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Great Books to inspire

Posted by onyx 
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Re: Great Books to inspire
December 12, 2009 10:02AM
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels

Kenneth E. Bailey

Beginning with Jesus' birth, Ken Bailey leads you on a kaleidoscopic study of Jesus throughout the four Gospels. Bailey examines the life and ministry of Jesus with attention to the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes, Jesus' relationship to women and especially Jesus' parables.

Through it all, Bailey employs his trademark expertise as a master of Middle Eastern culture to lead you into a deeper understanding of the person and significance of Jesus within his own cultural context. With a sure but gentle hand, Bailey lifts away the obscuring layers of modern Western interpretation to reveal Jesus in the light of his actual historical and cultural setting.

This entirely new material from the pen of Ken Bailey is a must-have for any student of the New Testament. If you have benefited from Bailey's work over the years, this book will be a welcome and indispensable addition to your library. If you are unfamiliar with Bailey's work, this book will introduce you to a very old, yet entirely new way of understanding Jesus.

* Offers insight into the Gospels from a Middle Eastern perspective
* Counteracts modern and western impositions upon the Bible
* Highlights the key events and teachings in the earthly ministry of Jesus
* Features a wealth of cultural information related to ancient Middle Eastern peasant society
* Provides an excellent resource for New Testament students interested in the Gospels

If God can use a donkey, then He can use an ass like me!
Re: Great Books to inspire
December 12, 2009 10:06AM
The Hole In Our Gospel

by Richard Stearns


The title captured my attention immediately, I was very intrigued to begin reading this book. The book is titled ‘The Hole in Our Gospel’ and is written by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision. But, Richard Stearns did not start off as the president of such an organization, he was actually a corporate CEO who was convicted and set his once thought of successes aside to discover the full power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What I was curious about was why he mentioned the Hole in our Gospel. As I continued to read his convicting words, I soon realized what was meant by this powerful title. As Christians we are to help all mankind and more importantly we must help the poor and destitute of this world. He mentions how we can easily get accustomed to our many worldly possessions and lose the entire focus that the Lord’s message has set out for us.

This book and the message it sends out is extremely convicting and will make you think very long and hard about what our purpose is and what we are meant to do as believer’s of Jesus Christ.

Stearns gave up his life as a corporate mogul for one that would take him to third world countries to help the indigent and the poor. Not all of us are able to do this, but we can still do our part in following God’s word. We must try to help those that are less fortunate and appreciate what we have.

Too often we are blinded by the newest and latest gadgets, clothing, automobiles and more and find ourselves wanting more instead of less. Reading this book, will open your eyes to what is important in life and having luxuries is not a priority. Obeying God’s word is the priority and then and only then will we be truly satisfied.

The Hole in Our Gospel is a true testimony of Stearn’s continuous journey and one that is not easy. He is not one to accuse others but mainly is pointing the finger at himself and the life he once led. This is a very moving and emotional book and will definitely make you think about your faith and your contentment with your life.

Too often we will read the Gospel and make it apply to the lives we lead, and we must actually read with a humble heart and appreciate what we have. The hole has been created by people and we as people can fill that hole. We may not be able to leave our jobs and begin a new life or ministry as Stearns did, but we can live our lives differently by praising our Father daily. We can help people in our own communities as well as in other parts of the world. More importantly we must be aware that those situations exist and not live in a bubble. That is the true conviction this book brings out. A very well written and moving book that will change many people’s lives.

some reviews



If God can use a donkey, then He can use an ass like me!
Re: Great Books to inspire
December 12, 2009 10:10AM
Gill, I hadn't heard of the book before, but here is an excerpt:

Where Have All the Little Christs Gone?

Where have all the flowers gone?

Long time passing.

Where have all the flowers gone?

Long time ago.

—Pete Seeger

These lyrics written in the early 1960s entered into my world fifty years later via e-mail. The author of the e-mail intentionally altered the lyrics to form a different question, which may end up as one of the most important queries of our day.

Pete Seeger’s folk song takes you through a cycle of loss from beginning to end, to beginning again. In the first verse the flowers are gone because little girls picked them all. The little girls grow up, get married, and move on with life and they are gone. Their husbands become soldiers, go off to war, are killed and buried in graveyards, gone once again. Eventually the graveyards disappear, overtaken by flowers. The little girls return picking the flowers, repeating the tragic tale yet again. Finishing as it starts the song asks, “Where have all the flowers gone?”

