Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: That is SO Me

book cover

That is SO Me:
365 Days of Devotions
by Nancy Rue

Trade Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: ZonderKidz
Released: Sept. 2010

Source: Advanced Reading Copy provided by the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover, slightly modified:
Here is the devotional tween girls been waiting for: a place for everyday inspiration for everyday tween girls. On this 365-day journey through the Bible, discover topics that will have you saying “That is SO me!” over and over and over again. Featuring interactive quizzes, activities, prayers, and journaling prompts written by favorite Faithgirlz!™ author Nancy Rue, this meaningful devotional is just for girls and tackles the issues that you face each day.

That is SO Me is a year-long daily devotional for girls ages 9-12. It's written in a conversational, engaging tone and is good at giving examples of how the application parts would work out in modern, tween girl life.

There were 52 weeks with 8 entries per a week: one under the "Week #__" heading to introduce the week's theme and then one for each day of the week. The day entries included activities (quiz; ask someone; think about; talk with God; listen to God; do what you've learned; and share it). The devotional was divided into four parts of 13 weeks each. Part One was about learning more about God. Part Two was about how God sees us. Part Three was about how God transforms people's lives (by following the stories of 13 people in the Bible). Part Four was about how God wants you to act.

Overall, the devotionals taught good lessons and engaged the reader in a way that they would probably try to do the activities suggested and apply the lesson rather than just read it.

However, I did have some concerns. The first eight weeks were a summary of the events in Genesis. This was a good idea, but sometimes she skipped events or incorrectly summarized a passage. Sometimes it was obvious she was trying to make the passage fit her week's theme, but other times I couldn't see why she changed or added to what Scripture said. After those weeks, she used verses from throughout the Bible that actually fit the theme...but the problem of slightly inaccurate summaries persisted, though it was less frequent. Also, I sometimes didn't agree with how she explained the meaning of a verse.

For example, on Week 2: Tuesday, she interpreted God's curse on the serpent in Genesis 3:15 as "he made it so women and their kids would always hate snakes. That accounts for the creepy feeling you get when you even see a python on TV. God knew the source of the evil, and he took away some of its power. It's still there, and it will sneak up on you and 'strike [your] heel" But you can also 'crush [its] head" (verse 15). God made it so that you can stamp it out whenever it tries to get to you." But that verse refers to Satan and the Messiah, not everyone.

Another example is from Week 49: Sunday when she modernized the parable about forgiveness found in Matthew 18:22-35. She has a teacher give a girl an extra day to pay her large debt but the teacher revokes the extension when she sees the girl demand that her friend pay back a small debt. I can see a girl reading it and thinking, "But Late Girl was just trying to raise the money to pay the teacher the next day! How unfair!" To be more accurate to the parable, Late Girl shouldn't have had to pay her way anymore so that she had no pressing reason to demand her friend pay up.

Despite my concerns, I'd suggest this devotional to tween girls that normally wouldn't do 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.

Excerpt from Week 49: Sunday

"If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14

If you dare to walk past her, she curls her lip and sniffs the air like she's smelling rotten eggs. Yet you're supposed to forgive her? Why?

Jesus knew we'd need to understand the reason for forgiving people who treat us like pond scum. He explained that if we don't forgive other people, no matter what they do, God won't forgive us no matter what we do. He used a story (Matthew 18:22-35) which, in modern terms, goes something like this:

A girl hasn't turned in her money--thirty dollars--for the class field trip. It's the last day and she's forgotten again. The teacher says she's sorry, but Late Girl can't go. Late Girl cries and begs and the teacher gives her one more day. Happy again, Late Girl dashes out of class that afternoon and runs into a friend.

"Hey," she says to Friend. "You owe me a dollar for that Coke I bought you last week."

When Friend asks for more time to get the money, Late Girl says, "No way. Give it to me now, or we're not friends any more."

The teacher overhears that conversation and tells Late Girl she can forget about going on the field trip. If she can't forgive Friend a debt of one measly dollar, she doesn't deserve an extra day to get her thirty bucks in. End of discussion.

That's how it works with God too.

