Books

Jesus Speaks

Designer Jesus: The Lifestory of a Disciple

by Leonard Sweet

In Designer Jesus, Leonard Sweet illuminates the path of discipleship with a bold and vibrant brush, revealing a faith that is as fresh as it is ancient. From the opening declaration, “Jesus is your design for living,” Sweet jolts readers into a new understanding of what it means to follow Christ, rekindling the heart’s rhythm with a message that is both timeless and timely.

This inspiring book builds on Sweet’s earlier work, Jesus Human, (2023) by moving beyond belief (fides quae) to explore the active experience of faith (fides qua). Where Jesus Human forged the guardrails of faith, Designer Jesus traces the handrails of life. Sweet delves into the life of faith, guiding readers to paint their lifestories with the rich colors of faith, hope, and love. He draws from the deep wells of the past to make the ancient faith accessible and relevant to today’s readers. With wisdom, wit, and whimsy, Sweet shows how a discipleship designed by Jesus is both classic classy and contemporary chic, providing meaning and mooring to a world adrift and unhinged.

Sweet asserts that our identity is found not in doctrines, creeds, or labels, but in the risen, rising Christ and his Spirit. He emphasizes that following Jesus, even being “little Christs” (the literal meaning of “Christian”), is not about imitation or cloning, but about allowing Jesus to live his life through us, ultimately leading us to become our truest, most authentic selves.

Designer Jesus is more than a book. It is a starting point for a life-changing journey. For those seeking a Christianity that transcends mere belief and becomes a transfigurative lifestory, Designer Jesus readies you to live a designed life brimming with joy and passion. It not only inspires personal flourishing, but it also equips you to brighten the paths of others with their own lifestories.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

Jesus Human: Primer for a Common Humanity

“What is human” is one of the contentious topics in the world today. We no longer know what a human is. Where once humans made machines, now machines make humans. And the machines humans do make are becoming our most preferred relationships.

In this pathbreaking and provocative book, Leonard Sweet contends it is our sacred duty to be human. Human identity is not who we have become but who we are created to be. Jesus Human explores how Jesus, in showing us the way to God, shows us the way to ourselves and the way to be human. All that it means to be human is here, in one person: Jesus, the greatest human, the most alive human, who ever lived. Learning to be a disciple of Jesus is learning to be a human being in a world that has been humaimed—our true identity has been amputated or disfigured.

In scintillating prose and from a vast panorama of reading, Sweet demonstrates how the Jesus story is about “being” human and “human” being—both of which follow from following Jesus. Jesus gives back to us our full humanity as part of the redemption of all creation. Jesus doesn’t help us rise above our humanity but enter our humanity. In short, discipleship formation or spiritual formation is really Christ formation or human formation.

Sweet insists you can’t be human without the divine, which makes the process of becoming human, or humanation, part of the Trinity’s ongoing incarnation as the Spirit brings Christ to life in each of us. There is no elixir that, when taken, transforms a person into a true human. But there is the Living Water of Life.

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Jesus Speaks
Telos: The Hope of Heaven Today

by Leonard Sweet

A better definition of God’s kingdom changes everything about how we live today – no matter what the future holds.

Welcome to a better way of looking at the end: as the culmination of God’s grand story. Jesus’ most important word in describing the end is the Greek word telos. Telos is the rhythm of human history; the presence of God; and the plot, purpose, and completion of the story. The end is the kingdom of God, and the kingdom is here and now.

Sweet and Wilson show how many of the political problems plaguing modern Christianity are rooted in bad theology. God’s kingdom is the present reality of the presence of God that gives us hope for today and tomorrow.

This second installment of the story of Jesus in the St.Is series witnesses a loving, rambunctious, and inquisitive toddler on his way to becoming The Messiah, and the family called to care for him. It will leave you wanting to know more and love more.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

Red Skies

Framing Essay by Leonard Sweet

Our world is changing faster than ever. Digital culture is rapidly accelerating, climate change threatens the future of our planet, racial inequality looms large, sexuality norms are constantly shifting, and forced migration is increasing. Meanwhile, the church is rife with internal conflict and busies itself with growth strategies, running programs, and creating better worship services.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus told the religious leaders that although they could interpret the appearance of the sky, they didn’t know how to read the signs of the times. As twenty-first-century disciples and leaders, we must not make the same mistake. We need to understand our cultural red skies and see the coming changes because our response to the issues we face will determine the church’s position, posture, and practice for years to come.

