By: Jamie Blaine
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 10/13/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
The heart of God can be found in the unlikeliest places, in the unlikeliest people.
Jamie Blaine is an unconventional, and actually quite accidental, psychiatric crisis interventionist whose work takes him to “the least of these.” A gifted storyteller, Blaine shares heart-wrenching and sometimes hilarious stories of everyday people who need to know God is there in their darkest hours—people dealing with secret shame, doubt, desperation, even suicide. Humans looking for wholeness, looking for Jesus.
Painting beauty where it seems none exists, Midnight Jesus helps readers transcend their own struggles, showing how truth can come from the strangest places. They will meet people like
• Skeeter and Wookie, two homeless guys who show that community happens wherever there is shared need and a willingness to give.
• Pastor Ponder who holds an altar call after his sermon at the psych ward and says it's the best church service he’s ever had.
• Kat, the tattooed hairdresser who dreams about Jesus and longs for spiritual connection, who shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
• Jesus, who makes an invisible cameo in every story.
As Blaine writes, “I am one wrecked and dirty treasure, but God still decides I am worth the effort to save.” Jamie Blaine is the kind of writer whose view of the commonplace transforms life into the transcendent.
GRACE MEETS US IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES
Midnight Jesus shares fascinating, bizarre, and sometimes humorous true-life stories of everyday people looking for hope in their darkest hours. Poignant and unpretentious, Jamie paints beauty where at times it seems none exists—from skating rinks and bars, late-night highways and lonely apartments, broken churches and rundown trailer parks, jail cells, bridge rails, ERs, psych wards, and that place over the levee where God laughs and walks through the cool dark night.
A special thank you to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
We all need to take a page from Jamie Blaine’s letest inspirational, much-needed book; his attitude, and non-traditional approach with the eye-opening, MIDNIGHT JESUS: contemporary, fresh, raw, brutally honest, mixed with humor and hope for those who are desperate, at the end of their rope, seeking help and no where to turn ---- "when the hours of night are spacious and filled with wonder, with restless questions of longings and dreams."
“This provocative, inspirational, and heartbreaking collection of true-life tales from megachurch counseling centers, drug rehabs, and graveyard shifts on the crisis-response team explores the toughest and darkest times of people’s lives.”
A wake up call. When getting to this place in life, these people will not be inside the church walls—they are on the streets, in the gutters, strip clubs, drug rehabs, and the dark places. Wrong turns, mistakes, and they need someone to turn to, without judgement—someone willing to come, or meet them on the dark road. After all, isn’t this what Jesus offered all of us?
This is what MIDNIGHT JESUS is all about.
Jesus is everywhere—you will find Him in the darkest of places-- the broken, downtrodden—not just inside church walls. These are the places where God uses others. How many of us are willing to step outside the comfort zone to help those in need? How many of us have been there?
There is so much great stuff packed in one book, MIDNIGHT JESUS. I found myself wanting to quote many parts of this eye-awakening beautifully written book in my review; bookmarking many pages as a reminder---to refer to, often. The book is a snapshot of those moments. A few of my favorite parts:
The crisis line- he is up all night. He drives, he talks about faith, hope, love and the seemingly broken state of all things. About grace and the lessons learned. Jamie’s Story---how Jesus uses him and others.
He started out DJing in drive bars and roller rinks for rock and gospel radio stations. Then on to working in mental hospitals and drug rehab centers. He stumbled through college and into a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Even a therapist for a megachurch. There had to be a grand purpose.
Currently, Jamie is a late-night psychiatric crisis guy. He drives from jails to bridge rails, backwood hospitals, run down trailer parks-- in the middle of the night. Meeting people on their worst days, in the worst places. He alone admits he does not have enough grace, faith, or patience to handle this job on his on. He made a deal with Jesus that wherever he goes—Jesus rides along. He admits most of the time he does not have a clue what to say or do. This is Faith.