Do That Little Thing: QUIZ
This could be tough (but remember, Jesus doesn't do easy). Make a list of people you haven't quite forgiven for doing hurtful things to you or somebody you love. Think about grudges you're holding, people you refuse to speak to ever again, memories that make you mad all over again, just thinking about them. Don't worry if your list is longer than your arm. By the end of the week, it may be erased completely.

Read some more of the devotionals.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: BE Compassionate (Luke 1-13)

book cover

BE Compassionate (Luke 1-13)
by Warren W. Wiersbe

ISBN-13: 9781434765024
Trade Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: David C Cook
Released: Jul 1, 2010

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

Book Description from Back Cover:
The life and ministry of Christ was marked by His overwhelming compassion for people. And His heart is the same today. As believers, we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ, and extend His extravagant love to a broken world. Based on the book of Luke, this study examines the very heartbeat of our Savior, and explores how Jesus connected with hurting people in an authentic and powerful way.

Part of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe's best-selling "BE" commentary series, BE Compassionate has now been updated with study questions and a new introduction by Ken Baugh. A respected pastor and Bible teacher, Dr. Wiersbe explores the compassionate life of Jesus. Filled with moving examples of Christ's ministry to people of all backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, this study will inspire you to share His love with the world around you.

BE Compassionate is a commentary on chapters 1-13 of Luke, but it's written more like a filled-in Bible study than a Bible reference book. As in, you could go to a certain chapter and verse reference and read the entry for more information, but the book was designed to be read from start to finish. The book was easy to understand and an enjoyable, quick read.

With one exception, each chapter in the book covered one chapter in Luke. The author pointed out the meanings of Greek words that don't fully translate into English and background historical information that helped to bring out the full impact of the verses. There were 9 to 11 questions at the end of each chapter. Some tested to see if you remembered/understood what the author had said, but others were discussion/reflection questions about how you could apply what you had just learned.

This study made me think, and I gained a lot of new insights from reading it. I didn't agree with a few of the author's conclusions, but I'm not claiming that they're wrong. I've just heard a different spin put on the events that seems to fit better, in my opinion. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book as a Bible study for those who want a deeper understanding of the Word.

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 18-19
A faithful priest (vv.5-7). Zacharias ("Jehovah has remembered"; Zechariah in NIV) and Elizabeth ("God is my oath") were a godly couple who both belonged to the priestly line. The priests were divided into twenty-four courses (1 Chron. 24), and each priest served in the temple two weeks out of the year. In spite of the godlessness around them, Zacharias and Elizabeth were faithful to obey the Word of God and live blamelessly.

Their only sorrow was that they had no family, and they made this a matter of constant prayer. Little did they know that God would answer their prayers and give them, not a priest, but a prophet! And no ordinary prophet, for their son would be the herald of the coming King!

A fearful priest (vv.8-17). The priests on duty drew lots to see which ministries they would perform, and Zacharias was chosen to offer incense in the Holy Place. This was a high honor that was permitted to a priest but once in a lifetime. The incense was offered daily before the morning sacrifice and after the evening sacrifice, about three o'clock in the afternoon. It was probably the evening offering that was assigned to Zacharias.

Read chapter one.

Book Quotes: Archaeology & the Bible

From The New Answers Book, Vol. 1:

Does Archaeology Support the Bible?
by Clifford Wilson

It is a biblical principle that matters of testimony should be established by the mouths of two or three witnesses. According to Hebrew law, no person could be found guilty of an offense without properly attested evidence from witnesses, even though this law was put aside at the trial of Jesus.

When it comes to the Word of God, a similar principle is demonstrated from the modern science of archaeology. We are told in Psalm 85:11, “Truth shall spring out of the earth,” and in Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” God’s Word is sure. It outlasts human generations, and in His own time God vindicates its truth. This puts God’s Word in a unique category: it is the “other side” of the two-way communication pattern between God and man. Man’s speech distinguishes him uniquely from all the animals, and God’s written Word distinguishes His special communication to man as immeasurably superior to all other supposed revelations.

According to that biblical principle of “two or three witnesses,” we shall now select evidences that support the truth and accuracy of God’s Word. In every area, the evidence has been forthcoming: God has vindicated His Word, and His Book is a genuine writing, with prophecies and revelation that must be taken seriously. His Book is unique because it is His Book.

