Friday, December 17, 2010

‘Domesticated Jesus’ by Harry L. Kraus Jr. – Book Review and Giveaway

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Jesus is the most powerful and perfect human being who ever lived – not to mention the fact that He is also fully God. Yet we as believers are inclined to put Him in a safe little box and make Him smaller than He really is. In ‘Domesticated Jesus,’ Dr. Harry Kraus makes a strong case for the fact that we need to release Jesus from these chains.

Here is the synopsis of this thoughtful book:

Domesticated Jesus or “DJ.” It’s a horrible name – but a name that accurately reflects what each of us has done in our own lives.
“I can hear your protests,” says author Harry Kraus, “and believe me, they are my own. Jesus Christ cannot be domesticated!
“I’m talking about the way I make myself big. And in the process, I’ve domesticated the Almighty. Tamed him. Advised him. Put him in a box. Expected him to function like a divine vending machine.
“That sickens me. Shocks me. And it should.”
All of us try to domesticate Jesus, too – in little things like doubt, anxiety, or fear about the future. We let him into our lives, but only so far, until our control is threatened.
Then we send him back to his room, back to his box.
Harry Kraus takes a hard-hitting, soul-searching look at this atrocity that we commit every day. He challenges each of us to find Jesus as the grand treasure that he is and see him in real life more and more every day.
“Pull up a chair, fellow traveler,” he concludes. “Let’s sit together to reason about a horrible thing that I’ve done. I’ve domesticated the Lord of the universe.”

Here is the biography of this talented man:

Harry Kraus is a board-certified general surgeon who has practiced both in the US and abroad in Kenya as a medical missionary with Africa Inland Mission. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including Could I Have This Dance? and The Six-Liter Club.

I look forward to reading and reviewing Dr. Kraus’s The Six Liter Club’ soon.

Here is the book trailer for this challenging book:

In the Introduction, Dr. Kraus explains what he means by the title of this book. Here is an exchange between him and his wife when he told her the name of his new book:

         …“Domesticated Jesus.”
        She didn’t hesitate. “I don’t like it. It makes Jesus sound effeminate.”
        I don’t like it either, and that’s the point.
To even associate the name above all other names with a word like domesticated is offensive to the delicate Christian ear.
If this offends you, good. It should. I hope that my use of this distasteful title will shock me (and you) into a healthy pondering of just what we’re doing in this life we’ve identified (perhaps too generously) as Christian.
So how have I come to associate a work like domestic with Jesus?
I’ll state the obvious. Domestic. Tame. The unruly is gone. Away with unpredictable behavior. Wildness is only used in the past tense. (p. 9)

Dr. Kraus goes on to further define the term:

This is the essence of my working definition. I am domesticating Jesus anytime my behavior reflects my belief in a saving Jesus who is too small to handle any day-to-day problems of worry or anxiety. I am domesticating him anytime I wallow in guilt because, in essence, the power of the cross has been diminished in my thoughts. It has become insufficient to soothe my conscience.
Domesticating Jesus is so much more than just not recognizing his infinite power and falling on our faces in awe. He obviously doesn’t reveal himself in his glory, at least not in his fully glory, or I promise I’d never get out of a facedown posture (of course, I wouldn’t survive a millisecond of his revealed glory, so even that statement is ludicrous). But these essays are about how I domesticate him every day in so many ways, in little things like doubt, anxiety, or fear about the future. (p. 14)

Dr. Kraus writes essays on the various ways Christian domesticate Jesus, including by Acting Christian, by Underestimating His Power, by Wallowing in Guilt, by Hiding Our Sin, etc….

I will be focusing on the essays that impacted me the most (although they all did, to a certain extent!). In the chapter focusing on wallowing in guilt, Dr. Kraus explains how we so easily succumb to this mindset. As in the rest of the book, he also includes examples from his own life:

          So why do we fall into it so easily?
Pride. If we’re so bent on control, we may think that we need to feel bad for a time so as to be worthy of forgiveness. This is junk, plain and simple. There is nothing that we can add to the cross of Christ to make ourselves more presentable to God. When he looks at a believer, he sees the righteousness of Christ.
We’ve listened to the whispers of our enemy. “You’re not worthy. How can you call yourself a child of God when you _______?”
But doesn’t the Holy Spirit convict us of sin?
Sure, but he doesn’t condemn.
So how do we tell the difference?
Conviction focuses on restoration. Condemnation focuses on sin. Conviction is folded within the message of God’s love and hope. Condemnation is folded within the message of hopelessness.
There was a time in my life when I needlessly felt guilty for any sin I felt has been directed toward another. I would continue to berate myself until I made a verbal confession. Only then would I let myself off the hook and experience the wonder of God’s peace. But such heaviness was only detrimental to hearing God’s voice. Too often I made a confession that was unnecessary. A minor infraction had been forgotten by the others involved. But my guilt drove me forward, and I couldn’t hear the gently whispers of God’s spirit. (p. 47)

