The Rescue by Jim Cymbala – Book Review

“The Rescue – Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories” by Jim Cymbala is not primarily about what I thought it was going to be about, and it spoke to me in a way I did not expect. It was more. It was better. I spent about three and a half hours reading The Rescue cover to cover and near the end, it irritated me in the best possible way. I had to put it down, get up from my comfy chair, take a walk and say out loud, “Really?!” You see, as I read through the first few stories, the thing that I had decided to focus on in my review became clear. However, it turned out to be the very thing I needed to hear myself right now. I heard The Lord say in my heart, “This is for others, but it’s also for you. Pay attention.” I was going to be all cool and share this great book with the world wide web. It turns out God wanted to share it with me.

How it started

Going in, I thought The Rescue was going to focus on the circumstances of people’s stories.

  • How the drug addict got off drugs.
  • How the rich guy found real joy in not being rich, (and his name happens to be Rich.)
  • How the victim of incest got her life turned around and the child grew up to be an amazing person.

These stories are in the book, and more. But those changes are not the kind of rescue the book is really about. In the first five pages it became evident; being rescued didn’t mean being saved from circumstances, it was meant people being saved from themselves. It was about transformation. Jim writes,

“If I had a big enough hose, I’d invite you into my living room to sit down with me and the seven friends whose stories I tell. As you listened to each of them, a window would open up, offering you a glimpse not only into their pain and confusion but also into the joy and peace they’ve found as a result of a profound transformation.” p. 3

“… I believe that their stories of transformation have the potential to transform your life and the lives of those you care about.” p. 4

“… my hope is that, like my seven friends, you will experience the deep transformation that I call ‘the rescue’ – an experience that will change your life so that you will no longer feel defeated by your problems or overwhelmed by your worries. Instead you will have learned what it means to live a life of profound transformation, one that will bring you joy and give you the kind of peace that will never leave you.” p. 5

Yes! Transformation! I love this word. I love that this is what God is about. I was thrilled when I read this because lots of people seem to be able to turn their lives around even apart from Jesus, but they aren’t really saved from that which held them captive; they aren’t rescued yet. The Rescue is not just about how God helped people turn their lives around. At its core the book is about how people recognize their need for Jesus and accept him, surrender their lives to God, how God transforms their hearts and mind and rescues them in the truest possible sense. The Christianese word is “saved.”  But isn’t that what it means to be rescued; to be saved?

Let me show you what I’m talking about with some key quotes from some of the stories.


“It would be wrong to say I am surprised by what I hear. No, I am shocked. There really is a God, and he loves me! Now the man says I should invite Jesus into my heart. I look up into the night sky, up to heaven, and say, “I accept you; I accept you; I accept you into my life. I don’t know what that means, but I accept you.” I beg Jesus to come in, and he does, bringing so much peace. It washes over me, and I am surrounded by it.” p. 25

“In that moment I completely surrendered my life to Christ.” p. 29

There is a pattern that begins in Lawrence’s story that is evident throughout. While the order of the first two parts can be reversed, the outcome is the same.

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.

Timiney and Rich

This is a kind of tag team story. It’s very cool how God weaves people’s lives together over time.

Timiney – “I remember nothing about the [church] service except saying to God, I don’t understand my past. I don’t understand the church I was raised in. I don’t understand why the things that happened to me happened, but I am ready to live for you. And that was it. Seven years after I had fled the church in Austin, I walked into the arms of Christ.” p. 49

Rich – “I used to think you had to be in good shape to come to God. But now I realize that we all come broken. We come messed up and sinful. And he accepts us just as we are. That’s why Christ died, to deal with our brokenness and sin, to bring us back to the Father. God loves us even when we aren’t living as we should be living, because how can we until he saves us? Let’s ask him to save us.” pp. 69-70

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala - Book Review ||

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


I love Robin’s story for the sole reason that Robin is Jewish and found her Messiah. Lest we forget, Jesus was Jewish, all of his disciples were Jewish, the church was exclusively Jewish until Acts 10. While Jews have a religion that is associated with their ethnicity, it is incomplete without The Messiah. Robin met Yeshua.

“As [my mother’s friend] started to walk away, I called out to her. ‘I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I feel like I had chains on me and they just fell off. It’s like I was sleeping my entire life and I just woke up, like new blood is running inside me. I feel alive!’ Running back, she exclaimed, ‘You just met Yeshua – you met Jesus!’ Pointing first to my head and then to my heart, she said, ‘Yesterday it was here, but now it’s here.’” p. 87

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


“As I joined in the worship, I felt God touching my heart, filling me up. I gave my life to Christ in that moment, telling him once again that I would go wherever he wanted and do whatever he wanted. I felt forgiven, washed clean, loved. The Father of the fatherless was there with me, healing me, taking my depression, my isolation, my fear, my hurts – everything – and replacing them with his peace. That’s when God really got hold of me.” p. 111-112

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


“Finally, in the midst of my separation, I cried out to God. Get me out of this mess! I pleaded. You’ve got to get me out. I don’t care what it takes. Even if it means exposing my sin, please God rescue me! And God did. He came in and saved me in the deepest way possible. He forgave me, healed me, and restored me to my husband and children.” pp 160-161

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


It was right around the time of Toni’s story when I got up from my chair and said, “Really?!” Without going into all the details of my own story, I have felt as though I have had a right to my depression (chronic, it’s a family trait) due to my circumstances. Now I’m reminded that God transforms us, not by first delivering us from our circumstances (which He can), or even through our circumstances (which He does), but He transforms our hearts and mind when we come to the end of ourselves regardless of circumstances. Circumstances may or may not change, but that transformation, that rescue, can happen immediately. More than that, transformation is both an all-at-once thing, and a life-long process. It’s that second part we don’t like to hear.

Despite feeling right in my depression and entitled to my frustration, that’s not what God wants for me, or for you.

Now, thanks to The Rescue, Pastor Jim Cymbala, and seven strangers, I have a choice to make on a daily basis. I have accepted Jesus. It’s the surrendering-your-life-to-him bit that isn’t always easy. I have to chose to do it or continue choosing to not do it. Why would someone not do it? Because I don’t feel like I deserve what Jesus did for me and the freedom it provides for me. No one deserves it which is why it’s a free gift. Ignoring that hasn’t worked out so well. I guess I need to swallow the medicine I’ve been prescribing to others.

Honestly? It’s scary. I really don’t like the person I’ve become but I’m comfortable in “him.” I have control over “him.” While I might not be the “old man,” this version of the “in-process” man is comfy. I still need to put him off and put on the new man (have a look at Ephesians 4:20-24). Yet again another area where I need to Luke 9:23 myself. Deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Him.

Buy One, Give One

I love reading and talking about transformation because I know I need it myself. I want others to experience it. With The Rescue, I have another tool to share what it looks like with others.

I’m going to ask you to not buy one book; buy two. I’m not trying to sell books for Jim. In fact, he doesn’t even keep the royalties. He puts them right into the church to enable ministry that seeks to help people experience being rescued. No, I’m asking you to buy two because before you get to the end of it you will already know someone else who needs to read it. I know I do.

Without being rescued, we die, we perish. Being rescued = being saved and then living a life worthy of that with the one who rescued you by giving himself in your place. May Jesus continue his work of transformation in all of us.

Here is a link to the first two chapters of the book, including Lawrence’s story.

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Click on the Amazon Affiliate link below to order the book.

Discover The Person And Purpose of The Holy Spirit Part 1

The purpose of this session is to get a sense from the entire Bible of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does; to discover the Person and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we can isolate the Holy Spirit to a few passages of scripture. When we do that it’s like thinking of Patrick Stewart only as Captain Picard from Star Trek. While that might be your favorite roles, he’s done so much more over his career. Knowing the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is like knowing about Patrick Stewart in movies like Excalibur and Dune (from the 1980s). Knowing the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is like knowing Patrick Stewart as Picard, Professor X, and perhaps Poop from The Emoji Movie; the same guy, just much more familiar. Our favorite pictures of and passages about the Holy Spirit might be Acts 2, or powerful gifts of healing and speaking in tongues, but there is so much more to Him than that. We are going to survey the Bible to get the bigger picture of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.

All of the “In Your Facebook Bible Feed” posts will be included in The Blue Thread Podcast. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

The Old Testament

In the Old Testament, which was written in Hebrew, the word for “spirit” is ruah (Strong’s H7307), which you have to pronounce with a little phlegm at the end. At its base it refers to air that is moving; specifically, wind or breath.

  • As devastating as wildfires are, the more wind the more “life” the fire has.
  • Wind helps life in the ocean to thrive by helping to oxygenate the water.
  • Wind stirs things up, it moves things around like pollen and seeds for plants.
  • Humans and other land animals have to breath. Where there is no breath there is no life. Breathing is a sign of life.

It is this word that is used to refer to the spirit of an animal, a person, and God Himself. It is that intangible yet very real life force, or energy, or whatever it is that is a part of what makes a living being.

When it comes to God it is referred to as the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit In Our Creation

Genesis 1:1-3. “Hovering.” Deuteronomy 32:11 “As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,”

Protecting, warming, watching over. Have you ever known someone that hovered over you? A parent? A teacher? A boss? In the best possible sense that’s kind of what was happening here.

The Holy Spirit is a protector, He watches over, He is a provider.

The Holy Spirit In Our Identity

In Genesis 12 we are introduced to a man named Abram and his wife Sarai. As I mentioned in the “Old Testament from 30k Feet” Genesis is largely about zooming in on one particular family line through which would come the Messiah, Jesus. From Adam, then Noah, on to Abram. You might be more familiar with him by the name of Abraham. Eventually, he has a son named Isaac who then has a son named Jacob whose name is changed to Israel.

In Genesis 17:5 and 15, Abram and Sarai are renamed Abraham and Sarah, or Sarahi. The reason that God changes their names is that He is reinforcing His calling on them and covenant with them.

What’s the difference in the name? Even in English, it’s pretty evident; it’s the letter “H.” This is starting to sound like Sesame Street. What sounds does the letter H make? In Hebrew it’s the letter “he” like saying the word “hey” with a little phlegm at the beginning but without the “y” at the end. It’s the last letter in ruah and is associated with God’s Spirit.

God changes the name, changes the identity of Abram and Sarai by putting His breath, His Spirit in them. God’s Spirit in us should have the same impact; it changes our identity, it changes who we are. Whatever people identified with us before God’s Spirit being in us should be different than after.

It’s a beautiful picture.

The Holy Spirit In Our Occupation

By “occupation” I don’t specifically or exclusively mean a person’s job. I’m referring to both what we do and how we do it. Think student, parent, employee, teacher, fireman, soldier, CEO, cashier, pastor, burger flipper, whatever. If the Holy Spirit was involved in creation (and He was), if He has changed our identity (and He has), then His power and influence should affect every area of our lives all the time.

I’m going to share a list I compiled but I’m not going to read the verses. They are listed with the blog post associated with this session. But I’m going to read the list and highlight a few of them along the way.

