Wednesday, October 21, 2020

88. A Kid's Guide to the Names of Jesus

A Kid's Guide to the Names of Jesus. Tony Evans. 2021. [March] 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: What makes a person famous? Does being famous mean having a certain number of followers on social media? Do famous people need to star in blockbuster movies or release popular songs or appear on TV? And what about those who are super well known in their school or community—the people whose names everyone seems to know? Are they famous? Everyone wants to be recognized. Everyone wants to be known by others. And some people do become famous—meaning that if someone says that person’s name, others are going to instantly know who they are. In today’s world of Instagram and YouTube and TikTok, average people who aren’t athletes or musicians or actors can become famous if enough people start following them.

Tony Evans' has a new children's book releasing in the spring of 2021 on the names of Jesus. The names studied/introduced include: 
  • Immanuel
  • Alpha and Omega
  • King
  • Lamb of God
  • Great High Priest
  • Sovereign
  • I AM
  • Lord
  • Jesus
  • Christ
  • Son of God, Son of Man
  • Word of God
Each chapter blends stories and light-hearted conversation with scripture to present an aspect of the person or work of Jesus Christ. Some chapters expand a bit from just the one to include others that weren't included elsewhere. Each chapter includes an activity or two (or three) to get kids more involved. (Some of these felt relevant, others not so much. For example, "Write down the first ten words that come to mind when you think of Jesus" versus "“YHWY” (“I Am”) is a word without any vowels. Can you think of any other words without vowels? Write them down—if you can think of any! (“Y” is sometimes used as a vowel, so don’t write down words like “my” or “cry.”)"

There are also a few illustrations. 

What do I think of this one? I really was enjoying it for the first third. The first two to four chapters I was really approving of it--is impressed the right word? thinking that I could/would recommend it. The rest of the book, however, my mind slowly but surely started changing. I will admit to some bias. I am Reformed. Tony Evans is not Reformed. (For those not in the know, Reformed has nothing to do with character and everything to do with theology--doctrines and creeds. Reformed may be a fancy way of saying Calvinist as opposed to Arminian.) But I think even beyond the matter of free will versus God's sovereignty over salvation, I feel there were a few instances of concern. 

An example of a statement a Reformed person would groan about, "Even though everyone’s sins have been paid for through Jesus’s death on the cross, not everyone chooses to follow Jesus and receive eternal life."

Here are some of the other statements that I felt unsure/uncertain/iffy about.

To get God’s help, though, you have to do God’s will, be good in His sight, and fear Him. The Bible tells us these things. John 7:17 says, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” That’s the doing God’s will part. Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.” That’s the being good in His sight part.
Perhaps because he's trying to keep things as simple as possible and doesn't want to elaborate on the complexities and tensions between JESUS PAID IT ALL and ALL TO HIM I OWE...this sounds a bit quid pro quo. If and only if you do God's will, then God will definitely do this and that as a reward. This wasn't the only place it felt a bit like that, but I didn't need to show all the examples...just the main one that made me squirm a bit. Now I am not debating that a person who has been filled with the Holy Spirit who is fully trusting in Jesus will out of love and thankfulness choose to respond with obedience and serve God. But to think that God only helps those who help's a bit unbiblical. 

Do you have any power strips in your house? Look around and notice everything that is plugged into power strips. What are some things in your life—friendships, school, feelings—that you can plug into God’s power strip and get His help with?
This just read as TACKY. A bit like using God to get God's benefit. 

Jesus is God’s selfie. That might sound funny, but it’s 100 percent true. A selfie always reflects the image of the person taking the photo, and an image of Jesus is also an image of God. Jesus is God’s selfie because He is the exact representation of God Himself.
This read as TACKY as well. Though I will say that perhaps in trying to keep things "current" and "cool" with kids, his imagery goes just a little too far for my liking. I think it's incomplete at best. There's a difference between a person--an actual person--and a representation of that person in a photograph or portrait or sculpture. And to get technical, a selfies does NOT always reflect the image of the person taking the photo. There are FILTERS. Selfies--and/or any other photo--can be edited and photoshopped. They don't necessarily represent the truest image of the person. 

God is always in the present tense. He’s always there for us. That’s why we can believe anything He says—because what He declares will happen has already happened in His existence. He’s not hoping it will happen. He knows it’s already happened!

I couldn't tell if he was saying that God knows the future because he has lived out the future. And/or if he was disputing the fact that God knows the future because he has DECREED the future. God has a SOVEREIGN PLAN and has ORDAINED everything--everything big and little--from beginning to end. 

The secret to life is simply to give more and more glory back to Jesus. Because when you do, He will put more and more life into you and whatever it is you are doing.
Again sounds a bit like IF you do this for God, God will do that for you. You can work for God's approval, gain God's acceptance, and be rewarded for it. 

If you live in the light of Jesus and follow His written Word (the Bible) and His guidance, you will experience the best kind of life possible.

This just sounded a bit BEST LIFE NOW to me. The Bible does NOT promise anyone of any age the "best kind of life possible" if you are obedient and do x, y, z. The Bible does promise that in this would you will experience pain, sorrow, and sufferings. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world. The Christian life isn't about escaping the hard things of life and experiencing happy-clappy-comfy-cozy peace. It's about being delivered from death to life. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: