Episode 5: Exodus 11-13 God Passes Over the Israelites and Rescues Them

In this episode, I storytell Exodus 11-12, when God passed over the Israelites who put the blood of a perfect lamb on their doors. I also share how Jesus was the true perfect sacrifice so that we could be forgiven and experience new life with him.

After you listen, you can ask your kids, “What did you hear that might make you scared you aren’t good enough?” Then you can reinforce the best news ever–when they trust Jesus, they are forgiven! All praise to Him!

Episode 4: Exodus 7-10 God Shows His Power to the Israelites and Egyptians

In this episode of the Jesus is Better Podcast, I share from Exodus 7-10, how God showed his power to the Israelites and Egyptians through the 10 plagues, and how Jesus still holds all the power over our lives, fulfilling every promise he has ever made.

You might want to ask your kids if there was anything that made them scared or scared they aren’t good enough. It could provide a great opportunity to share about forgiveness and security in Jesus!

Episode 3: Exodus 5-7 God Uses Moses to Give Pharaoh His Message

In this episode of the Jesus is Better podcast, I share from Exodus 5-7 how God used Moses to give Pharaoh God’s message, which made life more difficult for the slaves, and how we can trust Jesus when life seems to be getting worse.

Why is following Jesus exciting and worth it? Why not ask your kids and see what they say?

Two Questions to Help Pursue God’s Purposes

I don’t know Greek. I can’t read Hebrew. There are Bible study tools I learned about in college that I haven’t tried to fit into my toddler and preschool-filled schedule. Sometimes, my brain has had a hard enough time comprehending the English words stringing together into sentences if it’s early enough in the morning or late in the afternoon.

But something that’s helped me immensely in getting to know God and His purposes for me through His Word is by asking questions.

Questions help me start to figure out what a passage says, what it means, and how it applies to my life. And when I take time to ask my own questions about a passage, the Spirit often uses them to help me find some answers.

I recently put together a guide for our women’s Bible study through 1 Samuel, using some great resources like Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word, Jack Klumpenhower’s Show Them Jesus, and David Helm’s One-to-One Bible Reading book. These questions could be used for any Old Testament narrative passage in the Bible, so you can check it out here (or get the whole books for more expansive tools to explore each part of the Bible).

As I’ve studied God’s Word, different seasons have allowed various degrees of study. But as He’s invited me to join Him, revealing His plan of redemption through His Word, I’ve realized that every day I need a constant perspective shift.

I need to zoom out, using God’s Word as a telescope, to remember His kingdom coming, power at work, plan to save, and hope of eternity with Him.

I also need to use His Word as a microscope, zooming in on the miracle of my salvation, adoption, and the righteousness He has given me through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. I need to zoom in on the good roles He’s placed me in and how they are lived out in His kingdom, asking His Spirit to lead me in my daily decisions.

And I need a panoramic camera, to see how the Spirit is using believers all across the globe to invite people from every nation to know Him.

If I don’t ask His Spirit to help me zoom in, out, and around, I often fall into depending on my own strength or ability to obey. I compare my pitiful abilities to others’ seemingly-less-pitiful abilities and feel discontent, rather than looking up to Christ, who is completely able to accomplish the Father’s will. I try to figure out a list of what God wants me to do, rather than asking the Spirit to lead me in His good purposes.

Like the stones of remembrance in the Old Testament, each passage I study helps me to remember God’s involvement in a specific place and time, reminding me of His unchanging character at work now and for all eternity.

Here are two questions I like to ask the Spirit to show me when I read a passage:

  1. How does this passage challenge your understanding about who God is and what He is like? How is this aspect of God revealed–most fully–in Jesus?
  2. How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self? How does believing the good news change how I live in attitude or behavior?

What questions has God used in your life to show you more of Himself and lead you in His ways?

Episode 2: Exodus 2-4 God Calls Moses

In this episode of the Jesus is Better Podcast, I tell how God chose Moses to be the one who would lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and how Jesus is an even greater rescuer, saving us from slavery to sin into eternal life with him.

You can take a look at my last post for questions to discuss this story with the precious children in your life.

And if you haven’t visited my resource page lately, I’ve recently added some more gospel-saturated books and talks for you and your kids.

Jesus is Better Podcast Episode 1: Exodus 1-2 God Protects Moses

Hi friends!
I’m delighted to share with you my brand-new podcast for kids called Jesus is Better: Bible Stories with Gospel Joy.

Have you ever wondered why God included certain stories in the Bible? The Bible is meant to show us Jesus and his glorious gospel, yet often we get stuck focusing only on Bible heroes or bad guys with our kids.

