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Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus

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Nancy Guthrie has penned a timely  book which is not only inspirational but deeply thought provoking.  The title intrigued me- the idea of exploring not only the spiritual heroes (saints) that are documented in the Bible but also the ragamuffins, outcasts, down and outers, sinners (scoundrels). More intriguing is that God used- and still uses-this of  us in the less than spiritual saint category.! What a unique and meaningful approach Ms. Guthrie has taken to explore our place in God’s kingdom!  She presents much wisdom and insight for Christ followers, no matter our spiritual status. This book encourages us  (God can use even me?) and challenges us (to step up to fulfill God’s calling in our life). 

In addition to the excellent biblical teaching, I particularly appreciate the following:
She provides introspective questions for individual consideration or for group discussion.  The questions are located in the back of the book and are not listed in The Table of Contents.  I didn’t see them until I had complete the book.  Don’t miss this excellent feature! 
She makes personal applications for us today through the study of a character in the Bible.
Each chapter concludes with a hymn that underscores the message/application.
There are extensive notes and citations and a comprehensive  bibliography for further reference. 

I can’t say enough about the quality of this book:  it’s biblical content,  relevancy for today’s reader, and  how interesting  it’s presentation! 
I am purchasing a hard cover so I can reread again and mark up! It’s that good! Impactful! Highly recommended as an excellent mainstay for one’s Christian library!

My gratitude to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for a review.
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Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie is a sweet reminder of the generous grace of Jesus.  By delving into the stories of various characters throughout the Bible, Nancy helps her readers trace the heart of God throughout the story of Scripture.
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Engaging, convicting, probing.  This is a great read to know more and take a deeper dive into the culture and lives of people who crossed paths with Christ.  Lots of context, history, and culture here.  A lot to think about.  I have read a few books by this author and she has never disappointed!  I highly recommend it!
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I really enjoyed reading this book, it was easy to read and explains clearly the story if people highlighted. It's an enjoyable read that makes you think and want to develop a deeper relationship with God
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People are complicated. No one likes to be stereotyped on the basis of one event. it is also unfair to caricature them in one image, for whatever the reason. The same applies for characters in the Bible. Typically, in many story-telling contexts, including Sunday School classes, we use labels such as "Peter the rock," "Brilliant Paul," "Doubting Thomas," "Gentle John," or "Sacrificial Stephen" on the basis of significant events and behaviors recorded. Understandably, it is a case of oversimplifying for kids' sake. During such times, we can go deeper into the study of the character and discover more truths about the person beyond the superficial labels. When people grow up, they would realize that people do change over time, and their different emotions and reactions will also change. Driven by curiosity, author Nancy Guthrie takes a deeper look at some common characters in the gospels and Acts to nuance the same kind of person under different circumstances. Whatever "saints" or "scoundrels" behaviour in any one person, they all need Christ. This makes this book a powerful Bible Study series on ten biblical characters found in the gospels and Acts.

We start with John the Baptist as "The Voice" who for all the good things he had done with regard to proclaiming and baptizing Jesus, he fails to affirm Jesus directly when he was asked specifically in prison whether Jesus was the Messiah. In "The Family," Guthrie traces both Matthew's genealogy and the family of Jesus. Other than Jesus, all the other members have their share of ups and downs. They spend a long time not believing in Jesus until the end. Such imperfect records should bring loads of encouragement to those of us who feel discouraged or down with regard to our own spiritual records. When we think of the "rock," we would immediately think of Simon Peter. The author looks at his life and shows us the gradual transformation from fear to fearless. There are the hypocrites, the ones Jesus use on the Pharisees and religious leaders. After a long exposition on the flaws of these leaders, Guthrie floats up some glimmers of hope in the person of Nicodemus. The "crook" might make us think of Judas Iscariot, but Guthrie shows us that there are more in the gospels. As again Zacchaeus the unscrupulous tax collector was transformed from scoundrel to saint when he met Jesus. In contrast, Judas Iscariot is seen as "the opportunist" who gets from bad to worse. Guthrie makes an interesting insight that sees Judas as one who had all the opportunity to be saints, but squandered everything and chose "scoundrel" instead. Calling "Caiaphas" the "wicked, corrupt judge," Guthrie highlights other priests in the Bible as well to show us the spectrum of priestly types, eventually leading us to the Perfect Priest of all. Then there are the two sides of "criminal," the obvious and the insidious. We are reminded that we too as sinful people are guilty of it, and because it it, we need Jesus.