Those inspired men of old wrote down God’s message, applicable to themselves in their own times, and also applicable to men and women across the centuries, right down to the present century. The Bible is the “other side” of the Christian’s study of the miracle of language. It is God’s chosen way of revealing His thoughts—the deep things which are unsearchable except by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

In the following outline we suggest certain divisions of the Word of God. Then we list three significant evidences from archaeology to confirm that the witness is sufficient to cause the case to be accepted for each section—God’s Word is indeed Truth.

Read the rest of the article.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

And the Action Bible winners are...take 2

One of the winners of The Action Bible hasn't gotten her address back to me, though I've seen that she's Twittered several times since I told her about her win. Since I don't feel it's fair to make the others wait on a person who isn't responding and it's been over 4 days since the announcement, I'm sad to say that I'm removing @pam00 from the winner list. The new winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: Crossway ESV Bible Atlas

book cover

Crossway ESV Bible Atlas
by John D. Currid, David P. Barrett

ISBN-13: 9781433501920
Hardback: 352 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books
Released: June 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Publisher's Website:
Capitalizing on recent advances in satellite imaging and geographic information systems, the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas offers Bible readers a comprehensive, up-to-date resource that blends technical sophistication with readability, visual appeal, and historical and biblical accuracy.

All the key methods of presenting Bible geography and history are here, including more than 175 full-color maps, 70 photographs, 3-D re-creations of biblical objects and sites, indexes, timelines, and 65,000 words of narrative description. The atlas uniquely features regional maps detailing biblically significant areas such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Italy, and Greece. It also includes a CD with searchable indexes and digital maps, and a removable, 16.5 x 22-inch map of Palestine.

This carefully crafted reference tool not only sets a new standard in Bible atlases but will help ESV readers more clearly understand the world of the Bible and the meaning of Scripture.

Crossway ESV Bible Atlas is a Bible atlas. The lovely, full-color photographs of the regions, city ruins, and archaeological artifacts were one of the strongest points of this atlas. I also loved the full-color artist reconstructions of various buildings and places based on archaeological findings or the descriptions in the Bible. These illustrations included: ziggurats; Ur at the time of Abram; the Tabernacle; Jericho; Jerusalem at the time of David; Jerusalem at the time of Solomon; Solomon's Temple; the city of Nineveh; Jerusalem at the time of Hezekiah; the city of Babylon; Zerubbabel's Temple; Jerusalem at the time of Nehemiah; at time of Jesus: Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, the Temple, a fishing boat, Golgotha and temple mount, and a tomb; at the time of Paul: Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, and the synagogue at Gamin.

There were also 3D "viewpoint" maps, like what Abraham would have seen of the Jordan Valley when Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other two cities were destroyed. Since the elevation was indicated with similar shades of green, some of these 3D Old Testament maps required some studying to understand. However, the New Testament 3D maps used more colors and so were easier to "see."

The maps were mainly flat maps (no elevation given) that showed the cities, rivers, and known ancient international and intra-national roads with the biblical movements indicated over them. Overall, the maps effectively conveyed the information when combined with the text in the captions. However, the underlying features (roads and rivers) were indicated with a gray dotted or solid line. While most movement was indicated with an easy-to-spot red line, for wars the opposition's movement was indicated with a blueish-gray line (solid or dotted) that was at hard to quickly distinguish from the numerous similarly-colored roads and rivers.

As for the text, it was well-written and informative. The first section of the atlas gave an overview of the biblical world. It covered the physical features of the main regions in Israel, temperature and rainfall, what various regions produced, vegetation, roads, and archaeological dig sites. It also gave the Hebrew calender with when the rainy periods, harvest times, grazing & shearing times, and feasts occurred.

The second section gave a survey of biblical history. It had maps showing various movements, events, and wars. The text gave a summary of the biblical events using archaeological findings and extra-biblical sources to supplement the descriptions and to tell what was happening during the same period in the other lands mentioned in the Bible. The atlas had a sizable section describing the inter-testament period and also contained information on the period after Paul--the Jewish War and the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It ended at 135 AD. I found this additional information very interesting.

This second section started with trying to identify the location of the Garden of Eden. It didn't mention the Flood or other early biblical history but began with describing the various "archaeological periods" that the authors believed occurred during Genesis 1-11. They started with "The Paleolithic Period (Pre-10,000 B.C)," so they apparently believe the earth is older than 10,000 years old.

