Don’t miss this chance to win a couple great books from Credo Magazine. In celebration of their latest issue, “Francis Schaeffer at 100”, they are giving away DeYoung’s The Hole in Our Holiness and Barrett & Nettles’s Whomever He Wills. CLICK HERE for more information! The giveaway ends tonight at 7pm PST.
Last week we featured Marty Machowski’s new family devotional, Old Story New: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament). This devotional is the next offering in Machowski’s Gospel Story for Kids series…a series that I wholeheartedly recommend for its superb ability of explaining and applying the grand story of the Bible to your children. You can read my interview with Marty here, and my full review here.
This week, I’d like to offer you a preview of the first week’s devotions. I hope that you’ll use these posts as a test run of sorts with your family, and that it will encourage you to begin to incorporate the entire series in your home. The kind folks at New Growth Press have provided the unformatted text for use here on my blog. My many thanks to them for their generosity!
Week 1: The Birth of Jesus Foretold(Coordinates with Story 79 – The Gospel Story Bible)
Introductory Note to Parents:
Prior to Bible study, find a photograph of some people (in a magazine or online) that has a lot of detail. Make a list of questions to ask your children that will test their skills of observation. The children will look closely at the photo and then answer questions to see how well they remember the details. Questions like, “What color shirt was the man wearing?” or “What was sitting on the table?” will work well to test the skill of your eyewitnesses. During Bible study, give everyone one minute to study the photograph taking in as much detail as they can. Then ask the questions from your list to see how observant they are. Explain to your children that this week you will be reading from Luke’s Gospel, which was written from eyewitness accounts.
Picture It: Can you remember a time when you were startled? Perhaps someone walked up behind you in a quiet room, and you didn’t know anyone was there until you felt a hand on your shoulder. If something like that can scare us, imagine what it would be like to be alone in your room and suddenly see an angel appear out of nowhere. Probably you would either scream in fright or be scared into silence. Let’s see what happened to Zechariah and Mary in our story today when angels suddenly appeared to them.
Read Luke 1:1–38
Think About It Some More: When we read the story it can seem like seeing angels was a normal part of life, but it wasn’t. Zechariah had been a priest all his life but he’d never seen an angel before. Serving in the temple was scary enough, for God’s presence lived inside the temple. Even before he saw the angel, Zechariah would have walked very cautiously into the temple’s inner room. He knew God was holy and that he was a sinner. If he made a mistake, he could die—like Uzzah, who had touched the holy ark with his hand and been killed (2 Samuel 6:6–7). So when the angel suddenly appeared, fear must’ve shot through him like a lightning bolt. Similarly, when the angel appeared to Mary, she also was afraid. Angels had to calm people’s fears before speaking their messages.
Talk about It
- Why did Zechariah lose his voice? (Zechariah lost his voice because he didn’t believe the angel’s words to him.)
- How was Mary’s answer to the angel different from Zechariah’s answer? (Mary trusted that what the angel said to her was true. She had faith and did not doubt.)
- Whose throne was Jesus going to sit on? (Verse 32 tells us that Jesus would sit upon David’s throne. If you have smaller children, you can read verse 32 and ask them to raise their hands when they hear whose throne Jesus would be sitting upon.)
Pray about It: Thank God for sending his Son, Jesus, to the earth to die on the cross for our sins.
From Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Martin Machowski. Copyright © 2012 by Covenant Fellowship Church. Used by permission of New Growth Press, www.newgrowthpress.com.
Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington has recently released an impressively endorsed book entitled, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (Baker Academic, 2012). Tom Schreiner noted it as, “The best introductory book on the gospels.” I have yet to pick up a copy for myself, but it is definitely high on my “wishlist”!
Alongside the book’s release, Dr. Pennington has launched a website: readingwisely.com. It includes an overview of the book, a sample chapter, and some great video content. Below is the first video to be released entitled, “What is the Gospel?”
