Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review: Secrets Jesus Shared

Before I start this book review, I would like to spread the word about a really great website that I've been reading for a few months now.  It is called (in)courage and you can access it HERE.  Each day there is a short, thought-provoking, uplifting devotional for women.  I believe you will be blessed if you check it out. 

As promised, I want to give you an overview and my two cents on Jennifer Kennedy Dean's book, Secrets Jesus Shared.  I date all the books I read, and this one is dated November 2011.  So it has been long enough for me to forget much of the material like I've done with other books I've read.  But I can tell you that this book is a good one because I have retained so much of what I learned in its pages.  It has helped shape how I read through the Gospels. 

Jennifer Kennedy Dean's book, Live a Praying Life, sparked an enormous interest in my mind to learn more about the Kingdom of God, something I felt I knew very little about.

In comes, Secrets Jesus Shared: Kingdom Insights Revealed Through the Parables.  This is a six week study that you can do on your own or with a group.  It is in a workbook format that also comes with the option of a leader's kit and DVD series.  You can view and order it HERE

The Secrets of the Kingdom 

I was captured after JKD's first paragraph about how God might reveal "deep and hidden things" and "secrets of His kingdom" to me personally (Mark 4:11 and Daniel 2:22).

Week one talks a lot about Jewish history, and how it affected Jesus' ministry.  My favorite part is when JKD discusses what it meant when Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  (And then I always start singing "His Yoke is Easy" from Handel's Messiah in my opera voice, and I realize all over again, that I am officially a nerd.)

Also, in week one is the beginning of a discussion about what the kingdom of God actually is.  JKD lays out scripture after scripture in a way that reveals insight into the kingdom.  She also teaches literary devices that Jesus used, why they were affective to His audiences, and why it can be helpful to recognize them. 

Seek the Kingdom

Week two begins to look at "the stories Jesus told to illustrate who God is and how the kingdom of God operates."  This is where it is going to get hard to highlight each week's point because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION packed into each parable.  I can say, however, that week two was the first time I discovered Jesus' sense of humor.  It makes me really happy (and relieved) to know that Jesus had a funny bone, too.

Here is a quote from week two (pg. 63):
"The kingdom is invisible, yet those who have entered the kingdom will see its effects in the material realm [Earth].  Jesus tells His disciples that when they seek the kingdom, all the things they need will be added to them as well.  The kingdom is operating when the will of God is directly in effect in a situation  The kingdom is not relegated to the spiritual realm.  It invades the circumstances of Earth."

Kingdom Growth

We may not always see the growth in God's kingdom, but it is there.  It's happening.  There's just way too much good stuff in the week for me to discuss.  Waaaaaaaaaay to much.  Here's what I wrote in my recap of what God taught me that week.

The King's Heart

Week four reveals the extravagant and pursuing love that God has towards each of us.  JKD, in detail, discusses the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost sons.  No other parable had as much effect on me as the parable of the lost sons.  It is still overwhelming to think about the intensity of what God has taught me about His love through that parable.  I can't wait for you to read it.

Here is a portion of week four:
"Eternal life is far more than an addendum to our life when we die.  Eternal life is a new kind of life that we receive the very moment we receive the Son.  This eternal, abundant, overflowing life is in Jesus, and Jesus is in us.  Everything God has to offer is in Jesus." pg. 135   
(See 1 John 5:11-12, Colossians 1:19, Colossians 2:9-10, Colossians 2:3, Romans 8:32, and 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.)

Kingdom Praying

I thought week five might be a skim over week because I had already read JKD's book, Live a Praying Life.  I was wrong.  Week Five was just as enlightening as the rest of the chapters.  JKD gives one of the best insights into the Lord's Prayer that I've ever come across.   She also discusses seeking God and finding God... something I am becoming more and more convinced of with each study.

" 'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'  I will be found by you," declares the Lord."  Luke 11:10

Kingdom Grace

Week six talks about the way into the kingdom.  Among others, it highlights a wide range of topics from legalism, works verses grace, coming the Lord late in life, and forgiveness.  JKD's insight and opinions on forgiveness were the hardest part of the book for me to understand.  I would love to talk with you about it if you have read any of her works on the matter.

I closed Secrets Jesus Shared with an entire new insight into the kingdom of God.  I feel like I not only have a MUCH better understanding of what the kingdom of God is, but I also understand how to experience it in my daily, sometimes mundane, sometimes crazy life.      

I do believe that the more we search, the more God reveals.  And that the more He reveals, the more we want to search.  "Ask and you might shall receive," Jesus said.  Why would Jesus want to hide himself from you?  Think of the people that love you so much that you trust them with your deepest secrets.  I want to be that person to God.  I want Him to reveal Himself to me personally and exponentially. 

To close, I am going to leave you with words from the very first paragraph in the book:
" 'The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you' (Mark 4:11).  Jesus spoke these words to His twelve disciples on a given day in history, and He is still speaking to His disciples in present tense.  The secrets of the kingdom have been given to you." (pg. 17)   

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