Thursday, December 18, 2014

John 1

John 1 (ESV)
The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Please consider giving

Please consider giving whatever you can.  We cannot all give alot, but even a little from many makes a huge difference.

http://www.gofundme.com/j06tv0

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Literature Booklet Review

Literature:  Faithful LearningLiterature:  Faithful Learning by Clifford Foreman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Faithful Learning series is a blessing and this newest volume, Literature, is no different.  Clifford Foreman encourages the believer to take up great literature as a means to worship God.  By enjoying art we see creation better and learn how to read the Scriptures better.

Foreman writes in a manner that makes you feel like you are sitting in a English-Lit class chatting about great works of literature.  That makes this booklet quite enjoyable and really encourages the reader to dive deeper into the world of writing and stories.  Enthusiasm is often contagious and it is easy to catch Foreman's excitement about the beauty and benefit of great literature.

Whether he is writing about Whitman, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, or writers I have never heard of, Foreman presents their work in a way that makes you want to read them.  I even hunted down a book of poetry to read.  Me.  Poetry.  Foreman is a convincing writer and this booklet is a great encouragement to become a better reader.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.


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From the Publisher


Do you like to read? If you find books irresistible, feel the allure of losing yourself in another world, or have a taste for mystery, romance, or adventure, you might sometimes wonder if you’re wrong to get lost in books other than the Bible. But a Christian student can read—and even study—The Screwtape LettersThe Great Gatsby, and other novels, poems, and short stories with confidence!
Clifford Foreman provides a sneak peek into the joy of studying literature, giving you every reason to further refine your appetite for great prose and poetry. Find out how literary forms communicate ideas, artfully use language, and draw us to the greatest Storyteller of all.
The Faithful Learning series invites Christian students to dive deeper into a modern academic discipline. The authors, scholars in their fields, believe that academic disciplines are good gifts from God that, when understood rightly, will give students the potential to cultivate a deeper love for God and neighbor.

The Author

Clifford W. Foreman

Clifford W. Foreman

Clifford W. Foreman (MA, PhD, Boston University) is professor of English and moderator of the faculty at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where he has taught since 1986.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dictionary review…. yep. You read that right.

The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and ExpandedThe Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded by Donald K. McKim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a helpful work.  I was surprised by the breadth of topics covered.  Beyond just theological terms,  Mckim's work dealt with historical issues,  personalities,  and events.

This is not an encycloprdia.  It is a dictionary and the entries are appropriately brief.  There were times I thought the entries could/should have been a bit more detailed.  But,  all-in-all,  the attention paid to the different entries seemed basically appropriate in length.

I did not dig in to each definition and,  even if I had,  my knowledge base is too limited to give expert opinion on most theological terms so I won't/can't comment on the accuracy of the definitions with any authority.  I will say that those entries that I dove into seemed pretty spot on,  so take that for what its worth.

This is a helpful resource for any studying the Scriptures,  theology,  and church history.

I received a review copy from the publisher.


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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wrestling for My Life

Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE SuperstarWrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar by Shawn Michaels
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shawn Michaels is one of my all-time favorite wrestlers and when he became a Christian that finally validated my faith.  Okay, not really.  Like, not at all.  But that is how I used to think about things like this and how we often find ourselves operating.  We want God to choose the exalted people of the world because their salvation will really make a difference and, bonus!, we can know that our decision to follow Christ was worth it. “Hey, if (insert favorite celebrity here) thinks the Gospel is alright, then so do I…and so will so many!!”

Ridiculous, right?  But we do it.   And then, when someone in a public position is made alive by the Spirit of God, we put them under the greatest scrutiny we can muster.  Every word.  Every decision.  Every turn.  Every thought.   If you are a Christian and you blow it, don’t worry about the world coming after you.  We have blogs, message boards, youtube comments, emails, passing jabs, etc.  We exhibit an unhealthy love of breaking bruised reeds.  We are spiritual Darwinists who devour our weak out of some twisted desire to purify the spiritual gene pool.

These reasons combined, the borderline idolatry of celebrities and the excessive scrutiny of having a public faith, make a project like this book tricky to critique (and, I would assume, of even greater difficulty to put together in a God-honoring way).  I do not want to be a fan-boy simply because I am excited that a celebrity, one that has brought me hours of entertainment, has embraced the Christian faith.  I also do not want to be overly critical based on criteria I have created in regards to what a celebrity believer should be and what his memoir should look like.  Hopefully this review avoids both of those extremes.

Shawn is a wrestling personality.  This book is a wrestling book.  And it is a good one.  I enjoyed the back stories because, and it was skillful how it was done, Shawn did a terrific job weaving his faith throughout the stories.  He did not turn it into one object lesson after another, but he made a great effort to show how his faith affected his new life just as his lack of faith affected it before.

Shawn is not a pastor.  He is a, relatively, new believer.  He has obviously made great strides in his faith but he is not a scholar. He is not seminary trained.  And his book shows it.  That is not a dig.  It is refreshing to hear from this brother who simply loves the Lord and spends time in God’s word and under the ministry of his church.  The way he says things sometimes is unrefined and lacks the precision that would be necessary in pastoral counseling or in the ministry of the Word.  But the tone is not sermon.  It is more discipleship-over-coffee.  And it is nice.

Shawn is a believer who wants to use every opportunity he has to make much of the Lord.  That is the lens through which he views his role in the WWF(take that wildlife-lovers).  That is the lens through which he views his outdoor show, his marriage, his life.  And that is a trait that is worthy of emulation.  Follow Shawn as he follows the Lord in this way.  His book is, to him, another means of bringing honor and glory to the Lord.  That knowledge in itself makes this a work worth reading and enjoying.

Shawn is affiliated with a church that I have strong disagreements with; a church that has some teachings that greatly undermine the Gospel.  I was pleasantly surprised to find virtually none of those sorts of teachings find their way to his book.  In fact, I found Shawn to be wise beyond his spiritual years and I was greatly encouraged on numerous occasions.  He is transparent about his sin without ever glorying in it.  He is humble and God-honoring.  He offers some immensely practical ideas for spiritual growth and does so in a way that his “this worked for me” never comes across as “this is law for you.”  Many pulpits would benefit from this ability to lay out advice without undermining it with burden.

Where I was disappointed was in the fact that the Gospel was never explicitly discussed.  The need for it was mentioned.  Praying the “sinner’s prayer” was discussed.  Many of the benefits and struggles of the Christian life were discussed.  But the Gospel message of God’s redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of his sinless son was simply assumed.  The fact that the Gospel could be alluded to, referenced, and praised, but never be verbalized in a book by a vocal Christian and published by a Christian publisher is disappointing.   This aspect is a definite shortcoming and hopefully this will be made right before the final printing.

Overall this is a good book that many Shawn Michaels fans will greatly enjoy.  It has its ups and a few downs but is worth the time and money to read and enjoy.  A celebrity embracing the Christian faith does not validate it.  But it is nice to see a brother with a far-reaching voice so willing to use his opportunities to speak the truth of God into people’s lives.

* I received an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.


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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Covenants Made Simple

Covenants Made SimpleCovenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you read God’s word at all you will be confronted with the word “covenant.”  It is impossible not to.  What is quite possible is to read these references to covenant and completely miss what God is revealing.  It is too easy to read through the Bible and see references to “covenant” and just skim through them or dismiss it as an antiquated “Bible” word that has no extensive meaning like “propitiation” or “justified.”  :-/

P&R Publishing has released a work that is going to help any who read it to have a better grasp on “covenant” and its implications.  Covenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes  was released in 2013 in the UK but now it is getting a stateside release and it is easy to see why.  The subtitle, Understanding God’s Unfolding Promises to His People, is good, but you really need one of those old, three-paragraph, Puritan subtitles to do justice to the scope of this great book.  What is a covenant?  What role does covenant play in God’s revelation of himself? Of his redemptive purposes?  What covenant blessing do we enjoy?

Covenants Made Simple seems to have two main parts.  In the first part, Rhodes unpacks what a covenant is and traces the covenant through the biblical storyline from Adam onward.  He also lists out the covenant blessings and curses attached to each covenant.  These seem to follow the pattern of people, place, and presence, and it is fascinating to see how this pattern fleshes out in each covenant.  It is also important to see that “covenant” is not just an aspect of God’s revelation.  In many ways, it is the filter through which we view the story.  As we read accounts and events we do not read them as unconnected nuggets of information or nice stories.  We see them as parts of a whole, interconnected drama in the one unfolding drama of God’s redemptive plan for his covenant people.

