I am excited to share my review of By the Way: Getting Serious About Following Jesus by Derek Vreeland.
Derek Vreeland is the Discipleship Pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he is known for his thoughtful, humorous, and authentic teaching style. In addition to teaching and leading discipleship ministries at Word of Life Church, Derek enjoys reading, writing, running, and hiking. He and his wife Jenni live in St. Joe and they have three boys Wesley, Taylor, and Dylan.
He is a graduate of Missouri Western State University (B.A. English/Writing), Oral Roberts University (M.Div.), and Asbury Theological Seminary (D.Min). His first book, Shape Shifters, combines his love for the doctrine of the Trinity and spiritual transformation and his second book, Primal Credo, offers a fresh reading of the Apostles’ Creed for modern followers of Jesus. Derek found a whole new audience with his popular summary guides to books by N.T. Wright including Through the Eyes of N.T. Wright: A Reader’s Guide to Paul and the Faithfulness of God and N.T. Wright and the Revolutionary Cross: A Reader’s Guide to The Day the Revolution Began.
Learn more about Derek at his web site.
(I received this book for free to review and this post may contain affiliate links.)
Let me share my eight takeaways from this book.
“The followers of the Way, however, came to discover that their belief in Christ crucified was infused with the power of God, the power to rescue and transform lives.”
“The way of Jesus is the way to be fully alive and thus fully human.”
“Jesus calls us to come as we are, but he does not intend for us to stay as we are.”
“Walking in newness of life in step with Jesus requires movement. Following Jesus looks much more like hiking in the woods than sitting in a classroom.”
When we follow Jesus we are transformed. We learn how to be fully alive and fully human. To follow Jesus is a life long journey that does not end. I like to think that I sit with Jesus during my silent prayer practice, Centering Prayer and that I walk with Jesus during my non Centering Prayer times.
“Jesus didn’t say, “Go into all the world and get people saved.” He didn’t say, “Get people to ask me into their hearts.” He didn’t say, “Go make good citizens of the empire.” Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).”
“His words conveyed a clear command: Go into every person’s world and invite people to become followers of Jesus. We are not called to manipulate people into making a decision.”
“The way of Jesus is the way of invitation, not the way of manipulation. The constant call of Jesus wasn’t “ask me into your heart,” but “come follow me.” The question we ask is not when did we “get saved,” but when did we start participating in the life of salvation?”
“A better way of talking about salvation is to talk about coming to Jesus and following him in order to walk in his ways by entering into his life.”
Jesus asks us to share the Good News with the world. He does not ask us to scare and manipulate people into a relationship. We are to share The Way of Jesus with love and compassion to others.
Living Water and Bread of Life
“The life of Jesus is the water that will quench our deepest thirst and the bread that will satisfy our deepest desires. Jesus is the living water and the bread of life.”
Jesus nourishes me during my silent prayer sit. It is a place I come from. My actions spawn from my silent sits. I sit twice per day to keep the interior stillness nourished. I need both sits! They feed me and nourish my soul.
Jesus: The Incarnation of God
“The Jesus truth is that he is God’s Son and our Lord. Jesus is very God of very God, showing us what God is like.”
“If we want to know what God is like we look at Jesus. If we want to know what humanity is supposed to be like, we look at Jesus.”
Jesus is the human incarnation of God. Jesus is at once both God and human. Jesus shows us the human actions of God. Jesus is our model for how we to are to live, love and conduct ourselves in the world.
Jesus is Lord
“When we confess the truth that Jesus is Lord, we are confessing that our lives no longer belong to us. They belong to Jesus. We just live here. Jesus now owns the right to our lives.”
I agree! Our lives belong to God. That is why I practice Centering Prayer. During Centering Prayer I open to the presence and actions of God within. Silence teaches me who I am. Silence teaches me how to live. It is in the silence that I learn the actions and sometimes non actions that I am to take.
“The gospel isn’t a collections of how-tos. In this regard the gospel isn’t simply good advice or a set of moral instructions.”
“As a story, the gospel is the announcement that in and through Jesus: (1) something has happened, (2) something will happen, and (3) everything is now new and different.”
The gospel is Good News. Things have changed. We are to follow Jesus. His way will show us the way forward!
“God is love and God loves us with an affection we struggle to comprehend. God created each of us to be a unique image bearer of God.”
“The Holy Spirit is like a master sculptor with hammer and chisel in hand, chipping away everything from our lives that doesn’t look like Jesus.”
During my silent sits I let the master sculptor use the hammer and chisel and work on me. That is why I return to my Centering Prayer sits twice per day.
“It took humility for Jesus to empty himself, laying aside his power and authority as God to become a human being. Jesus further humbled himself as he continued his descent from humanity into suffering humanity.”
Jesus loved us with a love that is hard to comprehend. He entered our world. He humbled himself and became one of us. He entered suffering and suffered with us. We do not need to reach up to heaven rather God reached down to us and entered our world as a human.
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