Category Archives: Response and Recommendations to Book Readings

Response to “It’s Not What You Think”

FullSizeRender 2Just like I promise two blog posts ago I finally finished reading Jefferson Bethke’s book, “It’s Not What You Think” and I will tell you this was a good read. I think it took me three and a half weeks to finish, but that was only because I was busy with school work, and I also was reading his last book along with this one which was also great I did a blog post on his last book you can look at it here,  but the main reason why it took me so long to finish is because once I read something in this book that was really impactful I would just stop reading and meditate on what I just learned not taking in any more information till the next day or couple of days after my last reading. So I’m going to tell you a couple of things that really impacted me when reading this book. Spoilers down below if you’re already planning on reading this book jump straight to the conclusion section.

The Impacts

  • That God wants Intimacy With Us!
  • What Voices Do You Listen To?
  • The Table Is Not What You Think!

That God Wants Intimacy With Us!

Bethke starts chapter three talking about shame, how we feel shameful when we do things wrong. How in these times when we think about our mistakes, our sins, we try to always lie, we always try to cover them up, and we always try to hide from them. Pretending that it never happened  and by us doing this Behtke says in his book that we aren’t allowing ourselves to be intimate, vulnerable and transparent with our Heavenly Father. He explains in his book that it is funny that we learned to run away when we do something shameful from our very first parents Adam and Eve. That God gave Adam and Eve a commandment to not eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. Bethke asks in his book why would God do such a thing, why would God put a Tree of Good and Evil in the garden in the first place if he does not want them to go near it and Bethke answers his own question by saying that God did it as a form of offering to Adam and Eve to be more intimate with him. Bethke explains the tree is named the Tree of Good and Evil if Adam and Eve ate from it what would they know good and evil. God gave them an option to fully depend and trust in him or depend on themselves and eat from the tree. He continues saying if you are familiar with the story obviously you would know that Adam and Eve ate from the tree and they hid. But God does something to us that seems strange he walks through the garden looking for them, God had every right to be angry and to just strike them down and start over with a new Adam and Eve, but he doesn’t he calls for Adam he was calling Adam out of his shame. That’s what God does to us when we do something shameful and we want to hide. God is calling us from it. God is calling us from it because he wants us to be closer and intimate with him, even though we made a mistake God still calls out for us.

What Voices Do You Listen To?

In chapter four of Bethke’s book there’s this section called exactly what the title of this section of this blog is called What Voices Do You Listen To? and when I read this section I read it on the exact day I needed to be reminded of its content. Bethke starts off with this as his first sentence of this section, “The security that we have in Jesus doesn’t do much for us unless we trust it and listen to it.” This sentence is very true indeed! He continues in this section by explaining the story of the Prodigal Son if you don’t know the story you can read it in Luke 15. In the story Bethke mentions you can notice that when the prodigal son returned the father didn’t send him away in disappointment, he ran to him and hugged him and kissed him! Showing to the son that he is loved, that he is known, and that the father sees him for who he is not his mess. When Jesus was telling this parable he was explaining how God is with us how he doesn’t see our mess but he sees who we are for he tells us that we are loved, we are known, we are his children. Behtke explains that we should listen to the voice of God instead of the other voices that try to put us down and separate us from him.

The Table Is Not What You Think!

In the last chapter of the book when I read its title I didn’t know where Bethke was going with this, but when I read it through it truly impacted me. Bethke first starts the chapter off telling a story of a messianic Jew named Ilan who accidentally hit and killed a thirteen year old Palestinian boy. Behtke explains how Ilan is a follower of Jesus Christ and that he wanted to seek reconciliation and forgiveness desperately for the tragedy that he caused to the family. His friends told him to not do it because it was too dangerous even and Israeli policeman told him it was dangerous for Ilan to go all the way to the west bank to meet with the Palestinian family of the boy that he killed. In some Arab traditions  the family could kill Ilan as pay back for what he did to their son. Ilan knew the dangers and deeply want to reconcile so he met with an Arab pastor and asked for advise and he told him to make a sulha which is a meal set up that is particularly used for reconciliation. So Ilan set it up for the family there where tension until the father took the first sip from his cup accepting the reconciliation gesture. Tension died down and toward the end of the meal the family said that Ilan would always have a second home with them. The author explains in that meal Ilan and the whole table received love, grace and reconciliation.  Almost in every culture other than the westernized ones the author describes the table (sulha) is a place of peace, love and a covenant. How in american culture we basically miss the whole point of having a meal at a table, america makes everything about efficiency of just getting the food in our stomachs. Bethke explains back in Jesus day the table meant family and peace when you ate and sat with someone at the table it meant intimacy and friendship. The day right before Jesus did the most historical thing what did he do? He ate and fellowship with his disciples telling them to do this in remembrance of him. The author continues explaining when Jesus did this he didn’t mean the small crackers and the small juice cup they hand out in church every first Sunday, he meant actual eating and fellowshipping with one another at an actual table. Every time you have a meal with someone it should remind you of what Jesus had did for you. There is way more points that Bethke goes with this topic of the table that if I put everything in this blog post I might as well be writing his book.

Conclusion

My conclusion of this book is that this was a really great book to read. It really opened my eyes to some things and impacted me in many ways. If you enjoyed reading about the ways this book impacted me I recommend you get this book because I only talked about just a couple of chapters in this book. There is way more in this book that was not discussed in this blog that I believe it would be impactful for you!!

