Too Much Emphasis on Christ? 1

When I was in high school, I got into theology.  Not necessarily into actually knowing God but into knowing about God.  Thankfully, in spite of my stubborness, God got to know me and I him.  But my point is that I would constantly talk with people about Christianity, religion, theology, doctrine, etc… even if those people had no interest in talking about it.

Oftentimes the discussion would go in the direction of the charismatic gifts.  One of the things that I constantly heard at that time, and on into college, and even now, was, “Pentecostals and other charismatics overemphasize the Holy Spirit, true.  But some denominations overemphasize God the Father, and Baptists, especially, overemphasize Jesus.”  Or some other form of that argument.  (That the typical SBC church emphasizes on any member of the trinity is debatable).

But, the more I am becoming familiar with God’s word and with who Jesus is–his depth as the very fulness of God–I’m not sure if it is even possible to “overemphasize” on Jesus at all.

The whole of Scripture was about him (Luke 24:27).  The fullness of God dwells within him (Colossians 1:19).  God placed

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Review: Your Jesus is Too Safe

9780825439315So this was supposed to be up on Friday.  But my mom is in town and Leah and I hung out with her.  All day I knew there was something that I was forgetting.  About an hour ago, I realized what it was.  So I finished writing my review.  Then I tried to publish it and wordpress deleted half of it.  So I’ve had a couple of setbacks but here goes

I’m participating in the blog tour for Jared Wilson’s new book Your Jesus is Too Safe.

I’m a blog nerd.  Like most of the people in this generation, I spend way too much time reading blogs, writing blogs, and thinking about blogs.  But if any of my time spent in the blogosphere is NOT wasted, its the time I spend reading Jared Wilson’s blog, Gospel Driven Church.  If any of you are not familiar with Jared Wilson, you really should get familiar.

Jared is a pastor of Element in Nashville, TN and a writer of articles, short stories, and, now, a book.  If there is anything that I can tell you about him, it is that he is passionate about individuals, churches, pastors, leaders, etc. being utterly Gospel-driven and Jesus-centered.  I don’t actually know Jared, although I am friends with him on Facebook, (in case you were wondering, being friends on Facebook means little to nothing, more often nothing than little), but I can see Jared’s heart through his writing on his blog, in various articles, and in Your Jesus is Too Safe.

Your Jesus is Too Safe is a book about Jesus.  You’re probably thinking, “Thanks Captain Obvious.”  But I’m serious.  Its a book about who Jesus is, what Jesus did, does and will do, and how the implications those things have for our lives as people who believe in and follow Jesus.

He takes twelve different aspects of who Jesus is and what Jesus does and, with each one, he reveals all the more a clear picture of who Jesus is.  His own analogy is that of an art restorer who is removing layers of dirt and grime one at a time, seeing the picture more clearly with each layer.  Now, I know that that can seem like he is a bit presumptious to consider himself the great art restorer who is cleaning the layers of the dirt and grime of culture and religion off of the real Jesus, but he lets Scripture do most of the work.  The picture of Jesus that he gets down to is one that is refreshing, beautiful, encouraging, convicting, demanding, glorious, offensive at times, and, in case you were wondering, unsafe.  But its the Jesus of Scripture.

Jared writes as someone who knows Jesus.  He knows the Bible and that all of it is about Jesus, not just the Gospels.  He knows the current historical and theological debates/discoveries/opinions about Jesus.  He clearly knows and has experienced the love of God through the work and person of Jesus.

He writes not simply for scholars and theology nerds, but for everyone, educated and uneducated, young and old.  This book should become a staple for youth pastors to give to their teenagers, because it presents a deep, deep picture of Jesus but in a way that anyone can comprehend.  Scholars and others of the nerdy variety, myself included, will appreciate the fact that Jared is well-read and is up-to-date on the current historical and theological scholarship on Jesus.  Teenagers will appreciate the fact that he references Homestarruner.

