Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things

Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things


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Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things by Ken Wytsma

The ONLY way to find abundant life and happiness is to give your life away.

If God designed us to experience true happiness and abundant life, why do so many Christians feel dissatisfied and purposeless? We try to make our lives better by chasing our own dreams, but that only makes the problem worse. Instead, the path to a just life that’s satisfying and permeated with meaning leads us alongside the orphan, the widow, and the powerless. Using clear evangelical theology and compelling narratives drawn from two decades of global ministry and travel, Ken Wytsma, the founder of The Justice Conference, shows God’s unchanging love for all His children. On the way, the author calls us back to a proper understanding of biblical justice, a redeeming glimpse into the true meaning of righteousness and the remarkable connection between our own joy, the joy of others, and the wondrous Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pursuing Justice shows that God isn’t primarily concerned with personal piety but about empowering His children to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their creator. The message is as hopeful as it is fresh: when you discover anew the meaning of the Gospel and give your life away, you will find it…and it will be the best life you can imagine.

First-time author Wytsma (with an assist from Jacobsen) is one of the new breed of evangelical Christians returning to scripture to redeem justice as a central tenet of faith…. Wytsma infuses his writing with fresh experiences from working with the millennial generation…. “Apathy tells us that it’s perfectly acceptable to live with illusions of our own justice,” he writes, neatly linking those concerns. This accessible guide provides trustworthy scriptural analysis, examples of contemporary justice issues…and a solid philosophy for understanding the role of justice in today’s society…. “Justice cannot be divorced from God’s heart and purposes,” he writes. “It permeates them.” Wytsma’s authorial voice is engaging, encouraging, and invitational. His humor helps the reader recognize her own humanity and transformative potential within the unfolding moral arc of the universe.

Publishers Weekly

“Justice has become trendy. Ken Wytsma’s Pursuing Justice avoids all the pitfalls of trendiness. It exhibits a deep and accurate understanding of the nature of justice. It is an eye–opener.”

—NICHOL AS WOLTERSTORFF, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

“Ken is a fresh voice of balance, humility, and collaboration. His enthusiasm is contagious and his challenge to the church to not only do justice, but to learn to do it well, is commendable.”

—KEITH WRIGHT, International President of Food for the Hungry

“Ken Wytsma’s Pursuing Justice will rattle you. Not since C. S. Lewis put down his pen have readers been so provoked to think. It will change the way you approach others.”

—KAREN SPEARS ZACHARIAS, Author ofA Silence of Mockingbirds and Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?

“Ken Wytsma not only brings us back to a biblical understanding of justice, but also humbly calls us to pursue it in practice. I was both enlightened and motivated.”

—RANDAL ROBERTS, President of Western Seminary, Portland, OR

“In Pursuing Justice, Ken is at the cutting edge of where God’s heart is. This book is timely and needs to be read by everyone in the church.”

—JOHN M . PERKINS, Civil Rights Leader, Founder of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), and Founder of The John Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780849964664
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 02/12/2013
Pages: 330
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Ken Wytsma is a leader, innovator, and social entrepreneur. He is the president of Kilns College, where he teaches courses on philosophy and justice. He is the founder of The Justice Conference—a yearly international conference that exposes men and women to a wide range of organizations and conversations relating to justice and the biblical call to give our lives away. Ken is also a church planter and the lead pastor at Antioch Church. He and his wife, Tamara, have four daughters.

David Jacobsen holds master’s degrees in theology and creative writing. He teaches and writes in central Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Christine, and their sons. He can be reached through his website, http://jacobsenwriting.com.