Guthrie closes the book with a "Group Discussion Guide" that not only summarizes the chapter's main points, but leads us toward deeper implications.

My Thoughts
Each of the ten chapters presents to us a triple challenge: To identify who it is the author is speaking about; to expand our understanding beyond any one person, and to see how many of these categories we fit in. In identifying what the person is, readers would be piqued to try to guess exactly who is the voice, the hypocrite, the criminal, the opportunist, and so on. In some cases, we would be surprised when our answer differs drastically from Guthrie's. When that happens, I would urge readers to try to understand from the author's perspective. Like an experienced Bible teacher, Guthrie begins each chapter with a story or an illustration before bridging it to the biblical story. I would advise readers not to be hasty about linking the title to the suspect too quickly. We might be surprised at the conclusion. This makes the reading quite intriguing with the twists and turns.

Second, we learn to see the label applied to more than one person. For example, when referring to the "disciple," we see different examples of people who follow Jesus. The using the life of Stephen as an illustrative point, we learn about the cost of discipleship that following Jesus is not about obeying a set of rules but living out a life of conviction in Christ, whatever it takes. Or to try to do guesswork on who is the "worst" person of them all. Is it some atheist or is it a tyrant in history? Alas, Guthrie uses the story of the transformation of Saul to Paul, using the words of Paul as launchpad, that he considers himself the worst of all sinners.

Finally, perceptive readers will recognize that the study on saints and scoundrels could very well be a mirror of our best and worst selves. Those who think they are saints might be guilty of scandals and unscrupulous behaviour. Or they might think they are the worst of sinners like Paul, only to find themselves forgiven in the grace of God.

I enjoy this book because it is not only challenging but forces us to look at ourselves and especially into our own quadrants of the Johari window.

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible to women at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and at conferences worldwide. She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 10,000 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast from the Gospel Coalition.

During this launch, there is a special 6-day video devotional by the author here. In mid-May, readers may download the Personal Bible Study and Leaders' Guide at her website here.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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In this new book by Nancy Guthrie she covers the lives of various well known characters who we meet in the life of Jesus. The book gives amazing insights into those who we may already feel we know a lot about and shows how often the attitudes and behaviour we posses are more like the scoundrels than we would wish to be. Challenging and insightful this is a book not only for every believer to read but also a book to give to those who are searching .
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In Saints and Scoundrels, Nancy Guthrie takes a close look at 10 people/groups in Scripture. Although the stories were familiar to me, Guthrie offered perspectives I have never heard before. The book was interesting, seems to be well-researched, and while not something I could comfortably recommend to everyone, one I would pass along to many.
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Saints and Scoundrels is Nancy Guthrie’s newest book releasing Tuesday, April 14, and this is one for the new and old believer, to the doubter, to help you connect more with some of the people of the Bible and the story of God. Nancy shares her wisdom of God’s Word in a very biblical way, as she does with all her other books. 
Each chapter provides a lesson with an in-depth study of some of the people and stories from the Bible. Along with words of a hymn that goes along with the lesson, which is a great way to worship the Lord. At the end of the book, is a group discussion section to do with a group or for you to take the lessons deeper. Her hope for this book is that you will see Jesus more clearly through delving into the stories and the people in the Bible. Most of the lessons come from the four Gospels and part of Acts. You will learn from biblical truth, what is true forgiveness, repentance, unwrap some areas of misunderstanding, the family of Jesus and their pasts and struggles, what does real change look like and what Jesus has to do with it, hypocrites and Pharisees and what we can learn, the true seeker Jesus, learn about wasted time and a wasted life from people in the Bible, the priests and criminals of the Bible when Jesus was walking the earth, and why we need Jesus and ultimately how His righteousness saves us. You may just end up seeing yourself in some of these stories from the Bible and come to a time of repentance.
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I absolutely loved this book. I learned so much about various people who had relationships with Jesus, and the way Nancy wrote this book helped me see both sides of the person. I think the comparison between us and those closest to Jesus is essential for us to realize the good truths and the hard-to-accept truths that we all fall under. I loved that Nancy's writing not only told a story but also left room for much self-reflection. Rarely have I read a book that does both of these things so well. I hope to buy this book to read again and again.
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What's it been like for you in this season of isolation?

Those of us who carry introverted tendencies, may find ourselves enjoying the time and space, while others - of the extroverted nature - are experiencing claustrophobia, as confinement and boundaries are put in place to limit our contact with others.

