It’s Not What You Think – Jefferson Bethke (Book Review)

This is a worthwhile read. You can learn more about the Bible, as well as God and yourself. Bethke tackles numerous different subjects (as seen in the chapter titles) that Christians have had wrong ideas about. The title of the book is an umberella for him to talk about a wide variety of subjects compliled into one book.There perhaps isn’t a lot of cohesiveness between some of the different subject matters as it jumps from a topic like ‘where is the kingdom of God’ to the significance of eating at a table, but that being said, each chapter has good thoughts so a bit of randomness is forgivable .

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The book is well written and enjoyable, but I didn’t have any problem setting it down, and it actually took me a long period of time to get it completed, for what that’s worth to you.

Bethke’s writing style includes a lot of talking about the Bible, sharing wisdom from other authors, and he has some stories from his own life (and he’s willing to talk about his shortcomings).

If you’re an underlining/highlighting kind of reader you shouldn’t have any problem finding things that you want to take note of. There are quite of bit of good nuggets here for you.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

It’s Not What You Think – Jefferson Bethke (Book Review)

Jesus is Greater Than Religion – Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Jefferson Bethke the last year or so. Having a few years on his 23, I’m blown away by the man of God he is and by what he’s already accomplished at his young age. He is cranking out a lot of great content. He’s relevant. He knows how to connect with his culture and generation. He’s artistic. He does what he does well: very well. He’s got a lot of insight. Sometimes people like this end up turning you off and leaving you bummed out by just how good they seem. How can you be so courageous?How can you read so many books? How can you be influencing so many people?

Enter Jesus > Religion. You soon realize Jeff’s entire life isn’t filled with sainthood. Throughout the book Jeff shares his story. It’s honest, raw, and at times very dark. And yet it’s a beacon brightly blazing on Jesus. As we often hear, the one thing people can’t argue is our personal testimony. What I love about this book is that Jeff has been through the motions of trying to be good, of trying to find fulfilment in sin, and ultimately being captured by grace. It might be easy to roll your eyes at a cute, rich pastor’s kid raving about how great God is – but Jeff’s story is hard to argue with. It’s not pretty, but it’s glorious.

Jesus Is Greater

I’m not going to go over every chapter, since you should read the book yourself. The title tips you off on the angle of the book. Here are a few things that stuck out to me that I wanted to mention about this book.

#1 The book addresses the topic of sin head-on

In Jeff’s words:

God doesn’t hide sin. In fact he put it on display two thousand years ago in a splintered T-shaped piece of wood. Jesus came down to earth, live the perfect life we never could have, and died the death we should have. And every drop of blood that poured from him was another drop of love falling on us.”

He took your shame. He took your sin. He took your filth so that God could be both just and justifier of those who put their trust in Jesus. He doesn’t just let you off the hook; he put Jesus on the hook for you. Stop working to do something Jesus has already done. It is finished. If you trust him, your faith is counted as righteousness.”

#2 Jesus deserves more glory than we’re inclined to think

God should get a lot more glory for things than we give him. If we only give God glory for explicitly Christian things, we are thieves. He wants all the glory. When we bite into food, we are to let him know how awesome he is for making food. When we listen to great music, we are to do the same. When we don’t we are stealing. There is glory God deserves that he is not being given.”

#3 We can be who God created us to be.

I love that God made us different, to do different things, to be different parts of the body. But that’s hard to accept sometimes, so I’m glad for the reminder Jeff gives us. In my own words, when Jeff became a Christian he quit the baseball time to study the Bible. He felt he needed to go to seminary – become a pastor or a theologian, because that’s what great Christians did, so he thought. Looking back, he realizes that he wouldn’t have enjoyed or been very good at that. Now, instead of studying how to parse Greek verbs he’s making a huge impact doing what God created him to do, making amazing Youtube videos that are reaching millions of people. How cool is that?

#4 Christians should be great at creating

He hammers on music, but the spectrum is even bigger than what we think of as art. While we’re not all overly ‘artistic’, we shouldn’t always be lagging 10 years behind our culture. As he says:

The problem with trying to be relevant is it makes us copy what culture is already doing. To be relevant, you have to copy what is cool. So we put our mouths on the tailpipe of secular culture in hopes we can recycle some of it and use it for ourselves.”

Jeff’s story is a testament to the fact that God can use you and your gifts for his glory – whatever they are. He’s using social media well. He’s helping make Jesus famous. He’s a modern day missionary.

#5 Jesus Rules.

Really, there’s nothing better.

In conclusion: this is a great, easy read. Instead of trying to amaze us with the knowledge he’s accumulated from a lot of study, or how he managed to get millions of Youtube views, he brings us to Jesus – the real Jesus. This is a book of great news for sinners and saints alike. Love it.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

Jesus is Greater Than Religion – Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

Name Above all Names (Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson) Book Review

A Jesus-Centred Jesus Book

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

As would be expected this is a very Jesus-centred book! Don’t come here expecting how-to lists and try harders. What can you expect? A lot of information and great truths about Jesus. Will that change you? Well… He certainly can!

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Written by smart men in an easy-to read manner, this is a good read. I wouldn’t list it as a must read, but it’s good.

I loved the first chapter, Jesus Christ, the Seed of Women. My non-fiction test is how much did I underline in this book? Well, there were a lot of cool things for me to underline in this first chapter. After this chapter my attention wasn’t as captivated, but there is still a lot here that’s well worth the time spent reading and soaking in.

If you’re looking to expand your understanding and appreciation for Jesus, check out this fine book! It’s written by men who love Jesus and it shows in this work.

I received a complementary review copy of this book courtesy of Crossway Publishing.

