Into the Fray: How Jesus' Followers Turn the World Upside Down  -     By: Matt Mikalatos
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Into the Fray: How Jesus' Followers Turn the World Upside Down

Baker Books / 2015 / Paperback

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Product Description

In Into the Fray, Matt Mikalatos invites us back into God's story, both to find our place in it and to rediscover the wonder that the apostles and their listeners experienced. As you lose yourself in these modern retellings of the events of the book of Acts, you'll find that sharing the story is easier and more rewarding than you ever imagined. Paperback.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0801016312
ISBN-13: 9780801016318

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Publisher's Description

In the earliest days of the Christian church, the gospel spread out from Jerusalem in a burst of incredible stories. A man who could calm a stormy sea with a word, who healed the lame and the blind, who raised the ire of the religious leaders, and who even raised people from the dead. Compare this organic, even entertaining, method of spreading the Good News to how we are often encouraged to evangelize today, with clever arguments and our defenses already up in anticipation of rebuttal. Somewhere along the way, we've lost the plot to the greatest story ever told.

Now Matt Mikalatos invites us back into God's story, both to find our place in it and to rediscover the wonder that the apostles saw in their listeners as they told the story of Jesus, the Messiah they knew personally and loved fiercely. As they lose themselves in modern retellings of the events of the book of Acts, readers will find that sharing the story is easier and more rewarding than they ever imagined.

Author Bio

Matt Mikalatos is the author of The First Time We Saw Him, My Imaginary Jesus, and Night of the Living Dead Christian, and has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for fifteen years. Matt is an active member of the group blog at, and can also be found at Matt has a master's degree in biblical theology from Western Seminary. Matt and his family reside near Portland, Oregon.

Product Reviews

3.6 Stars Out Of 5
3.6 out of 5
3.6 out Of 5
(3.6 out of 5)
3.6 out Of 5
(3.6 out of 5)
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3.6 out Of 5
(3.6 out of 5)
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Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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  1. 3 Stars Out Of 5
    A Mixed Bag
    September 8, 2015
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    This book is a retelling of the book of Acts and is written by Matt Mikalatos. Into the Fray gave me mixed feelings. Each chapter of this book has a portion where major New Testament characters have their stories retold and a portion where the book of Acts is talked about and the context of the stories is provided. I have read books in the past that combine storytelling portions with commentary and I have enjoyed it. This book however slightly missed the mark for me. I liked the idea of modernizing Acts, but I feel like a part of the story was lost. The stories in Acts are so extraordinary that I do not believe they need to be changed. Maybe four years at a Bible college has turned me into a stickler for Scriptural inerrancy? A strength to the book was that Matt writes well and is easy to read. He writes to a younger generation and this is evidenced by his accessible writing. I can easily see how people would enjoy this book as it does make Acts less ancient feeling and more current. The book wasn't for me but it wasn't bad. I would give it a 3/5.
  2. Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Your Story Matters
    August 24, 2015
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5

    When Esteban, the church parking lot attendant, was charged with heresy, no one took the accusation seriously at least not at first. He viewed his trial as one more platform for The Story, and with a very influential audience. No one could have predicted the crowd becoming a mob, and his listeners becoming his executioners.

    If you recognize this account of the stoning of Steven from the book of Acts in the Bibles New Testament, youre ready to read Into the Fray by Matt Mikalatos. Transporting first-century events and characters into present-day settings pushes aside the veil of historical remove: Oh, yes, this is the way it would have felt if I had been there. This is the prejudice, or the legalism, or the wrong-headedness that exists today in the church . . . that exists in my own heart.

    With each chapter built around a modern-day re-telling of a narrative from the early church, Matt tells it slant and then pulls back the magnifying glass behold, its a mirror, and the revulsion that Dr. Lucas (Luke, the author of Acts) feels for the Ethiopian eunuch calls out our present-day homophobia or rejection of those who challenge our neat categories. The problem of feeding the Greek widows becomes a discussion of the bodies slow acceptance of minorities, our rejection of the unlikely person who just shows up one Sunday, and the logistics of church growth. Just what would happen if our fellowship went from 120 people to three thousand plus? Thats a lot of folding chairs!

    Matts writing reads like the transcript of a TED talk or an NPR show, and just as The First Time We Saw Him drew me into the plot of familiar gospel stories because of the unfamiliarity of their re-telling, Into the Fray reveals the power of story to cut through our staid and settled thinking, to send tremors to the heart. Savor this description of the Good News, put into the mouth of Ananias:

    It moved into homes through tiny cracks like a mist. It burst out of any prison cell, strong as a lion. It couldnt be contained or controlled, only heard or received or retold. . . Of course people tried to destroy it. They tried to stamp it out like fire. They beat it with branches. They blew on it, they fanned it, they threw water on it. But the water only caused it to spread. Trying to restrain it was like trying to grab hold of the wind. Trying to stop it was like trying to put smoke back into a fire. Yes, the story burned and every person it touched was irrevocably changed.

    If this is the reason God spoke to humanity in story form, could this also be motivation, then, to tell our own stories? Paul did not share the stories of John or Peter; it was his own compelling and powerful encounters with God and his adventures on The Way that drew first-century Gentiles to Christ and that continue to capture our imagination today.

    Could this be the reason why the book of Acts ends as it does, with Paul preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him, (Acts 28:31)? Paul was a story-teller, and we are invited to pick up the thread of his Tale, to demonstrate the Spirits weaving of life into Life until the fibers of the story touch every corner of the world. Our stories do matter.

