Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Volume 5b Ezra- Nehemiah Esther

I had the opportunity to review the newly released volume of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series: Volume 5b Ezra- Nehemiah, Esther, by Gary V. Smith (Philip W. Comfort- general editor), published by Tyndale publishers.  This volume is one in a series of 18 total volumes of biblical commentary which covers all the books of the bible: new testament as well as old testament.  This particular volume, covers the old testament books: Ezra, Nehemiah and  Esther  in great detail.  The actual biblical books in this volume are broken up by chapter.  Theological explanations as well as cultural and social background information is provided after the actual biblical text.

In the beginning of the volume, there are a few interesting reference pages, which include the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek alpha-numerical system- which will prove to be greatly appreciated by those readers who are biblical scholars. Other additional reference information include identifications of Qumram and other manuscripts.  In addition to general information about the particular inspired author of each particular bible book, the cultural, historical and theological background is provided as well.  A timeline/ outline of the events covered in the particular book is also provided.

 The actual biblical text in the New Living Translation, is reprinted- chapter by chapter.  At the end of each chapter, there are extensive notes containing supplimental information and explanation of each verse. The explanations provided, illuminate and bring to life, the words of the biblical text whose meanings, perhaps may be unclear.  Regardless of the translation the reader prefers, this commentary provides relevant and extensive detail on the bible.  For example, specific festivals, cultural expressions and individuals mentioned briefly in the biblical text are discussed in exhaustive detail in the notes.  Any question you may have concerning a particular verse is most likely addressed in this volume. This book is great as a stand alone reference volume if you are interested in learning everything possible that there is to know about the old testament books: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. If so, then this is the perfect reference book for you. Otherwise for the casual bible reader, this book perhaps is a bit too focused.  This volume, as well as this biblical commentary series, is best suited for biblical scholars, clergy, libraries and theological institutions.  Although the information presented doesn't require the skill of a theologen to understand as it can be easily understood by laymen, the extensive information provided in this reference volume, perhaps is a bit too thorough for the casual bible reader.  This volume would be more useful for research purposes. In general, I highly reccomend this book (which is part of a series) for any religious institution or library or for a pastor who wishes to have background material for his sermons. The reader should keep in mind this is one volume of eighteen volumes and therefore covers material only from Ezra- Nehemiah and Esther.  As a blogger for Tyndale publishers, I recieved this book for the purposes of writing a review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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Bleeder by John Desjarlais

Bleeder is the name of a mystery novel by John Desjarlias about the murder of a local parish priest.  With the death of a beloved local priest that allegedly possesses the gift of the wounds of the stigmata, during the Good Friday mass two days before Easter, an invesitgation begins. For those unfamiliar with some of the traditions and mysticism of the Catholic Church, perhaps some background would be relevant. The concept of the stigmata is an alleged miracle whereas the gifted individual in question bears wounds and pains parallel to the wounds that Jesus sustained on his death on the cross.  Well known Catholic saints such as the midevil St. Francis of Assis and the contemporary Padre Pio were thought to have been gifted with the burden of these wounds in their lifetimes. The alleged wounds which corresponded to those of Jesus crucified- from the hands/ wrists, feet, side as well as head, would bleed at various times.  Usually the individual inflicted with the stigmata, would in humility, maintain a low profile. Thus, the only outward glimpse an onlooker may have ever seen of the stigmata would be the tell-tale bandaged hands.

The fictional priest, in John Desjarlais' book, Bleeder, also was rumored to have had the wounds of the stigmata-  of which the murderer was well aware and exploited when carefully planning the priests's murder on one of the most holy Catholic mass services.  While the superstitious religious church-goers assumed it to be part of the miracle of the stigmata, obviously the secular police force investigated the situation as a crime. The hero of the story is framed by the unknown, yet mysterious murderer.  The mystery involves the quest to find who would want the priest dead, and for what motive. Apparantly, our hero must play investigator and conduct his own investigation, in order to clear his own name, sifting through the various characters. Coincidently, many have some loose motives for wishing the priest dead. Without going into details that would spoil the book for anyone who has yet to read it, the ending is a bit of a suprise and the culprit is a character that the reader would least suspect, whose motive for murder is perhaps at best weak and somewhat mundane.  As to whether the fictional priest miraculously actually sustained the wounds of the stigmata, or if the wounds were symptoms of his health issues is left up to the reader to decide.  The author of this story suggests scientific causes as well as the miraculous as equally plausible explanations. This is a mystery that the secular as well as religious reader will appreciate.  The title of the book itself, Bleeder,has a twofold meaning in that the priest's medical condition involves issues with his blood. The strength of this book lies in its objectivity in that it does not make any assumptions as to whether the idea of the stigmata is a hoax, superstitious delusion, or if it is in fact, truly a miracle.  I receieved this book Sophia press as a blogger for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Intercessors Arrive by Debbie Przybylski

While Intercessors Arrive, is the name of a ministry begun shortly after the events of 9/11, to promote national and corporate prayer, as well as personal prayer- it is also the title of the new book, Intercessors Arrive (Navpress) by Debbie Przybylskim, which happens to be just as relevant and practical for individual personal development as well.  Far too many people overlook for importance and power of prayer, which is essentially our means of personal communication with God, our creator.  Faith is one thing, but without a personal dialog with God, we cut off so many blessings and intercessions which could otherwise offer comfort and security in the pressures of society we all face.  God is our best friend, and our advocate.  prayer is the lifeline to this relationship. 

For many of us, if not most, human relationships, friends and teachers are important for practical support and well being.  We take the advice of trusted friends, associates and if we are lucky enough to find one, a mentor or teacher.  All too often, mentors of character and wisdom are hard to find: that is where this book comes in.  We can not always find a trusted friend who is there to remind us about what would Jesus do in a particular situation, or  how the bible would tell us to respond.  When we are angry and hurt its easy to find a friend who will urge us and even help us plot our revenge, but to find a friend that tells us to love our enemies, and that revenge is best left to God, is perhaps a bit more of a challange.  When our relationships are hurting and broken, the world tells us it is okay to make an escape, but in contrast, a godly mentor tells us how to have the humility  to repair broken relationships  and please God. 