After surveying the covenants of Scripture, Rhodes shows the reader how this motif affects core doctrines.  Rhodes shows that we enjoy a covenant salvation based on God’s great love, a love that is unconditional, personal, and unstoppable.  He then shows that we, the Church, are a covenant people.  One body of many bodies, one people from many peoples.  He also goes through doctrines associated with this truth (baptism, discipline, and the Supper).  Rhodes closes with the idea of a covenant life, how we as covenant people are to respond to God’s truth in our life.  We are empowered to obedience by the Holy Spirit of God and educated in how to obey by God’s word.  These truths are definitely truths for life and covenant people are called to be faithful people.

The layout of this book is great and the content is rich and simple.  This is one of, if not the one, the best introductions to covenant theology that is available.  The diagrams are actually helpful(so often diagrams just seem to be decorative).  The presentation is warm and personal.  This is a tremendous book and I look forward to recommending this to many, many people!  Great book!

I received a review copy of this book from P&R Publishing.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

God's Battle

P&R Publishing has partnered with Children Desiring God to release a series of excellent books by Sally Michael aimed at ministering Gospel truth to children in a manner that is engaging, memorable, and God-honoring.  Their success has been a blessing to my family and the latest release, God’s Battle, will occupy a special place in my household for a while to come.

God’s Battle is about the warfare in which we are all engaged.  It begins with the victory of Christ and ends with the victory of Christ while showing the reader how this victory effects our eternity and our role in this spiritual battle.  As a father of 3 boys-10,8, & 6, the theme of this book was readily received and resonated greatly.  It is nice having a book that my boys want to read and one that is Gospel-focused and God-honoring. 

Michael begins the book by leading children through the Gospel.  She shows the need for a Savior and how he saved his people.  She then encourages the reader that the battle isn't over and proceeds to lead us through the battle for our faith.  She does this by creating a spiritual battle manual.  She explores battlegrounds (the battlegrounds of pride, fear, unbelief, etc…), enemy attacks, and battle strategies (depend on God, renew your mind, resist the enemy, etc…).

I do not know how this will translate to young girls.  The truths are necessary and the presentation is still beneficial but the theme will probably be better received by younger boys.  I have been using it with my 3 and they have benefited greatly.


I received a copy of this from the publisher for review purposes.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Christmas Promise--Review

The Christmas PromiseThe Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchel and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri is a wonderful new book from The Good Book Company and would make a perfect Christmas Eve present for the entire family.

My kids especially enjoyed the whooshing angels and the partying shepherds. We all enjoyed the fantastic illustrations. I had two parts that really stuck out to me as especially good. I really was blessed by how the promise-fulfillment aspect of the Gospel was presented throughout the story. It wasn’t just that Christ came on Christmas morning; it was that Christ came according to the Scriptures, according to God’s promise.

Highlighting the fact that this all happened in fulfillment of God’s promise helps kids see that this wasn’t just some random occurrence or some haphazard rescue plan hatched in a post fall world, but rather the unfolding of what God had decreed to occur. Also, I enjoyed how Christ is presented as the King who saves. Because of how that was highlighted, I was able to have a couple of good talks with my kids about the wisemen (the 3 kings) and the crowning with thorns episode in the passion narrative, along with all that is explicitly in the book.

This is one of my favorite kids books we have ever had the joy of reading together. We will be returning to this over the next couple of months and the next few years. It is a blessing; I would encourage you to get a copy today!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews.




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Alby's Amazing Book

Alby's Amazing BookAlby's Amazing Book by Catalina Echeverri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Alby’s Amazing Book is a fun new release from The Good Book Company’s children’s division. It is about a squirrel who loves stories and especially the stories of the Bible. This is a good book but I had a couple of reservations.

Alby loves all stories and sees himself at the center of all of them. He especially loves the stories of the Bible because they are true and because he knows the author. In fact, the Bible was written to Alby from God. I loved the fact that it emphasized the true-nature of the stories of the Scripture and the revelatory-nature of it being written to us, in this case Alby the Squirrel.
What I think it missed was the greatest of all stories, the story of redemption. In the context of the book, emphasizing that all of the stories are part of a bigger story of God redeeming his creation, would have been quite powerful. Also, and this was one that my wife thoroughly disagreed with, I didn’t like the font. The text on the pages was hard for me to read at certain points. My wife thought it looked cool and that I just have old eyes.

The illustrations are gorgeous and how biblical text is tied into the drawings is breathtaking. The beautiful illustrations make the book while the story supports them. This is a good book for younger children and can lead to some good discussions.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews.




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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible available

I will be writing a short review of this when it releases in Logos Software.  I am confident that this will be a worthy investment and will prove to be a blessing to all who spend time with it and to the Church in general.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Friday, October 31, 2014

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