Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Quote: Purpose of Prayer

From Pause for Power by Warren W. Wiersbe (page 5):

It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven, but to get God's will done on earth. Prayer is not telling God what to do or what to give. Prayer is asking God for that which He wants to do and give, according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). As we read the Word and fellowship with our Father, we discover His will and then boldly ask Him to do what He has planned. Richard Trench (1807-1886), archbishop of Dublin, said it perfectly: "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review: How to Understand Your Bible

book cover

How to Understand Your Bible,
Third Edition
by T. Norton Sterrett & Richard L. Schultz

ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-1093-2
Trade Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: IVP Connect
Released: October 6, 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Have you ever felt like you can't make sense out of the Bible but wished you could? Then this book is for you.

Starting from scratch, Norton Sterrett presents the general rules for reading the Bible's ordinary language and moves on to specific principles that apply to special types of language such as parables, figures of speech, Hebrew poetry and symbols.

Richard Schultz has updated T. Norton Sterrett's classic beginner's guide to understanding the Bible, making it clearer and more helpful than ever before. He suggests some more recent reference tools and offers more examples from contemporary English translations. In a new concluding chapter he helps you try out the principles on Psalm 51.

You may begin as a beginner, but you will finish this book well equipped to understand the Bible and to experience its transforming power in your life.

My Review:
How to Understand Your Bible teaches you how to effectively study your Bible. This is the best book I've read on studying your Bible, partly because it goes further than the two other books I've read on the topic. It covered things like comparing confusing verses in different translations; using the Bible to interpret itself; using concordances, Bible dictionaries, and commentaries; and what things to take note of when reading. It encouraged the reader to consider the context of the verse, the author's purpose, and the historical and cultural background in which it was written.

The authors also taught how to take grammar, verb tenses, and figures of speech into consideration. They clearly explained the different figures of speech as well as symbols, types, idioms, parables, and the structure of Hebrew poetry. This additional information could make the difference between understanding a confusing passage or not.

I appreciated that the authors promoted studying the Bible as a whole to get a balanced, accurate view of what the Bible teaches on any subject. They included some suggestions on how to do this even if you don't have a lot of time. I also appreciated that the authors applied the information in each chapter on several verses as examples and then suggested specific verses for the reader to try it out on, too.

Anyone reading my blog knows I enjoy reading commentaries, books on the cultural background, and such, but some of the information was still new to me. Other things were things I only recently learned after years of studying the Bible. If you went to a Bible college and took Bible courses, then this book may not hold anything new. However, I think it's useful for everyone else interested in understanding their Bible better, and I highly recommend it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read the table of contents and part of chapter one.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Article Quote: Order in the Fossil Record

Excerpt from Order in the Fossil Record by Andrew Snelling:

The conventional explanation of the fossil order is progressive evolutionary changes over long periods of time. But this explanation runs into a huge challenge. Evolution predicts that new groups of creatures would have arisen in a specific order. But if you compare the order that these creatures first appear in the actual fossil record, as opposed to their theoretical first appearance in the predictions, then over 95% of the fossil record’s “order” can best be described as random.

On the other hand, if these organisms were buried by the Flood waters, the order of first appearance should be either random, due to the sorting effects of the Flood, or reflect the order of ecological burial. In other words, as the Flood waters rose, they would tend to bury organisms in the order that they were encountered, so the major groups should appear in the fossil record according to where they lived, and not when they lived. This is exactly what we find, including this fossil record within the Grand Canyon—Grand Staircase.

You can also see another interesting pattern that confirms what we would expect from a global Flood. You would expect many larger animals to survive the Flood waters initially, leaving their tracks in the accumulating sediment layers as they tried to escape the rising waters. But eventually they would become exhausted, die, and get buried.

What do we find? In the Tapeats Sandstone are fossilized tracks of trilobites scurrying across the sand, but fossilized remains of their bodies do not appear until higher up, at the transition into the Bright Angel Shale.

Similarly, we find fossilized footprints of amphibians and reptiles in places that are much lower (in the Supai Group, Hermit Shale, and Coconino Sandstone) than the fossils of their bodies (in the Moenkopi Formation).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Change of e-mail address

For those who need to know but don't, on Wednesday, my e-mail address changed to dkwhite My old e-mail no longer works. I think I've notified everyone who contacts me and changed it everywhere on my blogs, but I apologize if I missed informing someone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Where is the Garden of Eden Located?

Was the Garden of Eden located in Iraq? by Mark Looy

...when we have had to point out that the Garden was not in what is called Iraq today, some Christians—many who may have some knowledge of Genesis 2:10–14 and its reference to the Tigris [‘Hiddekel’ in the KJ Version] and Euphrates Rivers coming out of Eden, and who are also aware that rivers with the same names flow in Iraq today—are shocked.

How do we know that these rivers mentioned in Genesis are not the same ones that are in Iraq today?

If Christians would accept the straightforward historical account of a worldwide Flood (Genesis 6-8), they could not say that the Tigris/Euphrates Rivers and the Garden were located in the current Mesopotamian region of Iraq. The global Flood would have been so catastrophic, that the world before the Flood would have been completely torn apart and reworked, with massive amounts of erosion and tremendous thicknesses of sediment laid down. The pre-Flood world, and thus the Garden, ceased to exist—it perished, as 2 Peter 3:6 confirms. Neither river could have possibly survived such a cataclysmic event.

After the Flood, Genesis 10:10 records that Noah’s family and descendants moved from the region of Ararat to the plain of Shinar (the area known as Sumeria/Babylonia), which has two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. These rivers, however, cannot be the same as those in Genesis 2. These newer rivers, then and now, run on top of huge thicknesses of Flood-deposited layers of rock.

Obviously, the two newer rivers were named after the rivers that were once flowing during pre-Flood times. Such a naming pattern has been frequent in history. It was especially employed by colonizing countries who brought familiar names to their new colonies (e.g., settlers from Britain who went to Australia and America simply applied familiar names to many locations in their ‘new world’).

Furthermore, a closer examination of Genesis 2 reveals that the topography in and around Eden was different than today. Four rivers had once come out of Eden; today, however, only two major rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, cut through Iraq. Also, one of the four rivers, Gihon, is described in Genesis 2:13 to ‘compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia’; but the modern-day country of Ethiopia is over 1,000 miles from Iraq (and across water: the Red Sea).

Contrary to popular belief, then, the Garden of Eden was not in Iraq. It was destroyed by the global Flood, and so its actual location under piles of sediment can never be known. For that matter, the original Garden could have been on the other side of the world!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Review: Matthew (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

book cover

Matthew (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
by Grant R. Osborne

ISBN-13: 9780310243571
Hardback: 1152 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: October 2010

Source: Koinonia Blog as a part of a blog tour.

Book Description from Publisher Website:
Written by notable evangelical scholars, each volume in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series treats the literary context and structure of the passage in the original Greek. The series consistently provides the main point, an exegetical outline, verse-by-verse commentary, and theology in application in each section of every commentary.

Critical scholarship informs each step but does not dominate the commentary, allowing readers to concentrate on the biblical author’s message as it unfolds. While primarily designed for those with a basic knowledge of biblical Greek, all who strive to understand and teach the New Testament will find these books beneficial. The ZECNT series covers the entire New Testament in twenty volumes; Clinton E. Arnold serves as general editor.

In this volume, Grant Osborne offers pastors, students, and teachers a focused resource for reading the Gospel of Matthew. Through the use of graphic representations of translations, succinct summaries of main ideas, exegetical outlines, and other features, Osborne presents the Gospel of Matthew with precision and accuracy. Because of this series’ focus on the textual structure of the scriptures, readers will better understand the literary elements of Matthew, comprehend the author’s revolutionary goals, and ultimately discovering their vital claims upon the church today.

