The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!

In the new book The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! by Kevin DeYoung, and illustrated by Don Clark, the historic story of Christianity is brought to live in an overview “storytelling” format, beginning with Adam and Eve, and ultimately ending with the role of the modern day church.

I can honestly say I’ve never read a children’s Bible storybook anything like this before. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a children’s minister explains how the stories of the Old Testament characters of the Bible are related to Jesus coming to Earth for the salvation of His people.

But the whole time, there’s this festive, Hebrew-ish artistic backdrop. The illustrations are simply amazing and unique.

Being exposed to this book actually reminded me of just how Jewish the Christian faith is; considering that 2/3’s, not half, of the Holy Bible is the Old Testament; the other half obviously being the New Testament.

This book explains how the Christian faith was ultimately born from the Jewish faith. It helps bridge the Old and New Testaments in a way children can begin to understand.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! is intended for children ages 5 to 11.

I recognize that with my son being 4 years, 9 months old, the content of the book is a little above his comprehension level; though he is definitely intrigued by the mystery of it.

However, I definitely look forward to my son growing into this book.

*Congrats to Matt Wright, the winner of my giveaway of Family Friendly Daddy Blog, who will have a hard cover copy of The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! sent to hishouse.

He was the first person to go the Facebook wall of Family Friendly Daddy Blog and ask this question:

Did I just win The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!?

OFFICIAL HASHTAGS:  #BIGGESTSTORY and #FLYBY

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD- Family Friendly Review

Last night I stayed up late (which means 9:23 PM) to finish watching the What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD. Yes, as a grown man of age 33, I found myself intrigued by the words of the puppets on the TV screen as they explained the miracles it took to lead up the birth of Jesus to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament.

What's in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD

This DVD does a great job of explaining the importance of the New Testament, and its relevance to the Old Testament, to a family audience.

While young children may only understand certain parts of what’s going on, this DVD serves as a great invitation to who Jesus is; not simply to church goers, but just as naturally to those who are skeptical or unfamiliar with the real life man, Jesus of Nazareth.

And now I get to give away a copy of this DVD to one of my readers…

Just be the first person to post on the Facebook wall for Family Friendly Daddy Blog (not a private message), asking me, “Did I just win the What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD?

If you’re the first person to do so, I will respond by saying yes… After that, I will follow up by getting your family’s name and address to get you all set up with DVD!

Update: There is a winner so the giveaway is complete!

Did I just win the What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD?
1Like ·

About the movie:
Volume 10: Jesus Is the Good News! / Run time: Approx 66 min
What's in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD
Includes two 25 minute episodes: God’s Perfect Timing – Buck Denver and crew learn about the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments and how Jesus arrives at just the perfect time & The Messiah Has Come! – Learn about the life and ministry of Jesus-how He died for us and rose again to launch the kingdom of God in the world and in us.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

The Cultural Identity of Being “Born Again”

I actually come across as pretty normal on the surface.  But recently, I have realized that I’m not simply a religious guy, or even just a Christian… I am one of those evangelical fanatics- basically another version of Kirk Cameron.  So now, I take this opportunity to come out of the closet and accept my social label as an official Born Again Christian.


“Even though I see fundamentalist Christians as wild-eyed maniacs, I respect their verve.  They are probably the only people openly fighting against America’s insipid Oprah Culture- the pervasive belief system that insists everyone’s perspective is valid and that no one can be judged.”

-Chuck Klosterman, in his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

It wasn’t until recently while finishing the final chapter of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs that I finally realized I am part of a subculture of Protestantism which outsiders label as “Born Again”, which from what I gather, was a pretty popular term back in the 1970’s.  This whole time I’ve been calling myself a Christian, but now I fully understand that just doesn’t cut it.  “Christian” has become such a generic term these days.  Jesus is officially a household name now. While Jesus may be Ashton Kutcher’s homeboy, it’s safe to say that the relationship I have with Jesus Christ is much different than someone just using Jesus as a funny pop culture reference on a t-shirt.

