Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook (with bonus Q&A with the authors)

Firsthand is a much needed book for many people that are depending on their parents’ faith instead of their own firsthand faith with Jesus (Yeshua). It is also for people who have left their congregational life, and/or who abandoned their relationship with Jesus altogether. It helps people learn better how to ditch their secondhand faith in Jesus that they might have picked up from their parents and/or their religions and develop a firsthand real relationship with Jesus instead. There is supplemental information included, such as “other voices” from people just like the readers, film clips that can be watched on-line, and discussion questions. The main audience for this book seemed to originally be for teens and young adults but it has been learned that this really is a topic that people of older age groups will often identify with also.

This is the third time I have read Firsthand and I want to be straightforward and say that I was one of the many people that helped with some of the extra content in the book. I have reviewed it one other time, when I was encouraged to review it based on the first chapter, since I had not yet received the full book at that time. This edition of Firsthand that I read has a section at the back of the book where Ryan and Josh Shook are interviewed about what has changed a year later since the book was released. That section is entitled “What We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then”.

Each time I read this book I feel like the contents of it sink in deeper for me and new parts of it are highlighted. Being still is often hard for me, and I was encouraged from reading it this time that I need to try find time every day to be still before the Lord. Also, I received some supplemental information from watching one of Ryan and Josh Shook’s dad’s sermons while reading this book; it was about an ancient practice of having silence and solitude which fit in with the topic of being still. I learned that it is during those times of silence and solitude that we will be prompted with what to say or do for someone in need. Although there were many other important topics highlighted with reading this book this time around, this was the main topic for me.

The only thing I have a hard time with in the book is the mention of the law in regards to first century Christians (page 95), like maybe the laws that they were following were too much for them, or maybe following them was like a religious checklist to some of them. I think I have seen some of the law written on people’s hearts in this day and age, so I believe a lot of people follow some of the Old Testament laws out of love for the Lord today, and hopefully they did that in Biblical times also. So, I understand what the authors were saying maybe in terms of if some of the early Christians were following the law like a checklist, instead of from their hearts, which is possible that it might have happened for some people that way during those days.

It is rare for me to pick up a book and read it again and again, which I find myself doing with this book. It has taken me over a year to highly recommend it because I wanted to make sure I was being real. In general, what the book has taught me…Firsthand faith is about being real in my relationship with Jesus, which helps me to be real with others. When I am real in my relationship with Jesus then there will be so much spiritual water, and I am starting to see more and more of that. This book has encouraged me to work more on my relationship with him…to get it right with him before I can get it right with others!

My review = 4.5 out of 5 stars

"Empty" (one of the films recommended in the book to watch):

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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