For those who care, the authors have Abraham placed at about 2000-1550 BC, which they place in the Middle Bronze II period and align with the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period in Egypt and the Third Dynasty in Ur. They placed the Exodus from Egypt during the Late Bronze period and during the New Kingdom's 18th and 19th Dynasties in Egypt. They placed Joshua beginning his conquest of Canaan at probably 1200 B.C. and as causing the break between the Late Bronze period and Iron Age. David was dated at 1010-970 B.C.

For much of the early Old Testament, I don't agree with how the authors aligned these archaeological periods and outside rulers to the Bible accounts, but I still found much of the information useful once converted to the alignment I use.

The third section of the atlas was a series of elevation maps (with cities, rivers, and roads indicated) for all the areas talked about in the Bible. These were most useful when combined with the index in section four.

The fourth section contained the authors' timeline of Biblical history with rulers from Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopotamia aligned on it. There was a list of the Kings of Israel and Judah with the dates they ruled; a chart of the Herodian Dynasty; a place-names index to find cities on the maps in the second section; a place-names index to find cities on the maps in the third section; an index of known biblical sites; a general index; and a scripture references index.

On the inside of the back cover, there's a CD-ROM in a cardboard holder and, in a cover-sized pouch behind that, a nice 16.5 x 22-inch map of Palestine. When I put the CD-ROM in my computer, the content didn't automatically install or open. (I use Windows Vista.) So I used Explore to view the disk contents. You can click on ESVAtlas-Historical-Maps_1.html to get a clickable index of the digital maps to then view the maps using a web browser. Or you can explore the map folder and open the pictures in an your favorite image-viewing program. I also installed the ESV Atlas Search Center. Once installed, I couldn't get the program to work. No matter what I tried--map/caption name, verse reference, city name, etc.--I got back an error page. The digital maps were web resolution but fairly large and--so I've heard--are easy to use in a PowerPoint presentations.

Overall, there were a lot of very nice features in this atlas. In my opinion, its unique and strongest points were the photographs, artist reconstructions, and information given on the inter-testament, new testament, and after events. I liked the maps a little better in Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, Revised Edition, but both altas' had their own strong points. I liked and would recommend both of them.

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
View excerpt of chapter one.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

And the Action Bible winners are...

It's time to pick the 20 winners of The Action Bible. Including all of the Twitter entries, we had 27 people enter. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winners are:

Mozi Esme
Linda Kish
@pam00 / PamS
Atypical Girl
Jason Santa
Katie G.
Neil Jorge

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

For those who didn't win, you can always join in the fun by buying the book at your favorite bookstore!

And the Discerning Truth winner is...

It's time to pick the winner of Discerning Truth by Dr. Jason Lisle. Including all of the Twitter entries, we had 17 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 join in the fun by buying the book at your favorite bookstore!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Quote: Starlight & the Age of the Universe

From The New Answers Book, Vol. 1:

Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old?
by Jason Lisle

Critics of biblical creation sometimes use distant starlight as an argument against a young universe. The argument goes something like this: (1) there are galaxies that are so far away, it would take light from their stars billions of years to get from there to here; (2) we can see these galaxies, so their starlight has already arrived here; and (3) the universe must be at least billions of years old—much older than the 6,000 or so years indicated in the Bible.

Many big bang supporters consider this to be an excellent argument against the biblical timescale. But when we examine this argument carefully, we will see that it does not work. The universe is very big and contains galaxies that are very far away, but that does not mean that the universe must be billions of years old.

The distant starlight question has caused some people to question cosmic distances. “Do we really know that galaxies are so far away? Perhaps they are much closer, so the light really doesn’t travel very far.” However, the techniques that astronomers use to measure cosmic distances are generally logical and scientifically sound. They do not rely on evolutionary assumptions about the past. Moreover, they are a part of observational science (as opposed to historical/origins science); they are testable and repeatable in the present. You could repeat the experiment to determine the distance to a star or galaxy, and you would get approximately the same answer. So we have good reason to believe that space really is very big. In fact, the amazing size of the universe brings glory to God (Psalm 19:1).

