Monday, December 16, 2013

Colombia Prayer Request #LMCO

College represents a major period of growth and transition for most young adults in the U.S. and abroad. In Colombia, it may mean even more for some: a transition from death to life, from darkness to light. In Colombia, IMB missionaries are reaching college students with the gospel. Please pray for this work, as the task of carrying the gospel to the lost is not over and will not be over until Christ comes back. Also, consider giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, where 100% of the funds raised goes directly to missions--not a cent goes towards administrative costs.
CAFE (COLOMBIAS FORGOTTEN ETHNOS) PEOPLES (cah-FAY) Each Friday afternoon, a small group of young women in their late teens to early 20s meet in the upstairs room of the student center. They listen to a teaching time and then discuss the topic and share their own struggles and experiences. The topic of these Friday afternoon conversations is that of dating, in which themes such as sexuality, self-esteem, and practical dating practices are discussed. This has been an excellent opportunity to talk openly about such topics among mostly non-Christian students. These discussions have, in turn, led to spiritual conversations and opportunities to talk about the need to heal past relational hurts--including that of families. Pray that God will continue to work through these afternoon talk times and that, ultimately, they will lead to the salvation of these college-age young women.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pray for #Colombia (#LMCO)

Be sure to lift up the indigenous peoples of Colombia in your prayers. And while you are at it, consider giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. 100% of funds raised go directly to the missionaries.
AR OF COLOMBIA (ahr) - Education is important to the indigenous communities. It is also something that is often controlled by the religious leaders of the community or traditional religious groups. There are believers in the Ar community of "Pal," and one of their hearts' desires is to see their children educated. They have no school and do not want to send their children to a different village to school where the local religious leaders will do incantations and rituals over their children. Pray as a community development project is being developed to respond to this specific need, and ask God to provide people willing to go and teach. Pray that the Lord will use this project to bring this group of children and their families to a saving knowledge of Himself.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Messiah: Origin

Messiah: Origin. Matt Dorff (Adapter). Kai Carpenter (Illustrator). Mark Avey (Translator). Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderva. 2013. 176 pp. $19.99.

Just in time for the Christmas season comes Messiah: Origin from Zondervan. Merging scripture with a comic book-style format, the birth and early life of Christ makes this the first book in what promises to be a serial graphic adaptation of a Gospel harmony, though I am unaware of how many more volumes the authors intend to produce. The book features a fresh translation of the Bible text set in a backdrop of artful illustrations. Unlike other Bible-turned-comic-book products, Messiah: Origin does not deviate from the text of the Bible or abridge the text. In that aspect it is more like the Gospel of John film, whereas its illustrations are more worthy of a comparison with Mel Gibson's high quality production The Passion of the Christ. Because of duplication between the Gospel narratives, it is not a full harmony of the Gospels, but it does combine them into one unified story.

The book's arrangement of the biblical material is excellent. It's begins with the prologue from the Gospel of John and then moves into the birth announcements and infancy narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus. Of special note is the placement of the Magi's visit after the temple dedication. While it is popular to portray the shepherds in the Magi visiting Jesus on the night he was born, a closer look at the narratives would suggest that the Magi came at some point after Jesus was dedicated in the temple, which was 40 days after he was born. The fact that the authors got this right makes the book a welcome addition to this season of Advent.

The illustrations are top notch and generally flow out of the passage instead of distracting from it. The depiction of Angels is interesting, but without any authoritative drawings, that aspect is open to artistic license. My one real criticism stems from the translation, not the art. At one point a term usually translated as baby is rendered "fetus." (Later he is referred to a baby.) Although the term "fetus" may be scientifically accurate, it is a bit of a loaded term in American society, and I would rather we use the term "baby" when referring to the unborn instead of "fetus."

I plan on sharing this book with visitors to my home this Christmas season as a discussion starter about not only the events of Jesus birth, but their significance as well. Although there are more volumes to come, this one can function nicely as a standalone book.

I received this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. The opinions expressed on my own.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Baptist's Old Testament Bible Survey

What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus' Bible. Edited by Jason S. Derouchie. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. 2013. 496 pp. $45.99.

Everyone needs a good Old Testament survey. Most whole-Bible surveys lack sufficient detail to be of much use to serious students of the Bible. Individual commentaries may contain too much detail. This book is a happy medium and a great place for laying a solid foundation of Old Testament understanding.

What Sets This Book Apart
There are four main characteristics that set this Old Testament survey apart from other volumes:

The first and most obvious distinction is that the book follows the order of the Jewish canon. Whereas Jews and Christians both accept the same books in the Old Testament, they arrange them in a different order. DeRouchie follows the order that would have been the most common in Jesus' day, commonly identified by three main sections, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Although the order of the books is not divinely inspired, the Jewish division of the canon offers some helpful insight as to the purposes of these books.

The second most obvious distinction is the book's high-quality visuals. Full-color photographs adorn many pages throughout. The book also includes useful maps and charts. I especially liked the charts from the chapter on the Psalms. These images help reinforce each chapter's content and aid in comprehension.

Third, the Old Testament is presented in a well-rounded way. By this I mean that the authors are committed to the authority and truthfulness of the Old Testament and the purposes of each book are clearly presented and explained, not only in light of the original audience, but the Old Testament messianic expectation as well. Most Old Testament surveys do not emphasize the messianic link nearly as much as this one does.

Fourthly, although Kregel doesn't highlight this in their advertising, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About is a Baptist's Bible survey. That's not to say that people from other denominations or faith traditions won't appreciate or benefit from this survey. It is very "evangelical," though mildly Calvinistic. However, it is endorsed by a "who's who" of modern Baptistdom, including a number of Southern Baptists. Jason S. DeRouchie (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the main editor of this book and associate professor of Old Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary (John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church).

Although I think the book's subtitle (A Survey of Jesus' Bible) more clearly presents the book's purpose, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared about is a new favorite on my shelf.

I received this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. The opinions expressed on my own.

Side note: I took an Old Testament survey course this semester in seminary and I found this book to be much more enjoyable than my class textbook, and not just because I didn't have any homework from it. It really is a gem.