out that Joshua, in fact, held all the clues to pastoral and Christian success? (Again, echoes of Wilkinson's Prayer of Jabez.) It is difficult for me to read books that build a philosophy of discipleship on one prayer, from one book--especially when there is good cause to believe that prayer and the reason for it have been misinterpreted in the first place, as I do.
This is what troubles me most. I grant you this is personal and that may be unfair. Maybe, on the one hand, there are preachers in the church who can perfectly understand where Furtick is coming from and validate and justify his theology of bigger-is-better audacity. Maybe, on the other hand, there are preachers in the church who get so caught up in the everydayness of visiting nursing homes, preparing two or three sermons a week, preaching funerals, conducting weddings, visiting shut-ins, preparing worship services, writing letters, printing bulletins and newsletters, going to meetings, leading, etc., that they don't have the time to dream as big as Furtick did and does--and maybe that's OK. Most preachers, for better or worse, have time to pray, "Lord, give us this day our daily bread--that's all I have time for."
Most of the time, daily bread is enough.
79 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2011
I began this book wanting to like it.
Steven Furtick, the author of Sun Stands Still, is pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and the church has exploded since it's inception around 5 years ago. I rejoice with the idea of church growth, people newly coming to faith in Jesus, and churches reaching a young generation.
Elevation Church is a Southern Baptist Church. I am part of a Southern Baptist Church.
Steven Furtick received his theological education at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I am soon moving to Louisville where I, too, will pursue theological education at Southern.
I did not like this book, nor would I recommend it to others.
Here is my greatest concern:
Furtick's focus throughout is what we can do for God, through audacious faith, if we dare to believe the impossible. His focus is on us - not God.
His definition for audacious faith is found on page 40:
Audacious faith isn't some newfangled, extrabiblical variety of faith. It's a return to the core of Christianity: trusting Jesus completely in every area of your life and setting out to devote your life wholly to revealing his glory in this world.
I have no problem with his definition. I agree that those who call themselves the church need to go through life with an audacious faith in God. Our goal should be to "reveal his glory in this world". I simply disagree with his emphasis. The church needs to be challenged to trust and obey God in little things - sacrifically loving their spouse, leading their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, integrity in personal and business affairs, being charitable with those nearby in need, offering food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless, pursuing holiness and purity in all things, putting to death fleshly desires... Furtick challenges the church not in these areas, but in dreaming big and asking God for the impossible. His challenge is to dream big, pray hard, and with audacious faith step out to accomplish big things for God. Where is the waiting? Is their value in pouring over requests in prayer to God?
This book contains hints of "word of faith" and "prosperity gospel" theology - If we want it, if we can dream it, God is big enough to deliver, so ask, believe and step out in faith.
I have waited many months to write this review. I have attempted to be fair and balanced. This is Pastor Furtick's first book, and I sense that he is a man full of ambition, zeal, and vision. I hope that this, his first book, is an overflow of such enthusiasm and not a complete picture of his theology. I will look forward to his second work, hoping for more theological balance.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. It was not required that I provide a positive review.)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2011
Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick is about prayer, specifically praying for God to big things-impossible things-in, through, and around you. This book is half thrilling, and half terrifying. On the one hand, this book challenges Christians have big faith in an indescribably big God, and I think Furtick is absolutely right in laying down this challenge. On the other hand, there is an inconsistent message about who is important (who gets the glory) for these impossible things.
God can do extraordinary things through ordinary people. YES! I love this message, and it is the overarching story in this book.
This message is wrapped in questionable, and even dangerous theology.
Starting with the prologue, the message is audacious faith is all about me.
"This is how it feels to share the stage with Bono.
This is how it feels to believe God for the impossible.
This is how it feels to see the sun stand still..."
In the context of the rest of the prologue this paragraph could easily read, "This is how it feels for me...
In another quote, from Chapter 4,
Now I want to put all these key terms together to show you-in one declaration-what you can expect from this book:
Your Sun Stand Still prayer,
based on your Page 23 vision,
activated by audacious faith,
will mark your life by the miraculous
empower you to achieve the impossible,
and put you in the middle of a move of God.
In Furtick's own summary of the book, I see a whole lot of me and not much room for God. This theme continues throughout the majority of the book. When Furtick acknowledges that God is the one doing the work and He does it for His own glory, it seems more like doing lip service in context with the rest of the book.
Some other issues in the book:
In chapter 6, Furtick writes about "knowing" he has had a word from God and telling his church so, but really only feeling, maybe 55% sure of having a word from God. Saying you have a word from God is serious business, if you say you have had a word from God, but you haven't you are a false prophet. 55% sure may be enough to take the next step, but I would not want to set myself up against God as a false prophet on just 55% sure. I would never want to encourage anyone else to either. I see this section as more than a minor miststep, but as truly theologically dangerous.
