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Muscle and a Shovel

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  499 ratings  ·  91 reviews
6th Edition Revised Muscle and a Shovel is a true story about a pair of young newly-weds who move to the city to chase the American dream. In the middle of their pursuit they are befriended by a man who turns their beliefs about God, their church, and their faith upside-down. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Community Churches no one is spared when Truth is ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Michael Shank Ministries (first published May 20th 2011)
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Rick Harper
Michael Shank is either incredibly ignorant or totally deceptive. This book reminds me of Nazi propaganda; it's only missing pictures of the deformities and birth defects of the offspring of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, non-denoms, etc. Horrible. Shank preys on the ignorance of his readers , both historical and biblical ignorance. He simply continues to parrot everything that is constantly parroted by Church of Christ denomination members. I had to force myself past every page ...more
I probably would have liked this book quite a bit better if they had let me edit it before it was published. The constant need to add commas and adjust awkward phrases got old very quickly.
Robert Durough, Jr.
I first want to address the form of the book Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank that I purchased. It is an e-book (Kindle) and the 5th edition. I purchased it for $9.99. It was strewn with typographical errors and poor grammar, had no table of contents or means by which to jump to chapters (there are 40, plus the following sections: introduction, epilogue, end notes, bibliography, and Bible verses used in each chapter), no links to end notes from where noted within the chapters, and missing ...more
I've grown up in the church of Christ. Yet, even I was "cutting off the end of the ham." This book helped show me why we do some things that I've never thought twice about. And while there are a few things I don't agree with 100%, I can see why some people believe that now based on the scripture provided. I love that everything is backed up with scripture. I just wish it wasn't King James Version as I've always struggled to understand it. If you are curious as to why the church of Christ practic ...more
You are CONTENT with your DENOMINATION, and your CHURCH...I suggest you DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. This book is focused around the church of Christ, and it will try and convert you to their church.....It will make you question your faith, and your soul..... I did not give it a star at all, becuase I do not think that this book needs to be "rated".....Instead of reading this book, I suggest you pick up your BIBLE and read it instead!
Ryan Mcdonald
Excellent book! It will make you think about every aspect of your spiritual life. I will warn you though, it could challenge your entire belief system. If so, don't put the book down, instead try and prove it wrong through study of the scripture. You will find that very hard to do.
A great story about what the Bible says about all of the Christian denominations created by men and about the meaning of the one true church purchased by the blood of Christ. This would be an excellent book for a small group study -- lots of scripture to look up and discuss.

There are two parts that I'm struggling with -- I accepted Christ via the "Sinners Prayer", which is slammed heavily in this book, but then I was baptized in obedience to what Jesus tells us to do in the Bible when I was in 1
Havebooks Willread
This is a very thorough record of one man's discovery of the Truth of the Bible. Through the influence of a co-worker, Mike realizes the importance of studying the Bible for oneself rather than following what any man says or the traditions one has been taught.

"Why were people so careless with the Bible? Why didn't people study the Bible like their eternal souls depended on it?. . .Studying and understanding the Bible isn't for the lazy. Studying the Bible requires muscle and a shovel. Mental mu
Have you always wondered why certain things you hear from the Sunday morning pulpit don't always match up when you read your Bible? This book is about several characters, all of whom are looking for change in their life. They don't all understand why or how at first, but eventually it all comes to light.

Randall is such a caring individual. He is always cheery and helpful no matter what his lot in life is. He is someone most people either naturally gravitate towards or completely ignore. I need
Grayson Key
Michael Shank will take you through his several-month journey from having his faith challenged to putting on Christ in baptism. Follow him through time with an open heart and an open Bible, testing both what he was told and what he says himself against God's revealed word. You just may find your own faith strengthened or reformed.
This is the best book I have ever read. This is a true story. It is a book about a man's journey to become a Christian, the difference in teachings and which church is right for you. It can make you angry at times but keep reading and if there is something you do not agree with find the answer in the bible and prove you are right, then notify Mr. Shank. He welcomes it! I guarantee, if you read the entire book you will learn something whether a Christian or not. I know I did and I have been a Chr ...more
Jim Atherton
One thing I did not like about the book: in my own discussions with people who attend denominations, the conversations and conclusions are never as simple as he presents them (see below)

One thing I did not care about wrt the book, which seems pretty important to some reviewers: the editing was not that bad, I didn't really notice that it was poorly done. One reviewer said that a middle school student could write better. I'd say that impression is false.

One thing I really liked about the book: I
Jeremy Walker
Good book, The author does a really good job at accurately pointing out real issues with the modern church, but because of his dismissal of certain key doctrines comes the wrong conclusion about Baptism and Salvation.

I agree with what he continues to hammer throughout the book. Read the Bible to determine if any doctrine is true and Biblically justifiable. That is what I would encourage anyone to do that agrees with the authors viewpoint on the issues below....

Biblically Unjustifiable Doctrines
Rebekah Morgan
Before talking about the content of the book, let me get it out of the way that it is obviously self published and most likely never edited. The writing is repetitive and at the same level as a middle schooler.

