Thursday, October 11, 2007
This book follows the same format as the other books in the series in that Strobel begins each chapter with a story from his life as an investigative reporter, poses his question, and then interviews an expert in order to seek out an answer.
From the recent production of The Da Vinci Code to Islam’s denial of Jesus’ resurrection, the constant bombardment of attacks on the historical Jesus is a reality in American culture today.
In The Case for the Real Jesus, Strobel addresses six of the most common assertions against Jesus. Those questions are:
1. Scholars Are Uncovering a Radically Different Jesus in Ancient Documents Just as credible as the Four Gospels.
• This chapter deals with issues such as the Gnostic gospels, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, The Gospel of Mary, and many others.
2. The Bible’s Portrait of Jesus Can’t Be Trusted Because the Church Tampered with the Text.
• This chapter deals with areas of textual criticism, has the Bible been changed, alleged contradictions and errors.
3. New Explanations Have Refuted Jesus’ Resurrection.
• In this chapter, Michael Licona presents a 5 point argument defending the resurrection.
4. The Cross-Examination.
• Lee attempts to counter Licona’s arguments defending the resurrection, and presents alternative theories including the Islamic view of the resurrection.
5. Christianity’s Beliefs about Jesus Were Copied from Pagan Religions.
• This chapter of the book examines the story of Jesus compared to other pagan gods such as Mithras, Dionysius and others.
6. Jesus Was an Imposter Who Failed to Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies.
• A close look at who the Messiah was to be, the system of sacrifice used in Ancient Israel, and what requirements the Messiah was to fulfill are all addressed in this chapter.
7. People Should Be Free to Pick and Choose What to Believe about Jesus.
• Questions such as “what is truth?”, statements such as “All religions are equal” and a close look at postmodern thought are all examined here.
All things considered I really enjoyed this book (especially the Islamic Catch-22 explain on page 132). I really appreciate how Strobel is able to take complicated concepts, such as postmodern thought, and present them in a way for all to understand. This book is timely and relevant to today’s world. Some parts of the book seemed like they were written quickly to meet a publisher’s deadline but the chapter on the resurrection of Jesus alone, was worth the price of the book.
If you enjoy contemporary apologetics or are seeking answers to discover who Jesus really is in light of “new discoveries”, I’d recommend this book.
Timely and Relevant Questions
Clearly written and easily able to be understood by all
This book didn’t have discussion questions at the end of the chapters the way his previous ones did.
Zondervan went a little heavy on the promotion for Strobel’s other books.
You can purchase this book from Amazon.com by Clicking Here.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I'd highly encourage you to check it out. It's about 15 minutes long and could change your life forever.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America."
I thought about it again this morning. I was doing some research and thumbing through Josh McDowell's classic apologetic Evidence that Demands a Verdict. In reference to the late D. James Kennedy and Jerry Necombe's book What if Jesus had never been born?, McDowell pens the following:
They [Kennedy and Necombe] begin with the assumption that the church, the body of Christ, is Jesus’ primary legacy to the world. Then they examine what has happened in history that displays the influence of the church. Here are a few highlights they site:
- Hospitals, which essentially began during the middle ages
- Universities, which also began during the middle ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes
- Literacy and education of the masses
- Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment
- The separation of political powers
- Civil liberties
- The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in modern times
- Modern science
- The discovery of the new world by
- Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic
- Higher standards of justice
- The elevation of the common man
- The high regard for human life
- The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures
- The codifying and setting to writing of many of the worlds languages
- The greater development of art an music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
- The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel
- The eternal salvation of countless souls
Have there been abuses by the church? Unfortunately yes, no one is denying that. But to say radical Christianity is as dangerous as radical Islam, well, I'll let you be the judge of that.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The consequences of our worldviews are very real.
Monday, July 23, 2007
1. Click on "Older Posts" at the bottom of the page to see the next 25 posts
2. Use the Table of Contents on the middle of the right side of the page
3. Use the search bar at the top right side of the page
This should make the load times much, much quicker.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Now these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the sons of Israel defeated beyond the Jordan toward the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even as far as Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir; and Joshua gave it to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions, - Joshua 12:7
During our travel into the Beqaa Valley we went up into the mountains and saw the cedars of Lebanon. These trees are phenomenally beautiful and smell fantastic (see Hosea 14:6). I think each of us were a little bit surprised at how majestic these trees are. Truly fitting to be used to craft the Lord’s temple in
Through your servants you have reproached the Lord, And you have said, 'With my many chariots I came up to the heights of the mountains, To the remotest parts of
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. - Psalm 29:5
This statue was located in the center of town during the years of the Lebanese Civil War. Looking closely you can see that it is completely covered with bullet holes from the war.
