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5 Stars Out Of 5
A (mercifully) short review, a (really) good book
February 22, 2014
Several Sundays ago, despite never having heard the name Kevin DeYoung, I was delighted to see the bulletin announcement for our church's January 2014 men's leadership breakfast series. It detailed that we'd be using Kevin's latest book, Crazy Busy, to help us broach a topic that precious few seem to know how to effectively. I thought, "Wow, this sounds perfect for our [busy] guys!" I was eager to purchase my copy from our assistant pastor, along with the study guide, and I'm about to complete my second read-through. Sinful busyness is a topic about which we need to be challenged and encouraged.
The book is divided into three sections: three dangers about busyness to avoid (chapter 2), seven diagnoses to consider for why you're busy (chapters 3-9), and a conclusion that encourages believers to absolutely do one thing to get on the road to being biblically busy instead (chapter 10). After all, it's not bad to be busy. But why you are is of utmost importance, because sinful busyness will inevitably tear you apart spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Crazy Busy can help you see your schedule differently. Each chapter is an easy read. You won't necessarily relate to every issue Kevin tackles (chapter 6 is intended for parents), but every page contains comments that will challenge your mind and encourage you to reconsider the choices you're making regarding your daily and weekly agendas.
The main reason Crazy Busy instantly drew me in is that Kevin doesn't try to hide his own failures when it comes to how he's had, and sometimes still has, a crazy busy life for the wrong reasons. From the onset, Kevin makes no bones about the fact that he wrote Crazy Busy especially for himself, and also as his best attempt to cause us to think about the biblical ramifications of being an unbiblically busy Christian. I always appreciate when Christian authors don't act as though they've arrived regarding what they write about. He also never suggests to have composed Crazy Busy to be a magic bullet manual on how to cure sinful busyness. He's not capable of that, and makes it clear immediately. In fact, he hilariously mocks one book in particular that tries to do just that. His well-timed, gentle sarcasm and jokes about being a laboring American Christian are a breath of fresh air to me. Often as I read through the 118 pages, I thought_ "Wow, this guy is the real deal. He's not afraid to just say what we often think but hesitate to verbalize or publish in writing for lame fear of being looked at funny or as though we had a mental disorder."
Content-wise, Kevin does a wonderful job of putting the spotlight on just about every conceivable reason why a 21st-century western Christian would be unbiblically busy. Not everything of course, but the pertinent matters are there. Whether it's wrestling through a gauntlet of pride manifestations, the sinister belief that all Christians must do everything, the critical concept of establishing and maintaining clear priorities, the dangers of technological addiction and dependence_ Kevin has it covered. And there's no way, if you're wondering how to tame your own life, that you can read Crazy Busy without coming away with valuable wisdom. It actually reminds me of an adult Sunday School class I sat in at church a few years ago about I Corinthians. One hour in particular, our assistant pastor emphasized that every last thing we do must be Bible-based (I Corinthians 10:31), and Crazy Busy is another helpful extension of that study we shared, obviously in this case from the perspective of Kevin DeYoung.
What stuck out to me the most is how in chapter 5, DeYoung highlights a small portion of Mark 1 to explain how in spite of Jesus being God in the flesh, even He didn't do everything He possibly could. I wouldn't be surprised if Christians today (including myself) would criticize Jesus for that; His disciples did after all. But God gave Him a mission, and our Savior stuck to it. The reality is that no Christian is Christ, and the sooner that we realize that we can't be_nor does God expect us to be, the better. Kevin does very well to explain how this truth applies to us in our sin-cursed daily living.
I'm looking forward to covering this book in my church's Men's Leadership Breakfast series. The accompanying study guide is available at the book's website for free, and we'll be using it for sure. We need to discuss what Kevin does about sinful busyness just as frankly, and encourage each other toward actual change! It's exciting to anticipate how God's grace will do this not just in each of us breakfast participants, but in every believer who reads Crazy Busy.
Kevin DeYoung is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University and a member of The Gospel Coalition. DeYoung has authored or co-authored many books and articles, and his book Why We're Not Emergent won the 2009 Christianity Today book award. His book Why We Love the Church won the 2010 Christianity Today Book Award and the Leadership Journal Golden Canon Book Award.
His latest book is entitled (2013) Crazy Busy and it is subtitled a (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem.
"Busy" seems to be the answer we all give for the question, "How are you doing?" Other people are more direct and they'll just ask you, "Staying busy?" To which we smile sheepishly and shake our heads. Take a look at the weekly schedule of the American family and you'll quickly see how many meetings, games, reports and projects seem to be pulling as all apart.