Last Wednesday I posted about the exciting days ahead of the Old Story New Blog Tour, hosted by New Growth Press, that were to occur here on the blog. I had every intention of posting the first week’s devotions from Old Story New, but got sidetracked with a number of other things. One of which was our son Gresham’s first “real” bout with being ill. Our little guy had a fever of 103-104 that lasted about 4 days along with some other not-so-pleasant symptoms. After a Sunday evening trip to the ER and three Dr. appointments, it looks like, by God’s grace, he’s making a turn around! Susan and I are very thankful. So, now 5 days behind, I have some time to turn my attention to a very exciting resource for families.
Marty Machowski, Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, has written a new family devotional on the New Testament. In Old Story New (New Testament), the follow up to Long Story Short (Old Testament), Machowski continues to guide families into meaningful, engaging, and gospel-centered encounters with the text of Scripture.
Marty was kind enough to take time to answer a few questions about Old Story New, family devotions, salvation, the unity of the Bible’s story-line, and I’m thrilled to share his insights with you.
KF: Why do we find it so difficult to get into a devotional routine ourselves, much less for our entire family?
MM: Christians want to do devotions and spend time reading and studying their Bibles, but the busyness of life often steals away our time. When we get to the end of the day we are tired out and are looking for down time, not study time. Then when we look over to the table and catch a glimpse of a big thick Bible, we don’t know where to begin. The same is true of our family devotions. We have a desire to lead our families in devotions but we don’t know where to start and there are a host of other activities that won’t wait for us while devotions make a claim on our time.
KF: What is typically the best time for a family to get into the routine of a daily devotional?
MM: Often the best time to do family devotions is when we don’t have to schedule another time slot. That is why doing family devotions for a few minutes after dinner works well. Everyone is sitting down to eat anyway; why not use that context to spend a short time looking at God’s Word? We see our need for earthly bread but often don’t realize our need for spiritual bread. Using a book like Old Story New makes doing devotions simple. Everything is laid out for you; all the hard work is done, you just need to follow along.
KF: What makes this devotional different than others available? Are there many resources out there for entire families?
MM: Old Story New provides families with gospel-centered devotions that are theologically rich but simple to understand. They are long enough to be meaningful but short enough to complete in ten minutes a day. Many other devotionals are either over simplified and lack a clear gospel message or overly complex and difficult for children to follow. Old Story New finds the middle ground.
KF: Recognizing that salvation is entirely a work of grace, what are parents to do while trusting the Lord for the salvation of their child(ren)? How does Old Story New serve parents to that end?
MM: Every Christian parent wants their children to be saved. The problem is that it is God does the saving work in our children’s lives — not us. Embracing the reality that you can’t save your own children can be discouraging. There is, however, something parents can do. They can share the life transforming message of the gospel. Paul, in the book of Romans, tells us that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. So, what parents need is a tool that helps them regularly share the good news of the gospel. Old Story New does just that
KF: Why is it important for children, or anyone for that matter, to have an understanding of the grand story of the Bible? How does the Gospel Story for Kids series help parents and children develop this understanding?
MM: If you don’t have an understanding of the grand story of the Bible, it is easy to see it as a book of rules – things I need to do. Once you understand the big picture of scripture you realize that the Bible is really a story about what God did for us. The whole Bible is the unfolding of God’s great plan of redemption through his Son Jesus Christ. Knowing that larger truth helps you to understand how each story connects to God’s greater purpose. Sure, the Bible does hold out for us obedience to God. But the requirement to follow the law is designed to show us how weak we are and how much we need a Savior. The law is not the end of the Bible but the means through which we see that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Rightly interpreting that helps us to breathe in God’s grace in the sacrifice of Jesus, rather than feel we have to work our way to heaven. Old Story New keeps this big picture as the main theme of every week’s lesson.
I want to extend my sincere thanks to Marty for taking the time to interact with me on these important topics. Be sure to check back tomorrow for my full review of Old Story New!
