Posts By Allen Madding

Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World? by Eugene Cho

Reposting this review from 2014 because the Kindle Edition is free.
Eugene Cho challenges us to truly pursue justice, and to be willing to make the personal sacrifices that the pursuit will ultimately force us to make. In an age of short-term mission trips and numerous opportunities to change the world, many people love the idea of justice and doing good until it begins to require some sacrifice, and it always will.

Pursuing justice will come with a cost, and it will change us. Change is painful, but if we stick with it, the changes are good. Instead of pursuing justice because the world is broken, we need to recognize we are also broken. By serving others, we begin to get a better glimpse of God’s heart and His character, and we begin to change.

Shaken Awake Book Release

Last October, Contributor Allen Madding released his new book Shaken Awake. The Kindle edition is free through Dec 2. I invited him to write a post introducing the book and its background. You can buy the Free Kindle Edition, Paperback or Audiobook.


Shaken awakeOver 50 million people in America struggle with hunger[1] and 610,000 are homeless[2] while many churches are completely oblivious to the struggle to survive that is going on just outside their front doors. I find it appalling that 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger in one of the most affluent and powerful countries in the world. But I find it even more appalling that numerous churches are not actively seeking to alleviate the suffering. I wonder what it would take to change the hearts and minds of the leaders of the church bodies that are smack dab in the middle of communities struggling with these issues. If a homeless man froze to death in the front steps of such a church, would it make any difference? Would it give leader pause to reconsider their priorities and reevaluate their mission?

For 14 years, I lived in the Metro Atlanta area and for five of those years, I worked in midtown allowing me to see the homeless situation first hand. For the last three years, I have worked as community activist working to relieve hunger in our communities. Initially, I was shocked to discover the level of hunger in our community. As I personally adjusted to the knowledge of the hunger level, I was even more shocked by how few community leaders were familiar with the magnitude of the problem in their communities and how few churches were working to address the issue. And finally, I was appalled to discover that 70 billion pounds of food is thrown in the garbage every year in the United States. In fact, the amount of money wasted on food that is thrown away is more than what the federal government spends on the food stamp (SNAP) program.

I wrote “Shaken Awake” to shine a light on homelessness and hunger in the United States and as a challenge to individuals and churches to become aware of the magnitude of these issues and their impact on families. I firmly believe that these are the people that Jesus talked about when he referred to “the least of these” in Matthew 25. And, I believe that chapter leaves the church without an excuse for ignoring these issues. While the story is fictional, the plight of the homeless and families struggling with hunger all around us is not.



Art of Work by Jeff Goins Note: Officially Art of Work will not be released until March, but if you go here, the author will send you a free paperback copy of the book if you pay shipping.

Many of us struggle to find our identity in our work. We struggle with the gap between what really interests us – where our passions lie, and how we earn a paycheck. In many instances, we work to pay the bills so that we can pursue our true interest. Others know their current career path is not their passion, but cannot pinpoint where their true passion lies. Are we living to work or working to live? Are we spending our work hours doing something that fulfills us? Are working at a career that is exactly what we were created to do, or have we pushed our dreams aside to face the reality of a 9 to 5?

The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

When 12-year-old Samuel Chambers mother dies, he struggles with his thoughts and beliefs regarding death. He swears that he will do anything to bring his mother back and soon becomes caught in a struggle between good and evil over the ancient Tree of Life. During his journey and struggle, he begins to probe his thoughts on death – could death be a gift? What waits beyond the experience of death?

This book is well written and causes the reader to pause and reflect on their own thoughts on death and whether it is a finite end or just an intersection in our lives. Do we really believe there is a life after death, and can we embrace the goodness of the journey to the other side?

How to Use an Runaway Truck Ramp by Shawn Smucker and Maile Smucker

After years of talking about taking a trip across the United States, Shawn and Maile Smucker step out on the adventure of a lifetime. They move the bulk of their family’s possessions into storage, borrowed his uncle’s Bus/RV, load their children and set out. Along the way, while learning about driving a huge bus, emptying the holding tank, lighting the furnace, and troubleshooting electrical systems, they also learn a great deal on what is truly important. Many of the things that had seemed important just weeks before leaving on the trip quickly became less important as they refocused their interests and values.