  • He inspires people to speak God’s words to others. Num. 11:17, 25; 1 Sam. 10:6; 19:20.
  • He can even speak through non-believers. Num. 24:2.
  • David spoke by the power of the Spirit. 2 Sam. 23:2.
  • David was afraid He would be taken away. Ps. 51:11.
  • The Spirit gives people an understanding of things they would otherwise not understand. Job 32:8.
  • At a future time from Joel, now past to us, God promised that the Spirit would be poured out on people in such a way that they would speak God’s word, as well as receive dreams and visions from Him. Joel 2:28.
  • The Holy Spirit provides skills to artists and craftsmen, as well as the means to teach others those skills. Ex. 31:3; 35:31, 34.
  • The Holy Spirit resuscitates the dead. Ezek. 37:5, 10; 39:29.
  • God’s Spirit performs a kind of heart transplant in His people that gives them the desire to seek out and follow His ways. Ezek. 11:19; 36:26.
  • God’s Spirit comforts and restores the broken-hearted. Ps. 34:18,19; Isa. 65:14
  • We can rebel against and grieve Him. Psalm 106:33; Isa. 63:10, 11.
  • The Spirit was with the Israelites as the returned from Babylonian and Medo-Persian captivity. Hag. 2:5; Zech. 4:6.

The Holy Spirit wants to communicate God’s word through His people into the lives of others. He equips people with skills to bring glory to God and provide an income. He does miracles on a physical and spiritual level. He is, for lack of a better term, a person against whom we can rebel and who we can grieve. He goes with us along the way out of our captivity into newness of life.

Discover The Person And Purpose of The Holy Spirit Part 1 ||

This is just a partial list of examples of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Yet another reason we need to be students of the entire Bible; cover to cover.

Next session we will look at the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. For now,

Actionable Questions

What is something new that you learned about the Holy Spirit from this session?

Before God got His hands on you, by what did people identify you? (A nasty habit? Negative personality trait?) What about now? By what do people identify you? (A Godly habit? Transformed personality traits?)

What is your favorite Patrick Stewart role?

Related Resources

The following are Amazon Affiliate links. When you order using these links you help support me. Thanks!

Finding Joy In Not Being A Jerk

The following text comes from my teaching notes from this session. The audio is available via the podcast at The Blue Thread and in the player below. The video is from a Facebook Live feed.

Bible Overview – super summarize

  • The Bible
    • 66 books…
    • One book, One Author, One Story. The OT wouldn’t make sense without the NT and the NT wouldn’t make sense without the OT.
    • I really really believe it!
  • The OT, can be a misleading label. The Beginning of the Testament, Covenant, Gospel. Everything in the OT points ahead to Jesus.
  • The NT, also a misleading label. The Completion of the Testament, Covenant, Gospel. Everything in the NT is built on the foundation of the OT.
  • The OT and NT are not arranged primarily chronologically. They are organized in a way that a librarian might organize them.
    • We are going through 1 Peter which is a General Epistle, or Letter. It’s not addressed to any one individual, city, or region. It is directed basically to Christians who have been scattered over a wide area.
    • This means that…

The Gospel

  • Most of what you hear today won’t make sense to you unless you unless you are a Christian. Not because you’re dumb, but because it’s going to sound dumb.
  • A guy named Paul who wrote most of the letters in the NT wrote that
    • the message of the cross, and consequently everything connected to it like what we are going to look at today,
    • is foolishness to someone who doesn’t know Jesus, who doesn’t have the HS living in them, which that right there might sound foolish.
  • This stuff only makes sense to someone as the Holy Spirit highlights it for them, connects the dots. I call them “aha moments.”
  • I want to take a moment and do what many teachers/preachers to at the end; I want to tell you what it means and what it takes to be a follower of Jesus.
  • Romans Road plus Oreos.
    • If you think that you probably don’t deserve Heaven but for sure don’t deserve Hell, then you really don’t believe in God, you don’t believe in Jesus; you believe in yourself.
    • The gospel is not “be a good person, or better than bad people.” Because that’s still trusting in yourself.
    • There is this cultural misunderstanding of the gospel that is “Jesus died for you so you’d better be good.” Completely misses the point.
  • If you did that, welcome to the family. What you are going to hear this morning is going to light you up.
  • If you didn’t, well, maybe the Spirit will use today to see what’s up.

1 Peter 3:8-12 context

  • Stretch dealing with believers dealing with unbelievers primarily, context.
    • 1 Peter 2:11-12, superior conduct, not attitude, Jesus did to save and as an example to us.
    • 1 Peter 2:13-17, submit yourselves to an unbelieving government, Jesus did to save them and as an example to us.
    • 1 Peter 2:18-21, submit yourselves to your masters (bosses), Jesus did to save them and as an example to us.
    • 1 Peter 3:1-6, wives cooperate with our unbelieving husbands, in a sense that is consistent with scripture Jesus did to save us and as an example to us.
    • 1 Peter 3:7, husbands sacrifice for your unbelieving wives, Jesus did to save us and as an example to us.
    • BTW unbelievers aren’t the enemy, they are our mission.

