A review of Tim Keller, The Prodigal God: Finding Your Place at the Table DVD and Discussion Guide , Zondervan, 2009.
I can’t praise this resource too much – it’s magnificent. The presentation of the DVD is beautiful and the content is dynamite. Even though I was familiar with the material from sermon mp3s and the book, I cried as I watched – twice!
The heart of this resource is a 40-minute DVD presentation. In effect it’s the movie version of Tim Keller’s book, The Prodigal God . Keller stands on a stage with an empty auditorium. His only props are a table and two chairs. The layout of the table and the location of the chairs change as the talks unfolds. It’s all very simple, but beautifully done. The production values are superb. Imagine the best of a Keller sermon combined with a Nooma video and you’ll have a good idea what it’s like.
The DVD works very well as a stand alone resource. But there’s also six-session discussion guide that accompanies the DVD and book. Session one is the 40-minute DVD with a few response questions. After that the discussion guide is based on the book supplemented by short extracts for the DVD. There are 6-10 questions in each session, many inviting people to comment on a quote from the book.
It’s a resource for everyone. The 40-minute presentation is as good a one-off evangelical presentation as any I know. I’m salivating at the prospect of using it with unbelievers. But the material is also of vital importance for Christians, especially those with a legalistic bent (and I suspect that’s all of us). And it is so powerfully presented. I would also recommend pastors to watch it. We shouldn’t try to copy Keller – we must be ourselves – but we can learn a huge amount from him for our preaching, both in terms of content and style.
I know many pastors who’ve been hugely impacted by Keller’s ministry. This is your chance to share Keller with the non-reading members of your congregation!
It’s my top resource from 2009.
Click on the appropriate flag to purchase the DVD , book or discussion guide .
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For more resources go to theprodigalgod.com.
Some time ago I posted on fasting. Here are some more thoughts …
1. Fasting better enables to enjoy food with gratitude
Fasting reminds us we are creatures. We are not self-existent. As the hunger pains bite, we recognise with gratitude and prayer:
- Our dependance on creation for existence. We are intimately bound together with the rest of creation. We depend on seasons, rainfall and harvests – something those of us in cities whose food comes from supermarkets are prone to forget.
- Our dependence on community for existence. We are intimately bound together with other people. We depend on countless people across the world who produce, gather, process, transport and sell our food. We learn again to value then and give thanks to God for them.
- Our dependence on God for existence. He provides our daily bread and our every breathe. And so we pray again, ‘Give us today our daily bread.’
One of the dangers of fasting is that we despise food and think of it as unspiritual when food is God’s good gift to be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5). But I suggest that many of us have lost much of our ability to appreciate food because we over-consume. We miss the joy of satisfaction because we are perpetually satisfied. We are still full from one meal when we tuck into the next. Fasting is any opportunity to rediscover the joy of simple food received as a gift from God.
2. Medicating on sugar, salt and fat – or the living God
When we in the western world have emotional needs many of us turn to food for refuge. We self-medicate with food. The result is ill-health and weight gain. The result is an over-consumption of the world’s resources that contributes to the hunger of other people. And every time we miss the opportunity to turn to God. We don’t live by bread alone. We need God in our lives so that life without God is an empty life. And we cannot fill that emptiness with food. Fasting helps re-oriente us away from self-medication through food towards finding refuge in God. We particularly we turn to foods high in sugar, salt and fat. These consitute our comfort foods. We find comfort in sugar, salt and fat. Sugar, salt and fat instead of the living God. We must be mad! Fasting helps restore our sanity.