35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus Is
I was sent Judah Smith's newest book, Jesus Is _____________. by Thomas Nelson Publishers to read and review. The question asked in this book is "how would you finish that sentence?"
I have learned that there are many people who have been turned off by organized religion because of how they percieve that sentence being completed. Maybe someone might fill in...
Published 9 months ago by Mindful Mamma
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book review for Jesus Is
Jesus Is _______ by Judah Smith is a book primarily about how Jesus completed the all the work of our salvation and righteousness. As Smith himself states, "This book is a manifesto of sorts. It is a simple call to return to a simple faith in a simple person. Jesus is the sum and substance of the gospel." It's a book for "grace alone" and against "works righteousness."...
Published 8 months ago by Steven J. Kopp
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus Is,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)I was sent Judah Smith's newest book, Jesus Is _____________. by Thomas Nelson Publishers to read and review. The question asked in this book is "how would you finish that sentence?"
I have learned that there are many people who have been turned off by organized religion because of how they percieve that sentence being completed. Maybe someone might fill in that sentence "Jesus is going to make you pay for that mistake you made." Or "Jesus is not accepting of you." This is where people usually have trouble with organized religion. They feel like they haven't done it all right so who would want them. Or, they feel that they have to prove their worth before they can ask for supernatural help. Maybe they feel rejected, not good enough, or _______________. The message in this book is just the opposite. Judah Smith would complete the sentence "Jesus is grace." Or "Jesus is your friend." This is a contemporary message that appeals to many. Christianity is a religion of refuge. It preaches that Jesus came as a healer to help those in need, those who were sick, outcast, poor, and lonely. Unfortunately, some humans have bungled some of Christianity's messages to suit their own agendas to exclude and condemn, but that's not the point and I think it's great that this book so eloquently states this. This was an impressive book by a young author. I would not have come upon this writer had this book not been given to me and I'm glad that I have it on my shelf as a reference.
Judah Smith is a young pastor at a church in Seattle, WA. He's in his early 30's, married, and has three kids. His parents started the church he now where he preaches -- it' called City Church. [...] The message of this book is simple and direct and will speak to modern men and women. Because of it's direct and simple message and it's accessability to anyone I am giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun journey!,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)I heard of Judah for the first time at a conference in September 2012. He came out on stage and was a different looking guy and honestly wasn't sure where he was headed when he started talking. He then starting cracking jokes and then out of nowhere, he turned to the serious side and next thing I knew, I was weeping! He spoke truth into my heart and I was overwhelmed with emotion and joy and I knew from that moment on, I was going to let this strange dude speak into me.
Then I had this chance to sign up to be a part of his team to promote the book before it came out and I knew I had to do this, especially since he was challenging me in my walk with the Lord. Of course, once I started the book I was done. It is written totally in Judah Smith style. He uses humor, emotional stories, but importantly he does a great job of just pointing to Jesus. We have so many different opinions that come to our minds when we think of Jesus...some good and some way off. But Judah just simply points us to a Jesus who is in love with us and wants to be with us, just like He was with men and women in the Scriptures. This book allows us the opportunity to drown out all the lies that we have in our heads and just get down to who Jesus really is and what He did for us...no more, no less.
I am grateful to have read the book and be challenged by a friend who doesn't even know me. It is worth your time to spend reading this book and remembering the journeys that Jesus took with people just like you and I, and what I pray will happen to you is that you will lose yourself in these stories and some profound truths will find their way into your heart and you will be changed from the inside out.
Enjoy the read!
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Astounding, Overwhelming Explanation of Grace,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)I devoured this book. Judah's perspective is enlightening and freeing, and the free Grace to which he introduces his readers is exactly what the world is starving to hear. I have come to understand something recently: I don't believe anyone at all is inherently opposed to God. I believe the indifference, opposition, animosity and sometimes downright hatred toward God is a result not of their own rebellion, but by our erroneous portrayal of a God that we claim, but often do not really know. Judah's book introduces us to the real God, to the actual Jesus, and shows us His heart towards us. Through his writing Judah lets us know that Jesus is not focusing on our failures and imperfections, but on His own sacrifice and finished work on our behalf. It is an amazing read and I highly recommend it for everyone to read, especially those who have been hurt by their churches which misrepresents the heart of God. If you want a fresh perspective on Jesus - the right perspective - the ONLY perspective, READ. THIS. BOOK.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painting a Picture of Jesus,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)Jesus is many things. To the atheist he may be non-existent, or out of the question completely. To the Christian, he is a source of Hope. But for me, Jesus is the point of life.