Some Christians have proposed that God created the beams of light from distant stars already on their way to the earth. After all, Adam didn’t need any time to grow from a baby because he was made as an adult. Likewise, it is argued that the universe was made mature, and so perhaps the light was created in-transit. Of course, the universe was indeed made to function right from the first week, and many aspects of it were indeed created “mature.” The only problem with assuming that the light was created in-transit is that we see things happen in space. For example, we see stars change brightness and move. Sometimes we see stars explode. We see these things because their light has reached us.

But if God created the light beams already on their way, then that means none of the events we see in space (beyond a distance of 6,000 light-years) actually happened. It would mean that those exploding stars never exploded or existed; God merely painted pictures of these fictional events. It seems uncharacteristic of God to make illusions like this. God made our eyes to accurately probe the real universe; so we can trust that the events that we see in space really happened. For this reason, most creation scientists believe that light created in-transit is not the best way to respond to the distant starlight argument. Let me suggest that the answer to distant starlight lies in some of the unstated assumptions that secular astronomers make.

Read the rest of the article.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW Forgotten Treasure


For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, today's theme is "Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!"

book coverThe book I wish was getting more attention from (Christian) book bloggers is Discerning Truth by Dr. Jason Lisle. Why? Because it's always good to know how to defend your faith, and this book does an excellent job of teaching an often-overlooked aspect of doing this: logic! Before you go running for the woods, the other reason I picked this book is because Dr. Lisle does a good job teaching the subject so that the reader doesn't feel overwhelmed or confused.

If you're a book blogger interested in reviewing this book AND your blog is active with at least 4 posts a month AND you have a social media audience of at least 300 (including blog followers, twitter followers, facebook friends/fans, etc.), you can request this book for review here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW Wednesday Treasure


For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, today's theme is "...share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger. What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?"

book coverA book I hadn't even heard of until I heard about it from another blogger is Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware.

I initially almost skipped over the post since I personally don't have any children and I don't have any young children in my influence. But I think teaching theology to kids is important, so I read the blogger's rave review. I started thinking I could at least help get the word around if I read and reviewed it...and, hey, maybe even adult Christians who would otherwise avoid such books would think "kid-level" theology sounded do-able. So I bought it, read it, and loved it.

I encourage other people to check out this excellent book!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

BBAW Giveaway: The Action Bible

BBAW 2010

book cover
For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I'm hosting a giveaway for 20 The Action Bible: God's Redemptive Story illustrated by Sergio Cariello.

Yes, you read that correctly! When I contacted the publisher (David C. Cook) asking if they'd provide and ship an Action Bible to the winner, they not only agreed but offered to provide the book to 20 winners!

My contact said that it'd be great if the winners blogged about The Action Bible or otherwise told people about it after receiving it.

You can learn more about this children's Bible by reading my review.

This contest is for USA residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @christfocus. Enter me in the giveaway for the children's comic-book style picture Bible, THE ACTION BIBLE."


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 this book.

The winners will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner at noon (Central Time) on Sept. 18, 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!

Book Review: The Action Bible

book cover

The Action Bible:
God's Redemptive Story
Illustrated by Sergio Cariello

Hardback: 752 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Released: September 2010

The Book Website
(which has sample pages)

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Action Bible presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible's historical flow and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax.

The stories in The Action Bible communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries.

Internationally recognized artist Sergio Cariello has created attention-holding illustrations marked by rich coloring, dramatic shading and lighting, bold and energetic designs, and emotionally charged figures.

Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world's most awesome story.

The Action Bible is a comic-book style picture Bible for children ages 5-8, though older children will also enjoy it. I'd personally call this book Biblical fiction rather than "a Bible" since extra-Biblical comments, commentary, and historical information was worked into the book's summary of Biblical events. Also, some Biblical events were left out. Sexual content and gore was largely smoothed over (using euphemism or implication) or skipped entirely. While I wouldn't use this book as a replacement for the Bible, I'd certainly recommend this book over children's Bible story books.