Everyone has a story. Jesus knows the story behind the curtain, and where to meet us on the road. He meets us on dead-end roads. That grace and mercy can save the day. We often forget, the Bible also includes messed up people, from Moses to Job, Jonah, to John. Do not trust a story that is too neat or clean. "True stories are raw and rough--they do not always end the way we want."
“But there is power in unpolished stories—those with nothing left to lose.“ Jamie drives and talks to Jesus.
“Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between candles but on a cross between two thieves . . . at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what he died for and about."
“There is something strangely hopeful about badly broken people coming together to try and find their way through the ugliest parts of life. If there’s hope in the darkest parts, you have to find that maybe hope is going to win in the end. Hope might be stronger than despair. When you see people walk through the worst and come out on the other side, it makes you hopeful.”
Grace and humor in psych wards. As he mentions, a mental hospital is not a Hallmark movie, of never ending fair tales. Some nights it is bizarre. Jamie shoots straight, stating honestly- “Most of the people he works with has money and health problems, self-esteem, self-sabotage, religion, family and the complete inability to take five steps in a row without screwing up.”
As he reiterates, he knows all too well, as he is also a misfit, (we all are) badly in need of grace and ten thousand chances. He is one of us—he believes in moving on, pressing on, and holding on to the good and trusting that here is something more than this life.
I loved this part from the book, which says it all:
“There are people of faith who somehow find that place where they are standing on the hilltop, smiling and clean in clothes that match, arms lifted in the sun. I am not one of those Christians. I am Peter cursing and falling beneath the waves, Noah fed up and drunk, Thomas doubting, David tiptoeing to get a second peek, Jonah at midnight in the belly of the whale, and Elisha calling down ears. I am mismatched and muddy and ragged, and if there is a hill, I’m climbing down backward with both feet in the air.”
Grace and faith have to catch him unaware. A strange peace in the room of a dying man; one late flash when the addict comes clean; the moment she breathes deep and puts the pistol down; the still small instant when God walks in; when we are all sons and daughters trying to find our way back home.
He stated he is glad Jesus’ time on earth wasn’t all elaborate or fancy. He was content to be common, a working-class guy from a Podunk town who ignored the religious leaders and hung out with losers and loose women and sinners like me (us). “Sometimes when I worry about things, I think about that and it helps.” (this will make you smile).
“God picked roughneck fisherman and tax cheats. Liars and thieves. Outlaws and wild women. Jesus was willing to work with the people no one else wanted on their team. He chose flawed, messed-up, messy people. Just like Brother John. Him. Just like all of us.”
You do not have to be perfect…the only thing Jesus asked was, “Will you follow me?”
Jesus does not show up, looking for the super saints. He comes for the stragglers and the ragged and the screw-ups and the down and out. We are all misfits and ragged stragglers. None of us are above the worst. We all need to be rescued. We are all in the same boat, and we are to help one another.
A Must Read Book for Christians and non-Christians, for any age or any walk of life. This book is for you. It is real. It will humble you, and make you rethink life’s bigger spiritual plan. This is "real life" folks. A book for every church member. Buy two, and hit the streets and giveaway a second copy to those who have lost their way---those desperately needing a word of hope from a MIDNIGHT JESUS.
Thank you, Jamie for your incredible book, and sharing your work and insights! I truly believe: "The heart of God can be found in the unlikeliest places, in the unlikeliest people." Well done!
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About the Author
As likely to quote Axl Rose as Saint Augustine, Jamie Blaine is a licensed sex and suicide specialist who has worked in libraries, psych wards, haunted houses, megachurches, radio stations and roller rinks.
He is non-fiction editor of the L.A. literary collective "The Nervous Breakdown," music editor of the Salon affiliate "The Weeklings," and a former contributor to the world’s only religious satire magazine, "The Wittenburg Door." Blaine lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read More
Meet the Late Night Psychiatric Crisis Guy: Jamie Blaine
Life Just Happens