DeYoung tried to narrow the focus of business by boiling it down to a pride thing. "It's ok to be busy at times." DeYoung offers "You can' love and serve others without giving your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it's not supposed to be about you." (page 41)
Granted our pride - keeps us busy. The pride to have a better home, earn more income, have above-average children - all of those "goals" stem from our desire to look better and be better. But that's not why God created us.
To perhaps slow the pace down, DeYoung offers these tips:
1. Don't worry so much about your kids
2. Turn the TV off more and use your time better
3. Get more rest, meditation, exercise
4. Expect suffering; Be mentally prepared for trials and suffering, it happens to all of us and so if you are more prepared for it, it won't cause shock waves when it happens
DeYoung is a smart writer and his books are always informative. This would be a great gift for that person in your life who just can't slow down - and while you're at it, pick up one for yourself.
Thank you to Crossway publishing for a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
DeYoung was crazy busy and knew he needed to figure it out and work on change. So he wrote a book on it.
"I want to understand what's going on in the world and in my heart to make me feel the way I so. And I also want to understand how to change - even just a little." (17)
He has three dangers to avoid (ruined joy, robbed heart, sick in spirit and body), seven diagnosis questions to consider (pride, God's expectations, priorities, kids, strangled soul, rest, our expectations). He ends with one thing you must do.
DeYoung admits he doesn't have some five point plan to cure our business. But he does have a one point plan - one thing you must do - that involves devotion to the Word and prayer. "Maybe devotion to Christ really is the one thing that is necessary." (116)
If you are feeling yourself getting more of other stuff and less of Jesus, you need to read this book. He gives us the tools to look at our own life. DeYoung has suggested we have a hearty suspicion toward technology. We need to make boundaries. We need to bring our Christian theology to bear on the digital age.
"Maybe devotion to Christ really is the one thing that is necessary." (116)
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
From time to time I will receive from a Christian publisher an advance copy of a newly written book about to be released. Such was the case a week or so ago.
Although I love books and plow through them fairly quickly, when I saw the title I placed it in my "someday" pile. (Yes, I have two piles of books waiting to be read. I affectionately refer to them as "next" and "someday").
The title was "Crazy Busy." At the time I was going through one of those...well, crazy busy weeks. Pulled in what seemed to be a hundred directions, the last thing I needed was for someone to tell me how "out of order" my life was.
I was just finishing up a J.I. Packer book and planning to dig once again into a Martyn Lloyd-Jones classic. (Neither of those authors ever wrote a word for bedtime reading! ) Faced with a full schedule, I nevertheless violated my self-ordained protocol and pulled "Crazy Busy" from the "someday" pile and began reading. I'm glad I did.
Perhaps the allurement of being drawn to the book came from the fact that I enjoy reading Kevin DeYoung. He is both humorous and convicting...sort of like telling you that you're ugly in such a way that you say "thank you." "The Hole in Our Holiness," which he wrote last year is one of the most significant books on practical Christian living I have read in years. Besides, the subtitle to "Crazy Busy"--"A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem"--threw down the gauntlet for me to read it. After all, how long does it take to read 118 pages?
How about a few short hours...and that counts underlining and taking notes in the margin!
"Crazy Busy" is not intended to add more guilt to one who is already well aware of his shortcomings in the area of time management. In a self-effacing manner, he steps into the role of everyman and addresses how we got to be the way we are. He identifies twelve "killer-Ps" which are manifestations of pride that slowly but certainly drag us into the abyss of busyness.
He then gets specific with seven diagnoses that take aim at the specific areas that consume our time. The reader will identify himself in some of these more than in others, but it is doubtful that anyone will escape unscathed.
"Crazy Busy" is not a "how to" book (I really can't stand those!), but it does hold up for us a mirror in which we are able to see ourselves and, with God's help, make the lifestyle changes that will lead to a more manageable routine.
Several words stand out to me in the aftermath of having read the book. One is "priorities." We all have them, and they are able to be detected by how we are investing our time. As we take stock, we may need to reorder our priorities to reflect God's plan for our lives.
Another word is "rhythm." Unless there is a routine and structure in the way we pattern our lives, we will become slaves to the urgent while the important often slips through the cracks. We need to make sure that we are intentionally investing in those things that count for eternity.
"Devotion" is probably the most important word that I took from the book. As DeYoung points out in his retelling of the story of Mary and Martha, taking time to draw near to our Lord in is the one indispensable ingredient.
I commend the author for not promoting a legalistic list of do's and don'ts. In fact, there is not a great deal of Bible-referencing to be found here, but everything the author says is biblical. Read it for yourself and you'll see what I mean.
If, more often than not, your life seems to be spinning out of control and you never seem to be able to get a handle on what you know you need to be doing, then hit the pause button for a just few hours and read "Crazy Busy." It may just save your life.
Note: I was provided an advance copy of this book for review by Crossway.