Many authors write about Jesus in a variety of forms. Some are more so commentaries than others, however in Jesus Is _____. Judah Smith portrays Jesus as a very likable and lovable person, who came and died for us, to show us the true meaning of Grace and love. I found myself laughing, crying, and loving Jesus more and more. each page brings out more clarity on who Jesus Is.
If you are looking for a book about the Person of Jesus Christ that is easy to read, and extremely enjoyable, this is your book.
Judah Smith paints an extremely accurate picture of who Jesus really is. Even if you are not a Christian, this book is for you.
Judah writes with great humility. He brings the stories of the bible to life, uses personal illustrations, and really points everything to Christ.
If you really want to know who Jesus is, read this book. You won't regret it!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pop culture fails and Grace wins,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)The author, Judah Smith, is a pastor from Seattle. He became the pastor after the death of his father, which he talks about quite a bit in the book.
I think Smith was trying too hard to be relevant. There were a number of pop culture references in the book that will be unknown in just a short amount of time.
Smith puts a lot of focus on grace and this is essential for believers. Too many have been turned away from Christianity because they think they have to get clean before God will accept them. Smith is quite clear, with many stories from Scripture, that this is not true.
Biggest critique of this book is the lack of a "7th chapter" - Jesus is God!. If He is not God, then the other chapters don't matter.
Overall, I'd give the book a 4 out of 5 only because of the abundance of pop culture references.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book review for Jesus Is,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)Jesus Is _______ by Judah Smith is a book primarily about how Jesus completed the all the work of our salvation and righteousness. As Smith himself states, "This book is a manifesto of sorts. It is a simple call to return to a simple faith in a simple person. Jesus is the sum and substance of the gospel." It's a book for "grace alone" and against "works righteousness." Smith calls us to stop worrying so much about trying to please God by our actions and, instead, rest in the finished work of Jesus. It's a perennially important topic for Christian living and an ever needed antidote to religious legalism.
If you are struggling with trying to "earn" salvation, this book is for you.
However, the book also falls prey to one of my pet peeves. In framing his arguments, Smith often states his main point as a dichotomy - "it's this, not this" - when really no such dichotomy exists. In almost every case he clears it up later, but I really wish he would just say what he wants to say correctly the first time. I had to read the book especially closely, not because I was particularly engaged (though, it speaks poorly of me that I wasn't) but because I kept thinking he was falling into antinomianism.
Allow me to give a few quotes from the book as an example:
"Being a Christian is not about being good. It's about a relationship. About grace. About Jesus. Jesus is the point of life." But, as Jesus states, "being good" is an important part of being a Christian. Consider John 15:9-10: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love." Notice how relationship and obedience go hand-in-hand?
Here's another one:
"We can get too serious about life, and it actually reflects poorly on the gospel, because the gospel, by definition, is good news. There's nothing bad or sad about God's gospel. It is only good news." Yes, it is true that "gospel" literally means "good news" and it is, indeed good (inconceivably great, actually) good news. However, the good news is really made sweeter when we understand the bad news - that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Consider Peter's presentation of the gospel in Acts 2. He announced the good news of Jesus' resurrection: "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it." But there's some bad news there, too: "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah." The people responded with godly sorrow (they were cut to the heart) and asked, "What shall we do?" Peter's response: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." And then the text continues "with many other words he warned them." Peter was serious. He had good news, amazing news. But he also knew he had to warn the people of judgment.
"God is not in a hurry to fix us. Our behavior is not his first priority. We are his first priority. Loving us, knowing us, affirming us, protecting us. That is his top goal and his main concern." Again, I want to say both "amen" and "hold on a second." The grace that is evident in loving, knowing, affirming, and protecting us is the same grace that is involved in "fixing" us. Romans 8:29 "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."
I could go on. His interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount leads you to believe the sole point was to convince the people that trying to be justified by following the law was impossible. Again, I say, "yes," that was one of Jesus' points. But, he was also giving us the values of the Kingdom, teaching us to love our enemies, and warning us against the dangers of sin.
He also has a great discussion on rest and the importance of resting in Jesus' finished work. But he contrasts rest with trying hard to be obedient to God. Sorry, I don't think there is a contrast there. Obedience takes effort. We run the race. We fight the fight.
In some of these cases, Smith ends up in the right place. He doubles back and explains with a little more clarity. Maybe this is because, as he admits at the beginning, he's not thinking linearly. Perhaps some readers will find it endearing, but I just wanted him to be clear the first time around.
