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Words from the Hill: An Invitation to the Unexpected Paperback – April 18, 2017
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When Jesus spoke the eight simple lines that we call the Beatitudes, he offered his listeners an alternate way to look at life, a different way to experience God. Stu Garrard invites us into a beautifully written, unfolding story to explore this unexpected way of living with God. He introduces us to people from the bright lights of the rich and famous to the shadows of death row who have each encountered this surprising transformation. I highly recommend Words from the Hill for those ready to join this journey. (Tim Day, Author of God Enters Stage Left)
Stu G writes like he plays. He weaves the new with the old, the passionate with the vulnerable. Words from the Hill is an honest, beautiful book from a man who paints with his fingers the stories that his heart perceives. (Craig Borlase, coauthor of Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus)
One Sunday night this fall, Stu sat in our kitchen, and instead of playing his own songs, he played songs from men and women he had befriended in his travels. Instead of telling his own stories, he told the stories of people who’d been abused, forgotten, marginalized. Stu is a man who is using his voice to lift people up, who is using his talent to draw out the talent of others, who is using his influence to tell a story of hope. This book is story after story of hope, and I can’t think of a more timely message or a more generous and wise messenger. (Shauna Niequist, New York Times bestselling author)
I’ve loved watching Stu explore the Beatitudes in the writing of this book, making friends and discovering their stories along the way. Stu’s honesty and compassion have helped me hear these well-known words of Jesus in a whole new light―as announcements of kindness, mercy, peace, and his presence for us all. You will love it! (Amy Grant, Singer, songwriter, and author)
Stu G has successfully penned a book on the Beatitudes that is teeming with wisdom, heart, and practical insights. Never has the world felt more riven and ready for this fresh take on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are those who read this divinely timed book. (Ian Morgan Cron, Bestselling author)
Think you know all you need to know about the Beatitudes? Think again. Enter this book with holy curiosity, and you’ll discover stories that will change your life―stories of ordinary people who chose to “collude with the power of love” and experienced the blessed presence of God in ways they never imagined. I love this book! (Lynne Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church)
In Words from the Hill we have Stu G’s unique exploration and application of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. It’s a reflective, disruptive memoir, beautiful and quietly incendiary―a book well written by a life well lived. (Pete Greig, Author of DIRTY GLORY and founder of 24-7 Prayer)
Someone once introduced President Jimmy Carter as a man who used the White House as a stepping-stone to do great things with his life. Stu G has done the same, using his career as an award-winning rock star as a stepping-stone to do great things with his life. There’s no message more important for the contemporary world than the words of Jesus, the “red letters” in the Bible. Stu dives into the heart of those red letters in this book on the Beatitudes. I know that his words will move the world just as his music has. I’m honored to call him a friend. (Shane Claiborne, Author, activist)
Stu’s honest and poetic voice gives new life to some of the oldest truths in the world. I am grateful that he has used his gifts to promote love’s healing power through the lenses of the Beatitudes. His book teaches us how to walk more gracefully in this harsh world. (Becca Stevens, Founder and president of Thistle Farms and 2016 CNN Hero)
From the Back Cover
God is on your side.
Too often we think of the Beatitudes as an instruction manual for living a good life, or some kind of spiritual ladder to climb. But in these announcements, our Teacher is saying so much more: He is speaking personally and profoundly to the deep ache we all face when life gets broken and doesn’t work out as we think it should.
Join Stu Garrard on an adventure to discover the surprising meaning of these words. Along the way you’ll meet peacemakers on the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the twenty-first-century meek in our own communities, and people living lives worthy of persecution.
After all, these words from the hill are speaking still: Inside the ache, the lack, and the “not-yet-ness” of life, we are invited to listen afresh, to lift our heads, and to share the surprising, upside-down announcement that God is on our side.
Stu Garrard is best known as the guitarist for the British band Delirious?, who, for nearly two decades, penned many of the best-known worship songs in modern Christendom. Now, when not touring as a guitar player, Stu is writing, recording, speaking, leading worship, and watching Netflix.
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Stu takes each of the Beatitudes and tells stories of his friends and others he has met whose lives reflect each one. The Beatitudes, he writes, "are predominantly blessings of God's presence for people in bad situations, and not a list of spiritual virtues to attain. . . . they're about being, not doing." He personalizes the Beatitudes in a way that leads you to see others with Jesus' eyes and to see your own life through God's eyes. The message is that you are blessed, and God is on your side, no matter what you're going through.
Stu's work is less Bible study than life study. He does have some illuminating thoughts about the meaning of each Beatitude. More than that, he tells the stories of people for whom God's blessing and mercy have been vital and real. His exposition is, frankly, a bit disjointed, and he seemed pretty loose theologically. A good bit of the narrative involves his friendships with Jewish and Muslim friends. All that to say the stories bring the Beatitudes to life and will call you to reflect on your own response to Jesus' teachings.
As he points out, we Christians have historically focused on our creeds, careful to get our beliefs right but sometimes neglecting application to life and relationships. "What if," he asks, "like the earliest Jesus followers, we began to see the Beatitudes as the Jesus Creed?" Words from the Hill can begin to give us a vision of what a Jesus Creed would look like. I like Stu's music more than I like his book, but his book, like his music, points me to Jesus. That's worth the price of admission.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
One-by-one through eight chapters Stu revisits each of the Beatitudes and asks us to listen and look at them with fresh eyes and apply them to our own hearts today to delve into the rich meaning of each one.
Stu Garrad, best known as the guitarist for the British band Delirious?, lays down his guitar and picks up his pen to once again move in closer to the Words from the Hill and to recognize afresh that God is on our side.