1 Peter 3:8-12

  • Read the passage.
  • My title for this message is “Finding joy in not being a jerk.” Do you see why? If you have an attitude toward… , if you are returning reviling for reviling and evil for evil, you are being a jerk and cannot experience joy.
  • Let’s zoom in really close now and see what’s up.
  • 3:8
    • finally –
      • concluding section beginning in 2:11. Coming back to idea of needing one another in times of trials.
      • “Finally” is a culmination. Not “lastly.” The final expression of all of this…
        • Like ROtJ culminates that series of movies.
        • The Super Bowl is the finale of the season.
        • Like the preparation of a good meal.
    • WORD ORDER RE-ARRANGEMENT. Greek and Yoda-speak.
      • These are adjectives,  not verbs unto themselves.
      • What do they describe?
      • “not returning” Returning evil for evil, reviling for reviling is what we tend to do in all of the previous relationships, is it not?
      • It’s also what we as Christians do to one another, otherwise, Peter wouldn’t be saying “one another.”
    • Isn’t returning blessing instead of reviling/evil enough? No, because that mindset focuses on an external thing that we can fake. These things are internal.
    • Instead, what does it look like (adjectives, describing words)? How does it work?
    • all of one mind, all one-mindedly (adverb) don’t return
      • Think the same way, have the same understanding, same mindset.
      • What mind? Whose mind? How do we have it?
        • Mind of Christ! Among other things, it’s something we put on.  Sometimes it’s just natural. Sometimes it’s a choice, just like a lot of what following Jesus is.
        • Romans 12:2 we are transformed by the renewing of our minds in Jesus.
      • We should all have a Jesus filter through which we experience life and it should be the default.
      • If we are all putting on the mind of Christ, if we are all being transformed, we will all act one-mindedly.
    • having compassion for one another – one word; sympathy, sympathetically don’t return
      • I feel what you feel, which can be scary.
      • Resonance. Brass quintet and piano in band room. This is what it looks like.
      • As followers of Jesus, submit/Cooperate with the unbelieving government, boss, husband, Sacrifice for the unbelieving wife, and all y’all Sympathize/resonate with one another, because we’ve all been through stuff and continue to go through stuff.
      • The gospel not only allows you to be sympathetic to others, it compels you to be because you were once where others are, have done what others are doing (sin, addiction, etc), and have gone through what others are going through.
      • love as brothers – brotherly-lovingly don’t return because we are family, all my brothers sisters and me
    • tenderhearted – strong-bowel-ledly don’t return. The idea being geed feelings from deep within which are genuine and can’t be faked.
    • courteous – humbly, with humility, don’t return
    • All of these require surrendering yourself, submitting yourself, sacrificing yourself, sympathizing with others, just as Jesus did.
    • To not do these things, whether it’s to believers or unbelievers, is a defense mechanism. There are dangers to doing the right thing, which is addressed in the section of the letter after this.
    • Doing what’s in these verses brings personal and communal joy. It’s also only possible for a saved and spirit driven person.
    • Sure, not-saved people can be nice, kind, even self-sacrificing. But to be able to do so when you are treated unfairly like God is treated unfairly, like Jesus was treated unfairly, takes the Holy Spirit.
  • 3:9
    • not returning – repaying as if you owed it to someone. Again, all the previous adjectives describe this verb, what this looks like in the hearts and minds of believers.
    • evil – bad, harm, wrong. kaka original usage, a cowardly soldier who retreats. That weakens the army. Don’t weaken others if they weaken you.
    • reviling – railing. This is what our natural selves want to do. Old nature.
      • This was Peter pre-Holy Spirit. Who’s going to sit at Jesus’ right hand? Cut off guy’s ear at Jesus’ arrest. Denied Jesus 3 times cursing himself!
      • After the Holy Spirit very different Peter. Bold but not a jerk. The heart in these letters.
      • Stephen killed didn’t revile.
      • This change still occurs! You? Me? Stories of forgiveness and transformation in this room.
    • contrary – do the opposite repay evil and reviling with
    • blessing – The other main verb in this passage. Not just actions, WORDS. HARD!
      • Jesus describes what this action word looks like best. Matthew 5:43-48.
      • When others inside and outside your fellow followers of Jesus do something kaka against you, when they rail at you to your face, if you let the Holy Spirit take the wheel of your mind and heart, on the inside
        • you will be of one mind with Jesus and others if not the person throwing kaka at you,
        • you will be sympathetic with where this person has been that has led them here because you were once like this AND MAY BE AGAIN IN THE FUTURE,
        • you will love them as family,
        • these feelings will come from deep within because the Holy Spirit has filled you down to your depths,
        • and you will be humble as Jesus was humble, even to the cross.
      • On the outside,
        • you will speak goodness to them, and not kaka.
        • You might even offer to pray for that person right then and there.
        • You will love them as Jesus loves you.
      • There is never a degree to which anyone can say, “I have done this enough.”
    • Why, apart from it’s what Jesus in you would do? Because you also get something amazing out of it.
    • knowing – “I see” How did they know? A knowledge of what we call the OT.
    • called – beckoned over to do this. By Jesus as we read, by others in the NT. Specifically by David in Psalm 34 where the next two verses come from.
    • inherit a blessing – just what it is. Someone has to die for there to be an inheritance.
      • Luke 9:23 DTS!
      • Galatians 2:20
  • 3:11-12
    • People illustration of who is facing God. To be in God’s sight who has to move? But we can’t do this ourselves from the start. Jesus takes us there, but we need to choose.
    • What is the blessing that we inherit? God’s attention!
    • In the eyes of the God who made you, loves you, died and rose again for you.

Next Steps

  • Take the list of seven things from these verses
    • one-minded
    • sympathetic
    • brotherly love
    • tenderhearted
    • courteous / humble
    • not returning kaka or railing
    • bless with your words
  • and every day for the next seven days write each one of these on a sticky note and somehow keep it in front of you at all times, and do it.

Finding Joy In Not Being A Jerk ||

How Chronic Illnesses Produced Genuine Life Transformation

This is Episode 24 of the podcast Notes From The Road. It’s the second conversation with Jessica Stephens and we’re talking about her experience with how chronic illnesses produced genuine life transformation. Subscribe and never miss an interview.


Please consult your healthcare provider before applying any of the experiences or recommended resources discussed or linked in this podcast and accompanying blog post.