We need to change our focus:

Focus on myself, and I’ll be tempted toward despair. My weakness, sin, and problems loom large as they become the center of my thoughts. Take anything small – say your thumb – and pull it close enough to your eyes, and it will eventually block out the vision of anything. In a position just in front of your face, your thumb can block out the Empire State Building.
You see, perspective is everything. What our souls need is the perspective of the gospel of grace.
Behold the glory of the Lord and be changed, “from one degree of glory to another.” Stare at yourself and I’ll be changed from one degree of discouragement to another. A sure recipe for a miserable day.
My point? Simply that we need to consciously direct our thoughts onto Christ and what he has done for us, settling for eternity the outcome of our salvation. With every thought of condemnation, we need to mentally shift gears onto the fact that we have been forgiven. If this is practiced over and over, we can construct a new path for our thoughts to follow. In time we will automatically use a condemning thought to prompt amazement at our own salvation (pp. 49-50)

Another way we domesticate Jesus is by hiding our sin. Dr. Kraus explains the biblical principle for how to handle sin:

So you blew it. Confess. Forsake. Don’t make it worse by covering it up or nursing yourself with condemnation. Get back on the horse. Get your eyes off the rulebook or you’ll end up falling again. Remember, it’s only by grace that we stand at all. When we realize we’re weak, Christ’s strength can shine.
As we learn to embrace these principles, we find ourselves dwelling more and more in a life saturated with grace; the knowledge that his life is given in spite of my weakness and sin. This is the life described by Paul in 2 Corinthians when he says that “the love of Christ controls us” (5:14). When our lives are dominated by the law, the rulebook is in constant focus, and we strive to improve ourselves. (This is tantamount to the raise-yourself-by-your-own-bootstraps philosophy.) From this position, when we fail, we easily find ourselves making excuses or falling headlong into self-pity and guilt. Conversely, if we have made grace our dwelling place, a fall from that position will not be the end! We only need to run to the grace promises that will usher us quickly back into grace saturation. (p. 134)

Being saturated in God’s grace is a great place to be!

Another way we domesticate Jesus is by our bitterness. Dr. Kraus implores us to forgive:

          Why should we forgive?
          I’ll give you a selfish reason.    
Because we are only hurting ourselves. While we coddle our bitter feelings, obsessing over past wrongs, our peace is destroyed, our sleep is robbed, and our health breaks down.
A benefit of a life lived in moment-by-moment trust is that wrong tends to go unnoticed, falling from us like the proverbial water from a duck’s back. (pp. 180-181)

Dr. Kraus includes a lot of Scripture verses to support his writings; they are very encouraging and uplifting!

I have read a lot of books over the last year (over 200!), and this one has affected me more than most. Dr. Kraus has made it clear that we in these United States (in particular) have put the Trinity in a box, and have not given them the credit and the honor that they deserve. We have also been blinded by the evil one into thinking that those three individuals are smaller and weaker than they really are.

As Dr. Kraus is a surgeon, he writes from the perspective as a medical professional. I think this book will really speak to the hearts of others who are also involved in that line of work – like minds think alike! He is very straightforward thinking and analytical. But I think every reader will benefit greatly by this wonderful book. I really enjoyed it a lot, and give it my highest recommendation.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by P and R Publishers and provided by them for review purposes.

I have three copies of this book to pass along to three of you; thanks to Ian at P and R Publishers for generously providing these copies! 

There are several ways to gain entry:           

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, telling me how you have domesticated Jesus in your own life. Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com. 

2) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back (if Twitter will let me!)! If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too! Please leave a new comment to that effect.

3) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too! Please leave a new comment to that effect.

4) Become my Facebook friend. Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend. Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are five chances to enter! Please limit one entry per option, and please include your email address, or, sad to say, the Random Number Generator will have to choose a different winner.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only. The deadline for entry is Monday, January 3, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST. A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 and will be contacted via email. The best to all of you!


Wanda said...

Mr. Kraus latest book sounds like a good one. I read The Six-Liter Club a few months ago (which was my first time reading his work) and it was one of the best books I've read this year. I'm already a follower of your blog.


Sheri said...

My favorite quote from Kraus is on how we doubt our Savior, "I am domesticating Jesus anytime my behavior reflects my belief in a saving Jesus who is too small to handle any day-to-day problems of worry or anxiety."

Just to day I was whining internally...why do I feel so inadequate, why am not moving forward faster, why am I this, why am I that.

I think it's because I have been putting Jesus in a proverbial box. I pull HIm out when in need, in shattered pieces or when I'm guilt-ridden.

Yes, I pray, attend and serve in my church, but on a day-to-day basis, I have not been trusting as I should or I know I would be at greater peace.


Thanks for this

Judylynn said...