My Review:
This commentary on Matthew is a thick but surprisingly easy and interesting read. I know the basics of biblical Hebrew and intend to learn biblical Greek, so I was interested in this commentary but was concerned it'd be "over my head." It wasn't. While you probably will get the most out of it if you know some biblical Greek and it certainly helps to understand terms like past tense, genitive absolute, etc., you can still clearly understand the author's point even if you don't. I suspect pastors and teachers will find these commentaries useful, but I'd also highly recommend them to individuals who want to take their study of the Bible deeper and want to better understand some of those confusing passages or differences between translations that you've noticed.

The commentary had an introduction which included an outline of Matthew. Each chapter then covered a section of this outline (usually one scene) and examined the text and its interpretation. The author first looked at how the passage fit within the theme of the whole book. He then explained the main message of the passage. Next, he laid out the Bible verses in a diagram showing the flow of thought in the passage (with tags like: setting, problem, solution, fulfillment). After that, there was an outline of the scene.

The main part of each chapter was the examination of the text. Each verse (usually only part at a time) was given in English and then in the original Greek. The author then commented about notable tenses or word meanings, cultural or historical background information, and other information which would help the reader get the most out of the passage. Differing opinions were briefly mentioned. He gave excellent footnoting to tell where the information came from and/or comment more in-depth about something in the text. At the end of each chapter, there were a couple pages discussing the themes in the passage and how to apply their message to modern life.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament

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The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament
by Nancy Guthrie

ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-3590-2
Trade Paperback: 386 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: October 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The entire Old Testament tells a story that only finds its completion in Jesus Christ. In The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament, Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie takes readers from Genesis through Malachi, shining the light on how the Old Testament points to Christ: he’s the offspring of Eve who put an end to the curse of sin; he’s the Son offered up as a sacrifice by his father; he is the true Temple where people can meet with God; he is the Suffering Servant Isaiah wrote about and the King whose throne will last forever—and so much more. Day by day throughout the year, readers will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for who Jesus is and what he accomplished.

My Review:
The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament is a year-long daily devotional. Each entry had the day's date, the title for the devotional, the page-long devotional (which included short quotes from the Old and New Testament with a summary of an event or passage from the Bible), and a short prayer related to the lesson.

It's a Christ-focused devotional that compares the Old and New Testament. In the various devotional entries, the author used "just like such-and-such happened in the Old Testament, Jesus dealt with a similar circumstance in the gospels" or "...Jesus was even better" comparisons, she pointed out some types and symbolism found in the Old Testament that pointed toward Jesus, and she discussed various Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus.

I think all of the Old Testament books had at least one devotional entry. Several Old Testament books were covered in detail, sometimes with multiple entries per event or verse. For example, the first four months of devotionals covered only Genesis and Exodus. Another month was spent on the Psalms. Three and a half months were spent on all the books of the major and lesser prophets.

You need to read the title for each devotional entry to get the most out of the devotional since some connections weren't obvious or were a stretch. I didn't agree with the accuracy of a few of the author's theological statements, especially in the section about Noah, but I enjoyed the devotional overall. However, with so many obvious references to Jesus found in the Old Testament, I was disappointed that so many of the devotional entries focused on tenuous comparisons that weren't originally intended nor were later made in the New Testament.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from March 7
March 7
From His Fullness We Have Received

Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dream, which predicted a coming famine. And when Joseph outlined a plan to Pharaoh for preparing for the famine, Pharaoh not only accepted the plan but also put Joseph in charge. "Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. He piled up huge amounts of grain like sand on the seashore. Finally, he stopped keeping records because there was too much too measure" (Genesis 41:48-49).

When the time of famine came and the hungry came to Egypt after hearing about the storehouses of grain Joseph had laid up, Pharaoh sent them to Joseph: "'Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you.' So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain" (Genesis 41:55-56).

Here, as in so many other ways, Joseph points us to the heart of the ministry of Jesus--the One who dispenses bread to a perishing world. When sinners, with great hunger in their souls, cry out to God, what is God's response? He points them to Jesus because "there is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

But while the plenty Joseph dispensed points us to Jesus, it also helps us to see the infinite superiority of the sufficiency of Jesus. For many in Joseph's time, coming to Egypt to be fed required an arduous journey. But faith brings us in one moment to Christ's storehouses of grace. Perhaps there were appointed hours when Joseph distributed grain, but the grace of Christ is always at hand. Those who came to Joseph were required to purchase their food. But we receive all in Christ without cost. We merely ask, and we receive. The Egyptian granaries, though very full, were one day exhausted. But "from his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another" (John 1:16).

In Christ, the empty are filled; the impoverished are made rich; the weak become strong; the faint are revived; the famished are fed.

+ Son of Joseph, gracious Provider, I come to you from a land where there is no good thing to feed my hungry soul, confident that you have provision you will gladly give me from you abundance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Quotes: Doesn't Coal, Coral, Fossils, and Such Take Millions of Years to Form?

From The Answers Book 2.

Aren’t Millions of Years Required for Geological Processes? by Dr. John Whitmore

Geology became established as a science in the middle to late 1700s. While some early geologists viewed the fossil-bearing rock layers as products of the Genesis Flood, one of the common ways in which most early geologists interpreted the earth was to look at present rates and processes and assume these rates and processes had acted over millions of years to produce the rocks they saw. For example, they might observe a river carrying sand to the ocean. They could measure how fast the sand was accumulating in the ocean and then apply these rates to a sandstone, roughly calculating how long it took sandstone to form.

Similar ideas could be applied to rates of erosion to determine how long it might take a canyon to form or a mountain range to be leveled. This type of thinking became known as uniformitarianism (the present is the key to the past) and was promoted by early geologists like James Hutton and Charles Lyell.

These early geologists were very influential in shaping the thinking of later biologists. For example, Charles Darwin, a good friend of Lyell, applied slow and gradual uniformitarian processes to biology and developed the theory of naturalistic evolution, which he published in the Origin of Species in 1859. Together, these early geologists and biologists used uniformitarian theory as an atheistic explanation of the earth’s rocks and biology, adding millions of years to earth history. The earlier biblical ideas of creation, catastrophism, and short ages were put aside in favor of slow and gradual processes and evolution over millions of years.

This chapter will document that geological processes that are usually assumed to be slow and gradual can happen quickly. It will document that millions of years are not required to explain the earth’s rocks, as Hutton, Lyell, Darwin, and so many others have assumed.

Read the rest of the chapter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review: The Christ

book cover

The Christ:
A Closer Look at the Events in the Life of Christ
by Carroll Roberson

ISBN-13: 987-0-89221-610-9
Trade Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Press
Released: 2005, 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover, modified:
He was either loved or hated by those with whom He came into contact; rarely did He leave anyone with a feeling of indifference toward Him.

Author and popular Southern gospel singer Carroll Roberson uses his knowledge of the Holy Land, the Scriptures, and the Hebrew language to teach about Jesus the Christ in the context of the political, geographical, and spiritual climate in which He lived.

The Christ covers the events in the life of Christ from His birth to His ascension and explains the related prophecies from the Old Testament, the historical background of the event, and its meaning for us today. Also included is a CD of original songs about the Messiah and Holy Land by Carroll Roberson.

My Review:
The Christ is a study of Jesus' life as described in the four gospels. It included word studies, related Old Testament prophecies, and historical and cultural background information. The events of Jesus' life were broken into 106 entries and (as much as possible) covered in chronological order. Since the entries were fairly short (1-4 pages long), this book could be used as a devotional. It's a quick, easy read.

While, overall, this book had excellent information, I questioned a couple of his historical background details. (For example, on page 241, he stated as if unquestioned fact that the Romans used a "toilet" sponge to offer Jesus vinegar wine on the Cross. Yet it could have been a sponge used specifically for this purpose or one used for other, non-toilet purposes.) I was disappointed that the author didn't tell where he got his historical/cultural information. I also didn't agree with a couple of the theological conclusions he taught about certain verses. On pages 205-206, his conclusion weren't supported by the actual verses or the rest of the Bible.

