Monday, May 27, 2013

To Save a Life DVD

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To Save a Life DVD

Time: 120 minutes
Released: 2009

Source: Rented through Netflix.

Movie Description from Netflix:
After tragedy strikes a childhood friend, Jake reevaluates his life. By reaching out to lonely outsider Jonny, Jake risks losing everything that matters most to him, including a college scholarship and his friends.

Cast: Randy Wayne, Deja Kreutzberg, Joshua Weigel, Robert Bailey Jr., Kim Hidalgo, Sean Michael Afable, Bubba Lewis, Steven Crowder, D. David Morin, Arjay Smith

Director:Brian Baugh

My Review:
To Save a Life is a Christian fiction movie. I liked that the people acted realistically. The Christians didn't have all the answers, and the main character didn't get everything right once he accepted Christ. The situations that the teens found themselves in are accurate to what kids currently deal with at school and at home. The movie shows drinking, a bit of cussing, even implied sex, but they also showed the consequences of actions. The actors did a great job of drawing me into the story.

I'm generally not that impressed with the acting in Christian movies, but I think all the characters in "To Save a Life" were well-acted and had depth. It had a good message, too. I'd highly recommend it.

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

Movie Trailer: Link to movie trailer.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Toward Understanding Thessalonians by Boyce W. Blackwelder

book cover
Toward Understanding Thessalonians
by Boyce W. Blackwelder

ISBN-13: 978-1604160178
Hardcover: 164 pages
Reformation Publishing
Released: 1965;
September 5, 2000

Source: Borrowed from my church library.

Book Description, my take:
An introduction, translation, and commentary of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The introduction "is an attempt to reconstruct the general features of the background of Paul's communications to the church at Thessalonica, to ascertain the character of the first readers, and to see clearly the purpose which the Apostle and his co-workers had in mind when they wrote."

The "exegetical translation of First and Second Thessalonians...[follows] the Greek text edited by Professor Eberhard Nestle, fourth edition, 1904...In the translation, I have used brackets to enclose words inserted in an effort to convey deeper meanings implied by the Greek vocabulary and sentence structure."

And the commentary part is "a terse commentary based on the Greek attempt was made to be exhaustive, but rather to discuss terms or passages which I felt might be of special interest to a wide range of readers."

My Review:
Toward Understanding Thessalonians is a Bible commentary on 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. The tone is scholarly and formal, especially in the commentary.

The introduction covered where Thessalonica was located, what the city was like, and details about Paul's journey and visit to Thessalonica--including details like the distances between the cities. He then covered what we know about the church established in Thessalonica and what problems Paul appears to have been writing in response to. He also discussed the authenticity, occasion, place, date, analysis, and outlined both books.

He included a translation of each letter. The commentary mainly focused on the meaning of Greek words based on their tense and placement in the sentence so we can better understand what is being said. I found it interesting and could follow his points even though I don't know anything about Greek. However, someone who has at least a basic knowledge of biblical Greek would be able to follow his arguments better. I just took it on faith that he was accurately interpreting the significance of the words, tense, and placement.

I picked up this book because I was interested in the information in the introduction--mainly details about Paul's journey and the dating of 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. I liked getting a sense of what his travels were like. The rest was also interesting, but it may have a limited audience due to the scholarly focus.

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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Visual Bible: Acts DVD

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The Visual Bible:
Acts DVD

Runtime: 3 hours 12 minutes
Publisher: Visual International
Released: August 1, 2004

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 2
Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC

Source: Bought from

DVD Description from Amazon:
The Visible Bible: Acts is a dramatization that uses the actual scriptures, word for word, from the New International Version. Journey with the physician Luke (Dean Jones) as he tells the story of the danger, struggles, and triumph that mark the birth of the Christian church. Actors: Bruce Marchiano, James Brolin, Jennifer O Neill, Dean Jones, Andre Jacobs.

My Review:
The Visual Bible: Acts DVD is a visual Bible using the 1984 New International Version translation of Acts. The dialogue and narration are directly from Acts, like an audio Bible. The costumes, settings, and actions attempt to give a visual idea of what it all might have looked like.

I was surprised that some dialogue scenes were told by Luke instead of acted out, but most scenes were acted out and perhaps it would have cost too much to act them all out.

I liked that the actors played the disciples like real people would act. Paul came across as zealous, courageous, and approachable. My appreciation of Silas and the lesser-known "missionaries" grew. Though not Hollywood quality in production value and acting, I still thought this movie was well done and I enjoyed watching it.

I bought the DVD because I plan to watch it once a year. However, you can watch the entire movie on YouTube if you like. I'd recommend this resource as an enjoyable and thought-provoking way to "read" Acts.

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.

Watch the Movie: Acts on YouTube.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cross-Cultural Connections by Duane Elmer

book cover
Cross-Cultural Connections
by Duane Elmer

ISBN-13: 9780830823093
Trade Paperback: 215 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic
Released: August 29, 2002

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
Experienced cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer provides a compass for navigating through different cultures. He shows us how to avoid pitfalls and cultural faux pas, as well as how to make the most of opportunities to build cross-cultural relationships. Filled with real-life illustrations and practical exercises, this guide offers the tools needed to reduce apprehension, communicate effectively, and establish genuine trust and acceptance.

Above all, Elmer demonstrates how we can avoid being cultural imperialists and instead become authentic ambassadors for Christ. Whether you are embarking on a short-term mission trip or traveling for business or pleasure, this book is both an ideal preparation and a handy companion for your journey.

My Review:
Cross-Cultural Connections is intended for missionaries or others who want to better understand and communicate with people from other cultures--including with people in our own country. It's like a class or workbook format, but it's easy to read and understand. The author covered some differences between various cultures, gave real life examples of those differences, and explained some of the "whys" behind the differences.

The book started by explaining why we should study other cultures and how to deal with culture shock. It then discussed several different cultural values: time vs event focus, relationship vs task focus, individual vs group priority, category vs holistic thinking, roundabout or straight forward or other discussion styles, achieved or assigned status, honor/shame or guilt, and outgoing or quiet worship styles.

Though the author separated out and explained the different concepts in different chapters, many cultural behaviors seemed tied together and perhaps could have been discussed together. Still, I felt he did a good job explaining differences to look out for and preparing people for culture shock.

I liked that he noted that cultures aren't necessarily going to be one extreme or another and that individuals within a culture can be different than "the norm." Another book I've read recently on a similar topic implied that all cultures were one extreme or another, which isn't been true in my experience.

I got this book because it was suggested as "further reading" to better understand other cultures because this can also help Christians understand some things in the Bible. I do think it has helped me in that way. I'd recommend this book to those going on international trips or who otherwise would like to understand other cultures better. This is a "starter book," though, so frequent travelers who feel at home in other cultures probably won't get so much out of 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.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.