Thursday, June 11, 2020

Quote of the Day

Let me add in conclusion, that the passage which I have chosen for my text (Rev 1:3), in which a blessing is promised to all who read or hear this prophecy, has long appeared to me, to be utterly inconsistent with the popular historical or polemical interpretations.  If such interpretations, or even the principles upon which they proceed, be true, the Apocalypse can be read and understood by the scholar and the man of learning only: by him who has penetrated into the secrets of history, and traced the rise and progress and downfall of dynasties and doctrines; but to the poor, the unlettered, and to those who read the words of the prophecy alone, to those, who from their inability perhaps to read, are forced to content themselves with hearing it read by others; to such it is impossible, on the principles of the historical commentators, the Apocalypse can be any thing but an enigma and a riddle.  How can they keep those things that are written in this prophecy, to whom the things written are unintelligible, and necessarily unintelligible?  How can they look for the time as at hand, if the time of the prophecy be spread already over nineteen centuries?    Surely then such a promise as that which is contained in the text, must be understood, as implying, if not as asserting, that in the words of the prophecy itself, carefully considered and diligently 'kept,' we have that can be necessary to the right understanding of it; and the reason that is given for our keeping them in our hearts, namely, 'because the time is at hand.' would seem to intimate, that the period within which the prophecy shall be accomplished, shall not be, not a long and tedious series of many centuries, but a brief and rapid space; for the approach of which, we are to watch, as men that know neither the day nor the hour of their Master's coming; 'looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ;' and ever bearing in mind the prophetic warning of our Lord and Savior. 'for as the lightning cometh out of the  East, and shineth even unto the West, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."  

Excerpt taken from Six Discources on the Prophecies Relating to Antichrist in the Apocalypse of St. John by James Henthorne Todd

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Quote of the Day

The smiles of an encouraging, if not a believing world, have long followed the writers and preachers of evangelical truth, making smooth and pleasant their allotted tasks.  We believe that it will cease to be so:  the envoys and ambassadors of the Most High will be dismissed with ignominy on the approach of war, where in a time of apparent peace, they have been feted and applauded…… Shall any be found wanting?  Shall voices that in more halcyon days were heard on the Lord's side, grow now so confused and indistinct, that it cannot be known what is piped or harped?  Shall trumpets that were used to echo through the camp of Israel their notes of victory or warning, give now so uncertain a sound that none shall know whether to prepare themselves for battle,  for fight, or for submission?  It may be so. Men sometimes seem to want in things spiritual the wisdom and courage that not uncommonly characterizes the children of this world in their generation.  When the wind sets in, and the tide flows strong upon a rocky shore, the skillful mariner turns the vessel's head, makes for the sea , and calls all hands together to keep her off the land.  Our helmsmen are doing contrariwise:  they have set their sails to wind and their head to the tide, and are doing all they can to near the fatal shore.  In some instance they have gone the utmost length their principles will admit, to conform themselves to the fashion of the times, to avoid the imputation of extreme opinions, and relieve themselves of a name they would once have been ashamed to be without…..

…we are apt to talk a little too vaguely about opinion - as if all religious truths were matters of opinion, subjects of reasoning, exercises of judgment.  It is not so.  The most important truths of the Gospel are not opinions - they are matters of revelation, and therefore matters of fact.  A positive declaration, statement, or command in the Holy Scriptures excludes opinion - forbids opinion - stamps on opinion the sin of unbelief.  There are more of such things  in the book of God than some people are aware of; and the 'I think,' and 'I don't think' of common talk, grates harshly sometimes on the considerate believer's ear; falls unbecomingly sometimes from the inconsiderate believer's lips.  He who insists upon such truths as these, however imperatively, is not dogmatical: he who condemns all contradiction and contravention of them, is not uncharitable; while the believer who when called upon to contend for the faith, from deference to opinion concedes or compromises, or withholds these plain declarations of the word of God, is a traitor or a coward, and no true soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Excerpt taken from Christ Our Law - by Caroline Fry Wilson

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Blaze of Light by Marcus Brotherton

Blaze of Light is an account of Green Beret Medic Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch. He earned his Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

I've honestly been dreading having to write this review because…well, I didn't like the book. And I feel horrible about saying that I don't like a book about a Medal of Honor recipient! It's not that it isn't interesting, it is. But it's depressing.