    This book was provided by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
  3. Raleigh, NC
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Female
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    Very Corny
    August 13, 2015
    Alannie Marshall
    Raleigh, NC
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    I recently picked up Into the Fray by Matt Mikalatos. I have to say, I was incredibly disappointed in this book. This is literally someone's guess at what the events related in the book of Acts would look like if they occurred in the modern day. Now, that sounds intriguing and very interesting, but it was anything but. Think of The Message, but more corny. I spent so much time rolling my eyes that I couldn't even finish the book. Perhaps, if you can be more imaginative when it comes to Scripture, you would enjoy this book. But I myself prefer a more literal approach than what is portrayed in this book. Not something I would recommend. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.
  4. West Point, UT
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Book of Acts in the 21st Century
    August 6, 2015
    West Point, UT
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The Book of Acts is one of my favorite parts of the Bible, I love reading about how Christianity Spread in the early years of the Church. And now, with Into the Fray: How Jesus Followers Turned the World Upside down. (OR: The Story of Acts Retold for Today) (Baker Books, 2015) Matt Mikalatos has used his extraordinary writing skills to bring the book of Acts from the 1st century to the 21st. Heres my disclaimer. I had fun reading Night of the Living Dead Christian; since reading Imaginary Jesus, Ive used several of those stereotypes as Sermon illustrations. A couple of sermons were based on parts of The First Time We Saw Him, and now this.

    To paraphrase myself in a tweet after reading the 1st three chapters, , how can any one person write so well in so many different genres and styles?

    Meet Dr. Lucas. He is writing letters to his friend Theo, to explain a lot of stuff that happened to a bunch of guys. Dr Lucas has a dilemma, he wants to start at the beginning, but recognizes that the story itself is so big that its hard to decide which beginning. And so he decides to tell The story by telling the stories of people, people who were there, who walked and talked with the Teacher

    So Dr Lucas wanders around with a handheld recorder and interviews people, and then he writes their stories and sends them to his friend Theo. And there is a caveat to these stories that Dr. Lucas sends Theos way: You know their stories because their stories are ours, just as our stories are theirs. They are the tales and happenings and accounts and reports of the good news about Jesus and about his life and death and teachings and coronation and return. And then comes the question that each of us must answer: Where does your story of the teacher become our story of the good news?

    And so Dr Lucas sets out, recorder in hand, and collects stories. If youre familiar with the book of Acts youll recognize the Pentecost event. Names like Pete and Esteban and Felipe will soon be as familiar as Peter, Stephen and Phillip.

    The 21st century rewrite of a familiar story could be expanded and would stand on its own as a fun book to read, and a great teaching tool, but theres a lot more to this book. Mikalatos has also done a great job of explaining the sacred text. With exegesis, expository teaching, and lessons on how to apply the text to our own lives, Matt invites us to make this story our own, to identify the beginning of our story with Jesus, and turn it into a story of the good news that can be shared with others.

    But dont despair, its not all theoretical, for those who like some practical advice on how to put the lesson into practice, turn to chapter 14 for some ideas on how to write and tell your own part of our story. One of the core values at our church is that we are all a part of God's story, and we need to learn to tell that story and invite others into it. I havent decided yet if Chapter 14 is recommended or required reading for the leadership team.

    And in Dr Lucas last letter to his friend Theo, he reminds him that we cant change the world without being changed ourselves. We are a part of God's creation, a creation which is being transformed by the Holy Spirit. As it changes, so do we.

    On a scale of 1 to 5, can you give more than five stars? Highly recommended to those who have heard the stories from Acts all of those lives and to those whose journey is just beginning.

    FTC disclaimer, I received a copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for a review. There was no requirement to write anything but an honest review
  5. Dallas, PA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Into the Fray
    August 5, 2015
    Dallas, PA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Story. The long letter/story we generally know as Acts has been updateda little bit. The author doesnt fiddle with the underlying narrative, but he does create more modern versions of several key characters found in Acts. The Ethiopians ride is a limo, Stephen becomes Esteban, Luke is Dr. Lucas, but Paul stays Paul. Mikalatos tells his stories in a modern version and then discusses the Biblical text behind the new telling. This works pretty well, too. The names arent so distant past, the events more current. Mikalatos likes stories. As do many others these days. As did the people of Biblical times.

    The Bible is story in many places throughout its text. How many times have we heard, We know how things turn out and we win.? Or something similar and more eloquent. Thats talking about story. The same thing that keeps you reading the latest novel. A good story. Yes, the Bible is more than that, but the dissection of the whole has also dismembered the story into points of debate, discussion, and dogma. Not exactly what any author desires for his story if it is to be understood properly. So, Mikalatos tries here to re-story the Biblical text.

    Then he takes a few more stories and looks at the application. Now its not just story, but the author and the reader face the mirror and have to decide which character they resemble most. Didnt see that one coming. Thats one of the functions of story, beyond entertainment. That works well, too.

    What has the title got to do with any of this? The point is to help the reader share the story and his own experiences within the story more freely as they mingle with whoever they find themselves around, i.e. thatd be anybody and everybody. All empowered and directed by the Spirit.

    The book works, but seems to be written to a younger audience who is more acquainted with the style the author has chosen. It took me a while to warm up to it, and I found myself skimming bunches of it. The last third of the book I finally got on board. I do recommend it though.

    A discussion guide is provided.

    I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.

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