The Highlights

This episode is a follow-up conversation to a previous interview from August 2016. Here are the highlights.

How It Started

This is for someone who is going through known or unknown health issues.

“I’m so tired. I just want to rest.” Super tired all the time was a major symptom.

Trying to run for exercise so as to feel like you are doing something. Running, weightlifting, cooking from scratch. Liked healthy food, liked to cook.

A time about six years ago where she lost a bunch of weight even though she was an average weight.

Did some testing with a naturopath. Thyroid was off. With medications eventually found a thyroid level that felt the best for her. Advocate for yourself with your provider!

Tired for a long time. 2015;

  • massive ministry stress which peaked,
  • massive life change (selling and moving house),
  • last child graduation,
  • life stressors piled up.
  • Exhausted.
  • Getting chubby.
  • Couldn’t lose the “five extra pounds” no matter what. “Well you’re just getting older…” but there was clean eating, doing everything right.

The Couch Time

A time when she lived on the couch on the weekends, had a job that didn’t require too much. Over-achievers, you are especially at risk for this as this trait is common with these chronic illnesses.

Saturdays were chores, and around 11 am she was asleep on the couch. Come home from work, eat, and go to sleep.

A new naturopath after the move, attributed it to business. Did full CBC and thyroid panel, discovered she was very sick.

  • Hypothyroid around 6.
  • Blood chemistry was off,
  • major vitamin deficiencies,
  • adrenal fatigue,
  • chronic fatigue.
  • Round 1 of diagnosis.
  • Supplements,
  • dietary, remove gluten and dairy.

The Diagnoses and Depression

Did this for months with little to no improvement. Did some allergy testing, a rheumatologist and hematologist.

  • Autoimmune; Hashimoto’s,
  • celiac disease (common together)
  • required removal of gluten,
  • allergy testing revealed dairy and egg allergy which required removal of dairy for sure.
  • Kidney beans and radishes.
  • Put on a paleo diet (linked below).

Hard and sad removal of foods that were loved. Joy was gone, loved to eat, not an addiction, but an experiential and emotional attachment to food. Depression bloomed, but not a new thing. Previous experience with it and medications. Food was an idol.

The food situation affected everything else in life.

A New Doctor

Insurance changed, naturopath changed, but she wanted a more aggressive naturopath anyway. This was the result of a job change. More responsibility in a new office working with a doctor in a field that was very relevant to our lives. Started off well but turned out she worked for a micromanager, never good enough, lots of stress, LOTS OF STRESS. When you are a people pleaser and a “gold-star girl” working for a micromanager is impossible.

New naturopath was more aggressive, testing new areas, including poop.

All of the previously mentioned illnesses go together. They are interconnected. After poop test, it was discovered that there was a problem further up the intestine. Too much bacteria across the board, not bad bacteria, along with fats. After more testing, she learned she had SIBO; Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. SIBO produces a chemical reaction with the effect that none of the other conditions can get better while it is going strong. Not an underlying cause, but it interferes with treating the other conditions.

A New Diet

Solution; an even more restrictive diet. Bi-phasic diet. Low fodmap.

The symptoms of icky tummy, poop being super weird, all in one day, fatigue, brain fog, it all went together.

As it turns out, stress was one of the biggest factors hindering any improvement in any of her conditions. It’s a symptom and contributing factor. She was in the most stressful job she’d ever had which partially explains the little to no improvement.

Three months on the bi-phasic diet. Slight improvement. Quit stressful job. Took a week off. She was able to go back to a better position at her previous job. Time on the levels of the diet is dependent on your system’s reaction to the food. Kept a food diary, record symptoms like bloating, intestinal response (poop).

SIBO is hard to get rid of and high rate of recurrence. Once you have it you will deal with it at some level for the rest of your life. It’s about management. Still reintroducing foods to this day.

Once the stressful job was gone, SIBO came more under control, weight loss occurred, thyroid medication worked better, more energy. Saturday half-days were no longer a thing!

Not 100% better. Chronic diseases don’t go away, but they are becoming more manageable.


As of the last podcast, she was ramping up Holy Yoga, but the body wouldn’t let her. After many months of trying, physically and spiritually just couldn’t handle it. Depression, asking why even get out of bed.

Depression produces irrational thoughts that you know are wrong but seem logical so you believe them. Tried four different natural approaches, ended up on a prescription med that worked in the past. “God’s little pills of grace.”

Three prescriptions; thyroid, antidepressant, intestinal mobility. A number of supplements targeting deficiencies because of the bodies hindered ability to absorb nutrients (SIBO). Tying to heal the gut.

As the house emptied of children and the health improved, there was room to teach yoga in the house, so she taught two classes! Overachiever. Scaled back to one. After quitting the stressful job there was major improvement across the board. Adrenals are a big deal!

When it comes to stress and external influences, change what you can change. Internally, addressing the depression reduced stress. Being able to make appropriate responses and decisions is affected by depression resulting in stress.

For Jess, when she is stressed and/or depressed, she cannot connect to God. Addressing these things allowed her to reconnect to God, to get a better perspective on everything and the ability to evaluate things. Dealing with relational stress. There are personal practices to put into place to relieve stress;

  • light exercise,
  • drinking enough water,
  • getting enough sleep,
  • cortisol supplements,
  • breathing,
  • Biblical meditation.

Dealing with stress is a process of self-reflection and self-evaluation.

Looking at a given set of circumstances,

  • can I change the circumstances,
  • pros and cons of changing,
  • What’s the first step I am going to take?


  • What relationships are causing me stress?
  • What relationships are feeding me?

What habits are causing me stress, feeding me? Pros and cons, first action step.

Do all of this in small steps. Instead of wallowing in your stress or feeling helpless, you start to take action steps with the things that you can control.