Prayer is a powerful tool that should not be overlooked.  The author intends this book to be a mentor manual for prayer.  In otherwords its like having a mentor or an instruction manual right in your pocket, so that you can learn how to be a prayer super hero.  As big a claim this seems to be, I believe this goal is achieved in theis book for those who actually take their time to read as well as meditate on its suggestions. The author is not promoting her own agenda or a program, but rather the power of God's word in the bible- and how our prayers can be based on biblical promises. For example the section, "Prayers of Faith for the Impossible", highlights how God's qualities of power, love and justice can intervene in our lives to make what seems the most hopeless or impossible, to be possible when we pray. Also mentioned is the importance of humility as well. Przybylski's ideas  are grounded with biblical verses and examples, not simply weak personal stories or anecdotes. The words of this book are substantiated by the bible itself, not merely by lame, heartwarming, feel-good types of stories which sadly, are found in so many self help and inspirational style books. This book provides ideas and instructions on how to harness the power of prayer, which for some of us, may not come so naturally.  This is not simply a feel good book: it does not teach about entitlement or about wealth and prosperity. It is a character building book instead.

You need not be an expert on theology or a high profile religious preacher to enjoy this book.  This book is intended for everyone, even for those who perhaps have never even read the bible.  It is for anyone who has a genuine desire to seek the truth about what God and who seeks to have God's help. Near the end on page 191 a brief synopis of the gospel message of the bible is shared to ensure that each and every reader understands the purpose and importance of having a relationship with God. Perhaps you are not interested in saving the world, or changing the world.  You may be overwhelmed with your own personal crisis and issues, that saving the world takes a back seat to your own worries- nevertheless, this is just the book for you.  But maybe, perhaps, if just enough people in this world cared enoughed to try and straighten out even their own lives through prayer, then we would have resolved indirectly many of the social injustices and inequites via a reverse trickle effect- from the bottom on up. In the end, this book lives up to its message on the back cover: "When God's Spirit Moves Change Happens". I recieved this book free of charge as a book reviewer for Navpress publishers.  The reviews expressed are my own.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

The newly published fiction novel, The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead is a unique hybrid of a detective story, history, science fiction fantasy and inspirational tale in one story.

The author goes into extensive detail describing a fictitious, yet well woven quasi-scientific theory of ley lines and time travel.  In fact, the same readers that actually believed Dan Brown's intricate tales of church intrigue and conspiracy theroies in the fictional novel, The Davinci Code, may be the very same gullible readers who may believe that Lawhead's stories of the theories of traveling through the spectrum of  alternate universes, a.k.a the "Omniverse", are in fact real.  The ideas of travel across time and place between alternate universes is well described in layman's terms,  using the London transportation and bus systems as a comparison. Access to anytime anywhere is simply a ley line away, as long as you have the special gift of navigation.  This story makes traveling to different "planes of existance" seem as plausible and commonplace as navigating the public bus system in downtown New York.  Portals, to alternate universes, known as "leys" are found in various, convienient locations in Kit's home of London.  Apparently Kit is one of the select few, endowed with the special gift of navigation through these special pathways.  This special travel ability, and the fact that the characters are able to intervene in past events in order to change history for the better,  raises some interesting questions about the purpose of events and how even little actions or choices may have a ripple effect for future generations. At the same time, the implication made by the author, when the characters knowingly intervene to change past events to thwart future suffering, seems to undermine the idea of God's unique role in  providence  as an all-knowing, omnificient, all powerful being.  In essence, the heros of the story become "god"-like in the fact that they can travel anytime, anywhere and intervene to make amends or change the future.

History fans will enjoy the vivid depictions of the sites, sounds and smells in the various historical time periods and various cultures that the characters travel to. Food, clothing, buildings and other hitorical details are authentically described.   Interesting scenarios of alternate historical outcomes of commonly known events in history are presented as well.

The book challanges commonly held sterotypes of modern society.  For example Kit, the hero of the story, outwardly appears as a successful young man, yet, is described as a lonely, unfulfilled, frustrated guy, worthy of sympathy rather than envy. He is a character that all of us, at sometime in our life, can relate to. His girlfriend is vividly described in the most unflattering of terms.  In contrast, Kit's aged grandfather is depicted as healthy, happy and full of vigor, having more energy that a young man.  Rather than seeking wisdom and information about tcutting edge theories on science and time travel from the the modern scientists, Kit and his great grand father must travel hundreds of years into the past, into another alternate universe! Authority and enlightenment are found in the most unexpected and remote of places, years in the past.

The classic battle between good and evil is integrated into the story- whereas the lurking danger of an ancient antagonistic presence is always there trying to obstruct Kit and his great grandfather from completing their mission to obtain a valuable skin map which is the key to valuable information. This adventure story was very enjoyable.  It was well written with much detail, and is sure to appeal to a varied audience. The pseudo-scientific ideas of ley line travel, mixed with historical-like scenes make the story seem almost plausible.  As a blogger for booksneeze.com, I recieved a free copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review and the ideas expressed are my own.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book(s) reviewed on my page free from the publisher as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Evolution: The Grand Experiment by Dr. Carl Wermer

I recently had the opportunity to read Dr. Carl Werner's 262 page, full color science book/ text, Evolution: the Grand Experiement, published by New Leaf Publishing Group.  Just about every adult in America has heard about the theory of evolution, having had been taught about it in science class as a student.  While most have heard about the Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, few truly know much about the actual theory itself which they believe to be a fact, nevertheless.  Contrary to popular opinion, the theory of evolution is not a fact. Even scientists cannot agree to the particular details of evolution. Yet in pride, stubborness, and perhaps ignorance many scientists, theorists, teachers and laymen alike, deny the holes and inconsistencies in their failing evolution theories- faulty theories often based more on fantasy than fact, which could never hold up under the scruitiny of truth  if ever presented in an objective courtroom of the law. The momentum of evolution, in of itself has become a religion.  Its main proponents are analogous to prophets and many proponents of evolutionary theories will stop at nothing inorder to advance their ideas.  In the education system, very little time, if any, is dedicated to any opposing theories to evolution- whether in the classroom or in science text books.  Finally, with Dr. Carl's textbook, Evolution: the Grand Experiement  there is a source that the inquisitive can turn to in order to learn the whole picture behind the theory of evolution.

Dr. Carl's textbook covers the history of evolutionary theory as well as the theory itself.  In addition to presenting the main proofs behind the theory of evolution, alternate theories and possibile scenarios are also addressed.  Darwin's mechanisms of evolution and the ideas of natural selection are covered as well as the possible alternatives and explanations. The fossil records are depicted in exhaustive detail side by side with full color photos and illustrations. Various diagrams and charts compliment the text. While not intended as a stand alone text book for use in the public school system, this book should be a required reading suppliment to any student of evolution, or anyone else seeking to learn the truth behind the theories.  At minimum, it provides strong and plausible alternatives to evolution that merit consideration. Evolution: the Grand Experiment is not a religious propaganda book.  There is no alternate religious agenda or motive as you may find  with publications and pamphlets.  This book is a throrough science book about evolution, presenting the side of the story that is usually neglected in schools, institutions or scientific articles. It's about time that a book has been published which discusses in a professional, legitimate format,  the alternatives to the one sided theories of evolution presented to the general public.  I receieved this book as a blogger for the New Leaf Publishing group for the purposes of review.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind by David B. Currie

As a blogger for Sophia Institue Press, I had the opportunity to read the book, Rapture: The End Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind by David B. Currie.  This book is a response to the popular interpretations of the end times, based on a literal interpretation of the bible's prophecies, commonly known as the "Rapture" or "Armageddon".  According to the author, David B. Currie, many religious groups, charismatic leaders and bible believers promote their view of end time events to the exclusion of actually living life as a means by which to avoid the harsh realities of the world which we live in. He believes that the rapture theories provides a safety net for its believers with the idea that they will be swept away or "raptured" up to heaven before having to endure any of the hardships and suffering that are expected to occur in the end times. Furthermore, many extreme cults are adherants to this view as they simply advise their members to  "close up shop" and any other meaningful interaction within society, awaiting the end of the world.

This work represents a thorough and conscientious study of the end times, from  not only a biblical perspective, but from the years of  religious traditions and knowledge of the Roman Catholic church, as well.  I found Currie's research to be objective and very systematic. His findings concerning the interpretations of the end times, nevertheless are based on nine important "ground rules" which he sums up on pages 74 and 75.  Rather than list each one  individually, it would be sufficient to make note that the key to some of his assumptions when interpreting biblical scripture  include a symbolic interpretation of numbers, visions, physical descriptions and objects rather than literal interpretation.  Furthermore, the author states that "Physical-resurrection language can symbolise spiritual renewal" (page 75), rather than simply an actual physcial, literal ressurection. A more symbolic rather than literal translation of the bible may be a stumbling block for many readers accustomed to literal biblical interpretation. This issue is even addressed as well, but perhaps not to the satisfaction of those readers from a background that leans towards the idea "sola scriptura".  It is this distinction, the idea behind a symbolic rather than literal interpretation of the bible, which leads Currie to the view of bible prophecy he presents in  his book. This symbolic interpretation of the bible and its events, can be confidently made, according to Currie, in light of the years of spiritual tradition and guidance of the Catholic Church, its Saints and theologens.

Perhaps it is true, that some extremely literal translations of minute details are taken out of proportion in order to create richly detailed end of the world rapture theories that were never intended by the inspired writers of the bible.  For example a common passage cited by the rapture theorists is used as evidence to state that believers will be caught up in the heavens with Jesus in the clouds, yet because it does not explicitly state that Jesus actually touches solid ground, that this is not considered to be the actual time of the second comming of Jesus, but simply the rapture of believers.  Therefore, the second coming of Jesus is treated as a later and distinct event that is to occur years later after the rapture. Nevertheless, can it be stated with complete certaintly that numbers, events, physical objects and occurances as described in the bible are largely symbolic and not to be taken at face value?  For those who do not have the faith in the Roman Catholic tradition that Currie holds, it might be a big leap to accept this brand of bible interpretive method. 

In sum, I believe that much of Currie's findings are well balanced, legitimate and worthy of serious consideration.  The author recognises that Jesus will return and acknowledges the second coming of Christ Jesus as a fact, that is yet to happen and when it does, it will be known be all. Jesus' return will not be invisible and it will be known to all peoples world wide! He acknowledges that we are in the "last days" in accordance with biblical teaching, but that God's idea of time is eternally based and  not based on man's measure of time.  Furthermore, it is to the glory of God and his unending compassion, that the second coming is delayed as much as possible so as to allow as many as possible to come to salvation. Theologically, there is no biblical error in the author's conclusions about the basic facts of Christ's return to earth. Currie does not embelish the timeline of events, but rather simplifies them without any added theatrical drama- for this he is to be commended. I found this book raised more questions and issues that go beyond the end times events debate itself.  I recieved a copy of this book for the purposes of writing a review.  The ideas expressed are my own.

The Lightlings by R.C. Sproul

As a blogger for Ligonier Ministries, I had the opportunity to read the children's book, The Lightlings by R.C. Sproul, illustrated by Justin Gerard. Upon first glimpse of the book, the vivid, full color illustrations were very impressive and rich in detail. The theme opens with a verse from the new testament gospel of John1:5.  The book begins with a young boy, who has a common child-hood fear of darkness as he  gets ready for bedtime.  Many children can relate to a fear of darkness. This universal childhood fear of the dark is turned into an analogy, which is used as a springboard to introduce the reader to the story of the light of God. In contrast to the fear that many children have of the dark, there are suprisingly, many more who fear the light- which in actuality, refers to the message of God. On the surface, the story may appear to be about fairies in a fantasy wold, or about overcoming fears, but it is much more than that, as the reader will soon learn.

The symbolism of the characters and events in the world of fantasy and fairies, is brought to life in Sproul's story as they parallel the characters and events of the bible: God, the story of creation as well as the birth of Jesus. The King represents God, and the Lightlings depicted as brighly glowing fairies, represent mankind.  The illustrations commpliment the story line perfectly.  The contrast of the world of the lightlings - the light of their world when it was first created, and the shadowy darkness which dims their world as a result of disobeying the king, is made clear through the richly detailed art of Justin Gerard.

Just as Jesus proclaimed in the bible that we must be like children and in openess recieve his message, the children in the story are the first to respond without fear and with great boldness. The important role of children  in the story is sure to draw in the interest of any child.   The moral of the story is one that can be understood and especially appreciated as well.  This book is an effective way to introduce a child to God's message as told through the bible.  In the end of the book, there are supplemental pages for the parent which explain all the characters and the symbolism of the story through biblical verses.   Not only is this a very good story on its own merits, this book is a great outreach method for secular as well as Christian families in learning about the message of the Good News of God's light for the world. As compensation for my review I will recieve a free copy of the book from the publisher.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

