The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams is the true story of Kevin's life after the stock market crash of 2008. He was one of those people that us ordinary folks had no sympathy for. He had lived above his means for years, spent every dime he earned then borrowed more so that he could live above his means. He owned 3 houses all worth more than the last. He lived in the one and rented all those of less worth. He was very proud of all he had managed to amass until the crash when he had to look at the way he had wasted his good blessings. He watched as everything was lost. He was faced with lawsuits, foreclosures, and homelessness and then to top it all off his son left the home. He and his family went from being the family where nothing is too good to being the family looking for the charity of others. He couldn't buy a job, he wallowed in self-pity until he and his wife decided to listen to that still small voice of Jesus.
Mr. Adams pulls no punches with how he squandered his good fortune. In fact the beginning chapters of the book are difficult to read for this middle income reader who watched as people like Kevin get help to provide for his family while middle income folks kept on paying their bills and watched their retirement go into banker's pockets. But by the end of the book where Kevin and Holly start to listen to God and follow his plan, I see their great courage and I had admiration for them. This book starts slow and is difficult to get into but is worth it in the end. I would judge this book as average.
I was provided this book from Booksneeze for this review.
"[_] the beginning of faith is not a mere passing from one mess to another but a sequence of events designed to teach us that we are less than we thoughtâ€”less than our onetime accomplishments, less than our courageous steps, and even less than the wisdom we think we've gained. But God is more than we hope, more than we believe, and always more than we can see. " -Page 215-216 The Extravagant Fool.
The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams rises from the foundations of 1 Corinthians 3:18:
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become "fools" so that you may become wise."
Adams states, "Through this verse God revealed to me that there are essentially two kinds of foolsâ€”one who says (or lives as if) there is no God, and one who lives as if there's nothing worthwhile outside of God."
The Extravagant Fool is one man's faith journey: a faith journey that begins where common sense ends. Kevin Adams was at the peak of financial success: he owned his own thriving business, commercial real estate, luxury investment properties, and was in the process of building a million dollar home when the financial crisis of 2008 hit. By January 2009, he had lost it all. From a million dollar home to a small rental with a failing air conditionerâ€”and no way of knowing where rent money would come fromâ€”Adams has to make a choice between striving and working harder or learning to live by absolute faith in God.
The Extravagant Fool hooked me from the beginning. Having become accustomed to the walk by faith mantra, I've spent many seasons thinking I'm truly walking by faith only to find that my faith doesn't even amount to mustard seed measurements. The Extravagant Fool challenged me, rocked me, but most importantly began chiseling away at my own perspective of what faith looks like.
In his book, Adams states, "I was only maintaining a flexible faith, the faith of a man who believes that God is more powerful than himself, but not quite as smartâ€”a faith where small victories are quickly hijacked by the Enemy and used to disguise the overall solution."
My review copy of this book is filled with underlines and dog-eared pages. Kevin writes poetically and metaphorically, however, I didn't find the abstract language difficult to follow. His writing style has been likened to Donald Miller's in Blue Like Jazz, so if you find that type of writing difficult this may not be the book for you. Adams' insights made me pause and ponder; and his journey with God inspired me to beg God to make me an even bigger fool for His name (as scary as that sounds).
Kevin writes about the controversies we all have in the tug of war between being realistic and having faith; between looking at things practically and looking at things through God's eyes. He explores the idea that as the church we've become focused on living Christian-centered lives as opposed to Christ-centered lives. Adams walks the tightrope, with Christians on one side chanting "look to the ant" and Christians on the other declaring "God helps those who help themselves" all the while trying to look straight ahead to God, so he can arrive at what His word truly says about faith.
The Extravagent Fool is not overly complex or philosophical, yet is deep and profound. I read it in a day and found myself wanting to reread it as soon as I turned the final page. Adams weaves lessons into his storytelling, so you don't feel like you're sitting in a lecture hall, but are on the journey with him, learning the lessons as you walk.
Because Kevin tells a story that a lot of men can relate to tooâ€”navigating his own paradigm shift from viewing himself as the provider to viewing God as the providerâ€”my hubby snatched up the book as soon as I finished it(and is loving it so far). It's a book for all audiences and I highly recommend it. I give The Extravagant Fool a 4.5 out of 5.
Please note: I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan through BookLookBloggers.comÂ® in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.
In this book, Kevin Adams talks about how he lost his business and finances and describes the whirlwind of losses and troubles that his family went through. Very candidly, he describes how he tried to stay afloat by even trying to get online jobs in order to raise money to at least buy groceries.
Through this moving book, we are able to see how God provided for Kevin's family in the hardest of times. Sometimes others gave, sometimes he got unbelievable jobs, say the one he got for only two weeks, but it raised enough income to support his family for 6 months.
It is a walk through trusting God in the hard times, obeying Him when obeying doesn't seem to make any sense at all, resting when He says to rest and moving only when He says to move.
I learnt a lot from this book, and it was largely a reminder of what I knew but had relaxed on following. I now plan to simply trust and obey, and quit laboring so hard - because the Lord's burden is easy, and His yoke is light. Unless He allows for a deal to work or connections to be fruitful and beneficial, our efforts are all in vain. It may seem foolish to do nothing when we are desperate for a solution, but if God says to rest, we should simply rest, because He always has a better plan for us than our efforts could ever produce.
Have you ever read a good book that drove you crazy because of a flawed writing style?
I have. In fact, I just finished reading one I'm going to recommend to you in spite of the style flaws in it.
