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Two Books Worth a Look

January 12, 2013

As the new year begins I have two books I have read and would recommend to you. One is a biographical sketch of two boys named Wes who came from similar backgrounds but traveled down different paths. The other is an expositional look at the parables Jesus taught and how they teach us about Jesus.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore.  If you are a child of the 80’s like me, then you probably heard of the mean streets of Baltimore MD during those days. Even in Michigan with the notorious reputations of cities like Flint and Detroit, we would hear of the violent streets of Baltimore and cringe. Growing up there must have been akin to navigating a mine field. At least st was for Wes Moore – both of them. This book is the story of two boys whose names happen to be the same, Wes Moore. Both were raised by their mothers (one lost his dad to illness, and the other to the streets). Both longed for acceptance, masculine role models, and friends. One found it in the rigors of military training. The other found it in the drug-infested streets. The book is written by the Wes Moore who escaped the mine fields, made it through the halls of higher learning to become a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, and White House Fellow. The other Wes Moore stepped on one too many of those mines and is currently serving a life sentence without parole. As the former Wes Moore writes: “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.” The Other Wes Moore reminds us that all is not lost simply because lost-ness seems to grip your context. However, it also reminds that “second chances may be last chances” if we don’t take full advantage of them.

Glory Veiled and Unveiled: A Heart-Searching Look at Christ’s Parables by Gerald Bilkes. Any attempt to understand Christ and his mission must include a careful contemplation of the parables he taught. In fact, the bulk of Jesus’ teachings is found in the parabolic illustrations he gave in order that his listeners might better understand God and His Kingdom. Gerald Bilkes has written a book that reminds us that the parables are not just stories to be read, but reveal a kingdom to be experienced.  In fact, his approach is unique in this way. He doesn’t deal with every parable Jesus taught, but takes the more popular ones and examines them seeking to understand them experientially, that is, not simply wanting to know what the parables teach, but what they reveal about Christ, us, and his kingdom.  To this end, each parable examined is broken down into four categories:

1. The Scenery:  How does Christ use the context, setting, background, and culture reflected in the parable to reach within human hearts.

2.  The Substance:  What is the main message that Christ gives in the parable about His kingdom or aspects of it?

3. The Savior:  What does the parable unveil about the glorious Savior, His person and His work, to those who believe?

4. The Searchlight:  In what ways does the parable search our hearts and lives and expose what is in them, as well as guide us into the knowledge of Christ as the gracious and glorious king of the kingdom?

This book is an informative and engaging read. I plan to eventually use it in my discipleship group. I would recommend you try it too.

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