The illustrated children's book, The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews, by Tommy Nelson publishers,  is a story based on the quasi- scientific principle, coined in the early 1960s, "The Butterfly Effect".  This theory, when applied to human society in general, refers to the idea that the actions of one individual in his or her own lifetime, may have momentous effects for untold numbers far into the future. This concept makes a good storyline for a children's book.  Actually, this book is the childrens' counterpart to the gift book Butterfly Effect, also by Andrews as well.   Andrews uses the examples of a few historical figures in American history and how their actions in their lifetime, affect millions and billions of people in the world today.  This motivational story illustrated how even a child and his actions, have the ability to impact large  numbers of people into the future. Perhaps for a child, after reading the story,  it might take a  leap to make the correlation of how his or her own actions can have a significant impact on others, but this does make a good starting point for a discussion.  The use of historical examples makes this book educational as well, but for a young child the "Butterfly Effect" moral of the story might not be so obvious to understand. A younger child could easily lose track of the connections or timeline of the actual historical figures in the storyline. Some children may feel the repetition is an effective tool  of prose, while for others, it may cause the listener to lose interest.   This book will have a greater impact if it is used as a spring board for a discussion afterwords inorder to applies the morals learned at a more personal level. As a blogger for Thomas Neslson's blogger program booksneeze.com, I recieved this book for review.  I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews

Perhaps for many, the expression,  "the Butterfly Effect" is associated with modern day Hollywood movies.  But, if you read Andy Andrews' new, full-color, pocket sized gift book, by Thomas Nelson publishers,  you will learn that it is actually the name of an actual socio-scientific theory, first coined in 1963 which postulates that small actions, no matter how small or insignificant, have the ability to create larger scale, effects within time and space, far into the future.  According to Andrews, this quasi- scientific principal can also be applied to society in general and to our own personal lives as well.  Andrews shares a few historical examples of actual people whose actions had major effects even for our own lives to illustrate this.  Within the pages, you will learn the story about the perseverance of a little- known soldier, how the actions and decisions of a single man-  in the civil war- was instrumental in forming our nation as we know it today.  Other examples include other historical figures and how their actions and connections impacted the world today as well. This beautifully made book and the holographic 3-d butterfly on the cover is sure to appeal to many readers.   Perhaps  some readers may lose interest in the drawn out depiction of the civil war soldier which takes up a third of the books pages or lose track of how exactly the historical figures are interconnected with eachother.  Without going into details that may spoil the story for those yet to read it, I will say the significance in this book lies not in the words of the text, but in the fact that it acts as a catalyst to think about how we as individuals affect one another.   I reccomend this book not simply for its words but rather for the message it has to deliver. This book will make the reader think how his or her actions and relationships will effect the future. Even the most mundane of associations, or seemingly insignificant decisions can have major effects on others and for the future as well. Pehaps each one of us can have his or own "Butterfly Effect" written for our lives as well.  I recieved this book as a blogger for Thomas Neslson's booksneeze.com and was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Reviews @ Booksneeze.com

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Awakening by Claudia Cangilla McAdam

I recently read the inspirational, Crossroads in Time story: Awakening by Claudia Cangilla McAdam.  This story is about a teenaged girl, Ronnie, who comes from a devout,religious Catholic background.  While many modern readers may find it difficult to relate to the extremely religious background depected in the story, it does not detract from the storyline, nonetheless. For example, the heroine is a girl who attends a private Catholic school, participates as an altar server, and identifies with the apostle, known as the doubting Thomas from the bible- as she sincerely seeks to understand why Jesus sacrificed his life.  Furthermore, she has a mom who reads religious books, prays the rosary as well as to the "blessed Mother", and reminds her daughter of the importance of celebrating the "Easter Triduum". Nevertheless, there are universal themes as well: Ronnie represents an average American teenager- a girl who participates in sports, notices boys, feels self conscious about her appearance, experiences sadness and as well as seeking social acceptance from friends. 

In a "dream", Ronnie finds herself suddenly transported back in time to 33AD Palestine, becomming a witness as well as a participant in the last days of Jesus' life.  It is as if Ronnie is transpotred to a parallel universe where she, as well as her mom, friends and neighbors have corresponding roles and lives in ancient Jerusalem. Instead of being a devout Catholic, Ronnie is a devout Jew.  Rather than having the stigma of Eczema, Ronnie is considered to be an unclean outcast inflicted with Leprosy.  The description of ancient Palestine 2000 years ago is vivid.  The sights, sounds and even smells are described in detail.   The reader gets an idea of what the socio- cultural lives may have been like for those living in the time of Jesus. Descriptions of Holy Days, the pharisees, the Temple, social traditions as well as the teachings of Jesus are true to the details as told by the New Testament of the bible! The last days of Jesus on this earth are brought to life, through the vision of a teenaged heroine.

Ronnie's own mission at first is to intervene and stop the Jesus from being crucified. Throughout the story, there are some suprising ways that Ronnie's life becomes intertwined with common historical events and figures from the bible.  Near the end of the book, Ronnie learns that her purpose in traveling back into time is not to change God's plan, and in faith she comes to  believe in God's greater plan for forgiveness and salvation.  Although this book is written from a Catholic perspective, this in no way detracts from the story whatsoever.  This story can be appreciated by any Christian reader familiar with the bible, regardless of denomination as well as a secular/ non-religious reader as well. Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bible Translations


This chart, as well as others, are available in several web sites over the internet.  This  is a simplified graph showing the spectrum of the ease of reading of a particular translation.  For example, the popular NIV- New International Version, is somewhere in the middle with regard to ease of reading level and  undertsanding.  The NKJV - New King James Version, is a bit more literal and is written in somewhat of a higher reading level. Nevertheless, this NKJV is an easy to understand version as well,  The Message and Living bible versions are easy to read and understand, and are very good options for those who seek to understand the meaning of the bible. These versions are somewhat like a novelization of the bible text.

 Difficult to read versions such as the Old King James - though very well written, do a disservice to the modern reader.  The antique language is difficult for many in this day to understand on their own and makes it prohibitive for many to understand the truths of the bible.  Having known many readers of the KJV, who do not even understand the meaning of what they read- indicates that this is not the best translation for those who really seek to know God's word.  What is the point of a bible after all if you can not even undertsand it?  For those new to the bible or for those who have a difficult to read translation such as the King James Version,  who wish to read the bible and actually understand it, I would suggest one of the bible versions starting with the middle or right side of the spectrum.  Another point to keep in mind when faced with all the bible selections in the bookstore, is to take a look at the font size.  Many "gift" bibles are sealed in plastic wrap, have such a tiny font making it difficult to read.  Consider the text/ font size as well when choosing a bible.