He does all of it without assuming that the reader knows anything at all.  Well, he doesn’t assume that you are stupid, simply that you are uninformed of some of even the very basic facts of Jesus’ life.  Whenever he mentions a debate or an issue that isn’t common knowledge, he offers a summary.  Unlike most authors, his explanations are not cumbersome, longwinded and boring, but rather, they are interesting, and oftentimes very funny.

If anything other than Jared’s knowledge of and about Jesus is great, it would have to be his sense of humor.  In all honesty, he’s hilarious.  His jokes and tone bring a light-heartedness to the book.  It doesn’t bring a light-heartedness to the content, however.  It simply reminds us that although Jared takes Jesus very seriously, he doesn’t take himself nearly as seriously as some authors do.  You’ll laugh out loud, and if you are in public, such as in the Winnipeg Airport, you’ll probably get some funny looks.  If you don’t think its funny, its probably because of the severe emotional problems you suffer from.

So what’s the bottom line?  This book is about Jesus.  If you already know about Jesus, you’ll appreciate this book.  If you need to know about Jesus, you need to read this book.  And, in case you were wondering, most of the American Church needs to know about Jesus.  Buy a few copies of it.  I have a serious feeling that you’ll want to give one to someone else.  A friend, a child, a Sunday School teacher, a non-Christian, a life-long Christian.  This is a great, enlightening, challenging book.

And if you’re not convinced yet, anyone who can reference N.T. Wright, John Piper, and Strongbad all in a positive light has to be a gifted writer.

The American Patriot’s Bible

Father Ernesto, over at Orthocuban, pointed out the new American Patriot’s Bible and offered some thoughts on it.

The blurb from the Thomas-Nelson site reads:

THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW ‘A LIGHT FROM ABOVE’ SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot’s Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation’s history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.

Its true that different parts of the bible speak to people in different ways.  We can relate to different parts in different ways, oftentimes depending on our situation, personality, or even our occupation.

HOWEVER, the overriding theme is always Jesus Christ and his gospel (Luke 24:27).

When the publishing companies publish specialty bibles geared towards women or men or teenagers or fishermen or black female jewish ninjas they’re doing so to make money.  Study bibles that offer helpful commentary and background on the text of God’s word is helpful.  But I find that specialty bibles do little more than encourage people to place their identity in the fact that they are women, men, teenagers, pirates, ninjas, whatever, RATHER THAN FINDING THEIR IDENTITY IN CHRIST, their creator and savior.

God’s word speaks to men, teenagers, woman, lumberjacks, farmers, professional wrestlers in their situations, and the Christian publishing industry doesn’t need to help it out as much as they think they do.

With all of that being said, a Bible that is marketed towards the American Patriot presupposes the idea that America and its loyal citizens have a special place in God’s word and plan more than other nations.  That idea kinda makes me want to throw up.

Work, Work, Work…

Okay, so I’ve not lived up to my plan to post three times a week… but I have an excuse…  July 13-18 I was at SERVE 2009 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  Serve is the yearly summer missions camp for the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada.  It is similar to World Changers that the NAMB does, but there is only one per summer, because we are a much smaller denomination.  Anyway, it was a good trip, other than the flat tire on the way back.

Wednesday of last week I got to see my beautiful wife Leah for the first time in 3 and half weeks.  We will have been married for 3 years on October 6, 2009.  Marriage has been fun, hard, blissful, frustrating, rewarding, fulfilling, wonderful, difficult, but always good.  I love Leah more than any person in this world, but sometimes I don’t show her that.  I’ve made the mistake of not showing her how much I care about her.

Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”

So Eve had this big conversation with the serpent, in which the serpent was convincing her to do exactly what God said not to do.  Adam knew what was going on, he was watching it, but he didn’t say anything.  He just watched while his wife was being deceived, and then he sinned right along side of her.

I think this is the precursor to what husbands do all the time–we have a tendency to sit by silently with little concern about what is happening to our wives.  We’re more focused on football, video games, being a blog nerd, whatever.  Meanwhile, we ignore our wives’ spiritual, physical and emotional states.

That started creeping in.  Thankfully, my wife hasn’t been one to sit idly by while I sit idly by.  She encourages me and rebukes me and loves as much as I need it.