Customer Reviews: Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough
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on May 2, 2014
I need to tell you something about me: I am a skeptic by nature. Those of you who know me are not surprised to read this, are you? I have a suspicious streak a mile wide and there are certain trigger words and names that can send me running down that mile-wide road very quickly indeed.

I am not a fan of prescriptive writing, of anything that smacks of “Just 5 Easy Steps to . . . Anything You Care to Mention.” I’m likely to cringe if the language on a blog or in a book gets either too preachy or too syrupy. And I really, really, REALLY resist slogans.

So I will admit to more than a little bit of trepidation when I began to read Kristen Welch’s new book, “Rhinestone Jesus.” There was a quote from John Piper early on. There was some Jesus-y language that made me squirm a little, and I began to fear the guilt trip I was pretty sure was coming at me any minute now.

But I kept reading. Why? Because I believe in the ministry of Mercy House, a home for pregnant young women in Kenya, a ministry which Kristen and her family helped to birth and continue to encourage. Even though it was decades ago, I have lived in Africa. I know the need is great and what I loved about this ministry is that it rose from — and was staffed by — African nationals. For me, that is a huge positive, so I wanted to know more about how it all happened. I was also a blogger and a financial supporter for the wonderful group fund-raising effort for this ministry sponsored by (in)Courage and Dayspring in 2013.

Kristin comes from a Christian tradition and a part of the country that are both very different from my own. She’s a Baptist from Texas, I’m a Covenant pastor from California. She is a more regimented parent than I ever was (although we both agree on the central role of a shared family meal every day), and she is also a dreamer of Big Dreams.

Now I believe in dreaming. I believe in Holy Spirit-planted desire, that thing that gets you moving in a certain direction, that calls your name in the wee hours of the morning, that makes your heart go pitter-pat with both joy and fear. Nothing wrong with dreams at all. But Big Dreams? Sometimes I find myself getting defensive, even resistant, when there is too much talk about those.

It is true that we serve a big God, yes, we do. And sometimes, God calls people to do big things. But most of the time? Most of the time, God calls us to be faithful, wherever we find ourselves. To be constant, to be committed to living out the great commandments, to go deeper in our faith, to walk the talk right here in the neighborhood. So my skeptic-hackles were vibrating a little as this book began to veer in the direction of those Big Dreams.

It was with a huge sigh of relief that I moved into the closing chapters of this book. Because here, it gets really real, really fast. All of the hard work that made this dream come to fruition — and continues to make it grow — has been hard work. Kristen is not afraid to say so and she admits that she feels overwhelmed on a regular basis. She also admits to occasionally falling off that fine edge between obedience and works righteousness — always a danger when we become immersed in the production end of anything.

She also carefully reminds us all that anything we do as an act of worship and obedience can be a way of living out God’s kingdom dreams, right here on planet earth. Tending toddlers, running photocopies, answering phones, providing meals, offering hospitality to the neighbor’s kids — each of these is an opportunity for kingdom work and for personal growth. All that is required is for us to say ‘yes’ to whatever it is we’re being asked to do.

It’s that ‘yes’ that is key.

The ministry of Rehema/Mercy House is a strong and vibrant one, the lived reality of a dream planted in the hearts of the Welch family and their African partners. It really is a Big Dream, and a fine one.

But the ways in which God is working in that place are remarkable precisely because so many people are saying their ‘yes’ to a small act, a small gift, a simple prayer. Big Dreams do not happen without a whole lot of small things coming together in just the right way at just the right time; and I believe that is exactly the way God designed it to work.

Because following Jesus is about individual acts of obedience that are offered in concert with the body as a whole. In truth, there is no small, there is no big — there is the ‘yes’ that is repeated over and over around the globe. And there is the ‘together’ that happens when we each offer our ‘yes,’ no matter what size it is. That is how Kingdom Come happens. This story is a beautiful and moving reminder of that powerful truth.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.
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on April 18, 2014
I'm reading Rhinestone Jesus as part of Kristen's launch team, and I haven't been this excited to share my thoughts on a book in a long time. As Kristen shares her story, she allows us a glimpse into her life---the good, the bad, and the ugly. Along the way, she encourages us to turn to God and to make our own families a priority so that we can see what God has planned for us and what our own YES will look like. We may not start a non-profit overseas, but God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us and for our families. As we choose to live counterculturally and to look to Him for direction and guidance, He will show us the way.

Be sure to read with tissues in hand! I have cried almost every time I have picked up this book, and I have prayed all the way through, as I read. I want to know God more deeply and to see what His absolute best is for me and for my family. I am excited to see what He has in store for us as we pursue authentic faith accompanied by action.

If you're interested in seeing what authentic faith looks like in the lives of one average American family and how God can turn ordinary into extraordinary, and if you want to be challenged to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ and to surrender everything to Him once and for all, then read this book!
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on May 14, 2014
This book was at the same time moving, gut-wrenching, funny, convicting and inspiring. This story is refreshingly unpolished and unfinished. It doesn't end neatly packaged, but the pictures on the last pages represent astounding triumph.

This is one of the best books I've read in the last year (and probably the last five).

I declined a free copy from the publisher. I paid the full pre-order price without regret and I recommend it without hesitation and with great urgency.

I know what my bigger-than-me yes is and I'm going for it. Will you?
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on July 7, 2014
Real life, real struggle, real victory, real mess, real hope. A well written book recounting Kristen's (& her family's) journey to an impossible dream. Because she said yes. The beautiful thing about this book is she knows her "yes" necessarily looks different than my "yes" will or your "yes" - because we are different people. Because God has equipped us differently - and serving God wherever he has placed us is what makes us authentic. When we stop trying to fit Jesus in our life, and start fitting our life into Jesus.

