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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

My Mom has found some excellent reading material for children (and their parents) to celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday. She’s written helpful reviews of 3 great books written with children in mind. I’m happy to re-post this review on my blog.

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Dear friends, are you looking for some good books to read with children during the Easter season? If so, I recommend the these three books.


Long, Long Ago in Jerusalem:
The Life and Resurrection of Jesus

This biblical story told by Carine MacKenzie begins Long, Long Ago in Jerusalemwith the crowds welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion. There is a separate page of text and illustration for each event. The story concludes with the ascension of Jesus and the promise that, just as Jesus was taken up to heaven, he would return some day.

 

The book is suitable for use by someone retelling the story in their own words and using the book for illustrations. The text in the book is referenced to the biblical passages, which are reprinted in this 48 page book. The story is told simply without added detail and the illustrations are very well done. It is recommended for 5 – 6 years olds as “read to me” and for 7 and older for “read myself.” Published by Christian Focus Publications; http://www.christianfocus.com


He is Alive

Beautifully illustrated with large, colorful pictures, 51NTjqtShxL[1]this retelling of the Easter story begins with Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. It does this to introduce those who would plot to kill Jesus. The next scene is of the joyous crowds praising Jesus and waving palm branches. Each scene has it’s own page, illustration, and title.

 

There is more descriptive text in this book than in Long, Long Ago, but it is a faithful retelling, though without scripture references. Recommended for ages 4 and older. Written by Helen Haidle, Zonderkidz, 40 pages.

 

Journey to the Cross:
The Complete Easter Story for Young Readers

This book features all the events of the last week of Jesus’ life Journey-to-the-Cross-The-Complete-Easter-Story-for-Young-Readers[1]and resurrection in chronological order. It is broken down into short chapters of about two pages each, concluding with Pentecost. Each chapter contains one or more illustrations plus helpful definitions and explanations of key theme and historical information referenced in the chapter, questions for discussion, a Scripture memory verse, and personal application. There is also a dictionary at the end of the book. Scripture is referenced throughout the book.

 

This is an excellent book for helping younger elementary children understand Easter, would be suitable for second graders to read on their own, and is worth the read for adults. While all three books are written for children, Journey to the Cross is interesting for anyone! Written by Helen Haidle, Zonderkidz, 256 pages.

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The Absence of the Spirit

mother_teresa_0820.jpgTo many of you, this article may come as a surprise. In his new book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), her “postulator”, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk shows us her most personal, intimate letters which encompass over 60 years of her life. Though Mother Teresa has been venerated by Catholics and Protestants alike, the man given the task of petitioning her sainthood discloses what appears to be a spiritually vacant soul.

David van Biema of Time magazine writes,

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”

We read that, Kolodiejchuk, “produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act.”

Are we ever called to persevere on our own strength, apart from trusting in the promises of God? I believe if Mother Teresa had embraced the authority of the epistle to the church at Rome instead of the Roman Catholic church, she could have had a peace and security not in the goodness of her actions in spite of doubt, but on the basis of Christ’s work done in perfect obedience, graciously imputed to her by faith.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

She wrote of her own effervescent smile, calling it, “…a mask…a cloak that covers everything.”

Contrast that with the words of Peter,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9, NASB)

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My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
Psalm 119:20


Many portions of Scripture declare the importance of knowing the Bible. But have you ever meditated on this one? When I consider the habits of my soul in terms of “longing”, I can think of several things which have nothing to do with God’s rules.

The one and only example I have of this is Jesus. As we consider his response to Satan when he was tempted after 40 days of fasting, we catch a glimpse into the utter psychological reliance Jesus placed on the word.

kramskoi_christ_dans_le_desert.jpgThen Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Matthew4:1-11, ESV

Constant longing for and reliance upon on God’s word.

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Last week, we began our series following Scougal through his applications of Jesus’ command to love our enemies. He began by focusing our attention on how the love Christ commands, “excludes all harsh thoughts and groundless suspicions”. He showed us how those “groundless suspicions” contrast with divinely rooted love which, “hopeth all things,” and, “believeth all things”.


As he continues, he emphasizes that a true love for our enemies keeps all anger in check. If we become angry, we must make sure that our anger is a) clearly warranted and b) “governed by discretion and kept within the bounds of reason”. It is so easy for us to become outraged by something which is not even wrong, but merely unusual or hard to understand. But even when we are right to be upset about something, there are biblical principles by which me must manage our anger. Scougal makes several references to passages which teach us these principles, but he gives no references. If you’re up for it, try to find any of the verses he alludes. Please leave your findings as a comment if you do!


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Luke VI. 27.

But I say unto you which hear, love your enemies.

Again, the love which we owe to enemies, excludes all causeless and immoderate anger: it suffereth long and is not easily provoked; endureth all things.

