The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places
Lots of ups and downs
The Briarpatch Gospel by Shayne Wheeler which I received as a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House is written by the pastor of All Souls Church in Decatur, Georgia. He and his wife felt the call to plant a church but didn't know where and felt the Lord calling them to Decatur, a place that looked and acted different than their norm - what they were used to.
The Author compels us as Christians to fearlessly follow Jesus into the "briarpatch", the sticky messy, sometimes painful and uncomfortable lives of those around us, those in our community and in our everyday lives. "Is the briarpatch where Jesus makes his home for you? If you are a Christian, the answer is yes...Jesus can, of course, be found in the sanctuary, but his presence is not limited to a scheduled hour between breakfast and lunch on Sunday morning." (pg 11) Being a follower of Christ means living and being "Jesus"in the everyday lives of people, not just in the "church" events.
I was really excited to read this book hoping to get some insight and encouragement but I found it somewhat hard to read. I liken it to being on a roller coaster. You are excited about going on it but as you go up that first hill - your heart races and your grip tightens and you wonder if this really was a smart thing to do. There are ups and downs - excitement and fear. I loved the premise and the stories and the heart behind it, but in the midst of it I felt attacked and weary. As a conservative Christian I felt, at times, I was being accused of being self centered, uncaring and hostile. I know there are those out there who are, but just like anyone else - I don't think we should be categorized. I encourage you, that if you are to read this, read it with a friend - one who knows the Bible, one who is willing to talk things out with you - one who is willing to go through the Briarpatch.
February 20, 2013
Enter "The Briarpatch Gospel" by Shayne Wheeler
The Briarpatch Gospel is not what I originally thought it was about. As I opened the book, I imagined what was to follow as being a book telling of how Jesus is walking with us in our valleys and through our trials. Instead it is a book which takes us in another direction. The direction Shayne Wheeler takes us in shows Christians are to minister to the same type of people which Jesus ministered. Christians are to step out of their comfort zones and meet the people outside of the church. Shayne also references how we can go beneath the surface and look at our own selves.
Unlike other books I have read, this one was a little harder for me to digest. It took me more than one sitting to take it in. There appears to be many areas throughout each chapter where it leads the reader to pause and reflect. I do not agree fully with all of ShayneÃ¢ÂÂs words, but I believe he has presented very good main points. These main points can be found in each new chapter, like precious jewels waiting to be discovered. There are consistent references made to GodÃ¢ÂÂs word and the relation to what Shayne is saying in his book.
I do admit some areas did cause me to reflect on who I minister to and what lies beneath my own surface.
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to step back and get another perspective on themselves and those they come in contact with throughout their many daily travels.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
February 7, 2013
takes you where you might not want to go
Shayne WheelerÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂThe Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny PlacesÃ¢ÂÂ (Tyndale Momentum, 2013) is a book that I requested to be allowed to review for a very simple reason: I liked the title. It sounded intriguing, and after having read it, IÃ¢ÂÂm glad the title caught my attention. Shayne forces us to look at life where and how life happens, not just as we might prefer to find it.
In my opinion, one of the greater damages that the Bride of Christ has done to Christianity is to allow the misconception to continue that becoming a Christian means your life becomes perfect. WeÃ¢ÂÂre all about getting the commitment, the decision, and then our greatest desire is that the new believer will go away and leave us alone, that heÃ¢ÂÂll go figure it out all by himself, and leave us to the important business of making more new converts; and we really donÃ¢ÂÂt want to have to do much there other than ask someone to say the sinnerÃ¢ÂÂs prayer so they can get a ticket to heaven. And if they voluntarily come to us, thatÃ¢ÂÂs even better than us having to go to them. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs just a small problem. Jesus didnÃ¢ÂÂt say to go make converts, he said to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach them to obey. If youÃ¢ÂÂre all about making converts, your role stops when they say Ã¢ÂÂyesÃ¢ÂÂ; if your plan is to make disciples, that Ã¢ÂÂyesÃ¢ÂÂ means that your work has just begun.
Wheeler isnÃ¢ÂÂt willing to let us get off the hook easily. With an engaging writing style, scriptural references, and tales that he tells on himself which let us know that he is no stranger to the briarpatch called life, he reminds us of what our calling is.
But hereÃ¢ÂÂs the rub: why do we need another book that tells us that weÃ¢ÂÂre supposed to be following JesusÃ¢ÂÂ example of serving the poor, the hungry and disenfranchised, and not only serving them, but proclaiming the gospel at the same time? We need it because despite the books that are already out there waiting to be read or put into practice, we still havenÃ¢ÂÂt gotten it right.
Most Christians are willing to admit that they are Ã¢ÂÂsinners saved by graceÃ¢ÂÂ, a few more will hint at some Ã¢ÂÂunchristian-likeÃ¢ÂÂ things in their past and then go on to tell how life is wonderful now and will be so much better when they get to heaven. Wheeler goes a couple of giant steps further, he opens up about those not-so-Christian things, and talks about his time in the briar patch. And because he remembers what it was like, he is willing to go back to seek out others like himself. Sounds noble, sounds special, sound like martyrdom in the making, and what really messes with my head is that heÃ¢ÂÂs doing it. HeÃ¢ÂÂs doing it and IÃ¢ÂÂm not.
This is a book that youÃ¢ÂÂll love to hate before you hate to love it. Shayne doesnÃ¢ÂÂt ask us to do anything that heÃ¢ÂÂs not doing, for that matter he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt ask us to do anything that Jesus didnÃ¢ÂÂt do, he just reminds us that thereÃ¢ÂÂs more to being a Christian than going to church on Sunday; sometimes weÃ¢ÂÂre supposed to follow someone into the briarpatch, because itÃ¢ÂÂs there, in their comfort zone where we will best be able to minister to them.
This is an engaging read that will challenge you to get way outside your comfort zone. Not for the faint of heart. I rate it 4.5/5
Tyndale provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
February 2, 2013
A pastorÃ¢ÂÂs journey through the thorny places
This is ShayneÃ¢ÂÂs first book and most likely not his last. The book is about his journey as a pastor and how he reached out in his community and got into the briarpatch with those around himÃ¢ÂÂhomeless, homosexuals, those hurting and needing helpÃ¢ÂÂto share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
ShayneÃ¢ÂÂs trek into the briarpatch did not happen without scratches along the way, but he believes it was worth it. Through his tale of how he reached out across the borders to others, he encourages other Christians to do the same. He writes: Ã¢ÂÂWe want to Ã¢ÂÂlead people to Jesus,Ã¢ÂÂ yet we never leave the confines of our privatized Christian subculture and go into the places where the vast majority of our neighbors live and play.Ã¢ÂÂ This statement summarizes the book for me; and I say Ã¢ÂÂAmen!Ã¢ÂÂ
This was a straightforward book that showed life through eyes of a dedicated pastor and ways he has touched others for Jesus. Reading this book will hopefully give fellow Christians ideas on how they can do the same.
*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an unbiased review.
February 2, 2013