Thursday, March 12, 2015

NIV Proclamation Bible Review

NIV Proclamation Bible: Correctly Handling the Word of Truth (Bible Niv)

This Bible's theme is geared toward those who are teaching and preaching the Word, providing tools to help in better handling the Word of Truth. Each book of the Bible gives an overarching theme and also breaks down the structure or outline of the Book for better preparation in teaching it to others.
One thing I was a bit disappointed in was that there weren't actual study notes with the Bible's text, just book introductions and then cross-references included. So I wouldn't necessarily call it a study Bible per se. However, there are some great articles at the beginning for teachers to help in preparing. Even if you're not a teacher, these articles are helpful for studying the Bible in greater depth. Some of the articles address determining the overarching theme of the book, how the Bible text relates to theology, and preparing a text for a small group study or one-on-one meeting. It's helpful to have these articles in the front of the Bible, rather than having to reference several other books for teaching helps while preparing to teach. Other than that, it's another Bible with cross-references and a concordance.

*I received a copy of this Bible free from the publisher through Booklook Bloggers review program in exchange for my review.

Monday, March 2, 2015

God's Battle Plan for the Mind Blog Tour

God's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical MeditationGod's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David W. Saxton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meditation for Christians has become a neglected discipline nowadays, often because of the connotation that it has with New Age and Eastern religions. But Biblical meditation is a necessary part of Christian growth and sanctification. In this book, the author goes through what Biblical meditation is NOT to explain how it differs from the world's idea of meditation. He explains the benefits of meditation and how it is an essential part of a growing Christian's walk. Using the Puritans and their writings, he gives practical advice for how to meditate and counters excuses that people use for not meditating.

"What does it mean to meditate? It means to think personally, practically, seriously, and earnestly on how the truth of God's Word should look in life." Meditation takes the truth of God's Word and applies it to our lives. "...the believer fills his mind with truth so that his life becomes governed by the attitude of the Savior."
Today, meditation has all but become non-existent. We live in a busy world filled with so many distractions and taking time to think deeply is not a regular part of most Christians' lives. Another reason for meditation falling by the wayside is "...a lack of confidence in God's Word to sufficiently deal with the issues, problems, and temptations that believers face."

This was an excellent treatise on what Biblical meditation is and is not and the importance it plays for the Christian's growth. So many gems in this book to take away (I needed to make sure I had a pen handy to underline as I was reading!). This should be required reading for any Christian who desires to grow in their relationship with God. Meditation on God's Word would also help the growing crisis of Biblical illiteracy that is rampant in America.

Thoughts to consider:
"Whenever any notion or form of spirituality fails to be tied back to the written Word, the end result inevitably tends toward unbiblical mysticism and religious sentimentality. This eventually leads a person to greater darkness rather than light."

"...Protestants who fail to emphasize biblical meditation because of fear of falling into mysticism are simply overreacting to unbiblical forms of meditation." I know this is something that I need to work on.

"Because of the depravity of our hearts and tendency to self-deception, the divine testimony of Scripture must always govern our biblical spirituality and meditation."

"...contemplative prayer is an unbiblical form of meditation that seeks a spiritual experience through some kind of existential encounter with God apart from His written revelation....The contemplative prayer movement seeks to experience God's voice apart from His written Word. This movement is a product of a larger evangelical departure from an absolute conviction in the sufficiency of Scripture."

"...biblical meditation does not seek to empty one's thoughts. Rather, it seeks to fill one's thoughts with Scripture, fastening them to the objective truths of God's Word. Rather than seeking to arrive at a plan of self-actualization, biblical meditation seeks to think God's thoughts after Him. It seeks to grow in appreciation that all of life is lived before a great and mighty God. Biblical meditation realizes that thoughts reveal beliefs."

"...Christian meditation is the scriptural plan to keep from thoughts that diminish the glory of God."

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Reformation Heritage Books through Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God in the Wasteland by David Wells

God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading DreamsGod in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams by David F. Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"We have turned to a God that we can use rather than to a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our needs rather than to a God before whom we must surrender our rights to ourselves. He is a God for us, for our satisfaction - not because we have learned to think of him in this way through Christ but because we have learned to think of him this way through the marketplace. In the marketplace, everything is for us, for our pleasure, for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that it must be so in the church as well. And so we transform the God of mercy into a God who is at our mercy."