Response to Jefferson Bethke’s Book Jesus Over Religion

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Over this past weekend I was in Barnes and Noble where I study and do my homework most often.  I took my break like I usually do and walk around the store browsing books. I went to the christian section of the store to checkout what books they had. I saw this book by my now new favorite author I was tempted to buy this book around the same time I bought his recently new book a week before “Its Not What You Think” it’s a great book I recommend it. I’m going to still do a blog post on it when I finish it so still be looking forward to that. But I was staring at this book again and finally I gave into the temptation to buy it. I’m glad I gave into my temptation, because even though he wrote this book two years back what he says in this book is exactly what I believed I needed to get reminded of about being a person who lives for Jesus Christ. Even though I’m halfway through the book. I just have to post today about some things Bethke mentions. I’m only halfway through the book by the way amazing stuff! Spoilers down below don’t read any further if you’re already planning on reading the book, jump straight to the final sayings section.

What Bethke Mentions In His Book 

  • We aren’t christian because of safety.
  • We are not save by what we do.
  • We as christians need to know who our enemy really is.

We Aren’t Christian Because of Safety

In the beginning pages of Bethke’s book he talks about when he was learning how to be an actual follower of Jesus and in the middle of his process he realized that he was following the “wrong Jesus” the I like to call “Americanized Jesus”. He realized this when he was listening to a christian radio station and at their break according to Bethke, “they did a fifteen-second spot about the station that consisted of kids laughing, happy music, and the slogan, “Music you can trust, because it’s safe for the whole family!”” He thought is Jesus really safe for the whole family? He continued in his book saying that Jesus was a man who was homeless, persecuted and  killed because he said he was God. Paul says if we follow Jesus’ example we would go through similar things from the world. We traded the real Jesus for this “Americanized Jesus” who is safer and sanitized. Bethke says in his book if we would of have this “Americanized Jesus” we created in the world today he would of never got persecuted because he is too nice. If we spread the real Jesus, the gospel he told us to tell the people of the world it will get dangerous, because we are going to create tension with people. People will disagree with Jesus’ view.

We Are Not Save by What We Do

In his book he also says that we have made following Jesus all about following a set of rules, rituals and paradigms. Bethke explains in his book two ways that we as christians sometimes believe we are saved by works. He first starts off saying that just because we go feed the homeless once a year, don’t drink beer, and have no tattoos this doesn’t determine our salvation. He then more pages into the book describes a story about a time he talked to one of his teammates. Explaining how this teammate was the one who always spoke loudly about God but was always the one bragging about how many girls he had and when Bethke confronts him on his hypocrisy. His teammate explained he was saved and was okay because he did the prayer with his hands when he was young, basically explaining he was saved because of what he had done. Behtke explains in his book that these two ways are the wrong way to think about salvation. The first way is wrong because we are not just saved by what we do, nothing we can do can give us salvation. He explains that in Isaiah 64:6 explains to us that our deeds that we think are right are as  filthy rags, he explains that filthy rags back then was the rags a women used during their menstruation period. Our deeds that we think are good are used tampons. So how can our works give us our salvation if even our greatest are just as bad as a used tampon it can’t. Only through the grace of Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross that is what resulted in the salvation we as christians have today. Also the second false way of thinking about salvation some christians believe. Is just because we did something good in the past does not determine that we have a free ride for the rest of our live. Just because I prayed the prayer way back when I was thirteen does not mean that I have a free pass to do what ever I want. Yes we are saved by grace, but lets not get that confused. Imagine this Bethke gives this example in his book, is the husband able to go around and cheat on his wife just because they made the commitment and got married the year before, no. When we make the commitment to get saved  and allow Jesus to be in our lives, our lives should show more of a reflection of him if we truly serve him.

We as Christians Need to Know who our Enemy Really is

Bethke in his book explains that the way some of us christians treat people who is not living according to our standards are being hated by our community. How some of us say that God hates these people for example some christians in the community would say God hates gays. Bethke explains no where in the bible God says he hate gays, he love gays, but he does not love their actions. Just like us christians at times he loves us, but when we sin he does not love our actions. Bethke clarifies that he is not saying to not take sin seriously. He is saying to definitely take sin seriously and that we should avoid sin. He says that one of the main problems is idolatry. Which Bethke explains that it is putting anything above Jesus Christ. He explains when we idolize things we usually “demonize” what is in opposition of the thing we idolize. He gives an example democrats vs republican, if you idolize democrats then you believe that the republicans is the enemy and demonize them. If you idolize republicans then you believe the democrats is the enemy and demonize them. If you idolize your self righteousness then you would think anybody who is not held up to your standards is your enemy and demonize them. He explains that the only thing we should idolize is Jesus because what is against Jesus demons and it makes sense to demonize demons. He explains when we idolize Jesus we see sin as our enemy and not the people who commit the sin. We should tell them to avoid the sins they are doing but we should not demonize them, we should not think of them as our enemy. For Jesus himself ate and sat with sinners.

Final Sayings

I would really recommend this book for what Jefferson Bethke writes in here is really eye opening. Even if you already know about the topics he writes about in his book you should still pick it up and read it. It’s always good to get reminded of what being a true follower of Christ means.  Also this review is only less than half of the book! Think about the rest of it!