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Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
benemorylarson More than 1 year ago
In Pursuing Justice, Wytsma has assembled a fascinating hybrid of memoir, theology, sociology, history, and art. Always honest, authentic, and transparent, he bares his soul on his lifelong struggle to understand and imitate God’s heart for justice and what he has learned along the way. The book is filled with anecdotes and personal stories, including Wytsma’s spiritual journey and how he nearly partied himself to death in his twenties before he began to search for meaning and fulfillment. Illustrations illuminate every chapter, and one of my favorite things about the book is the poetry, short stories, photographs, and drawings in the “Interludes” between chapters. Instead of being a profound addition to the theological discussion of justice, Pursuing Justice flips the entire conversation: justice IS a part of theology. In Wytsma’s view, by pursuing justice we ARE pursuing relationship with our creator. Stopping short of theological liberalism and the Social Gospel, Wytsma powerfully points out that while justice isn’t the entirety of Jesus’ message, it IS a necessary, undeniable part of it. Pursuing Justice has been a powerfully transformative book for my wife and me. Since reading it we have drastically changed the way we eat, the way we spend our money, and the way we consider many of the social issues facing the church today. I highly recommend it, regardless of your age, background, or line of work, as the variety of subject matter, approach, and artistry will keep anyone engaged and leave you hungry to grow closer to God, educate yourself on justice, and change the world.
CassieNW More than 1 year ago
This was, all in all, a great and inspiring book. Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma is written in a very straightforward manner but each chapter takes breaks from honest truth to tell an anecdote or two. Although written very differently, I hold this book in as high regard as I do Radical by David Platt (which is very high). It brings home many truths that, as Christians, we tend to overlook simply because it's easier to turn a blind eye or possibly because we haven't been taught how to look. Always tying his beliefs back to Scripture, this book moved me to look at things very differently than I have been and has pushed me to action in many areas where I have been pitifully complacent. Anyone wanting to walk in justice and truth the way Christ did needs to read this book and apply its simple, but profound methods for living the way we all should be. Justice isn't only for the courtrooms, and injustice is everywhere we turn... Pursuing Justice brings to light the fact that we can no longer say that our righteousness is up to par if it's void of the constant pursuit of bringing justice to those suffering from the lack of it.
sjziegler More than 1 year ago
booksbysteph says "been there, read that"  First I want you to know that I did not complete this book. I read the first few chapters and then put it down. This author uses theology and philosophy to talk about justice and its relationship with God, using every subject. I absolutely detest philosophy, especially when I cannot ask questions or be a part of the conversation. So my review of this book is based on my emotions about how the subject presented. With that being said. I did not like this book. It angered me. The author used many quotes from well known historical authors that made me feel like he was not using his own words to talk about justice. One review of the book states, "Not since C.S. Lewis put down his pen have readers been so provoked to think." A quick glace through the 18 pages of citations from other books, the work of C.S. Lewis is cited at least a dozen times. I refuse to read a book that has already been written by another author.  Until next time, live life one page at a time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When we hear the word justice, and particularly social justice, it’s easy to think of just one specific cause. Justice is ending human trafficking. Or it’s providing clean water. Or feeding the hungry, caring for the environment, or ending racism. But what if it’s all that and so much more? What if, instead of being about this cause or that fad, it’s about God and what he loves? We don’t have to look far in scripture to see that God cares deeply for the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the widow, and the fatherless.  What if it has a lot less to do with us and a lot more to do with others, yet is the thing that brings us the deepest joy? The truth is that we were made to love people. We were made to live in shalom. We were made to bring God’s right-side up kingdom to earth. And when we live to fulfill that purpose, we’ll find a deeper passion and joy than we ever knew was possible.  But if we’re going to seek justice, we need to know what it is. In Pursuing Justice, Ken Wytsma helps us do just that. He unpacks and reclaims words like justice, righteousness, love, and happiness. When we understand how close to God’s heart justice is, it’s impossible for us to worship without loving others as He does. That’s why this book is important. It challenged me and got me thinking, for which I’m grateful. It’s a challenge to live and die for bigger things, and it’s a book worth reading!  (Bethany Winz)
samcivy More than 1 year ago
Pursuing Justice The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things Ken Wytsma ©2013 With D. R. Jacobsen Thomas Nelson Publisher ISBN Something deep within humans desires justice. But how do we pursue justice for ourselves and especially for those who need it most? How can we fulfill the desire to change the world for the better? Ken Wytsma teaches answers to these and other questions. Wytsma has written an important book about how justice relates to love, empathy, righteousness and true religion, among other themes. We often hear of these other concepts, but not how they relate to justice nor how major an activity justice is. The author wants readers to consider the widest possible view of justice as something bigger than we often understand the word to mean. He teaches how to apply justice in all areas of our lives in a satisfying way. The book contains many inspiring ‘Interludes’ between chapters…quotes by other writers that will encourage readers. Personal stories add to the readability of this well-written volume.
BSchmidt More than 1 year ago
I have been using the term biblical justice for years because it truly explains the call to justice that God places on our lives.  Ken Wytsma does an excellent job of explaining our call as Christians to justice, based on biblical truths.  We are definitely seeing a change among believers in their ideas of justice and Ken explains so clearly throughout this book why this is so central to our faith. It is time that we all embrace these truths and see justice as truly a biblical command.   “Giving our lives away requires us to understand biblical justice.  Justice is a word that has often been hollowed out, muddied, and even shunned, but one we must necessarily redeem to its full significance if we are to embrace a God of justice and his call to be agents of justice.  Justice is rooted in the character of God, mandated by the commands of God, present in the kingdom of God, motivated by the love of God, affirmed in the teaching of Jesus, reflected in the example of Jesus, and carried on today by all who are moved and led by the Spirit.”   While the term “social justice” has become somewhat divisive among people of differing faith and political backgrounds, Wytsma does an excellent job of explaining to us the biblical basis for all justice, and God’s call in all Christians’ lives.  For us to fully follow Jesus, we have to live out a life of justice, love and mercy. Wytsma shows the reader how justice is central to every part of God’s Kingdom and plan for redemption for His people.  Ken uses a lot of personal experiences and stories to express ideas in the book that might otherwise be complicated to some.  His intelligence, knowledge and wisdom shine throughout the book , yet he writes in a way that all can understand and follow.  This is a great book for anyone interested in biblical justice, whether it is the first book you have picked up on the subject or your tenth.  Everyone will learn from Ken’s teachings and the stories and experiences will keep the reader fully engaged.