"I believe that the church has lost the transcendent truth and goodness of God, and I believe that if it fails to recover this truth and goodness, Christianity will buckle completely under the strains that are being exerted upon it by modernity."
"If we grasp the reality of God, it will be on his terms and not on our own. But without this, we can have no binding address, no revelation given once and for all and to all, no Christianity that is universal in the sense that it calls all to the same knowledge of God through the same Christ. And unless God is understood to be transcendent in his holiness, the world can have no objective moral meaning, no accountability beyond itself, no assurance of salvation from guilt through Christ's death, and, in the end, no assurance that God will be the final line of resistance to all that is evil. And without this assurance, the hope dies that one day truth will be put forever on the throne and evil forever on the scaffold."

"Modernity is unquestionably seductive, and, in the end, it will always triumph unless the church sees through its charms and seductions and determines that it wants something else. A hunger for the endless blessings of our world is not inevitable; we do not have to construct our lives around having them. Addiction to modernity can be resisted by a strong and passionate mind that has been shaped by God's Word of truth and infused with a due sense of what is right. In short, the one sure defense against modernity's conquest of the church is God. As mighty as modernity is, God is mightier yet, and though the embrace of the modern world is strong and extensive, it is still possible, by the grace of God, to evade it. The power and seductiveness of modernity do not impede God one bit in actualizing his truth in the church, introducing his character into the lives of ordinary men and women, realizing his saving purposes in the world, and exercising providential control over its direction and outcomes."

(got this book through inter-library loan)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Taking a Facebook Break

I've found that being on Facebook can cause me to become easily irritated and frustrated. And then discouraged. Frustrated at all the bad theology and out-of-context verses, the lack of biblical literacy, and the lack of discernment or desire to even be shown the truth. People like their little comfort bubbles and they don't like to be told or shown that they are wrong. I'm no exception to that. However, if I'm wrong about something, particularly when it comes to God's Word, I would like to know so that I can determine for myself where I might have faulty information or be incorrect. Even if it means a favorite teacher of mine is shown to be faulty, I would rather know God's truth and be consistent with His Word. I'm more attached to God and His Word than I am to any human teacher, at least I would like to think that I am. But it seems nowadays that people are more attached to their favorite Bible teacher than they are to God's Word. When they are shown the error or false teaching of a particular pastor or teacher, they don't want to hear it. They want to continue in the error because of the emotional attachment they have to the person. "I've learned so much from them and grown so much in my Christian walk because of them" seems to be the common excuse. Just because a teacher is helpful and growth occurred doesn't mean they are infallible. God can use people in spite of themselves. But once false teaching is shown, isn't it better to go with what God's Word says than to cling to the person promoting the false teaching? We are too caught up in our emotional experiences and not grounded enough in the truth of God's Word.
So being on Facebook brings so much of this out and causes me to get angry at the lack of discernment so prevalent even among Christians. And trying to share the truth is like hitting my head against a brick wall. Most people just don't want to hear it. It appears to be an exercise in futility. Why do I want to continually bang my head without getting any results? And so much of it is superficial anyway. It seems better to develop real relationships face-to-face, to have the accountability to encourage each other to grow, to share concerns and be edified. There can be good that comes out of Facebook and the relationships there. But right now for me, the bad is outweighing the good. And I need to walk away from it for a while to gain some perspective, to see if it's really worth it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