The book is written well in that , while following Mr. Beikirch through his  life you see, even feel along with him, his depression, lack of purpose in life.  Joining the Green Beret's gave him more of something to aim at.  That was actually the most interesting part of the book to me, it was fascinating to hear about the amazingly tough training they went through to become  Green Berets, and even tougher training to become a Green Beret Medic.  His time in Vietnam was intriguing as well.  Especially his actions that earned him the Medal of Honor, and they truly are admirable.

But there is sort of a despairing feeling throughout the book.  He was seeking for some sort of purpose, but the purpose he finds, at least as this book presents it, is lacking in… ironically, lacking in purpose.

Some of Mr. Beikirch's  relatives, who were professing Christians, lead him to God's Word.  He becomes a professing Christian, gets married and then ends up ordained as a chaplain. He still sounds depressed though and ends up having  arguments with his wife, has a big argument with her, goes back to visit Vietnam, meets a former enemy soldier who has found that he needs to forgive in order to heal from the war and Gary is amazing at this. While he's gone his wife leaves their home without telling him, he goes to find her and patches things up.

The book then ends with him having come to the conclusion that you need to die to yourself and live for others instead.  "The battles are fought in our hearts and minds.  The weapons are the values of love, sacrifice, integrity, and service.  Whenever we fight battles with those weapons, life takes on a meaning that others will never know." That falls far short of a message of true purpose.  Why? Why live for others? Because it satisfies ourselves? What if one finds that living for others really doesn't give them fulfillment? What if living a life of selfishness really does satisfy them?  Or what if living for others makes one feel like a good person?  These motives make the purpose of doing or not doing good works contingent on pleasing ourselves, and self is still the ultimate focus. It may take on new meaning by loving and serving others, but not the meaning God wants us to find.  He wants us to live for Him first of all. As Christ Himself said,  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment."(Mat 22:37-38)

Ultimately the book as a whole gives the impression that you don't really need God because some people do truly good works without God. The former enemy soldier had forgiveness towards his enemies, and the book never mentioned that that soldier was a Christian, it also gave other accounts of other, presumably non-Christian, people selflessly living for, dying for and forgiving others.

Any righteousness we come up with on our own isn't righteous enough and is actually offensive to God.  Without Christ's perfection being applied to our account, we will ultimately end up  experiencing God's wrath forever (See the books of Romans and Ephesians) . Only Christ's righteousness will get us into Heaven. This book, by it's 'living for others' is true living message, just seems to present believing in Jesus Christ for salvation as an optional thing with no consequences for not believing whereas the Bible never presents it that way.  As it says in John 3, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."(Joh 3:36 ESV)  This isn't something that we can just take or leave.  It's serious. It's literally a matter of life or death.

I wouldn't be so critical if I didn't think that this book was supposed to be about a man who discovered that true living is living for God.  But it didn't, it made it seem as though anyone can have true living without Christ.   Understanding our position before God and His requirements of us, is the most important thing to realize, even more important than sacrificing oneself for others. 

The Bible doesn't say that we will find true life if we deny ourselves and sacrifice for others.  We will only find true life by denying ourselves for Christ's sake. And not just denying ourselves but taking up His cross and following Him:  "And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"(Mar 8:34-36 ESV)  We WILL deny ourselves and sacrifice for others and consider them more important than ourselves if we are Christians (followers of Christ), but we do not do these things in order to GET and FIND true life, but because we already have true life:  "When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."(Joh 17:1-3 ESV)

Again, I feel compelled to say all of this because this book is intended as a potential means to introduce people to Christ but it offers a means to life fulfillment, true living (loving others) that falls short of the Christian/Biblical message of fulfillment.

Thanks for the folks at Waterbrook Multnomah  for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable).

Friday, May 22, 2020

Quote of the Day

"…our society is strongly individualistic and 'me-centered.'  We have a tendency to 'look out for number one' and often have less regard for others.  Whereas in many of our organizations and structures individuality is encouraged, there is little place for it in the body of Christ.  Can you imagine an arm proclaiming its independence from the rest of the body?  Not only would the arm become gangrenous and rot away, but the body would be damaged by its absence.  While the world tends to teach us to be self-focused, as believers we must endeavor to be others-focused.  This is expressed in Jesus's command to deny ourselves....... Many believers today envision the Christian faith as more of a picnic or a walk in the park than a bloody sacrifice of the self, but the former is not the biblical portrait."

 Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said by Victor Kuligin

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Friday, May 1, 2020

The Lexham English Septuagint

I was quite excited when I saw that a new English translation of the Septuagint was coming out. I'm always interested in new Septuagint resources. 

The Septuagint is an old, Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Some (or all?) of the manuscripts of the Septuagint that we have today are much older than the Hebrew manuscripts on which most of our English Old Testaments are based so it can be pretty useful in textual criticism and Bible study as well (Some quotations that the Apostles made, from the Septuagint, are significantly different than our current Hebrew Old Testament text).

 If an English speaking person says they're quoting from "the Bible", we don't associate "the Bible" as only referring to one particular translation (unless you're KJV only). When we talk about the "Septuagint", it's sort of like saying  "the Greek translation of the Old Testament", it's just a shorter way of saying it.  There were several old, Greek translations of the Bible and we don't know which one is the 'original' one that was around in the Apostles' time and that they would have utilized.  Also, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to think that there was only one Greek translation during the time of the Apostles, there may have been more than one, and good and bad translations, just like we have today with good and bad English translations. Since we don't know exactly which Greek Version(s) the Apostles used, it's good to have a variety of copies of the LXX, the English translation of the Greek translation in my case, since I don't really know Koine Greek.

 This  translation is a nice one to add to this list, it is particularly interesting because of the way they give more, unique translations that you may not have otherwise considered.  For instance, in the Psalms, one of the "headers" I'm used to seeing is usually something like,  "To the Chief Musician: A Psalm of David".  In one of the other English LXXs I have, the NETS Bible, it is translated, "Regarding Completion.  A Psalm.  Pertaining to Dauid."   Well, this new translation, has, "For the End: A Psalm of David". When I saw that it was a like a lightbulb turned on.  "For THE END?"  As in, the "End times", "last days", the end of the world? 

I mentioned it to one of my sisters (who loves studying and learning koine Greek), and she looked up the word for "end" and it was telos, which is used in some other places in the Bible to refer to the end times (For instance, Matt.  24:13-14).  That sort of put a whole new perspective on the Psalms, not that we didn't think any of them were prophetic before (obviously the Messianic ones were), it's just that, if this view is correct, many of these Psalms are directly said to be speaking about the end times.  Some of them certainly sound eschatological, for instance, "Our God is a place of refuge and strength, a helper when afflictions find us very much.  On account of this, we will not fear when the earth is troubled and the mountains are transferred in the hearts of the seas…Come, see the works of the Lord, which he set as wonders upon the earth.  Removing wars until the ends of the earth, he will crush bow and shatter weapon…." (Psalm 45: 1-10)

Another interesting nuance in translation is Amos 9:1. The ASV (Using the Masoretic text) reads:  "I saw the Lord standing beside the altar: and he said, Smite the capitals, that the thresholds may shake…"

Brenton's English LXX reads: "I saw the Lord standing on the altar: and he said, Smite the mercy-seat, and the porch shall be shaken"

The LEX reads, "I saw the Lord standing by the alter, and he said, 'Strike upon the lid of the Ark of the Covenant and the gateway will be shaken…"

That's interesting in that, if it is the Ark of the Covenant, then that would (If I remember correctly)be a later reference to it in the Old Testament, than in the current Hebrew Old Testament we use. I don't remember the Ark of the Covenant being mentioned again after the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar.  Just an interesting thing.

You'll notice some significant/interesting differences between this text and the Masoretic.  If you grab a Hebrew based Old Testament and turn to Daniel 11:1-2, I'll quote it from the ASV: "And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him. And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece."And then compare it to this English Septuagint:   "And in the first year of King Cyrus, he spoke to me to strengthen me and to make me act valiantly.  And now I have come to impart the truth to you.  Look, three kings have arisen in Persia, and a fourth will arise…."  That's a rather significant difference as it changes who the coming Kings are.  Are we supposed to count starting from Darius or Cyrus? Makes for some interesting eschatological problems. 

