The first day back at work after a vacation (even a two-day one) is always extremely busy. I've been reading and answering e-mails, putting out fires (metaphorically, though the office fire alarm did go off twice this morning), and otherwise running around like a chicken with my head cut off (sorry, overused metaphor) all day. But, I love it.
In any case, I had to spread the word about two books I edited that officially released this past weekend. Both involve reading the New Testament "again for the first time" (sorry, another cliche phrase. I'm just full of them--or it--take your pick.)
Wasabi Gospel, by Shawn Wood (Experiences Pastor at Seacoast Church), does a double-take at some of the most well-known and taken-for-granted sayings in the Bible. The title metaphor, explained in the introduction (and in cartoon form here), comes from Shawn's first experience eating sushi, when he spread the whole dollop of what he presumed to be benign "Japanese butter" on his shrimp roll and inadvertently set his mouth on fire.
Shawn explains how Jesus' words can be the same way--seeming sweet and benign but really packing a dangerous punch. Take "love your enemies," for instance. Jesus sounds pretty sappy there, in a "can't we all just get along?" sort of way, but when you consider that this command doesn't just refer to the friend who broke your trust or the sports rival who beat you, but to Osama bin Laden and other mass-murderers too! The first chapter and table of contents are available at the book's page on Cokesbury.com.
Or, if you're in the mood to go deeper into just one book, The Jesus Revolution, by Leith Anderson (President of the National Association of Evangelicals and Lead Pastor at Wooddale Church in Minneapolis) takes readers on a journey through the book of Acts, exploring how those first disciples lived and spread their faith.
Each chapter looks closely at a particular incident in the book of Acts and the lessons modern-day Christians can learn from the trials of the fledgling band of Jesus-followers, from choosing Judas' replacement to dealing with the insincerity of Ananias and Sapphira.
Both of these books have reflection/discussion questions at the end of each chapter, so they are excellent for small group or Sunday school discussion, or just for personal reading, challenging yourself to take a fresh look at scripture.