Corby ponderings – It’s a cost thing. Following Jesus means counting the cost. On a different scale, if a couple is in a similar situation, what are you willing to sacrifice for? You have to evaluate what is worth more. The financial security is not worth the relationship stress and the health stress. Find a way to change it.

Jess – If it comes down to money, find ways to cut back unless you are already at the end of your means. We are a very materialistic culture. Examine those areas and reevaluate.

Sometimes we can be so stressed, so overwhelmed, that we need someone from the outside to come in and help us walk through those evaluating tools from the outside of your situation.

For Jess, the personal practices that are effective in dealing with stress, she was unable to engage in those because the larger stress ball was in the way. That’s how she’s wired. For others, try one or two, especially the passive ones; go for a walk, sit outside and look a the leaves, breath, take a bath, sit somewhere quiet.

It’s not always a matter of having someone “speak into your life.” If your physical body cannot operate the way it should, sometimes the result is that your spiritual self cannot operate the way that it should be. Your physicality is directly tied to your spirituality. It may manifest differently for different people, this is just how it did for Jess.

How Chronic Illnesses Produced Genuine Life Transformation ||

Sometimes you can pull yourself out of an emotional or spiritual funk. “Why so downcast, oh my soul?” Other times there is a physical component that needs to be healed. Some people may really experience God for the first time because they finally addressed underlying health issues they didn’t know that they had because they were so used to them. Once improved or resolved, it’s like an awakening.

Now, she’s back to Holy Yoga. The link between the physical and the spiritual again.

Why did I go through all of this?

The way that her physical healing has come about has primarily been through nutrition. Jess has always wanted to be involved in helping people heal. Pre-med, nursing major, Bible school with an emphasis on counseling, ministry, kids with some physical conditions that needed attention, it’s always been there. Now going back to school to be a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Helping people by partnering with a medical track.

What do you dream big about?

Have my own practice and an NTP. Put out materials for people to use. Market yoga classes for other teachers to use. Want to be self-employed.

Co-dream of a holistic discipleship program. Might be online. Might be in the UK!

Links and Resources

Again, please consult your healthcare provider before applying any of the experiences or recommended resources discussed or linked in this podcast and accompanying blog post.

These following Amazon links are affiliate links.

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well With Chronic Illness

Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome

Gaining A Bird’s-Eye View of The New Testament

The New Testament is not something a bunch of guys in robes and sandals sat around and made up. It was not a new religion made up by a very charismatic guy 2,000 years ago. It is a collection of eye-witness accounts, records of how the early church grew and spread through the Eastern Mediterranean region, letters to churches, pastors, and believers, and prophecy about the fulfillment of all things through Jesus.

All of the “In Your Facebook Bible Feed” posts will be included in The Blue Thread Podcast. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

I want to give you a 30,000ft perspective of the whole New Testament; how it’s organized, the purpose of the different authors and sections, how it connects to the Old Testament, and why it is still relevant for today.

One Book With Many Parts

In case you missed our Old Testament overview, here is a quick review of The Bible. The Bible is a library of 66 volumes written by over 40 people in three languages on three continents over thousands of years. It can be proven to also be one book with One author and one story. I want to help you find your place in God’s story.

Time-wise, the Old Testament spans about 3,600 years of time, while the New Testament spans only 100. This difference alone tends to explain why people see God as one way in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament. He’s often seen as a God of wrath in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament. That’s only because you have thousands of years and generation after generation repeating the cycle of people loving God, rejecting God, God then dealing with their sin, the people repent, then repeat. There is actually a whole lot of loving God in the Old Testament!

The Old Testament wouldn’t make sense without the New Testament, and the New Testament wouldn’t make sense without the Old Testament. Anyone who says that the Old Testament isn’t relevant to Christians today is trying to make the Bible into something that it isn’t for whatever reason that is to their advantage.

Here is how the New Testament is put together and how it integrates with the Old Testament.

The Gospels

The first chunk of the New Testament is made up of what are called The Gospels. There is a further organization within The Gospels.

  • Synoptic Gospels
    • Matthew
    • Mark
    • Luke
  • John

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

The reason for this organization is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke follow a very similar format. They are a synopsis of the events of Jesus ministry in that they cover most of the same teachings and events.

John is kind of its own thing. There is an organization to it, it’s just different than the others.


Matthew was written by the tax collector who became one of Jesus’ main 12 disciples. As a government official, it is very likely that Matthew was trained in shorthand. It is therefore likely that the long blocks of Jesus teaching recorded in his gospel were recorded verbatim. If you take out the long blocks of teaching, Matthew is the shortest of the gospels.


Mark was not one of Jesus’ 12 disciples but still may have been an eyewitness to many of the events recorded. That surprises some people. It surprised me. I thought all the gospels were written by some of Jesus’ disciples. Only Matthew and John are in fact. Mark is mentioned in Acts and in one of Paul’s letters. It is thought that Mark is actually Peter’s account that, for whatever reason, was recorded by Mark.


Luke was also not one of Jesus’ disciples, nor was he an eyewitness to any of the events. He was, however, a doctor. This means that he was well educated. His gospel is unique in that it explicitly states,

“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke 1:1-4

Anyone who claims that none of the New Testament writers was trying to record history clearly hasn’t read the opening verses to Luke. That’s exactly what Luke was trying to do and time and again, the accuracy of his historical references proves to be correct.


Whereas the first three gospels look at everything from a more street-level view, John takes a more mystical, higher-level approach. This is evident from the first chapter. It’s written specifically so that the reader would become a believer. It’s not more spiritual than the other gospels, but it seems to be written to people who think spiritually. It’s as though his focus is more on who Jesus is than on what Jesus did, yet who He is is evidenced in what He did.