If I have the leisure of nit-picking, I'd knock the book a half star to 4.5 because she quotes The Message paraphrase of the Bible is what is commonly used, not an actual translation. Since the half-star option isn't available, the overall content and message of the book definitely deserves 5 stars. Highly recommend.
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on July 10, 2014
First, I did pay for my copy of the book. It was NOT gifted to me! =)
I hate to see that I'm the first to give the book 3 stars, but I have to be honest. I expected more from this book. I do follow Kristen's blog and her posts on Facebook so I was pretty familiar with her story. I really think the book should have been named "How We Opened the Mercy House"...or at least that could have been a subtitle to Rhinestone Jesus. Maybe I got a different idea of what the book was when I read an excerpt from the book, but I thought this book was going to talk about many different struggles Kristen faced, talked about in depth. She talked about a few struggles in her marriage, there was a chapter on parenthood, and different thoughts throughout the book, but the main gist of the book was about the opening of the Mercy House. I wanted to love this book and have it inspire me, but I couldn't identify with taking on such a big task and having your whole family struggle with you, so it was a hard read for me.
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on June 4, 2016
This is a wonderful book, written by a wonderful author. Rhinestone Jesus was recommended to me by several blog friends, and after reading about it, I couldn't help but purchase it. I definitely was a "Rhinestone Jesus" type of girl growing up, complete with Jesus shirts, Jesus friends, and Jesus accessories. I didn't have a sparkly rhinestone Jesus pin, but being the good Christian girl was a huge part of my identity growing up.

So naturally, after reading a few reviews and some blurbs on the book, I couldn't help but buy it.

And wow! Kristen Welch does not disappoint! She has the incredible ability of making her life experiences accessible and relatable to so many people. Furthermore, while she's sharing her family's story, their incredible yeses to God, and how they learned to live out an unsafe, uncertain, and daring faith, she shares it from a point of absolute humility. This book isn't a "hey look at all the things we've done right" type of book. It's definitely more of a "hey look at all the ways we've made mistakes, but look at what God's done with them" type of book. And I loved it!

I highly, highly recommend this book. I've recommended it to several friends, and even let one borrow my book. She came back to me saying "It's sooooooo gooooood!" and apparently had trouble putting it down. Sister, I feel you!

If you're looking for a well-written, honest, approachable book about how one family learned to deepen their faith and trust God in all the scary yeses, this is your book. But be warned: you'll be challenged. Because as you read through Kristen's story, you'll find yourself thinking, "Hmm...I wonder what God might be asking me to say yes to...." And that, my friends, is scary territory. But remember, God shows up in big ways there, and you'll read about that in this book.

Go buy it: now!
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on May 14, 2014
"Rhinestone Jesus" is a two-part story. One is about the author's life and what led her to the Mercy House ministry and the other is about Mercy House itself and people in Kenya. Overall I see this book as a promotion of Mercy House and invitation to participate in the mission.

I was especially impressed with the author's story. She is so very honest about their days ministering in church and personal struggles! It is so common to see pastors doing work in Kenya, India etc but it is so uncommon to see them admitting their darkest sides like struggle with pornography, control, manipulation, greed and whatever it might be.
P.6 "During our first year of marriage as youth and children's pastors, we discovered all the things we didn't learn in Bible college. Oh, you know - things like the fact that we would be poor and would need to work extra jobs like cleaning the church to pay our bills; and that people are mean, even Christians."
Did a minister just say that?

I think that this "yes" to God was about even more things than one - changing lives in Kenya. Perhaps her confession will help some lives in the USA as well.

P.S. I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for review purposes.
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on May 21, 2014
The whole time I was reading this book I continued to thank God that he had Kristen write this book. It is beautifully written and enjoyable to read. I laughed, I cried, I learned, I related, I was inspired and moved beyond words. She gave us such an honest look into her life. There were times when I was crying and wanted to put the book down because it was too much emotion, yet couldn't because it was exactly what I needed. It changed me. I did not expect the book to be so deep, so true, so every single word that I needed to hear! Her example of forgiveness with her husband and the redemption of their marriage was something that hit so close to home that it hurt to read yet filled me with hope and more grace and mercy than I had held before. Their family's sacrifice and faith is awe-inspiring. Their mission on keeping their family together and raising them differently is also something that is amazing to read about. And the practical tips to do that type of intentional parenting such as creating a family mission statement, was very helpful to read about. No it won't be easy to say completely yes and be completely all in for what God wants to do through you. But the journey and the outcome is well-worth the sacrifice. Because of her story, I see the importance of throwing off everything that hinders me, to show the love of Christ that he lavishes on me. To do what he wants me to do. To make a difference in the world around me. To give generously. And to do it as a family! So that my Children grow up with big faith, and grow up with the desire to give everything they can to the God who loves them lavishly and the people he loves. I will never be the same after hearing her story and her struggles. We all have struggles, and to put them out there with so much honesty and describing how she got and continues to get through them is a true gift to any reader who picks up this book. Read this book. You will love hearing her story and you will never be the same.
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on July 8, 2014
I hesitated for weeks buying this book. The cover and title didn't appeal to me. I didn't think I would relate to it. And I didn't. But I do now. This book changed me. How I see things. How I think. And ultimately how I live and raise my family. We have already made permanent changes and my husband is completely on board without reading the book. I'm an avid reader, having read hundreds of books. I have NEVER re-read a book. I have already started re-reading Rhinestone Jesus and have my highlighter in hand this time. I can not recommend this enough.
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on September 20, 2015
I love this book from ecover to ecover! Kristen had me laughing and crying along with her. Her writing style is very easy to read and relate to. She challenged and encouraged me. I would recommend this to anyone who it looking for a deeper walk with the Lord!
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