I just finished reading The Unusual Suspect by Stephen Baldwin (www.stephenbaldwin.com). I will be honest. I didn't know what exactly to expect from a Hollywood pretty boy, but I had read some things about Stephen in the media that made me think he wasn't the mamsy-pamsy sort and his book might be a good read.
In case you have not heard, Stephen made news this year when he went against a porn shop in his town. He sat outside on the sidewalk and took pictures of the patrons and put those pictures in a full-page ad in the newspaper's Sunday edition. It didn't go over well with some folk, but he didn't care. He has a wife and daughters, and he didn't need that garbage in his town.
I'll confess. I was a bit shocked. I have seen some Stephen Baldwin movies, and to hear that he would go up against porn shops was...a new view of him. I liked the view, and it left me interested in this new side of Stephen Baldwin.
I prayed for him, for his family, and for the word to get out about what he was doing.
I've seen updates periodically, but for the most part, the media seemed to let it drop when they realized they could not shame him or intimidate him into backing off. That is a shame because what he did should have stoked the fire of every God-fearing man in America, and we should have had churches sitting out on the sidewalks taking pictures and meeting in the city counsel chambers demanding a change in public zoning and political acceptance of such an industry. At the very least--and the most powerful--we should have had some get stoked enough to stand on the sidewalk and pray for the powers of hell that had taken up residence to be brought down and for the land to be redeemed.
Sadly, that didn't happen. If anything, a lot of those God-fearing men shook their heads and babbled some small-minded comment about Baldwin making Christians look like radical freaks. Well for those who did, Stephen Baldwin would say thanks for thinking he is radical, and I say get on your face and repent.
Anyway, because I was impressed by a man doing something instead of just whining about the condition of America's moral fabric today, I have wanted to read his book since I first saw it. I had waited for Christmas hoping to get it as a present, but when I didn't, I took matters into my own hands and spent my own money on it. It was well beyond being worth the investment.
If you want hardcore, Bible-as-it-is, uncompromised, sold-out, everything-I-am-and-have, all-for-you, holding-nothing-back-even-if-it-kills-me commitment that will stoke your fire, challenge your commitment, and stretch your comfort zone, this book is for you.
I think Christians who read this book will fall into three categories: 1) those shouting, "Hallelujah! Amen!" about every page or so, 2) those muttering, "I can't believe he said that, but I'm glad he did because now I don't feel like the only one who thinks that way," and 3) those who read it, shake their heads, and say, "Oh, God is going to get all over that boy." For those in the third group, I want to assure you that He already did. That is why Stephen wrote the book, and it is Holy Spirit drive from beginning to end. Therein lies the power. Therein also lies what will make Christians cringe and sinners see hope. The Holy Spirit is all over this book, and it'll convict, challenge, and encourage in ways that might shock you coming from a Hollywood pretty boy.
As for sinners who read it, I think they'll either write him off as nuts because they are so deceived or they'll run to find out more because this is spiritual filet mignon, baby.
The Unusual Suspect is as honest as it gets. If you need a fire lit under you, this is your match. If you want to know you are not the only one that looks at the Christian life from a more radical perspective than most, this is your buddy book. If you are happy reading your 15-minute devotions in the morning, sitting in the same pew every Sunday at church, and living the predictable happy-you-aren't-going-to-hell life, read it 'cause you need it the most.
Thinking Stephen Baldwin is too celebrity to come up with something that life-altering? He'll be the first to tell you he didn't come up with any of it, and I admit, a lot of it is really simple stuff. That is what makes it so unusually powerful, but God works that way, and as Stephen says, maybe that is what makes God the most unusual suspect.