Summary of the Gospels

  • Matthew
    • Audience is primarily Jewish
    • Emphasis on Jesus as Jewish Messiah
    • Icon would be a Lion, (of the tribe of Judah)
  •  Mark
    • Audience is primarily Jewish
    • Emphasis on Jesus as a Servant
    • Icon would be an Ox (a beast of burden)
  •  Luke
    • Audience is primarily Gentile, unfamiliar with the Jewish scriptures and practices
    • Emphasis on Jesus as the Son of Man
    • Icon would be a Man (accessible, relatable)
  •  John
    • Audience has no primary target
    • Emphasis on Jesus as Son of God
    • Icon would be an Eagle (in the heavens, transcendent)

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

Why the icons? This is one of the Old Testament connections. The emphasis of the gospels, how they emphasize different elements of who Jesus is, how they, in a sense, surround Jesus, is paralleled in two Old Testament passages.

Numbers 2

The short version goes like this. This chapter describes how all of the tribes were to be organize and camp around The Tabernacle while spending time in the wilderness.

  • The tribe of Levi was in the center with The Tabernacle.
  • The rest of the tribes were organized into four groups of three, one on each side.
  • Each tribe had an icon, an emblem. A crude term would be a mascot.
  • In each group, there was a lead tribe over the other two. This means that there was one main icon/emblem on each side of The Tabernacle.
  • It so happens that the lead icon for each of these four tribes was a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle.

Ezekiel 1

Here we have a vision of the inside of God’s throne room in heaven, at least in terms we humans can understand.

  • At the center was God’s throne.
  • On four sides around the throne were four angels. These angels were different than most described in scripture. For one thing, each one had four faces.
  • Have you guessed it? The four faces were; lion, ox, man, eagle.

The Tabernacle served as God’s throne on earth, surrounded by the four faces.

In Ezekiel, we see the origin of this picture after the fact.

In the gospels, buried under the surface, we have the same picture.

This is one of the things I love about the Bible! This kind of next-level interconnectedness. This supreme creativity of God to layer these things in here.

History – Acts

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

After the gospels, you have what would be considered the only book that is dedicated to recording a more general sequence of events. All of the New Testament is historical in that all happened. But from a book-organizational perspective, Acts is primarily focused on history.

Is it any surprise then that the author of Acts is Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke? In fact, Acts could be called 2 Luke. Luke opens Acts by connecting it to the “former account.” In one sense these two books go together. In fact, some have speculated that they were commissioned as Paul’s trial documents for his appearance before Caesar.

Acts opens with Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples and His ascension into Heaven. This is followed by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a large number of Jesus’ followers who, in fact, followed Jesus’ instructions to wait for this to happen. The result was the goodness of God being declared to tens of thousands of Jews from all over the Eastern Mediterranean who were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. This then provided an opportunity for Peter to talk about Jesus, and 3,000 people were saved. These people then went back to their hometowns, sharing Jesus, planting the seeds for the first churches.

The first half of Acts mostly focuses on Peter, his personal development as a follower of Jesus full of the Spirit, as a leader of the church, and being used to open the door of the gospel to the gentiles.

The second half of Acts shifts its focus to Saul, a persecutor of Christians, a first-rate Pharisee, who Jesus personally appears to and calls him to be one of His apostles. Saul’s name is eventually changed to Paul, and he becomes the main church planter and missionary in modern day Turkey and Greece.

Acts ends with Paul on his way to Rome to appear before Caesar. There is really no finality to it which is kind of cool. It implies that the work that the Holy Spirit began in Acts continues to this day.

Sharing The Gospel From The Old Testament

There is something very interesting that happens in Acts that is easy to miss, but it is essential to seeing a part of how and why the Old Testament is relevant today. I’m going to cheat a little and include something from the end of Luke here because it happens between the Resurrection and the Ascension, which is the time-frame when Acts opens.

In three recorded occasions, the gospel of Jesus is preached to people using the Old Testament. One of those instances is by Jesus Himself.

  • Luke 24:13-34. The key verse is 27. “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] expounded to them all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
  • Acts 7, the whole chapters. A guy named Stephen is called before the governing Jewish authorities on the charge of blasphemy, a capital crime. Beginning with Abraham, going even farther back than Jesus, Stephen lays out a pattern of God’s messenger to His people coming once, being rejected, then coming again and being accepted. He points out that they just rejected their Messiah.
  • Acts 8:26-40. A guy named Phillip is directed by the Holy Spirit to go to a particular road where he then encountered an official from Ethiopia who had been in Jerusalem recently. The official is reading from Isaiah 53 which is a famous Messianic passage. The official asks Phillip to explain the passage and Phillip tells him that Jesus is the one the passage is talking about.

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

The Old Testament is essential to understanding the New Testament and communicating the gospel.

[bctt tweet=”The Old Testament is essential to understanding the New Testament and communicating the gospel.” username=”corbystephens”]


The word “epistle” basically means a letter, something that is sent. It’s related to the word “apostle” meaning someone who is sent. These letters are organized into sections.

  • Church Epistles, Romans through 2 Thessalonians
  • Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy through Philemon
  • General Epistles, Hebrews through Jude

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

Let’s go through some of these letters and hit some highlights.

Church Epistles

Romans – Romans is amazing. Not that the other letters aren’t. But Romans covers all of the bases of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

  • The effects of sin on the individual, the effects of sin on the community and the world.
  • What sin is and how God loves us anyway.
  • How God planned to save us all along.
  • What baptism is and means.
  • Why we seem to still struggle with sin even after we are saved.
  • How we are not condemned even though we still struggle with sin.
  • God’s purpose and plan for his people Israel (He’s not done with them yet.)
  • The how the gifts of the gifts of the Spirit are supposed to function in the church as if it were a body.
  • How to grow beyond cultural customs that really have no power over believers.

