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Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith
David C. Cook / 2009 / Paperback
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* When hard times hit, it's all too easy to rely on somebody else's comforting view of God. Packham encourages you to turn away from the "experts" and embrace God's love, mystery, and power for yourself! His wise insights will lead you to a deep, firsthand experience of the God who is always with you. 224 pages, softcover from Cook.
God wants us to know Him deeply and personally. But there are no shortcuts to God.
"The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention."
God has offered us firsthand knowledge of His love, His grace, and His power. Yet so often, we too easily settle for someone else's descriptions, the Cliff notes from another's spiritual journey. We are content for "God-experts" to do the heavy lifting and then give us the bottom line. And like any secondhand information, after enough times through the grapevine, the truth about God deteriorates and crumbs of rumor are all that remain.
But when life derails, and things don't go as we had planned, our thin view of God is challenged. In those critical moments, we can choose to walk away from God, or to let our questions lead us home. When we choose to wrestle with God, to engage Him for ourselves, we-like Jacob and Job and David-will see rumors die and revelation come alive.
It's time to hear the magnificent, Divine Invitation. It's time to take God up on His offer and embrace the mystery and majesty of knowing Him for ourselves.
Glenn Packiam is an executive pastor at New Life Church, where he oversees spiritual formation and serves as the teaching pastor for NewLifeSundayNight. Glenn is also the writer of several well-known worship songs including "Your Name" and "My Savior Lives." He is the author of Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People and Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference. Glenn and his family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In his new book, Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith (David C Cook, June 2009), author and worship pastor of New Life Church Glenn Packiam summons readers upon a passionate questa holy pursuitto truly experience Christs power and love for themselves. God wants us to know Him deeply and personally, Packiam says. But there are no shortcuts to God. The Bible tells us that The way to lifeto God!is vigorous and requires total attention. (Matthew 7:14, The Message)
God has offered us firsthand knowledge of His love, His grace, and His power. Yet so often, we too easily settle for someone elses descriptions, the Cliff notes from anothers spiritual journey. We are content for others to do the heavy lifting and then give us the bottom line. And, like any secondhand information, after enough times through the grapevine, the truth about God deteriorates and crumbs of rumor are all that remain.
But when life derails, and things dont go as we had planned, our thin view of God is challenged. In those critical moments, we can choose to walk away from God, or to let our questions lead us home. When we choose to wrestle with God, to engage Him individually, welike Jacob and Job and Davidwill see rumors die and revelation come alive.
Crushing rumors of God that many Christians mistakenly hold, Secondhand Jesus isnt a five-step formula, but rather a challenge to Christians to own their faith by questioning their preconceived ideas about God. Its time to hear the magnificent, Divine Invitation, says Packiam. Its time to take God up on His offer and embrace the mystery and majesty of knowing Him for ourselves.
When you come across a book whose very title seems to insinuate that what you believe about God may be misinformation, its easy to be suspicious. Who is this guy and where does he get off lecturing me on my relationship with God? I know. I would feel the same way. So, I thought it might be helpful to explain what the book really is about, how the message came about in me, and what I hope a reader will gain from it.
Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith is about the rumors that we become vulnerable to when we decline an active, firsthand knowledge of God. Using four stories of the Ark of Covenant from 1 and 2 Samuel, the book uncovers four of the more prevalent rumors of God. The Ark stories are fascinating because in each story, since the Ark represents Gods presence, God is on the scene. Yet something goes terribly wrong each time. As we press into the stories, we discover traces of misinformation about God that led to a faulty approach to Him. But there are also clues to the truth about Him, wrapped in the questions that are raised in the aftermath. Each story is a microcosm of our lives, how we easily settle for someone elses descriptions, the CliffsNotes from anothers spiritual journey; how we are content to let God experts do the heavy lifting and then give us the bottom line; and how after enough times through the grapevine, the truth about God deteriorates until crumbs and rumors are all that remain. But when life derails, when things dont go as we planned, our thin view of God is challenged. In those critical moments, we can choose to walk away from God or to let our questions lead us home.
As much as this sounds like a stern warning, know that the finger-pointing is directed toward my own heart. You see, I never expected to find myself coasting in my own relationship with God. I was raised in a Christian home. My parents moved from Malaysia to America to go to Bible college when I was ten. And when we returned to Malaysia, they helped our home church establish a Bible college of their own. My love for God and for studying the Scriptures began at an early age. I developed the habit of meaningful devotional times in my high school years, headed back to the States to become a Theological/Historical studies major at a wonderful Christian university. I was in vocational ministry, leading worship and teaching at a solid local church.
And then Thursday happened. Thursday was the day the news about our pastors moral indiscretions began to make headlines all around the world. Thursday was the day everything changed. But it didnt take long for the shock of scandal to shift to the discomfort of introspection. In the weeks and months that followed Thursday, I began to ask myself if my knowledge of God was stale and sentimental or active and alive. I came to uncomfortable realization that I had slowly bought the suburban rumors of God. My house was an evidence of His blessing. Our growing church was an indication of Gods pleasure. Things were going to get better and better while I kept my life on cruise control. These were not rumors that came from one man, one pastor. In fact, its hard to say that any of them did. Any search for the head-waters would be misguided anyway because thats not the point. Its not where the rumors came from; its why they came at all.
Heres what Ive learned: Rumors grow in the absence of revelation. Every time we keep God at arms length, declining an active, living knowledge of Him, we become vulnerable to rumors. The more my wife and I searched our own souls, the more we realized we had become passive, complacent, at times even indifferent about our own knowledge of God. We had been lulled to sleep by our own apparent success, numbed into coasting by our spiritual Midas touch. What began in the days after Thursday was a journey, a road of uncovering and discovering, of stripping away what thoughts of God we now knew were rumors and finding again the face of Christ.
Secondhand Jesus, then, is a combination of personal story and Biblical story that is meant to challenge a view of God based on secondhand information and inspire a journey toward firsthand faith. Too often we stand at the trailhead, studying the map and listening to stories of hikers coming off the trail, imagining the beauty and glory that awaits us. We stand around long enough that were able to tell hikers who have just arrived what the trail is like. And yet, we find ourselves unable to lead them because weve never been on the trail. Im not advocating that a person plunge recklessly into the forest, giving no thought to the map and ignoring the trail. Thats a good way to get lost and wander into heresy. Im not even suggesting that we take the journey of knowing God by ourselves. I am simply encouraging believers to take this journey for themselves.
So, read with an open heart. Read it with others. There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter to help in hammering out these ideas in the midst of conversation and community. And if my journey can help, if this book can be a guide, a way of taking the reader by the hand into the wonderful journey of knowing God for themselves, then it will have hit its mark.
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