With contributions from experts in their fields—including missiologists, pastors, ecclesiologists, entrepreneurs, and prophets—Red Skies explores some of the essential conversations the church must engage with now so we might overcome potential threats and look for opportunities to be good news to both our current and future world.

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Jesus Speaks

St. As

by Leonard Sweet and Lisa Samson

A spellbinding tale of magi, a madman, and a Messiah whose very life is sought.

Join Issy the Donkey as she tells the timeless tale of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the wise men. Everything hinges on their escape to Egypt. Thankfully, Zebby the Noble Camel, small and faster than any camel should be, has joined the team. Just in time.

This second installment of the story of Jesus in the St.Is series witnesses a loving, rambunctious, and inquisitive toddler on his way to becoming The Messiah, and the family called to care for him. It will leave you wanting to know more and love more.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

Songs of Light (Book Three): Words of Life to Read Aloud With Those in Deep Despair

By Leonard Sweet and Lisa Samson

This little book is brimming with words of healing and hope to those on the ropes or at the end of their rope. It is best held in the hands of family, friends, and clergy, as well as all who care for those who carry the weight of depression and harbor suicidal impulses. It is designed to be read aloud to reassure all God’s Childrenreader and listener alike—who are stretched to the breaking point or for whom life no longer makes sense.

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Jesus Speaks

Songs of Light (Book Two): Words of Hope to Read Aloud With Those in Critical Condition

by Leonard Sweet and Lisa Samson

This little book is filled with words of God’s healing love, provision, and power to those teetering on the brink of illness and wellness. It is best held in the hands of family, friends, and clergy, as well as front-line, ER, and hospital workers. It is designed to be read aloud to reassure God’s Children—both the reader and the listener—they are loved, right now, with a love that knows no limits and will never let them go.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

Songs of Light (Book One): Words of Grace to Read Aloud With Those at Life’s End

By Leonard Sweet and Lisa Samson

Songs of Light: Words of Grace to Read Aloud With Those at Life’s End, filled with words of God’s love, comfort, tenderness, goodness, and grace is best held in the hands of family, friends, hospice workers, clergy, front-line workers, chaplains, hospital and ER staff and personnel. It is meant to be read aloud, to reassure God’s Children as they transition from life to Life they are loved, right now, as they are, with a limitless, everlasting love.

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Jesus Speaks

St. Is

by Lisa Samson and Leonard Sweet

When the donkey walked away from that scoundrel, Balaam, she met another angel who told her she would someday bear the Messiah. Meanwhile Is wandered the Silk Road, fought on the plain of Armageddon several times, and turned mills as the years collected like fibers into thread. And when the donkey felt she couldn’t go on one more year, she was found and protected by a little Jewish girl named Mary.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

 Contextual Intelligence: Unlocking the Ancient Secret to Mission on the Front Lines

Why are some institutions thriving while others are closing their doors, declaring bankruptcy, and throwing in the towel? Why are some churches missionally prospering while others are experiencing significant decline?
The answer to these questions is an ancient secret, now unveiled afresh for mission on the front lines of a post-COVID world. The Tribe of Issachar possessed a distinct kind of intelligence which recognized that what worked in one season or location doesn’t necessarily transfer to another. This vital skill, known as contextual intelligence, is now unearthed for this pivotal moment.

In this groundbreaking book from renowned author Len Sweet and trailblazing missional pioneer Michael Beck, you will explore the phenomenon of contextual intelligence, discover a framework for its cultivation, and learn how you can apply it in your own circumstance.
In these pages you will be called to a new order that the authors are calling The Issacharians, the tribe known for the ability to “read the signs of the times and know what to do.”

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Jesus Speaks

Rings of Fire: Walking in Faith through a Volcanic Future

by Leonard Sweet and Mark Chironna

What Lies Ahead for Christians around the World?

If you follow the works of bestselling authors Malcolm Gladwell, Faith Popcorn, Daniel Pink, and other trend forecasters, you’ll appreciate learning about over 25 rings of fire that lie ahead for Christians around the world.

