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I finished reading Muscle and a Shovel by  Michael J. Shank and published by Michael Shank Ministries, LLC some time ago but its message still resonates deeply with me.

It’s relates the true life story of young newlyweds, Michael and Jonetta Shank, who have moved to the city to pursue the American Dream. Michael early on at the company for which he works, befriends a man at the shipping docks who turns his, and later Jonetta’s beliefs about God, the church and their faith upside-down. This new friend never compromises as he speaks the truth found in the Bible; he doesn’t care about political correctness or today’s so-called religious tolerance, yet he does so in such a loving way, he truly represents what Christians should be – the face of Jesus to a lost world.

WARNING: The author himself warns that if you choose to read this book your beliefs will be challenged in ways you never thought possible and from a vantage point you may never have considered; it will set your intellect, emotions and existing beliefs on fire!

This book is non-fiction which is one reason it is so compelling; it is sure to agitate, frustrate and even anger your senses while it forces you to examine whatever beliefs you hold close to your heart.

If your sensibilities are easily offended this book is probably not for you – in fact the author warns that many who begin will not finish and yet if his story does offend, Mr. Shank asks for forgiveness as his intention was and is not to offend but to share something powerful that made a difference in his life. But all those who finish Muscle and a Shovel will find value far beyond the purchase price of this book. In the words of the author this story is:

a raw, gritty, true story about finding the Truth in a world drowning in religious confusion.

He even starts his book with a quote from Morpheus, a character in one of my favorite movies, The Matrix:

The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around. What do you see?

Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.

You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so injured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they well fight to protect it.

This quote is so apropos to how so many will fight to protect what they believe; what traditions of man they revere; regardless of what the Bible, the inspired Word of God, says. My prayer is that all who start this book will finish it and will want to share it with their friends and loved ones. Further, I would like every soul who attempts a reading of this book to keep in mind another quote from an unknown author:

It is easier to believe a lie one has heard a thousand times than to believe a fact one has never heard before.

I heartily recommend this book and like Michael Shank, if my recommendation offends, that’s not my intention – rather I too wish to share with others a book that could change lives!

-Mitch Watkins

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