Salvation- God's gift to us

Salvation: Eternity in Heaven

Salvation, or being saved, according to the biblical perspective means eternity spent with God. Without going into any explicit detail, or description, this is a minimum- yet sufficient biblical description of Heaven. In contrast, not being saved, or hell refers to an eternity spent apart from God, the creator. For those who do not believe in a creator of heaven or earth, this is a moot point. For those who reject the idea of the existance of a supernatural creator, God, then why would such individuals care as to whether they are going to heavan to be with that very being whose existence they deny? Well, at least in this world they don't care anyway, so why do they care when others use their bible based critera, which they don't believe, to determine how one goes about attaining salvation or Heaven.

A basic definition of hell is simply this- being apart from God, the creator. Whether you acknowledge the existence of God or not, God gives each and every one of us free will to believe what we choose. We excercise this free will choice whenever we choose to accept or reject the idea of God. For explanation as to why some choose to believe or reject God, then read the beginning chapters of the book of Romans or refer to the archives of my blog for the summary on Romans.

The following debate about the particulars of salvation- opften referred to as an "in House" debate among Christians or bible readers may seem entirely irrelevant to those who dismiss the idea that God even exists. In sum, we can not merit salvation. It is a gift from God that we must accept. Our good works, or religious background, or man-made religious tradition can not save us. Only Jesus can save us. Our works simply are the "fruits" of our salvation based on faith by which we are saved. This is not a license to sin, nevertheless. We must put to death our former sinful ways. Those who are truly saved- who accepted the gift of salvation are like shining lamps. As with any lamp, you shine its light for all to see- you do not cover it up with a bucket.


Once a person is saved are they always saved? When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure. Numerous passages of Scripture declare this fact. (a) Romans 8:30 declares, "And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified." This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already purposed it in heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed - he is as secure as if he is already glorified in heaven.

(b) Paul asks two crucial questions in Romans 8:33-34 "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Who will bring a charge against God's elect? No one will, because Christ is our advocate. Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns. We have both the advocate and judge as our Savior.

(c) Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5). For a Christian to lose his salvation, he would have to be un-regenerated. The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away. (d) The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). For a believer to become unsaved, he would have to be "un-indwelt" and detached from the Body of Christ.

(e) John 3:15 states that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will "have eternal life." If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but lose it tomorrow, then it was never "eternal" at all. Hence if you lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error. (f) For the most conclusive argument, I think Scripture says it best itself, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). Remember the same God who saved you is the same God who will keep you. Once we are saved we are always saved. Our salvation is most definitely eternally secure!

True conversion is measured by visible fruit. When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River, he warned those who thought they were righteous to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7). Jesus warned those who were listening to Him while He was giving the Sermon on the Mount that every tree can be known by its fruit (Matthew 7:16) and that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:19).

The purpose behind these warnings is to counter what some people would call “easy-believism.” In other words, following Jesus is more than saying you are a Christian. Anyone can claim Christ as Savior, but those who are truly saved will bear visible fruit. Now, one may ask the question, “What is meant by fruit?” The clearest example of Christian fruit can be found in Galatians 5:22-23 where Paul describes the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There are other types of Christian fruit (such as praise, winning souls for Christ), but this list provides us with a good summary of Christian attitudes. True believers will manifest these attitudes in their lives to an increasing degree as they progress in their Christian walk (2 Peter 1:5-8).

It is these true, fruit-bearing disciples who have the guarantee of eternal security, and they will persevere to the end. There are many Scriptures that bear this out. Romans 8:29-30 outlines the “Golden Chain” of salvation by pointing out that those who were foreknown by God were predestined, called, justified, and glorified—there is no loss along the way. Philippians 1:6 tells us that the work God began in us, He will also finish. Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches that God has sealed us with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance until we possess it. John 10:29 affirms that no one is able to take God’s sheep out of His hand. There are many other Scriptures that say the same thing—true believers are eternally secure in their salvation.

The passages warning against apostasy serve two primary purposes. First, they exhort true believers to make sure of their “calling and election.” Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. If true believers are fruit-bearing followers of Jesus Christ, then we should be able to see the evidence of salvation. Christians bear fruit in varying degrees based on their level of obedience and their spiritual gifts, but all Christians bear fruit; and we should see the evidence of that upon self-examination.

Now there will be periods in a Christian’s life where there is no visible fruit. These would be times of sin and disobedience. What happens during these times of prolonged disobedience is that God removes from us the assurance of our salvation. Note He doesn’t remove our salvation, but the assurance of it. That is why David prayed in Psalm 51 to restore to him the “joy of salvation” (Psalm 51:12). We lose the joy of our salvation when we live in sin. That is why we must examine ourselves. When a true Christian examines himself and sees no recent fruitfulness, it should lead to serious repentance and a returning to God.

The second primary reason for the passages on apostasy is to point out apostates. An apostate is someone who abandons his religious faith. It is clear from the Bible that apostates are people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ, but never genuinely received Him as Savior. Matthew 13:1-9 (the Parable of the Sower) illustrates this point perfectly. In that parable, a sower sows seed onto four types of soil: hard soil, rocky soil, weed-choked soil, and freshly tilled soil. These soils represent four types of responses to the gospel. The first one is pure rejection, whereas the other three represent various levels of acceptance. The rocky soil and the weed-choked soil represent people who initially respond favorably to the gospel, but when persecution comes (rocky soil) or the cares of the world bear down (weed-choked soil), that person turns away. Jesus makes it clear with these two types of responses that though they initially accepted they never bore any fruit. Again, Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom” (Matthew 7:21).

It may seem unusual for the Bible to warn against apostasy, and at the same time to say that a true believer will never apostatize. However, this is what Scripture says. 1 John 2:19 specifically states that those who apostatize are demonstrating that they were not true believers. The Biblical warnings against apostasy, therefore, must be a warning to those who are “in the faith” without ever truly having received it. Scriptures such as Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-29 are warnings to “pretend” believers, that they need to examine themselves and realize that if they are considering apostatizing, they are not truly saved. Matthew 7:22-23 indicates that those “pretend believers” whom God rejects are rejected not because of having lost faith, but because of the fact that God never knew them.

There are many people who are willing to identify with Jesus. Who doesn’t want eternal life and blessing? However, Jesus warns us to count the cost of discipleship (Luke 9:23-26, 14:25-33). True believers have counted those costs, whereas apostates have not. Apostates are people who, when they leave the faith, give evidence they were never saved in the first place (1 John 2:19). Apostasy is not a loss of salvation, but rather a demonstration that salvation was never truly possessed.

Revelation 22:19 says, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” This verse is usually involved in the debate concerning eternal security. Does Revelation 22:19 mean that after a person’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, it can at some time in the future be erased? In other words, can a Christian lose his salvation?

