I Rarely Review Books That Impress Me – But This One Did in Spades

The Dave Test by Frederick W. Schmidt impressed me. Something that’s not very easy to do.

It’s an innovative and intriguing little book.

The subtitle is “A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times.”

Back in May, I released my life’s work, God’s Favorite Place on Earth.

I wrote that book mainly to deal with the many struggles that Christians face in our generation. A great deal of the book is dedicated to how to navigate believers through pain, suffering at the hands of fellow Christians, how to avoid bitterness, and what to do when God doesn’t seem to meet our expectations.

When I read The Dave Test, I thought to myself that this is a great companion volume to God’s Favorite Place. The reason? Because The Dave Test navigates readers through how to deal with pain, suffering, and unfulfilled promises in the life of another person.

The author’s brother was tragically struck with a brain tumor. His name was Dave. Hence, the Dave test.

The Dave Test gives readers tools on what NOT to say and what TO say that helps — rather than hurts — those who are in major crisis.

If you go through my previous blog posts, you will discover that I’ve reviewed many books by the best-selling, pop, celebrity Christians of the day, most of whom are mega- or giga-church pastors (often using ghostwriters to craft their books).

The Dave Test blows the soot out of all of those books by far and away.

It’s deeper, it’s more sublime, the insights are far greater, and the writing style is much better.

I wish The Dave Test would hit the best-seller lists that those other books I mentioned regularly hit.

But sadly, it won’t.

Why? Because the author isn’t a celebrity.

Will Christianity Today run a review of this book and promote it to its readers?

Will CT even promote this blog post.

The chances are slim to none. And slim is planning on leaving town.

I don’t even think the CT peeps read this blog because I’m not a celeb-pastor or seminary prof. (this despite that my two blogs are regularly in the top 10 of all Christan blogs on the Web today).

Once in a great while a book of spiritual depth will fall into my hands and my reaction will simply be to sigh.

Sometimes deeply.

Why? Because fluff and pop is what sells today and gets into the hands of Christians by the scores.

Depth rarely sells like that . . . if at all.

Remember, the OT courtyard was large and many people entered it daily. The holy place was smaller and few entered. And the holy of holies was the smallest of all.

There’s a lesson there.

The closer you get to God’s heart, the smaller the crowds will be.

This fact is a testament to the shallow state of contemporary Christianity.

One thing I didn’t particular like about the book is some of the language. “Raw” it’s called. But many readers won’t a problem with it. And it could have been much worse.

The book presents some penetrating questions to help all of us better help others who are living on the raw bleeding edge of despair. Whether it be a friend who has just gone through a horrific divorce, a woman who miscarried, a loved one diagnosed with an untreatable disease, a person who has lost a loved one, etc. The Dave Test is a work of searing insight that empowers you to be a blessing and not a curse.

Here are some of the chapter titles. But don’t be fooled . . . each chapter contains profound and helpful points.

Can I say life sucks?

Can I give up my broken gods?

Can I avoid using stained-glass language?

Can I admit that some things will never get better?

Can I stop blowing smoke?

Can I say something that helps?

Can I walk wounded?

Can I be a friend?

The book is a wake-up lesson on how NOT to be one of Job’s friends when you know someone who’s going through the northeast corner of hell.

And sadly, many Christians become just that, despite their intentions.

Get this book and learn how to be effective when the people to whom you seek to give Christ – friends, family, nonbelievers – are being roasted over a slow spit from the fires of life.

Wise, honest, and spiritually engaging, I highly recommend this book.

Now . . . if you are reading this, say something in the comments, eh?

I am wondering just how many readers I’ll have on this review compared to the reviews I have done by the celeb-authors, some of which have gained massive traffic.

Consequently, if this post gets at least 100 Facebook likes, I’ll give one of the people who comments one of my books for FREE. I doubt it will even clear 50 . . . because it’s not a pop-book review. But I’d be thrilled to be wrong.

Order The Dave Test by Frederick W. Schmidt

This post is part of the sponsored Patheos Book Club.

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About Frank Viola

Frank Viola is a best-selling author, A-list blogger, speaker, and consultant to authors and writers. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply so they can experience real transformation and make a lasting impact. See his About page for more information.

  • Kim Wiese

    Adding to my stack. As a frustrated writer of non-fluff, I appreciate your review.

  • Chris Lovie-Tyler

    Thanks for the heads up, Frank. I’ve added this to my Kindle wishlist.

  • Aaron Eischeid

    Okay, you convinced me. Adding to my reading queue. Sounds relevant, got a good recommendation on writing style, plus I like supporting the little knowns. cool

  • Gene Smith

    Frank,
    This book is definitely on my must read list just haven’t gotten around to it. I’m pretty sure I added to my wishlist the first time your review came out. Thanks for the follow-up reminder. I’ll prioritize it to the top slot. Thanks also for the Fromke and other books in your GFP gift package, the Fromke books are great to read on breaks at work.
    Blessings,
    Gene

  • Fernando Villegas

    Thank you for introducing us to some “lesser-known” authors who have much to share with us about the Christian life.

    I had never even heard of DeVern Fromke before you, but now I have read a couple of his books and I agree, though his books will never be best-sellers, his material has been a tremendous blessing to me.

    I’m sure the same will be true of Fredrick Schmidt.

  • Geoff

    Thanks for the review. Looks interesting – and yes, I have ordered a copy.

  • Greg Carlet

    Good stuff. I’ll have to check it out.