The content of the book is strange. It begins with several pages of blatant racism, goes into a discussion of why looking at the Bible as a whole is more profitable than just looking at verses, and ends with a diatribe on why the Church of Christ is the only viable option for Christians.
Beth Dickey
This is one man's story about how he came to study the Bible and decide what he believes. He's not a professional writer, and the book could've done with some stern editing. Still, worth a read. He uses lots of scripture, as the primary purpose of his book is to show you what he sees.
Really, I agree with this author more than I disagree, but I had some problems with this book. I admire his zeal, but not the way he arrived at some of his conclusions. Also in places his tone felt strident and dis
David Cox
If you want to read a book about someone who is honestly struggling to resolve the questions that he has regarding his religious background and how he comes to learning the actual truth about what is clearly written in the bible on how we are to follow His Word, this is the book you need to read if you desire to be in a saved state with God!! Nobody has ever written anything as eloquently as this man has regarding how he comes to terms with his faith and becoming baptized. The only other book th ...more
Missy Russell
This is a great book. Everyone should read it. It is simple to read and takes you to the Bible for what it truly means to be a Christian. Very enlightening.
The positives: encourages you to study your Bible for yourself and not to trust someone else to do it for you. Michael Shank really loves his wife (her eyelashes must be something, he really likes them). He is a happy man, who loves his church.

Okay, now to the other stuff. This is a minor point, but it bugged me and is part of what makes my Goodreads review a 1. By the 6th edition of a book with a cover price of $16, it is well past time to get an editor to look at it. The typos and glaring erro
Bobbi Caulfield
This could challenge a lot of what you were brought with in church and make you look into the Bible more for yourself. I would of course recommend that and not go by one imperfect human. I appreciate everything was backed up by scripture.
The only complaint I have is the bad grammar, run-on sentences and general awkward wording. I read this aloud with my fiancé and a lot of the time it did not flow well at all. Apparently this is in its 6th edition and I hope for the 7th it goes through an exper
Gwendolyn B. Hildreth
Absolutely a "must-read" for Christians and non-Christians alike

My son recommended I read this book two years ago. I didn't and I am upset with myself for that decision. This book has been and will continue to be such a blessing. The story makes the book flow so easily, you don't realize how very much you are learning. Anyone that has ever faced the question, "why do you believe what you believe", needs this book in their arsenal. A great companion to the Bible for anyone searching for true Chri
R. David
Shank does a pretty fair job of presenting his conversion via the gospel of Christ. It is a very simplistic, straight forward and easy read that is broken up into digestible units. His story is somewhat susceptible to trite phrases -- i.e. "...speak where the Bible speaks and silent where the Bible is silent", and I believe a misunderstanding of Acts 2:38 and " shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." These detract slightly from the overall message. However, I would recommend reading th ...more
Charl van Niekerk
Very good! Basic Christian doctrine presented in the form of an easy-flowing novel. Plenty of scripture quoted and presented, but you never feel as if you're being hammered over the head with bible verses, despite delving quite deep. This book will likely challenge your spiritual beliefs quite deeply, but that is part of its allure - It forces real introspection and thought. Very much worth passing around to others.
Really interesting personal story of how the author came to salvation. From a story-telling perspective, it's not a masterpiece, but I don't think the author has an inflated view of his prose. Actually, I enjoyed the way he made self-conscious references to 1980s pop culture as a way to set it in the time frame.

Great book for anyone who wants to know how the Bible says we are saved, and become part of God's Church.
Denise Snyder
Thought the book was fantastic. Going through with Michael Shank's discovery that he like most people do not search the scriptures in depth to see what the Bible says is very much what I went through in my teenage years. Most take whatever is taught at their churches rather than finding out for themselves what the Word says. If a person really wants a true relationship with God and Christ, they have to search the scriptures. Find the church that teaches closely to what one believes the Word says ...more
Kristi Bell
This is an excellent book on how a man was converted to Christianity and it is very scripture oriented. It answered some questions for me that I've had. I would highly recommend this book. This book is backed up by Scriptures throughout it. It does take a "muscle and a shovel" to dig through God's word! Randall, the guy who studies with Michael, is a member of the church of Christ.
Wynema Clark
If you want to know what the Church of Christ, the denomination, believes this book spells it out perfectly. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless you need to know and understand why they believe what they believe. But if you want to understand the Gospel I would recommend "The Naked Gospel" by Andrew Farley.
Tim Hodges
First, full disclosure: I only read the first third of this book. I'm giving this one star for effort on the author's part. He had to sit down and type all this out. Other than that, it's one of the most un-Christian things I've read. I'm thankful that God gave me free will -- I used it to close this book.
I really enjoyed reading about the authors honest challenges with scripture and faith and conversion journey. I would recommend this book to others, it really makes you think and points to scripture for the answers. The author belongs to the Church of Christ so this book is written in favor of this particular church.
I have never read any type of religious book like this. It takes an honest look at the Scriptures while telling a captivating story. The story and the truth behind it is one that left tears streaming down my cheeks as the book ended. It is one I whole-heartedly recommend to everyone. It will cause you to reexamine your beliefs and desire to be a better evangelist. It is a MUST READ & one I look forward to reading over and over again.
Matt Braymiller
This was a very enjoyable read. It tells the story of one man's journey (with his wife) from faith based on what he'd been told, to faith based on the Bible. I liked the approach of first clearing away the detritus of man-made systems and creeds leaving only the purty and simplicity of the gospel.

Reading this book is like watching a sculptor take a block of stone and, slowly and patiently sculpt it into an apple. When asked how he does it, he replies, "I just chip away anything that doesn't loo
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“Doubt causes indecision. Indecision causes inaction. Inaction causes us to put the important back there where the unimportant things reside. Inaction causes idleness and additional doubt. It builds a wall between what's important and what's unimportant. Once those walls grow, it's difficult to know how to tear them down.” 2 likes
“All denominations teach conflicting doctrines; therefore, it isn't possible that all of them are biblically correct.” 2 likes
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