First, Scripture is clear that a true believer is kept secure by the power of God, sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and of all those whom the Father has given to the Son, He will lose none of them (John 6:39). The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28-29b). Salvation is God’s work, not ours (Titus 3:5), and it is His power that keeps us.

If the “anyone” referred to in Revelation 22:19 are not believers, who are they? In other words, who might want to either add to or take away from the words of the Bible? Most likely, this tampering with God’s Word would be done not by true believers but by those who only profess to be Christians and who suppose that their names are in the Book of Life. Generally speaking, the two main groups who have traditionally tampered with the Revelation are pseudo-Christian cults and those who hold to very liberal theological beliefs. Many cults and theological liberals claim the name of Christ as their own, but they are not "born again"—the definitive biblical term for a Christian.

The Bible cites several examples of those who thought they were believers, but whose profession was proven to be false. In John 15, Jesus refers to them as branches that did not remain in Him, the true Vine, and therefore did not produce any fruit. We know they are false because “by their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16, 20); true disciples will exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit who resides within them (Galatians 5:22). In 2 Peter 2:22, false professors are dogs returning to their own vomit and a sow who “after washing herself returns to wallow in the mire” (ESV). The barren branch, the dog, and the pig are all symbols of those who profess to have salvation, but who have nothing more than their own righteousness to rely upon, not the righteousness of Christ which truly saves.

It is doubtful that those who have repented of their sin and been born again would willingly tamper with God's Word in this way—adding to it or taking from it. Of course, we recognize that good people have sincerely held differences in the area of textual criticism! But it can be demonstrated how cultists and liberals have repeatedly done both "adding to" and "taking away from." Thus, we can understand God's warning in Revelation 22:19 in this manner: Anyone who tampers with this crucial message will find that God did not place his name in the Book of Life, will be denied access to the Holy City, and will forfeit any expectation of all the good things He promises to His saints in this book.

From a purely logical standpoint, why would the sovereign and omniscient God—He who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10)—write a name in the Book of Life when He knows He will only have to erase it when that person eventually apostatizes and denies the faith? Additionally, if you read this warning within the context of the paragraph in which it appears—Revelation 22:6-19—you can clearly see God remains consistent in His theology: only those who have taken heed of His warnings, repented and been born again will have any good to look forward to in eternity. All others, sadly, have a terrible and terrifying future awaiting them.

Revelation 3:5 is another verse that impacts this issue. “He who overcomes . . . I will never blot out his name from the book of life.” The “overcomer” mentioned in this letter to Sardis is the Christian. Compare this with 1 John 5:4: “Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world.” And verse 5: “Who is he that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (See also 1 John 2:13.) All believers are “overcomers” in that they have been granted victory over the sin and unbelief of the world.

Some people see in Revelation 3:5 the picture of God’s pen poised, ready to strike out the name of any Christian who sins. They read into it something like this: “If you mess up and don’t win the victory, then you’re going to lose your salvation! In fact, I will erase your name from the Book of Life!” But this is NOT what the verse says. Jesus is giving a promise here, not a warning.

Never does Scripture say that God erases a believer’s name from the Book of Life—there is never even a warning that He is contemplating it! The wonderful promise of Revelation 3:5 is that Jesus will NOT erase one’s name. Speaking to the “overcomers”—all those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb—Jesus gives His word that He will not delete their names. He affirms that once a name is there, it is there forever. This is based on the faithfulness of God.

The promise of Revelation 3:5 is directed to believers, who are secure in their salvation. In contrast, the warning of Revelation 22:19 is directed to unbelievers, who, rather than change their hearts toward God, attempt to change God’s Word to suit themselves.

When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security. Jude 24 declares, "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy." God's power is able to keep the believer from falling. It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation.

The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28-29b). Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in their hand. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son?

Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are "sealed for the day of redemption." If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will "have eternal life." If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never "eternal" to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Our eternal security is based on God's love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

The most frequent objection to the doctrine of eternal security is that it supposedly promotes the idea that Christians can live any way that they want to and still be saved. While this is "technically" true, that is not the essence of eternal security. A person who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Savior can live a life characterized by continuous, willful sin, but he or she will not do so. We must draw a distinction between how a Christian should live and what a person must do in order to receive salvation.

The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6). A person is saved by faith and faith alone. The moment a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, they are saved and secure in that salvation. Salvation is not gained by faith, but then maintained by works. The Apostle Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 3:3 when he asks "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" If we are saved by faith, our salvation is also maintained and secured by faith. We cannot earn our own salvation. Therefore, we cannot earn the maintenance of our salvation either. It is God who maintains our salvation (Jude verse 24). It is God's hand that holds us firmly in His grasp (John 10:28-29). It is God's love that nothing can separate us from (Romans 8:38-39).

Any denial of eternal security is, in its essence, a belief that we must maintain our own salvation by our own good works and efforts. This is completely antithetical to salvation by grace. We are saved because of Christ's merits, not our own (Romans 4:3-8). To claim that we must obey God's Word or live a godly life to maintain our salvation is saying that Jesus' death was not sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus' death was absolutely sufficient to pay for all of our sins—past, present, and future, pre-salvation and post-salvation (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Does this mean that a Christian can live any way they want to and still be saved? This is essentially a hypothetical question, because the Bible makes it clear that a true Christian will not live "any way they want to." Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). First John 3:6-9 clearly states that a true Christian will not live in continual sin. In response to the accusation that grace promotes sin, the Apostle Paul declared, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Eternal security is not a license to sin. Rather, it is the security of knowing that God's love is guaranteed for those who trust in Christ. Knowing and understanding God's tremendous gift of salvation accomplishes the opposite of giving a license to sin. How could anyone, knowing the price Jesus Christ paid for us, go on to live a life of sin (Romans 6:15-23)? How could anyone who understands God's unconditional and guaranteed love for those who believe, take that love and throw it back in God's face? Such a person is demonstrating not that eternal security has given them a license to sin, but rather that he or she has not truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ. "No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him" (1 John 3:6).

Jesus declared to the educated Jewish teacher Nicodemus, that each man must be born again to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. And once we are born again we become a new creature, a child of Christ. We are no longer our old selves; rather we have died to our old, sinful natures and have been born again spiritually as children of God, our Father in heaven. The Holy Spirit dwells in all believers.

According to 1Corinthians3:12-14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss, he himself will be saved but only as one escaping through the flames.

This statement implies that those Christians, who are faithful and produce much fruit attain a crown in heaven that does not perish. It is these servants of Christ who will be told by Christ as they enter the Kingdom of Heaven, “well done my faithful servant”. In contrast, those Christians, if they truly are born again, but who nevertheless produce little or less fruit during their lifetime, and who do not seek to spread the gospel as God has commanded, will be saved, but only as one who barely escapes.

