Monday, July 28, 2014

Radically Normal by Josh Kelley

Kelley wants his readers to honor God in their everyday lives. He also wants to correct some longstanding ideas and practices, such as Christians' obsession to look super spiritual on one hand or practice complacency on the other. Kelley wants Christians to be radically normal. “It's the biblical art of fully engaging this life while focusing on the next.” (14)

Kelley reports that you don't have to sell all and go overseas to honor God. But we are not to settle for mediocrity either. He wants to see believers pursuing greatness in their unique place in the body of Christ, exercising their specific gifting.

He helps readers understand what obsessive behavior is – actions based on guilt, obligation or legalism. Doing something because it is your joy to obey God – that is being radically normal. “Learning to consistently live between legalism and worldliness,” he writes, “is much harder, but it's also much more fun.” (136)

Kelley's book reminds me of John Piper's writing on being a Christian hedonist. Obeying God's commands because we want to, not because we feel obligated to, will ultimately bring us much more happiness and enjoyment of His creation. Getting there is not always easy, however. Legalism is often the easy way out.

I thought he had a very good explanation of how legalism gets started, from building protective fences. That helped me understand how to avoid it. He also has a well thought out section on avoiding friendship with the world (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). Just because something is “earthly” does not mean it is “worldly.” He even has wisdom on how to make the best use of suffering because it will come to all of us. I like his suggestions about art too.

Questions for group discussion or personal reflection are included so it would be a great book for a small group or to read by oneself.

Kelley has tackled a difficult subject of living godly lives in a fallen world. I think he has done well. He helps readers understand what it really means to give God glory in our daily lives. His suggestions are realistic, encouraging, and doable.

You can find out more about the book and read a sample chapter at

Josh Kelley has been a pastor for fifteen years. He has a BA in Biblical Studies from Pacific Life College. He served as assistant pastor at His Place Community Church and from 2007 to the church's closing in 2014, as pastor of The Gathering Christian Church. He and his family live in northwest Washington and he is back working at Starbucks.

Harvest House Publishers, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary digital galley of this book through the Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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