I really liked that the events were in chronological order and shown in their historical setting. Several psalms were worked into David's life story and several proverbs into Solomon's story. The prophets gave their (summarized) prophecies during the actual events where they were given, and Paul's (summarized) letters were shown as written when they really were written during his travels. There were even some maps of Paul's missionary travels. Also, the Old Testament flowed into the New Testament through a brief (and clearly marked as not in the Bible) historical summary of the events that happened between the two. So the Bible came across as a continuous historical account of God relating to man with a redemptive plan in action (rather than as disconnected morality tales about heroes of the past).

I was also very impressed by the vivid, detailed illustrations. The illustrator did an excellent job of correctly showing the character's age, ethnicity, and culture. A few things were off (like the picture of Solomon's temple being built on flat land instead of on a hill), but this book was a lot more accurate than other Children's Bibles I've seen.

And, best of all, children really will read this book without prompting by their parents. I'm testing it on two boys (ages 5 & 10). The report for day 1 is that whenever they weren't running around, they were looking at this Bible.

However, like most children's storybooks, the stories in The Action Bible were only "based on" the Bible. The author always indicated "based on Judges 16:1-20" or whatever verses and, overall, did a good job accurately summarizing the Bible accounts. But the author's interpretation is a part of the text. Those highly familiar with the Bible are likely to come across several places where they won't precisely agree with the wording used--or they'll wish that some point that was omitted or implied was more clearly stated. But, again, that's usually true.

As long as parents don't neglect teaching the actual Bible, The Action Bible is an excellent foundational overview of the Bible that children simply aren't getting any other place, including at church. Overall, I'd highly recommend this Action Bible for use with elementary aged children instead of children's story books or as a way to give them a good overview of what's in the Bible.

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.

BBAW Giveaway: Discerning Truth

BBAW 2010

book cover
For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I'm hosting a giveaway for one copy of Discerning Truth by Dr. Jason Lisle.

I asked the publisher to provide and ship the book to the winner, and they were very kind and agreed.

You can learn more about this Christian apologetics book by reading my review.

This contest is worldwide.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @christfocus. Enter me in the giveaway for the Christian nonfiction book, DISCERNING TRUTH by Dr. Jason Lisle."


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 this book.

The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner at noon (Central Time) on Sept. 18, 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!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Quotes: Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & Suffering?

From The New Answers Book, Vol. 1:

Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & Suffering?
by Tommy Mitchell

Why do bad things happen? Through the ages, human beings have sought to reconcile their understanding of an all-powerful, loving God with the seemingly endless suffering around them.

One prominent example of this struggle is the media mogul Ted Turner. Having lost his faith after his sister died of a painful disease, Turner claimed, “I was taught that God was love and God was powerful, and I couldn’t understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so.”

Is God responsible for human suffering? Is God cruel, capricious, and vindictive, or is He too weak to prevent suffering? If God truly is sovereign, how can He let someone He loves suffer?

Read the rest of the article.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Discerning Truth

book cover

Discerning Truth
by Dr. Jason Lisle

Trade Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Released: July 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover, slightly modified:
Every day Christians are faced with an increasing onslaught of criticism from evolutionists for their belief in God and His glorious creation. What do you say when your faith is challenged by those claiming to speak in the name of science or reason?

Discerning Truth provides a practical and engaging resource on the use of logic in this critical debate. It's filled with anecdotes from both creative examples and real-life illustrations that help clarify logical issues in apologetics. It'll help you become skilled at distinguishing sound arguments from emotionally-charged rhetoric and help any believer refute evolutionary perspectives.

Lisle believes that creationists need to be able to recognize and refute evolutionist arguments, and to do so in a way that both honors God and lines up with the truth of His Word (Eph. 5:1). The role of logic, the study of correct reasoning, is becoming a vanishing skill in our society. Yet it is a vital tool in assisting Christians in assessing the weaknesses in evolutionary thought. Here is the clear and concise guide for every believer in defending your faith in the face of adversity.

Discerning Truth is a Christian apologetics book about the use of logic in evaluating arguments for and against the Christian faith. It specifically focused on the arguments made in the Biblical creation versus evolution debate. While most of the examples were of faulty arguments for evolution, the author also pointed out faulty arguments that Christians sometimes use.

The author mainly focused on deductive arguments, but he also covered inductive arguments. He spent a chapter on each of the most frequent logic fallacies committed in the creation/evolution debate and then quickly covered some lesser used ones in another chapter. He explained what the fallacy was then gave some examples (both made up and common real ones) and explained why the argument didn't work. The explanations were very easy to follow and used everyday language with a sprinkling of logic terminology.

