Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Quote: Love God and do as you please

From In God We Trust by Steve Ham (page 129):

To one of our early Christian leaders, Augustine (the Bishop of Hippo), the Christian life was summed up in a fairly simple statement: "Love God and do as you please." This statement was later echoed by Martin Luther.

The statement is a fairly profound one. If we truly love God, our pleasure will be entirely in Him. Our desire will be to glorify Him, desire Him, love Him, serve Him, obey Him, live for Him, worship Him, pray to Him, read His Word--the list goes on.

And from page 132:

Luke 12:30-31 tells us to seek God first and these things will be added to you. Too many messages today are stating the opposite to this biblical truth. We should not seek things and then tack God on afterward. Our primary reason and enticement for salvation is for a restored relationship with our Creator, whom we have sinned against, that we might glorify His name.

And from page 152, about relationships:

[God] created us to be one man for one woman in perfect communion in relationship and in perfect equality, in roles of leadership and submission reflecting and honoring the trinitarian relationship of God's own essence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: A Pocket Guide To The Bible

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A Pocket Guide To...
The Bible:
How Do We Know It Can Be Trusted?

Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Answers in Genesis–US
First Released: 2009

Source: Bought from Answers In Genesis.

Back Cover Description:
Why are there 66 books in the Bible? Is the Bible missing any books? Who wrote the Bible? Is the Bible enough? Are there contradictions? Where is the proof of creation?

This Pocket Guide to the Bible will give you answers to these questions and more. The Bible contains the very words of God and is the key to understanding the world in which we live. It is the history book of the universe, and the instruction manual for mankind. The Bible was written by the Creator, so we can put our trust in it!

A Pocket Guide To The Bible contains eight articles of varying lengths by five different authors. It answers questions about the validity of the Bible: why the 66 books of the Bible were chosen and others weren't; why the Apocrypha and other books weren't included; different types of common alleged contradictions in the Bible and what the critic is overlooking in their claim; the commonly agreed upon rules of how to accurately interpret the Bible so you read it the way the writers intended their words to be understood; why the Bible is the only accurate and authoritative book of religious writings; proving creation and God; the need to look to the Bible as the authority; and what a Biblical worldview is like.

The articles were all very interesting and contained good information. However, some were shorter than I would have liked. I understand that there was limited space and the authors did give internet addresses people could go to for more information, but I was planning to give this guide to people who don't have internet access. Personally, I wish the article on contradictions had been fleshed out more and the last two or three articles--which, though good, were less about the Bible itself--were dropped or put into another Pocket Book.

Overall, though, I'd recommend this pocket book as an excellent, quick read for anyone who has these questions. It'd also be useful as an apologetics resource.

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 49 and 50
If Jesus was to be in the grave three days and nights, how do we fit those between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

There are several solutions to this problem. Some have suggested that a special Sabbath might have occurred, so that Jesus was actually crucified on a Thursday. However, a solution, which seems to me to be more convincing, is that Jesus was indeed crucified on a Friday but that the Jewish method of counting days was not the same as ours.

In Esther 4:16, we find Esther exhorting Mordecai to persuade the Jews to fast. "Neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day" (NKJV). This was clearly in preparation for her highly risky attempt to see the king. Yet just two verses later, in Esther 5:1, we read: "Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace."

If three days and nights were counted in the same way as we count them today, then Esther could not have seen the king until the fourth day. This is completely analogous to the situation with Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection.

....If the three days and nights were counted the way we count them, then Jesus would have to rise on the fourth day. But, by comparing these passages, we can see that in the minds of people in Bible times, "the third day" is equivalent to "after three days."

In fact, the way they counted was this: part of a day would be counted as one day. Jesus died on Good Friday; that was day one....So, although only part of Friday was left, that was the first day and night to be counted. Saturday was day two. Jesus rose in the morning of the Sunday. That was day three. Thus, by Jewish counting, we have three days...yet Jesus rose on the third day.

It should not be a surprise to us that a different culture used a different method of counting days.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

BBAW Awards Post

I'll be participating in the Book Blogger's Appreciation Week. They asked participants in the awards part to post links to five posts for the blog to be judged on. Here are the links:

Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie

In God We Trust by Steve Ham

Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus by Dr. Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer

Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware

The Jewish Background to the Bible

Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Quotes: Confession / Repentance

From Crash Course: Forming a Faith Foundation for Life by Daniel Darling (page 168):

Whoever first said, "confession is good for the soul," was wise, because confession is the first step toward a relationship with God that goes to the next level....

You might say, "Doesn't God already know my sins?" Yes He does. But God wants us to admit them as well. When we confess them, we agree with God about our sinful condition. Confession is much more than just admitting our sins, it's a willingness to seek God's help in changing our ways.

Our quiet time with the Lord reveals those deep, dark sins in our hearts. It is that hidden sin that keeps us from experiencing God more fully.

The reason God takes our sin so seriously is because it hinders the enjoyable relationship between us and Him. God is a holy God, who can't allow sin in His presence. So if we desire to know Him more fully, we'll bow before God, humble ourselves, and acknowledge our [sins].

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: Big Truths for Young Hearts

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Big Truths for Young Hearts
by Bruce A. Ware

Trade Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: Crossway
First Released: 2009

Source: Bought from Books -A-Million.

Book Description from Publisher Website:
Big Truths for Little Hearts equips parents to guide their young children through all major doctrines in an understandable, chapter-a-day format.

Sure, it’s easy to teach your children the essentials of Christian theology when you’re a theology professor. But what about the rest of us?

With Big Truths for Little Hearts, Bruce Ware, (you guessed it!) a theology professor, encourages and enables parents of children 6–14 years of age to teach through the whole of systematic theology at a level their children can understand. Parents can teach their children the great truths of the faith and shape their worldviews early, based on these truths.

The book covers ten topics of systematic theology, devoting several brief chapters to each subject, making it possible for parents to read one chapter per day with their children. With this non-intimidating format, parents will be emboldened to be their children’s primary faith trainers—and perhaps learn a few things themselves along the way.

Big Truths for Young Hearts is an excellent foundational book on theology for tweens and teens. I'd also recommend this book to new believers. The author did an excellent job of explaining complex topics in an understandable manner and without talking down to the reader (or listener).

The book felt like a Bible study with all the relevant verses included. I liked how the author gave a balanced, whole-Bible view of the topic and gave the verses so that the reader could see for him- or herself what the Bible said about the topic. He often gave useful analogies or explained hard ("Christian-ese") words in common language. He gave the generally agreed-upon, Biblical overview of various concepts, but he did mention when there was disagreement on the details (like immersion baptism versus infant sprinkling baptism).

At the end of the section for each topic, there were two questions to test if the person understood what that section taught. There was also a suggested memory verse related to that topic.

The book covered 60 topics that built on each other. The topics included how can we know about God; what is God like; what is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit like and how does the Trinity work; why did Jesus have to die for us; why do bad things happen; what is the church; what happens when we die; and what will happen in the end. Table of Contents

Like I said, I was very impressed by this book and plan on using it with a 12-year-old friend who recently came to know Christ. I'd highly recommend it to parents, youth group leaders, and new believers.

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
God Has Made Himself Known

Has anyone ever kept a secret from you? Maybe it was a birthday present or a special trip you were going to take or what your mom was planning to fix for dinner. If you’ve had this happen to you, then you can understand how important it is for others to tell us things that we cannot know unless they make it known. No matter how much you might want to know the secret, until someone tells you, you just cannot know what it is.

It is this way with knowing who God is. The only way that we could be thinking together about the greatness of God in this book is because God has shared with us the secret of who he is. We cannot discover who God is or figure him out on our own. We aren’t smart enough to do this, and God is way too big for us even to try. One of the very first things we must learn about God is very humbling, and it is this: unless God had decided to show us who he is, unless he had chosen to make known his own life and ways, we simply could know nothing—yes, nothing!—about him. We are dependent completely on God’s kindness and goodness to make himself known to us, and for this we ought to be grateful every day of our lives. After all, there is no one more important and more wonderful to know than God. So how thankful we must be that God did not keep to himself, as it were. Rather, he showed us in rich and wonderful ways just who he is.

The Bible talks about several different ways that God has made himself known to us. One of the ways God has shown us some things about himself is through the world he has made. Psalm 19:1–2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” And in Romans 1:19–20 Paul adds, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” As these passages teach, some of the very qualities of God’s own life are shown through the world and the universe that he fashioned.

Read the introduction and all of chapter one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Quotes: Has Your Faith Impacted Your Life?

From Crazy Love by Francis Chan (page 124):

Back when I was in Bible college, a professor asked our class, "What are you doing right now that requires faith?" That question affected me deeply because at the time I could think of nothing in my life that required faith. I probably wouldn't be living very differently if I didn't believe in God; my life was neither ordered nor affected by my faith like I had assumed it was.

....God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: The New Answers Book 3

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The New Answers Book 3
General editor: Ken Ham

Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Master Books
First Released: 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
The world around us provides irrefutable evidence of our Creator, but when challenged, can you defend your faith? Do you have answers to your own questions or those of your family about faith, evolution, creation, and a biblical worldview?

Get the important information you need in this compelling third book from the popular Answers series, and learn more about:

» Global warming
» Cloning and stem cells
» The existence of God
» Bacteria and viruses
» Questions for evolutionists
» Issues of eugenics and abortion
» Human and chimp DNA
» The universe – young or old?
» “Kinds” in Genesis
» What Noah’s Ark looked like
» ...and much more.

Learn how to be more effective in defense of scriptural authority and the truth of Genesis as literal history. Join Ken Ham and leading creation scientists like Dr. Jason Lisle, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. David Menton, Dr. Terry Mortenson, Dr. John Morris, Dr. Steve Austin, Dr. David DeWitt, Dr. Danny Faulkner, Dr. Joe Francis, and others as they provide simple and empowering answers to these and other popular questions of faith in our culture today.

The New Answers Book 3 is a collection of 38 articles written by 24 people on topics related to the Bible, mostly covering questions that critics of the Bible and of biblical accuracy would ask. This book teaches Christians how to more effectively argue for the accuracy of the Bible.

Each chapter was an article that covered a different topic. Some of these topics overlapped a bit, so some foundational information was briefly repeated by several authors in their different articles. However, it was information worth repeating. Most of the articles--even the slightly more technical articles--were written at a level that a teenager could easily understand. However, a few of the articles assumed the reader knew some basic, technical terms and used them without defining them. I had no trouble following those articles, but I took a lot of science classes in college. There were black and white illustrations for each article.

I found the book interesting and, overall, the arguments were easy to follow. The majority of the articles had strong arguments and were well-supported. A few of them could have been stronger, in my opinion, but part of the problem was the limited space. The answers couldn't be comprehensive, so they gave as much information as most Christians would probably care to know.

I'd recommend this book to Christians who want to be able to better answer critical questions about the Bible and to those who genuinely want to learn the answers to any of the questions covered.

The articles:
1. Where was the Garden of Eden located?
2. What did Noah's Ark look like?
3. Should Christians be pushing to have creation taught in government schools?
4. What are "kinds" in Genesis?
5. How could Noah fit the animals on the ark?
6. Was the Flood of Noah global or local in extent?
7. Is man the cause of global warming?
8. Did Bible authors believe in a literal genesis?
9. Do fossils show signs of rapid burial?
10. What about the similarity between human and chimp DNA?
11. Was there death before Adam sinned?
12. Abortion: Is it really a matter of life and death?
13. Is the Christian Worldview logical?
14. What about cloning and stem cells?
15. How old does the earth look?
16. Does Evolution have a...chance? (i.e. the probability of it)
17. What about Eugenics and Planned Parenthood?
18. When and how did the Grand Canyon form?
19. Does astronomy confirm a young universe?
20. How could fish survive the Genesis Flood?
21. What about cosmology?
22. Did life come from outer space?
23. Did the continents split apart in the days of Peleg?
24. Vestigial organs--evidence for Evolution?
25. Is Tiktaalik Evolution's greatest Missing Link?
26. Why is Mount St. Helens important to the origins controversy?
27. What is the best argument for the existence of God?
28. Do Evolutionists believe Darwin's ideas about Evolution?
29. What are some of the best Flood evidences?
30. What are some good questions to ask an Evolutionist?
31. What about bacteria?
32. Unicorns in the Bible?
33. Doesn't the Bible support slavery?
34. Why did God make viruses?
35. Wasn't the Bible written by mere men?
36. Isn't the God of the Old Testament harsh, brutal, and downright evil?
37. Who sinned first--Adam or Satan?
38. How can someone start a new life in Christ?

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.

Chapter One
Where was the Garden of Eden located?

Most Bible commentaries state that the site of the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, situated somewhere near where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today. This is based on the description given in Genesis 2:8-14:

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden....Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon....The name of the second river is Gihon....The name of the third river is Hiddekel [Tigris]....The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Even the great theologian John Calvin struggled over the exact location of the Garden of Eden. In his commentary on Genesis he states:

Moses says that one river flowed to water the garden, which afterwards would divide itself into four heads. It is sufficiently agreed among all, that two of these heads are the Euphrates and the Tigris; for no one disputes that...(Hiddekel) is the Tigris. But there is a great controversy respecting the other two. Many think, that Pison and Gihon are the Ganges and the Nile; the error, however, of these men is abundantly refuted by the distance of the positions of these rivers. Persons are not wanting who fly across even to the Danube; as if indeed the habitation of one man stretched itself from the most remote part of Asia to the extremity of Europe. But since many other celebrated rivers flow by the region of which we are speaking, there is greater probability in the opinion of those who believe that two of these rivers are pointed out, although their names are now obsolete. Be this as it may, the difficulty is not yet solved. For Moses divides the one river which flowed by the garden into four heads. Yet it appears, that the fountains of the Euphrates and the Tigris were far distant from each other. [John Calvin, Commentary of Genesis, Volume 1]

Calvin recognized that the description given in Genesis 2 concerning the location of the Garden of Eden does not fit with what is observed regarding the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. God's Word makes it clear that the Garden of Eden was located where there were four rivers coming from one head. No matter how one tries to fit this location in the Middle East today, it just can't be done.