Our Saviour tells us, that whoso is angry with his brother without cause, shall be in danger of the judgment; and if his anger exceed the cause he is equally guilty. All anger is not vicious; we may be angry, and not sin. This passion, as all others implanted in us by God, is innocent when kept within its due bounds: it has its proper office in the mind, as the spleen in the body; but its excess and distemper swells into a disease. To make it allowable, it must not exceed the value of the cause, nor the proportion of the circumstances. It must be governed by discretion, and kept within the bounds of reason, that it break not forth into indecent expressions, or violent and blamable actions. And further, it must not be too permanent and lasting; we must not let the sun set upon our anger.

Plutarch tells us, that the Pythagoreans were careful to observe the very letter of this precept: for if anger had boiled up to the height of an injury or reproach, before sunset they would salute each other, and renew their friendship; they were ashamed that the same anger which had disturbed the counsels of the day, should also trouble the quiet and repose of the night, lest, mingling with their rest and dreams, it should become prevalent and habitual in them. And sure, we owe an infinitely greater deference to the precepts of our blessed Saviour, and his holy apostles, than they did to their master’s reasoning and advices. And though we should not take this precept in its strictest and literal signification, yet this we must know, that the same passion and resentment which was innocent and rational in its first rise, may become vicious and criminal by its continuance. Anger may kindle in the breast of a wise man, but rests only in the bosom of a fool.

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Weddings

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This evening, I had the blessing of attending my cousin’s wedding. It was a reminder of God’s faithfulness to provide companionship for his children. It was also a joy to be a part of such a happy day for a dear friend and relative (who is also my brother in Christ).

 

 

As my family left the church and headed for the reception, I began to reflect on what had just taken place inside. While this wedding was breathtaking, some elements were clearly unorthodox. I weighed each part in my mind, evaluating it based on my past experiences of matrimonial ceremony. I determined that every part, even ones I didn’t fully appreciate or understand, expressed the unique personalities of the bride and groom. They weren’t just being unorthodox, they were making it personal…and I was honored to be able to celebrate their wedding their way.

It’s important to be careful about how particular we think about what should and should not happen at a wedding. The Bible has virtually nothing to say about weddings. One of the few verses that even comes close is Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Note that the passage doesn’t even say “weddings”, it simply says “marriage” is to be held in honor among all. There isn’t any set standard of dos and don’ts when we talk about weddings. You can make it exactly how you like it… as long as it’s not too long!

I think the most important detail a wedding should have is to place a high priority on the meaning of marriage. So when their pastor took time to focus on this passage from Ephesians, it showed me that he and both my cousin and his wife sought to honor marriage through their wedding. All the glitz and glamor is well and good, but in order for it to be meaningful and lasting, a wedding must reflect the values of our Creator as we seek to abide joyously in the relationship he designed.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33

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Truth, in Love

tbprofile.jpgI went to a small, Christian school, The Master’s College, from 2001 to 2003. In my last semester there, I went to Israel through TMC’s Israel Bible Extension program. I took 4 classes there. My favorite class, Jerusalem Archeology, was taught by Todd Bolen. After over 10 years of teaching there, he finished his last semester this last spring, and moved to Texas to get a Ph.D. at Dallas Theological Seminary.

But before he left, he had managed (I have no idea how) to memorize an entire book of the Bible. He memorized Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. Near the end of the last semester, he recited it, not monotonously, but quite passionately and deliberately, to that group of students.

I want to encourage you, if you have time, at least give the first segment of the 4 part series a shot. It tells you a) a lot about God, b) a lot about the Bible (obviously), and c) a lot about Todd, who is a great example of the kind of person every Christian should try to be.

If you’re interested, here are the links…

Part 1 | Part 2Part 3 | Part 4

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ge-truth.jpg“Heretics are rarely excommunicated these days. Instead, they go on book tours.”

 

That is an excerpt from Mohler’s latest blog dealing with Bishop John Shelby Spong. Spong has recently flown to Australia only to be denied access to the pulpits under the authority of Archbishop Peter Jensen, who oversees the Sydney diocese! Sadly, Australia’s Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane has invited him to speak two sermons in Brisbane’s St John’s Cathedral.

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Spong and his venom-laced bile, go here, here, and here. I encourage you to read through a few of the articles you may find. In my opinion, Spong is one of the first architects of many of the foundational rhetorical tricks one finds in emerging circles. He manages to question central Christian doctrines by means of ad hominum attacks on Sola Scriptura, Sola Christo “conservative” Christians (such as myself) who have allegedly ruined Christianity.

Nowadays, Rob “discovering the Bible as a human product” Bell, N.T. “the ultimate enemy, death itself” Wright, and Brian “disagreeing agreeably (about sin)” Mclaren have managed to position themselves much more successfully within Evangelical circles, while making similar and, perhaps, more subtle distortions of Scripture. These men often take the clearest possible statements from the Bible and convolute them, all the while making you feel guilty because it seemed pretty simple to you when you first read it.

It’s not that all Scripture can be understood simplistically; it’s that the basic truths of Scripture are clear merely by reading it and understanding it within its own context. You don’t have to have to be a scholar of Jewish culture, church history, or postmodernism in order to know the most important things in this life: you just need to see, “that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3) If you want to learn that, be a humble student of the Word of God.

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.
I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.
My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments.
Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies.
Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:17-24

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