By reading about myself from an outsider’s perspective (Klosterman identifies himself as a mix between a “bad Catholic” and an agnostic), I am able to understand my cultural identity in a way I never have before.  I get it now: I am a fanatical Christian.  Every thought pattern in my head eventually comes back to Jesus being the savior of the world and my desire for people to know Him.

I find it extremely important and relevant to quote a paragraph from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs:  “There are no other subjects, really; nothing else- besides being born again- is even marginally important.  Every moment of your life is a search-and-rescue mission: Everyone you meet needs to be converted… Life would become unspeakably important, and every conversation you’d have for the rest of your life (or until the Rapture- whichever comes first) would really, really, really matter.  If you ask me, that’s pretty glamorous.”  For me, calling myself a Christian doesn’t simply mean that at some point I came to the realization that I belief Jesus is the son of God, which would be the simplest definition of the word Christian.  Instead, I live a seemingly curious and quirky lifestyle as it relates to my relationship with Jesus Christ.

You’ve probably heard of “Catholic guilt” or maybe even “Jewish guilt”, but I need to introduce something called “Born Again guilt”.  Because we truly believe that Jesus literally meant it when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through Me,” we carry this burden of wanting every person we meet to “have a personal relationship with Jesus” like we do.  We sincerely believe that by trusting in Christ as the redemption for our naturally flawed nature and by loving serving others as ourselves, we will be part of the Heavenly Kingdom when Jesus returns as the King.  Sounds pretty sci-fi, yes.  But so does every religion, including atheism.

It’s no secret that I find reasons to insert random facts about the year 1983 or to tell which actors are Jewish or relate the Rubik’s Cube to everyday life.  That’s just me being me.  But I am also constantly looking for ways to write about or at least mention Jesus in ways that are subtle as well.  I realize that if Scenic Route Snapshots was simply me preaching, I wouldn’t be getting between 600 and 1,000 hits each day.  Instead, I write about whatever off-the-wall thing is going through my head that week.  And if it’s possible to show my faith as relevant to the subject as my faith is relevant to my life, I won’t shy away from mentioning it. I would love to sit down with people and discuss my relationship with Jesus on an everyday basis.  But I know that often, that isn’t practical, and therefore not possible.

Kirk Cameron is the official mascot of Born Again Christians. Just ask them about a movie called Fireproof or something called "the love dare"...

Everyone I know, it seems, already understands why Jesus died on the cross. That cultural familiarity with Him, in American, often can be the thing that keeps people from seeking Him in their lives beyond a basic understanding.  It’s hard to tell people what they already know.  So when I write and when I am involved in seemingly surface conversations with people, I try to find ways to point the thought process to my faith somehow- even it’s simply using the word “afterlife”.

How can you tell a Born Again Christian (also referred to as “saved” or “evangelical”) from other deists who use the term “Christian” to describe themselves?  Here are a few red flags to look out for:

They attend a “small group”. In addition to regularly attending their church on Sunday, many Born Again Christians meet once a week (in groups of around 6 to 10 people) at someone’s house for about two hours to study the Bible together and pray.

They strive to study the Bible and pray on a daily basis. In addition to their weekly small group meeting, they also study the Bible and pray privately as well.  Sometimes they refer to this as their “quiet time”.  Many of them can be seen doing this during their lunch breaks at work.

They avoid using profanity. This is often a way they recognize each other.  This means they also refrain from saying “oh my God” as well, as it profanes the name of God to matters that are not holy in any way.

They use the word “blessed” to describe their life. It’s a way of glorifying God in a non-churchy sounding kind of way.  Also, when you leave a message on their cell phone, they end their “sorry I’m not here right now…” spiel with “have a blessed day”.

They truly believe that sex is for only for people who are married to each other. Even if many of them largely contribute to the high viewership of the reality TV show The Bachelor, it’s understood between them all that they collectively do not approve of the “overnight date” episode with the “fantasy suite”.

