Book Review: Another Bible. Good Enough?

CSB Worldview Study Bible

 

I love books and especially Bibles. But when I received a free copy for review of the CSB Worldview Study Bible, I wondered if this was just another attempt at selling Bibles. I was skeptical.

Before I reveal my opinion, allow me to list the unique features found in the CSB Worldview Study Bible.

  1. Worldview study notes, Christian Worldview Elements, Timeline for each book.
  2. Over 130 articles by notable Christian authors
  3. Center Column references
  4. Presentation pages

I was very impressed by the Navy, leather-like covering and supple feel. Even more impressive is this Bible has not sacrificed reference material for the articles, which is what I thought might happen. I use references all the time as I read any Bible and these are good. Additionally, there are ample study notes at the bottom of each page, with a timeline at the beginning of each book. And– the font is very readable and I wear glasses!

From appearances, this Bible stands out among most in its category. From a reading/study perspective, the CSB Worldview Study Bible is not lacking in any way.

In case you are curious, they made room for an ample concordance too.

I found this excellent Bible a surprise. A wonderful surprise that has kept my attention since the day I opened the box.

I received a free copy of this CSB Worldview Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishers.

Weapons

 

Romanian Soldier in high contrast sepia_3

“No weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged”  Isaiah 54:17

 

In 1953 the movie Shane hit the theaters, starring Alan Ladd as the mysterious, confident stranger. Shane shows up at a farmer’s (Joe Starrett) place to find rest and work. Feeling uneasy about the stranger wearing a gun, Starrett tells Shane he has no work. Shane apparently leaves.

Moments later, cowhands from a local cattle baron ride up to the same place, intentionally riding through the vegetable garden to threaten Starrett into selling his place. The cowhands are menacing, all wearing guns, and leaving no doubt as to the future for Starrett and his wife and son if they do not sell soon.  

But then something happens to change the mood of the menacing cowboys from snarling to cautious as their attention is focused on a quiet stranger who has appeared at the corner of Starrett’s house, leaning against the building, staring ominously at the bullies.  

Since life is spiritual, it is obvious to everyone that this quiet, gun-toting stranger is a man to be reckoned with and the brazen cowboys are not sure just what he is capable of. A few words are spoken back and forth and the men begrudgingly leave after a few empty threats.  

Shane’s presence diffused what could have turned into a tragedy for the Starrett’s. The weapons formed against Joe Starrett and his family were abruptly stopped because of the potential power of the stranger.   

This simple example represents the powerful promises of almighty God to His followers: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

In the midst of all our daily struggles and attacks of satan, God has promised that He has already defeated the enemy of our soul and we should, therefore, walk with confidence, realizing every battle is in His mighty hands. No matter the outcome, it is part of God’s plan for our lives.  

Ecc. 9:18  Better to have wisdom than weapons of war  

Is. 54:17  But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you shall succeed, and you will have justice against every courtroom lie. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. This is the blessing I have given you, says the Lord.  

Hab. 3:19  The Lord God is my strength; he will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.

Ps. 23:1  Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.  

Rom. 8:1  No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.  

2 Cor. 10:3-4  The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.  

1 Tim. 6:12  Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have made a good confession before many witnesses.  

John 10:27-30   My sheep recognize my voice and I know who they are. They follow me and I give them eternal life. They will never die and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. And no one can tear anything out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.  

Rev. 12:10-11  Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has happened at last! God’s salvation and the power and the rule, and the authority of his Christ are finally here; for the Accuser of our brothers has been thrown down from heaven onto earth—he accused them day and night before our God. They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony; for they did not love their lives but laid them down for him.”

Until we establish in our minds, once and for all, that we are victorious in every situation in life because of God’s promises to us through our faith in Christ, we will walk in uncertainty, fear and frustration.

 

Easter!

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Although pristine and shiny, this elegant cross represents the bloody, cracked and dirty cross on which Jesus Christ willingly gave up His life for all humanity.

