2015

Book Review: Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent

We intended to finish this on Christmas Day, but then sickness came over our home and we only finished it up on December 31st. But the story was so compelling that I was determined to finish it even out of season with the kids. Jotham’s Journey is a dangerous and lovely story of a young boy whose disobedience to his father led him on an adventure he wished he never began. Filled with villains and plots of vengeance, Jotham journeys in search of his father in the days before the birth of Messiah Jesus.

The narrative unfolds beautifully through the landscape of the arid and deserted terrain of Israel in the first century. The story introduces the readers to a diverse group of sects in the first century and how they interpreted the coming Messiah in the prophetic writings.

The story takes us through each day in Advent culminating on the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Each portion of the story takes about 10 minues of reading with an additional Bible passage and short reflection. It is succint and captivating. It is splendidly written and written about the Splendor.

Rabbis, caves, fights, swords, shepherds, innkeepers, wise men all join to make Jotham’s Journey an adventure worth telling during the Advent Season.

The writing can at times be difficult to follow for little children. It is helpful to pause at times during the reading to offer a few definitions.

Jotham’s Journey is the first in a series of Advent stories. I highly recommend it.

Everybody Needs Counseling

I sat to counsel someone recently. And he stated the obvious to me: “If everyone,” he said, “really thought about it they would be sitting right here.” The truth was pure and simple. It was refreshing to hear it. We all need counseling. I need counseling. You need counseling. We may need professional counseling from trained individuals, or we may need a shoulder to cry from our neighbor. God has given us two or three friends in a lifetime to fulfill that role. It is a powerful role. I am grateful if you have that function in someone’s life or if someone has that role in yours.

If that is the case, and if the biblical record affirms the “one-anothers” again and again, what keeps us from seeking counseling? Basically, pride. What Augustine referred to as the first and last sin to overcome man. We are too big to need others or the counsel of others. Most of us will rather endure the pain of day-to-day by ourselves than open ourselves to others. This is remarkably inhuman. God created us to need others, to depend on others, to serve others, to be faithful to others, to submit to others, to be humbled by others, to confess our sins to others. In short, God created us to never face anything alone. Yet, again and again, many do. Many prefer to do it this way. They prefer to suffer the agony of pain in the high of self-absorption.

The individual I met recently was very aware of his need. His self-awareness made him an easy person to counsel. His attentiveness and lack of need to defend himself or his own actions made him an easy target for the Spirit of God to work. His life is finding redemption. It is a slow process, but that’s ok, because in counseling this person sees that his sins were many, so time is the least of worries, rather the individual wants to know that he is re-structuring his thinking after the thoughts of God. He doesn’t want to miss a point. He wants to hear every angle and every perspective. It matters to him. His assumption that he needs counseling is the key to his success.

New Year Resolutions

If 2015 is going to be successful, and I pray it is, seek counseling. If your marriage is in trouble, abandon your pride and seek help from a pastor or a qualified Christian counselor in the area. If your pornography problem has been knocking at your door daily or consistently and you no longer fear opening the door, seek counseling. Seek confession and help. If relational problems are overwhelming, seek reconciliation. Do not allow this new year to become another year of self-absorbtion, self-pity, and self-help. Seek and you shall find.

Make your new year’s resolution to be a resolution of repentance; repentance for believing the lie that you can self-medicate your problems without others; repentance for trusting your expertise and your sophisticated ability to justify before a court of your imagination your sins and to continue in them. Here’s the honest truth: you and I need counseling.