The cover wrapped completely around the book so that it overlapped in the front. I couldn't figure out a good way to hold the book when the "extended" back cover was out while I was reading. In the end, I cut the excess cover off, which meant the front cover no longer had the pretty, layered look.

Also included was a CD by the author with 17 songs about Jesus and the Holy Land. The author sung the songs accompanied by a guitar and some string and wind instruments. It was a softer but energetic music. The lyrics reminded me of songs for kids.

I'd recommend this book to those interested in Bible background books but who haven't done much studying in this area as it did do a good job with this overall.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Book Quotes: Why Not Progressive Creation?

From The Answers Book 2.

What’s Wrong with Progressive Creation? by Ken Ham & Dr. Terry Mortenson

One result of compromising with our evolutionary culture is the view of creation called the “day-age” theory or “progressive creation.” This view, while not a new one, has received wide publicity in the past several years. Much of this publicity is due to the publications and lectures of astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross — probably the world’s leading progressive creationist. Dr. Ross’s views on how to interpret the Book of Genesis won early endorsements from many well-known Christian leaders, churches, seminaries, and Christian colleges. The teachings of Dr. Ross seemingly allowed Christians to use the term “creationist” but still gave them supposed academic respectability in the eyes of the world by rejecting six literal days of creation and maintaining billions of years. However, after his views became more fully understood, many who had previously embraced progressive creation realized how bankrupt those views are and removed their endorsement.

In this chapter, some of the teachings of progressive creation will be examined in light of Scripture and good science.

In Summary, Progressive Creation Teaches:

* The big-bang origin of the universe occurred about 13–15 billion years ago.

* The days of creation were overlapping periods of millions and billions of years.

* Over millions of years, God created new species as others kept going extinct.

* The record of nature is just as reliable as the Word of God.

* Death, bloodshed, and disease existed before Adam and Eve.

* Manlike creatures that looked and behaved much like us (and painted on cave walls) existed before Adam and Eve but did not have a spirit that was made in the image of God, and thus had no hope of salvation.

* The Genesis Flood was a local event.

Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book review: Pause for Power

book cover

Pause for Power
by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

ISBN-13: 978-0781403740
Hardback: 368 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Released: 2 edition: November 1, 2010

Source: Review copy received through The B&B Media Group.

Book Description from Cover:
This 365-day journey through the Scriptures with Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe will inspire readers to experience an unforgettable year of spiritual growth. This unique devotional is designed to help readers discover spiritual insights through a simple, yet informative, approach to God’s word. Each day, readers will encounter powerful truths that can impact their daily lives. Features include:
  • Select scripture readings that explore practical, everyday topics
  • Themed commentary from Wiersbe’s popular "BE" series
  • Thoughtful questions that prompt personal reflection
Readers will experience an unforgettable year in God’s Word.

My Review:
Pause for Power is a 365-day devotional based off of Warren Wiersbe's "Be" commentary series. Each day's devotional had a Scripture reading that was a few verses to couple chapters long that you looked up and read on your own. It then quoted a few verses from that passage. Next came the insightful commentary which was usually about the quoted verses. However, this commentary fairly frequently referred to parts of the passage not quoted, so you'll get the most out of this devotional if you actually read the whole passage. And, if you do, you'll have completely read Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John by the end of the devotional book.

The commentary read like it was directly out of his "Be" commentaries on these books. It often included fuller explanations of the original words that didn't translate well into English and background information that helped show how the original listeners would have understood the passage. At the end of each page-long devotional, there was a question or two for the reader to reflect on as to how to practically apply what was just learned.

The writing was easy to understand and interesting. Overall, this devotional had more meat on it than most I've seen, and I'd highly recommend it to those who enjoy using devotionals.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

DAY 95
A Legal Matter

Read Romans 4:14-25
[Jesus our Lord] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25

Justification is the act of God whereby He declares believing sinners righteous in Christ on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Each part of this definition is important, so we must consider it carefully.

Justification is an act, not a process. There are no degrees of justification; each of us has the same right standing before God. Also, justification is something done by God, not by us. We cannot justify ourselves before God. Most important, justification does not mean that God makes us righteous, but that He declares us righteous. Justification is a legal matter. God puts the righteousness of Christ on our records in the place of our own sinfulness. And nobody can change these records.

We mus not confuse justification and sanctification. Sanctification is the process whereby God makes believers more and more like Christ. Sanctification may change from day to day. Justification never changes. When we trust Christ, God declares us righteous, and that declaration will never be repealed. God looks upon us and deals with us as though we had never sinned at all!

What does it mean to you that God has justified you? How is God's justification revealed in your life?

Read more excerpts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the Gratitude Giveaways winner for Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions by Ken Ham. Including Twitter entries, we had 33 people enter. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of this book from Books-A-Million (see the sidebar for instructions on getting a ChristFocus Book Club discount on your order) or your favorite bookstore.

Book Review: Living Victoriously in Difficult Times

book cover

Living Victoriously in Difficult Times
by Kay Arthur, Bob & Diane Vereen

ISBN: 1-57856-907-9
Trade Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
First Released: 2004

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
When painful or frustrating circumstances invade your life, it’s easy to wonder why. Why does life so often seem unfair? Why doesn’t our all-powerful God stop the pain and suffering–not just for you–but for all His children

The truth is, we live in a fallen world filled with fallen people, and we cannot escape hardship and pain. Somehow difficult times are a part of God’s plan and they serve His purposes.

In this six week study you’ll examine what the Bible says about suffering and why God allows it. Through the stories of many who persevered through times of testing, you’ll discover how to find joy even when life seems unfair. You’ll learn how to handle loss while glorifying God in the midst of your pain. And you’ll find the peace that comes from trusting in the One whose strength is made perfect in your weakness.

My Review:
Living Victoriously in Difficult Times is a no homework, 6-week-long Bible study. It's designed for small groups to do together once a week in a 40 minute period. The Bible study pretty much let Scripture speak for itself. It examined the lives of several people in the Bible who suffered (like Job and Paul) and what Scripture says about the reason and purpose of suffering and how we should react to it.

The study had people read several verses (which were included in the book along with information about the context of the verses), mark/highlight certain words, then answer several questions about what was just read. Insight boxes were included with historical information that helped make a verse or point more understandable.

The questions were helpful in focusing attention on all the points that needed to be looked at. In case you missed a point, the "wrap up" section at the end of each week's lesson summarized what was learned that week.

I enjoyed this study and thought it was well-written and made good points. Overall, I'd recommend this Bible study to new Christian believers or those who don't understand why a good God would allow his people to suffer.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Quote: What About Fossil Order?

From The Answers Book 2.

Doesn’t the Order of Fossils in the Rock Record Favor Long Ages? by Dr. Andrew A. Snelling

For many people, the fossil record is still believed to be “exhibit A” for evolution. Why? Because most geologists insist the sedimentary rock layers were deposited gradually over vast eons of time during which animals lived, died, and then were occasionally buried and fossilized. So when these fossilized animals (and plants) are found in the earth’s rock sequences in a particular order of first appearance, such as animals without backbones (invertebrates) in lower layers followed progressively upward by fish, then amphibians, reptiles, birds, and finally mammals (e.g., in the Colorado Plateau region of the United States), it is concluded, and thus almost universally taught, that this must have been the order in which these animals evolved during those vast eons of time.

However, in reality, it can only be dogmatically asserted that the fossil record is the record of the order in which animals and plants were buried and fossilized. Furthermore, the vast eons of time are unproven and unproveable, being based on assumptions about how quickly sedimentary rock layers were deposited in the unobserved past. Instead, there is overwhelming evidence that most of the sedimentary rock layers were deposited rapidly. Indeed, the impeccable state of preservation of most fossils requires the animals and plants to have been very rapidly buried, virtually alive, by vast amounts of sediments before decay could destroy delicate details of their appearance and anatomy. Thus, if most sedimentary rock layers were deposited rapidly over a radically short period of time, say in a catastrophic global flood, then the animals and plants buried and fossilized in those rock layers may well have all lived at about the same time and then have been rapidly buried progressively and sequentially.