The e-mail arrived early one morning from my neighbor friend Judie. Part of getting to know Judie involved sharing our respective spiritual journeys. I shared how discovering God’s unconditional love and acceptance in Christ was changing me. We both experienced Jesus as love and peace, and we were encouraged by Jesus identifying these as distinguishing characteristics of his disciples. Judie is someone who holds the highest regard for Jesus Christ and considers him her role model, yet she never dug into the world of religion, nor its accompanying teachings and specifics about the life of Christ. Let’s just say her interactions with Christians didn’t spark a motivation to engage whatever it was they were focusing on. In one conversation, I mentioned that Jesus’ first followers lived out his example and teachings with such devotion they became known as “little Christs.”

Judie had been mulling over my “little Christs” comment and came to a disturbing conclusion, which she expressed in her e-mail. Jesus’ message, displayed in his life, was love and peace. His first followers accepted that reality and lived it. But pondering the present world and her own life experiences, she was left to wonder, “I kept hearing the song ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’ in my head, except I was hearing it with the words ‘little Christs’ . . . ‘Where have all the little Christs gone?’” It was more than a clever rhetorical question. Even though her personal goal in life is being the same love Jesus is, Judie didn’t seem to cross paths with many choosing to live this way, though many people call themselves Christians.

She has a point. Many people choose to fill their world with hate, hurt, division, fear, and despair even though we are all desperate for love and peace. Statistically, the world is chock full of “Christians”—intelligent Christians, artistic Christians, successful Christians, church-going Christians, politically active Christians—but what about “little Christ” Christians? Christians who risk everything for love? What about Christians who love indiscriminately, unconditionally, and sacrificially? Apparently, these kinds of Christ-followers are MIA. Every now and then, one like Mother Teresa pops up and we practically create a cult around them because they live an existence so decisively beyond our normal way of living.

I worried a bit that perhaps I talked too much about love in this book. What I’m finding myself is that virtually every aspect of knowing God is related to love. Here are several examples of how love altered my understanding of God and my relationship with him and others.

Before: God is synonymous with religion.
Now: God is synonymous with love.

Before: Christianity is a belief system.
Now: Christianity is a school of love carried out in apprenticeship to Christ.

Before: God hates sin because it disgusts him.

Now: God’s motive for hating sin is love. Sin causes hurt and suffering for me and others.

Before: I primarily experience God through religious rituals and acts of obedience.
Now: When I am experiencing love, I am experiencing God.

Before: Christian living is trying harder to be more and do more.
Now: Christian living is an overflow of God’s love in me.

Before: My source of love is outside myself and I’m dependent on others to supply it.
Now: My source of love is within me and while I enjoy the love of others, I’m not dependent on it and can freely love others without the expectation of receiving love in return.

Before: I am created in God’s image, which means I have the capacity to make rational choices and exercise my free will.
Now: I am created in the image of perfect love, which means love is the core of my identity and I can choose love.

Before: The main thing is getting people to adopt my beliefs about God.
Now: Loving people creates desire within them to know God.

Before: Somewhere out there is God’s purpose for my life and I must find it.
Now: At every moment, God’s purpose for me is to be love.

Before: Being “in love” is some temporary euphoric guy-meets-girl experience.
Now: Being “in love” is walking in the conscious awareness of and dependent on God’s love in me and as me.

Before: Tough love is withholding love from others as a means of disapproval or attempt to bring change.
Now: Tough love is loving others without condition, regardless of the result.

Before: The most powerful force on earth is hate.
Now: The most powerful force on earth is love.

Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.
- Lenny Bruce
Re: Great Books to inspire
December 12, 2009 10:11AM
And regarding Ken Bailey, more can be found here: [www.calvin.edu]

Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.
- Lenny Bruce
Re: Great Books to inspire
December 12, 2009 01:28PM
Wide Open Spaces -- Hmmmm... I had a hard time with this one. I LOVED the start and I love his writing style -- very funny and refreshingly honest. However, in this book, he seemed to equate himself with God or at least a sort of God-Consiousness.
Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, and maybe I've changed since I read it (plus, I only got about half way through it...). I think I'll give it another try in the new year.
Gillse – Please write about your final thoughts after you finish WOS!! :-)
I really liked Divine Nobodies, Jim Palmer's first book (at least prior to WOS). This one was VERY good and encouraging; as I recall, he tells stories of meeting people who are themselves (as in, at peace in their own skin) and thus messenger's of God's peace to him. In WOS, it's like instead of being pointer's to God, people are made to be akin to God. Seems to take the theme a bit too far. But,.. I repeat myself.

Bo's Cafe – I liked this one a great deal. I appreciated the great insight into how people work – or at least, how we become enslaved to hiding and performing and how this means we become disconnected from the ones with whom we want relationships. I did not like the feeling of a “prescribed solution” = “community”. Just felt a bit limiting; I think God is bigger than even a community of fellowship.

