Jesus in a Box?

jesus in a box

Maybe you find this as weird as I do.  Maybe not…

I have seen many different versions of Jesus dolls and action figures over the years and each of them, including the one pictured above, make me cringe.  Now, I am a big fan of humor and irony and many of the attempts to brand and market Jesus to Americans have been both funny and ironic.  Still, there is something about a Jesus in box makes me wonder why many people like the idea.

Could it be possible that we like the idea of having Jesus in a box?  We can buy him, take him home, take him out and use him whenever we want.  Plus, we can do all of that at our own convenience.  I came across this quote from Stephen Prothero of National Geographic in his article “Opinion:  On Easter, Jesus’ Evolution Tells of Changing America” that sums up what happens when we reduce Jesus to something that serves us rather than the other way around.  I don’t know if Mr. Prothero is a believer or not, but his insight here is helpful.

“Jesus appears regularly magazine covers.  His life is the subject of Hollywood movies, television miniseries, and more books in the Library of Congress than have been written about any other person.  His image appears not only on stained glass windows in churches but also on billboards, T-shirts, and tattooed bodies.  Jesus may or may not be God {in the minds of American people} but he is certainly an American hero.

Unfortunately, on his road to fame and fortune, Jesus seems to have lost most of his prophetic power.”

-Stephen Prothero

When we make Jesus over into our image, when we put him into a box to serve us at our pleasure, we rob ourselves of His power to change the world.  When we put Jesus at our own beck and call, we reduce him to a magical talisman that has no more real power than a rabbit’s foot.

The Bible, however, claims something rather different about Jesus.  He does not serve us or respond to our beck and call.  He does not even limit himself to just being the God for the Christians.  Paul’s letter to the Colossians tells us that “in him, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. . . all things have been created through him and for him” (1:16). Jesus is the powerful creator of all things and he expects us, and in fact all of creation, to serve him.  We are to live for his pleasure rather than to assume that he exists for ours.

Jesus refuses to stay in our box.

Are you a fan or part of the team?

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20:  Actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrive for the Inglourious Basterds Premiere held at the Palais Des Festivals during the 62nd International Cannes Film Festival on May 20th, 2009 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brad Pitt;Angelina Jolie

Going deeper in serving for Jesus

Who was your big celebrity when you were in Jr. High?  I know that will depend on when you grew up and what kind of music or movies you liked.  When I was kid, one of the popular bands was New Kids On The Block.  Now, before you worry, no I was not a fan of NKOTB.  Although I do find it funny that they are still touring now.  After 20+ years they are not “new” and with an average age in the 40’s they are not “kids.

Anyway, a girl in my school was a huge fan.  An off the chart fan to be honest.  She had a “New Kids” jacket (hand made), pictures, posters, school folders and all the signs of a true fan.  In one school year, her parents flew her around the country to see 14 shows.  Yikes.

As a parent, it can be both amusing and terrifying to watch as kids become infatuated with some celebrity.  Eventually, the young fan will start to dress like their beloved celebrity.  They will decorate their room/car/locker/hair/etc like their beloved celebrity.

When we look behind the curtain at celebrities, we find some interesting things.  For each person that is famous and celebrated (the literal meaning of celebrity), there are people making them famous.  From agents to promoters to assistants to bodyguards, there is a team of literally dozens of people who work very hard to make each celebrity more famous.

An thought for us to consider:  are we fans of Jesus or are we part of the team?  You see a fan enjoys the way their celebrity makes them feel.  The team, however, works for the celebrity.  The team dedicates every working moment to making the celebrity more famous.

Do you follow Jesus because of the way he makes you feel?  Or do you follow Jesus to make him more famous in the world around us

Join us this week at EABC as we explore how we can be part of the team making Jesus famous!

go deeper marquee edit

If a tree falls . . .

My kids came running in to tell me that the neighbors tree fell down.   Becky and I ran outside to see what happened.   We did not know if this was an actual tree that fell and demolished some one’s house or if it was something else.

Fortunately for my neighbors,  it was an old dead tree trunk that did not hit their house and wasn’t very big.   Still it was a tree and it did indeed fall.  If you look close, you can see it in the picture.

fallen tree edit

I was reminded of what the prophet Jeremiah said in chapter 17:7-8.  It says this:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,  whose trust is in the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the streams, and does not fear when the heat comes for it leaves room and green and is not anxious in the year of drought nor does it cease to bear fruit.  (ESV)

My neighbors tree had been standing for a long time with no roots.   They had died years before,  but the tree kept on standing there.   But with no roots, the tree fell over in a gentle breeze.   There want even any storm happening.   A gentle breeze was all it took to knock this rootless tree down.

I look at the taken tree and I wonder how well we stand when the storms of life roll through.   Do we have deep spiritual roots that will hold us steady or will a gentle breeze knock us over?

