Thoughts on the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

Prophecy is a topic which can, and historically has, caused division. Has a prophecy been fulfilled? When will it be fulfilled? Was there a partial fulfillment which will be completely fulfilled in the future? The questions could gone on ad nauseam.

For this reason, I tend to shy away from study of prophecy and rarely preach over prophetic texts with definitive authority. I do not proclaim to know all of the answers, especially in regards to the end times prophecies or the book of Revelation. When I had the opportunity to get a copy of the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, edited by John Hagee, I decided to give it a shot and add the reference material to my library.

To call this a study bible is a bit of a stretch if you read the introduction. Essentially the reader is told to read the bible and determine the context, cultural norms, target audience, and other helpful insights for study. I was pleased at what appeared to be a fair and balanced approach to the study of prophecy, at least until I hit the part dealing with the End Times. At this point of the introduction, the reader is told the Premillennial rapture  followed by the Great Tribulation and Second Coming are the way it is and then the reader is spoon fed a series of verses and told the meaning of those verses to support this view. This is the main reason I shy away from the study of prophecy. I do not see it as an absolute certainty as described by the editor.

Following the above revelation (pun intended), I began to see the typical time-line prophecy study laid out in front of the reader. This happened, then in such and such time frame this was set to happen, on and on until the Second Coming on such and such time frame. Basing the book of Revelation on the book of Daniel to lay out such a time line is problematic for me. No man knows the day or hour that Christ will return and thus I do not believe one can read any bible verses and calculate when it will happen.

Essentially, this bible was what I feared it would be. Rather than a study bible it is a John Hagee in-depth timeline for when the End Times is happen. If you are a person who believes in the Premillennial Rapture, this bible is probably a great bible to have. However, if you question your beliefs regarding the End Times, this bible is probably not a great option as it does not offer any alternative interpretations to many questionable verses throughout the bible. You are either believe in a Premillenial Rapture, or you are wrong according to the authors/editor of the study materials included herein.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My review of the NIV Bible for Men.

Bibles come in all shapes, sizes, translations, bindings and a variety of other options. The bible I want to discuss here is the one in the title of this blog, NIV Bible for Men.

The copy I have to review is a compact sized, hard-cover bible. It is a black letter edition, meaning the words of Christ are in black rather than in red. The translation of it is the NIV 2011 version. Included with the text of the bible are 260 weekday devotionals and 52 weekend devotionals, referred to as myths. A topical index of devotional topics and the devotional writer bios are included as well, along with any source information for the devotions.

To start with, I picked the bible up and realized immediately I was not going to be comfortable with the size of the typeface. This version has an 8pt font, which is really small for my aging eyes. I found the weekday devotions interesting and engaging; however, I found the myths moreso. Each myth is a general misconception, or myth, men tend to have about life in our world. The authors discuss the matters and then point the reader toward biblical content to realign the thinking process.

All in all, I really like this bible. The only drawback for me is the font size. I also like a leather binding on my bibles, but hardcover is not an issue for me. A leather-like version is slated to release in January 2016, but again it is to be an 8pt type. This is a great option for men to have as a devotional bible. The devotions and myths are fresh content and thought provoking. I definitely recommend the guys in your life having a copy of this new devotional bible.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My Review of Companion to the Old Testament: For the Interpreter Within Each of Us

While reading this book, I have waffled between, “This is really minimal” to “Interesting, I did not know this”. Overall, I find the work to be a decent handbook though not very detailed. As it is designed as an overview of the Old Testament, thus the depth is lacking on purpose. Reaching an encompassing conclusion of this work, I believe it is a good volume to recommend especially as it is not a pricey volume.

One thing which I found refreshing was the layout of the work. It is not a chapter and verse reference book. Each chapter of the book addresses a different section of the Scriptures with a synopsis in a logical order based on the Protestant Old Testament. On the surface, this may seem awkward and I believe this would be a personal issue with which to deal. Some people will probably balk at the non-linear arrangement; however, I rather liked it.

I greatly appreciated the historical context interwoven with the commentary and synopsis. Understanding how extra biblical documents has helped shape our understanding of the text is an often overlooked discipline. This is not to say the extra-biblical works are more important than the text itself, it is to say they give a clearer explanation of the text. I felt the author did a good job at laying out this argument in the initial section of the book and then followed through with the practice as the book continued.