One of the main reasons the Septuagint is so interesting is that there are places in the New Testament where, when Christ and the Apostles quote certain texts from the Old Testament and their quotations line up significantly more with the LXX than with the Masoretic text.  And that's where I want to explain a part in this translation that I didn't particularly like. In Psalm 39 (Psalm 40 in a 'regular' Bible) vs 7 is translated, "You did not want sacrifice and offering, but you restored a body to me."  "Restored", instead of, "prepared" or "made" a body for me as English translators often render that word in translating the author of Hebrews' quotation of that verse in 10:5. Now some may point out that it's still better than the Masoretic text  (the Hebrew text recension pretty much all of our Old Testaments are based on now), which doesn't say anything similar. The problem I have is that, to me, "Restored" sounds as though a body was had, taken away or lost, and then given back.  It just seems to carry a different picture from how the author of Hebrews saw/read the text in Hebrews 10 (and the Greek word there seems to be the same as the one in Swete's Greek text for the Psalm).  The author of Hebrews seemed to view that verse as indicating that a body was prepared for Christ to offer it as a sacrifice.  Now I can see a way around it by saying, "well, look at it this way, 'restored' makes it seem as though He'd been given a body back that he'd had before, so maybe it could be referring to the resurrection of Christ."  Ehh…maybe? But again, that's not how the writer of Hebrews seemed to read it. 

Anyway, I felt like I had to get that out.  Moving on now.

Be sure to read the Introduction to this translation, it's very interesting, telling about the translators'/editors' goal of making your experience in reading this translation like the experience of those originally reading the Greek translation.  So instead of trying to bring the terminology to match today's culture, they "bring today's reader to the ancient culture", so if the language was originally not as gender inclusive as we would be today, they stick with the more gender exclusive language.  If the original Greek translation of the Hebrew was a bit awkward, the English will read awkwardly,   "The English translation should feel idiomatic where the Greek is idiomatic.  It should feel formal where the Greek is formal.  It should feel foreign where the Greek feels foreign.  In other words, it is not only acceptable, it is positively desirable for the LES to feel like a translation, to the extent that the Greek readers would have been aware that they were reading a translation.  Ideally, the translation should be as rough or as smooth as the Greek would have seemed to a Greek reader who knew no Hebrew…"  I really appreciate that.

I like the format of this book as well. I don't want to check right now, but I’m pretty sure that all of my other English translations of the LXX have the text laid out in two columns on each page.  This one only has one column of text, so it reads like a regular book.  The cover is very beautiful as well, I was quite impressed just by its looks when I opened up the box. 

I really like the LES overall. I own several English translations of the LXX, and I have never really found one that I prefer above the others, rather, I find all of them equally great study and reference resources to have around. This one is a great edition to any collection of Septuagints.

Many thanks to the folks at Lexham Press for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable).

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Quote of the Day

"We should have it so happen that, when our life's story is written, whoever reads it will not think of us as 'self-made men', but as the handiwork of God, in whom His grace is magnified.  Not in us may men see the clay but the Potter's hand."

- Charles Spurgeon -
 From the book: Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Thomas Nettles

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Monday, April 6, 2020

The Basic BIble Atlas- By John A. Beck

This Bible Atlas takes you through the Bible with maps.  The maps are nice looking, and interesting to study.

But…There is a lot of reading, sort of summing up a lot of Israel's history and their geographical movements.  Others may not mind it, but for some reason the readings seemed to distract me from the maps, rather than enhance them. Also, the maps don't always seem to fit with what is being talked about.

There were several 'iffy' statements made by this book that bothered me.

Beck states that animals were in the Garden of Eden to "provide companionship to the first humans who lived there.." .  But doesn't that contradict Adam's not finding one suitable companion among the animals he named? If animals provide true companionship then Adam didn't really  need Eve. 

"On the one hand, the ark is a symbol of divine mercy, a rescue raft that keeps Noah's family and the animals aboard alive.  On the other hand, the new spatial focus highlights the problem: those aboard cannot live without land, and there is no land on which to live.  As the weeks go by and the limited supply of food on board the ark dwindles, we feel the pressing need to return to solid ground."  Who says that those aboard cannot live without land? Couldn't God have kept them alive in the boat for any length of time? Couldn't He have kept the supply of food from running out?

"He(Jesus) spoke to their needs using language that reflected experiences from their lives.  This included not only the rigors of farming and fishing but also debt slavery (Matt. 18:23-35) and being cheated - paid less than they were promised as day laborers in vineyards (20:1-16)."
And yet in a lot of the accounts of Christ speaking to the people he wasn't really speaking to be sympathetic regarding their hard lot but to make a point (and sometimes to make a point that they weren't supposed to understand - Matt 13:11-15).  In the case of the day laborers, Jesus doesn't say that the point of the story was that the Master had cheated his servants, rather the thing we seem to need to take away about the Master seems to be that the Master can do whatever he wants, "But he answered and said to one of them, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a shilling? Take up that which is thine, and go thy way; it is my will to give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? or is thine eye evil, because I am good?(Mat 20:13-15)"  And, if one thinks that the point of the story is that servants are being cheated, what does that say the Kingdom of Heaven?  Jesus said that this account is an illustration of the Kingdom of Heaven. So is the point of the story that the Kingdom of Heaven is an unjust Kingdom?