Let’s job together this fall and find out how we can send our roots deeper and deeper.   See you Sundays at 10:45am at Evanston Avenue Baptist Church.

go deeper marquee edit

Click here to find out more!

Tired and Full

Today,  after a massive event,  I am very tired.   I am in my living room with my wife and kids watching worship videos on YouTube.  (Not something we do every day,  but today it just kind of fit).

But my heart is very full.   I can’t shake the feeling that today we got another glimpse of Evanston Avenue Baptist’s  future.  So many friends from so many backgrounds worshipping the same Lord Jesus is so encouraging.   Young and old; black, white and brown; rich and poor, powerful and weak were all at our table today.

There is no reason for all of these groups to be together.  . . Except Jesus.

He is making a difference in our church and in our neighborhood! 

I am so blessed to be a part of this church.

Food for Thought

I read this today.   It is from J.D. Greear,

Do you agree or disagree?

“In graduate school my roommate kept a dog named Max in our house.   Because poor Max was crippled in his back legs, his life consisted of lifting in our doorstep and starting up at us when we walked by.   I remember looking at him one day and thinking,  ‘based on how most puerile see Christianity, Max would make a fine Christian: he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke,  he doesn’t cuss, he doesn’t get angry, we’ve had him neutered so his thought life is under control.’

Jesus’ disciples are not supposed to be merely  compliant, neutered dogs. 

Jesus’ followers are to be alive with a love for God.  When you love God and love others, Jesus said, all the rest of the Christian life falls naturally into place.”

The Great Reverse


I remember a story that my driving instructor told me over 20 years a go when I was doing my first road driving.  He told me about another young student who was learning to drive, but wasn’t entirely sure what she was doing.  One area she was struggling in was the gearshift.  She knew that “D” was for drive and “R” was for reverse, but the “N” was a little confusing and the numbers made no sense at all.  Needless to say, they ran into real problems when they came up to a slow moving vehicle on the highway and the instructor told her to pass.  She was quite surprised when the transmission dropped out of the car after she put the gearshift to “P”; which in her mind meant “Pass”.  Yikes

As I am doing my research for this Sunday’s message, I came across a series of articles that talk about how unfulfilled Americans tend to be and it made me think of how reversed our beliefs are by comparison.  Let me explain.

The point was made that many of us are living unfulfilled lives.  We, apparently, are unfulfilled socially, emotionally, professionally, and are drowning our emptiness in recreation.  Generally speaking, I would agree with this diagnosis.

However, every article I read also offers some remedy to this loss of fulfillment.  While they were all different in their wording, most of the solutions can be summed up by Jennifer Twardowski of the Huffington Post.  She says that the way to have meaning and fulfillment in this life is to be “willing to face the world head-on and say, ‘I am powerful and I deserve to have what I desire'”.  It is, according to this view, all up to me.  And, I would assume, up to you too.

So that’s it, I just have to tell myself that I am powerful and deserve to have what I want?  The problem is that this idea is exactly backwards from what God’s Word teaches us.  Check this out from 2 Corinthians 12 when the Apostle Paul talks about a “thorn” in his flesh.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness”    -2 Corinthians 12:9-10a

Yup, that’s exactly backwards from what the world teaches.  We don’t say that we are powerful and deserve things.  We acknowledge that we are weak and that Jesus makes us strong.

On a personal level, it makes me wonder how many times I miss out on seeing God’s power at work because I believe that living my faith is all up to me.  As believers, we know that this is not true, but I look at the excuses I hear from myself and from others, and it seems like we believe it is all up to us.  Beliefs reflected in excuses like “I’m too young/old/inexperienced/tired/untrained/busy/ungifted/etc. all make it sound like living our faith is all up to us.  And that we are failing in our efforts.

Jesus says the opposite.  He says His grace is all we need.  Let’s move forward in His power and grace and boast in our weakness.  Let’s invite, encourage, demonstrate, love proclaim, serve, and do all the things we are called to do as if we believe we are weak and he is strong.

That would indeed be  a great reverse

Best Way To Start


Early this week, I was pondering how to start our blog for Evanston Avenue Baptist Church.  Would it be best to have a devotional or a thought provoking article?  Maybe a stirring call to action?

Well, Jesus answered in a pretty awesome way.  We begin our blog with a celebration.  Earlier today, just after the morning worship service, I had the privilege of praying with a young man to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior!

This young man was brought to church by a friend, and after the service he indicated that he wanted to place his trust in Jesus.  His friend and I had the privilege of praying with him as acknowledged his sinfulness and accepted Jesus Christ and the forgiveness for all his sins!

There is no better day!  Luke 15:10 tells us that there is a party in heaven when even one person turns away from their sin and believes in Jesus.

So today we begin with a party!