Tag Archives: jesus

Better Without Jesus

About six months ago my 4-year-old son “asked Jesus into his heart”.  I did the same around that age, and I know that many people do the same.  But should we use that language?  As Dr Mohler stated a number of years ago, it is not heresy, but it is not helpful.  Recently, I watched the first session from Jim Cymbala’s six-session group Bible study, When God’s Spirit Moves.  Cymbala teaches on the power and presence of the Spirit and how Jesus taught that it was better for him to go so that the Spirit could come.  Cymbala said this is true because no outward teaching can replace the inward power of the Spirit.

I wasn’t raised with much of a theology of the Holy Spirit, and most people I know would say the same.  The Spirit was something that some people took too far, so it was best to not get wrapped up in emotion and swing to the other side and treated as the black sheep of the Trinity.  But as Cymbala says, Christians are distinct from all other religions and cults because of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

I am challenged and excited to see what God will do when I open my life to the Holy Spirit.  I also am challenged to instill in my boys a better knowledge and understanding of the Holy Spirit than what I knew.  Maybe the language we should consider is asking the Spirit into your life, rather than Jesus into your heart.  I would encourage you to watch the first session from Jim Cymbala’s When God’s Spirit Moves on YouTube for free below, and check out his new book on the same topic, Spirit Rising.  In the video below, you will hear Cymbala’s inspiring teaching on the person of the Holy Spirit, and an amazing story of transformation from a former gangster named Roma:

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Jesus is Our Ultimate Hope

I had to share this video from Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey Church in St Louis, and author of For the City, with Matt Carter.  He briefly talks about Jesus as our ultimate hope and that he is the truer and better politician.

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Distraction or Destruction

My 4-year-old has a curious word choice as he plays with his toys.  He recently got into batman, and his grandparents gave him some action figures this past Christmas.  So when he is playing, he says that the joker is coming for batman to “distract” him.  He means destroy but he is much more familiar with the word distract.

Over the weekend, I thought that the joker in our story, the devil, does the same thing.  he means to destroy us, but (one way) he does so with distractions.  How often have I done less for the kingdom merely because I was distracted?  Too often, I’m afraid to admit.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have never been very political.  I believe that God calls us to be good citizens, and to take our responsibility seriously as citizens.  That said, many times it seems that politics distracts us from who our allegiance really belongs to.

In Jesus for President, Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw say that “having power at its fingertips, the church often finds ‘guiding the course of history’ a more alluring goal than following the crucified Christ.”  Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be political, just that we should remember that our hope does not rest in the governmental systems and people of the world, but in the one, true King.  He places monarchs and dictators and presidents and gives them their position.

I just finished reading through the book of Jeremiah, and in 43.10, God says, “Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them.” (emphasis mine).  God is sovereign over all and to whom our allegiance ultimately lies.

In this voting year, let’s remember to love one another, to be respectful, and to serve Jesus.  As Shane Claiborne says, “enough donkeys and elephants.  It’s time for the Lamb.”

See below to watch the first portion of the Jesus for President Tour Film, and visit our playlist on YouTube for first sessions of over 75 new and best-selling curriculum for free.

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Everyone is a winner

Yesterday was Super Tuesday and we had the super giveaway.  Today is really the super giveaway because for every person who commented, we will send each product involved:

Thanks for all the great responses!

Super Tuesday Super Giveaway

I didn’t grow up in a political home at all.  I believe my parents voted, but it was never discussed.  My first foray into politics was when i attended Northland Baptist Bible College in 1992 and we were told that they were not allowed to tell us who to vote for, but it better be George Bush, not Bill Clinton, and then bused us to the voting stations.

Today, I am not much more political.  I do vote, but my wife and I stay away from political discussions typically.  Four years ago, I read Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is a wonderful, thought-provoking book.  I have also watched our Politics and the Christian Faith curriculum from Chuck Colson.  Colson answers questions on whether Christians should be in politics, and whether or not politics can save America.  It is biblically based, balanced, and clear teaching on politics and the Bible.

Today is Super Tuesday and Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia will be holding primary elections today.  On the blog, we will be holding a Super Giveaway on our resources that help provoke thought and offer insight into our American political system.  We will be doing the giveaway two ways.  First, one person will win a bundle of all our resources below.  Second, six winners will be chosen to win one of the below resources:

To enter, simply answer these two questions in the comments below:

  • Was politics discussed in your home growing up, or is it now?
  • What verses, chapters, or books for the Bible are instructive for you as you think of voting?

To learn more about Jesus for President and Politics and the Christian Faith, view the first sessions here and here.

The Present and Winners Announced

Thank you all who commented on your favorite Old Testament story that pointed you to Jesus.  We received loads of great comments and the overall story that most people felt pointed them to Jesus was The Present – 31% of you.  The second favorite story was the Exodus – 13% of you.  Other favorites were Ruth, David, and Noah.

The 3 random winners of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum kit are:

  • Taraleigh: “Son of Laughter for sure ~ about God keeping his promise to Abraham and how he would bring another baby. “…this baby would be everyone’s dream come true.””
  • Kelly F: “My favorite is David and Goliath! David knew that only God could save him…and in the end…only God/Jesus can save us! One big difference between David and Jesus though is that David risked his like for his people. Jesus GAVE his life for the world! :) Love, love, love the Jesus Storybook Bible!”
  • Lisa: “Israel’s restoration in Ezekiel 36 – God would remove Israel’s stony heart & replace with heart of flesh. “And I will put my Spirit in you. . . . I will save you from all your uncleanness.”"

In honor of the wonderful story of The Present, Abraham and Isaac, I want to share a great piece from the curriculum of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum: notes based on material from Timothy Keller for teachers of this story.  This is taken directly from the curriculum.  I think you will find it helpful as you teach children, adults, and yourself.  And be sure to visit www.jesusstorybookbible.com for samples, review lessons, and more.