True conversion, as in being born again, is measured by visible fruit. When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River, he warned those who thought they were righteous to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance”. Jesus also warned those who were listening to Him while He was giving the Sermon on the Mount that every tree can be known by its fruit and that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Christian fruit is described in Galatians 5:22-23 where Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, humility and winning souls for Christ. True believers will manifest these attitudes in their lives to an increasing degree as they progress in their growth as a Christian believer.

We are told to compete for a prize that does not perish but lasts for eternity, and not to disqualify ourselves. When we grow in Christ then what we have built up in our lifetimes will survive. We will be building out treasure in heaven and we will receive our reward, our treasure, our unperishable crown. If we do not heed the words of Christ, then what we have built in our lifetime will be burned up even though we will be saved.

When its hard to forgive....

Forgiveness

The parable Jesus told in the book of Matthew 18:31-33 talks about forgiving one another, and this applies even when the person who did the wrong against you does not repent or acknowledge his or her wrongdoing. We must forgive no matter what. It is easier to forgive when the person who did wrong apologies or asks for forgiveness. But it is much more difficult to forgive when the one who wronged us does not acknowledge the hurt or is not even sorry. But that does not matter, we still must forgive, just as our Father in heaven forgave us and paid our debts of sin, we must forgive others.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rom 12:19 And also: There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? Do not grumble against one another, breathren, lest you be condemned. Behold the judge is standing at the door! James 4:12 and 5:9 When we try to seek revenge or avenge a wrong, then we make ourselves out to be a judge. Only God can be Judge. But, Jesus did not wait for us to come to him and say we were sorry. While we were still sinners, he died for our sin. So, therefore why hold out a grudge waiting for an apology or for a wrong to be made right? We must not do that. We must forgive regardless of whether we receive an apology, or whether the wrong has been corrected or not. In Hebrews 12-14-15, the root of bitterness can cause a believer to become defiled! This is a warning for us not to harbor feelings of anger, offense, resentment or bitterness. Even when we think it is well deserved. Ephesian 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
In the Old Testament, otherwise known as the Old Covenent, in Leviticus and Exodus, there are many examples where God tolerated the right to seek revenge or collect on a debt. Under the old covenant, the Law was the authority. But now we are living under the New Covenant, and new covenant believers are addressed differently. For example, look at Matt5:38-42 how Jesus renounces the old testament laws.
Sometimes even when you do good to another you will be rewarded with evil as in Psalm 35:11-12 and 13-14. Nevertheless as Matthew 45:44 says - But I say to you love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What in the World is Going On? By Dr. David Jeremiah

What in the World is Going On? by Dr. David Jeremiah, is a book that ties current, world wide events to the prophecies of the bible. Right from the preface, Dr. Jeremiah acknowledges that the bible is "absolutely dependable". This is something that every bible believing Christian would agree with. Furthermore, he goes on to explain the importance of prophecy by the statement that "fulfilling prophecy is one of God's calling cards". Nevertheless, he does not take this view to the extreme as some cults do which advice their members to give up all worldy ties and obligations as they wait for the impending end of the world. Nor does he make predictions with specific dates either. Dr. Jeremaih simply admonishes each and everyone of us to wait, with faith and hope, regardless of whether we are a CEO or a salescler, "it is vital that easch of us takes our God-given tasks seriously" (Page 45), as we wait with patience on the Lord's timing.

A big strength of this book, is the background it provides concerning current as well as historical world events. The political significance of oil is adressed. But how and if this ties into biblical prophecy is still a matter that can be debated. Nevertheless, as Christians, we are not to be ignorant of the world around us. It is our duty to maintain awareness of what is going on around us. This book was very educational regarding the real and present threat of Islam. A mini-history is provided about the religion of Islam, and the true origin of its false god, Allah. The concepts of the Jhihad, and the subtle but dangerous doctrine of "fatah" is explained as well. The motives and intent of the Islamic nations to use our tolerance against us to further the growth and domination of Islam is often not even considered to be a threat by many Westerners.

The reader must be aware that Dr. Jeremiah reads into biblical prophecy from the "pre-tribulation" rapture point of view. There are in fact various views of the tribulation/ second coming events of the bible, held by bible reading Christians. The specific timing and order of these events are to be considered in the context of what they are: secondary issues- and not major doctrines concerning faith and salvation. Not all Christians hold a pre-tribulation rapture point of view, and therefore will differ on their ideas of what will happen in the events of the end of the world. I welcome Dr. Jeremiah's views on prophecy and end of the world events. Nevertheless, each must be convinced in his or her own mind that it stands up to the test of scripture. Just as the early Christians did, we too must hold up what we learn against the scriptures to make sure it is in fact consistent with the bible.

I believe this timely book should be required reading for the secular audience as well as those familiar with the bible even if only to learn more information on the dangers of Islam and current worldwide events. Complacency alone may lead to the downfall of our nation. As he stated in the book, all we need to do is look to the signs of the times, as with the changes of the seasons, to understand the time of the end, draws closer. As for the specific details, Dr. Jeremiah deserves some consideration. But, in the end, first and formost, is to maintain a spirit of faith and humility and trust in God. As a blogger for booksneeze.com I received a free copy of this book for review. I was not required to make a positive review.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

http://www.shelfari.com/o1514388166/shelf

Lemon Bee: Coming Soon to a "Book store" Near You

And though its fruit looked simple enough........

The lemon itself was genetically unique. It was an evolutionary mutation. Within the lemon's DNA was the code for a new creature; a new life, an intermediate form between plant and animal. Once transformed, the new form of life would have ...independent mobility directed by a functioning brain and nervous system. The remaining details of the new life from were known only within the lemon's genetic code. Would the lemon have a mind capable of emotion or communication? Or, would it merely act and move as a result of instinct. These were among the many questions that could be answered only after the transformation had been completed. Nonetheless, at the current stage of its development, the type of creature could not yet be known. Nor did the subtle physical changes give any clue or indication of the extraordinary changes occurring within the lemon.



ITS......... Alive!


(excerpt from Lemon Bee by Patricia Weiss Janes)

It was no ordinary tree.....

