Book Study: Surprise the World! — LEARN Jesus

Surprise the World! - LEARN

In this series, we are looking at Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!, with its challenge to live surprising lives. He uses the acronym B.E.L.L.S. to describe what this might look like. In our last three reflections, we looked at the first three letters, which stand for BLESS, EAT, and LISTEN. Today, we turn to the fourth habit: LEARN Jesus.

Frost talks about how important it is to LEARN Jesus Christ. He reminds us that everything we do as Christians is about Christ; it is built into our name. Jesus Christ is the reason for our hope. He is the one who has won our salvation and who teaches us what life with God looks like. Therefore, it makes sense that as Christians, we should know Jesus really well.

Catch the Jesus Wave

Frost tells the story of going to speak at a gathering of Christian surfers in Australia. He asked them who their favourite surfer was. They gave several different answers, but it was also clear that everyone was in awe of one superstar surfer: Kelly Slater. When Frost asked them to tell stories about Slater, the room erupted. People talked about all kinds of feats and awards.

Then he asked them to talk about Jesus. There was some silence, even though this was a Christian group. Some said things like ‘He’s Lord,’ or ‘He died for our sins.’ These doctrinal statements led to the point Frost wanted to make: what would it be like if they knew Jesus as well as they knew Kelly Slater?

Jesus is our teacher, our mentor, our guide, our saviour, our brother, and yes, our Lord. He did some amazing things, and taught profound wisdom. But if we are going to live like him and tell others about him, we need to know him as well as those surfers knew their hero.

Learn Jesus

Frost challenges us to spend some time once a week learning about Christ. The best way to do that is ‘a deep and ongoing study of the biographies of Jesus written by those who knew him best – the Gospels.’ Frost says that we need to not just read about Jesus, but to immerse ourselves completely in the Gospels, in the work and words of Jesus. In this way, we come to know Christ better and better, while we are drawn deeper into his life and are formed by him. This is our purpose. C.S. Lewis puts it like this:

In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw people into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time.

Frost suggests three ways to know Jesus better:

1) Study the Gospels to Learn Jesus

Read, reread, and reread the Gospels. This doesn’t exclude other study, and you don’t have to do this all at once. But the Gospels are the heart of our faith because they tell of Jesus, the heart of everything. Set aside a period of time every week to learn Christ.

2) Read about Jesus

There are lots of great books about Jesus, both at a popular and scholarly level. Some suggestions:

Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright

Jesus the Fool by Michael Frost

King’s Cross by Tim Keller

The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright

3) Movies about Jesus

No movie captures everything about Jesus. By exploring a range of films, we can see how people encounter Jesus even today. Some of them, like Godspell, aren’t true to life, but seek to capture different aspects of Jesus’ character and action.

(NOTE: These reflections are only meant to be a synopsis and study of Michael Frost’s work, Surprise the World! Our purpose is to encourage our readers with these great ideas. If you interested in going further, please go read the book. You can order it here:

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How to Pray: Bless the Lord

How to Pray: Bless the Lord

Adoration and praise are some of the central acts of being a Christian. In the last reflection, I used the writings of C.S. Lewis to show us that we praise God not because God is egotistic, but rather as an act that draws us out of ourselves and connects us to the source of all that is true, good and beautiful. Today, we’re continuing that conversation with what it means to bless the Lord.

To praise God truly is to be awake to what is. The world around us is shot through with miracle. There is a reason that children can spend a long time just looking at ants! In the right light, everything is interesting and beautiful. G.K. Chesterton points out that the problem is not that the world is dull, but rather that our eyes have stopped seeing:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908)

God is even bigger than the creation in which we wonder. The Scriptures invite us to go beyond creation and contemplate the fact that there is a ‘being’ who radiant, sovereign, omniscient, the source of everything that is true, good and beautiful.

Beyond the Creation to the Creator

Then, move even beyond that to consider that this God knows you. God has loved you since before time existed. God knows all your joys and delights and all of your struggles. If we are willing to listen, God guides us and gives us grace. These are amazing truths! What do we do with them? How do we express them? The Bible gives an odd answer that at first doesn’t make sense. It tells us to bless the Lord. Here are a few examples:

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

Deuteronomy 8:10

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Psalm 100:4

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

Psalm 145:1-2

Does Blessing God Even Make Sense?

This seems odd because of course God is the primal blesser. God is the giver of all good things. When God gives blessing to us, we are somehow strengthened or helped. But we can neither strengthen nor help God in any way. God is perfect. So how can we bless God? Scripture answers that we bless God whenever show our gratitude, whenever we praise him, whenever we give glory.

Blessing God is simple. We give thanks and name before God everything we love and find amazing about creation, life and God. We might talk about how wonderful the mountains are, or thank God for the gift of loved one. Recognizing who God is is part of it as well: thank God for his attributes: his love, sovereign power, grace, goodness. We say them out loud, not because God doesn’t know these things, but because the act of saying them connects us to God in a simple and primal way.

Sharing God’s Life

Each act of praise is one of the ways in which God shares his life and self with us. So why is this a blessing for God? Because it is giving him the one thing he can’t do without our cooperation: we are giving him our heart. As C.S. Lewis reminds us, ultimately God does not want anything from us, he just wants us: our love.

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What Does it Mean to Store Up Treasure in Heaven?

Building Treasure in Heaven

The one who has God for his treasure has all things in One.

A. W. Tozer

This series is about using Jesus’ image of building Treasure in Heaven to help us understand the life of Christian discipleship. The image of treasure focuses us on what is of central importance. It is also an image of desire. People will sacrifice much to find ‘hidden treasure.’ Before I continue in my series, I want to remind us what Jesus is telling us with this image of building Treasure in Heaven.

What does it mean to store up treasure in heaven? First, building treasure in heaven is NOT about getting points with God. It is NOT about impressing God. It is NOT about completing a religious checklist of dos and don’ts. Storing treasure in Heaven is NOT about God rewarding us with material wealth because we have done spiritual good in obedience. In fact, it is NOT about getting anything from God.

Continue reading “What Does it Mean to Store Up Treasure in Heaven?”