THE SERVANT KING (from the Jesus StoryBook Bible).

We love reading this Storybook Bible to the kids. Here is another animated story from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Halloween and the Great Commission: Why My Kids Dress Up for Candy, but Don’t Pretend in Santa

Just so you know, I don’t think holidays are evil.  But some Christians do have a hard time navigating the holidays.  They are troubled by Jack-o-lanterns, Santa Claus,  and the Easter bunny.  I guess we could add a few more holidays to the list, but we will keep it down to the big 3 just for the sake of time.

Why its a big deal: No doubt somewhere somebody once told you that all the “Christian” holiday’s  like Christmas and Easter are really just “pagan holidays.”  Christmas wasn’t really on December the 25th and that the Easter bunny is all about fertility, being twitter-pated, new life and stuff.  I know, I know, its disappointing to have your whole Christian holiday stuff upset by some great big “pagan conspiracy.”  Why did they have to go pick the “Christian” holidays, why couldn’t they have hijacked some other holiday like Grandparents Day? No, the pagans had to come and take our Christmas and Easter. Or did they?…

How it might of actually started I think it’s the Pagans that should be upset that we are talking so much about Jesus around their holidays.  I guess that’s how it really started.  Some pagan got up to say, “through these winter months we look with joy to the new life of spring,”  and a Christian in the room stood up and said, “let me tell you about how God loves us and when the world was dark and cold, God came in the flesh and dwelt among us.”  And later in the spring when they were sitting around talking about how new life springs out of dead things a Christian got up and said, “They killed Jesus, but he rose from the dead three days later!” All of the sudden these pagan holidays centered around pagan ideas were hijacked by Christians telling their wonderful stories about the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus.  Yes, my friends, it is the pagans who have had their holidays hijacked… not the Christians.  Truth be told, I don’t know why we have a Christmas tree (nor do I care), but I do know why we have a manger.

The Real Danger: The real danger with “Christian” holidays is that we only think about the incarnation (birth of Jesus) and resurrection on holidays.  SEC football is a bigger threat to my kids than Santa Claus because I’m an Auburn fan.  The real danger is that I might look more excited about football for 4 months out of the year than I am about what Christ has done in my life.  The question isn’t, “do I make Christmas about Jesus or Santa?” The real question is, “do I make all of my life about Jesus?”  The real evil would be to tell my kids Santa isn’t real, tell the truth about Jesus, but forget about Jesus the other 11 months out of the year.

A Way Forward: I say we hijack all the holidays for the sake of the gospel… starting with Halloween.  I know it’s scary; kids all dressed up like witches and demons and stuff.  But think about it, when was the last time you were invited and expected to knock on every door in your neighborhood? (and rewarded with candy I might add!) It’s how we met most of our neighbors beyond just a few doors down.

You see there aren’t any front porches in my neighborhood, or side walks, or parks, most people park the car in the garage,  all of our backyards have 6 foot privacy fences, and most of our houses have TVs and computers so we never have to see each other.  But once a year, Halloween changes that and kids come to our house and we take our kids through the neighborhood. Halloween has become an avenue for relationships which is the avenue for the gospel.

I know, I know, your scared that the secret origins of Halloween now have a dark hold over my kids… Can I just say, “It’s not so.”  We serve a risen Savior who beat death, and destroys demons.  We dabbled more in the spirit world when we obeyed God, packed our bags and moved our family to Pensacola (trust me, my daughter had more nightmares and we wrestled through more demonic stuff in our obedience than we ever have with her dressed as a Strawberry).  It’s time that we worry more about the mission than the top-secret pagan origins of a holiday.

Where to draw the line:  I think the line on holidays looks different for each family.  We draw the line at deception or dishonesty to our kids.  We teach our kids that Santa  and the Easter bunny are not real.  We also teach that Satan and his demons are real.  Most importantly we teach that Jesus Christ has conquered death and is stronger than any demon will ever be.  One of our core values is the ability to discern truth from error.   We still teach a healthy amount of pretend and play.  Because we aim for this balance of truth and pretend we are a little weird.  The things we draw the line on are probably different than you family and that’s okay (you can be weird too!)

On This Day in Christian History (A Review)

I like history.  I really like Christian History.  Just take one glance around my office and you will notice that most of the books on my shelves were written by dead guys (actually they wrote the books and then they died).  You might also notice a long shelve filled with biographies and still another shelf filled with volumes of Church history.  You will also notice a magazine stack of Christian History Magazines.  I’m a history guy.  I’m a Christian history guy.