Len Sweet once again maps the future for the church in this sweeping survey of the twenty-first century. In the face of eruptive and disruptive culture changes from economics and communications to bioethics and beyond, how do we fight fire with fire, not only catching up to our culture but leading our friends and neighbors toward the feet of Christ? No one has done more to startle the church from its slumber than Len Sweet, and no one has equipped the church as effectively. This is a benchmark book from a seminal leader of the modern evangelical movement.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church

by Brad Roth and Leonard Sweet

With the poetic force of Kathleen Norris and the pastoral warmth of Eugene Peterson, Kansas pastor Roth sets forth a vision for vibrant rural churches, for ministry in congregations that bear a profound sense of both loss and possibility, and for harvesting fruits of transformation and renewal. Rooted in stories from Scripture, his own ministry, and interviews with rural church leaders, Roth offers a sturdy theological and practical alternative to church-growth strategies that rely on success stories and flashy metrics. Reclaiming God’s vision for the rural church, Roth writes, means learning how to praise, abide, watch, pray, grow, work the edges, die, befriend, and dream. In God’s Country, rediscover the stunning abundance of God’s presence in rural communities. Name the ways that the rural church testifies to God’s glory and goodness. Learn to live and love and minister right where you are, no matter how small or unassuming it may seem.

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Jesus Speaks

Mother Tongue: How Our Heritage Shapes Our Story

by Leonard Sweet

No one shapes our heritage or affects our legacy like our mother.
Most people know Leonard Sweet, one of the world’s most influential evangelicals, as a sharp cultural critic who helps us see how to get in front of the future rather than be bowled over by it. One of his greatest influences was his mother, a groundbreaking (and sometimes controversial) minister who defied convention while honoring tradition. In this exceptionally personal work, Len Sweet opens his mother’s memory box, and in the process he helps us all embrace the future with confidence while tethering us to a faith that transcends time. Through Len’s experience, we all will better understand and process how our own heritage affects our legacy.

An ideal resource for mothers, adult children, and families seeking resources to set up their kids to flourish.

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The Bad Habits of Jesus

 The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong

In our culture, we have a tendency to describe Jesus in ways that soften his revolutionary edge. Len Sweet uncovers and presents to us the offensive and scandalous Jesus described in the Bible.

  • Did he disappear when people needed him most? Yes.
  • Did he refuse to answer questions directly? Yes.
  • Did Jesus offend the people of his day? Absolutely, yes.

Popular author and speaker Len Sweet examines the words and actions of Jesus and places them in context. We need to understand who Jesus really is if we are to follow him wholeheartedly. That is why it is so crucial to see the “rebellious rabbi” for who he is and not for who we may imagine him to be.

The Bad Habits of Jesus will help you see the untamed Jesus, who isn’t sanitized for our culture. That Jesus just might transform how you live out your life.

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Jesus Speaks

 Jesus Speaks: Learning to Recognize and Respond to the Lord’s Voice

by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Countless Christians today are hungry to hear God’s voice. The trouble is, many don’t know how. In a warm and practical way, Jesus Speaks teaches readers how to listen for the voice of Jesus. The bookexplores the various ways in which Christ speaks today and how His sheep can grow in their ability to recognize and respond to His voice daily.

By exploring how the disciples interacted with the risen Jesus—from the Gospels to Revelation—Sweet and Viola unpack the myriad of ways the Lord speaks to His people today. They demystify the process, providing practical handles on how you can recognize the voice of Jesus in your own life.

In 2009, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola set out on a journey of discovery. They had one goal: to help restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ above all else. Soon after, they released their national bestseller, Jesus Manifesto. Two years later, they released Jesus: A Theography, beautifully establishing that all Scripture unveils a person—the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Speaks is the long-awaited third volume in their JESUS trilogy. Read it and be equipped to hear the voice of your Lord.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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Tablet to Table

Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Formed

What if the Bible were seen less as a tablet of ink than as a table of food? From Tablet to Table invites readers to explore the importance of The Table in biblical theology, and what it might mean for us to bring back the table to our homes, our churches, and our neighborhoods. The table pictures the grace of God’s provision for all aspects of our lives, a place of safe gathering, of finding identity in shared stories, of imparting food and faith, of playing host and finding satisfaction as a guest. Sweet explores how our failure to understand and appreciate “the most sacred item of furniture in every home” has created such a deficit in our fast-food, take-what-you-like-smorgasbord, together-but-separate society. Buy Now

We Are the Church

We Are the Church: The Untold Story of God’s Global Awakening

We Are the Church bears witness to the mission and growth of the world church. Far from a dusty, theoretical treatise, We Are the Church is drenched in the sights and smells from the front lines and fox holes of mission. Filled with stories and testimonies from followers of Christ all over the world, each chapter is a living witness to how “the mission field has become a mission force” (J. Hudson Taylor IV). In the west, it seems the voice of revival is like the whistle of a train that stopped running years ago but which you think you sometimes hear faintly from the far side of the valley. In the east and south, the voice of revival is like a train coming out of a tunnel, hurtling down the tracks, coming at you with all its force and power, inviting you to climb aboard or get out of the way. You are invited now to get aboard this powerful, missional train and read firsthand the untold story of God’s global awakening.

