Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life — A Book Review

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My three year old spills things. My almost one year old spills things too. Because of this I have a good idea of what the word saturate means.

1. to cause a substance to unite with the greatest possible amount of another substance, through solution, chemical combination, or the like.

2. to soak, impregnate, or imbue one thoroughly or completely.

In Jeff Vanderstelt’s book, Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life, he is talking about something more spiritual than kids who spill things. He is referring to our life with Christ spilling over into our everyday mundane lives.

“It has always been God’s intention to choose normal, everyday people, and to show his amazing power and glory through them.”

Vanderstelt isn’t talking about another church program based out of a church building, but a way of life that makes Christ’s mission and ministry the core of our very lives. Because we are the church. We gather together every week in a building and then our weekday is spent in our various vocations and activities. Our weekdays are the lifeblood of Gospel living and Gospel mission. As Vanderstelt says:

“Church is the people of God doing the work of God in everyday life.”

As the Church, we need to be equipped on how to be intentional where God has us. What opportunities are around us for ministry and mission? Or what opportunities can we make for ourselves in the place and season God has us in right now? Vanderstelt refers to Jesus as our example in this:

“Jesus lived a normal, quiet life for thirty years in an unknown town….The difference is that Jesus did everything for his heavenly Father’s glory. He lived all of his life as an expression of his love for God the Father…He set apart every aspect of life as holy unto the Lord.”

This aspect of the book encouraged and challenged me. Being a stay at home mom is as normal and real as it gets. My days are consumed with taking care of little ones, and I’m learning that this work is holy unto the Lord; it is my primary ministry and mission in life right now. This was the encouraging part, and yet the challenging part is the area I am weak in right now, which is extending this mission and ministry beyond my family. Because of this book I’m now intentionally thinking through ways I can (with my family) reach out more to fellow Christians and non-christians in my home.

The rest of the book outlines ways to engage in all-of-life discipleship, which is learning to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in our everyday lives. Here is an excerpt on three key environments that are essential for this type of discipleship:

Life on life, where our lives are visible and accessible to one another; life in community, where more than one person is developing another; and life on mission, where we experience making disciples and, while doing so, come to realize how much we need God’s power.”

Here is another great summarizing excerpt on what it means to be the body of Jesus (the Church):

Who is God? He is our King (the Son). What has he done? He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Who are we? We are servants of the King of kings. If we believe this, what do we do? We serve the least of the people of the world as an act of worship of our King. “

 You don’t have to be a pastor or missionary to engage in the mission and ministry work of Christ; you just have to believe, by faith, in the saving work of Jesus Christ. We are sent by God into the world through our normal lives: our day jobs, school, community work, the grocery store, the local library, and our homes. This is true Gospel saturation. This is how God chooses to fulfill his work, plan, and purpose on the earth until he returns. We get to be apart of this in the everyday stuff of life; let’s saturate where we are right now.

Who is God? He is Spirit. What has he done? He sent and empowered Jesus the Son to take on flesh and to seek and save what was lost. Who are we? We are missionaries, sent and empowered by the same Spirit. If we believe this, what do we do? We make disciples of Jesus through proclaiming the gospel in the power of the Spirit.”

 {This book was a complimentary copy from Crossway book publishers.} 
 

Book Review: The Biggest Story

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Once upon a time my husband pre-ordered a book from Crossway. We waited and waited; then – in a brown package – it appeared at our doorstep. Our order had arrived and we couldn’t be more pleased. The End.

Not a very exciting story, is it? Well, the story inside the book from my personal story is a very exciting story. It’s about Jesus Christ — the most important character. Author Kevin DeYoung does a great job telling the greatest story ever told in his new children’s book: The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden.

DeYoung takes adults and children on a sweeping aerial tour of the Bible; he weaves together key stories and thematic elements from the beginning to the end of God’s Word and presents us with a beautifully concise and simple masterpiece. Adults and children alike will have a firm grasp of the broad purpose and scope of the Bible after reading this book. In all ten short chapters DeYoung provides a God and Christ centered approach to the Biblical text — he consistently points everything back to God and the person of Jesus Christ.

Not only has DeYoung done well constructing the broad Biblical story, but the illustrator — Don Clark — has brought truth alive through his art. As I’ve been reading this book to my three year old for the second time, he asks questions about the images; he is captivated by the stories contained in each illustration. Because that is what Clark has done —  he not only has drawn images depicting the reality of the stories, but has also drawn abstract images conveying abstract Biblical themes.

Reading this book to my preschooler has stirred up questions from him and discussion between us, but it’s also reminded me about the promises of God in Christ: his faithfulness to a faithless people, and the greatness of God’s redemptive plan from the beginning. I recommend it as a bedtime story for kids, but also a book for adults to remember how they are apart of this big story. And if you rip out any of the pages to frame as art around your house, I won’t blame you.

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Book Review: The Bible Story Handbook

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You ever get the feeling you’re doing something wrong? Maybe you studied long and hard for that big test, but no amount of memorized notecards can erase the sick feeling swirling in your stomach. When it comes to studying for a test it’s not just knowing the correct information that matters, but how you study the information is important too. A correct method of study is a crucial part of test preparedness.

This factor is exactly what John and Kim Walton address in The Bible Story Handbook: A Resource for Teaching 175 Stories from the Bible. (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway through their Beyond the Page program.) Sunday School teachers and parents are equipped with the information and sometimes the theology, but rarely are they equipped with the correct methodology. The purpose of the Walton’s handbook is to supply a method of study for parents and Sunday School teachers as they prepare lessons; it is meant as a supplement to a bible curriculum.

The Walton’s say:

“If the teacher desires to equip children to submit to the Bible’s authority, the teacher must model a proper method for identifying what the Bible, in its authority, teaches.”

Before delving into the 175 bible stories outlined by a lesson focus, application, biblical context, interpretational issues, background information, and mistakes to avoid section, the Waltons provide a foundation first. Answering questions like, “Why do we teach bible stories?” “Is there a right and wrong way to use bible stories?” and “What is the big picture of the bible?”

These first few chapters in the book challenged me personally in how I approach God’s Word on a daily basis. Am I submitted to the authority inherent in scripture? Or do I use scripture to enhance my own agenda? The old and new testament bible stories are not just filled with characters that are models for good and bad behavior, but each story is ultimately about God. All of scripture is God revealing himself to us through varying means. According to the Walton’s,

“Sunday school lessons must not focus on the human actors at the expense of God’s self-revelation.”

More important than “action points” in a story are the “belief points.” In the Walton’s own words:

“As we learn stories, our belief should be affected. If our belief is affected, our behavior should change.”

Not only were the first few chapters personally challenging to my own approach to scripture, but I now plan on using this resource as part of my bible homeschool curriculum. I’ll begin preschool at home this fall with my son, and I’m excited to use the Bible Story Handbook as my reference in shaping how I share bible stories with him.

I love how the Walton’s are seeking to equip parents and teachers first before the lesson reaches children. After reading it I feel equipped to teach my son the bible with a God-centered approach and not just as a moral framework for his life. I can’t wait to tell him the ultimate story that God shares with us in the bible. It’s all about my son knowing God and coming into relationship with God through Jesus.

“If we want to lead others to knowledge of God, we will tell them God’s stories beginning in their early childhood. “