Interestingly, Calvin goes on to say:

From this difficulty, some would free themselves by saying that the surface of the globe may have been changed by the deluge....

This is a major consideration that needs to be taken into account. The worldwide, catastrophic Flood of Noah's day would have destroyed the surface of the earth. If most of the sedimentary strata over the earth's surface (many thousands of feet thick in places) is the result of this global catastrophe as creationists believe, then we would have no idea where the Garden of Eden was originally located--the earth's surface totally changed as a result of the Flood.

Not only this, but underneath the region where the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are located there exists hundreds of feet of sedimentary strata--a significant amount of which is fossiliferous. Such fossil-bearing strata had to be laid down at the time of the Flood.

Therefore, no one can logically suggest that the area where the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today is the location of the Garden of Eden, for this area is sitting on Flood strata containing billions of dead things (fossils). The perfect Garden of Eden can't be sitting on billions of dead things before sin entered the world!

This being the case, the question then is why are there rivers named Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East today?

In my native country of Australia, one will recognize many names that are also used in England (e.g. Newcastle). The reason is that when the settlers came out from England to Australia, they used names they were familiar with in England to name new places/towns in Australia.

Another example is the names given to many rivers in the United States. There is the Thames River in Connecticut, the Severn River in Maryland, and the Trent River in North Carolina--all named for prominent rivers in the UK.

In a similar way, when Noah and his family came out of the ark after it landed in the area we today call the Middle East (the region of the Mountains of Ararat), it would not have been surprising for them to use names they were familiar with from the pre-Flood world (e.g. Tigris and Euphrates), to name places and rivers, etc., in the world after the Flood.

Ultimately, we don't know where the Garden of Eden was located. To insist that the Garden was located in the area around the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is to deny the catastrophic effects of the global Flood of Noah's day, and to allow for death before sin.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus

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Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus
by Dr. Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer

Paperback: 72 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
First Released: 2004, 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
Open up the world of Jerusalem in the first century with Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus. The combination of artistic restorations and on-site photographs transport you back almost 2,000 years. See the remains from the period preserved in and around the present-day walls of Jerusalem. Then walk the streets of the city in the time of Jesus with the minutely detailed reconstruction drawings

Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus is a nonfiction book covering the archaeological findings in Jerusalem that date to the time of Jesus. The pictures, drawings, and maps were fantastic. One map was a little fuzzy (due to a printing misalignment, I think, so this may not be a problem with every copy of the book), but the text and notations were still quite readable.

The authors were very good at describing landmarks in the modern "ruin" photos so that I could easily find them and see the points of interest that the authors were talking about in the captions and accompanying text. I also liked how the authors described what was found in the archaeological dig, why the site was identified as being a certain one from the time of Jesus, the use of quotes from writers close to that time describing or referring to the landmarks, and what clues the artist used to create the "what they would have looked like" pictures of the building, pool, house, etc.

There was a map of the city layout at the time of Jesus, a map showing only the sites discussed in the rest of the book, a map of the temple mount, and others. The sites discussed were: The Temple Mount, the excavations on the Ophel, the Hasmonean Tower and the First Wall, the dam and reservoir near the Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Siloam, the Hinnon Valley and the tomb of Annas the high priest, the Essene quarter, the Serpent's Pool, the Citadel courtyard, the Hippicus Tower, several houses in the Jewish Quarter (including a palace, the Garden Gate, a mansion, a house, and a council chamber), the Pools of Bethesda, the tombs in the Kedron Valley, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Golgotha Hill, the Garden Tomb, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Via Dolorosa.

The book was very interesting and easy to follow. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to people interested in Bible archaeology or in what things where like at the time of Jesus.

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.

About the Authors
Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer met in 1975 during the Temple Mount excavations in Jerusalem. Leen is an archaeological architect, lecturer, and teacher. He has been involved in all of Jerusalem's major excavations, producing site plans and reconstruction drawings for all of them. He has also participated in numerous excavations all over Israel and his drawings have appeared in academic journals, books, and Bible atlases.

Kathleen holds a B.A. degree in Archaeology. In addition to the Temple Mount dig, she has participated in excavations in Tel Akko in Israel and in other countries. Since 1983, she has been a partner with Leen in their firm Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, producing educational materials on the subject of Biblical Archaeology.