Furthermore, the one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that when we find animals and plants fossilized together, they didn’t necessarily live together in the same environment or even die together, but they certainly were buried together, because that’s how we observe them today! This observational certainty is crucial to our understanding of the many claimed mass extinction events in the fossil record. Nevertheless, there is also evidence in some instances that the fossils found buried together may represent animals and plants that did once live together (see later).

Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter

book cover

Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter
by Charles R. Swindoll

ISBN-13: 9780310284321
Hardback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: October 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Publisher's Website:
Drawing on his vast experience as a communicator of God's Word, master teacher and communicator Chuck Swindoll presents his legacy to all who read and love the Bible: Swindoll's New Testament Insights series. Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter, the newest addition to this landmark series, provides a wealth of colorful, detailed, and easy-to-understand insights into the letters of James and 1 & 2 Peter.

My Review:
Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter is an excellent Bible commentary on James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter. The author explained the meaning of various key Greek words to help the reader understand confusing passages and to bring out the full meaning of the text. He also provided information on the cultural and historical background and quoted similar statements made elsewhere in the Bible to help the reader fully understand the letter's message.

Each letter (James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter) had it's own self-contained section in the book. The author started each by explaining who wrote the letter, when it was written, and who it was written to. He briefly described the writer's life up to the point the letter was written so we could see what influenced his writing. He included a time-line chart showing critical events in the author's life and historical events that influenced the writing. There was also a map showing where the people written to were located.

Each letter was studied overall and verse-by-verse in sections defined by the major themes in the letter. At the end of each thematic section, he discussed how we can apply the writer's message to our own lives. He also included occasional "journal" pages were he talked about how the verses just discussed had been applied or worked out in his life.

While you'll get the most insight into confusing passages by reading the book/letter's whole commentary, you can also look up just a single verse.

Despite the "digging deeper" nature of the commentary, the author explained things in a way that was easy to follow and understand. It's packed with information; there's very little "fluff." Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone confused by passages in James, 1 Peter, or 2 Peter or to those who simply want to increase their understanding of these letter/books.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read more from the book.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Re-Read: Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

I decided I wanted to look through this book again, so here's my (old, but still accurate) review of Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus:

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus:
How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith
Ann Spangler, Lois Tverberg

Hardback: 272 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
First Released: 2009

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
A rare chance to know Jesus as his first disciples knew him.

What would it be like to journey back to the first century and sit at the feet of Rabbi Jesus as one of his Jewish disciples? How would your understanding of the gospel have been shaped by the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Jewish culture in which you lived?

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus takes you on a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can transform your faith. Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg paint powerful scenes from Jesus’ ministry, immersing you in the prayers, feasts, history, culture, and customs that shaped Jesus and those who followed him.

You will hear the parables as they must have sounded to first-century Jews, powerful and surprising. You will join the conversations that were already going on among the rabbis of his day. You will watch with new understanding as the events of his life unfold. And you will emerge with new excitement about the roots of your own Christian faith.

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus will change the way you read Scripture and deepen your understanding of the life of Jesus. It will also help you to adapt the rich prayers and customs you learn about to your own life, in ways that both respect and enrich your Christian faith.

By looking at the Jewishness of Jesus, Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg take you on a captivating journey into the heart of Judaism, one that is both balanced and insightful, helping you to better understand and appreciate your own faith.

My Review:
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus provides historical and cultural background information to the gospels to help readers better understand the Bible. Do you sometimes feel like you don't quite understand the parables on the Kingdom of Heaven? Or like you're missing the full meaning of the Sermon on the Mount? Have you ever wondered how the disciples would have understood Jesus' actions during the Last Supper?

I've read the Gospels numerous times and read many books about what life was like in Biblical times. Frankly, I didn't realize until now how much I was missing by not understanding the rabbinic teaching styles of the time (among other things). Despite all my study, most of this information was new.

This book opened up my understanding of the Gospels by allowing me to see the deeper, richer meaning that would have been understood all along by the Jewish audiences of Jesus' day.

The book consists of general cultural notes alternated with using that new knowledge to examine specific Gospel passages. However, this book isn't just an intellectual exercise--it'll have you digging into your Bible with new enthusiasm and will deepen your walk with God.

While Christians who have a solid foundational knowledge of the Gospels will probably get the most out of this book, I'd highly recommend it to any Christian who wants a deeper understanding of Christ and his teachings.

Here's a link if you want to look inside the book.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Quotes: Are There Gaps in the Genesis Genealogies?

From The Answers Book 2.

Are There Gaps in the Genesis Genealogies? by Larry Pierce & Ken Ham

A straightforward addition of the chronogenealogies yields a date for the beginning near 4000 B.C. Chronologists working from the Bible consistently get 2,000 years between Adam and Abraham. Few would dispute that Abraham lived around 2000 B.C. Many Christian leaders, though, claim there are gaps in the Genesis genealogies. One of their arguments is that the word begat, as used in the time-line from the first man Adam to Abraham in Genesis 5 and 11, can skip generations. If this argument were true, the date for creation using the biblical time-line of history cannot be worked out.

In a recent debate, a well-known progressive creationist stated that he believed a person could date Adam back 100,000 years from the present. Since most modern scholars place the date of Abraham around 2000 B.C. (Ussher’s date for Abraham’s birth is 1996 B.C.), the remaining 96,000 years must fit into the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies, between Adam and Abraham.

Now, if we estimate that 40 years equals one generation, which is fairly generous, this means that 2,500 generations are missing from these genealogies. But this makes the genealogies ridiculously meaningless.

Two Keys to Consider
Those who claim that there are gaps in these genealogies need to demonstrate this from the biblical text and not simply say that gaps exist. However, consider the following:

1. Although in the Hebrew way of thinking, the construction “X is the son of Y” does not always mean a literal father/son relationship, additional biographical information in Genesis 5 and 11 strongly supports the view that there are no gaps in these chapters. So we know for certain that the following are literal father/son relationships: Adam/Seth, Seth/Enosh, Lamech/Noah, Noah/Shem, Eber/Peleg, and Terah/Abram. Nothing in these chapters indicates that the “X begat Y” means something other than a literal father/son relationship.

2. Nowhere in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word for begat (yalad) used in any other way than to mean a single-generation (e.g., father/son or mother/daughter) relationship. The Hebrew word ben can mean son or grandson, but the word yalad never skips generations.

Read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Giveaways: Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions

Gratitude Giveaways Hop

book coverAs a part of the Gratitude Giveaways - Blog Follower Appreciation Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions by Ken Ham.

The publisher has kindly agreed to provide and send a copy of this book to the winner.

Read my review to learn more about Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions by Ken Ham.

This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @christfocus. Enter me in the book giveaway for DEMOLISHING SUPPOSED BIBLE CONTRADICTIONS."


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this book.

This giveaway ends on November 28, 2010 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on Nov. 29, 2010 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The blogs participating in the Gratitude Giveaways Hop:

Book Review: How to Make Choices You Won't Regret

book cover

How to Make Choices You Won't Regret
by Kay Arthur, David & BJ Lawson

ISBN: 1-57856-803-X
Trade Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
First Released: 2003

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
Every day we face innumerable decisions, some of which have the potential to change the course of our lives forever. Certain avenues open to us are marked with hidden pitfalls or lead in harmful directions. And in some instances the wrong choice can even bring death.

