“Show Them Jesus” – by Martha Jo Melton

Show Them JesusI am so thankful for New Growth Press for publishing, “Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids“, by Jack Klumpenhower. It is PHENOMENAL!!!!- No exaggeration! It has encouraged and challenged me, equipped and highly motivated me to share, teach and know the Gospel, BUT more than anything else, it has helped me see Jesus in a way that has made me fall in love with Him all over again!!!

After chapter three, I was already calling people on the phone to tell them to get the book! After chapter seven, I just cried. Jack’s emphasis on Jesus in telling the account of “Martha and Mary” just floored me. I have always identified with Martha in the story and always felt scolded and unapproved of when I hear the account. But looking at Jesus instead of just Martha’s response to Him, helped me to see how much Jesus loved and was caring for Martha even in her worry and sin. It helped me believe how much He loves me in the midst of my own worry and sin!!!! Just like the author confessed in the chapter for himself–I realized how much I have taught my kids about a “puny Jesus” or a “flat character” in a story instead of the interesting, complex, full Son of God the Bible shows Him to be- if I really look at Him instead of trying to find some moral or principle to emulate. Continue reading

Leading with a Limp – a book review

Read most any book on Christian leadership and you often hear the same approach as secular leadership books.  Sure, the language is shrouded in “christianese” but the underlying emphasis is the same.  Lip service is given to “prayer, bible study, kingdom impact, and servant leadership,” but at the end of the day, the operating principles of Christian leadership are more often ego-centric and gospel denying.  For example, we might package our language this way: “For the sake of the gospel, we should develop strategies to leverage our power as Christian leaders and minimize our weaknesses.   For the sake of the gospel, we should discipline ourselves to learn to utilize our gifted-ness, realize our potential, and produce spiritual fruit.  For the sake of the gospel, we should advance the kingdom, build powerful churches, reach the lost, and overcome darkness.”

This kind of talk sounds good.  “For the sake of the gospel.”  I mean, who can argue with that?  Right?  This is big talk.  This kind of leadership talk is a heady brew that can really get the church planting blood churning and get forward thinking Christian leaders moving.  But there is a deep flaw in this perspective.  Something incredibly significant is lost in the flatulence of vainglorious leadership talk.  Namely – God’s glory.  God’s fame.  Big leadership talk often  misses the idea that all throughout history, God has displayed his glory, not by using powerful people with powerful strategies, but by using broken people.  Foolish people.  Weak people.  God has displayed his glory by using people who had very few gifts.  God has displayed his glory by doing crazing things that humble believers and unbelievers alike.  He does not use the strong.  He uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise (I Corinthians 1:18-31). The bible is absolutely filled with this theme.  God favors leaders who make the most of the power that comes from brokenness.  He favors those who are willing to not only repent of their weaknesses but also to repent of their strengths (Philippians 4:3-8).  God prefers leaders who know that they have nothing to offer God but a broken and contrite heart.  God uses leaders who know they are foolish and are willing to look foolish in order to see the fame of God put on display.

Yet, as I said earlier, so many books and conferences on Christian leadership leave out this crucial perspective.  And without this gospel hub informing all areas of Christian leadership development, all subsequent perspectives are deeply flawed.  Thankfully, we have a refreshing and powerful gospel alternative in  “Leading with a Limp” by Dr. Dan Allender.  I believe that every Christian leader who desires to be used of Christ should prayerfully chew on this book.  It is humbling, enriching, worshipful, and painfully honest.  My only regret is that more current Christian leaders have not taken up Allender’s theme of leading with a limp and written more on the subject.  I personally would love to see a book along these lines written specifically to men.  At any rate, “Leading with a Limp” is a wonderful book.  I highly recommend it to all Christian leaders.  Click here to order “Leading with a Limp” on Amazon.

One final note: Dr. Joe Novenson worked through “Leading with a Limp” and wrote a magnificent and detailed summary of the book.  It’s just fantastic.  You can download Novenson’s summary by clicking HERE.

The Jesus Storybook Bible

I love books that are gospel-centered.  Love them.  As a Presbyterian minister, I am constantly looking for curriculum that emphasizes the gospel rather than moralizing God’s Word.  You may think that would be easy.  Afterall, there are tons of Christian material out there.  It should be easy to find stuff that elevates the gospel.  Right?  Wrong.  Not so.  There is indeed a lot of “Christian” material, yet so much of it  comes from a What-Would-Jesus-Do, how should we behave, let’s all follow Christ’s example, moralistic mindset.  So, when I come across a book that is committed to exalting Christ and elevating the Gospel, I jump all over it.

A couple of weeks ago our Children’s Director at Surfside Presbyterian (Jennifer Cronk, who is awesome by the way) put a very special children’s book on my desk.  The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  The Storybook Bible is a magnificent little book that does a fantastic job of capturing the overarching Gospel message of Scripture.  In the book, Jesus is always front and center.  Every story moves toward Jesus as the central figure, the hero, the Savior, and the shepherd; the Son of God and the Messiah who was coming to save God’s children from sin and death.  So, if you have a child, or grandchild, or think like a child, or read like a child, and you love the gospel of Christ, then you should order this book.  Not only will it help your children get the gospel, it will help you get it too.

I have included some links to learn more about this great book.

1 – A web-site introducing the Jesus Storybook Bible, 2 – An  interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones by Dan Cruver found on Eucatastrophe, 3 – The Storybook Bible from Amazon.com, 4 – The Storybook Bible is also available on DVD.  I’ve included a video excerpt below.

Click here to go to Storybook Bible Website

Click here to read interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones

Click here to order The Storybook Bible from Amazon!

“Heaven is not my Home” – a book review

I would like to recommend an excellent book that I am presently reading called “Heaven is not my Home” by Paul Marshall. In his thought-provoking book, Marshall asserts that God is not seeking to destroy the earth, but to restore it to its original splendor. He shows us how the redemption of all things should shape the way we look at every aspect of our lives. He especially fleshes out some of the things I’ve talked about in regard to developing a healthy theology of play. (See “Christian Impact and Football” and “C.S. Lewis and a Theology of Christian Hope“). However, Marshall’s work goes much, much further. His fuller emphasis is focused on broader aspects of the Kingdom of God ‘yet to come’ and connecting those to the Kingdom of God that exists ‘right now’.

Continue reading

“Surprised by Hope” – N.T. Wright

For a healthy, reformed view of the “New Heavens and New Earth”, I would recommend “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright. I’m reading it now and, boy, it’s so good.  Our theology of heaven is often confused with Greek mythology along with a plethora of gnostic ideas that we get from ‘Left Behind’ and other such popular works.  Wright is a little tricky on some of his theological views (like justification and his interpretation of Paul), but by and large you won’t find any of that in “Surprised by Hope.”   The book basically outlines for us a demythologized version of heaven that’s rooted in Biblical exegesis, and a robust, covenantal, eschatalogical view.  I recommend it highly.