On April 1, 2018, many Americans will be aware of Easter Sunday which, for the most part, has become a family church day followed by a wonderful meal and an Easter egg hunt. But what about the cross in this photo? Where does that come in? Simply put, the cross came first, way before any family celebrations. The cross is a symbol of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to wash away the sins of humanity…all people, all over the world. Jesus died so we could live forever in a sinless, perfect world God has already created for us. Faith in Christ opens the door to total forgiveness and a magnificent life forever with no tears or pain. Not even any bad thoughts!

I tell you this because I want to remind Christians and to offer a life of forgiveness to unbelievers through faith in Christ. Jesus did the hard work, the impossible, painful, dreadful work for us. To reap the rewards of his amazing gesture of love, we must accept his sacrifice just like you accept any gift. Faith in Christ will change your life…forever! That is what Easter is all about…the resurrection of Jesus!

Attitudes and Feelings

 

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The Lord is my helper,  so I will have no fear. ~Psalm 118:6

“Oh this view is magnificent,” Neal said. “Now I see why you wanted to bring me here for photos today, Michael. So it really was worth getting up at zero-dark-thirty to get shots of the sunrise.”

“You are such a baby, Neal. Truthfully, I am a little surprised you agreed to the early wake-up since you have so little free time to spare. But you must admit it was worth it.”

“More than just worth it, my friend. This view of the river, mountains and colorful trees is breathtaking, to say the least. Now let’s stop talking and capture the moments here.”

After an hour of basking in God’s glorious fall morning, the men settled in to their trailer for a sumptuous breakfast while reliving the special photo opportunities they’d just experienced.

Later, when the final dish had been washed, dried and put away Neal said, “I need to talk, Michael. I’m carrying some problems and I need answers.”

“I’m listening.”

“I’m carrying feelings and attitudes that aren’t right. I get angry, frustrated, sometimes I realize I’m greedy, thinking of ways to get more money instead of sharing. On the outside I seem to be calm, patient, understanding. You know, the perfect Christian who everyone loves to be with. I’m like two people all the time. I am so tired of these feelings. I need help!”

Michael said, “What you are describing, Neal, is how most people live their lives. The problem is, we act as though we don’t have certain selfish angry, petty feelings—but we do. By denying them, we enact a different set of feelings that attempt to disguise our true, base, human feelings. Then we beat ourselves up by saying, Christians don’t have these feelings. So we replace our snarl with a smile and our caustic sarcasm with polite Christian-talk. When someone hurts us, we pretend outwardly that it didn’t happen. Inwardly though, deep inside where no one can see, we are hurt and begin to distance ourselves.

“And guess who is delighted…Satan! Yes, he is dancing with joy at our behavior which he helped create. You are bringing a knife to a gunfight, Neal. God is not only concerned, He is in us with His Holy Spirit, waiting for us to call out to Him. He understands our emotions and attitudes, He created us! We all do it, we try to fight spiritual forces with our own might and get depressed when we fail.

“Let me read Ephesians 6:12 ~For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“Suddenly we remember that God has the power and the victorious battle plans for all our attitude problems. We simply call upon Him and His power is released for Satan’s defeat and our victory. But we must call upon Him. It is impossible for you and I to defeat Satan without calling upon God.”

“The next step is preparing for daily war by putting on the armor of God, explained in Ephesians 6:13 ~Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm.”

“Without God, we are like little kids trying to fight an adult boxer. There is simply no hope without calling out to our Savior. He is the Victor and our Lord. Let’s pray Neal. God wants to change our outlook and attitudes.”

Book Review-Stones of Remembrance

Hats off to author, Daniel G. Amen, MD for steering me past my preconceived notion that 12 Steps to something will not bring an excellent result. Prior to reading this wonderful book I would quickly discard as useless any idea that a certain number of steps would bring success to the reader. I’ve read several that fell dramatically short of such a claim. But, “Stones of Remembrance” has broken the mold and opened my eyes.

Amen has divided the book into three distinct parts, each with Bible verses to remember. If you are like me, you probably stiffen a little at the thought of memorizing verses as a requirement to improve your life and memory. Fear not, Amen has included memorization steps that open doors to brain power, encouragement and success. Memorizing Bible verses will not only exercise your brain but will uplift your soul.