We may feel suffocated. We may feel liberated. We may find things to do around the house. We watch our worship services on the screen.

But this season is a stark reminder to us, of the value of human connection, no matter how much we can do on our beloved phones.

We are all participants in God's story of history, our quirks, passions and gifting are all orchestrated with creativity and beauty. Uniquely created in the image of the Father, believers represent His love and His mission. Each of our stories reflect His work of redemption and grace.

In Nancy Guthrie's new book, "Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus," she takes us into the lives of 10 different people we meet in the Gospels. She reminds us that, "some who claimed to be saints proved to be scoundrels...some who began as scoundrels were transformed into saints."

The power of God's work in our lives transforms us.

As we take a walk through the lives of these saints and these scoundrels, the journey points out for us two reasons that we value community:

1. To see Jesus more clearly
The whole of Scripture is meant to point us to Christ, and as we look at the people who surrounded Jesus, we are led to learn more about who He is, how He dealt with others and how He loved well.

~We meet the women in Jesus' genealogy, reminding us of the sexual scandals of the past: Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. The family of Jesus is made of people who come from less-than-perfect records.

~In the life of Peter, we see Jesus as the one who calls us to real change. He calls us.

~Through the life of the Pharisees, we are reminded that Jesus is the source of righteousness, not our practices, our good deeds or our appearance. We find our salvation in His works, not ours.

As we learn from the characters of Jesus' story, our eyes are opened to the possibility that Jesus is so much more than what we imagine. In the same way, we learn more about who Jesus is, from the lives of people in our communities. 

Perhaps this is why testimonies are so powerful for us; beholding the wonders of God through their life and faithfulness, we view evidence of Jesus and His grace.

2. To see our own fears & failures
Looking upon the lives of others, it can be easy to choose the side of  judgement. Yet, it also reveal to us our similarities. We too, struggle with sin, fears and failures. What is easy to diagnose in someone else, can be the same struggle we have but fail to see. We are reminded that to take the speck out of another's eye means we have to first take the log out of our own!

 ~John the Baptist struggled with doubt. After his short, dedicated ministry in the desert, he wondered if Jesus really was the Messiah. We are prone to second-guess truth.

~A high priest who was more concerned about controlling people than extending mercy. We are prone to see things through our own eyes, rather than God's.

~The criminals who hung at Jesus' side who were unwilling, at first, to admit they were wrong. We are prone to avoid confession.

The lives of the people around us are messy, they are beautiful. We have much to learn from each other, and many ways we can grow through each other, if we allow ourselves. It means engaging in humility and growing in grace.

If you are interested in more about how these people point us to Jesus, pick up her book. Her hope in writing it is "that these saints and scoundrels will point you clearly and convincingly to the only hope for saints and scoundrels - Jesus Christ"

How have you experienced the value of community?

Thanks to Netgalley and Crossway for the advanced reader copy of this book, and the opportunity to post an honest review!
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Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus is a new book written by Nancy Guthrie. I have such *incredibly* high respect for this author. Her writing is compelling, accessible, thoughtful and direct.
This book focuses on ten people/groups that intersect with the life of Jesus, showing us the trajectory of his ministry and the flow of his grace towards us. Also during each chapter, Nancy reflects on what this means for the life of a Christian, using thought-provoking applications. To seal the deal she closes each chapter with a hymn. Hymns are new to me within the last ten years and they are PRECIOUS like coffee after a night of no sleep Haha I drink them up with gusto.
Real repentance doesn’t come naturally even to, and perhaps especially to, religious people. It takes a great deal of humility to say, “I’ve been wrong. I’ve been going in the wrong direction, and now with all of the strength that God gives me, I intend to go in the opposite direction—toward dependence instead of independence, toward living to please God instead of just using God, toward humble obedience instead of prideful resistance.” Repentance is not just a tweak. It’s not a slight adjustment on the compass. It is a full turn that proves itself to be genuine by the fruit that is borne in a person’s life.
This is a book I will buy for my forever shelf. Well done! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ without a doubt. Thank you to NetGalley and Crossway for providing this free digital copy in exchange for my honest review. Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus releases April 14th! A perfect Easter present ✝️
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Saints and scoundrels in the story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie is a very biblical fuck that looks at the retelling of the stories in the Bible of the people who crossed paths with Jesus.
 This books description states: 
The story of Jesus includes all kinds of characters. Some see these people as mere examples to follow or to avoid, and some have only heard about them in Sunday school stories. But their interactions with Jesus reveal much more about the person of Jesus himself and the message he has for us. Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus tells the story of 10 people or groups of people who are integral to the story of Jesus told in the Gospels. Each chapter takes a character off the Sunday school felt board and reveals them as a three-dimensional person with desires, motivations, flaws, and limitations. They are more than examples--they show us a unique angle on the grace available through Jesus for sinners. Each chapter also offers challenging applications to the lives of readers
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Interesting book. The author dives deep into the lives and situations of several bible characters in order to make them more relatable and to help readers see the application to their lives.
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When we realize that we exist for God's pleasure and glory, that changes changes how we look at everything. Your will is surrendered to the will of God.