I often do not trust Jesus to carry me through all the trials of life.

Judylynn said...

I follow on Twitter!

Judylynn said...

I am a Google Friend!

Judylynn said...

I am a Facebook friend!

Judylynn said...

I am a NetWorked Blog follower!

karenk said...

i truly enjoy dr kraus' books....both fiction and non-fiction...thanks for the opportunity to read his latest.

sometimes i get caught up in my eveyday life...and forget what is most important in my life.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Linda said...

Back in 2008 in Minneapolis ACFW convention, Harry was trying to get some non-fiction into the market and was talking to Northwestern Bkst./now Lifeway owner about doing so. I would love to read a nonfiction by him

Please enter me.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I follow you on Twitter.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I follow by GFC.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I'm a FB friend.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I follow via NWBF.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I fail to trust the Lord for my deep problems of health.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

Carmen sent me!

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

I usually fail to trust Jesus with my day to day problems.

I am a follower

Thanks for the chance to win, it sounds like a great book!


jmschwindt at cox dot net

Nonners said...

Oh goodness. There are so many ways I've domesticated Jesus. And by doing so I've made it hard for myself to teach others how NOT to do so. A good example from my life would be when I was almost 16. I had been doing a lot of unacceptable and inappropriate things behind my parents back (I guess that would make it also deceitful). My parents found out and were very hard on me (and rightfully so). My entire life turned upside down and I just felt defeated, crushed, and sickened by myself. I was still a baby Christian then and didn't understand fully who the Father the son and the Holy Spirit were. I thought I could just you Jesus as a scapegoat. "Ah, well. God has forgiven me. No worries". When in reality, my soul was broken and needed time to mend, I needed to have a repentant heart and I didn't. I thought it was okay to do bad things because God would just forgive me. I've learned differently since then, but I had to go through a lot of pain to get here.

I would love to read this book and share what I learn in it with others.

perhapsthatsridiculous [at] gmail [dot] com

Nonners said...

I am also a follower.

perhapsthatsridiculous [at] gmail [dot] com

Nonners said...

And I'm a subscriber.

perhapsthatsridiculous [at] gmail [dot] com

Kris said...

Thanks so much for the kind comments. Understand, I'm just writing what I need to hear...the message of grace. Grace doesn't excuse poor behavior; grace always elevates behavior. It is the grace of God (being touched by his unlimited love that is freely given to me in my undeserving state) that teaches me, assists me along in my quest for holiness. I am enabled by his touch. Merry Christmas,

Andrea Schultz said...

Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments; I welcome your transparency.
Dr. Kraus - thanks for coming by to comment. I know we all need God's grace, & He supplies it as we have need. He never lacks for it - and that is one great gift at Christmas time and always!

Jackie S. said...

I have read and enjoyed ALL of his books and am anxious to read this one, too. I am working on the "trust" issue...each day on this journey. Thanks for entering me.

Kait said...

This book looks incredible! Im a follower - please enter me!


Cathy W said...

Twitter follower @cjwallace43
cjwallace43 at gmail dot com

Cathy W said...

GFC follower Cathy Wallace
cjwallace43 at gmail dot com

Cathy W said...

Facebook friend Cathy Wallace
cjwallace43 at gmail dot com

Cathy W said...

NetWorked Blog Follower Cathy Wallace
cjwallace43 at gmail dot com

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

I seem to put God in a box by limiting my knowledge of His abilities and thoughts to be more human-like. Yet I know His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts. I'd love to read this book and explore more of this, and make sure I have God unleashed in my life! WillisWay[at]aol[dot]com

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

I am a friend on facebook. I'd like to be entered in this drawing, please! WillisWay[at]aol[dot]com

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

I am a twitter follower. I'd like to be entered in the drawing for this book, please. WillisWay[at]aol[dot]com

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

I'm set up to follow you on networked blogs. Please add me to the drawing. WillisWay[at]aol[dot]com

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

I've followed your blog via google as per your instructions. Add me at: WillisWay[at]aol[dot]com

Debbie Clark said...

I have never read any of Dr. Kraus' books before, but this book intrigues me. I have a real trust issue at times with God. I know how He has taken care of me in the past, but it seems like everytime I can't see my way ahead, I am always doubting God. I need to learn to trust what I cannot see instead of wanting God to map my life out and give me a copy so that I can follow it.
Thanks for the chance to win the book.

fhz648 said...

You are not living unless you have Jesus in your heart.
I am following on Twitter.


Jolee said...

Sounds very intriguing. Interested for sure (I'm a follower too) :-) .

Pain SUX said...

I'm a longstanding GFC follower. I love your blog :)

soklad at hotmail dot com

Pain SUX said...

fb follower (christmann stephanie)

soklad at hotmail dot com

Pain SUX said...

Networked blog follower.

soklad at hotmail dot com

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