“Stones of Remembrance” is a quick read (117 pages) the first time through but it will become an important spiritual weapon in your arsenal.

I was given a copy of this book to review by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

 

 

Weekly Bible Study-Determination

Weekly Bible Study

Determination

August 19, 2017

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.” 1 Cor. 15:58

How do we remain steadfast in our faith when our lives seem to fall apart? Sitting in church, surrounded by people of like faith, singing songs of worship to God, our Savior and listening to the encouraging words of men of God, our faith seems reasonable and steadfast. Yes, we proclaim, we will overcome and be victorious. Glory to God!

But then, later in the day or perhaps the following day, our problems begin to creep back in and slowly take away that previous victory we proclaimed. Mountains of debt, illness, death, failure in life, business collapse and more tear at our faith, shredding the very foundation on which it is built. What will I do? Where is God in the midst of all this?

Deeper and deeper we fall, grasping for a handhold that speaks of God and His promises to provide and care for us in every situation. Where is the light at the end of this very dark, dark tunnel? There must be an answer.

There is. The answers are all waiting for us in His words to all mankind, the Bible. Unfortunately, when we focus on the problems mounting all around, our feelings take over and guide us down a path of discontent, fear, insecurity, doubt and frustration. We want God to give us a break and solve the problems…even though we may be the cause.

Perhaps living in a time when everything seems possible, every want seems likely to be fulfilled and every person seems promised to have it all, confuses and derails our faith in Christ. However, He has warned us in the Bible that our lives may have suffering, trials, enemies, and even imprisonment, for the sake of our faith in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:58 So, my dear brothers, since future victory is sure, be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever wasted as it would be if there were no resurrection.

2 Peter 3:13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

If we had joined a group of people dedicated to protecting our city against enemy foes who promised to destroy all of us, we would prepare for the impending battle. There would be classes teaching everyone how to stand firm against the foes. We would be prepared to possibly give our lives for the cause. We would take it seriously, keeping an eye to the horizon, ever-watchful, ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

The fact is, we are in spiritual warfare, facing the enemy of our soul, Satan, who desires to destroy everything good. Without our faith intact, we are defenseless to defeat our greatest arch-enemy. Since he cannot take away our promise of eternal life, he can make us useless with fear, discouragement and despair. This is war and we are in the fight of our lives. Even so, God is now and will always be, victorious over Satan.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Romans 8:31 What is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?

A squad of Navy Seals were gearing up to rescue two journalists from certain death, even though their top secret orders seemed to have been leaked to the enemy. If true, this meant these men would be facing certain death. When asked why, then, would they go ahead with the mission, the leader said, “We’re Navy Seals, that’s what we do.” No backing down, even in the face of death, the mission must be carried out.

As followers of Christ, that should be our attitude no matter the circumstance. With Jesus as our leader and Savior, we should not back down, allow fear to rule, feel inferior or hopeless. “He did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind”-1 Timothy 1:7.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Is That What It Means?

 

“They searched the Scriptures day after day” ~Acts 17:11

The church building committee were filling their cups with coffee or tea, considering which donuts would be the least calorie-laden and sharing bits and pieces of the latest events in their lives as they settled in for another round of talks.

Twenty minutes later, after grappling with a mountain of issues that stood in the way of adding the education wing to the church, one of the elders said, “Listen folks, I think we’re missing the point here. We’ve got plenty of skilled people in this group and between us, we can find the solutions. After all,” he grinned, “God helps those who help themselves!”

That seemed to lighten the mood until another voice was heard. “God helps those who help themselves?,” Darrell repeated. “Where in the Bible can I find those verses?” His question was followed by silence and shrugging shoulders.

“Allow me to answer my own question, you cannot find any such statement in the Bible. Actually, just the opposite is true, God helps the helpless. Romans 5:6 tells us, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Since we are struggling for answers about adding on to our church building, I think God would be more apt to reveal His will to us if we spent more time praying and less time trying to make things work according to our will.”