Where do you go for direction? What do you do when faced with temptation? How do you decide what choices to make? This study answers those questions by exploring the role of Scripture and the Holy Spirit in the process, as well as examining the decision-making of people such as David, Josiah, Eve, and Jesus. As you learn, you will be equipped to make choices that bring honor to God and peace to your heart.

How to Make Choices You Won't Regret is a no homework, 6-week-long Bible study. It's designed for small groups to do together once a week in a 40 minute period. The Bible study pretty much let Scripture speak for itself and explored the subject mainly by examining the lives of various people in the Bible (mainly David, Josiah, Eve, and Jesus).

The study had people read several verses (which were included in the book along with information about the context of the verses), mark/highlight certain words, then answer several questions about what was just read. Insight boxes were included with historical information that helped make a verse or point more understandable.

The questions were helpful in focusing attention on all the points that needed to be looked at. In case you missed a point, the "wrap up" section at the end of each week's lesson summarized what was learned that week.

I enjoyed this study and thought it was well-written and made good points. Overall, I'd recommend this Bible study to new Christian believers or those who feel like they're stuck in a cycle of making bad choices with bad consequences.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions

book cover

Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions,Volume 1:
Exploring Forty Alleged Contradictions
edited by Ken Ham

ISBN-13: 978-0-89051600-3
Trade Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: MasterBooks
Released: Nov. 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
One of the most popular misconceptions by people who have walked away from the Church and their faith is that the Bible contains errors or inaccurate accounts. Many people also simply accept without question the claim by others that the Bible is full of contradictions. Even more disturbing is that a growing number of Christians are unable to respond when presented with an apparent inconsistency in the Bible.

Now in a bold defense for the accuracy of Scripture, Ken Ham leads a powerful team of contributors in providing core biblical truths to help refute claims regarding the inaccuracy of God’s Holy Word. Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions:
  • Addresses over 40 issues of contention in the Old and New Testaments including Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, John, Acts, and Revelation

  • Contains vital and relevant context by Steve Fazekas, Bodie Hodge, Roger Patterson, Stacia McKeever, Gary Vaterlaus, Dr. Jason Lisle, Paul F. Taylor, John Upchurch, and Dr. Georgia Purdom

  • Equips you to accurately defend your faith while challenging secular or humanistic agendas

With nearly two-thirds of young people leaving the Church when they move from home, there has never been a more important time to have a reasoned response for those who desire only to undermine your faith. This book is a great starting point in teaching you how to think and then respond to false claims regarding the Bible. It is imperative that believers are able to stand firm in their faith, and have answers to the culture’s attacks on the Bible.

My Review:
Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions is a collection of articles written by various people explaining why various alleged contradictions in the Bible aren't actual contradictions. Dr. Jason Lisle started the book out with an article explaining what, exactly, a contradiction is. He also explained the general categories these alleged contradictions fell into and why these categories aren't true contradictions (like the word is used in a difference sense in different places or the dilemma wasn't an either/or but both are possible). This will help the reader identify the problems with and know how to respond to alleged contradictions even if they're not specifically answered in this book.

After that, various authors took turns explaining how this applied to a variety of specific examples. The arguments were easy to follow and well-written. I'd highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who has been asked about (or wondered about) apparent contradictions in the Bible and didn't know the answer.

The alleged contradictions that were specifically covered were:
  • If Abel kept flocks, did he eat meat?
  • Why didn't Adam and Eve die immediately in Gen 2:17?
  • Does Genesis 1 teach the sky is solid ("firmament" in KJV)?
  • Does Genesis 1:22 imply a first creation and then a second re-creation ("replenish" in KJV)?
  • Were Noah's sons triplets born when Noah was 500 or were they born several years apart?

  • Why are some location-names the same before & after the Flood if the locations no longer existed?
  • Do Genesis 10 & 11 contradict each other about the origin of the post-Flood nations?
  • Was Lot Abraham's nephew or brother?
  • Do snakes really eat dust like Genesis 3:14 says?
  • Are Genesis 1 and 2 different, conflicting creation accounts?

  • Does Genesis 1:15 say that the moon emits its own light?
  • Is it okay to kill or did God forbid it?
  • Did Moses really call a bat a bird?
  • Did Moses say that insects have only four legs?
  • How could Moses be the author of Deuteronomy when his obituary is listed as the last chapter?

  • Does God bless or condemn marriages between close relations?
  • Can God be seen face to face or not?
  • Does God change his mind?
  • If God is loving, how could he order the complete destruction of the inhabitants of Jericho?
  • Was Solomon really going to cut the baby in half?
  • Does God condone polygamy or not?

  • How could Ahaziah be both 22 years old and 42 years old when he started to reign?
  • Was Jehoiachin set free from prison on the 25th day or 27th day?
  • Did Matthew falsely attribute a prophecy to Jeremiah that came from Zechariah?
  • How could the young Samuel have been sleeping in the temple when the temple was not built until much later?
  • Does the Bible incorrectly claim that pi equals 3?

  • Was Matthew incorrectly counting in Matthew 1:17 when he summarized Christ's genealogy?
  • Was Jesus wrong in Matthew 13:31-32 when he said that the mustard seed was the smallest seed?
  • Didn't Jesus contradict Old Testament law by not stoning the adulteress?
  • How can Jesus be God's "only begotten son" when angels and Christians are also called God's sons?
  • Did Jesus tell His disciples to take a staff or not?

  • Was Joseph's father named Jeconiah or Heli?
  • Is Jesus lesser than or equal to God the Father?
  • Why do the inscriptions on Jesus' cross differ among the four gospels?
  • Why does the genealogy in Luke 3:36 give an extra Cainan not found in similar genealogies, such as Genesis 11:12?
  • If Jesus was to be in the grave three days and nights, how does that fit between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

  • Is lying okay or not?
  • How did Judas die--by hanging or falling into a field?
  • Can all sins be forgiven or not?
  • How could Jesus be the Creator if He was the firstborn of all creation?
  • Can man be held accountable for his sinful actions and yet have Christ act as substitute for his sins?

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Introduction
If the Bible asserts a particular claim and also asserts a contrary claim, clearly they cannot both be true at the same time. If the Bible contains genuinely contradictory information, then it cannot really be completely true, since one of the two claims would have to be false. Thus, unlike mere subjective opinions about what is plausible, the claim that the Bible contains contradictions is a real challenge — one that Christians should take seriously.

But what constitutes a contradiction? Most alleged biblical contradictions are not even “apparent” contradictions because there is no necessary conflict between the two propositions. For example, the statements, “Jesus is descended from Adam” and “Jesus is descended from Noah” are not contradictory since both are true. A contradiction is a proposition and its negation (symbolically written, “A and not A”) at the same time and in the same relationship. The law of non-contradiction states that a contradiction cannot be true: “It is impossible to have A and not A at the same time and in the same relationship.” The last part of this definition is crucially important. Obviously, A and not A could each be true at different times. And this resolves a number of alleged biblical contradictions. They could even be true at the same time if the relationship is different.

Difference of Sense or Relationship
Since words can be used in different senses, it is possible to have A and not A at the same time as long as the relationship or sense of the word is different. A man can be a bachelor and also married, in the sense that he is “married to his job.” This does not conflict with the fact that the bachelor is unmarried in the sense of not having a wife. There is no contradiction if the sense of the word differs.

Some of the alleged Bible contradictions fall under this category. For example, it is claimed that James contradicts Romans on the topic of justification.

Romans 4:2–3 teaches that Abraham was justified by faith alone, not by works. However, James 2:21, 24 teaches that Abraham was justified by works and not by faith alone. Do we have a contradiction here? We do have A and not A at the same time, but the relationship differs. Romans 4 is teaching about justification before God; by faith alone, Abraham was considered righteous before God. But James 2 is teaching about justification before men (James 2:18); by works (as a result of faith), Abraham was considered righteous before men. There is no contradiction here.

Read the table of contents and introduction.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Quotes: Is Information Evidence for a Creator?

From The Answers Book 2.