To celebrate the release of Old Story New, New Growth Press has provided me with 2 copies to give away! To enter the giveaway, choose from any or all of the options below. NOTE: Please leave a separate comment on this post for each option you choose. The giveaway ends on Sunday, at 12am CDT. I will use Random.org to select the winner on Monday, October 15th, from all the eligible entries.
EACH OPTION IS WORTH 1 ENTRY. YOU MAY CHOOSE ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Leave a comment below, noting the resource(s) you’ve used for family devotions. Or, if you’re single, the resource(s) you’ve used for personal devotions. (+1)
- Follow @kevinfiske on Twitter. (+1)
- Tweet the following (+1): Check out @kevinfiske’s interview w/ @MartyMachowski on his new family devo from @newgrowthpress & enter to win a copy! http://bit.ly/VS9HzT
- Post about the interview and giveaway on your blog (+1). (Please include a link to your post.)
- Share this post on Facebook. (+1)
Again, you may choose from any or all of the options above, for a maximum of 5 entries per person. In order to gain multiple entries, you must leave separate comments for each option you complete.
I will contact the winners via email on Monday, October 15th. Your copy of Old Story New will be sent to you directly from the kind folks at New Growth Press. Spread the word!
Just a quick heads-up that Zondervan Academic’s blog, “Koinonia” is giving away a copy of Laniak’s book on the images of God in Scripture. CLICK HERE to be redirected to the giveaway…
On Dec. 18, 2011, at 5am, Susan and I became the grateful parents of a baby boy! The Lord blessed us with Gresham David Joseph Fiske, weighing in at 7.5lbs and measuring 20.25″.
It’s a bit surreal, but we’re overjoyed and, at times, overwhelmed. We’re praising God for delivering to us, in his grace, a happy and healthy baby.
More to come soon…
This past weekend I had the privilege hearing Dr. Peter Williams, Warden (CEO) of Tyndale House, lecture on the historicity/reliability of the eyewitness testimony in the Gospels/Acts, sponsored by the Fox Valley Theological Society.
It was truly remarkable to see how meticulous the writers were in their testimony as they reported the events/people/places/geography; this being something we often overlook or take for grated. Disambiguating common names, exhibiting precision with regard to lesser known towns, and accurately reporting the plant life and health with regard to the time of year are only some of the validating points of the writers’ testimony.
Below are 3 videos, in the “Experts’ Evidence” series, recently released by Dr. Peter Williams & Tyndale House examining evidence for the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. I trust they’ll be encouraging/eye-opening to you as we approach the Easter season. Additionally, for helpful reading on the issue Dr. Williams suggested Richard Bauckham’s, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. [An additional resource on the historicity and credibility of the resurrection, in particular, is: The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright]
EXPERTS’ EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ TRIAL
Dr. Dirk Jongkind, a Research Fellow at Tyndale House, pieces together the earliest manuscript evidence for the New Testament and shows how it tells the story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate.
EXPERTS’ EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION
Dr. Peter Williams and Dr. David Instone Brewer look at the Munich Talmud, which contains traditional Jewish teaching, and discover how even the deleted text provides evidence for Jesus’ crucifixion! More…
EXPERTS’ EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ RESURRECTION
Dr. Peter Williams gives a summary of the biblical evidence for the heart of the Christian faith – Jesus’ bodily resurrection.
I have the joy of teaching at the College & Young Adult ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel – Naperville, where I’m on staff as ‘G2 Coordinator’. The title, being primarily an in-house term, means that I serve with the smaller groups that meet within the larger collective whole. Along with my elements of leadership within the College & Young Adult ministry, I also coordinate musical worship within our student ministries, support ministry, and children’s ministry.
As a part of our College & Young Adult ministry on Thursday nights, we’ve been exploring the medium of video to further our communication. Below is the first video, in a series, that Steve Smith and I made, with the help of Arcane Productions and Dr. Trevor Burke, exploring some of the themes in 1 Peter.
“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe that we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus.”