They politically identify as Republican, or are part of the newer, cooler, independent version called the Libertarian Party. If nothing else, these two political parties typically support the Pro-Life movement whereas the Democratic Party is at best indifferent on the issue.  For Born Again Christians, abortion is not up for discussion or debate.

They take the Bible as literally as possible. Jesus was literally born from a virgin.  Jesus literally multiplied the fish and the bread.  Jesus literally came back to life after these days in the tomb, etc.

They do not believe in Evolution. In particular, the theory that humans evolved from apes. Intelligent Design is instead their theory of choice.  Here’s the 101 on how the dinosaurs fit into Noah’s Ark.

They often refer to Jesus as “Jesus Christ”. It’s almost like “Christ” is Jesus’ last name.  Really though, it’s a Born Again Christian’s subtle way of distinguishing Jesus as the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament, as opposed to just a historical rabbi who happened to be a “good teacher”.

I'm not Mormon, but I feel like I can relate somewhat to their cultural identity and displacement in society.

So if you know someone who contains at least two or three of these attributes, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a Born Again Christian. Like Kirk Cameron, Sarah Palin, and President Jimmy Carter, they are the ultra-conservative Protestants.  They seem to blend in with society at first glance, but once you get to know them, you’ll notice the underlying behaviors that set them apart from standard Christianity- like a Mormon, only without the added teachings to the Bible or the crazy mad dancing skills.  (Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, and Lacey Schwimmer of Dancing with the Stars as well as Heidi Groskreutz and Benji Schwimmer of So You Think You Can Dance are all Mormon.)   For some humorous characteristics of Born Again Christians, check out this blog by Jonathan Acuff, called Stuff Christians Like.

“You gave your life to Jesus Christ… and you were not the same after that.” – “Not the Same” by Ben Folds


healthnutshell: Ezekiel Bread Just Got Cool All of the Sudden

What would Jesus eat?

There was a time in history, circa 2006, when all that Food for Life brand’s Ezekiel 4:9 bread was to me was just a $5 loaf of bread in the refrigerated section at Wild Oats/Whole Foods.  A loaf of bread for people who wanted to spend five bucks.  But now, I want to spend five bucks on a loaf of bread.  Not because I have more money than before, but because I have awareness of the difference it makes to my health.

It’s safe to say that “Ezekiel Bread” (as most people have nicknamed it) is the only American food product on the edge of the mainstream market that 1) has an Old Testament prophet’s name in the brand, 2) uses an ancient Jewish recipe, AND #) has Bible scripture on the package:

Ezekiel chapter 4, verse 9- “Also take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, and put them into one vessel and make bread of them.”

What’s the main thing that sets Ezekiel Bread apart from the rest of the bread out on the market?  It’s not made with flour.  Instead, it’s made with freshly sprouted, certified organically grown grains.  Therefore, it’s alive.  And that significantly increases its valuable nutrients for the body’s consumption.

The more living things we eat, the healthier we are.  That’s why we’re supposed to eat 2 to 4 servings of fruit and 3 to 5 of vegetables. Those living cells we eat help keep our own cells alive and well, helping our immune system to fight sickness, disease, and cancer.

Plus, Ezekiel Bread is low glycemic which means it’s diabetic friendly, and high in fiber which means it’s good for preventing cancer and heart disease.

Most bread in the world is processed.  Machines grind up the ingredients, then sugar is added along with preservatives.  But not our heavenly Ezekiel Bread.  It’s the only kind of bread I buy now. 

Of course Weight Watchers as well as Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser obviously feel the same way, since they recommend Ezekiel Bread in their programs.  I’m not sure if they are paid anything to endorse the product, but I know I definitely am not.  That’s how you know it’s a good product, when people advertise a product for free.

http://www.foodforlife.com/

Religious Views on Facebook Profiles

“You gave your life to Jesus Christ… and you were not the same after that.” – “Not the Same” by Ben Folds

It’s interesting to see what people list as their “religious views” on their facebook profiles if they are Christians. Some just simply list “Baptist” or “Protestant”. And many, in an effort to creatively avoid a label, list something like “saved by grace” or “in Christ alone”. And that’s cool.

