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

book cover

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.