I think even just memorizing the examples would give a person the confidence to speak up in many situations. At the end, there were two practice sessions: four chapters with questions in one chapter and the answers (identifying the logic fallacy and giving the explanation of why it doesn't work) in the next. The first set was one-sentence theoretical arguments and the second used short paragraphs taken from actual pro-evolution articles.

I'd recommend reading Discerning Truth before The Ultimate Proof. I felt like I didn't have to think as hard with Discerning Truth to remember and apply them. So, if you read this first, you won't be quite as overwhelmed by all the material covered in The Ultimate Proof. If you've read The Ultimate Proof, this book will help reinforce the logic lessons given there.

I'd highly recommend this book to high schoolers and adults. Since this book had a respectful tone, I'd also feel comfortable handing this book to someone whose confidence in evolution is based on the faulty arguments covered in this book.

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 Six

A person commits the fallacy of bifurcation when he or she claims that there are only two mutually exclusive possibilities--when, in fact, there is a third option (or more). For this reason the fallacy is also known as the either-or fallacy and the false dilemma.

A facetious example is this: "Either the traffic light is red or it is green." This is obviously fallacious, since the light could be yellow.

A more realistic example is this: "Either you have faith or you are rational." This commits the fallacy of bifurcation, since there is a third possibility: we can have faith and be rational. In fact, faith is essential in order to have rationality (e.g. to make sense of laws of logic). [He has a footnote to explain this.]

"Either the universe operates in a law-like fashion, or God is constantly performing miracles." This is also fallacious because a third possibility exists: the universe operates in a law-like fashion most of the time, and God occasionally performs miracles.

Sometimes the origins debate is framed as "faith vs. reason," "science or religion," or the "Bible vs. science." These are all false dilemmas. Faith and reason are not contrary. They go well together (since all reasoning presupposes a type of faith).

Likewise, science and religion (the Christian religion, to be specific) are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it is the Christian system that makes sense of science and the uniformity of nature. Likewise, the debate should never be framed as "the Bible vs. science," since the procedures of science are fully compatible with the Bible. In fact, science is based on the biblical worldview; science requires predictability in nature, which is only made possible by the fact that God upholds the universe in a consistent way that is congenial to human understanding. Such predictability just wouldn't make sense in a "chance" universe.

The fallacy of bifurcation may be more difficult to spot when the person implies that only two options exist, rather than explicitly stating this.

...."The Bible teaches that 'in Christ all things hold together' (Col 1:17). But we now know that the forces of gravity and electromagnetism are what hold the universe together." This is an example of the fallacy of bifurcation because the critic has implicitly assumed that either (1) God holds the universe together, or (2) gravity and electromagnetism do. However, these are not exclusive. "Gravity" and "electromagnetism" are simply the names we give to the way in which God holds the universe together. Laws of nature are not a replacement for God's power. Rather, they are an example of God's power.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Quotes: Can We Prove God Exists?

From The New Answers Book, Vol. 1:

Is There Really a God?
by Ken Ham & Jason Lisle

In our everyday experience, just about everything seems to have a beginning. In fact, the laws of science show that even things which look the same through our lifetime, such as the sun and other stars, are, in reality, running down. The sun is using up its fuel at millions of tons each second—since the sun cannot last forever, it had to have a beginning. The same can be shown to be true for the entire universe.

So when Christians claim that the God of the Bible created all the basic entities of life and the universe, some will ask what seems to be a logical question: “Who created God?”

The very first verse in the Bible declares: “In the beginning God ... .” There is no attempt in these words to prove the existence of God or imply in any way that God had a beginning. In fact, the Bible makes it clear in many places that God is outside time. He is eternal, with no beginning or end. He also knows all things, being infinitely intelligent.

Is it logical, though, to accept the existence of such an eternal being? Can modern science, which has produced our technology of computers, space shuttles, and medical advances, even allow for such a notion?

What Would We Look For?
What evidence would we expect to find if there really is an infinite God who created all things as the Bible claims? How would we even recognize the hand of such an omnipotent (all-powerful) Creator?

Read the rest of the article.