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Monday, April 30, 2012

"Dallas and the Spitfire"

TITLE: Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship
AUTHOR: Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2012, (190 pages).

This book brings us to a whole new understanding of discipleship beyond the four walls of the Church or the evergreen picture of a coffee-chat version of Christian discipleship. It tells us about authentic discipleship that is relational and ordinary, connectional rather than correctional, and above all, sharing the love of Christ in any circumstance. It shows us the way beyond mere coffee talk to carefree walk. It demonstrates to us how a genuine heart of care and concern can not only bridges the divide between the rich/poor, have/have-nots, fortunate/unfortunate, and  any human dichotomies, and enable us to have real authentic discipleship that happens BOTH ways. It is not a me-Discipler-you-Disciple, but a respectful living out of Christ in both directions.

It is a story of two man, one a pastor and the other a recuperating ex-con, with a common task: Fix an old convertible, and in the process help each other to be fixed by God's grace. The book is partly a car repair journal, a personal life journal, as well as a book of spiritual reflections. Firstly, as a car repair journal, it encourages the mostly car-users to know more about cars and the internals. It tells the beginning to the end of a car repair process, and ends with a wonderful picture of two happy man driving the car into the sunset, happy for a job well done.

Secondly, the book is also a personal life journal of Ted, who thinks back on his relationship with his dad, his family, and of course with his rugged friend, Dallas. It shows the emotional ups and downs of Dallas, the ex-con turned Christian, ministering in a ministry house, and struggling with both relationships and financial limitations. At the beginning, ministry appears to be one way, from Ted to Dallas. Toward the end, the process reverses. It tells of how important it is to be open to God, that God can use ANYBODY to help and encourage our life on earth.

Thirdly, it is a spiritual journal, mainly written from Ted's perspective. Each chapter ends with an affirmation of what God is speaking to Ted and also to Dallas. It comprises Scriptural references and thoughtful meditations on the hope and glory of Christ. In the process of practicing discipleship with an ex-convict, Pastor Ted ends up realizing that he is in fact the one being discipled through Dallas!.

This book is very likable. While it is not the ordinary kind of book about discipleship, it is authentic and enables readers to say: "Hey! I can do it too!" Discipleship is not a big word that is restricted only to holy people within holy walls of a Church building. It is to reflect Christ in every part of the world we are in. Ted and Dallas demonstrates this truth in their relationships, to show gratitude for the working, and to be humbled in the failed. In both cases, it draws the Christian to desire God more deeply and more wholly. In a nutshell, this is not simply a book about unorthodox discipleship. It is about two persons desiring to be more wholesome in their humanness, and more Christlike in their relationships, through a common vehicle: a broken down convertible. Imagine that. If two imperfect man can work wonders and bring a dead vehicle to life, what about God resurrecting the imperfections of human beings to perfection in Christ? This book recharges our battery of hope.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

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