I give is a 4/5 rating because there were times it seemed as if the author backtracked and re-iterated some points a bit much. Perhaps that is because I am quite familiar with the information presented and did not feel the need to read more than once an explanation of something. There are also a couple of warnings I would like to offer for those considering this work. 1) The author used the date notation BCE/CE rather than BC/AD 2) The author does not subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible. I have a pet peeve about the BCE/CE notation when reading anything pertaining to Christianity. While I understand it is the new standard, I believe when the work deals with Christianity and/or the Bible using BC/AD is legitimate as this was the reason that designation was created in the first place. As for the non-literal interpretation, the author does a very nice job of explaining himself and his reasoning. Just wanted to alert more conservative readers of these issues as I have know several people who would dismiss this book forthwith upon discovering either of those matters.

New Opportunities

I have recently been given several new opportunities to read, review, and promote books.  I want to share reviews of good books with the readers on this blog. This way I can alert individuals of things I find as useful in my personal spiritual growth. As a reviewer, I do not expect to have all positive reviews, and I will share those to help readers avoid spending money on books I do not find beneficial or poorly written, or something with which I don’t believe.

One of the first new books I have been reading and have reviewed is a new book called Rediscovering Discipleship, written by Robert Gallaty. I want to share my review of this book with you now, and hope it encourages you to get a copy to read for yourself. I find it exciting and encouraging, especially in light of where God has been leading us as a congregation:
This book has the potential to have a huge impact on your life as a follower of Christ, but also your life as a replicator of Christ followers.
As a pastor, I have struggled with the best way to train and equip individuals to evangelize and disciple. Some are open to sharing their faith more than others, and I readily accept this. I believe a certain level of spiritual maturity is needed before some will proclaim their faith. Once an individual begins to proclaim their faith, they tend to become more willing to share more of their faith, then begin sharing the Good News that others can have this relationship with Christ. Most people eventually accept some level of evangelism, which is a good thing. While it is great when people begin sharing their faith, there seems to be a point in this process where individuals seem to resist surpass.
Sharing one’s faith tends to get easier for most believers. However, the process of discipling others seems to be the point many won’t pass. Through the years I have heard countless reasons and excuses for the resistance in helping others know more of Christ. I believe this book helps identify the underlying reason for this hesitancy, but more importantly, it helps give gentle, practical advice in helping developing disciples for Jesus Christ.
Looking at the Bible in a cultural, historical context, Gallaty does an excellent job of helping look discipleship being a program. People can be trained in how develop disciples, but they need to understand it is a lifestyle, not a program. As Gallaty draws the reader into a contextual setting for the words and actions of Jesus, the reader in turn realizes Jesus trained His disciples by living life with them. I believe the author does a nice job of helping the reader this is still possible, even expected, in the life of today’s followers of Christ.

Christmas with a purpose

Christmas is right around the corner, and Black Friday sales are already in full swing. It seems odd to call a sale the week before Thanksgiving a Black Friday sale, but this seems to be the rage this year. I have seen a number of “Black Friday Week” sales actually. Retailers have really been trying to capture our imaginations and our money at alarming rates. Personally, I am not immune to this either. We began buying Christmas presents a couple of weeks ago and are progressing at a fairly steady pace. However, with each present purchased there seems to be a question hanging in the air of “Can I get a better deal closer to Christmas?”

One of the key advantages of buying Christmas presents early is the ability to be less stressed as the holiday approaches. We will not be scurrying around at the last minute trying to buy “something”. If you are a person who likes to buy early, I would like to share something with you. I am posting a list of 20 socially responsible organizations where all types of items can be purchased. You really need to consider early purchases from any of these vendors for a couple of reasons.

One is the limited ability to get next day or even two day shipping from these sellers. Some of the organizations are actually staffed by volunteers, so they need a longer lead time to get orders filled and sent to you. The second reason is limited stock. Many of these organizations work with indigenous people to make the items. These people are given a job, a fair wage and typically an education. The items they make to sell are handled through these vendors, and the proceeds continue the work. Most, if not all, of these are built on Christian principles and managed by Christians. That doesn’t make them “Christian businesses” (that will be a later blog discussion), it makes them businesses with Christian influences.

My advice, take a look and see the items you can purchase. It is really an amazing thing to give a gift and be able to tell the recipient the story behind the gift. It helps you find unique items, helps people around the world, and allows you to help make a difference in a positive way.

ftf-holiday-gift-guide-110315

First blog post

Let’s give this a go. I am beginning a new blog to have a forum where I can share my thoughts on books, music, food, travel, social marketing venues, and pretty much anything else that crosses my mind.

If you want to follow my blog, by all means do so. This past year I have been a part of a couple of different street teams/launch teams and I have not really done them justice because I did not have a blog in which to really share things in depth. I have once again been given the opportunity to be on a launch team for a new book which is being released in January and I wanted to go ahead and create a place I can discuss it and future items at my discretion.