For readers who are struggling with legalism, with trying to "earn" salvation or be "worthy" of God's favor this book could be very helpful. We do need constant reminders that salvation is free and unearned and that God loves us unconditionally. Pastorally, I could see myself recommending this book to someone in that category. For others simply looking for clarity in how God's finished work relates to our Christian life, I could list a few books to read instead.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book from Pastor Judah!,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)Reading this, you really catch the message of the Good News. Loved this book! Jesus is ____ . will have you filling in the blanks with His love through any struggle.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Irreverent, humorless humor with a few good points,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)QUICK SUMMARY: Judah Smith loves Jesus, he loves the gospel. So do I. Although we share these important commonalities, I found his book to be too whimsical for my liking. Worse, there was too much reading to find the few good points worth highlighting. Worse still, I disliked his irreverence for God's name. Not recommended.
BACKGROUND: As I mentioned, Judah Smith and I do have a lot in common. We're both married, have kids (hah! I've got one more than he does), kid around a lot, and are Christ followers. I selected his book because it seems to be one of many gospel-centric books available nowadays, and I wanted to see what this new breed of younger authors has to say about the gospel, the Bible, Christian living.
But I am from another, older generation of believers. Smith would say I need to "discover a sense of humor" because I'm aghast that he calls Jesus "...the ultimate zombie. He was killed, then he came back from the dead, and now he's coming for you." Maybe people from Smith's generation think that's a cool insight; it falls very flat with me, a middle-aged believer.
WHAT I LIKED:
- It's an easy reading book; you'll finish reading it in just a few hours' time
- Judah Smith makes a few highlight-worthy points, like:
"Focusing too much on rules and too little on grace tells children that what they do is more important than who they are." (page 57)
"Where rules attempt to force us to do the opposite of what we want, grace actually changes what we want." (page 60)
"The point isn't to quit thinking about sin. It's to quit thinking about self and to think about Jesus." (page 75)
"Religion says that obedience brings acceptance. The gospel teaches the opposite: acceptance brings obedience." Isn't that great? (page 135)
WHAT I DISLIKED:
- My biggest gripe (and probably the biggest reason for 2-stars) is Smith writes too irreverently for my ability to appreciate or even accept. I really take the Ten Commandments seriously, so when God says not to take His name in vain, I really think He means it. So we shouldn't use God's name unless we're really talking about or to Him. Here are irreverent examples from the book:
"Every time Jesus takes it on the chin, we grimace and we groan. Someone yells out, 'My God, somebody call the fight." (page 187)
(Quoting himself speaking to his wife) "'My God, woman, get healing! You need counseling. That was twelve years ago. I'm a better man.'" (page 145)
"Some of us treat life as if it is a qualifying round for the Pro-Am Heaven Golf Tournament. If we can play well enough, if we can impress the Big Man with our technique and our execution, if we can do better than most other Christians, we will make it into heaven." (page 136)
"I don't know what's wrong with many of the paintings and movies about Jesus, but for some reason he looks like a zombie half the time. His eyes are freaky and he never smiles. He looks stressed out or high on drugs or something." Really, Judah?
WHAT I DISLIKED (continued)
- Smith often writes inclusively with lots of "we" and "our" pronouns. I can tolerate that to an extent, but I balk when he portends to repeatedly characterize how *I* think, how *I* act. Example:
"Part of our problem is that we think about ourselves way too much. The more we obsess about our problems, our weaknesses, and our deficiencies, the more we perpetuate them." (page 135, but this style of writing is rampant in this book)
- Judah Smith writes very humorously, but nearly everything he writes isn't really that funny (to me). After 200 pages, I chuckled exactly once. Full disclosure: I can watch a TV sit-com in a room filled with other people and generally won't laugh at anything said. Smith's humor, for me, was tiresome after the first few pages. Example:
"I think Zacchaeus was up on pop culture, by the way. I think he liked making appearances; he liked being in on the action. When they rolled out the red carpet and the cameras showed up, Zacchaeus was going to be there, a lady on each arm, looking over his sunglasses at the crew from TMZ. 'Hey y'all.' When he gave press conferences, he talked about himself in the third person." (page 6-7)
"I also don't like the passage that says Jesus got up a long while before daybreak and went and prayed. Really? What did he have to go and do that for? He was God. Couldn't he just sleep in and encourage us mortals a bit?" (page 86)
(Quoting Jesus) "'But I say, if you even look at a woman lustfully, it's as if you've already slept with her.' Some guy in the back almost chokes on his flatbread. He's got a copy of the latest Fisherman Illustrated swimsuit edition poking out of his knapsack." (pages 92-93).
(I'm not saying Judah isn't funny. I'm saying he's not funny - to me).
- Sometimes I flat-out disagree with Smith, such as when he says, "Jesus is not your judge" (page 12). The Bible says, for example, "This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares" (Romans 2:16). Or when Smith says, "...when we understand the gospel, it will keep us in a state of happiness and joy" (page 131), I disagree with him. Happiness depends on happenings, and sometimes life's happenings don't make me happy (even though I understand the gospel). Smith thinks that the devil is "a toothless lion"; I believe that Satan is deadly and hardly toothless.
- Authors don't write well when they write like they might talk (and their speech is like an adolescent). Example: "I'm just saying." (page 81 and elsewhere). So am I, Judah.
As an aside, I found it interesting that the book's back cover says, "Judah Smith and his wife, Chelsea, are the lead pastors of the City Church,..." Both he and his wife are the lead pastors, huh? How do they understand 1 Timothy 2:12-14?
CONCLUSION: If you want to read an excellent, non-offensive, truly insightful book on the gospel, I suggest Bob George's classic book, Classic Christianity: Life's Too Short to Miss the Real Thing. If you want to be entertained (and you laugh at TV sit-coms), then consider Judah Smith's book, too, but only after you buy Classic Christianity. In sum, I don't recommend Judah Smith's book (disclosure: I am not a PGA champion like Bubba Smith, though, who wrote the book's foreword and is a golfing buddy of Judah Smith).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This Book Is _____.,
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)When I saw this publication listed among this year's new releases, I couldn't help being drawn to the rather unusual title of Pastor Judah Smith's recent book, as well as the retro checkerboard and brightly colored book cover (circa 1970s). His book is titled "Jesus Is _____." See what I mean? It also included an even less revealing subtitle: "Find A New Way To Be Human." At that point I was really curious. But then I saw this in the bottom left corner: "Foreword by Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters Champion" I thought to myself, "What is this about?" My quandary only deepened as I began reading the half dozen or so recommendations listed in the front of the book under the title Praise for "Jesus Is _____." What was most odd to me was I didn't recognize a single name, pastor or otherwise. The "otherwise" just mentioned would be a recommendation from (I hope you're sitting down) Ryan Good, Stylist for Justin Bieber and Producer of the TV show "Punk'd."
This book is a follow-up to the marketing campaign Pastor Smith and his City Church media team kicked off several years ago in the Seattle, Washington area. According to Smith, the goal of the campaign was: "To get Jesus on the minds of Seattle. I didn't want to promote the church. I didn't want to promote a doctrine. I just wanted people to think more about Jesus." Thus began the "Jesus Is _____." idea, and eventually this book.
Smith divides the book into six sections, each one completing the phrase "Jesus is" with a different ending, and each one further revealing the nature of Christ Jesus. Though the book doesn't say so, I suppose these answers may have come from the responses to the church marketing campaign. Within each of the sections there are several chapters in which Smith fleshes out that section's truism. For readers like me, Smith's Introduction was very important. Here is where he not only introduces himself, but also gives the readers a glimpse into his...quirky personality and mindset. With this in mind, the following is worth quoting from chapter one:
"I should mention up front that when I read Bible stories, all the main characters have accents. That's just how my mind works. Concentration has never been my strong suit, and I suspect the accents are a desperate ploy sponsored by the brain to keep me focused."
Beyond his using accents, Smith freely plays with the Bible stories to create what I guess he views as a more interesting, a more lively exchange between the characters. His propensity to do this has probably drawn the most severe criticisms of this book. This doesn't mean he actually changes the Bible text. He doesn't. The actual texts are drawn from five different Bible translations or paraphrases (New Living Translation, ESV, KJV, New KJV and The Message), depending on which one fits Smith's purpose at any particular place. His opening story about Zacchaeus may be a good example of this:
"Zacchaeus, in my mind, was a bit of a gangster. If you can't read this dialogue with a bit of swagger, you and I are not going to connect very well for the next few pages. You may need to listen to a few hip-hop albums and try again. I think Zacchaeus was up on pop culture, by the way. I think he liked making appearances; he liked being in on the action. When they rolled out the red carpet and the cameras showed up, Zacchaeus was going to be there, a lady on each arm, looking over his sunglasses at the crew from TMZ. `Hey y'all.' When he gave press conferences, he talked about himself in the third person."
Smith has a very easygoing, non-technical way of communicating, even when he broached such difficult theological subjects as the triune godhead, the substitutionary death of Christ, the imputed righteousness of Christ and others. Yet, throughout the book, Smith would make simple statements that on face value seemed to betray an unfamiliarity with the most basic and essential truths in the Bible. One such statement was when Smith tried to provide the reader with the reason why Jesus was sent. He wrote, "Then Jesus summed up his life mission: `I'm here to find and help lost people. That why I have come.'" At best, this is a complete oversimplification; at worst, a huge gap in the pastor's grasp of the Bible. Another example would be when Smith describes how spiritual birth happens:
"Spiritual birth happens by grace when we believe. Believe what? Simply that Jesus exists, that he paid for our sins when he died, and that he rose again to make new life available for each of us."
What I suspect is partly at fault is the paraphrased Bibles Smith used in this book, instead of a respected word-for-word translation. If the reader simply grabbed on to that as the gospel, they would be woefully informed and under prepared to come to Christ on biblical terms. Thankfully, Smith doesn't leave the reader with just this inadequate picture of the gospel, but adds to the salvation message throughout the rest of the book. Yet making oversimplified statements like those mentioned above are dangerous and may very well lead to false conversions, or what many describe as "easy believeism."
Here is a sample of Smith's writing style:
"By everyone's standards, Jesus was a good man. So making friends with bad people didn't make sense. Preaching at them, rebuking them, criticizing them, mocking them--that was expected. Even applauded. But sitting around a table telling jokes and enjoying life together? That was shocking. That was tabloid material."
Another good example is when Smith is telling the story of the Prodigal Son, particularly when the prodigal is trying to write a speech to convince his father to forgive him and take him back a one of the servants:
"`Dearest Dad. You're the greatest! Sure missed you...' [No, that's stupid.] He crumples it up, dips the feather in ink again, and starts to write. `Dearest Father, if I lined up all the fathers in the world and had to pick one, I would pick...' [No, that's stupid, too.] Throws it out. `Hey Dad, sure miss playing catch with you in the back...' [No, that's not it either. Just get to the point]. `Dear Dad, I've sinned against heaven, against you, against everyone, and I'm no longer worthy to be your son. Just make me one of you servants.' He folds up the speech, finds a moped, and get some goggles and a map before heading back to his dad's house"
Smith moves easily through the 200 pages of this book, building a solid gospel message and correcting numerous misconceptions about who God is, why He sent Jesus and showing the reader what a relationship with Christ Jesus looks like. He does use the scripture enough to support his message, though one thing I did notice was he used a lot of anecdotal stories about himself, his family, church and friends, especially in the second half of the book, to help give a visual picture of his biblical points. I won't go so far as to say he overused this literary technique, but it was noticeable that he was using these to prop up and illustrate his biblical points. This was the most obvious weakness in Pastor Smith's writing.
I enjoyed reading Pastor Judah Smith's book, even though I realized I was probably not his intended audience. There is definitely a generation and/or cultural gap between his communication style and that of mine. Yet, I didn't find it egregious as some reviewers seem to. And, yes, Smith does explain later in the book why the Forward is written by golfer Bubba Watson; his explanation was more than adequate as far as I am concerned. This book was also not intended to be a theological treatise; hence the absence of footnotes, a bibliography, indices and any other cited support material common to books with that purpose. It was definitely more of a pastoral in nature. After reading the book, I suppose it was mostly written for the new believer, as well as a young person who is interested in knowing more about Christianity. I will close this review with the following words from Pastor Smith:
"My goal in this book has been to help you see Jesus for who he really is and to understand what that means for your life. It is a reflection of a personal journey I have been on for several years now, a journey that has transformed me from the inside out. I am more in love with Jesus than ever before. I am more excited about preaching the gospel than every before. My prayer is that the love of Jesus will consume you, that it will permeate your life and bring color to your existence." There is nothing like it."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JUDAH SMITH BRINGS JESUS TO THE FRONT,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human (Paperback)I have heard Pastor Judah Smith preach several times but I have yet to purchase any of his books because I didn't really like buying books that were religious based because i felt like sometimes i just get lost or bored with it and cant finish it.
with his sense of humor, his willingness to put his personal life out there, and making present day issues come to light, Pastor Judah made it so that you have a better understanding of Jesus and what He is truly about without getting you lost in religious babble... i recommend this book so much for anyone who wants a better relationship/understanding of Christ, for any new Christians trying to follow but dont know how to start, and I would definitely recommend this for all the younger generations.
these are great for gifts and i have purchased some for gifts already. and if you havent bought it or dont know about it, there is also a JESUS IS_____ MUSIC PROJECT CD, which i highly recommend
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Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human by Judah Smith (Paperback - February 26, 2013)