IVP Books


Words of Life for an Addicted, Compulsive, Cynical, Divided and Worn-Out Culture

by Sean Gladding

  • Length: 266 pages
  • Published: December 2013
  •  In stock
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-3656-7
  • Item Code: 3656
  • Case Quantity: 52

To most people living in today's world, the Ten Commandments represent archaic rules dictated by a taskmaster God, meant for a society long gone. Many see them as irrelevant, even unattainable, today. But what if we're not that different from those who gathered around Moses as he handed down God's Ten Words to his people? What if they were never meant to be a set of rules, but instead a promise of a covenant relationship?

In Ten, Sean Gladding invites you into the story of John, a pastor who spends his mornings in a local coffee shop, as he engages the viewpoints of regular people who wonder at the relevance and meaning of those Ten Words today. Sit in on their lively, heart-felt conversations as they tackle each Word over a cup of coffee and realize the hope of God's promises to his chosen people—yesterday, today and forever.

"Integrity is a lost art form—or better still, it is a lost life guide. Maybe biblical integrity is as much about loving our culture, world and neighbor as it is about personal holiness. Sean Gladding has taken his love for God and love of the other and invited each of us into a deeper spiritual devotion through the pages of Ten."

Tony Kriz, author of Welcome to the Table and Neighbors and Wise Men

"Gladding brilliantly exposes how fragile we are in the face of cultural, political, psychological and spiritual forces that militate against our freedom and set us back on our journey toward becoming fully human. This creative and timely work upends the myth that the Ten Commandments are onerously restrictive, and reveals what God intended the Law to be—a pathway to the joy that is our birthright."

Ian Morgan Cron, author of Chasing Francis

"Ten is a book for people interested in finding a better way to live. I love the Ten Words and this fresh look at the ancient biblical text of the Ten Commandments. But mostly, I love Sean's perspective. It reminds me of something I tend to forget: Whether we worship in a meeting room with a Big Book or in a congregation that studies the Bible, we humans are more alike than we are different. We are at our best when we are encouraging one another to live well. I give it a ten."

Teresa McBean, executive director, National Association for Christian Recovery

"Sean Gladding has done it again. In this immensely readable book, the goodness of God and the relevance of Scripture shine through. Sean draws us into a community of honest conversation by masterfully weaving together believable characters, biblical stories, theology and cultural reflection. As the story of Pastor John's Monday-morning coffee-shop group unfolds, the reader is helped to see that the Ten Commandments are an invitation to live in true freedom. I hope this book will be read and discussed widely, both inside and outside the church."

Lindsay Olesberg, author of The Bible Study Handbook

"Sean Gladding reveals to us a grand biblical narrative refracted through ordinary people's stories. Like light reflected in broken shards of glass, the purity of God's vision for a peaceful, generous, restful, faithful world is described through the struggles and anxieties of everyday folk. You've never heard the Ten Commandments taught quite like this."

Michael Frost, author, The Shaping of Things to Come and Exiles

"I have read Ten with great interest. Two things in particular struck me. First the way Sean shows how the 'rules' are in the service of a relationship. And second, the way Sean weaves the commandments into real life situations with real people. The latter is a special pastoral gift."

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"This is a book I'd be confident in suggesting to the wide variety of folks I serve. In fact, I'm fairly certain that Gladding didn't have clergy in mind as the primary audience for this book. It would serve well as a book to be shared by adults or older teens. Though one would need to figure out how to schedule each chapter, reading and reflecting on this test would make for an interesting Lenten discipline. I am grateful to Gladding for the book, and commend it wholeheartedly."

Sara Olson Dean, Englewood Review of Books, Lent 2014

"Ten is worthwhile reading for anyone, but especially intriguing for a couples group, or either a high school or college-age group study. Gladding helps us see these 'Words of Life' as far more than 'rules' eclipsed and made void on the cross. Candid. Incisive. Interesting. Valuable."

Andrea Hunter, Worship Leader Magazine, May/June 2014

"Sit in on this lively, heartfelt and heart-rending conversation about the Ten Words of God - those commandment etched in so much stone, causing so much turmoil and yet inviting us into a world we dream about, a life we had given up believing is possible."

Light Magazine, Canada, February 2014


Introduction: The Ten Commandments - Who Cares?
1 From Envy to Contentment: The Tenth Word
2 From Deception to Truth Telling: The Ninth Word
3 From Theft to Generosity: The Eighth Word
4 From Betrayal to Fidelity: The Seventh Word
5 From Violence to Peace: The Sixth Word
6 From Obligation to Respect: The Fifth Word
7 From Striving to Rest: The Fourth Word
8 From Blasphemy to Reverence: The Third Word
9 From Idolatry to Worship: The Second Word
10 God: The First Word
For Discussion
About the Author


Originally hailing from Norwich, England, Sean Gladding has made his home in the U.S. for the last two decades, where he has served in various forms of pastoral ministry, getting around on his '84 Ironhead Sportster. During his time at Asbury Theological Seminary he first encountered the concept of the metanarrative of scripture, an experience that has deeply shaped his life. His first book, The Story of God, the Story of Us, has its origins in a Bible study Sean led during a summer internship at Mercy Street, a church in Houston, Texas, for people in recovery from addiction and from bad church experiences--often both. Sean went on to co-pastor Mercy Street for seven years, during which time he and his wife Rebecca narrated the "Story of God" with people who had never heard it before or who had only heard a fragmented version. Hearing the "Story" with both the enfranchised and those on the margins has continually deepened their understanding of scripture, and shaped their lives and the way they tell the "Story." Over the years they have made "The Story of God" narrative freely available to anyone who wanted to use it. The "Story" has been told in homes, churches, college campuses, coffee shops, pubs and laundromats, spread over five continents. Sean and Rebecca have two children. After their time with Mercy Street they returned to Lexington, Kentucky, to rejoin friends at Communality--part of the family of New Monastic communities--where they are seeking the welfare of the city.

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