Although this is a fictional example, how many times have we repeated incorrect meanings to Bible verses? What is the context of a verse we quote and will it bear up under scrutiny? The following verse is a good example:

1 Corinthians 2:9 ~“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

“This verse is commonly interpreted to refer to the glories of heaven, and once we get that meaning into our minds, it is difficult to dislodge it and accept any other meaning. But Paul is really speaking here about the truths that have been revealed for the first time in the NT. Men could never have arrived at these truths through scientific investigations or philosophical inquiries. The human mind, left to itself, could never discover the wonderful mysteries which were made known at the beginning of the gospel era. Human reason is totally inadequate to find the truth of God.

1 Corinthians 2:10 ~”That verse 9 does not refer to heaven is proven by the statement in verse 10, God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. In other words, these truths foretold in the OT were made known to the apostles of the NT era. The us refers to the writers of the NT. It was by the Spirit of God that the apostles and prophets were enlightened, because (in the second sentence of verse 10) the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. ~Believer’s Bible Commentary; William Macdonald

Just as God directs our daily lives with His Holy Spirit, He also reveals the hidden wisdom in the Bible. To be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11 who examined the Scriptures daily to see if what they heard was true, we must ask God for wisdom, according to James 1:5-8. The next time we are tempted to pass along a snippet of Bible verse, let’s take a moment to research the context of the verse or verses and ask God for the true meaning.

Book Review-Bible Commentary

Book Review

Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary; Ecclesiastes

September 13, 2016

Years ago, when I found faith in Jesus Christ, my father-in-law encouraged me to use, in addition to my Bible, a Bible commentary. I followed his advice and have found a commentary that adds greatly to my overall understanding of the Bible.

When B&H Publishing sent Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary; Ecclesiastes for me to read and review, I was delighted. What an excellent idea. However, for me, the commentary fell short of my enthusiasm.

What I found was a commentary aimed directly at a specific age-group rather than all Bible readers. The authors not only aim this commentary at a youthful audience, it is filled with quotes of mostly current authors and anecdotes to liven it up (I think).

Most seriously, I found little of the promised Christ-centered exposition in the pages of stories and quotes. For me, a Bible commentary must first of all, focus on the sections of the Bible, with an eye to explaining them. I found that lacking in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary; Ecclesiastes.

Finally, although this review is not encouraging, it is, after all, the opinion of one reviewer and may not prove accurate to other readers. In my experience, one man’s trash may be another’s treasure.

Forever Secure

 

“I write these things…so you may know you have eternal life” 1 John 5:13

Many years ago after accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, I learned an important verse found in Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” I have determined that this nugget of truth forms the foundation of a secure and unwavering Christian life.

Hiding God’s word in our hearts consists of earmarking those verses that calm, assure, build up, strengthen and encourage us and form the pathway to His peace. During spiritual attack and temptation, His word is our only hope. As Satan fires his condemning, lying, fiery darts, our shield of faith—forged from His word hidden in our hearts—extinguishes those lethal darts.

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross, freely shedding His own life’s blood for us, so our sins could be forgiven most of the time or, almost always. Our forgiveness is once and for all. We are eternally forgiven based on His death and resurrection, not on our worth or works. If you feel you are not totally forgiven, it is a lie from satan, not the truth. We cannot be plucked out of God’s hand.

John 10:27-29 ~“ My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”

John 11:25-26  ~ “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 10:10-11 ~ “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

1 Peter 1:3-5 ~ “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

John 6:35-40 ~ “Jesus replied, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

1 John 4:4 ~ “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Romans 8:38 ~ “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

2 Corinthians 4:18 ~ “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

God has a plan for our salvation and that plan cannot be thwarted by ANYONE, including you or me. Our salvation  is eternally secure in His hands, not based on our worth or performance. However, when we FEEL unworthy or depressed, we can call upon His Word that we’ve hidden in our heart or open the Bible to find those verses that renew our faith and encourage our souls.