After the civil war the government spent 31 billion dollars to rebuild downtown Beirut. However, fear of car bombs grips the hearts of many in Beirut and the downtown area, including the Parliament building (shown above) remains a ghost town except for the soldiers who are stationed every hundred yards [soldiers not photographed].
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Beating the heat turned out to be harder than I anticipated. Even early in the morning it is already roasting. In the past I had often wondered "What are the Israelites problem? God rescued them from Egypt and all they do is complain and turn to idols. What is the deal?
After having now been to Egypt
We first went to the alleged location that baby Moses was found hiding amongst the reeds of the Nile:
Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the
Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nileto bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?" "Yes, go," she answered. And the girl went and got the baby's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you." So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water."
- Exodus 2:1-10
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to
. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt , where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." - Matthew 2:13-15 Egypt
The exact location where Jesus and his family hid. There is now a church over the location so the marble floors were added after Jesus was gone. I am also skeptical about this site but the Egyptian Antiquities Department has certified it as legitimate.
In Cairo, for one reason or another, the Muslims will not work as trash collectors. Perhaps it has to do with their religious beliefs or maybe because as the majority population, they just refuse to do such a disgusting job. Whatever the reason, the job falls to the Christians.
Driving through the dump I discovered that this wasn't just a place to work, it was where they lived. You can imagine the incredible stench produced when garbage from a city of 16 million is piled together and bakes in the sun in temperatures above 115 degrees. Yet the Christians complete their work, many with smiles on their face.
I ponder the reason for these smiles. Surely it isn't that they enjoy their circumstances. Perhaps it is because they have discovered the difference between happiness (which is a temporary emotion) and joy (which is the assurance of their salvation and anticipation of being with Jesus).
But, as he always is, God is at work. One must drive through Garbage City to come to the cave church. A massive church cut deep into a rock of sheer limestone. You can tell from the photos how big the place is. What you can't see is that the church conducts services every day of the week, filled to capacity.
I just returned from a trip to the Middle East that was absolutely incredible. Most of the Christians I worked with, are very active in the underground church all over the Middle East so as I hope you understand, for their safety, I cannot show any pictures of them, their ministry, or anything that could potentially put them at risk.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Most likely it's all of the above.
That needs to change.
It's reality check time: Take a moment to watch this video. Don't just watch it for entertainment's sake, but listen to the words and really understand what's going on. For millions of people, your neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers, this is real life.
Watch this video and than take a moment to absorb it. Then ask yourself "Who am I most like?" The question is NOT "Who do I wish I was?" or "Who am I supposed to be?" but "Who are you really like?"
I sadly suspect that you are just like me.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Todd Bolen is a Professor of Biblical Studies in Israel. Over the past 10 years, Todd has traveled to virtually every place mentioned in the Bible numerous times. (Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration but it sure seems like it). Each time he goes he takes new photographs so that he always has the best possible photographs (since conditions change) of a biblical site.
Todd has compiled thousands of these photographs into digital format and many can be viewed for free by visiting Bibleplaces.com and then clicking on "The Sites." Here you can peruse many of the photographs. But if you're like me, you want more.
When I returned from my trip I discovered that several of my photos didn't turn out the way I wanted. The lighting was bad or I was at the wrong angle. After speaking with my professor, I discovered that from Bibleplaces.com you can purchase the complete collection of photographs from the Holy Lands for a very reasonable price ($189.00 USD I believe - CLICKING HERE will take you to the ordering page).
I chose the 2 DVDs instead of the 10 CDs and when they arrived in the mail I was blown away. Not only were all the photos there, neatly organized by location for easy reference, but there was so much more. Perhaps the best "bonus" feature was that every location had a fully prepared Powerpoint presentation already made. The slides of the Powerpoint already contained the photos and their locations (so you know what you're looking at) and many of them had tons of information written in the notes section. Theoretically you could insert the disk, open up Powerpoint and begin teaching.
I've never met Todd personally and I have nothing to personally gain by endorsing these products, but I cannot articulate how highly I recommend these discs. Reading about a place in my Bible and then being able to visually see that exact location has really taken my study to the next level.