1 Peter 1-4 Overview

Peter, an apostle, to the elect exiles
Father, Spirit, Jesus
Mercy of Father - we are born again through Jesus' resurrection
Our inheritance is kept in heaven and cannot perish
God's power guards till last time
This is cause for rejoicing
Genuine faith (more precious than gold) will result in praise at Jesus' revelation
Though unseen, still love Jesus
Outcome of faith is salvation
Prophets prophesied regarding this salvation
Prophets inquired who and when
Prophets were serving future, what has now been announced to us
Mind is to be prepared, sober and set on grace coming
Be holy rather than conforming to former ways
God is our judge so walk in fear/reverence knowing that we've been ransomed by imperishable and precious blood of Christ
Christ was foreknown before the world but has now been made known for our sakes - whose hope is in God
Because we've been purified through our obedience - love others
We've been born again through what is imperishable - God's Word
Everything fades but God's Word stands forever - this is the good news we've been taught
Because of this, put away malice, deceit
Long for pure milk of the Word in order to grow
If we have tasted God's goodness
Sojourners/exiles, abstain from fleshly passions
Keep conduct honorable so God is glorified
Be subject to governments
God's will that we do good
Live as servants, honoring everyone and loving fellow Christians
(Servants) be subject to masters
Suffer for doing good, not evil
Follow is Christ's example of suffering
Christ did not sin or revile others, but entrusted Himself to a just judge
Christ bore our sins, we strayed but now have returned to Him
(Wives) be subject to husbands
Let adorning be hidden person of gentleness, not outward
Example of women of old
Husbands are to live with wives in an understanding way, as fellow heirs
Brotherly love and unity, blessing others
OT quote: turn from evil to good
Blessing if suffer for being righteous, so don't fear
Honor Christ as holy, being ready to explain the hope you have
Be gentle and respectful so if slandered, the slanderers will be shamed
Suffering for good rather than evil is better
Example of Christ: suffered for righteousness by His flesh dying yet His spirit alive
Christ proclaimed to imprisoned spirits - in days of Noah they were disobedient even though God was patient
Baptism is an appeal to God for a good conscience through Jesus' resurrection and He now is in heaven with all powers subjected to Him
Because of Christ's suffering, have the same way of thinking since suffering in the flesh ceases to sin
The rest of the time in our flesh is lived for God's will not human passions
Past time was when indulging in these passions like the Gentiles
They malign you when you don't join them but they'll give an account
Though judged in the flesh, people may live in the Spirit the way God does
Be self-controlled and sober-minded for the end is near
Love others
Show hospitality without grumbling
We all have a gift - use it for service with God's strength so He is glorified
Don't be surprised at fiery trials as if they were strange
Rejoice in sharing Christ's sufferings so you can rejoice when His glory is revealed
Being insulted for Christ's name is a blessing
The Spirit of God and glory rests on you
Don't suffer for evil
Don't be ashamed to suffer as a Christian but glorify God for it
Judgment begins with God's household, which doesn't bode well for the ungodly
When you suffer for God's will, entrust yourself to God who is faithful

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Tyranny of Books

I've been attending BSF this year (Bible Study Fellowship) and studying the Life of Moses. Each week we're given some notes and questions to go over, studying sections of the Bible on our own. Then once a week we meet with a discussion group and discuss the questions we did, then sit through a lecture on the passages we studied. This past week in the lecture, the speaker talked about how possessions can often possess us, owning us rather than us owning them. In reality God owns everything and all that we have is a gift from Him for our stewardship.
This struck me in regards to all the books I own. Often I get obsessed with what I'm currently reading, how soon I can finish a book so I can pick up the next one, or what I'm going to read next. I have so many books that I want to read and I want to read them all NOW! :-) It becomes a distraction and causes me to stress over how quickly I can read and get through books so I can move on to the next ones. What about just the sheer joy of reading? I read to learn; why can't I just relax and learn from what I'm currently reading without thinking about what I'll read next? Books start to possess me rather than me possessing them.
In reality God owns it all anyway. And learning doesn't do me any good if I'm not putting into action what I'm learning. People are more important than books. And if I'm spending my time and energy focusing on books and what I plan to read instead of the people that are in my life, then I'm not pleasing God. So rather than obsessing over how many books I can get through in a year, I need to focus instead on the people God has put in my life and how I can best encourage them and help them to learn and grow also.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The NASB Note-Takers Bible

I'm all about taking notes as we read our Bibles, or jotting thoughts and notes down while listening to sermons, so a Note-Takers Bible sounded right up my alley.
Note-Taker's Bible-NASB
I also like the NASB translation - New American Standard Bible - as it is one of the more literal or word-for-word translations.
This is a very straight-forward Bible, no study notes or commentary, just the text. The font is a little small for these 40-year-old eyes, but still readable. And of course there are extra margins for writing in, both on the sides of the text and the bottom.
There is a concordance for being able to look up key words as well as some lists on the Teachings of Jesus and the Miracles of Jesus. And a short "What the Bible Says About.." list (such as "What to Read When.." you struggle with apathy, etc.). It is a red-letter edition, which doesn't thrill me, but not a deal-breaker for me.
All in all, this is a great Bible to have for doing personal study where one wants to jot down notes and observations, or to use for church to take notes during the sermon. It isn't too big for carrying to and from church though a bit larger than a personal-size Bible would be. So if you like to take notes in your Bible, this is a good one to use, having a reliable translation as well as space for writing down thoughts.

*I received a copy of this Bible from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my review.