Yes, the author is the same Brennan Manning from the Ragamuffin Gospel, & the man who so inspired the amazing Rich Mullins. (In fact, this is one of his last works before going on to be with the Lord.) The back cover drew me, but I didnt anticipate loving this story so much. I certainly didnt expect it to reinforce my current situation. God has drawn me out of my cocoon & into fellowship with real people, many who believe they dont want anything to do with Jesus Christ or His self-righteous followers. Yes, were often viewed that way, sometimes rightly so, but we'll never help anyone by behaving like a Pharisee. If we want to make an impact for Christ, it's essential & necessary to find a balance between maintaining Christian fellowship & befriending the lost in love rather than discounting them in judgment. This story is about Jack Chisholm who had success in the world & supposedly in his ministry, but pride always comes before a fall, in Jacks case, a huge, life-shattering one. He lost everything. At least it seems that way in the beginning. BUT GOD always has another plan. Maybe the path He had in mind for us all along, but we got in the way. Dont read this story if youre stuck in a pious place. If you're hungry for more, yearning for something authentic, & ready to meet the challenge of ministering to those who really need Jesus; this books for you. Youll be moved but not to earn Gods favor. Youll want to make some big payments towards that debt of love we all owe Christ, but again, not because youre striving to deserve something. Rather, due to the startling & wonderful realization that we can never gain what is already ours. As you read & bask anew in the beautiful freedom of Gods grace, you wont be able to keep from sharing the good news with a world in desperate need.
"The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story" by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett is Manning's final work. A fictional companion to his previous work, "The Ragamuffin Gospel", this novel is a contemporary retelling to the story of the prodigal son featured in Luke 15. Jack Chisholm is the lead pastor of a megachurch who spectacularly and very publicly falls from grace. With his marriage in shambles, his job gone, and no money left to his name, his estranged father tracks him down and welcomes him back home with open arms. Jack heads home to the small town of Mayfield, Texas, in order to pick up the pieces of his life. What he unexpectedly finds is the love of his father, reconciliation with his family, and the love of God.
The story draws the reader right in from the beginning. The characters are realistic and engaging. Father Frank is based on Manning himself, and there are elements of Manning's teachings shining through in Frank's dialogue. It's a wonderful reminder of how we all are broken, we are all needy, and yet God's love extends to us in the midst of our brokenness. It's a beautiful story with many thought-provoking moments. It left me wanting to sit down with Father Frank myself and learning from his fountain of wisdom!
The beautiful thing about this book is that Jack still had to live with the consequences of his choices, his sin. But he did find redemption and he embraced new calling on his life, one that he wouldn't have found any other way but through his sin. "...in every faithful life, there comes a second call when the first one is no longer sufficient, a call to deeper faith, hope, joy" (p. 170).
The reader's guide at the back of the book is helpful for a small group or book club looking to dive deeper into the message of the book. Highly recommend Manning's final work!
(I've received this complimentary book through the Book Sneeze program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
Jack Chisholm was lead pastor for a megachurch with three campuses and thousands of members. He was a best-selling author and a public figure known by some as "America's pastor." Then some poor decisions he made one night off the coast of Cancun lead him into sin he would not have thought himself capable of. When his actions come to light he is disgraced, and he loses his job and his family. Jack's life is in a tailspin, until his estranged father seeks him out and brings him home. It's in the small town in Texas where he grew up that Jack reconnects with friends and family, learns some important lessons about grace and forgiveness, and discovers that God may not be through with him after all.
I know a lot of people, both Christian and non-Christian, who have misconceptions about what it means to be Christian. I wish those people would read this book. It's that good. Seriously. The story is character driven, based on believable three dimensional "people," primarily Jack, his father, and the local priest called Father Frank. While the take home message of the story will not surprise anyone familiar with Manning's work, it was skillfully woven into the story, seeming to arise naturally from the characters and situations, not tacked on as an afterthought, so it didn't feel intrusive or overbearing.
