Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: The Heavenly Man

Imprisoned three times, tortured for his faith, and receiver/witness of many unbelievable miracles, Brother Yun is one of those people who (like David Wilkerson in the Cross and the Switchblade) just astounds me with his faith.

The Heavenly Man is the autobiography of Brother Yun's life in Communist China as one of the initial leaders of the house-church movement there. And it is a really moving and challenging book. As I read description after description of the suffering he has gone through for the sake of the Lord, Brother Yun always came back to the concept that these things have happened to him so that he may be a better believer, a better witness, a stronger testimony of God's grace.

He doesn't set himself up as this person who should be looked up to and admired for his faith. Actually, he openly admits that two of the times he was imprisoned were directly because of his own arrogance in not listening to the warnings of the Lord. But then he goes on to describe how God used each of those situations despite Yun's mistakes.

That part was very encouraging. It is good to be reminded that God really can use any circumstances, even when those circumstances exist because we were foolish enough to not follow the original path He laid out for us. The situation we find ourselves in may be more painful because of our foolishness, but God is still there.

I think one of the most challenging parts of the book, for me at least, was a chapter near the end titled "Reflecting on Four Years in the West." Yun basically pinpoints in the Western church some of the major attitudes and the complacency that is so common. And not in all the churches did he have this experience; although, he did point out that the churches he spoke in that felt alive with the presence of the Lord were those with strong, active missions emphasis (and not just overseas emphasis but local as well).

But he talked about struggling to preach in a lot of the churches because there was no power, no sense of God in the fancy buildings. They are filled with people who have everything, who don't have to lean on the Lord, and so they become arrogant and push the very Savior away that they profess to worship. His prayer is that the Chinese church will be able to "help the Western church rise up and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit." How humbling is that, when we so often puff ourselves up as the ones who are leading the way?

How many others call themselves Christians and yet do not live out their faith? And I'm as guilty as anybody of this. For me, these concepts are ones that God seems to be bringing to the forefront of both my life and even more, Chris' life.

"The first thing needed for revival to return to your churches is the Word of the Lord. God's Word is missing. Sure there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God's Word. It's the truth that will set you free.

"Not only is knowledge of God's Word missing, but obedience to that Word. There's not much action taking place.

"When revival came to believers in China, the result was thousands of evangelists being sent out to all corners of the nation, carrying fire from the altar of God with them. When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy His presence and blessing too long, and build an altar to your experiences.

"You can never really know the Scriptures until you're willing to be changed by them.

"All genuine revivals of the Lord result in believers responding with action and soul winning. When God truly moves in your heart, you cannot remain silent....Furthermore, it's only when we step out in obedience and share the gospel with people that we come to know God's blessing in every area of our lives."

I highly recommend this book. I don't care what denomination you are (he's got a good spiel on that in the book as well!), if you believe in a God who moves, who does miracles, who wants us to live our lives in the expectation that He can return at any time, this book will challenge you (and quite possibly make you a little uncomfortable as well!).

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