Monday, April 3, 2017

Some context and culture of Jesus' time

For many years, I have found the Old Testament to contain a wealth of information about Jesus. And quite frequently I find myself in the minority. There are a lot of people who miss out on so much of the richness of the New Testament, because they discount or discard the Old Testament.  What they seem to be missing is that while Jesus was living and teaching what would become the New Testament, he was living in an Old Testament culture, and the bible that he was reading, that he was memorizing, that he was quoting, that he was using in his ministry, that he was living, was the Old Testament. The New hadn’t yet been written.
And so, I jumped at the chance to be a member of Robby Gallaty’s Launch Team for his new book The Forgotten Jesus: How Western Christians Should Follow and Easter Rabbi. (Zondervan, 2017).
First and foremost, and something we shouldn’t ever forget, is that Jesus was a Jewish man living 2000 years ago in a Jewish culture.  He also didn’t have blond hair and blue eyes. Still today context and culture are important things to be aware of, and the same thing was true in Jesus' time.  Gallaty has obviously done his research and we benefit from his hard work.
If you’ve been around church for a while, you’ve heard the stories, the parables, the accounts of miracles. Hopefully if you’ve been around church for a while, you’ve also read those stories for yourself. They’re found in a book called the Bible.  The thing is though, that things that would have been so apparent and obvious to the people with whom Jesus had contact, often leave us scratching our heads: what are they talking about?
Granted, not everyone has the desire to become an Old Testament scholar so that they can better understand the New Testament. And that’s assuming that they’ve also become a New Testament scholar so they can better live out their Christian faith.  Having said that, insights into the prevailing culture help us to better understand the gospel. And Robby does a great job of giving examples.  He explains why finding a man carrying a jug of water would be easy in a crowded city (see Mark 14:12-15, and remember that carrying water was considered to be woman’s work). What about a fig tree with no figs so upset Jesus (Mark 11:20-21)?
Many people have a mistaken idea of who Jesus really was. We look at the Renaissance era paintings and get a picture in our minds; we hear sermons, and take the preachers word that he knows what the passage really means.  At some point we need to dig a little deeper and find out just who Jesus was, and then make the decision to follow.
Bonus information includes the F-260 reading plan. A bible reading plan that allows you to read Mon-Friday, with time on the weekends to catch up if you happen to miss a day.
5/5

I received a copy of this book as a member of the Launch Team. Thanks Robby, for the pleasure and the privilege!

Great answers to your questions about God

     What would it be like if Dear Abby or Ann Landers were to compile all the questions they have had to answer about God, and published them in an easy to read book. I can’t even begin to imagine what it be like, but luckily, we don’t have to wonder, because someone else has taken on the task.  Eric Metaxas’ book Everything You Always wanted To Know about God (but Were Afraid to Ask) was first published in 2005, and is now being re-released by Waterbrook in 2017.

     I enjoy Metaxas’ work (have you read his tome on Bonhoeffer?), so I was a little surprised at the format of this book, since it’s such a different writing style. But the more I read the more I found myself enjoying it.

     People have questions about God, about Jesus, about the Bible, and about dinosaurs. Some people turn to a pastor for answers, but a lot of people who have questions but no pastor to whom they can turn, so this book is a good resource. The answers are short, engaging, and tell the truth without being deeply theological (the kind of stuff that people with questions usually are not interested in reading. Too much info is simply that: too much, so it typically doesn’t get read.)

     In addition to being a fun book to read, this is an instructional book. It teaches the reader how to answer some of those politically sensitive issues. And maybe even answers some of our own.  A great resource for those who minister with/to children, seekers, and yes even those who have been in the pews for a long time but still have questions!

5/5


I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

If you had to pick someone who could save the world, the Moast team probably wouldn’t be your first choice.  But God doesn’t always look for the most qualified when there’s a big job to be done—sometimes instead of calling the qualified, He qualifies the called instead.  A group of friends meet regularly to study the Bible together, that is when they’re not off on adventures like most of us could never imagine.
And so the story begins. Queen of Atlantis: A Moast Unusual Bible Study by Edmund Lloyd Fletcher (Total Rewind Publishing, LLC, 2016) is indeed a most unusual Bible study. Enter Jane, a young woman with a form of autism, who arrives in a new town, attends church, and gets invited to a Bible study hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Moast. There’s an announcement indicating that the study group would appreciate having someone with some familiarity with cameras, which seems strange, but those fears area allayed when Jane arrives and the group is actually studying the bible, but they rise up again when she looks for the study the next week and can’t find it. Can’t find it, and indeed has all sorts of adventures trying to find the other members of the group.

Eventually Jane does become a part of the Bible study, against the better judgment of one of the members—who finally agrees to give her a chance, and just in time because this group of people spends a lot of time solving perplexing problems with global implications. And they have a case.  Someone is gathering poisonous sea life and setting out to take over the world.  Luckily the Moast team has their newest member, and her skills with a camera come in very handy as they solve the case, save the world, and make an incredible find in the process.
                This is not a book that I would have bought for myself, mainly because it has a couple of things going against it: 1) it’s not a genre that I typically read, and 2) it’s a children’s’/young adult book (and I don’t have kids or grand-kids in that demographic). However, I was asked to read it and write about it on my blog, and so here we are.  
                Actually, it was a fun read, and if I had been reading it aloud to a child or group of children, I think I would have enjoyed voicing the part of each of the characters (a fairly interesting group!). Although this is not a ‘Christian story’, there are some Christian overtones, and it’s enjoyable to read something where you’re not expecting the next page to have situations which you might not be ready to explain to your child. Also having one of the heroines having to cope with her autism was a nice touch in an age when we don’t always deal well with character flaws in other people.
                The jacket copy indicates that the author is writing for his children because he was having trouble finding clean, kid-friendly adventures, and wanted to make sure that the current generation had such stories.

                I found a few typos, and at times it was difficult trying to follow the story line because action was taking place in several parts of the globe at once, but overall, I give it an A.