A contrast of how we respond to the Lord. When our eyes have been opened to who He is as the disciples were to how the heart of the Pharisee who rejected him. The text in these contrasts is to open our own eyes in how we respond to the will of the Father. In the example of Judas. His betrayal of Jesus. Would his heart have been softened if he repented? How did his superiority with Mary affect his relationship with Jesus and ultimately led to his suicide. Or the example of Barabbas as he represented the substitution. He was declared by the crowd free and Jesus was crucified.

We can be humbled by the scoundrels of the bible and see Jesus in a new light. One that we can put our hope in and press into as we walk the narrow path. The Saints saw the glory of God during the suffering while the Scoundrels only desired glory for themselves. It is important to our faith to see ourselves in light of the Saints and Scoundrels as it tells our story in Jesus. Highly recommend.

A Special Thank you to Crossway Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review
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As a christian ministry major, i LOVE books like this one. they take stories that we know (& sometimes don’t know!) & help us to better understand why they’re important & what lessons God is teaching us through them. This books helps to better break down those characters who seem secondary, but really help to bring forth important pieces of God’s character & nature to us. This book is biblical, well worded, and definitely worth a read if you love the Bible & the people who God uses to help us better understand Him. I’d recommend to any of my friends who want to go deeper into the word!
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A great book that really engaged me into characters I never really knew about even going to catholic school most of my life. I’d recommend it to catholic schools or Christian book clubs for sure.
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Nancy Guthrie's latest book, Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus, is a beautiful retelling of the stories of many people who crossed paths with Jesus and were transformed. Packed with Scripture, Nancy gives us context and background on the various stories, comparing this person with that person in ways you may not have thought of before. There is much in this book to convict and challenge, but also much to give us hope and point us to grace. I was reminded of how amazing Jesus is and how worthy he is of all the glory and honor and praise. I recommend this book to anyone, female or male, who wants to hear and remember the story of Jesus. You won't be able to avoid seeing yourself somewhere in the story, and may even walk away loving Jesus more, which after all, is the entire point.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and have reviewed it willingly.
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The story of Jesus is the story of the Church, but it's also the story of a faith - a tradition, a culture, and a people. 

At the center of this Great Story is a man who was both fully God and fully man - a three year ministry that has been discussed and analyzed for ages. 

Rather than taking the approach of looking at Jesus, Nancy Guthrie's newest work approaches the study of Jesus through the perspectives of those whose lives were undeniably changed because of him; be it because of his birth, his life, his death, or resurrection, the people and groups explored by Guthrie take on a life of their own and in her work, attempts to explore the importance of who they are and what they mean when studying Jesus' ministry. 

Organized as being part-historical study and part-devotional, Guthrie's work provides an interesting introspective on ten people/groups of people that usually serve as side characters in retelling the story of Jesus. Guthrie's voice is strong and her conviction clear in speaking on her views of how these well-known people such as John the Baptist, Paul or Stephen were influenced by the work of Jesus as well as the  possible reason for why they were chosen. 

Some of the commentary is presented as fact whereas others it's more clear that it's speculation, but as a reader the most influential aspects were the sections designated as a devotional - space where Guthrie moved beyond her ideas of how or why the people of Jesus' life were chosen and rather for how this interpretation ministered to her specifically. These sections contain a level of self-awareness and true reflection that feels rare to read in books of this genre that even when the examples weren't relatable, the "realness" of it kept me yearning for more. 

Thoughtful and designed to be reflective, Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus is an excellent choice for both personal devotion and a group Bible study - providing another look into the inner lives of the people Jesus surrounded himself with and an exploration grace that is still extended towards us today.
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This is an excellent study of people in the bible. I loved reading about people in seeing that I am not the only person struggling. I loved seeing God work all over scripture and in the lives of these people. This is an excellent devotional for everyone, especially when you feel like your not good enough. I love this book and will, for sure, reread the book!
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