Information: Evidence for a Creator? by Mike Riddle

For Darwinian (molecules-to-man) evolution to actually work, new genetic information is required each step of the way. In order for a fish to grow legs, new information must be encoded into the DNA. For a reptile to grow feathers, new information must be encoded into the DNA. For an apelike creature to evolve into a human, new information must be encoded into the DNA. This new information must add to or replace old information with new instructions to grow legs, or feathers, or human characteristics. But what is information and where does it come from?

Follow me in this illustration: Imagine for a moment that it is your mother’s birthday and you want to wish her a happy birthday, but you are stuck in an area without power. You know your friend a couple of miles away has power and knows Morse code. So you build a fire and begin using smoke signals to spell out Morse code for your friend to call your brother to have him send an e-mail on your behalf to your mother for her birthday.

Information went from you to the smoke signals directly to your friend’s eyes and from your friend’s mouth through sound waves to the phone receiver then through electronic signals in the phone to your brother and back into sound waves for your brother to hear it. Then the information went through his fingers and was transferred into code on the computer and again through electronic means to your mother who received the information on her computer screen as an understandable concept—Happy Birthday. Nothing material actually transferred from you to your mother, but information did, which shows that everything isn’t material.

This is the good news! Why is this good news? Because the foundation for materialism (atheism, humanism, evolution) is that the universe consists of only two entities: mass and energy. Therefore, if a third entity can be shown to exist, then materialism and all philosophies based on it must also be false. Information is this third fundamental entity.

Read the rest of the article.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book review: The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms

book cover

The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms
by Brian L. Webster & David R. Beach

ISBN-13: 978-0-310-28689-9
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: September 2010

Source: Won at a giveaway held by the blog EngagingChurch.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms provides fundamental information regarding the meaning, background, context, and application of the Psalms.

In addition to practical application, numerous charts are included that provide information about the various types of psalms (messianic, prophetic, etc.) along with a quick reference list of psalms that lend themselves to being used for worship or personal meditation or as a basis for praying the Scriptures.

Through the use of full-color visual images, the message and world of the Psalms are brought to life in a way never before presented, making this book not only an excellent resource for understanding the Psalms, but a wonderful gift as well.

The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms is a must-have for students of the Bible, pastors, and anyone who desires to possess a unique reference guide to these ancient works of poetry and worship.

My Review:
The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms helps the reader better understand the purpose and meaning of the Psalms. I've never really understood why people liked the psalms. Yes, there are some nice ones, but overall it seemed like David wrote one every time life turned bad so he could vent and complain, though he always did end saying he really does trust God. I know God had final say on what was put into the Bible, but it almost seemed like the only reason so many similar Psalms (usually by David) were included was because he was king, and who's going to tell him that he can't put all of his compositions in the psalm book. ;)

In any case, I figured I was missing the point of the Psalms. I was thrilled to win this book, and I'd say this truly is an "essential Bible companion." I found the information at the beginning the most eye-opening, as it finally helped me understand the purpose and form of the psalms. You do need to read the beginning sections before the specific psalm entries to best appreciate what's said in those entries. I've been reading 5 psalms each day along with the corresponding entries in this book, and I've really been enjoying it.

So, especially if you view the psalms as I did, I'd highly recommend this book.

The book started off with several sections giving background and cultural information about the psalms in general. It talked about how the Psalms were used (songs, ceremonies, prayers, etc.); the types of psalms (hymns, praise, thanksgiving, etc.); who wrote them; how to understand the Hebrew style of poetry found in the psalms; and how to personalize the psalms.

Then there were several quick reference charts: defining unusual terms found in the psalm headers and psalms; explaining the words used to refer to God in the psalms; a list of which psalms were of which type for easy look-up; the common format elements of a psalm; and the verses in lists by type.

Then each psalm had a page with the following information: theme of the psalm, type, author, background information, how the psalm is structured, special notes (like if the verses from this psalm are quoted elsewhere in the Bible), and reflection on the psalm. Each entry also had a full-color photograph that was loosely related to the theme of the psalm (like a modern boy holding cymbals for a praise psalm).

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from page 13
The Psalms as Songs
The original Hebrew title of the book, Tehillim (pronounced te-hil-leem), labels the Psalms as "praises," and truly they are to be sung. David is know for playing the harp, and the Psalms refer to several more instruments: lyre, lute, trumpet, timbrel, horn, and cymbals. These would not have been like the modern instruments of the same name, but they are clearly used to accompany the singing of the Psalms in public worship: "come before him with joyful songs" (100:2); "praise him with timbrel and dancing" (150:4).

The Psalms were sung on general occasions of public assembly for worship, including the specific occasions of religious festivals, such as Passover. But they were also sung as pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem to worship. It is natural to assume that families did not limit singing such psalms to the actual festival day, but would learn and practice them in other settings, such as at home and in private as preparation and personal expression. Yes, they were for public worship, but not exclusively so. They were--and still are today--great teaching tools and good memory aids that brought a message to mind.

For example, Moses taught the people a song (Deut. 32) as a teaching tool in light of their tendency to rebel (31:19). It recalled God's acts, pointed out his character, reminded Israel of their intended relationship with God, condemned their rebellion, proclaimed judgment, and forecasted restoration. It was to be performed in public and sung by the community. But it was also intended for continued reflection by families and individuals. Public singing is important for the purpose of worship, but its prominent place in community life serves as strong affirmation that songs can also be integral in teaching the community.

Read the table of contents and several specific Psalm entries.

Monday, November 8, 2010

DVD Review: The Early Church

DVD cover

That the World May Know:
Faith Lessons on the Early Church:
Conquering the Gates of Hell

Length: 2 hours 10 minutes
Publisher: Zondervan
First Released: 2005

Source: Rented it from Netflix.

Netflix Description:
Learn from first century disciples what it means to conquer the gates of hell. Visit the Grotto of Pan and witness pagan worship, and learn of the dangers the disciples faced at Ephesus. This program will teach you all about the subtle distinctions between a Christian worldview and humanism and how you can to make a difference in today's world. This is the fifth volume of the "That the World May Know" series.

My Review:
The Promised Land is the fifth volume of the "That the World May Know" series. If you've never had a chance to travel in Israel or Asia Minor and you can rent or borrow this DVD, then I'd highly recommend you do. It had some nice footage from a variety of places in Israel and some great footage of the ruins of several cities in Asia Minor. Seeing this will help "bring the Bible alive."

The lessons were filmed like you were a part of a tour group, but with added graphics, maps, pictures, artist reconstruction, and aerial shots when appropriate. This disk had video footage from throughout the entire ruins of the cities. The teacher talked about archeological and cultural background information related to the city then tied that information into the verses in the Bible related to the place to help illuminate what was referred to in the verses. He then gave a brief faith lesson.

The faith lessons were pretty good, but sometimes the teacher got a little carried away (mainly in lesson one) when imagining the unrecorded parts of the scene. Based on speculation, he'd say that "this is how the scene must have been" or what Jesus was referring to, but I didn't agree with some of what he said. However, the Asia Minor cities were very interesting--both the information and visually.

Lesson One: Korazim, Caesarea Philippi, and the Mount of Olives (overlooking Jerusalem) - information on what disciples were, how rabbis taught, and archeological and cultural background information for Korazim and Caesarea Philippi.

Lesson Two: Sardis - archeological and cultural background information about Sardis.

Lesson Three: Pergamum - archeological and cultural background information about Pergamum.

Lesson Four: Ephesus - archeological and cultural background information about Ephesus.

Lesson Five: Laodicea - archeological and cultural background information about Laodicea, Hieropolis, and Colossae.

If you've watched this DVD, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the DVD in the comments.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Quotes: Does the Big Bang Fit with the Bible?

From The Answers Book 2.