If you are in a teaching position or are a visual learner, like myself, these discs should be a mandatory part of your reference library, but you don't have to take just my word for it.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
You'll probably find one you like. You can check them out here:
Monday, April 02, 2007
This presentation was much more in depth and therefore a bit more heavy and intellectual than my series on the resurrection, so some readers may prefer just to read the series.
You can find a copy of my outline from last night's presentation HERE or click on the link under the "Topical papers" section.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sovereignty and Free Will
Are there Other Ways to Heaven?
Who is our Missionary Model: Jesus or Paul?
Do Missionaries get Called Individually or is there a Universal Divine Calling?
Due to my work with a mission’s organization, I am privy to see many of the issues addressed by Hesselgrave worked out on a daily basis so I can attest to the legitimacy of these issues.
What I really like about Hesselgrave’s approach is that he clearly and accurately (albeit briefly in some cases) presents both points of view and then runs them through a biblical analysis.
While many of these issues are very complex and one chapter from this book simply just cannot present every single detail, it does do a great job of giving an overview to some of the very real struggles facing missions today.
This book is very easy to read and Hesslegrave does a great job explaining what the issues are as well as the history that led up to their controversies.
If you are interested in, or find yourself wrestling with difficult contemporary issues in missions today, you will enjoy this book.
Hesselgrave more often than not takes a more conservative view as his conclusion so if you find yourself at odds with his view, you may find yourself squirming in your seat as you read.
You can buy the book by CLICKING HERE
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Another way to look at it is like this; as summer rolls around and the wedding season gears up, you may be invited to several weddings. At each and every wedding you attend, as the couple begins to recite their vows of love and commitment for each other, pull out a small coin from your pocket and flip it into the air. Heads the couple will stay together and tails they won’t.
I'm not trying to be cynical, rather that is the sad reality of our culture. But what is even more devastating is the impact that divorce will have on their children. As we move from a generation where a divorce was a cause for public shame, to a generation where divorce is accepted and oftentimes encouraged, we are just now beginning to see some of the consequences the decision to divorce has.
“Adult children of divorce” (ACOD) is the term given to those whose parents have divorced (when they were children or adults) and are now adults preparing for, or are already in a committed marriage. Many of these ACODs are just now beginning to see the traumatic effects their parents divorce have had on them.From the back cover:
Finally, a book for adult children of divorce, written by an adult child of divorce.
One of the hardest truths about divorce is that every split – no matter when it occurs – will have lifelong effects on the children caught in the crossfire. While most people acknowledge our pain during our parents’ parting, few of us realize that our most significant insecurities, questions, and doubts may not show up until years later, when we seek our own intimate relationships as adults.
In fact, millions of adult children of divorce feel lost, displaced, or unwanted years after the ink has dried on their parents’ divorce decree. Like them, you may fear abandonment, betrayal, or failure in your own marriage. Despite outward successes, you may doubt your emotional abilities. You may notice that your parents’ divorce affects you more each year, not less.
You are not alone!
Through research, interviews, and personal stories, Generation Ex will help you understand the effect of your parents’ divorce on your identity, faith, and relationships and will give you the tools you need to create a dramatically different legacy.
Includes: questions for reflections.
This book is not a “quick fix” or a “self-help” rather it is designed to help you unlock the doors of your painful past, with the help of someone who knows how you are feeling, and allows you to begin the healing process.
If you are an Adult Child of Divorce, are married to an ADOC, are contemplating a divorce, or have already divorced, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I’d also recommend this book as an addition to pre-marital counseling curriculum when either person is from a divorced home.
You can purchase the book through Family Life by CLICKING HERE.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I came across a poll that said 97% of all people think that James Cameron's documentary is a fraud so I didn't think it was worth addressing. But after more thought I realized not everyone may see it the same way as I do and someone may come across a person from that remaining 3%.
Several well respected scholars and websites have already covered this topic extensively so I'm not going to reinvent what's been done. The following are the places I think do an excellent job while maintaining readability:
Associates for Biblical Research (By far the most thorough analysis, written by a friend of mine)
CARM (Always one of my favorite sites)
Stand To Reason (A review of the documentary from STR)
Bible Places Blog (This site has lots of links but you may need to do a little digging)
I also address the issue of the tomb of Jesus HERE, HERE, and HERE
Thursday, March 08, 2007
A few weeks ago I finished a fascinating book by Malachi Martin titled “Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans.” Now I don’t know how many thousands of books I’ve read over my lifetime, quite a few I’m sure, but I can’t seem to recall one as heavy and dark as this one was.