Lemon Bee: The Fanstasy Begins........ Excerpts

Little known to Beth that while she slept, the lemon which was gently laid upon her window sill began to change. The lemon began a metamorphosis. During that first night, the changes were gradual. The lemon's oval shape slowly transformed, taking the shape of an hourglass type of shape. The bottom of the lemon slowly adapted a point-like tip. So gradual was the metamorphosis, so minute was its initial transformation that it would have gone unnoticed by anyone else but Beth.
********
The lemon soaked up the warm sunlight into its pores during the early hours of the morning. Rather than ripen, as would be expected of freshly picked fruit, the lemon resumed its metamorphosis. Its transformation was fueled by sunlight, just as a plant grows with sunlight. This transformation was directed towards the goal of attaining locomotion, a means by which the lemon could move independently in order that it may disperse its seeds rather than remain dependent upon mammals for the dispersal of its seeds. The lemon's DNA was pre-programmed. Within the DNA was the code for a new creature; a new life, an intermediate form between plant and animal. Once transformed, the new form of life would have independent mobility directed by a functioning brain and nervous system.
***********
The initial physical changes of the lemon had been barely detectable. Nevertheless undetected, the internal physical changes were great. In the interior of the lemon, hidden from view by its thick, yellow rind, a brain and nervous system had begun to develop, along with rudimentary organs. The order and process of the lemon's transformation was similar to the development of an unborn animal. It was clear that the fruit was destined to transform into a living creature. Nonetheless, at the current stage of its development, the type of creature could not yet be known. Nor did the subtle physical changes give any clue or any indication of the extraordinary changes occurring within the lemon.
*********
One morning, Beth abruptly woke up startled. She had felt something brush up against her cheek for a brief moment. She sat up in her bed and looked around. She saw the lemon fluttering around the room, quickly flapping its wings. Its body was swaying from side to side. It sounded as if it was singing. No words could come to her mind. She did not know what the creature was or what to think. "A lemon bee!" She screamed with excitement. That was the first thought that came to her mind when she saw the lemon clumsily flying around the room.
*********

Its miniature, shiny, black arms and legs were dangling beneath its body. In its tiny, waxy hands it had its little human-like fingers wrapped around an unidentifiable object. Upon closer inspection she saw it was a piece of a candy bar that had been lying upon her desk for days. Slowly, the lemon glided downwards, landing on its two feet on top of the dresser. Surprisingly, with great agility, the lemon bee wobbled using its two legs, walking upright until it reached the ledge of the dresser. Bending its body it crouched down, putting the melting piece of candy at its feet. It used its tiny hands to grab pieces from the gooey candy bar. Quickly, the lemon shoved pieces of the candy into its miniature mouth with its sticky little hands. The lemon was eating! It appeared to be very hungry. Beth jumped around in happiness and amazement she cried aloud in excitement. "It is alive!"

Copyright by P. Janes 2000

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Saint Francis by Robert West

As a blogger for booksneeze.com, I had the priviledge of reading a special biographical book written by Robert West on Saint Francis by Thomas Nelson publishers.Robert West's book is rich in detail and culture about Saint Francis, the man, as well as the society he had come from. One notable distinction, first and formost, must be made between a biography about a midevil spiritual figure such as Saint Francis of Assisi in contrast to a political figure such as Abraham Lincoln. A biography about a spiritual figure, such as Saint Francis, will by nature, be more subjective, and less reliant on historical or objective fact than a story about an American preseident, for example. This is something the reader must be prepared for. An example to consider would be the discussion of the alleged stigmata signs as well as other miracles attributed to Saint Francis during and after his lifetime. Obviously the evidences presented for these alleged miracles are not as concrete as for example as physical document or photo that may be present when discussing the accomplishments in the biography of a political figure. Therefore much of the information contained, especially that of a spiritual or supernatural nature is based on conjecture, second hand stories and anecdotes and therfore can not be proven historically or scientifically.

Furthermore, Paul himself offers many warnings in his new testament letters of the bible of false teachings, as well as false visions that are miraculous enough even to fool the elite. Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light, according to the bible. Furthermore,as believers, we are under no obligation to believe in any one else's spiritual vision, other than what is contained in the gospel message itself. As for belief in any other spiritual matters that is up to our individual discretion, if in fact the specific message, vision, apparition, etc... has passed our scutiny and conscious as being in accordance with the biblical message. Francis of Assisi, was a comendable and inspriational historical figure- of that I have no doubt. Would Francis of Assisi if he were alive today, advocate such iconic devotion to himself? Did he in fact believe he had the power to have miracles occur through his name? Or perhaps, in his humility and gentle nature, would he say that only through the name of Jesus could any miracle be accomplished? We are all called to be saints, according to the bible. As for the miracles attributed to Francis of Assisi, during and after his lifetime, I would listen to Paul's timeless advice in the bible: Galations 1:10 when considering the claims of supernatural visions and signs.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Prophecy Answer Book By David Jeremiah

In light of all the end of the world theories and scenarios presented in the media today, prophecy is no longer considered an antiquated or superticious subject but rather, it has become a mainstream and even popular topic. David Jeremiah's new book, The Prophecy Answer Book, is a simple and timely book about the end times according to the bible. There are numerous movies and books which bring obscure and sometimes silly quasi-scientific and Mayan end of the world disater scenarios to the forefront. Nevertheless, the irony is that many consider the ancient, and morally bankrupt, Mayan culture as a more relaible authority in prophecy than the bible. A culture that historically has been known to engage in human sacrifice is given more attention and sensitivity, than the biblical prophecies presented in the bible. Many poltically correct "activists" have no qualms about condeming the historical culture and message of the bible, while overlooking the crimes against humanity committed by other ancient cultures.

Written in a simple question and answer format, this book is sure to be appealing to today's generation of media consumers. Each question is answered in a paragraph or two, just long enough to maintain the attention span of today"s readers. The duo-tone graphics that highlight the questions & selected quotes as well as the simplified charts, aid in disseminating the information to the all too common- attention deficit disordered media consumers of today.

This book is a good spring-board for those who want an introduction to biblical prophecy, but are unfamilar with the bible. This book is an attempt to draw in the interest of a larger, secular audience. For a more indepth study into biblical prophecy, one would obviously look into more sources- namely the bible. But for many, bible reading is a herculean task. One strong point of this book is that there are plenty of biblical verses listed to support Jeremiah's statements. For those who may not agree with Jeremiah's own biblical interpretations of future events, then the reader can easily go to the listed references and form his own opinion. Basically for those who are very familar with the bible and who frequently read the bible, this book will not be very useful or inspriring. For active bible readers, understanding the prophecies that are contained are easy enough without having to go to an outside source. As a blogger for booksneeze.com I recieved this book, free of charge for the purpose of writing a review.