Monday, April 04, 2016

BookPastor >> "Sandcastle Kings" (Rich Wilkerson Jr)

Build not the sandcastles of life that will easily wither away when the elements arrive. Build the house of God upon the Rock of Christ. This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Dec 9th, 2015.


TITLE: Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World
AUTHOR: Rich Wilkerson Jr
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2015, (240 pages).

Spiritually bankrupt people will naturally build things that cannot last. They achieve the best that the world can give; attain the highest standards the world desires; and pursues the things of fame, power, happiness, riches, and material goods. Yet, all these things are but sandcastles, and in achieving them, we are likened to "sandcastle kings."

What are the "sandcastles" of life? According to Wilkerson, it is about any kind of foundation that is not centered on Christ. If a person's foundation is money, then all he does is work and making money. He spends so much time at the office that he neglects other more important things in life simply because money has usurped the title of the most important thing in life. If a person's foundation is relationships, then one's sense of purpose and identity is based on the ups and downs of the health of that particular relationship. If a person's foundation is health, he becomes paranoid about diet, about looks, about keeping fit so as to prevent disease, or maintain a good build. This book describes four biblical examples of how people build their houses on sand or sandcastles that will fall in a matter of time. Using Luke 7 as the key chapter, Wilkerson also reminds us about the "Chapter 7 bankruptcy" which eventually leads him toward writing about spiritual bankruptcy when we build sandcastles.

The first person is the Roman Centurion who was too embarrassed to see Jesus personally. His humbling act touched Jesus who went on to heal his servant. Here, we learn about the sandcastle of Pride which is a bad foundation in which we can build our lives on. Contentment is not about place but in the Person of Christ. The Centurion's perspective is unlike others. He refuses to use his own authority and reputation but chooses to beg. Jesus praises the Centurion for his faith and humility. The Apostle Paul then presents a kingdom perspective instead of the sandcastle of pride. The Word of God is our food; our weapon and our guide.

The second person is the widow weeping over her dead son. Through the story, Wilkerson points out the second sandcastle: Relationships. He warns us about the fragility of relationships simply because people by themselves are fragile. The widow has not only lost her husband, now she has lost her child. It is a double whammy. With the deaths of her loved ones, she finds no more reason to live. The problem with building the sandcastle of relationships is that it focuses more on the created beings rather than the Creator of all beings. It can be idolizing our relationships. Gradually, readers learn that this does not mean we do away with relationships totally. It simply means learning to see relationships with God as our Guide. Just like CS Lewis's four loves. If we remain in the earthly levels of love and fail to progress to the highest love, we will not be doing our relationships a favour. For it is God who is the one who can say "Get up!"

The third person is John the Baptist, who Wilkerson calls "The Preacher." The sandcastle of Religion is about buying our way to salvation through works. John has been faithfully preaching and calling the people to repentance. Yet, he is a man with doubts, questioning Jesus' identity even when he was in prison.  When the going gets tough, what happens to our faith? Are we going to cling on to a religion made by man? Are we going to replace faith with the sandcastle of religious works?

The fourth person is the woman leading the sinful life. She had no reputation. Instead, she had excessive baggage of regret, guilt, and all kinds of depressing details of her life. She cannot seem to overcome her sandcastle of her self-condemnation.

So What?
The idea of "sandcastle kings" is a brilliant one. It describes the very things of this world that many people pursue without fully realizing the folly of doing so. Like sandcastles on the beach that can be easily washed away when the high tides come, our pursuit of worldly stuff such as material goods, riches, possessions, reputation, and so on can be easily washed away. What is not so obvious is the way we pursue other seemingly "more important things" such as relationships and good works. Wilkerson brings them out clearly and shows us from Luke 7 how these can become sandcastles if we are not careful.

Rich Wilkerson Jr and his wife DawnChere are founders of VOUS Church in Miami. Rich is also the host of the weekly talk show Top3 on JUCE TV. Rich travels widely, logging more than two million air miles while traveling around the world on speaking engagements. Wow!

This book reminds me of the way our heart creates idols. John Calvin calls the heart as an "idol factory" which is a warning that anything that replaces God in our hearts is automatically an idol. It is also a "sandcastle" and we are specialists in building such fantasies. What makes it worse is the way we lead others to do the same, becoming a stumbling block to others. There are many stories that can move the heart and I appreciate the last story most of all. The idea behind this book is simple but so very applicable to many parts of life. Thanks Rich!

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Thomas-Nelson and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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