Monday, April 23, 2012

A Review of 'Days with Jesus'

When seekers and believers alike attempt to learn more about the person of Jesus, they are most often directed to the Gospel of John in the New Testament. And in reading this gospel, several questions inevitably arise. In this book, Days with Jesus, Pastor/Author Jim Jackson has written an extremely helpful counterpart to the gospel of John that will answer most, if not all, of those pesky questions. The author tackles the text, stories, and themes in an intriguing and multi-faceted manner: a dose of history, a helping of theology, a skosh of science, and two scoops of spiritual application amount to an exciting and penetrating read that will certainly have something for everyone. Not only does Jim do this from the written page, but incredibly well-done videos accompany each chapter and are found on the book’s website ( These videos offer a great auditory and visual complement to the book and are excellently shot on site in Israel from the locations where each event takes place- color me satisfied!

The strengths of Days with Jesus are many. Here’s why you should read it:
- You will personally interact with the story of Jesus. The voice and tone of the book do not allow one to be an innocent bystander!
- You will learn new things about Jesus. Technical historical, scientific, or theological nuances are explained in a clear and accurate manner.
- You will feel convicted by Jesus. Thoughtful discussion questions, penetrating applications, and memorable quotes all highlight the message of Jesus and urge the reader to be transformed.
- You will laugh. There are several witty remarks, interesting observations, and funny one-liners that keep you on your toes.
- You will meet the true Jesus. As a reader, I was continually placed in the story, viewing Jesus as an eyewitness would have viewed him. It was a fascinating view, indeed.

I imagine that you could enjoy this book as your own personal study, as your family devotions, as your small group curriculum, or possibly as a church-wide walk through the gospel of John. However and whenever you choose to walk through the life of Jesus and the gospel of John, you should certainly do so with Days with Jesus at your side...

(Disclaimer: Yes, my pastor wrote this book, and yes I would love him even if the book sucked. But the book rocks! I'd even recommend it if a Boston Celtics' fan wrote it.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Remember the Cross

Many today in our culture generally disapprove of rote rituals (especially my young peers). We don't like to be boxed in, controlled, or told what we have to do by some institution. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, we are generally authentic and don't like to fake things. On the other hand, we may reject rituals that are good for us.

As Christians, we are supposed to remember the cross everyday, to live in light of the cross and the grace that forgives our sins and cleans up our sin-stained lives. We read great books like "The Cross-Centered Life" and "The Gospel for Real Life" and realize that interaction with the cross is not just a once a year event- the cross is for day-by-day, minute-by-minute life for the Christian.

However, with this in mind, I want to challenge you to remember the cross more specifically the Easter weekend. It's a healthy ritual to practice: to think, reflect, pray, meditate, and worship in light of the cross more purposely, more intently this time of year. Similarly, God gave Israel annual celebrations (like Passover) for the specific purpose of remembering his work in years past- so they wouldn't forget his redemption. Even in our own culture, we celebrate past events like birthdays and anniversaries every single year. Does that mean we appreciate our life only on our birthday and not the rest of the year? Or does that mean we enjoy our marriage only on our anniversary and not the rest of the year? Of course not. It's healthy to celebrate and reflect more specifically on these important events- and none is more important than the cross.

So I encourage you to live a cross-centered life- 24/7/365. Live it passionately, live it intently, and live it in light of Jesus' sacrifice every single day. And I also encourage you to remember it more specifically and more deeply on Easter, as it is good for your soul.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21