Thursday, February 16, 2012


Photo Credit: Baker Books

I discovered Steven James several years ago when I read a collection of short biblical reflections of his called STORY. He's an incredible storyteller who clearly knows how to create compelling stories that tap into some of the most fundamental of human struggles.

Struggle is inherently human as people wrestle with temptation. In FLIRTING WITH THE FORBIDDEN: FINDING GRACE IN A WORLD OF TEMPTATION, James takes us on a journey through the Bible as we look at some of the events of some of the most memorable characters of the Bible. James proposes that we often forget that people in the Bible dealt with many of the same temptations we do. James recounts some of the temptations Bible characters faced through first-person narratives. In this way, the reader is drawn into the emotions and circumstances people like Joseph and David might have experienced. Story incarnates truth in a way that mere propositional truth doesn't.

Of course, James takes creative freedom in recounting the stories in FLIRTING WITH THE FORBIDDEN, but his commitment to being biblically faithful, as well as telling a compelling and thought-provoking story, is evident on every page. Readers will see the temptation of Joseph with Potiphar's wife in a whole new way that reveals the complexities and struggles of being faithful to God's desires for his life. Some of the most stirring portrayals are the interactions people had with Jesus. For example, James tells the story of the raising of Jairus' daughter from the perspective of one of the hired mourners at her death. There's even a haunting first-person narrative from the perspective of Satan during the three years of Jesus' ministry.

Each story clearly connects our human condition to the people who walked with God in the Bible and helps bring these stories to life in our imaginations. Ideally, reading these stories will drive readers back to the Bible to see it with fresh eyes as a story about our walk with God, as unpredictable and complicated as it may be.

James follows up each story with exploration and encouragement from the pages of Scripture. Steven James is clearly a storyteller, but he's also a man passionate about the God of the Bible. His approach in FLIRTING WITH THE FORBIDDEN is one that I appreciate and believer that others will benefit from as well. We all struggle. The Bible carries us into a journey with God and his grace that is poured out on us and teaches us to say no to ungodliness. FLIRTING WITH THE FORBIDDEN is a realistic recounting of both the struggle and the journey.

I received this book free for review from Revell Books

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