I mentioned the other day about the Jesus Storybook Bible and recently came across another family devotion resource called Long Story Short. This one seems aimed at kids a little older than Jackson (who’s not even 2 yet). But it focuses on being helping facilitate discussion based on the Bible.
Here’s the author’s description:
Transform Your Family with Ten Minutes a Day in the Gospel Story Christian parents know the importance of passing the gospel story on to their children, yet we live in a busy world filled with distractions. Schedules collide, there is homework and yard work and dishes and laundry, the car s oil should be changed, there are phone calls to make…and before you know it, everyone is getting to bed late again. The Bible can seem like a long story for an active family to read, but when you break it down into short sections, as Marty Machowski does, family devotions are easy to do. Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won t find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transform the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read. Ten minutes a day, five days a week is enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known. Long Story Short is a family devotional program designed to explain God s plan of salvation through the Old Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.
I hope that description captured you like it did me. “Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform…”
I’m in that place again. You may be familiar with it yourself. You know, that place of inadequacy, uncertainty, and doubt. Paul described it as “weakness.” Everyone gets there sometime. For some it takes on the full symptoms of debilitating depression. I can’t always explain what gets me hear. Fear? Confusion? Sin? I’m not sure I always know. Other times it’s plenty obvious.
I guess it’s good to admit that I don’t have the answers. I’m such a ‘know-it-all’ sometimes. But life has decided to prove me wrong. Take that back, God has decided to prove me wrong. There is too much I don’t know and too much I can’t do. I’d rather have less answers and know God more.
Today I’m choosing to accept my “weakness.” My inadequacy seems to be the best platform for God to display his power (2 Corinthians 12:9). In fact, I think that recognizing my complete inability to fulfill the tasks which God has assigned (2 Corinthians 2:16) is a wonderful foundation from which to work. My weakness is a beautiful showcase for God’s glory.
One of the best decisions we have made since Jackson was born was making reading the Bible as a family a priority every night. Even when he was an infant, we started reading the Bible every night. We first used My First Message but as soon as we were given the Jesus Storybook Bible (thanks Aunt Kara!) we were hooked. I think Whitney and I look forward to this time every night even more than Jackson. The stories are Biblically accurate, theologically sound, and convicting. The gospel is always in view whether the story is an Old Testament Narrative or a New Testament epistle. Take this excerpt from 1 Samuel 16 when God chose David to be Israel’s King:
God chose David to be king because God was getting his people ready for an even greater King who was coming. Once again, God would say, “Go to Bethlehem. You’ll find the new King there.” And there, one starry night in Bethlehem, in the town of David, three Wise Men would find him.
I’d dare to recommend that everyone (kids or not) get this wonderful book and read it. You could use it as a daily devotional or just to help focus you on the central focus of Scripture.
I just figured I’d compile a two part series on Ezekiel 37 I preached. This famous story takes place in the “Valley of Dry Bones.” It is poignant, gripping, and powerful. The underlying message is simple: HOPE.
“The Valley of Dry Bones” (Part 1) – “From Death to Life” (Ezekiel 37:1-10)
“The Valley of Dry Bones” (Part 1) – “Hope Lived Out” (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
For what it’s worth, I’ve been thinking a lot about preaching lately. I remember in seminary being very disappointed in my preaching class. Now that I’ve had the chance to think about it, I’ve compiled my thoughts on a few important criteria for a preacher. The order is not significant, so don’t read into it too much.
1. Authenticity. Gone are the days of the polished performance. The Bible speaks consistently of honesty and truth as essential to the Christian life. No radio voice here. No stage actors. The modern preacher is more akin to a stand-up comedian than a Shakespearean orator not because he tells jokes but because he tells the truth! Your listeners don’t need a performance, they need the truth. (1 Thessalonians 2:1–12)
2. Originality. With the internet anyone can find top notch preaching at the click of a mouse. There are enough quality sermons to fill an ipod for days. If your audience wants to hear John Piper, Danny Akin, David Platt, or any myriad of other preachers they can. But they are listening to you. Your church has called you to teach. They want to hear how God has gifted you. I’m not saying to speak only your opinions. Speak the timeless truth of God’s word but teach it from your unique perspective. Use the gospel-cultivated personal relationships you have within your local body of believers to meet people where they are and take them where they are to go. There is an atmosphere that cannot be duplicated via video. (1 Corinthians 7:7)
3. Growth. A preacher should be growing in their knowledge and ability through the power of the Spirit. There is no room for stagnation or staleness. I’m not even sure that one should “settle into a groove” as they say. If one is growing, stretching, and being challenged by the cost of discipleship, then the message should reflect it. (2 Peter 3:18)