I thought I'd begin this review by comparing Max Lucado's new book FOR THE TOUGH TIMES, Reaching Toward Heaven For Hope to C.J. Mahaney's LIVING THE CROSS CENTERED LIFE, Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing.
Both books are about the same size. End of similarities. Lucado does not even come close to reflecting the Biblical truth which underlies Mahaney's work, nor is the Lucado book Christ-centered, rather it reflects the man-focused religion which dominates modern "Christendom."
FOR THE TOUGH TIMES is a small book. It is small in size; it is small in content; it is small in value to believers and dangerous to non-believers.
Mahaney is able to take serious theological concepts and present them in an understandable form so that one does not need to be a seminary grad to get his point. Lucado wants to be "readable" for a general audience as well, but his methods involve taking the things of God and trivializing them. Such childish rubbish as "God's address is 1 Billion Starry Sky Avenue" is not "putting the cookies on the bottom shelf where even the kiddies can reach them" but putting rat poison in the milk.
Lucado's presentation of theological concepts is not only flawed by such trivialization but fraught with error. I'm not going to spend time refuting much of this, if any. I'll just let his words demonstrate the shallow-at-best understanding of God and His character and work:
"He (God) invented Grace"
"He (God) placed His hand on the shoulder of humanity and said "You're someting special"
"Your prayers may move God to change the world"
and First Honors for:
"...upon learning that God would rather die than live without you...."
This is the first Lucado book I've ever read. He is presented as "America's leading inspirational writer" I believe it. He is teaching exactly what Mainstream Christianity believes and wants to have reinforced: It's all about Me. God thinks I'm really Special. The whole of creation revolves around Me. I am so powerful I can get God to change His plans! Me, Me, Me!
To his credit, the chapter on Good and Evil and the role of Satan is pretty solid Biblically. Lucado credits 3 other writers in this work: Erwin Lutzer, John MacArthur, and Anthony Hoekema. He should have leaned more heavily on them.
Initially I was going to offer the criticism that there was not good continuity between chapters; the change is often abrupt. Then I happened to read on the copyright page:
Most of the material for this book has been adapted from (4 previous titles)
ISBN 978-0-8499-2144-5 (repackage)
So, it's not only a small book (barely 10,000 words I'd guess), it's a rehash of already published stuff.....
Bottom line: Hallmark appearance, shallow content, Gospel-deficient.