RELEARNING JESUS: How Reading the Beatitudes One More Time Changed My Faith
Matthew Paul Turner
David C. Cook
Author Matthew Paul Turner consistently treads on the edges of discomfort that may leave some Christians feeling somewhat "uncomfortable," and that's okay. Turner's genuine love for Christ (and fellow Christ followers) is refreshing, as is his candidness in facing and dealing with personal struggles. Readers will breathe a huge sigh of relief as they realize that Turner's honesty in confronting and battling sins is no different from their own. While it's most consoling to realize that one is not alone in the fight against personal demons, Turner takes Christians a step further and encourages them to read the Beatitudes from a completely different slant, thus empowering them to believe, live and do life differently. Better.
Turner opens his text with a riveting story of a time when he was needing desperately to hear from God after another bout with staving off the occasional porn habit. He recalls reading Matthew 5 for maybe the 857th time at the urging of a friend and then feeling numb. Still desperate for a word from God, he put his face down on the table at the coffeehouse, not caring what anyone thought, and stayed that way for 32 minutes. When he next lifted his head, Turner recounts God giving him a verse to contemplate. Here's what it said: "You're blessed when you get your inside world --- your mind and heart --- put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." Turner got up, quickly gathering his things and spilled his drink all over the floor and onto another customer. Turner began cleaning up the mess and continued to apologize to the gentleman he had splattered. Ironically, the man didn't mind the mess; he was simply glad Turner was still alive after his 32-minute retreat from the world. So began his new look into the Beatitudes.
From there, Turner takes one section of the Beatitudes at a time and dissects it with loving care. Each chapter is chock full of personal and real-life anecdotes to help readers understand and see what Jesus really meant when He spoke these timeless words of truth. Then, Turner ties up the topics with a pertinent Pause and Reflect section for careful readers to study and consider and then make application.
One of the most telling chapters Turner offers is "The Heart Part," which is underscored by Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." Throughout this section, he transparently discusses how essential it is to have a "right heart" because otherwise everyone is simply running from something, trying to outrun, outwit and out-maneuver their next bout with falling into some sinful act that destroys their lives and the lives of those around them. Turner discusses how confession does a body (and soul) good --- that and falling down before Jesus and depending 100% on him to protect and provide. He admits he's falling down lots these days, but he wouldn't have it any other way: "I don't expect perfection anymore, but I do anticipate grace."
Beautifully written and lovingly presented, Turner's in-depth look-see in the Beatitudes will have readers taking a much closer look for themselves. As they do, their worlds will change.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe, author of STILL GOING IT ALONE: Mothering with Faith and Finesse, and Single Parenting Columnist (http://www.bizymoms.com/experts/michele-howe/index.html)
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