Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: The Briarpatch Gospel

I've been reading a lot lately. I mean more than usual and way beyond my 2013 reading list. This year I discovered that some book publishers will give free copies of new books to bloggers in exchange for an honest review. After much research I began requesting some exciting books. The Briarpatch Gospel by Shayne Wheeler is my second non-fiction book to review and I found it a fascinating read.

"Hasn’t Jesus called us into the thorns and thistles with Him to love what we find there? What if we had the courage to follow him into the briarpatch and discover life as we were always meant to live it?"

 In The Briarpatch Gospel, dynamic pastor Shayne Wheeler presents a radical message of grace that calls all Christ followers to travel through the thorny thickets of the Briarpatch and love people where they are. He shares his own journey and his church’s experience of creating a community in which people walk through many difficult issues together.

I loved so much about this book. First and most basic, it was organized well and broken into 4 sections with 2-4 chapters in each section. The book spent the first 3 chapters by exploring the Problem of the Briarpatch and looking at what people may be afraid of. In chapter 1 Shayne states "...I don't want you to think you have to be a Christian superhero in order to walk through the briarpatch. All you need is the courage to be yourself..." 

Other sections are about examining the Briarpatch Within ourselves and then moving Into the Briarpatch. Shayne shared many fascinating stories from his experience as a pastor and also as a neighbor, father and friend. The final section is on Transforming the Briarpatch and living for Jesus beyond the walls of your church or home and striving to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth in how we live here and now.

Shayne tackles today's big issues and looks first to the life of Jesus and the Bible. For example chapter 10 is entitled Looking For The Rainbow: Does God Really Hate Gays? This chapter is perhaps the most controversial and most intriguing to me. I won't reveal all that Shayne says on the topic but I loved how he confesses he doesn't have all the answers. Instead he & his church lean into this difficult topic with the heart of Jesus and love people as they are.

This book didn't take me long to read but it did delve into some deep, important issues in the church. I read about a chapter a day to give me time to process each one. I recommend this book to anyone who is a follower of Jesus or even people who aren't Christians but are interested in knowing more about a pastor's take on the messy issues of life and faith.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.
This post was shared at: Teach Me Tuesday

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