The book is chock full of humorous anecdotes. It is not only a journey across the country, but it is also spiritual journey, and a journey in parenting. I greatly enjoyed this book. It took me through a range of emotions for laughing to weeping. I recommend it to anyone who has children or has a wandering lust and needs a nudge to take a little risk, step outside their comfort zone and live.

How to Use an Runaway Truck Ramp by Shawn Smucker and Maile Smucker Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

All In by Mark Batterson

“If Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all”

In a concise and ease to understand approach, Batterson challenges the reader to perform a self-examination and discover what they are holding onto more firmly than Jesus. He points out that we are either following him completely or inviting him to follow us. By engaging numerous examples from the Bible, Batterson illustrates that God does not do great things because of us. Instead, He does great things despite us.

God did not choose Moses and David because they were great leaders. They did not have impressive resumes or a wealth of experience to draw from. What they had was a solid commitment to the God of creation. Imagine if we were all in like young David was all in when he went to face Goliath.

This is an easy and quick read, but it is well worth your time.

All In by Mark Batterson Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

Identity Crisis: 21 Days of Discovering Who God Says You Are by Michael D. Perkins

For years many of us have struggled with trying to measure up to others standards for us and for our own. We walk around calling ourselves failures. We tell ourselves we are not smart enough, good enough, nice enough, and on and on. After spending years telling himself similar things, Michael Perkins discovered that none of those things were what God had to say about him.

How Sweet the Sound: A Novel by Amy K. Sorrells

In her debut novel, Amy Sorrells has established herself as a story teller and poet. How Sweet the Sound is a story of an Alabama family, the Harlans, and their generational struggle to bury the ugly pain that haunts them. All of their lives come crashing in around them when two brothers kill each other. The tension between the two had been brewing for years from dark family secrets of rape and abuse. Anniston, who lost her father in the double murder, struggles with all of the upheaval in her young life and her cold and hard hearted grandmother.

I highly encourage you to read this well written book in a place where you feel safe to weep and have an ample supply of Kleenex at hand. It is a story of redemption and hope for those dealing with the brokenness in their lives – a stirring story of amazing grace and encouragement.

How Sweet the Sound: A Novel by Amy K. Sorrells Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

Building a Life Out of Words by Shawn Smucker

Often times when life throws us a curve ball, out natural tendency is to find some corner somewhere, cry in cup of coffee, and sing our favorite verse of poor, poor me. But what if we drew a deep breath, stepped back, and considered for a minute how we could use this opportunity to make a positive change of direction in our lives?

Shawn Smucker was faced with such a situation. After returning from four years of managing a large business in England, he felt lost working 10 hour days painting houses and living in his parent’s basement with his wife and two children. When his aunt called out of the blue and asked him to write her life story, he had no idea how his life would be impacted.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey  want to welcome a new contributing reviewer, Allen Madding.
The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

Mattingly, Virginia Sheriff Jake Barnett, his wife Kate, and Taylor Hathcock have spent twenty years wrought with guilt for their roles in the death of Phillip McBride. While his death was ruled a suicide, these three people know better and each would say they killed Phillip. Each have dealt with their guilt in their own unique way.

Phillip has haunted Jake’s dreams every night as Jake has tried to bury Phillip without success. Kate has busied herself doing good for others trying to earn her penance while Taylor has gone absolutely mad. Jake has spent his life trying to live in the shadow of his father Justus never earning his approval. Things come to a head when Phillip returns. Phillip’s return to Mattingly reveals truth to years of deceit. Grace and forgiveness meets head-on with murder, deceit, and years of lies in the middle of Happy Hollow, a place ironically named.

Billy Coffey holds the reader’s attention from chapter to chapter in a moving novel that is hard to put down. At times the reader has a hard time believing this is a work of fiction. The reader can identify with elements of each of the characters in the novel causing some soul searching.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition