- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: The Fish Net Experience, Inc. (September 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0615690769
- ISBN-13: 978-0615690766
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,562,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fish Net Experience: From Self to Grace Paperback – September 1, 2012
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About the Author
Paul Gray has a multi-dimensional career history, spanning from night-club owner to pastor. A 1969 graduate of Kansas University, Gray founded and led his jazz group, the Gaslite Gang, to decades of success including recording, national television performances, weekly radio shows, and touring from coast to coast. When not traveling, the band played at Paul Gray’s Jazz Place, which also hosted internationally known jazz artists. Gray owned and operated five retail music stores, was a highly decorated and accomplished National Guard and Army Reserve Bandmaster for 24 years, and owned a long-distance telephone company. While playing five nights a week for three years at the Vista Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Gray came to realize that his business and musical pursuits had left him spiritually empty. He started getting to know Jesus Christ simply by reading a Bible and asking God to speak to him. In the course of a few years he became a music minister/evangelism pastor at an established church, and a few years later—with the help of a few friends—started Heartland Community Church in Lawrence, Kansas. That church was the second member of the Willow Creek Association. The church started a medical clinic for homeless individuals that eventually grew to become The LEO Center, which provided thousands of patient visits each year, biblical counseling, financial assistance, and a food pantry for those in need. Gray was the founding CEO of The LEO Center and eventually was part of the team that started another clinic, the New Hope Medical Ministry. In 2009, Gray embarked on a journey of learning about and teaching the “Finished Work Of Jesus Christ.” As a result of that process, the church changed its name to New Life In Christ—A Community of Grace. Gray continues to play trumpet and trombone and sing in jazz settings and can regularly be found at various settings in Lawrence, Kansas, sharing the Good News of the New Covenant of the Grace of Jesus Christ with friends. He also continues to be the lead pastor of New Life In Christ—A Community of Grace.
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What an excellent novel! It is difficult to describe the plot of this novel without "giving anything away", so I'll keep it short. Read about (college student and musician) Ronnie's transition from a self-centered life to one filled with God's grace. The main character Ronnie is mentored by two individuals who teach him all about God's grace, as well as enjoying and experiencing Christ's abundant life in community with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Please don't confuse the "abundant life" talk of televangelists with the content of this novel. This novel beautifully illustrates a solid and Biblically-based presentation of topics that are rarely covered (why?) by many church denominations. I'll soon be re-reading this novel for all of the informative tidbits that can be found throughout the text. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this novel. Hopefully this author plans on writing future fiction or non-fiction books covering similar material.
I identified with Ronnie's experience of condemning voices telling you you're not good enough, you've screwed up too much, these people won't accept you if they know the real you, and all of the other lies we carry around in our heads. These voices seem internal, and sometimes they are, but many times it's the voice of the enemy, the father of lies, speaking these lies into our minds in such an insidious way that we don't recognize where they're coming from and they become a part of our self-talk. The only way to combat these fiery arrows of self-condemnation is by filling our minds with TRUTH. By reading who God says I am in His word, my mind is renewed (see Romans 12:2), my faith is strengthened, and I am equipped with ammunition against those arrows (see Ephesians 6:16). I loved reading about Ronnie's journey to believing the truth about who God says he already is, and speaking that truth to himself instead of the old "tapes" replaying in his mind. Oh, they sometimes tried to creep back in, but now he had the truth to fight back with! Or, even better, he didn't have to do the fighting at all - Jesus does it through him!
I also loved the focus on mentoring and finding groups of people with whom we can be authentic and real, who will accept us flaws and all, and who will challenge us, yes, but with unconditional love and grace that can only flow from Jesus in them. They don't point out what's wrong with us and all of the ways we need to change, they simply point us to Jesus! And they have fun doing it! They "hang out," enjoy music, laugh, good-naturedly tease one another, celebrate life and Jesus whenever they're together and whatever they are doing. They don't "do church" - they DO LIFE!
This book is not just another book from the religion section intending to teach you about the "how-to's" of living the christian life. In fact, it doesn't do that at all! It's about relationship - the beautiful relationship our God wants to have with us, and through us, with others. It doesn't ignore that life is often hard and tragedies exist, but it shows us a way of living that transcends those hardships and not only carries us through them, it carries other people through theirs as we learn to open ourselves as conduits of the Living Water and let God's Grace flow through us and out to everyone we come in contact with.
I would recommend this book to anyone who's tired of "going through the motions," or questioning if they can sit through one more joyless church service, and those who long to experience authenticity (people being "real" and not wearing masks), and want to know what having a vibrant, dynamic, intimate relationship with God can look like.