Posts Tagged ‘christian books’

Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke | Book Review | He is Making Everything New

I am giving away a copy of Spoken for by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke (Jeff’s wife)! Click here to enter!

I first heard about Jefferson Bethke a couple years ago when I watched his spoken word “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.” If you haven’t seen it yet, tuberculosis it’s definitely a must-watch.

I so appreciated what Jeff was saying about the heart of Christianity and what it means to love and follow Christ. I love when he asks, order “If Jesus came to your church, approved would they actually let him in?” Doesn’t that make you think? In all honesty, how would your church respond if Jesus showed up on Sunday morning?

Over the years I’ve enjoyed watching Jeff’s other spoken word videos and I’ve followed him on facebook. His book Jesus > Religion was released last year and has gotten a lot of attention, becoming a New York Times bestseller. I was interested in reading it both for myself and also because so many people are reading it and being influenced by it and I like to be aware of what’s out there as far as popular Christian books go.

So what did I think?

This book covers some basic, foundational Christian principles including grace, the character of God, and what it means to love and follow Jesus in community. Jeff is upfront with the fact that he’s not a theologian, has not gone to seminary, and is largely unqualified to write this book. I think that is both the beauty of and the fault of this book.

Jeff relies heavily on the theology of others and it’s pretty clear while reading his book to see who he’s influenced by (C.S. Lewis, Tim Keller, Bonhoeffer). I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing! I have read and love most of the books Jeff recommends in the back of his book. I do think that at times there are some slightly contradicting ideas in the book because he’s pulling his theology from several different theologians, but generally it’s not a problem. In a few cases, I strongly disagree with his reading of some verses and his conclusions on some theological issues. However, for the most part, I thought Jeff had really good things to say about Jesus and what it means to follow Him.

I think the biggest strength of this book is Jeff’s vulnerability and willingness to share deeply personal things about his life and Christian journey. I really admire his transparency and think that his is a story that many people relate to, which is why this book has been so popular. I also really liked his discussion on art, creativity, and the beauty of Creation.

Throughout this book I continually appreciated Jeff’s heart and love of Christ. What I sensed when I watched Jeff’s spoken word years ago was confirmed while reading this book–Jeff understands the core of what it means to follow Christ. And I think this is exactly why it’s beautiful that Jeff, a non-theologian, non-seminary graduate, wrote this book. The core principles of the gospel are not complicated. You don’t need to be a biblical scholar to love and follow Jesus, and that is good news!

Do I recommend it? This is a great book for anyone who is a new believer or someone who has questions about Christianity and what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t know that this is the top book I would recommend as far as basics of the faith (The Reason for God by Timothy Keller is my go-to). However, I am really happy to know that there are people who are reading this book and learning from Jeff. I’m looking forward to seeing what he writes next!

Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke | Book Review

spoken for

Recently I was offered to be a part of Blogging for Books, search an organization that gives bloggers free books in exchange for an honest review (basically the best things ever). The first book I ordered to review was Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke.

I wasn’t sure if this book was going to be good or just cheesy, more about but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. This book is a quick read–I read it pretty much in one sitting while at the pool–and its purpose is to share how deeply we are loved and known by God, this site which is such an important message for all followers of Jesus. It’s all too easy to forget that God is pursuing us and wants to be with us.

Our goal is simple. We want you to see what happens when you respond to the invitation of the true Bridegroom and step into the center of an epic love story–yours. –pg. 5

One of my favorite bands, United Pursuit, does a Tuesday night live-stream worship and one night the worship leader was singing a spontaneous song in which he said, “I’m choosing to believe I’m worth your pursuit of me.” Wow! That really hit me. God not only pursues us with never-ending energy and love but he thinks that we are worth pursuing! This is something that Alyssa and Robin communicated in this book and that I really appreciated–you are so wanted by the Relentless Lover.

Both Robin and Alyssa share stories from their personal lives with a vulnerability that I admire. Alyssa talks about her struggle with an eating disorder and her experience dating her now-husband, Jeff (whose book I am reviewing tomorrow!). Robin talks overcoming heartache and learning to live free from shame. They draw connections with how they were pursued and loved in their romantic relationships with how God pursues and loves us. These connections help give more concrete images of what it looks like to be in relationship with God and I think they especially encourage young women to seek relationships with men who mirror Christ’s heart for his bride.

The thing is, if you dare to really believe how loved you are by God, it’s going to be hard for you to settle for a relationship with someone who doesn’t treat you like the precious creation you are. As the Church I think we need to be better about communicating to our young men and women that no one else will satisfy aside from God and that if/when you do start dating, not to settle for someone who isn’t able to mirror the love Christ has for you and call you into deeper relationship with Him.

For all of us, the ultimate proposal has been offered. Life eternal with the Prince of Peace, who loves us and gave himself for us. Christ has come to us with loving words that speak to us individually. And now the Bridegroom awaits your response. May you cry out to him, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” –pg. 164

Cons: There aren’t many things I disliked about this book, but I do want to mention a couple small things.

–This book is written for women and I don’t know that any man would pick it up to read (which is fine, Robin and Alyssa are writing for a specific audience). But that being said, I think one issue I found with comparing how God pursues us with how men pursue women in romantic relationships is that it doesn’t communicate that men are also the Bride of Christ. Men, you are pursued and loved by Christ. He has proposed to you, he is your Bridegroom, and you, too, are part of an epic love story.

–One point that wasn’t communicated as clearly as it could have been is that you don’t need to experience a romantic relationship or be married or have a man pursue you to experience the love of God. Even if you never get married, you are part of love story more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Do I Recommend It? Yes! I recommend this book. It’s easy to read, very accessible, and shares truths that, while simple, have the ability to radically transform your life. I think this book would be great for women of all ages but could be especially great for middle school and high school girls. The book has discussion questions at the end of each chapter which makes it perfect for a discussion group setting or personal reflection.

To kick off my book review marathon week, I’m giving away one copy of Spoken For! Blogging for Books accidentally sent me 2 copies of this book so I am giving away the 2nd book to one lucky reader :)

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