- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Charisma House (May 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616386053
- ISBN-13: 978-1616386054
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
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#1,105,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #8141 in Christian Personal Growth
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Upended: How Following Jesus Remakes Your Words and World Paperback – May 1, 2012
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About the Author
Jedd Medefind serves as president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Prior to this role, he led the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He and his wife, Rachel, love the great outdoors and have four children.
Erik Lokkesmoe is the founder and principal of Different Drummer, a LA/NYC-based audience and fan mobilization agency for top entertainment brands. Erik has a MA in public communications and a BA in political science. Erik and his wife, Monica, have three children.
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In discussing this book lately with a few friends, perhaps the most telling point is that I find myself inadvertently talking about Jesus far more than I find myself talking about the book or its authors. Isn't that a sign that Mr. Medefind and Mr. Lokkesmoe have accomplished exactly what they sought to do - to "connect the lofty convictions we claim with what we do day in and day out" (p. 16)? It doesn't take you long to sense their humble, sincere hearts that seek to close the gap between Christianity in thought and the Christ-follower in real life.
Going into the book like a nervous, poolside kid, I dipped a toe in carefully, reading only the Introduction on Day One. I was a bit worried. After all, the book is called Upended. Potentially, that could be as pleasurable as jumping into a pool of snow runoff. Preparing myself, I anticipated that moment when beautifully formed words would leave me gasping for breath and scrambling for the side of the pool, where I would proceed to wrap myself in shame and a resolve to "do better," be more radical. Fortunately, I didn't end up in that drummed-up scenario.
The first dive was as refreshing as the noonday water at junior high summer camp. The authors even addressed my angst, recalling their own personal commitments to such "grand goals, then wonder why we fail so soon after." (p. 2) And that's only on page 2!!
One simple, little word can best describe my perspective of authors Mr. Medefind and Mr. Lokkesmoe; maybe it's a word they would rather downplay. It's certainly not a sign of success in today's intellectual circles, but it's the word that reverberates in my mind every time I recall a nugget of truth I gleaned from my now on-loan copy.
The authors could have lambasted us with their wisdom. Instead, with gentleness and grace, they maneuver with story, authenticity, questions, and concrete truth. That makes Upended an "outpost of grace" in and of itself. (p. 26)
Upended - the book - illustrates marvelously what Christ's upending of His humble apprentices will look like in our world and words.
* It asks good questions. Warning - if you're like this reader, this may be the part that "upends" you most dramatically.
* It shames no one.
* It invites us to be present in the book. Personal side notes by the authors are peppered throughout the book in a different font that draws you close like a friend waiting with two cups of coffee. And it invites us to full presence with others as we live each day.
* It's attentive. I don't know that I've ever read a book where I felt the authors wanted to hear from their readers, or that they already had. And from that attentiveness to all followers of Christ, they were able to write straight to our hearts. Similarly, Mr. Medefind and Mr. Lokkesmoe beckon their readers to be attentive communicators as Jesus was, "not because the recipient deserves it, or even because they may be changed as a result of it. Rather we listen - both to God's voice and to others' - because He first listens to us." (p. 59)
* It is authentically authentic, as opposed to a contrived sincerity that amounts to little more than "verbal streaking" (p. 102). (My copy has a smiley face next to this phrase.)
* It stretches, low and near. And it challenges us to do so too, like Jesus did.
* It does not underestimate the small moments. That's why the book's attention to detail makes it an editor's dream. In its applications, we are challenged to savor and actively pursue the small moments, for they become the bedrock of big moments. As Mr. Lokkesmoe notes, `Life to the full isn't found out there...Rather, it's found in ordinary places and daily choices to love and give and serve with abandon for Christ's sake." (p. 15) My favorite line of the entire book was this sweet nectar: "God's grace flows through us to others in choices made and remade nearly as often as we breathe." (p. 214) Since reading, I find myself so grateful for the moment-by-moment action I can take to cling to this grace, like air, and pour it out to others.
* It does not overestimate the spoken word. This had me worried initially, when I considered the subtitle: How Following Jesus Remakes Your Words and World." I loved the "world" part, but the "words" left me with a dry mouth. Uh, oh. Was this the first clue that the authors were going to argue from the perspective of "If you know Jesus, then you should be a good verbal communicator"? Mr. Lokkesmoe used to be a political speechwriter and Mr. Medefind worked at the White House. Was this going to be a book about making speeches if you're a good Christian?! Silly me. If anything, these two accomplished communicators (from a world's perspective) said the exact opposite. All the speeches in the world couldn't hold a candle to Jesus' words. Christ's communication - and thus, our pattern to emulate - had verbal words, indeed, but it had so much more than just that. You'll have to read the entire book to hear all of the complexities of Jesus' pure communication, but in no way are the author's saying that true followers of Christ have polished, non-stuttering words.
* My personal favorite: Upended challenges us to "turn the true into the real" (p. 148, authors' italics). It does so masterfully with stories throughout. From Clara Barton to Rudy Giuliani, from two adopting parents named JT and Sarah to Helen Keller, from Nazi-resisting Le Chambon, France to modern-day Uganda, the narrative in Upended had me reading aloud to my entire family certain excerpts that I couldn't keep to myself.
* One area that I am still struggling with is Chapter 18, which speaks to the gift of Sabbath. Though the authors make it very clear that the Sabbath is no longer a rule we must follow as if we were still under the Law, they go on to say that it is a gift that would be foolish to not receive. After studying the book of Hebrews, to me, it seems that Jesus is our Sabbath rest. In essence, one day a week is not enough of a rest! We should find a Sabbath-rest in every moment of every day, as we rest in Christ alone. On a practical level, it may be a good idea, but I am not sure each family has to find a certain day. Can it look different for each family? For example, our work schedule has no routine. After ten days of work, we may get three days off. Or, we may have a few hours in the evening, where we "unplug" from electronics, watch the sunset, or enjoy some solitude for a while. I did not feel any judgment from the authors in this area, nor did their statements feel dogmatic. I just tend to see it differently.
Just this week, I've found myself slowing down, asking questions more thoughtfully, and I've even visited with two sets of neighbors. Small choices, my friends...an outpost of grace. So thankful, Mr. Medefind and Mr. Lokkesmoe, for the "spurring on to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24) not because we're supposed to, but because He loved us first.
At one point, Mr. Medefind and Mr. Lokkesmoe quote Charles Spurgeon: "[a] sermon without illustrations is like a room without windows." (p. 127) If this is the case, Upended is like a seat in a glass-encased cathedral overlooking the Grand Canyon. Breathtaking view!
(I purchased this book and reviewed it independently of any outside input or opinions.)
It helps to show that anyone can live a life full of significance for the Kingdom of God.