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Remove Your Swagger and Take Up Your Cross

Matt Chandler has released a new book called, To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain. Many I’m sure still remember his first book, The Explicit Gospel, which is an excellent book! Before getting into this book, I want to first mention that I think Chandler is one of the best preachers in the world, YES, the world. If you haven’t heard the man preach, check it out. That to say, I’m a fan.

The book is a journey through the letter that Paul wrote to the Philippians (hence the title – Phil 1:21). For those who are unfamiliar with Chandler’s writing style, it is very similar to his preaching, although I think he is a better preacher than writer. His writing is still full whit, intelligence, humour and cohesive arguments.

I found the first third of this book didn’t grab me like the last two thirds. It starts off a little slow as it seems to be directed to the new Christian. If you feel the same thing as you’re reading it, I encourage you, press on, it’s worth it! It targets a broad range of Evangelicals, for new and old Christians, although I think it would lean a little more to the former. As my title suggests, it’s a good kick in the butt.

Some of the highlights

“Living a life worthy of the gospel goes not mean pretending to be perfect, instead it means having the humility to think of others as better than ourselves.”

He makes the argument that there are many Christians today that put *too much* emphasis on the moment they are saved and take too lightly the rest of their walk. Chandler rightly addresses the difference between justification and sanctification and how the moment of salvation comes to us when we respond to Jesus by faith. We then should continue to pursue him throughout our life as that is what the Christian life is about. He goes on to describe it’s still a life that will have entangling sin but Jesus who knows our struggles meets us in them and then in response we can be transparent about our brokenness and point others to the only source of healing – Jesus.

As the book progresses, just like a sermon, it becomes practical. One of the most beneficial parts of this book is where he addresses what I will call the “American Family”. The “American Family” would sum up what a lot of us have or at least have experienced. Dad is at work during the day, Mom stays home and takes care of the little ones while the older kids are at school. Life is busy, the eldest son has baseball 3-4 days a week, the daughter has ballet class on Tuesday and Thursday, while the youngest son wants to join swimming lessons and that takes up another 2 days a week. Not before long, life can become pretty hectic. We have to manage our time wisely because we only have so much of it. Pretty soon God becomes another slot in our schedule. Tuesday night and Sunday morning we will dedicate to “God time”. Chandler at his finest, rebukes this notion of the “Christian life”. Paraphrasing Chandler, “we were not created to be our own sovereign, Jesus must be sovereign or else we are doing it all wrong.”

“If our theology does not drive us to worship God in Christ, it is pointless.”

I could go on and on. Chandler  is full of anecdotes, gospel centered truths and of course, his whit(which in my opinion, is unmatched). Young and old, I’d encourage you to pick up To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain. Let’s see a new generation of mature Christians who are rooted in and continually pursuing Christ. Let’s leave the swagger behind that has created a generation of self absorbed individuals and replace it with a humility that thinks of others as better than ourselves.


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