Does the Big Bang Fit with the Bible? by Dr. Jason Lisle

There are several reasons why we cannot just add the big bang to the Bible. Ultimately, the big bang is a secular story of origins. When first proposed, it was an attempt to explain how the universe could have been created without God. Really, it is an alternative to the Bible, so it makes no sense to try to “add” it to the Bible. Let us examine some of the profound differences between the Bible and the secular big-bang view of origins.

The Bible teaches that God created the universe in six days (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11). It is clear from the context in Genesis that these were days in the ordinary sense (i.e., 24-hour days) since they are bounded by evening and morning and occur in an ordered list (second day, third day, etc.). Conversely, the big bang teaches the universe has evolved over billions of years.

The Bible says that earth was created before the stars and that trees were created before the sun. However, the big-bang view teaches the exact opposite. The Bible tells us that the earth was created as a paradise; the secular model teaches it was created as a molten blob. The big bang and the Bible certainly do not agree about the past.

Many people don’t realize that the big bang is a story not only about the past but also about the future. The most popular version of the big bang teaches that the universe will expand forever and eventually run out of usable energy. According to the story, it will remain that way forever in a state that astronomers call “heat death.” But the Bible teaches that the world will be judged and remade. Paradise will be restored. The big bang denies this crucial biblical teaching.

Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple

book cover

The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple
by Robert Backhouse

ISBN: 0-82548-3039-9
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: 1996

Source: Home library.

Book Description from Back Cover:
One of the most magnificent structures of the ancient world, Herod's temple in Jerusalem took eighty years to complete and eventually covered some thirty-six acres. Tragically, this vast complex of colonnades, courtyards, and buildings was destroyed by the Roman army less than ten years after its completion.

The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple follows the history of Jewish worship from its early days in the Tent of Meeting at Mount Sinai to the first temple building constructed by Solomon. The enlargement of the second temple building by Herod and the subsequent history of the temple mount through the modern era are covered in fascinating detail.

Illustrated with exclusive four-color photographs of an intricate model constructed by Mr. Alec Garrard, The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple brings to life the glory and grandeur of the New Testament era's most important structure.

My Review:
The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple is a Bible reference guide with full-color illustrations of the tabernacle, Solomon's Temple, and Herod's Temple with text giving an overview of what they looked like and what went on in them. The information was given in two-page spreads.

The first spread was on the tabernacle with an artist illustration of what the tabernacle would have looked like, a floor plan, and a description of the tabernacle taken from the Bible. Next was Solomon's Temple with an artist illustration of what his temple would have looked like, a floor plan, and a description taken from the Bible.

Next, some history was given about what happened between Solomon's and Herod's reigns. There was a photograph of Alec Garrard's temple model (a close-up on the temple and women's court). The next spread was an artist's illustration of what Jerusalem looked like in AD 30, though it's not the best illustration I've seen of this.

The next spread gave the floor plan of Herod's temple, a picture of the model's Antonia Fortress, and a photograph of the Temple Mount retaining wall as is seen today. Information was given about what Herod did to expand the Temple area and what the temple looked like at that time.

The next spread contained pictures of the model: the sheep pool, sacrificial sheep pens, and the tradesmen's stalls outside the temple. It briefly covered the types of sacrifices given in the temple. The next spread contained a photograph of the model of Herod's temple and surrounding courts. Next was a photograph of the model's court of priests (with altar, laver, posts for tying live animals, and butchering stations for the priests' work).

The next two pages gave a brief overview of the temple festivals and had pictures of models of the lampstand, the table of the showbread, worshipers coming to the temple, and priests leading a red heifer out of the temple to the Mount of Olives.

Next, the book gave some insights about Jesus' visits to the temple: his visit at age 12; when he confronted the moneychangers as an adult; when he went to the various festivals; and his confrontations with the religious leaders. Then it had sections on the destruction of the temple (with pictures of Titus's Arch), the modern remains (with pictures from the Wailing Wall), a modern aerial picture of the temple mount area, and a section talking about the heavenly temple.

While a decent resource, none of the information in the text was new to me. It might be to someone who didn't know much about the topic, though. I found the illustrations and the pictures of the model interesting because they had the priests actually in the temple doing their work (which I haven't seen elsewhere). Overall, it's a decent resource but don't expect a great deal of depth to the information.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

View an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 1, 2010

DVD Review: The Promised Land

DVD cover

That the World May Know:
Faith Lessons on the Promised Land:
Crossroads of the World

Length: 1 hours 50 minutes
Publisher: Zondervan
First Released: 2005

Source: Rented it from Netflix.

Netflix Description:
Travel to Israel and draw a whole new understanding of the Scriptures. Wet your feet in the Jordan River and feel the power of the life-giving water, and show your trust in the Lord's bounty by offering up first fruits at Jericho. You'll learn all about how you can cleanse the land by confronting evil and use the tools of society to redeem your world for God. This video is the first volume of the "That the World May Know" series.

My Review:
The Promised Land is the first volume of the "That the World May Know" series. If you've never had a chance to travel in Israel and you can rent or borrow the other disks in this series, then I'd highly recommend you do. It has nice footage of the Holy Land so that you can get a feel for what the land looks like now. It helps to bring the Bible alive.

The lessons were filmed like you were a part of a tour group, but with added graphics, pictures, and aerial shots when appropriate. The format was that at each new site the teacher would give us the history related to the site (usually reading from the Bible), describe what the site originally looked like (if it was now in ruins), and give a faith lesson related to "impacting the culture" based on what we learned at that site.

The Promised Land contained very little cultural background information. The teacher mainly read from the Bible about what happened at the spot and gave a faith lesson that often seemed unrelated to the readings or drew the wrong conclusions (in my opinion) about what was read. The faith lessons on this disk seemed very works-based and "clean up your act so God can work" themed. Also, some of the given historical information and dates weren't biblically accurate.

Lesson One: Tel-Gezer - lesson on city gates and high places.

Lesson Two: Jordan River - filmed just below Sea of Galilee. Mainly what happened at Jordan Rover with varied shots of the river.

Lesson Three: Tel-Jericho - lesson on Elisha's spring and the biblical first fruits festival. The teacher stated that Jericho is 7,000 years old and the oldest city in the world, neither of which is biblical.

Lesson Four: Beth-Shemesh - information on Nazirite vows.

Lesson Five: Tel-Azekah & Elah Valley - read about David and Goliath. The teacher said some things which I believe are incorrect.

If you've watched this DVD, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the DVD in the comments.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Quotes: What’s the Best “Proof” of Creation?

From The Answers Book 2.

What’s the Best “Proof” of Creation? by Ken Ham

Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians, all have the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.

The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions; these are things that are assumed to be true without being able to prove them. These then become the basis for other conclusions. All reasoning is based on presuppositions (also called axioms). This becomes especially relevant when dealing with past events.

We all exist in the present, and the facts all exist in the present. When one is trying to understand how the evidence came about—Where did the animals come from? How did the fossil layers form? etc.—what we are actually trying to do is to connect the past to the present. However, if we weren’t there in the past to observe events, how can we know what happened so that we can explain the present? It would be great to have a time machine so that we could know for sure about past events.

Christians, of course, claim they do have, in a sense, a time machine. They have a book called the Bible, which claims to be the Word of God who has always been there and has revealed to us the major events of the past about which we need to know. On the basis of these events (creation, the Fall, the Flood, Babel, etc.), we have a set of presuppositions to build a way of thinking which enables us to interpret the facts of the present.

Evolutionists have certain beliefs about the past/present that they presuppose (e.g., no God, or at least none who performed acts of special creation), so they build a different way of thinking to interpret the facts of the present.

Thus, when Christians and non-Christians argue about the facts, in reality they are arguing about their interpretations based on their presuppositions.

That’s why the argument often turns into something like:

“Can’t you see what I’m talking about?”

“No, I can’t. Don’t you see how wrong you are?”