Redeeming Love – SOOOOOO Good. Even though we return to our sins over and over and over, He Still pursues us and wants to love us into trusting Him. :-)

The Naked Gospel – I loved the interviews with the author on YouTube. The book has been good, but (at 2/3rds through) its at my limit of “cerebral-ness”. I need to finish it, then take a big breath. ??

The Misunderstood God (formerly: The God's Honest Truth) Honestly, TGHT was just too long and seemed to repeat. I was so excited when the re-write came out. But,... they cut one of my favorite examples and... I'm still processing. I like the premise (that God IS LOVE and our understanding of LOVE is warped, thus our understanding of God is warped), but it feels like Darin thinks this warping was done by people ON PURPOSE. – it just feels like such a broad brush when he describes people / society. ??

My favorite book for getting out of a religious mindset is: GRACE PLUS NOTHING. You can find used copies on amazon.com. The chapters are 2-3 pages, so its perfect for short-heart-freeing-drinks-of-water. I can't recommend it enough.

For Novels & Fun Stuff, I really like Lynn Austen. Especially the 5-book Gods & Kings series (based on Hezekiah...). I also like the 3-book Candle in the Darkness series (set during the US Civil War). Lynn seems to understand religion and be able to see it from an "on the edge" perspective. Hard to describe, but I can read her work and the character's experiences with their own faith and yet I don't fall into condemnation nor feel that she is telling me to TRY HARDER.

Re: Great Books to inspire
December 12, 2009 11:14PM
Our family exchanges "wish lists" every year for christmas. It's always hard for me to come up with stuff, because I feel I've got everything I need. So this year I have a "wish list" on Amazon and the Richard Stearns book and the Kenneth Bailey book are on it. Thanks to this thread and J-corp who recommended. I feel I MUST read these books!

I just wish I could get them at the library cause I hate having so MANY BOOKS at home! More Stuff!

Re: Great Books to inspire
December 13, 2009 01:05AM
Theresa, thanks for your review of those books. Really like hearing how others have found them.

Divine Nobodies: yeah have read that, and really enjoyed most of it. Actually read it 2wce, and maybe like you with WOS found the earlier chapters more captivating than the later chapters.
WOS: have loooooved the first 3 chapters. I read 2 more chapters last night, but it was really too late for me to be reading. I wanted to read, but was also tired so kind of rushed through so I could get to bed. Consequently they were a blank, and I've started re reading them again.

By the way - read Josuacarps posts this morning and couldn't help contrasting the book on Richard Stearns (world vision guy) with one of the chapters I found so meaningful in WOS. Chapter 3 in WOS is entitled 'Here is the Church, and Here is the Steeple.... Can church be everywhere, all the time, with everybody?'. It is about Jim's experience of being outside the IC and the linking and community which has developed with other believers and non believers .... very much including his neighbours and the people down the street, and all those everyday interactions which we have daily but which "I" can really struggle with in terms of being people and relationships which Papa wants me to love and be caring of.

For example: I work as a social worker and I guess pride 'myself' on being accepting and caring of those people/ families I work with - often very very different from myself. Yet I have a colleague at work, whom I share an office with and I have real difficulty in having even a 'professional' relationship with her. My comment to others is frequently "M...... drives me up the wall". And this M person is a fellow believer, yet man oh man I struggle with the aspects of M's personality which push my not-so-accepting buttons, and I react in unloving and unaccepting ways. I find it so much easier to have relationships and accept people in my professional role often than with those daily interactions at work, yes home etc. So Jim's chapter on his experiences of community and relationships in our everyday lives and realities really spoke to me.

Theresa will keep you posted as I read on.....

Bo's Cafe: felt disappointed in. Think I expected another 'Shack', and felt a bit miffy at the end .... thinking yeah well that's fine for you, having that nice group of accepting, caring, fellow believers you can meet up with each week. Not quite my reality. However have thought I need to re read it, with a different mindset.

TGHT: have just received this. Ordered it from overseas cos I couldn't access it within NZ. Very uninspiring book from it's cover. All black, with the title in white lettering on the front. However as they say 'you can't judge a book by it's cover'..... so I will put my initial judgements aside and read it. I'll keep you posted on that one too....
Re: Great Books to inspire
December 19, 2009 09:11PM
On Radio Rhema NZ this week they where "advertising Christmas stuff"... anyway... The bookseller said "If you loved the Shack then you will also love "Bos Cafe" Excited

And for those who are looking at another's referral to Pagan Christianity here is one person educated comment...

oopss a sacred cow got mentioned Eeeeeek
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