Martin, a (now deceased) former Catholic Priest, writes of five firsthand accounts of demon possession and subsequent exorcism. Martin thoroughly researched each case, interviewing those involved and studying the recordings and transcripts of the exorcism, to present an accurate portrayal of what demonic possession is like. As you can imagine, all of the possessed were involved in sinful lifestyles and Martin doesn’t pull any punches in his recap (Read that: Mature Audiences Only).
Having studied demonology in seminary as well as encountering demonic possession first hand on the mission field (CLICK HERE for that post) I must admit I was quite intrigued at what Martin had to say. Especially because this book is considered a classic in its field, and students of demonology (which I caution anyone against becoming) are bound to read it sooner or later.
Martin’s experiences fit superbly within his Catholic worldview. Items such as sprinkling the possessed with holy water and holding up a crucifix are presented as powerful weapons against demons. Martin teaches us which prayers are to be used to “provoke” the demon and then explains how exorcisms rarely last less than one and often times up to five days.
However when I think back to my experiences, or the experiences of others I know, or even compare it with the biblical accounts of exorcism, I feel like I’m missing something. In the Bible we see Jesus conducting multiple exorcisms. (See Luke 8:26-39, Luke 9:37-43, Matthew 15:21-28, etc.). Time and again he instructs the demons to depart and they do. Never do we see him using “holy objects” or taking several days, or using only special prayers. While not always instantaneous, my experiences and the experiences of those I respect, are that exorcisms usually last less than a few hours and sometimes just a few minutes. None of us used any holy objects or recited magical prayers. We simply gave the situation to the Lord and followed his examples.
So what’s my point? Well I guess what intrigued me most about this book is how do I reconcile my experiences with the demonic being one way with Martin’s experiences being different, while at the same time both experiences actually happened?
Does the enemy play into our worldview? Meaning if we expect them to respond a certain way, will they try to twist it to their advantage, even during exorcism?
Or does God allow the demons to linger on longer as a way to get the Priest’s attention and to show that only He can expel the demons and not the Priest?
I’m not sure how it works.
There are some really good aspects to this book. Martin’s emphasis on making sure you are right with God before even thinking about conducting an exorcism is great. (Even if you aren’t planning an exorcism this is important.) I also really appreciated how Martin traced back over the possessed person’s life and showed how personal choices, deemed insignificant by the person, would eventually snowball into demonic possession and by the time the possessed realized what was going on, it was too late. But there is a price to be paid by reading this book. It definitely wouldn’t win the feel good book of the year award.
If you are a student of demonology, have a solid understanding of correct theology and are not easily offended by graphic depictions and language, I recommend reading this book which you can purchase by CLICKING HERE.
However, if even one of those areas does not describe you, than this is definitely not the book for you.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
You can probably tell by the new look that with the upgrade came some changes. I had been avoiding the upgrade because the new system uses CSS instead of HTML which basically means I couldn't use my old template. Not a huge deal but I don't know the first thing about editing CSS code so I predict some "growing pains" are coming around the corner.
One great new feature that I'm real excited about is my site now has labels! Each post entry has been given a label. If you scroll down the right hand side to the "Table of Contents" you can pick a category and every post I've written under that label will appear. How great is that!
Now if I could just figure out how to resize boxes......
Friday, February 16, 2007
MoviefoneKevin: that's cool. did you check out the comic books at all?
RoxieLovesBlaze: yes! comic book roxie looks different than i do, and i just hope that die hard fans embrace me in this role. also, i love the idea of selling ur soul to the devil since i work in hollywood and i sell my soul a little every day.........
At first I thought this was just another victim of the Hollywood lifestyle. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Jesus came in contact with people just like Eva two thousand years ago.
Jesus addressed the crowd in Mark 8:36-37 and asked “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
It appears that Eva has answered “a career in the limelight.”
Such a fleeting, temporal endeavor in exchange for the most precious of all gifts. My heart breaks when I think of the day when Eva comes face to face with the reality of Luke 12:20 where Jesus says:
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
There are three Valentines who are noted as having lived in the late third century in the Roman Empire during Claudius II's reign. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy), and the third a martyr in a Roman province of Africa. Some believe the martyrdom of all three men named Valentine (or Valentinus) occurred on February 14th. Many scholars believe two of the Valentines, the priest in Rome and the bishop of Interamna, are the same, suggesting the bishop of Interamna was a Roman priest who became bishop and was sentenced there and brought to Rome for his execution. It is believed Valentine's execution occurred around the year 269 A.D. In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of Valentine's martyrdom to replace the pagan Roman holiday in celebration of the goddess Juno and the eve of the Feast of Lupercalia.