2009 being the 500th birthday of theologian John Calvin, it seemed fitting to me to give a portion of my personal study time this year to his theology. Not to mention, there is an unbelievable amount of misunderstanding in our present day concerning Calvin the man, and his theology. For many people, their knowledge of Calvinism consists only of that which they have heard about it. As a result, many people envision a hard, cold, ivory-tower theologian that had little connection with the average lay-person, and because of his doctrine of election, cared little about missions/evangelism. Nothing could be further from the truth! J.I. Packer is quoted as saying, “…the amount of misrepresentation to which Calvin’s theology has been subjected has been enough to prove his doctrine of total depravity several times over!”
In order to intentionally look at Calvin a bit closer, I picked up a copy of the recent book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology. Edited by Burk Parsons, with contributions by pastors and scholars such as Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton, John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges and Thabiti Anyabwile (to name only a few), this proved to be well worth my time! I read the book, alongside selections of The Institutes, and it helped acquaint me with Calvin in a way that has caused me only to become more interested in the man and his theology.
Several things I’ve learned…
- He had an astounding compassion for the sick among his congregation, and a desire for their overall health, both spiritually and physically. This can be seen in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances of the Church of Geneva.
- Calvin was a pastor for 27 years, nearly half his life.
- Calvin would preach 20 times per week, from the NT on Sundays, and the OT on weekdays. His preaching, not only intellectually challenging, but also passionate, practical and easily comprehended by the common man, resulted in an extraordinary level of biblical literacy throughout Geneva.
- Through Calvin’s zealous desire for missions/evangelism over 2,150 churches were planted through his ministry by 1562, producing more than 3 million members.
- Calvin was a phenomenal counselor to the afflicted, as he would comfort those entrusted to his care through the doctrine of God’s providence. He writes in the preface of his commentary on the Psalms, “we renounce the guidance of our own affections, and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving him to govern us, and to dispose our life according to his will, so that the afflictions which are the bitterest and most severe to our nature, become sweet to us, because they proceed from him.”
- Calvin had a vibrant doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He acknowledged continually that effective gospel preaching depends wholly on the power of the Spirit as Christ offers himself in the gospel.
- Calvin insisted that people are bound to wonder about God’s foreordination and will, so they should be soundly taught from the Scriptures rather than be left open to vain speculation. He says, “Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know. Therefore, we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress.”
- Calvin was fervent and faithful in frequent prayer. He writes, “until [people] are persuaded that all their troubles come upon them by the appointment of God, it will never come into their minds to supplicate him for deliverance.”
That, is only to name a few. I can’t, in the course of this short blog, do justice to everything I learned about Calvin and his theology through John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology and The Institutes, or that which is offered to be learned. But, I would wholeheartedly recommend them for reading! And, for those who have been skeptical of Calvin/Calvinism in the past, and who have not actually read the man himself, read before you make statements/judgments about Calvin/Calvinism yourself. You may be surprised at what you find, and I pray that you’ll be led to the conclusion of Burk Parsons who writes:
“Calvin’s Calvinism…is engendered and shaped by Scripture alone–and that makes it a Calvinism that begins with God, teaches us about God, and directs our hearts and minds back to God according to the way He deserves, demands, and delights in our worship of Him and our obedience to Him. This is the threefold foundation of Calvin’s Calvinism: devotion, doctrine, and doxology–the heart’s devotion to the biblical God, the mind’s pursuit of the biblical doctrine of God, and the entire being’s surrender to doxology. Calvin writes, “The glory of God so shines in his word, that we ought to be so affected by it, whenever he speaks by his servants, as though he were near to us, face to face.”…A true Calvinist is one who strives to think as Calvin thought and live as Calvin lived–insofar as Calvin thought and lived as our Lord Jesus Christ, in accordance with the Word of God.”
FURTHER READING/STUDY ON CALVIN/CALVINISM:
John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God, by John Piper
A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis, by David W. Hall