“No, I’m not wrong. It’s obvious that I’m right.”

“No, it’s not obvious.”

And so on.

These two people are arguing about the same facts, but they are looking at the facts through different glasses.

It’s not until these two people recognize the argument is really about the presuppositions they have to start with that they will begin to deal with the foundational reasons for their different beliefs. A person will not interpret the facts differently until he or she puts on a different set of glasses—which means to change one’s presuppositions.

Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: Our Covenant God

book cover

Our Covenant God
by Kay Arthur

ISBN-13: 9781578561827
Hardback: 288 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Released: March 16th 1999

Source: Bought at library book sale.

Book Description from Publisher Website:

But how can that be possible? Why would God love you so? Because He has fashioned an unbreakable covenant between Himself and you. And He always keeps His promises. “Everything God does,” says Kay Arthur, “is based on His covenant.” And when you understand how thoroughly the dynamic concept of covenant permeates everything God says in His Word, and everything He does in our lives, you’ll come to experience one of the most stabilizing, most freeing truths you’ll ever know.

In a culture in which unfaithfulness is rampant, God’s “fierce, ferocious loyalty” toward us is difficult to imagine. And yet, through her characteristically warm and wise exploration of the Scripture, Kay Arthur will lead you into discovering the stunning truth of God’s covenant–and help you experience its revolutionary truth in your life.

The Bible reveals the covenant bond to be the highest personal relationship possible. In ancient times, covenants were solemn, binding agreements supremely honored above all others. Making a covenant represented an unqualified, total commitment of one person to another–unconditionally, totally, eternally.

As you follow the thread of God’s covenant woven throughout the Bible, you’ll discover the awesome privilege of getting to know the Lord as your Covenant God.

My Review:
Our Covenant God studies the covenants God has made with humans (as recorded in the Bible). The focus was mainly on the blood covenants found in the Bible and how, since it was so binding between humans, that should give us confidence in the covenant God has made with us. She quoted information from a book by a person who studied blood covenants all over the world and throughout time to help provide cultural background information.

I thought that Kay Arthur did a good job describing how covenants work and showing them "in action" in both the Old and New Testament. She'd take an aspect of covenant making, describe it, show an example of it in the Bible, and then make an application point about it before moving on. Very good information.

I'd highly recommend this book to Christians, especially those who haven't read information on blood covenants before.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The Riches of Covenant

If only he had known....
If only I had known!

He had been summoned. What could he do? There was no higher authority to appeal to, no one to mediate. He had been bidden to come--and go he must.

Most people looked on him with contempt because of his physical appearance. Some even derisively spat out the word "cripple" as he passed them by. He hated the stares of the people who watched his rocking body lumber and jerk as he approached the throne--the throne of a man who he was sure desired his death.

He sweated profusely.

The fear churning within caused his hands to tremble. He clenched them together to hide his misery from the watchful eyes.

But it was no use--both shook.

Bitterness had hardened his countenance, but inside he felt as spongy as mud and as worthless as dirt.

He felt cheated by life, ignored by God.

Robbed of a bright and seemingly certain future at the age of five, when his father and grandfather were killed suddenly in battle, he had spent his life in a barren, no-account, out-of-the-way village.

All his life he had successfully hidden from this man--a man who, he had been told, could never be trusted. Now this man had found him!

How much worse could it be? he wondered in irony...and heard his angry heart respond with a refusal to weaken.

He didn't know it, but in a matter of minutes he would discover how needless his years of bitterness, fear, poverty, and hiding had been. Even his physical disabilities could have been avoided had he and others known one thing--the covenant that had been made on his behalf!

And so it was with me--and so it may have been with you or with a friend or family member--just as it was with Mephibosheth of old, whose story we'll study in depth later.

Read more using Google Preview.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: If Animals Could Talk

book cover

If Animals Could Talk
by Dr. Werner Gitt

ISBN: 0-89051-460-7
Trade Paperback: 115 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Released: 2005

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
"If animals could tell us about themselves, using our scientific knowledge, if they could tell us about the way they live, the special way they are made and many details about their individual design – what they would say would be unique praise to the Creator."

  • Did you know that while in flight, the sparrow’s heart can beat up to 760 times per minute?

  • Or that a baby blue whale grows at a rate of 7.28 pounds an hour while it’s nursing, a grand total of 17 tons by the end of the nursing stage?

  • How about that glow worms have a light output efficiency of 100% as compared to only 4% for our incandescent bulbs?

Dr. Werner Gitt uses his scientific expertise in this book to show the unique design features of some of God’s most captivating creations. All people, young and old, layperson or expert, will be able to understand and enjoy this straightforward book. Told from the perspective of the animals being described, If Animals Could Talk shows the impossibility of life without design.

My Review:
If Animals Could Talk describes unique and technically refined design features found in field sparrows, various types of whales, the platypus, swallow, glowworm, dragonfly, human eye, earthworm, E. coli, and golden plover. Several of these features were clearly irreducibly complex (all the parts of the unique ability had to be in place at once for it to work, and if it had developed in steps, the animal wouldn't have survived).

However, this book probably won't convince evolutionists that these various animals didn't evolve. Most of the features brought up sound amazing, but it's like the author didn't finish the argument--like he thought the point was so self-obvious he didn't need to. I can see an evolutionist reading it and thinking, "Well, yeah, they're amazing features, but that just shows how well evolution works." So it's a fun and fascinating book for creationists and those who aren't sure what they think, but it'd probably just frustrate most evolutionists.

There were some black and white illustrations. Most of the information was written in common language that even children could understand. However, sometimes he used technical language. It wasn't difficult to understand, but I don't think I'd hand this book to anyone under about 9 years of age. I think tweens and teens who love animals will probably enjoy this book.

Overall, this was a fun book that I'd recommend to Christians (especially creationists) who enjoy reading fascinating facts about animals.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 98-99
[In the chapter about the golden plover...]
Did you know that I'm a great fan of the Hawaiian Islands? You're right, that's quite a long way from Alaska! How do I get there? It's quite simple really: I fly. My Creator didn't make me a fast sprinter or swimmer, but He did create an ace flyer! I'd like to show you just what I'm made of.

My brothers and sisters and I were just a few months old. We had hardly learned to fly when our parents left us. They had flown on to Hawaii. We weren't aware of that at the time. To tell you the truth, we didn't really care where they were. In fact, all we could think about was our appetite, and we ate ourselves silly. In a short time I put on 2.5 ounces (70 g)--that's more than half my own body weight. That's something you should try to imagine! Have you any idea what you'd look like if after three months instead of weighing your usual 165 pounds (75 kg) you weighed 254 pounds (115 kg)?

Now I'm sure you want to know just why I ate so much. Quite simply, my Creator programmed me to. I needed this extra body weight as fuel for the trip from Alaska to Hawaii. That's about 2,796 miles (4,500 km). Yes, that's right, you heard me, 2,796 miles! Not only that, but I can't stop once during the whole trip. Unfortunately, there aren't any islands, rocks, or dry patches on the way and, as you know, I'm a pathetic swimmer.

My friends and I fly for 88 hours--that's three days and four nights--over open water, without a break. Scientists have worked out that we flap our wings about 250,000 times. Imagine doing 250,000 pushups--that would be a reasonable comparison.

Here's another question for you: How did I know that I had to put on that extra weight to get to Hawaii? Who told me to go there anyway and in which direction should I fly? I'd never flown that route before! There aren't any orientation points along the way. How were we supposed to find those tiny islands in the Pacific? If we hadn't found them we would surely have met our end after our food reserves were used up. In that sector, for hundreds of miles, there's nothing but water.

Your scientists are still scratching their heads trying to figure out how we get our course and can correct it, even after an inflight storm takes its toll. We fly through fog and rain, whether sunshine, starlight, or overcast skies, and still get there.

Read an excerpt (preface and chapter one) using Google Preview.