I thoroughly enjoyed the vivid and out of the box descriptions found in this book. I'm reminded of the way Charles Dickens could paint a memorable secondary character in just a few brush strokes. Here's a particularly vivid example from The Prodigal:
"Carlene Petsch was the city secretary. Carlene had been called 'Petshop' in their youth, if only rarely to her face. It made her cry, got people sent to the office. She had grown into a hard, hefty woman, the kind of hausfrau who could bake an apple pie and then beat you to death with her rolling pin."
The ending of The Prodigal felt a little abrupt to me. I would have liked to see a little more resolution following Jack's moment of epiphany, in a few specific areas that I probably shouldn't mention for fear of spoiling the ending. That said, if you're going to err one way or the other, better to leave us wanting more than to make us beg for it to end. And, much as I wanted more closure, I do think this approach left things hopeful without downplaying the consequences of Jack's actions by tying everything up in a neat little bow. It also left room for speculation on where the story might have gone next had it continued. Which would be great fodder for a book discussion group. All in all, an excellent read, and I would highly recommend it.
I would like to thank the publisher, Zondervan, for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book through NetGalley for my review.
The Prodigal is the last written work of Brennan Manning and as such it becomes an important legacy to his life work. I personally think it does him justice. Greg Garrett has done a masterful job of putting to paper the words that we have come to know and love from Brennan Manning.
The book is obviously based on the infamous prodigal son from the Bible. The story of Jack Chisholm could belong to any of us. Jack is at the pinnacle of a successful ministry and yet a seemingly momentary decision leads to the destruction of his life and those around him.
Through a very humbling and gritty tale we watch the love of a father rescue his son. This is a father that was always there just waiting for Jack to turn to him. We get to see redemption and restoration but we also see consequences to the sin that destroyed so much.
The story ends but the reader is left contemplating the truths that are contained within the work. You just can't help but do some self reflection and evaluation when you turn the last page. The reader is not only left knowing that we are all in need of salvation but the Source of that salvation is clearly pointed to.
I would be remiss if I didn't point you to the beginning of the book and the 'Note From The Author'. Greg Garrett's very moving tribute to Brennan Manning is not to be skipped. In fact I found it to be as uplifting as the book itself.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
From the inspirational author of The Ragamuffin Gospel comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jack Chisholm is 'the people's pastor.' He leads a devoted and growing megachurch, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, 'We have got to do better.' Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn't know is anything about grace.
This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already---on the news. After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books. Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter. But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son: 'Come home.'
A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably. Jack Chisholm lost everything---his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing---but he found grace. It's the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.
'A wonderfully written story that is as entertaining as it is thought provoking.' ---Publishers Weekly, starred review '. . . the consummate final tale. What they have created is the Ragamuffin at his best, full of hope, full of love, and finally, full of belief in the goodness of God.' ---Phyllis Tickle, founding editor, Religion Department, Publishers Weekly 'Brennan Manning's last work continues the powerful message of grace and forgiveness that has transformed so many lives. The Prodigal will transform you too.' ---Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author of The Circle Maker.
This book is sin and grace at it's best. When Jack has everything he could ever ask for, he throws it all away for a night that will destroy everything he's built. His life, his ambitions, and all his dreams lay waste at the feet of lasciviousness and revelry, and there is nothing he can do to take it back. When his wife leaves him, Jack is at the precipice of disaster, and he can do nothing but drink himself into oblivion.
My favorite part of this book is that moment when Jack realizes who he was and what he has become. That pivotal moment when he saw himself as he truly was, was the moment that grace could become a reality to him and not just words from the pulpit. It can be so difficult to reconcile the past and the future, especially when you feel as if there is no way to move forward. But God offers a hand of redemption to anyone who asks for it, and this novel clearly shines a light in the darkness of the human condition and offers the solution for all the ills of humanity. No matter what your past or current situation, the writing contained herein will touch your heart with the profound reality of God's love and mercy. We are all promised Immortality. Which future will you choose?
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.