Thinking Out Loud

April 9, 2018

Book Review: The Jesus I Never Knew

It is, without doubt, my favorite book by my favorite author.

When it was published, in 1995, I was sitting behind the counter of a Christian bookstore when a man came in and asked if we could order him five copies. A few days later someone else asked if they could order six. A few weeks later the first man came back for ten more.

I knew I had to read this book. I was familiar with Philip Yancey because of his connection to Campus Life magazine and The NIV Student Bible. He was the guy with the hair. Trained in journalism, he is an example of a Christian author rising to prominence not having formally studied theology or having pastored a church.

Yancey had written many books before The Jesus I Never Knew was published. Three were with leprosy doctor Paul Brand, as well as Where is God When it Hurts and Disappoint With God.

But in a way, The Jesus I Never Knew would kick off a run of prime titles for Yancey which include: What’s So Amazing About Grace, Reaching for the Invisible God, The Bible Jesus Read, Rumors of Another World, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference, What Good is God and Vanishing Grace.

When he writes, he stands in for all of us, with all our questions, misgivings, disappointments, doubts, and hopes when it comes to Biblical texts. He’s not afraid to wrestle with the scriptures and if, as with Jacob, that takes all night, then so be it. He’s never written a formal autobiography — unless you count Soul Survivor — but you come to know him as you read his writing.

This was my third time reading The Jesus I Never Knew.

My first reaction, on completion of the last page, is to want to turn to chapter one and begin all over. Jesus simply leaps off the page. Yancey has looked at the life of Christ and assembled a myriad of data and then rearranged that information to give us a picture of Jesus as he would have presented himself to the disciples and gospel writers.

An alternative title might be, The Jesus You Thought You Knew, or perhaps The Jesus You May Have Missed. If the gospel accounts might be considered an outline drawing of Christ’s life, with this book Philip Yancey fills in the colors, the shading, the textures of the big picture. Over the years, readers have found the section on Christ’s temptation and the Sermon on the Mount to be especially helpful. There’s also the drama of the encounters Jesus has with everyone from the Pharisees to the lepers. He offers much in the way of context then along with personal application for us now.

So…today’s review is not a new book, but if it’s new to you, I hope you’ll track down a copy.

Zondervan, paperback, 9780310219231

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April 15, 2017

A Tall Tale for Fools Told by a Fool

I went to two Good Friday services yesterday. I know. You wish you could be a spiritual giant as I am, and I say that in all humility. Perhaps not coincidentally both pastors this year chose the same text, I Cor 1: 18-25. As I started to write some reflections on both sermons, I thought a better strategy might be to reproduce the text here in one of the more adventurous translations, The Voice.

18 For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. 19 This is why the Scripture says:

I will put an end to the wisdom of the so-called wise,
    and I will invalidate the insight of your so-called experts.[Isaiah 29:14]

20 So now, where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the skilled debater, the best of your time? Step up, if you dare. Hasn’t God made fools out of those who count on the wisdom of this rebellious, broken world? 21 For in God’s deep wisdom, He made it so that the world could not even begin to comprehend Him through its own style of wisdom; in fact, God took immense pleasure in rescuing people of faith through the foolishness of the message we preach. 22 It seems the Jews are always asking for signs and the Greeks are always on the prowl for wisdom. 23 But we tell a different story. We proclaim a crucified Jesus, God’s Anointed. For Jews this is scandalous, for outsiders[lit: Gentiles] this is moronic, 24 but for those of us living out God’s call—regardless of our Jewish or Greek heritage—we know the Anointed embodies God’s dynamic power and God’s deep wisdom. 25 You can count on this: God’s foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God’s weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength.


Learn more about The Voice at this information page at Bible Gateway.

Image: A few days ago at C201 we ran a piece on what the Bible says about real fools. You can read that at this link.

 

March 28, 2016

Every Sunday is Communion Sunday

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:25 am

Because of the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to Christian faith and life, the best music you’ll hear in an Evangelical church happens on Easter Sunday and on Communion Sundays. If you go to Christianity 201 and scroll down the song list in the right margin, you’ll see that many of my personal recommended songs here are anchored in the theme of the cross and atonement.

If I were hiring a worship director for a local church, my interview would be very short: “You have five minutes; give me your set-list for Easter Sunday.” I’d leave the room and return 300 seconds later to see what that person could produce on such short notice.

When I was leading worship myself, if I ever felt that my original choices lacked a certain depth and richness; I’d scrap the list and say to myself, ‘Just pretend it’s a communion Sunday.’ The Bible teaches us that we have communion with God, though the phrase fellowship with God is more frequently used. You can check out some great Bible references here.

For Easter Monday, I want to present the last of four songs that came to mind this weekend. My friend Lorne Anderson did the same thing for Good Friday in one blog post. This is a cover from the concept album BC AD and actually the means by which I first became more familiar with Redeemer, Savior, Friend.


Coming later at Thinking Out Loud 

  • Churches across Canada stepped up to sponsor refugees.They rented apartments, raised money, obtained furniture and appliances, and poured thousands of hours into creating a warm welcome. So what happened to the families? A late Thursday government announcement got buried in the holiday weekend news cycle, that’s what happened. 
  • We’ve never monetized Thinking Out Loud, but this labor of love — along with our Christian bookstore — have totally depleted our savings. Still, how does one do effective fundraising in the face of other families and individuals with seemingly far more urgent needs? After our US/Canada 800-number, toll-free, call-in-a-pledge appeal failed last year, we’re looking for something that will actually help us keep going. We hope to have an answer late this week.  
  • Link List #301: We crossed the 300 mark last week. In an interconnected world, do we still need news and opinion gatekeepers?

April 9, 2012

Easter Monday Meditation

Really, really looking forward to getting my computer back!  In the meantime, here’s a great song for Easter Monday. Most people know the version here by Robin Mark, but there’s also the Bethel Live version which rocks it out a bit more and adds a bridge after some of the verses.  Apparently, the song is a Welsh hymn, though most people would assume it to be part of the modern worship repertoire.

God’s grace and love… vast as the ocean.

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