Many would agree Saint Valentine's life is a mystery. History proved his existence when archaeologists unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. He is mentioned in Jacobus de Voragine's Colden Legend, written circa 1260, about saints. (It is written that this was perhaps the most widely read book after the Bible during the late Middle Ages.) He was also featured in a woodcut in the illustrated book called The Nuremberg Chronic/e, printed in 1493.
Sources indicate it was Emperor Claudius II who had Valentine executed for secretly marrying Claudius' soldiers, defying an order from the emperor that soldiers were not allowed to marry. Claudius was having difficulty recruiting soldiers and believed the reason was an unwillingness for Roman men to leave their loved ones, as a soldier would be required to fight for at least 25 years. Therefore, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements. However, Valentine, along with Marius, secretly married couples until he was caught, apprehended and brought before the Prefect of Rome. It is even believed Valentine tried to convert Emperor Claudius and was then imprisoned. One legend says Valentine restored the sight of his jailer's daughter while he awaited his execution. Yet another legend says that on the eve of his death, he wrote a note to the jailer's daughter and signed it, "From your Valentine."
Despite the mystery and questions surrounding the man we have come to know as Valentine, the accounts of his courageous decision to marry couples against the Emperor's law and share the gospel with him stand as testimonies, encouraging us to stand up for Jesus Christ!
~ The Voice of the Martyrs, February 2006
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sunday was spent seeing a final few sites in the city of Rome. We started out at the Colosseum.
I learned two interesting facts about the Colosseum. First, it hadn't even started to be built until 72AD so Paul wouldn't have seen it. Secondly, it wasn't finished until 80Ad and since Nero was already long dead by then, we can eliminate the myth that Nero killed Christians in the Colosseum.
This is an inscription on the Arch of Titus which was erected in 81 AD. I found this fascinating. Look closely at the inscription. It depicts the looting of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem by the Roman army after it's destruction in 70AD. Notice the menorah, the table of showbread and the two silver trumpets.
This is a view of the remains of the ancient Roman forum (marketplace).
The ashes of Julius Ceasar are here and people still pay their respects.
This is the "Milliarium Auream" or "Golden Milestone"(at least the base of it). Remember the phrase "All Roads Lead to Rome?" Well this is where mile marker zero was.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was seeing the Mamertine prison. This was the prison Paul (and probably Peter) were imprisoned in right before their executions. (Not to be confused with the apartment prison Paul stayed in during his first Roman imprisonment). Two things to note, first I'm 6 feet tall and my head is touching the ceiling. Secondly, the gray post on the left side of the picture is where the chains would have been attached to.
This is the only flat space in the entire cell. It is very probable that this is the exact location Paul wrote 2nd Timothy from.
For visitors there is now a convenient staircase but Paul (and Peter?) would have been lowered down, and received food through, this hole in the ground. (The white object you see is a person in the cell area).
While visiting these two sites the irony was not lost on me that Paul started out as a persecutor of Christians and then died as a persecuted Christian. I wonder if this would have been some form of closure for him for the guilt he surely felt at times?
These are the stones Paul walked on from his holding cell as he was marched to his execution spot.
This monument stands over the spot that church tradition says he was executed at. Because Paul was a Roman citizen, he couldn't be crucified. (Peter was not a Roman citizen.) Therefore he was beheaded which was seen as much more humane.
Church tradition says that Paul's head bounced three timies and in each location a fountain sprang up. There is an altar like this one in each of those three locations. (Paul's execution location is now a monastery). Considering that these fountains are about 30 feet apart from each other I'd say that it'd be just about impossible for this to be true, but it's interesting non-the-less.
After his death one of his friends in Rome took his body a few miles down the road to her family burial location. St. Paul's Basilica now stands over that location.
This altar stands over the spot Paul's body is located.
This is as close as you can get to Paul's coffin.
Scientists have identified Paul's coffin because it has these words on it which mean "Paul, Apostle, Martyr." However for some reason they are hesitant to open it to verify that Paul is in there. (I guess the only way to verify would be if the neck bone is severed than it's probably Paul but if it's not than you got the wrong guy.) Why won't they do this? Is it perhaps because of the loss revenue if it isn't him?