I’m sure for others, summing it all down to one phrase can be difficult, especially for those who believe in God but not necessarily that Jesus is the only way to Heaven as the Bible teaches and as Jesus himself proclaimed. They are not Christians. But they are not atheists either.

For me, simply listing myself as a Christian is a struggle. Because “Christian” has become somewhat of a watered-down generic term, thanks to the way many non-Christians and non-Americans perceive Christians.

I’m quite familiar with the fact that often non-Christians see Christians as selfish hypocrites, as non-Christians often use some of our worst specimens (or those who claim Christianity) as the model for all of us.

And from a non-American perspective (especially non-Catholic and non-Protestant countries), everyone in America is a Christian. They see influential American pop stars and their famous lifestyles and assume that is Christianity. Britney Spears is suddenly the epitome of what all Christians stand for.

I am a Christian. And I don’t believe that I am better than any person in this world nor do I believe that Christians are better people than any other religious group of people. If anything, I feel quite inferior to most people on this earth. I strive for a more giving spirit, like the kind I see in those who have much less than I do.  I’ve got a long ways to go.

I belong to a Baptist church. That means my ultimate goal in life is to introduce others to Jesus as the only way true to eternal life, by showing them love and truth. And I believe that being baptized is an important outward symbol of the surrendering of my life to God, as Jesus did.

The Baptist denomination best resembles overall what I believe.

But there are some things about the Baptist culture I stray from. For example, I don’t oppose the reasonable consumption of alcohol or feel it’s taboo for a Christian to drink. Yet I share the all the same major spiritual doctrines as Baptists. Therefore I’m a little bit Presbyterian. (My wife and I were married in a Presbyterian church.)

http://wp.me/pxqBU-2I

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And though as a Baptist I’m very aware that I can’t earn my salvation by anything I do on my own, I’m a little bit Catholic because I believe salvation in Christ is more than just saying a prayer for Jesus to save me and then saying “I got saved” and then going to church.

My faith does require “works” in order to prove my faith to be genuine and alive; by serving others- caring for the poor, helpless, lonely, and misunderstood. Because that’s what Jesus was all about.

And that’s something that perhaps has best been taught to me through some of the examples of some of the Catholic saints and missionaries I’ve heard and read about, the most obvious being Mother Teresa.

It troubles me that many Baptist churches are so good about making sure no one in the congregation leaves the service without being given the opportunity to “become a Christian” by saying “the sinner’s prayer”. But afterwards, these confused spiritual infants are often left without being nurtured through discipleship.

Not understanding that so much of their sought-after Heaven is just as much in this life as it is the next. And that it takes serving others to help bring Heaven to Earth.  I really like the way that over the centuries that Catholics have chosen some of the most humble servants as their legendary heroes. Of course I don’t pray to saints, but I’ve learned to admire and attempt to mimic their lifestyles.

I’m a little bit Jewish because I share the Old Testament with the Jews. The Old Testament actually makes up around 2/3’s of the Bible’s content. And of course I don’t eat pork or shellfish (or many other kinds of carnivores, predators, and “bottom feeder” animals) as God instructed the Jews in Leviticus 11.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-jO

I’m a little bit Seventh Day Adventist. They are the health nut freaks of Christianity. Most of them are vegetarians and avoid processed foods and the consumption of sugar (except in the form of whole fruits). Seventh Day Adventists also have a better understanding of resting “on the Sabbath”.  And statistics show they live around 7 years longer than the rest of us believers.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-sf

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So that is my religious status.

When all that is thrown into a blender, arguably it could be said I am closest to being a Baptist who unofficially converted to Messianic Judaism.

Messianic Jews are of Hebrew heritage but unlike other Jews, they accept Jesus as the Messiah. And though I have still yet to prove that somewhere back in my Italian lineage there was a Jew in there (my Mexican grandmother is convinced that’s the case), a person without Hebrew heritage can still convert to become a Messianic Jew.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-i6

Maybe I should just list my religious views as “It’s Complicated”.