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Jesus Is Better than You Imagined Hardcover – April 1, 2014
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"Jonathan paints a picture of a God who loves a good surprise and meets us in ways we may not have considered. So read this book expectantly. It will shatter your misconceptions and help you encounter a God more wonderful than you ever conceived." (Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker)
"Theology divorced from autobiography is like making love out of a love manual. With JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOU IMAGINED, Jonathan Merritt gives us a theological gem based on his own life story. This book got me so excited about Jesus that it almost left me winded. If you have ever despaired of the church, or departed from the faith, or know someone who has, there is no better book on the market to illuminate the darkness with lightning strikes of divine presence and power." (Leonard Sweet, bestselling author, professor (Drew University / George Fox University) and chief contributor to Sermons.com)
"Jonathan speaks to the human heart, with words poured from his own. This book is one of the bravest works I've had the privilege to read. May his strength inspire ours." (Rebekah Lyons, author of Freefall to Fly and co-founder of Q Ideas)
"With his usual word-magic, Jonathan Merritt reminds us that Jesus has survived all the embarrassing things that we Christians have done in his name. He shows you the Jesus who challenges the chosen, includes the excluded, assaults closed minds, opens hard hearts, and defies all the boxes, categories, and camps... the one who left the comfort of heaven to join the struggle on earth to show us who God is and what love looks like with skin on. It is an invitation to fall in love-maybe again, or maybe for the first time-with love-made-flesh, and he's better than you could ever imagine." (Shane Claiborne, activist and bestselling author of The Irresistible Revolution and Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers)
"Jonathan Merritt is fast becoming one of the most influential Christian writers today. He has a pulse on culture and a gift for communicating. JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOU IMAGINED is a practical and poetic book that leads readers into the arms of a sometimes startling God. In a time when young people are growing disenchanted with religion, this book comes not a moment too soon to remind us that Jesus is all we need." (Brad Lomenick, president of Catalyst and author of The Catalyst Leader)
"Stirring, soaring, surprising. This is a delightful glimpse into the epic greatness of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Frank Viola, author of God's Favorite Place on Earth, Jesus Manifesto, and Epic Jesus)
"True to the genre of the younger evangelical leader memoirs, there is an honesty and an integrity in Jonathan Merritt's JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOU IMAGINED. But what drives Jonathan's story is a recurring emptiness on the part of a believer who probes spiritual disciplines, creation, struggles with sin and ultimately God in the face of Jesus. That probing overshadowed everything in this book for me, a probing I found both honest and encouraging, a probing that does not pretend doubt and dryness are gone once one is a Christian. Jonathan's story will be encouraging to young and old alike." (Scot McKnight, author and New Testament professor at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary)
"Jonathan Merritt is an incisive, winsome writer and one of the best storytellers I know. In JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOU IMAGINED, he invites us to move beyond legalism, beyond cynicism, and beyond fear to the feet of Jesus, where love always prevails. This book is both brutally honest and stubbornly hopeful. Grace permeates every page." (Rachel Held Evans, New York Times bestselling author of author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Evolving in Monkey Town)
About the Author
Recently named one of 30 leaders reshaping Christian leadership by Outreach Magazine, Jonathan has become a popular speaker at conferences, colleges, and churches. As a respected Christian voice, he has been interviewed by ABC World News, Fox News, CNN, NPR, PBS, Politico, Slate, and The New York Times.
Jonathan sits on the national board of directors for Bethany Christian Services, America's largest adoption and orphan care agency. He holds master's degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Emory University's Candler School of Theology, and he resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Follow Jonathan on twitter: @jonathanmerritt
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Top Customer Reviews
Ever since I read A Faith of Our Own a couple of years ago, I’ve been reading Jonathan’s writing. I regularly check his articles for Religion News Service and have been anticipating this book. I tore through it as soon as I received it.
This is a deeply personal book, much more so than I anticipated. Jonathan’s stories are moving, as he lays down parts of his life before us. They range across many emotions, from the terrifying encounter with armed bandits in Haiti to the serene peacefulness in a monastery.
Perhaps the strongest chapter is one titled, “A Thread Called Grace,” where Jonathan tells the heartbreaking story of being sexually abused as a child by an older, neighboring boy. This led him to feeling isolated and insecure, to the point of contemplating suicide when he was ten years old. He then goes on to share how these experiences shaped his understanding of his own sexuality.
“The human inclination is to conceal when we feel naked or exposed or vulnerable. I wanted to hide from the pain of sexual abuse and the confusion I felt, so my mask rarely came off. I lived behind it.” Page 89
A chapter that particularly struck me was, “A Tableless Home,” where Jonathan visits the capital of Nepal.Read more ›
It’s funny how God works sometimes. He knows what you need before you even do! I signed up to read and review Jonathan Merritt’s new book, Jesus is Better that You Imagined, quite a while ago, certainly before the dryness started, and then promptly forgot about it. When it arrived and I read the title and inside jacket, I knew God was speaking to me, calling me out of the desert, and He was going to use this book to help me.
In Jesus is Better that You Imagined, Jonathan Merritt, is so honest and vulnerable about his own times of spiritual dryness and his journey to a faith that is fulfilling, nourishing, and full of surprises as he experiences the love and grace of the Savior.
To say that God spoke to me through this book would be an understatement! The message of Jesus is Better than You Imagined is exactly what I needed to hear. It encouraged and spoke to my heart in so many ways. I have a feeling that there are many others who need to hear the same message that I did. If you are experiencing a time of dryness or if you want to prevent one, read this book and find out for yourself that Jesus IS better than you imagined.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Whether you're a skeptic, a seeker or somehow given up on "church" or church people, you will find Jesus between these pages. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jason Cross
While Merritt has strong journalistic instincts to reveal the truth and a passion for theology, this book is not really about either. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ginny Foran
One of the better and more provocative Christian writers out there. You will gain new insight into who Christ is and what He did and why he had to do it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Knight of the Woeful Contenance
God is continuously writing a story is all of our lives in the good and the bad and I'm thankful for Jonathan's call for us to search in the mundane and extraordinary events in our... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Evin
Love this book, very insightful, opened my eyes to how my religious upbringing shaped my opinions and attitudes. Read morePublished 15 months ago by LilyLotus
I loved the way Merritt encourages us to be who we are, no masks. God knows us and loves us. We aren't keeping anything from Him!Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely incredible. This book completely opened my eyes, convicted me, humbled me, yet encouraged and comforted me. Jonathan's honesty is inspiring and brave. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Hannah
I enjoyed reading about the different scenarios in life where God shows up - including in His absence. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Reader1967
Not because this is a sad story but because there were no more tidbits about how Jesus is better than I imagined. Thank you for your honesty, your transparency, your humanness. Read morePublished 18 months ago by KeckKris