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Giving Blood

Giving Blood: A Fresh Paradigm for Preaching

If the church wants to converse effectively with a culture, it must learn that culture’s language. Today, our culture thinks not in words but in images, stories, and metaphors. So what does this mean for preaching? In this ground-breaking resource, Sweet offers an alternative to the traditional models of preaching, one that is fitting to a new culture and new modes of thinking. This first book of its kind moves preaching beyond its pulpit-centric fixation and toward a more interactive, participatory mode of communication. Seeing the sermon as sacramental conversion experience, Sweet presents a challenge to a church struggling to maintain in an image based, media-saturated world.

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Me and We

Me and We: God’s New Social Gospel

Me and We calls for a new social gospel in the world in which economies of division are replaced by economies of relationship. Using the examples of individualism, racism, and consumerism, Sweet calls Christians to rethink individual responsibility even as we live together in God’s “house and garden” communities, our churches, and the world. The book blesses the uniqueness of created persons, and yet shows how God’s plan for creation means that all unique individuals live together in harmony and symphony to the tune of the One God in all of our economies: money, politics, and church.

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The Well-Played Life

The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have to Be Such Hard Work

Do you secretly think that the harder you work, the more God is pleased with you? You can live like that—for a while. But imagine what it might mean instead to unclench your teeth, loosen your grip, and actually experience God’s pleasure in you—not just in everything you are doing for Him? The Well-Played Life is a journey of a life filled with richness, fruitfulness, and creativity of living in God’s pleasure. Renowned author Leonard Sweet explores what it means to please God in the nitty-gritty of life; how that changes from the time we are 5 to the time we are 50; and how in every age of our lives, in everything we do, we can experience God’s gift of play. The Well-Played Life offers a new spiritual direction of enjoying (and being enjoyed by) God. Discover how a Sabbath way of Christian joy is not only possible, but also how we were designed… and a core part of God’s plan for our lives.

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Jesus: A Theography

“The Scriptures are the cradle in which Christ is laid.” — Martin Luther

Virtually every “Jesus biography” begins with the nativity account in Bethlehem. In this groundbreaking new book, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola begin before time, in the Triune God, and tell the complete interconnected story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. Biographies of Jesus have generally been written by those trying to investigate the historical Jesus.

On the flip side, those interested in tracing the biblical narrative are typically disinterested in historical Jesus studies. These two approaches have yet to converge, until now. The Old and New Testaments are not two separate entities. Once we see the combined narrative, everything gels into a coherent, understandable and amazing story.

The story is not just “salvation history” as many people call it. Rather, it is the story of Jesus Christ-one person in two natures (divine/human) with four ministries (prophet/priest/king/sage) and four biographies. Every bit of scripture is part of the same great story, what the authors refer to collectively as the theography of Jesus. Biographies critique the subject in a factual way.

In this theography, the subject critiques us. The 27 books of the New Testament are a commentary on the Old Testament. Once this is properly understood, everything changes and biblical identity is found in the character of Christ and in the narrative codes of his entire existence-the greatest story ever told.

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The Greatest Story Never Told

God raises up Methodists for such a time as this.

Here is a ditty Len Sweet’s Methodist grandfather used to sing:

A Methodist, a Methodist will I be
A Methodist will I die.
I’ve been baptized in the Methodist way
And I’ll live on the Methodist side.

What “genius” of Methodism inspired this kind of love and loyalty in the earlier years of the faith? What did it mean to live in “the Methodist way” and to die on “the Methodist side?” Perhaps it is time to resurrect a neo-Wesleyan identity and to challenge the prevailing “one-calorie Methodism” that characterizes so much of our tribe today.

What makes a Methodist? How can we re-ignite the spark of genius that motivated such commitment in our cloud of witnesses?

The essence of Methodism’s genius resides in two famous Wesleyan mantras: “heart strangely warmed” (inward experiences with a fire in the heart) and “the world is our parish” (outward experiences with waterfalls of cutting-edge intelligence). For Wesley, internal combustion, the former, led to external combustion, the latter.

In the 18th century, Methodists in general (and in their younger years, the Wesley brothers themselves) were accused of being too “sexy.” What else could all those “love feasts” and “strangely warmed hearts” be about? Why else were all those women in positions of leadership? With this book the author hopes to bring back to life some of Methodism’s sexiness so that our current reproduction crisis can be reversed.

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