Some readers will have understandable objections to this story, especially as it is often interpreted.  Some people have interpreted this story as: “God called Abraham to murder his son, and Abraham showed his faith and submission by getting ready to do it. So we should do whatever God calls us to do.” But this is to misunderstand the meaning of the firstborn son in Jewish thought and symbolism. God over and over again told the Hebrews that because of their sinfulness, the lives of their firstborn are automatically forfeit. The only way to change this was for the firstborn to somehow be redeemed with sacrifice or ransomed with payment.

When God said that the firstborn child’s life belonged to him unless ransomed, he was saying in the most vivid way possible that every family on earth owes a debt to eternal justice — the debt of sin. The firstborn was, in traditional cultures, the bearer of all the family’s hopes for a prosperous future. That is why God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son was enormously painful; it appeared that he was abandoning his promises to Abraham. But the charge was not incomprehensible. God was not asking him to murder his son. He was calling in Abraham’s debt.

It is hard not to notice the resonance of this call to Abraham with all the others, especially the first one in Genesis 12. Then and now he was called to “go,” leaving all his security, comfort, and everything his heart rested in. Then and now he was called to make his heart’s dearest objects into an “offering” to God. In Genesis 12, those things were more general. He was giving up his friends, most of his family, life in a civilized, safe place. These are major sacrifices. God was asking Abraham to trust in God’s promise as his security and significance, not these other things. That is what God is doing again
now, as Abraham is called to offer up Isaac, the dearest thing in his life.

In every case, God is saying, “Don’t look to anything but me. Make me your ultimate security, worth, and hope. Don’t trust in anything but me. Don’t rest your heart in anything more than me for your significance and acceptability.”

But the ultimate nature of this test is summed up in the term God deliberately uses with emphasis in Genesis 22:2: “your son, your only son.” It is not literally true that Isaac is Abraham’s only son. But Isaac is Abraham’s only son in that all his hopes are focused on Isaac: he is the promised son, the one through whom God promised to rescue his people.

Did Abraham push himself up the mountain simply saying, “I have to obey God perfectly! I can do it! I must do it!” and so on? No, Genesis 22:8 shows that Abraham had decided to cling to the goodness and promises of God despite all appearances. He says, “God himself will provide the lamb.” Abraham could not have known exactly what God would do, nor does it seem likely he believed specifically that a ram-substitute would be discovered. He was simply saying, “God will provide . . . somehow.” Verse 5 also seems to be an indication of Abraham’s hope, because he tells his servants that “we will come back to you.”

In other words, he did not go up the mountain saying, “I can do it”; rather, he went up the mountain saying, “God will do it . . . but I don’t know how.” Somehow God would remove the debt on the firstborn and keep the promises he’d made.

Abraham had his eyes fixed on a provision that he could not even imagine, but he knew was there. We, this side of the cross, can truly see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Thursday Giveaway – Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum

The Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum is 50 weeks of curriculum for 6-9 year old children, based on the award-winning Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  She has teamed with Sam Shammas of Redeemer Presbyterian Church to make this curriculum featuring activities, notes for teachers based on material from Timothy Keller, memory verses, printable student handouts, and more.

The curriculum invites children to join the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation – and at the center of their story too.  Building off the 44 stories within the Jesus Storybook Bible the curriculum has 44 individual story lessons and adds 6 review lessons (available online here) for a full year’s worth of curriculum (see the scope and sequence here).  Each lesson provides 45-60 minutes worth of material for the class.  It can be customized to work with younger children, but many of the activities are geared toward children that can read and write.

We are giving away The Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum Kit to 3 random commentors below.  Simply answer this question in the comments below to enter and come back Friday to see if you have won.

What is a favorite Old Testament story that points you to Jesus?

I’ll go first…the story of Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth is a beautiful picture of Jesus redeeming us.

Don’t forget Jesus in your small group

There is only one thing that I don’t like about the Jesus Storybook Bible…there are only 44 stories in it.  I’ve read it and re-read it and re-re-read it, and, well you get the picture, to my boys since before they could hold their own heads up straight. That is one reason I am so excited about working on the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum that just released.  This amazing resource takes children (and adults) through a transformational journey.  The Bible is not about us, Jesus is the hero.  This past week my pastor spoke about reading the story of David and Goliath.  Too often we project ourselves in that story and see ourselves as David and our problems as Goliath when we should read it as Jesus is the hero and sin, death, and Satan are Goliath.

In our small groups we sometimes forget that the Bible is all about Jesus, not all about us.  I was recently in a men’s group talking about the end of Sermon on the Mount.  Most of the guys were talking about how we need to make sure that we always stay on the straight path and keep to following the rules so we produce good fruit.  I’m not arguing that we need to be antinomian, just that we never forget the Gospel is one of grace and is all about Jesus, and what he has done.

We cannot keep everything in the Sermon on the Mount, and we don’t have to (not that we don’t try) because Jesus did.

The curriculum around the Jesus Storybook Bible is a full year’s worth of material for 6-9 year old children and helps them frame the Bible correctly – that it is a grand story about Jesus.  As the tagline for the Storybook Bible says, “every story whispers his name.”  In the curriculum, there are activities, notes for teachers based on material from Dr Timothy Keller, animated videos for each story, and handouts for children that reinforce how that week’s story pointed to Jesus.  Here is one of the videos included on the curriculum, God’s Wonderful Surprise:

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Tomorrow, we will be holding a giveaway for 3 people to win a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum.  Be sure to come back for that.  Until then, what is a section or story from Scripture that you have heard applied to us that should be applied to Jesus?

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