In chapter 14, Furtick writes about dumb prayers as an introduction to a chapter on how to pray big prayers, ironically, chapter 15 is about praying practically (God is interested in every area of your life). I'm going to say that the only dumb prayers are the ones that are in direct opposition of the scripture (i.e. Lord, don't let my wife find out about my girlfriend). Furtick gives 2 examples of what he considers dumb prayers: "God, Just be with me today," and "if it be thy will." I'm going to be honest, it really irritates me that he considers these two prayers to be dumb. To him, God is always with me, so it is dumb to pray for it. To me, when I pray, "God be with me today" I am acknowledging the truth that I can't make it through today without God. I can't imagine affirming the truth is a dumb prayer in God's book. To Furtick, "if it be Thy will" is a cop out prayer indicating that we really don't expect God to answer our prayers. To me, "If it be Thy will" is my prayer that God do what He knows is best regardless of what I think I want, what I want most is exactly what God wants. This is not a cop-out, this is another affirmation of truth: God knows more than me.
This book is an easy read and the audacious faith idea is challenging. There are some serious theological errors.
At the end of the book, I feel like I need to spend a few weeks of reading only the Bible to get some "meat and potatoes" to go with all that saccharine.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2010
Steven Furtick's Sun Stand Still flies in the face of fickle-faith Christianity, and it does so with flamboyance. The book's message of uncompromising, undaunted faith in the face of seemingly mundane life is a vital reminder to any generation that God is still a God of miracles and that He responds to and through our prayers and lifestyle of faith and obedience. The book is not only a call to believe God for the miraculous but an empowering word to the current generation inspiring a practical but miraculous application and activation of faith.
Furtick's message is not a new revelation, but it is revealed in a trendy flair filled delivery. As a skeptic of the mega-church model and "culturized" Christianity, the 30-year old pastor of the fastest growing mega church in Charlotte, the U.S.A.'s richest city immediatley draws a critical eye. The teenage lilt to his conversational prose as well as the application of hip jargon like "Page 23 Vision," "audacious faith" and "Sun Stand Still prayer" did little to impress or convince me of the sincerity and genuine depth behind his pop flavored presentation. But the fundamental passion and scriptural reverence instilled in the message did.
Steven Furtick is not my cup of tea. I don't like Pastors who dress and talk like rock stars, and I despise sensationalism. But faith is often flamboyant. Furtick uses the word "audacious" or "audacity" so many times that he almost wears them out, and he does so because faith must fly in the face of so many inhibitions that we use to justify ourselves. In spite of what sometimes feels like a pop star presentation, I recognize the Spirit speaking through the book to encourage the current church to live a life worthy of the miraculous standard the Bible sets forth.
The majority of the book is drawn from Joshua 10; a stirring story of when God literally stopped time at the request of his servant so that Israel could win a decisive victory over its enemies. In the midst of a maelstrom of what feels, sounds, smells and tastes like an overindulgence in postmodern relevance Furtick maintains an uncompromisingly biblical message:
"I want to go back to the source document of our faith: the Bible. See, the Bible is no mere book. It's a living document. You might say it's a living force. We call it the Word of God because in it God spoke--and still speaks.
In a way, the living Word is what audacious faith is all about. Praying a Sun Stand Still prayer might take you to all sorts of new places, but it will never take you one step away from the Word of God." (p.108-109)
The Word of God is central to Furtick's exhortation for applied faith, and in the midst of numerous testimonies of God's miraculous power demonstrated in normal Christian lives, Furtick maintains a scriptural balance. There are points within the book that will cause controversy, but the controversy will be over interpretation of scripture, because Furtick is careful to back his claims with both biblical examples and biblical doctrine.
If this sounds like a mixed review, it only does so because Furtick's tone and tenor are at times grating because of its connection with modern pop culture. It seems suspicious because it's so hip, so trendy, so sensational. Yet Moody, Whitfield and many others were flamboyant trend-setters for the church in their day. Clothes and speech don't disqualify the message, and Furtick proclaims a message that inspires faith and obedience to the miraculous, transforming vision that God has for His children. It encourages us to stand in the ranks of Joshua and ask for the sun to stand still, and that can change lives.
I received a complementary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah. I was not required to post a positive review. I have posted an honest review.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2010
You expect to read mixed reviews for things--books, movies, restaurants. You don't often see them in the same review. But I find myself with mixed thoughts after having read Steven Furtick's new book Sun Stand Still.
Steven Furtick is the founding pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is young. He is hip. He is everything that an up-and-coming pastor would want to be. What does he have that gets the attention of book publishers, and turns the head of readers? A good line and a noticeable presence. Elevation has grown to more than 6,000 attenders in three locations in four years--that's noticeable. The first few pages of the book reveal several catchy, creative lines for the memory of the reader.