The book is "The Extraordinary Fool" by Kevin Adams (published by Zondervan). This is a personal story of a man who had succeeded as far as the world is concerned. Living in a million-dollar home, married to a woman he loves, with children he loves, and succeeding in building his own business is the American dream that Adams achieved, and it was great!
Until it all came crashing down.
Well, the marriage and family survived, but the business and the "rewards" of financial success quickly came tumbling down for Adams. But we've all read stories like that. We've also read stories about how faith brought people through such hard times.
But there is something important that makes Adams' story different.
Adams didn't just trust God to bring him through hard times, he did more than that. He learned how to live by faith. Not faith for hard times. Not faith for the moment. But how to LIVE by faith ala George Muller style. About that, he writes:
"George Muller made it simple. By trading his commitment to Christianity for an absolute surrender to Christ, he left me with a challenge: learn to live by absolute faith --- foolishly so --- and let the answers be the answers, unembellished by my own desires or the opinions of others."
That's very different, and not very common today.
Because this is a story about really LIVING by faith and being fully surrendered to Christ, you'll find golden nuggets of insight strewn throughout the book. That's what makes this book worth buying and reading. But be forewarned, living by faith is so much more than what most people think that many readers will likely find themselves initially disagreeing with some of the decisions Adams made.
And that's the significance of this book!
The average Christian thinks they're living by faith, but more often than not they are living "practically" and "rationally." Living by faith will shake that up and turn things upside down. It did for Adams, and it does for those who make a real decision to follow Christ above all else, regardless of how impractical and irrational that may appear to be.
Now for my problem with the book, which is Adams' style of writing. There are a few flaws with how he writes that, at times, makes the book difficult.
First, in what seems to be an effort to keep the story flowing, I think Adams sometimes tells his story so fast that he leaves out some pertinent details. There were times when I didn't fully understand how Adams was approaching challenges by faith because he didn't provide enough details so the reader could fully understand.
What really drove me nuts was that Adams tries so hard to be poetic and eloquent with his choice of words that sometimes he just doesn't make sense. There was more than one occasion where I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph and still didn't fully get what he was trying to communicate.
I chalk up these writing style issues to the fact that this is Adams' first book. I believe Adams is probably a diamond in the rough as an author. He certainly demonstrated in "The Extravagant Fool" that he has some brilliant, God-given insights worth sharing, and he can improve his writing style by slowing down just a little, providing a little more detail, and focusing on communicating a little more plainly so he can be more clearly understood.
I hope you don't let some style issues keep you from buying and reading this book. The content is worth absorbing and being challenged by, and you may just discover a new writer you would like to follow. I know I'm curious to see where Adams goes from here as an author.
I received this book free from HarperCollins Christian Publishing as part of their BookLook 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."
A faith journey that begins where common sense end
May 21, 2014
Kevin Adams; The Extravagant Fool: A Faith Journey that Begins Where Common Sense Ends. Paperback: 224 pages; Publisher: Zondervan (May 6, 2014).
I've heard it said that you can tell the faith of a believer by how he handles suffering, trials and tribulations. Sadly, many times those who do not believe tend to handle it better than those of the faith. At the height of what many of us would reflect as prosperity, the author loses it all, literally. How he and his family responds is the content of this work.
I agreed to review this work because I need more hope in my life. I think as you walk out gospel fluency, you must surround yourself with reminder â€˜resources' and I thought this was going to be one of those. I was not particularly challenged, actually more perplexed at times and had to re-read sections wondering how I had lost context. At the same time feeling â€˜bad' that what should be a celebratory read, positive toward the author, because of the suffering and hope propaganda (blurbs, endorsements, comments from other characters) because it seemed parts disjointed and made me wonder about this work. It also did not really inspire me to â€˜have faith' or â€˜meditate on scripture' or â€˜spend time in fellowship with' an accountability partner (no not Job's friends - wink), or contain down-to-earth messy suffering with a crescendo of biblical hope. I did not find the hope I was looking for or expected.
Journal entries were interspersed through out the work and those too, caused me to scratch my head from time to time. Kevin Adams really had me thinking from time-to-time if I had missed a chapter or if pages stuck together that skipped me forward to other parts. Regrettably for me, the information was not presented in a cohesive, or appealing manner. Without interviewing or reading more of Kevin's work, his theology appeared to me promoting experiential theology that danced up to the line of moral relativistic apologetic engagements. Roughly translated, because he experienced it, therefore that defines who, what, where, when, and how God is. I am uncomfortable with that, because I felt I was without more data or context. Maybe quoting another who definitely has better discernment than I on these matters might help?
"On the one hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in the message of the gospel. Even the evangelical church shows signs of losing confidence in the convincing and converting power of the gospel message. That is why increasing numbers of churches prefer sermons on family life and psychological health. We are being overtaken by what Os Guinness calls the managerial and therapeutic revolutions.
The winning message, it seems, is the one that helps people to solve their temporal problems, improves their self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves. In such a cultural climate, preaching on the law, sin and repentance, and the cross has all but disappeared, even in evangelical churches. The church has become "user friendly," "consumer oriented," and as a result evangelical churches are being inundated with "cheap grace" (Bonheoffer).
Today's "gospel" is all too often a gospel without cost, without repentance, without commitment, without discipleship, and thus "another gospel" and accordingly no gospel at all, all traceable to the fact that this is how too many people today have come to believe that the church must be grown_What is the answer? A restored confidence in the Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God in salvation!" â€” Robert L. Reymond, in A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith
I am thankful for the opportunity to review this work, it is also not time wasted that I can never get back, but I am uncomfortable recommending it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, as part of its BookLook 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."a