In each episode, I will be storytelling a passage from the Bible, look at the choices that were made and how God is at work, and then show how God does the same for us–only better–in Jesus. You can play it for your kids, or listen alongside them!

This first episode begins with Exodus 1-2, as I tell how God protected Moses and how He protects us for eternal life through Jesus.

My desire for this podcast is that it would be a springboard for discussion with the precious children in your life as you seek to point them to Jesus.

In Jack Klumpenhower’s excellent book Show Them Jesus, he provides some questions you can use to further discuss a Bible story.

  • What did you learn about Jesus that makes you thankful to him? What opportunities will you have to show your thankfulness this week?
  • What helps from the Spirit can you use to become better servants of God? (prayer, the Bible, support from others in the church)
  • What did you learn about why following Jesus is exciting and worth it?
  • What sometimes feels better than Jesus? Tell about a time when putting him first seemed to cost you too much. How can you believe Jesus is better at those times?
  • What did you learn that might make you scared you aren’t good enough? Be glad you’re forgiven in Jesus!

Happy listening!

When You’re Sick of Always Running Out of Time

How do you decide how to spend your time each day? Maybe you have a boss breathing down your neck for forty or more hours each week and can barely fit all your other responsibilities in the scraps of time left over. Maybe caring for your kids is forcing you from one bone-weary day to the next.

As a mom who works at home, it has felt daunting to be aware of so many good things I could spend my time on, in addition to planning around the unpredictability of caring for a preschooler and a toddler.

When I was in school, I gave most of my time to my teachers and the homework they assigned. When I was teaching, I gave hours and hours each week to managing my classes and preparing lessons.

I once heard a speaker compare the time we have each day to a pie. At the beginning of each 24 hour day, it’s a fresh-from-the-oven pie, and by the end, it’s an empty pie plate, instantly refilling for the next day.

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My tendency has been to want to figure out how to slice the pie and slice it the same every day. But then I start living like my pie is my own, rather than a grace God has entrusted to me. I begin to resent the times when my kids or husband want a bigger slice, or when the pie is empty before I had the chance to do everything I wanted to do. When I call the pie mine, I’m also tempted to set my pie up next to others’ pies to see how they’ve sliced theirs and feel my pie is wrong because it looks different.

So how do I receive the pie of a day, or the pies for a week, or the pies for a year with an open hand? How do I let God do the slicing?

I ask Him to show me His values.

The pie of my time can be an offering back to God when I let Him shape my values. I spend time on what I value, but I can only value what God values when I make space for Him. Though the slice of time to pray and read the Bible might not be the same each day, (and may be slivers or crumbs collected throughout the day), as we read His word, He uses it to direct all the other slices and even the attitude we have as our slices are eaten up.

He gives us a vision for what He is doing in the world–bringing all things together in Christ–and reminds us of the privilege of resting in the gospel and running with the good news to all who will listen, (even if they are trying to do handstands or smash a tower of blocks at the same time).

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I don’t make every decision about how thin or thick a slice is cut.

When I plan my day so rigidly that everything extra is an inconvenience, I am easily frustrated and might miss what the Holy Spirit is wanting me to join Him in.

When my husband is home and our pies are overlapping, it’s not loving or respectful to cut his pieces for him. Instead, it’s another chance for me to serve him and receive the blessings he gives to our family as we work together.

When I’m not always thinking about the next task, I can also have space to enjoy the things I am spending my time on, rather than flipping to the end of the picture book to see how much longer it will take to read.

I ask God to help me value each role He has given me to steward.

Meal planning often makes me tired. Picking up toys feels pointless when they get dumped out again two seconds later. But when God helps me see the bigger picture of why He’s given me the roles He has, I can flip through one more grocery ad and throw the Duplo blocks back in his room again.

When I clean my house, it’s easier to welcome other people into it, even if it can only be described as “relatively clean and picked up.” God brought an ordered universe from the chaos of the waters of darkness, and I can reflect His desire for restoration as I snap the lid on the toy box again. (And for some reason, the toys become fun again once they’ve been put back into baskets.)

Planning and preparing meals is a way to meet the needs of my family and any others who come during mealtimes. Any time invested in finance, health, car, and home details is a way to love my family and take care of some chaos my husband won’t have to deal with.

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I anticipate what God might let me join Him in.

Even when I feel God has given me an idea for using the gifts He’s entrusted to me, it’s tempting to want to control it, to try to make it happen in my way and my timing. But when I allow God to choose slices for certain things, He can use my entire pie along with millions of other pies to fulfill His perfect plan.