This book didn't really have me focused on the maps, it seemed to carry one through it all with seeming little thought to the maps actually being examined.   But that's just my opinion, others may have no problem with it. And again, the maps themselves are rather nice, and are interesting to examine. 

Thanks to the folks at Baker Books for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable).

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

This book may be purchased at and at

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quote of the Day

It is a great mistake when we fret over the human instrument which smites us, and forget the hand which uses the rod.  If I strike a dog, he bites my stick; poor creature, he knows no better; but if he could think a  little he would bite me, or else take the blow submissively.  Now, you must not begin biting the stick.  After all, it is your heavenly Father that uses the staff; though it be of ebony or of blackthorn, it is in his hand.  It is well to have done with picking and choosing our trials, and leave the whole matter in the hand of infinite wisdom."

Charles Spurgeon
From his book: Talks to Farmers

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Quote of the Day

…Spurgeon observed many, 'who, by hearing continually the most precious doctrine that belief in Jesus Christ is saving, have forgotten other truths, and have concluded that they were saved when they were not, have fancied they believed when as yet they were total strangers to the experience which was not grounded upon the divine word rightly understood, 'nor proved by any facts in their own souls.'  They resented any suggestion of self examination by gospel tests as 'an assault upon their assurance' and 'defended their false peace by the notion that to raise a question about their certain salvation would be unbelief.' Their ill-placed certainty has put them in a hopeless condition and they ignore biblical warnings and admonitions by 'their fatal persuasion that it is needless to attend to them.'  Their historical knowledge of the work of Christ has settled them in a conviction 'that godly fear and careful walking are superfluities, if not actually an offense against the gospel.' 

 From the book: Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Thomas Nettles

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Once Upon a Word - by Jess Zafarris

Once Upon A Word: A Word-Origin Dictionary For Kids - by Jess Zafarris is interesting for adults too.   It is a very interesting dictionary, not just stating origins and meanings in a dry, matter of fact way, but making it more like someone is right there speaking to you.

It's interesting how much one realizes one doesn't know about certain words, for instance, the word "shiver", "The word 'shiver' originally referred to a small piece or splinter of something, or the act of breaking something into many small pieces.  When pirates say 'shiver me timbers,' they're talking about the splintering of their wooden ships during battles on rough seas…."  I just thought it was some weird expression pirates used, probably referring to a shiver being sent down their body because of surprise, this was an interesting correction to my long held idea.

The word origin of "Alarm" I found quite amusing, it apparently comes from an Italian military cry, meaning "to arms!!" It struck me funny that therefore, when we're waking up to an 'alarm' we've set, it's sort of like startling us awake with "TO ARMS! Get your weapons, get ready for battle!" Which, from a Christian perspective that definition is actually pretty fitting considering the spiritual warfare we wake up to every day.

Some of the origins could have used a little more explanation, for instance, the section on IDENTITY just says, "Your identity is, very basically, what and who you are.  It can also describe the way you understand yourself and the way the word sees you.  The word comes from the Latin idem, meaning 'the same.'"  Why does it come from that Latin word? I'd like to see a little more connection there.  But that's more of a fluke. A lot of the definitions give you good explanations - for instance, the word ILLUSION:  "…The word 'illusion' originally meant 'mockery' or scorning,' from the Latin illudere, meaning 'to mock' or 'to play with.'  This is because an illusionist plays with what you think you see."  I see the connection there.

Some give you some insight to the different thinking of people before our time, like the word "Muscle":  "'Muscle' comes from the  Latin word for muscle, musculus, which is also translated as 'little mouse.' it comes from the Latin base word mus, meaning 'mouse.'  Muscles are named after mice because it was thought that flexing your muscles made it look like mice were crawling under your skin!"  I don't think I would have ever thought of it that way!  It's interesting and amusing to think of the way we think now vs the seemingly strange lines of thinking they had back in time…though I suppose many of our lines are thinking are strange, we just don't think that because we're used to them.

The book also includes several charts giving you many Greek and Latin root words, and many prefixes and suffixes to help you learn how to start figuring out words just from knowing the meaning of different parts.

Overall, this is a very interesting, amusing and informative book…for kids and adults!

 I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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