Name Above all Names (Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson) Book Review

Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher (Chad Norris)

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

For someone who comes from a very conservative, highly non-charismatic church it’s natural to have a lot of flags do up when the subject of supernatural things happening in Jesus’ name comes up. And that’s what this book is about. Oh boy.

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Chad’s a very conversational, engaging, ‘human’ writer. He seems like an ordinary guy. You can understand him, you can connect. He doesn’t seem arrogent or pushy. He’s gentle. Whew.

 

Chad doesn’t hold back with what he believes, yet he makes it clear that he’s not a whack-o who’s gone completely off of the rails. He knows that what he has to say just well may get you immediately writing him off. In fact, he might even be scared about that. Numerous times throughout the book he stresses that he’s not trying to scare you, be creepy and weird, etc. He believes in Christians seeing God working in ways that he believes is biblical, not in ways contrary to God’s Word. So no, no crazy, loud, out of control, mayhem services at his church.

This is a great book to get you thinking and asking questions. Chad doesn’t believe that believers seeing God work in miraculous ways are the chief reason we exist. He doesn’t necessarily believe you’re a subpar Christian because you don’t expect to ever see God work an obvious miracle.

But he wants you to consider it. He wants you to get to know God better. I think he does a great job. You made me think, and it wasn’t that scary. Thanks Chad.

I received a complementary review copy of this book courtesy of the publisher, Chosen Books.

Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher (Chad Norris)

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (Book Review)

Very well written book! As you can tell from the book’s description, the author has some humor. Very readable, very enjoyable. If you’re worried about the title being sacrilegious, be sure to read the book! Despite the humor and lighthearted moments, the book is trying to help us understand a very important issue.

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In summary, I’d say the basic premise of the book is that to know if you’re saved you look at the position you’re in now. Plain and simple. We don’t look back at the past to see if we said the prayer like we really, really meant it, if we cried enough, if we were truly sorry, if we really understood the Gospel, etc. No, are you resting in Jesus right now?

I don’t say that to spoil the book, because knowing that shouldn’t ruin your experience one bit. Highly recommended for both young and mature believers! Very useful resource.

I received a free audio recording of this book courtesy of christianaudio.com for review purposes.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (Book Review)

Jesus Is _____. (Judah Smith)

 

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

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I’d like to address some of the criticism facing this book.

1. First of all, from what I see and heard, (I listened to a number of his sermons, and he can PREACH) Judah is seriously fired up about Jesus. When a man with this fervor speaks, I’m sure that there’s much for me to learn. I’m with some of you who at times felt that his tone doesn’t come across as reverential as I’d define it. I’m not God though. Take the book as a whole, not pulling apart the parts. Don’t let style distract you from substance. If you struggle with legalism (and who doesn’t?) your toes are likely to be stepped on repeatedly.

2. Jesus is God. Judah says it numerous times throughout the book. There of course could be value in a chapter devoted to this subject, but please don’t leave potential readers questioning if Judah believes in Jesus’ deity. I’ll prove it. Just before his conclusion page this is what he says:

“To save humanity, God became man in the person of Jesus. In the process, he redefined what it means to belong to the human race.”

 

3. Cultural References. I highly doubt Judah is trying to write a classic, so why are you critiquing him in this grid? Yes, he uses many cultural references, but I think this generation is the one that Judah is after, so he’s revealing Jesus to them in the best way he knows how. And no, he isn’t talking about Beiber, the Seahawks and Seattle on every single page. There are other general illustrations in the book too. In a couple years some of the references might be lost but the book will still make a whole lot of sense.

4. Depth. Some have complained about the lack of depth in this book. Seriously, look at the cover. Did you expect Calvin’s Institutes? Is the book readable? Absolutely. Is it interesting? Very. Is it funny? Yup. At times it literally (in the figurative way) cracked me right up. His sarcasm might not suit you, but it’s right up my alley. 

Jesus Is ____. is a book about Jesus. It oozes Jesus. It glories in Jesus. To you, that’s shallow?

If the brilliant Apostle Paul decided to know nothing but Christ crucified we should take note. I think we can be guilty of thinking that if a book is hard to read it’s deep. Who says an easy to read book isn’t packed with truth? Judah is gifted at making the Gospel clear and understandable. He’s amazed by grace. He’s pursuing holiness. He loves Jesus. 

Highly recommended. Great for young and old believers, or even the skeptic.

I received a free review copy of this book courtesy of BookSneeze.com.

 

 

Jesus Is _____. (Judah Smith)

Post-Christmas Christianity

A lot of Christians seem quite concerned about the recent shift away from “Christmas” to “Holiday Season”, or what have you. My question is, have we missed the forest for the trees?

And I agree, it is a huge deal. Pulling Jesus out of Christmas is like snowboarding with no hill, snowboard, or snow. It just can’t be Christmas. Something else maybe, but not Christmas. A holiday. A happy holiday. Happy, but probably not too much joy. As an aside, I’m curious what parents will be telling their kids in a few years – “Only 30 more days until…the…wait for it…holiday!” The Happy Holiday. Now that’s catchy.

Now who’s the great enemy? Is it our enlightened, tolerant, non-offensive post-modern culture? Is St. Nick our nemesis? Is it commercialism? I say no.

So, what is the issue with our modern Christmas, or Happy Holidays, if you will?

Quite simply, often our Christianity looks a whole lot like me, me, me. Me trying harder, me doing better, me being good, me having victory, me struggling, me failing. Me. Me. Me. So why get upset about one day when we’re stealing the other 364 from the King of the universe as well?

It’s all about Jesus. Christmas. Christmas Eve. And every single day in between.

So let’s relax about getting Christ in Christmas, and see if we can’t first get him back into our Christianity. Because without Jesus, Christianity just isn’t Christian.

Post-Christmas Christianity