1 Corinthians – Think of ancient Corinth as Las Vegas or Amsterdam. Now think of all of the baggage that would exist when trying to plant a grow a church. That’s what this letter is about.

  • Ways to tell genuine followers of Jesus from those who are not.
  • How to deal with fellow believers who sin in the church as opposed to non-believers who sin outside the church.
  • Just about any kind of gender identity scenario you can think of.
  • Healthy and unhealthy marriages.
  • Proper and improper uses of the gifts of the Spirit, and how to truest expression of the power of the Spirit is God’s love channeled through us to others.
  • The reality of the resurrection of Jesus, which was called into questions. If that didn’t happen we are all doomed.

Galatians mostly deals with legalism in the church. The idea that in order to have God’s favor you have to follow certain rules. This is the opposite of grace.

Philippians whose main theme is joy and written to a church experience heavy stuff.

1 & 2 Thessalonians are also amazing. Paul spent about three weeks there. Just three weeks and he covered doctrine that many churches never touch.

Pastoral Epistles

1 & 2 Timothy and Titus are written to young pastors. These guys were pastoring house churches and overseeing groups of house churches. They needed encouragement, guidance, and confidence.

General Epistles

Hebrews while not to one church or one area was primarily aimed at Jewish Christians who were having a hard time letting go of trusting in rituals and priests for their salvation. The author, who is unknown, has a deep knowledge of the sacrificial system and Jewish customs. He points out how Jesus is the fulfillment of all of that and how faith is put in Him. The Jews still went to the temple and still made the sacrifices, but some couldn’t separate putting their faith in those things and in Jesus. For any Christian today who is unfamiliar with the system God Himself set up to deal with sin, study Hebrews.

1 John was written to people who already believe in Jesus but whose understanding was being challenged by people from inside and without the church. Specifically, a group called the Gnostics. John deals with the reality of sin and how Jesus took care of it. It deals with identifying true and false spirits, true and false believers, what God’s love looks like and what His people look like who live it out.

Jude is also a creature unto itself. Packed with truth in one chapter, but also many potential rabbit trails.

Prophecy – Revelation

Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

In the same way that the Old Testament ends with the writings of the prophets, so also does the New Testament. Except that there is just one book; Revelation. Note that there is no “s” at the end. It’s taken from the Greek word Apocalypse which simply means “unveiling.” It’s the unveiling, the revealing of Jesus given to John the Apostle who wrote the Gospel of John and the epistles of John.

Why Is It So Hard To Understand?

One of the main reasons that the book of Revelation is so intimidating, so scary, so weird, is because most of the imagery used to communicate future events comes from the Old Testament. If one does not have a grasp of the Old Testament and the symbols used in it, one will not understand Revelation. It’s like trying to read German when you only know English. Some things may be recognizable, but the rest won’t make any sense.

As I’ve said in other instances, to be a Christian is to be a student of ancient history.  All of this stuff was written to real people in a real time with a real culture and history of their own. You have to learn about that in order to properly observe patterns and principles to be applied to our lives today. Revelation is no different.

Report Cards

Chapters 2 and 3 consists of seven letters dictated by Jesus to John, addressed to seven different churches. They are kind of like report cards. They mention what is good, what is bad, and how to fix the bad. There are so many layers to these letters that it would be impossible to address them here. There is much to be learned from them.

Past or Future?

One of the big fights we Christians have amongst ourselves is whether or not the events recorded in Revelation chapter 6 and after have already happened in the past, either literally or figuratively, or whether they are yet future, either literally or figuratively. My view is they it is yet future. I’ve read and heard the arguments, and understanding them as future makes the most sense from a historical perspective as well as a Biblical perspective.

The Book of Conclusions

The New Testament wraps everything up. Every system that was set up to serve a purpose has its purpose fulfilled. Every prophecy made about the world and it’s Messiah is fulfilled.


The actions of our sins are forgiven. They aren’t just covered they are washed away. Our sin nature is transformed as we die and are born again with a new Spirit; the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives us His own nature. We are new creations. Jesus lives in us. We are complete.

Sacrifice and Salvation

All of the sacrifices instituted in the Old Testament pointed ahead to what Jesus would do. He was and is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. He saves us from ourselves and the eternal consequences of our choices and actions. We didn’t earn it, He gave it. We didn’t buy it, He bought us.

[bctt tweet=”He saves us from ourselves and the eternal consequences of our choices and actions. We didn’t earn it, He gave it. We didn’t buy it, He bought us.” username=”corbystephens”]


Gaining A Bird's-Eye View of The New Testament ||

This is what the New Testament shows us.

Actionable Questions

Have you read the entire New Testament?

  • If you read one chapter a day you will get through it in less than a year.
  • Parts can be difficult if not overwhelming. Don’t read for 100% comprehension. Read for exposure. For comprehension, you need to study.

What is something you have a difficult time with, or perhaps understand the least, in the New Testament?

  • On paper, try to define exactly what it is in as simple of terms as possible what exactly you have a difficult time with, or don’t understand about it.
  • If you can reduce it down to a word, use a website like to search all of the places where that word occurs in the Bible. What new insights does this give you, if any?
  • Find someone you can trust and ask them to help you understand it better or connect you with some resources. I’d be happy to help. Click over to the Contact page and drop me a line.

What is your favorite person, passage, or principle from the Old Testament? Find a way to share it with someone today.

Related Resources

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