Basing his premise on the story of Joshua's prayer mid-battle for the day not to end until the Israelites have completely defeated the enemy (see Joshua 10 for the full story), Furtick builds an argument for strong faith-filled prayer. The book is inspiring to the point of excitement. It is a reminder that we are to exercise extreme faith in our daily living, and daily prayer in our faithful living.
On the upside, the author speaks to a new, younger audience who may not be impressed with the age-old preacher filled with sweat and rage as he shouted the message to this new audience's grandparents. Furtick opens scriptures to inspire Christians to build into their faith a God-sized desire.
Several things were not so exciting about the book though. First of all, the need for the author to create a dictionary to define his terminology: audacious faith; Sun Stand Still prayer; Page 23 vision, and the like. Also, the "Page 23 vision" itself is based on Jim Cymbala's Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire rather than Christ. And especially, the tendency for the teaching to come across as a magic mantra which will cause the person praying to accomplish great things for God (though, the author spends several pages trying to avoid just this misunderstanding).
Did I enjoy the book? Were good ideas developed? Yes, of course. Is this a book I would recommend? I'm not convinced that it would be a helpful read. For this reason, I give it only two and one-half out of five reading glasses.
--Benjamin Potter, October 26, 2010
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2011
Sun Stand Still starts stating Snuggies stop solid salvation seekers.
Yeah. I worked on that line for 2 whole minutes.
I recently picked up Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick, pastor of another megachurch, this one named Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. Like my clever confusing opening statement says, Sun Stand Still is intended to be a book that challenges Average Joe Christian to become an audacious Christ Follower, someone who is not content to clock in a mandatory hour's worth of focus on faith. His aim is certainly high--amidst a sea of books that try to do the same thing, Furtick sure makes his play with several $10 words to make his case seem legit.
He grabs the reader with a line from the book jacket and chapter one. "This book is not a Snuggie." He had me at "Snuggie."
Then he lost me.
I love the premise Furtick's going for. He wants to challenge Evangelical Christ followers to get out of their comfort zones and seek God so intently that people see unbelieveable things happen in their lives that they wouldn't normally dream of seeing. He gets the book title and his theme of going after an audacious faith, from Joshua chapter 10. In that chapter, Joshua's Israelites are going into battle with a pagan nation and Joshua asks God to stop the sun in its tracks so that the Israelites can win the fight. God honors Joshua's request, according to Scripture, and the Jews route the Amorites. Furtick applies that crazy, odd, confident prayer to us and says that we are invited to pray the same kind of crazy prayers and live out our faith in crazy ways. Great challenge to take prayer seriously; great narrative to pluck from the Bible and explore; poor delivery of content.
At times, the author is trying too hard. He borders on being meta in attempting to coin catchy phrases like the titular prayer or the "Page 23 vision," which is actually a literal page from another book with a similar aim at challenging people's prayer lives. Still, Furtick does do a good job of drawing out biblical narratives for the reader. He has a knack for bringing out details people might otherwise miss. He does provide a helpful resource halfway through the book with a list of twelve "audacious faith confessions" that serve as a quick study for having a healthy identity in Christ.
Furtick just never gets there for me. His challenges always boil down to the same thing. He over generalizes how to apply the Sun Stand Still prayer. Many times, the way Furtick explains the Sun Stand Still prayer, it seems like he is pushing a specific formula to pray. And, he doesn't explain otherwise until page 78 that this prayer is anything other than something magical to transform your life. I'm glad he reminds us that we can pray boldly, but if someone were to only read page 154 you would be led to belive that Furtick is promoting "name it and claim it theology." Hommie don't play that.
Honestly, sometimes Furtick comes across as narcissitic and sort of cocky. (Man, I hesitated for a loooong time to write that because I don't know him personally. People might say the same for me....) His opening story actually (jokingly?) refers to how he attended a concert performed by the great rock band U2 and how they "opened" for his church's Easter service at the same Charlotte entertainment venue...four years later. Furtick does describe some of his own shortcomings at times, but the opening story just comes across as tacky in today's culture.
I guess the reason I didn't get a lot out of the book is because this is stuff I've read before and been challenged by. I'm sure that the book is going to make a difference in people's lives, but why doesn't Furtick try to really make us uncomfortable by challenging us to be missional, incarnational, poverty-attacking, justice-seeking, culturally relevant Christ followers? I feel like this is just another book claiming to turn the world upside down (as long as Serious Reader seriously pursues Furtick's application points). What Sun Stands Still ends up doing, however, is sounding like another wave crashing on the shores of a castaway island of self-help books.
(FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.)
For an exert of the first chapter, click here: [...]