So when On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes came up for review, I jumped at the chance to review it.  And it didn’t disappoint.  There are so many things that I like about this book and  it is hard to summarize in just a few words, so let me say this… it’s the perfect gift for a guy like me.  I can also see it being a great read for someone who is interested in getting a glimps at the people and events of Christian history.

The stories are generally inspiring.  There is a scripture verse at the bottom of the page that brings relevance and meaning to the previously read story.  There is a fascinating topic index in the back of the book allowing readers to look up stories according to topic. Over all it does a great job at achieving its purpose (a bite sized reading of what happened in Christian history on a particular day) in a way that encourages readers to stay engaged in the book.  I dare you to just read one day’s history when you get the book.

I  highly recommend On This Day in Christian History to anyone interested in Christian history.  To beginners its an easy read, small commitment book that will give you a broad spectrum view of Christian History.  To well educated history nerds like myself it will allow you to pull out of a narrowed genre of Church history (I find myself often in the Reformation and the Puritan Eras)  to appreciate a broader scope of history in a way that doesn’t take a lot of time.  Plus, everyone wants to know what happened in Christian history on your birthday.   The retail price is $12.99 (paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $9.35. I really like this book and at under $10 it makes a great dirty Santa gift when you are getting together with history nerds… unfortunately, we are a rare breed.  I gave it five stars.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    50 Reasons: To Give Eternal Life To All Who Believe on Him

    A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I would be reading Piper’s book “50 Reasons why Jesus Came to Die” between Easter and Pentecost. You can get the scoop here

    I apolagize for not posting much of last week and early this week.  Most of my computer time was spent writing and researching a few papers due for my Masters degree and a few other side projects that had more immediate deadlines.

    To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him

    Piper does a great job bringing out the beauty of eternal life in this quote, “It is the supreme and ever increasing happiness where all sin and all sadness will be gone.  All that is evil and harmful in this fallen creation will be removed.  All that is good – all that will bring true and lasting happiness- will be preserved, purified and intensified” (57).  Imagine ever increasing delight without an end.  That’s the point of eternal life.  Not an endless choir session of boring music.  If that is the future for all who believe on Christ… How should that inform the way we live now?

    50 Reasons: To Provide the Basis for Our Justification

    The other day I mentioned that I would be reading Piper’s book “50 Reasons why Jesus Came to Die” between Easter and Pentecost. You can get the scoop here.

    To Provide the Basis for Our Justification

    Piper addresses a key aspect of what Jesus did for us through his death, burial and resurrection.  Many times we talk about how Christ took our sins and provided forgiveness, but seldom do we talk about being Justified (declared just) before God.  Being Justified and declared Righteous (tomorrow’s chapter) are essential in our salvation.

    Saw this on YouTube this week.  Another good song that I don’t have on my Ipod, but sing all the time.  I was particularly engaged during the first part where it shows the scene involving the woman at the well.

    50 Reasons: For the Forgiveness of Our Sins

    The other day I mentioned that I would be reading Piper’s book “50 Reasons why Jesus Came to Die” between Easter and Pentecost. You can get the scoop here.

    For the Forgiveness of Our Sins

    I was blessed to read today’s chapter and was reminded of the cost of free.  Sometimes things are free to us because they are cheap.  Sometimes they are free because somebody wants something from you.  And in the case of forgiveness and salvation free because we could never afford it.  We could never merit God’s grace.  We could never earn salvation.  We could never purchase for ourselves what Christ purchased for us at Calvary.

    50 Reasons: To Become a Ransom for Many

    The other day I mentioned that I would be reading Piper’s book “50 Reasons why Jesus Came to Die” between Easter and Pentecost. You can get the scoop here.

    To Become a Ransom for Many

    I am excited that Piper highlights that the ransom here was paid to God and of course cites several verses in explanation.  There is an errant idea going through many Christian circles that the ransom was paid to Satan.  I think we often give Satan more credit than he deserves.  The idea that the ransom was due Satan originated with a theologian by the name of Origin (185 – 254 A.D.). (Wow! One of my undergrad professors would be proud.  He used to say that, “Origin was the origin of all heresy” and it stuck).

    Anyway I’m glad that Jesus paid it all. Piper drives home an excellent point.  The ransom is for “many” (Mark 10:45) and not all are saved, but the offer is for everyone (I timothy 2:5-6).  Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell the people at your work place, “Jesus paid it all!”  If they don’t know, they need to hear: if they already know, they need to hear it again. I’ve been blessed to share with 5 people (apart from church related stuff) this week about why Jesus came to die!