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Jesus Is Better than You Imagined Hardcover – April 1, 2014
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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"Well-written, bold, and honest. This book by my friend Jonathan will no doubt introduce many seekers, skeptics, strugglers, and "saints" to the Jesus they've never known but longed to meet--One who gives grace to broken and burned-out people without disclaimers, qualifications, or asterisks. A true celebration of one-way love." (Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World)
"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
Jonathan Merritt is a faith and culture writer who has published more than 1,000 articles in outlets such as The Atlantic, USA Today, National Journal, The Washington Post, and CNN.com. He is a senior columnist for Religion News Service, America's largest provider of news and commentary focused on religion and spirituality. His previous books include A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars and Green Like God, which Publisher's Weekly called, "mandatory reading for churchgoers."
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
I have walked with God for many years now, but if I'm honest, most of them have been marked by deserts. It's books like these that remind me of the gracious goodness of God, and draw me into fellowship with him again.
If you find yourself wandering or just wondering, I encourage you to read this book.
In "Jesus Is Better than You Imagined," Jonathan Merritt engages both heart and mind as he contemplates the presence of Christ in the challenges of life. Through personal stories and reflections, Merritt explores the tensions that exist between faith and doubt, between hope and suffering, between Spirit and flesh. His honesty is brutal, his encouragement life-giving.
In spite of its very personal nature, the book does not succumb to what Merritt calls a "self-styled faith." He never recommends a new theology. Instead, he simply points the reader to this oldest and truest of stories: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Merritt tells us how growing up in a polished and suffocating religion can stifle one’s search for the meaning and practice of living as a redeemed human being. The author shares his deep personal pain and his journey toward healing. He tells of his mystical experiences and his craving for intimacy with the Divine. Merritt confides with his readers the comfort of a timely, prophetic word. As his story progresses, grace awakens within the author and he answers the seminal question of his book: “Is it possible that the God who created me is better than the God I’ve created?”
Yes, Jesus is better than you and I imagined. Read this book if you’re a skeptic of the Christian faith. Read this book if you find yourself stuck in a suffocating, legalistic Christian rut. Read this book if you simply like a well crafted, beautifully written personal memoir.
This book is a powerful call to faith, reminder of the faithfulness of God and witness to His everlasting love.
Jonathan Merritt's book, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air. No, it doesn’t avoid hard places nor does it sugar coat the frustrations or letdowns or doubts that tangle our faith journeys. But Merritt has such a hopeful, heart-absorbing but also refreshingly even-keeled way of approaching these things. Plus, he’s just a fantastic storyteller. There's a vulnerability and sincerity that reels you in chapter after chapter without fail.
For anybody who’s hit those spiritually listless seasons in life, Jesus is Better is truly a must-read. Only one chapter in, I felt stirred up in the best way. And days after finishing the book, it’s still rustling around inside me. Hands-down one of my favorite non-fiction reads in a long time.
I am thankful for Jonathan's raw honesty as he writes, but the clear hero of the story is always Jesus. I rarely appreciate Christian books as I often find them some somewhat cheesy and fairly predictable. As a modern, free-reading, Jesus-adoring Christian woman, this was the best book I have read in a long, long time.
Read this book. To steal a quote: "the living God is waiting, and He is better than you imagined."