It might mean letting go of some of my own expectations in my child and home-care roles. Or laying down my preferences for how to load the dishwasher or get the oil changed in the van so that I don’t have to do it myself. And it might mean using my slices to relieve tasks I might prefer my husband to do so that he can serve in something God is inviting him to.

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An Undercooked Mess

Maybe it seems like others have abundant energy or health to devote to each slice. Maybe a grief or underlying tension or stress is making you struggle through caring for the basic needs that fill each pie. Maybe you feel like by the time all the slices are devoured, there aren’t even any crumbs for you, and you wouldn’t have energy to even enjoy them if you did. It’s okay to be frustrated with a hard season or string of seasons as you remember the truth:  

Jesus has lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father’s will for us, so that we can enjoy Him for an eternity of pain-free pies. Whether we feel like our pie is an undercooked, blueberry mess, or whether the cross-hatched top came out perfectly, God sees us the same. He sees Jesus’ perfection. And He loves us, sticky hands and all.

Why You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers

“How can Jesus be with us? I can’t see him!”

“Why did Adam and Eve eat the fruit they weren’t supposed to?”

“Are zebras good or bad?”

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Though I know this will change, my three-and-a-half year old son has a hard time believing I don’t know everything. Sometimes, he gets downright frustrated when I can’t give him an answer.

There are times when I wish I could reflect God in being all-knowing, especially when I read the Bible or interact with others about spiritual things. Studying Deuteronomy alone has led to many questions about nations being blotted out, sins that were supposed to result in stoning, or children from forbidden religious unions being excluded from the tabernacle.

Even reading through the gospel of Mark with a friend makes me wonder over Jesus’ words about being salted with fire, forgiving others so the Father will forgive my trespasses, or believing that I have received what I ask for in prayer.

No Questions? No Answers.

A recent speaker at our church shared that if we are willing to articulate and wrestle with our questions, we will be able to better recognize when we’ve found the answer.

God has also used a book called Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower to encourage me in my question journey and as I seek to walk alongside others with their questions.

When reading the Old Testament, Klumpenhower challenges us to look at the overall character of God–how He cares for his people in the Old Testament, and how He does the same and even better for us in Jesus.

He also invites us not to ignore the tensions in the Old Testament, but instead look to the good news of how it is solved in Jesus. (Impossible to follow the 10 commandments perfectly? Jesus has done it for us, and in His death, offers His righteousness to those who are joined to Him.)

When we study Jesus’ teachings, we should zoom out to also consider the larger context of His work, and what kind of person He is.

Sometimes God’s ways seem mysterious, but He showed us from the time of walking with Adam and Eve in the garden, to tabernacling with the Israelites, to coming to earth as a baby, that He wants us to know Him and experience His presence. When we know His character and consider His themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness through all of Scripture, we can trust that the One who knows the answers can lead us in His wisdom.

In Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9 David prays:  

Show me your ways, Lord,

   teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,

   for you are God my Savior,

   and my hope is in you all day long. . .

Good and upright is the Lord;

   therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

He guides the humble in what is right

   and teaches them his way.

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But What About Everyone Else?

I’ve often been scared of someone asking me a question about Jesus that I don’t know the answer to. In fact, I still get scared about that.

But if Jesus was concerned about simply answering people’s questions, he wouldn’t have given these sorts of responses when He was on earth:

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. (Mark 10:17-18)

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” (Mark 11:27-30)

Jesus looked into people’s hearts to see what they were really asking. He always knew the perfect response, and didn’t care whether people thought He was smart or not. (Or even whether He’d make people mad enough to kill him.)

When Job lost everything, he asked all kinds of questions as he spent chapter after chapter processing his pain. God responded with teaching Job about His greatness, which left Job nothing to say but:

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

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What if, by asking questions, God led us and others to acknowledge His power and understanding, to grow in faith, and to find rest in a God who satisfies us whether we find all the answers or not?

What if, by insisting that God answer my questions, I miss what He does want to show me?

What if He wants me to search for answers with my husband or other believers?

What if I don’t need to know how every little piece fits together because God has already brought everything together under one Head in Jesus?  

What if Jesus doesn’t care whether I win an argument with someone who believes differently than I do? Can I trust Him to give me the words I need and the faith that He can work in others’ lives whether I come up with the right response or not? Or even if I give the wrong response?

Jesus is interceding for us. Will we receive what He’s praying for us?

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. . . I have made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:24, 26)