Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Book of the Month Discussion: Prototype August 30, 2013

Filed under: Book Club — Stephanie Rische @ 7:59 am
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Thanks to everyone who participated in our virtual book club this month! The selection for August was Prototype by Jonathan Martin, which I introduced here.



This book feels revolutionary to me—not in new ideas, but in its revolutionary application of ancient ones. Jonathan Martin manages to actually apply those truths we know in our heads but don’t always feel and put into practice. He poses this question, which seems to be the underlying premise for the entire book: “What if the ultimate goal of everything Jesus said and did was not just to get us to believe certain things about Him, but to become like Him?” (p. 18). In other words, what if we lived as if the gospel were really true—not just that we believe it’s true, but that we let it seep into every part of our lives?



I liked the author’s metaphor of riding his bike as a kid as a way to understand what it’s like to be fully ourselves in God’s presence: “It was so natural to be in His presence that I wasn’t even conscious of it” (p. 9). He articulates so well this longing to be known and to belong, encouraging us to recall “a time when you were open and free to the world around you, a time when you had a sense that there was something, or someone, drawing you close. Maybe you can even remember a time when you knew the sensation of being fully known and delighted in” (p. 12).


What is your metaphor for a time you were fully yourself in God’s presence? Maybe for you it wasn’t a bike or a trampoline, but is there a visual image that resonates with you?



The “Beloved” chapter was one of my favorites. I appreciate the way the author captures divine love, which is given not because we earn it or deserve it; instead, like David, we’re “loved simply because [we] exist” (p. 29). This desire to be loved isn’t something we outgrow; it’s hardwired into the way we’re made:  “The enchantment of divine love was there before we were born, it is native to us; we all have a primal desire inside of us to be the object of that delight, to be fully known before a God who celebrates us” (p. 22).


In what ways would your life look different if you truly grasped how beloved you are by God?



We often think of our times of suffering or spiritual dryness as punishment or as God turning his back on us, but the author offers another perspective: “God draws people into obscurity—into the wilderness—not because He’s angry with them or because they aren’t ‘successful enough,’ but because He wants to go deeper in His relationship with them. . . . The wilderness is a gift” (p. 50). Not only that, but the wilderness is a place we can connect with God in ways we can’t when life is cruising along just fine: “The wilderness is the place where God courts His beloved. When we step away from the noise and distraction, we find God has been wooing us all along” (p. 52).


Do you feel like you’re in the wilderness right now? Are there ways you’d like to intentionally withdraw and seek obscurity to be wooed by God?



All too often church can be a place where we try to pull ourselves together and put on masks to convince everyone else that we have it all together. But Martin points out that the core of the gospel is that beauty comes out of brokenness, that redemption comes out of the deepest wounds. “Jesus made His own brokenness a resource for healing for the entire world” (p. 106). Rather than being something to hide, our wounds are to be shared as a testimony to God’s work in our lives. “We don’t conceal our scars because our scars are our story, and our story, however broken, is a story of the tenderness of God” (p. 107).



When I got to the end of this book, I loved Jesus more than I did when I started, and I also have a deeper grasp of how loved I am by him. In light of that, plus the fact that I’ve underlined approximately one-third of the words on these pages, I would give this book four stars.

4 stars


How many stars would you give Prototype?


{Remember, I’ll give away a free book to one lucky commenter!}


5 Responses to “Book of the Month Discussion: Prototype”

  1. Marilyn Kitchell Says:

    oh Stephanie …I just so resonate with all that Jesus did was to help us become more like Him … to be transformed into the Imagine of Christ …  and it’s not what we do that He wants but what we are in the process of becoming.    not sacrifices but the sacrifice of thanksgiving pleases Him …. and a heart that is in awe of Who God Is …..   a totally Almighty God, Who, in His mercy, gave the sacrifice that none of us can understand … His Son.  marilyn


  2. […] First of all, congratulations to Kristy DiSanti, the winner of a free book for our August discussion! […]

  3. Nancy Rische Says:

    I’m sorry for the late comment. I needed the weekend to finish. I had trouble with the first few chapters determining what his pretext and point was for the book. I finally figured it out about the 3rd or 4th chapter and then it was much better. I think I am the “girl who climbed trees.” I remember trying to climb as high as I could to reach heaven. I also loved the “beloved” chapter. If we could truly know that we were loved because He created us to be His children it would make a difference in our lives. We would be free to truly be the light that He intends us to be. I think in some way or another most of the time we are in some kind of wilderness. Our lives are seldom totally “all together.” I did like the idea that we should know that the wilderness in not punishment but learning who we are in God. I would not give the book 4 stars due to the beginning, in my view, being unclear and ambiguous, I would go with 3 stars. It was and interesting way of thinking about the material.

    • Great thoughts, Nancy! I loved climbing trees as a kid too. 🙂 I love what you said: “If we could truly know that we were loved becaused He created us to be his children, it would make a difference in our lives.” So true.

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