Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Briarpatch Gospel by Shayne Wheeler

About the Book:

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 young pastor Shayne Wheeler presents a radical message of grace, one that won’t allow you to remain comfortable merely sitting in a church pew. He shares his own heartbreaking personal journey through the briarpatch, and his church’s remarkable experience of creating a community in which people walk through life’s issues—even the darkest, most painful problems and questions—together. Unafraid. Like Jesus did.

Think about it: What is your (or your church’s) briarpatch—the area where you’re afraid to go, or feel unequipped to address? Is it sharing what you really think on controversial issues? Becoming friends with someone who’s different from you?

Confronting and overcoming your own pain, doubts, or fears? Bold and challenging, The Briarpatch Gospel provides a new vernacular for Christians to have open, honest conversations about what loving each other in Christ’s name might look like in the briarpatches of their own communities.

My Thoughts:

This isn't a comfortable book.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure I agree with all that Shayne Wheeler writes in "The Briarpatch Gospel".  One thing I am certain of: we all need to follow his call out of our comfortable Christianity and into the briarpatches of the world.

Shayne is a gifted storyteller (I'd love to hear him preach!), and he shares many stories from his life and from the lives of others to illustrate just how messy bringing Jesus to the world can be.  He makes the case that God didn't send His Son to die for the perfect, great smelling, gainfully employed popular people.

Jesus came and died for EVERYONE.

It's that everyone that hangs us up, when the person is homeless, addicted, of a different lifestyle (i.e., homosexual), of a low economic class, etc.  So, church, what are we so afraid of?  That they will rub off on us, or that we won't rub off on them?

Did you catch that last phrase?  Sometimes I think we fail to be Jesus to a hurting world because, deep down, we're afraid He 'won't work for everyone'.  Which is a lie.  From the pits of hell.

Jesus is enough.  We just need to take Him into the places where He is desperately needed.  And maybe it isn't about socioeconomics or racial differences.  Maybe we're just waiting to see what happens when someone else is brave enough to do what God called us all to do.

Enter "The Briarpatch Gospel", a book where you can see what happens when Jesus leads us into those areas of life where we're uncomfortable.  And sometimes those briarpatches are within our own skin.  Wrestle with your doubts, your fears, your insecurities.

Last time someone wrestled with God he received a blessing.  Of course, he never walked right again, but isn't it worth it to have a limp and be blessed of God?  I'm still processing the book, but I'm grateful for the words I've read and they challenge put in my path.

I'm tired of safe and sane Christianity.  I want to have the kind of faith that turns the world upside down for Jesus.  And yes, it is a little scary.  But it is never boring.  So take a chance and pick up a copy of "The Briarpatch Gospel".

I received my copy via NetGalley from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Even though I'm not quite sure I completely agree with all that I read, the book is still highly recommended.  At the very least it will get us all thinking and talking again and, in the process, changing some lives with the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Happy Reading!



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