David Wilkerson (review)

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David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who BelievedDavid Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who Believed by Zondervan Publishing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

God always makes a way for a praying man. You may never be able to get a college degree, you may never get rich, but God always has and always will make a way for a praying man – David Wilkerson, Kindle Location 903.

If there is one secret to the success and impact of David Wilkerson’s life, prayer is probably it, at least according to his son Gary. In David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed, Gary Wilkerson lays it all out for us: his dad’s early years as the oldest son in the home of a strict Pentecostal preacher, his first pastorate where he supplemented his salary by selling cars, his change of focus from what people thought to what God thought, his move to New York to work amongst gang members and addicts founding what is now known as Teen Challenge, the writing of The Cross and the Switchblade, his move to California in the 60s, then to Texas, and eventually back to New York. The story takes us to Wilkerson Sr.’s death in 2011.

In a way the book is like a modern book of Acts, replete with stories of how Wilkerson Sr. used his gifts of prophecy and healing, introduced thousands to Jesus in crusades, then taught, scolded and encouraged them through his newsletter. And like the stories in Acts, there are also tales of ministry bumps, broken relationships, physical illnesses, the need to adjust to the challenges of a changing society and a changing church culture.

I appreciated the writer’s frank but always respectful tone. He loved and idolized his dad, but still makes us privy to his shortcomings. The text and the acknowledgements tell us that he went to great lengths to get all sides of the story. There are numerous quotes from ministry colleagues, students, family members, friends, and neighbors, giving us a well-rounded look at the man.

David Wilkerson’s story is exciting and inspiring, but I also found it challenging because of the high standard that he held for himself and those that worked with and for him. Some of the bits from the book I highlighted:

Always he saw the world and those around him through the lens of eternity – KL 28l.

Quoting John Sherrill about the success of The Cross and the Switchblade:

“I don’t think books take off and do well or don’t do well depending just on the quality of the writing. I think it depends on catching something that’s in the air, something that people need” – KL 1959.

Speaking of how his dad chose singer Dallas Holm and other ministry partners:

Throughout his life, Dad would speak of a certain ‘sound’ he heard in preachers, something that spoke to him of God’s holiness – KL 2065.

Ralph Wilkerson (1960s youth leader who worked with David Wilkerson)says:

“He was like some of the old revivalists. There was so much prayer behind his sermons that there was a powerful anointing on the reading and people were converted” – KL 2177.

(David Wilkerson’s preaching style was to write out his sermons in longhand, then read rather than orate them.)

And two more random quotes:

Every event was a sacred moment ordained by God, with nothing less than eternity at stake for everyone present. For that reason alone, he could never judge a sermon based on people’s reaction to it. He had to judge himself on how faithful he was to speak the message God had impressed on him – KL 2968.

When Dad spent time in the Scriptures, he wasn’t looking to gain breadth of knowledge; he was searching to know the ways of God – KL 3817.

If you want to be challenged and convicted to pray more, care more about what God thinks of you than what people do, love your fellow-man more, read this book. One thing is sure: you won’t read it with an open heart and come away unchanged.

David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed releases from Zondervan on September 2nd. I received it as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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This Is Your Captain Speaking (review)

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This Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & LifeThis Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life by Gavin MacLeod

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“My life has taken one incredible turn after another. I’ve gotten to do what I wanted to do, I’ve been a captain! I’ve traveled the world. … I’ve been given this incredible gift of a life, and now I want to use it to give back… ” – Gavin MacLeod in the Preface to This Is Your Captain Speaking.

This Is Your Captain Speaking is the autobiography through which TV and film star Gavin MacLeod (along with writer Mark Dagostino) seeks to accomplish his Preface wish.

The story of Allan George See (later Gavin MacLeod) begins on February 28, 1931 in Pleasantville, New York. MacLeod tells his story in first person, chronologically. We go with him to hopeful script readings early in his career, meet his fellow cast members on the show that first put his name in lights as Murray in the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” meet the whose-who of the 60s, 70s and 80s through his role as captain in “The Love Boat” TV series while also cheering his personal triumphs and cringing at his mistakes. Three sets of photographs give us visuals of his colorful life.

MacLeod’s writing style is warm and chatty, his memories sharp and detailed. He is very positive throughout (if you’re reading this to find dirt on showbiz celebrities, you won’t find much). As someone who is familiar only with MacLeod’s work on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” I was interested to discover he had had multiple successes and a long and brilliant career. The book is full of names and pictures of actors and others celebrities. I’m afraid most of the name-dropping was lost on me, though, Hollywood illiterate that I am. However, despite the many sections that were about encounters with stars of whom I had no knowledge and little interest, I enjoyed the sense of positivity and gratitude that pervaded the book.

I was especially intrigued that MacLeod viewed his role of Jonathan Sperry in the movie “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry” as the crowning achievement of his life. Sperry is a character through whom MacLeod was able to talk about and explain his late-found Christian faith. Of that role he says: “Only after I had gained that notoriety, only after I had gained a certain amount of respect, only after I had traveled the world and met people of all stripes, from all walks of life, only after I had taken this long fantastic voyage of a life did God put me in the role of Jonathan Sperry–because he knew that now, after all of that, people would listen to what the Captain had to say” p. 251.

I received This Is Your Captain Speaking as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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