MelissaAnn0 More than 1 year ago
“Let’s not argue against helping orphans; instead, let’s find a better way of helping orphans.” Despite a full section devoted to “The Politics of Justice” and addressing the notion that social justice and “doing justice” is often equated with liberal politics or theology, Wytsma manages to steer clear of political divisiveness and denominational differences, and instead presents a logical and cohesive argument as to the biblical universality of justice. He calls on the entire Christian community to ‘do good’ and live daily in the presence of God, and warns against becoming entrenched in politics. While centered on what can be a touchy topic (especially in the Christian community), Pursuing Justice is completely void of negativity. There is no finger pointing or blame. No one is bashed or made to feel ‘less than’ anyone else. Instead we travel with Wytsma on his own lifelong journey to understand justice and its role in his own life. Consequently, we are challenged by his journey to give our own lives away in pursuit of justice.This book is as relevant to readers unsure of what “doing justice” looks like in their day-to-day living, as it is to those seeking to give up everything, take up their cross and follow Jesus. In fact, I’d say it’s even more applicable to the former group, as Wytsma reminds us repeatedly that justice is an ongoing process reflected in the small decisions we make on a daily basis. Wytsma finds his “sweet spot” amidst the passion of an entrepreneur, the vivid storytelling and relational perspective of a pastor, and the informative style of a teacher and scholar, all written with meticulous attention to historical context and detail. It is perhaps this attention to historical detail that I find most fascinating. For example, we’re introduced to the social gospel movement in the context of the social and economic realities of the 19th century. While this may seem an obvious way to approach the topic, I’ve found that context and historical understanding can often be missing from these conversations.While I took a great many things away from this book, ultimately—for me—what it boiled down to was Wytsma’s clear distinction between fixing the world and changing the world. If we focus on fixing the world, we’ll most likely find ourselves burnt out and discouraged. But we can all change the world… one person, one life, one prayer, one action, one choice at a time. “There will always be injustice and sin, but even though we can’t fix the world, we can certainly change it.” 
AliaJoy More than 1 year ago
What Ken produces in this book is a gospel centered approach to God's call to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. It encompasses God's intrinsic design and command that we do justice. An impassioned plea to redeem the word and concept of Justice and restore it to it's rightful place deep within God's heart and subsequently,ours. Once we embrace the template God provided for why we pursue justice and shalom, Ken moves into an overview and analysis of many of the obstacles present including apathy, blind spots, politics, and social structures. He easily blends history, philosophy, theology, and ethics to address some of the solutions to engaging this not just as activists or soap-box-ranters but as grace soaked administers bent on seeing God's intent fulfilled as we obey his call. He covers a lot of ground in 307 pages and his tone, while intellectual makes subjects such as the theological necessity of justice easily within reach for any reader. He intersperses segments of his life experiences and encounters with others to demonstrate many of his points and includes interludes between each chapter where many diverse voices contribute art, lyric, poetry, and dialogue on a myriad of topics. The end result being a mosaic of creativity and collaboration. He gives almost no application in the book's entirety. There are no lists to check or steps to follow or obey so that you can be assured you are living a just life. It was most certainly intentional. Ken doesn't fill in all the blanks for you, challenging you to engage the topic personally and spiritually. My mind was provoked, leaving me with a lot of questions. I found at times I was arguing with the book, yes, hypothetically in my head like a crazy person, but I realize that is the very thing that makes this book magnificent. It inspires thought and questions which then drive engagement and dialogue. It offers something for people in all the different arenas of justice. It will resonate differently in a twenty-something college kid burning inside to change the world, a thirty-something housewife with three kids in the suburbs, a young single mother raising her child in the bad part of town, a retired grandfather, or an entrepreneur or CEO of a major company. But unlike some books, it has value for them all. It induces engagement. Without those provocations, I might not have asked the questions. He may not give you all the answers, but he'll certainly challenge you to think.And that's a great place to start.
SomerHanson More than 1 year ago
The Justice Conference founder Ken Wytsma was the opening speaker at last year's conference in Portland. He told the crowd they were at a "conference to die to yourself" and were "among 4,000 people who believe it's better to give than to receive." Ken spoke about giving our lives away for the betterment of others. As the conference kicked off he said, "I hope you get crushed this weekend." Boy, did I. My friends and I left the conference different than when we arrived. And there was one sentence he spoke that has stuck with me since and is what this blog is named after: "We may not be able to fix the world, but we can change it." As soon as I started to read Ken's first book, "Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live & Die for Bigger Things," I was back at the Portland Convention Center listening to empowering and encouraging stories about justice, faith and finding true joy in giving ones life away. In "Pursuing Justice" Ken uses the gospel, life experiences, history and various works of art to explain what justice really looks like, and how it's knowing God as much as it's serving God.
brooklynwagner More than 1 year ago
With the pursuit of justice comes a great deal of responsibility. Ken Wytsma has taken up that responsibility in providing the beautiful work of his life, out-working of God's vision of justice, and now, this book. Unlike the commonly known phrase, you'll actually want (need) to put this one down. You'll crave reflection and response as the call to radically shift that paradigm of how we view, do, and teach justice rings clearly. Ken has asked us to turn around and look through the heart of God and how He's asked us to be involved in His restorative justice in this world. Read Pursuing Justice, be blessed, be challenged and be changed.