1&2 Thessalonians/Philemon Life Application Bible Study, a review

1&2 Thessalonians/Philemon Life Application Bible Study provides its readers with the NLT translation of the books with the Life Application, notes included, and then follows all 3 books with the study for each book. In total there are 13 lessons, 7 for 1 Thessalonians, 4 for 2 Thessalonians, and 2 for Philemon.

I like the newer translation of the NLT, which this study includes, but still prefer a more literal translation such as NRSV or ESV. The notes are good and the charts included aren’t bad either. The studies for the books, however, are lacking depth. The study does not stretch the reader at all. Most of the questions are the real simple and only skim the surface of the books. All of the questions are “safe” and do not allow the reader to dig deeper into what Paul is trying to say to the church at Thessalonica or to Philemon. I do not recommend this study for even new Christians as the engagement level is too low to be worth while. A good study will challenge its readers to dig deeper into the material.

I received this study free for review from Tyndale.

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Psalms, Life Change Series review

Psalms, in the Life Change Series by NavPress, is Bible study for individuals and can be used in a group setting as well. This study takes several Psalms per lesson, grouped by similar themes, and asks soul searching question to help the reader think about their own life in light of the Psalm’s teaching. In the margins, the study suggests more ways to interact with the Psalms in different settings.

This study for what I can tell, as I did not do all of it but sampled several lessons for this review, is not the most in depth scripturally but I am also a seminary student. I think for the average church goer this study is asking more than they normally are willing to give, which is good. The reader needs to engage more throughly with their own life’s in light of the Psalms. The Psalms are great for doing some soul searching. I would like to comment though that the way this study is conducted will not work well with over parts of scripture though, so do not try them there, but work great for the Psalms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Trying to Restore Honor in Glenn Beck

(Subtitle: but failing)?

Glenn Beck decided to throw a big rally at the Mall in Washington D.C., his rally coincided with the 47th anniversary of MLK Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. (Personal aside: Honestly if you thought it was okay for him to do this then I cannot see how you can also claim the mosque in Manhattan is wrong. I think both are/were insensitive but legal nonetheless.) Beck said this rally was not political in nature (though he originally planned it to be). Here is my take on this rally:

Glenn Beck can put on a great show/rally. But he cannot keep a consist message, are we advancing or are returning to the founding fathers, he promoted both. Beck paraded many different people up on the “stage” all of them were spouting unity. However his unity is not a real unity for America as a whole since he had those professing Christ up on the stage. Hey Beck what about the Hindu or Muslim or Atheist or other Americans how are they united in this restoration (he did make one or two small remarks but for the most part it was obviously missing). Oh yeah, isn’t Beck a member of LDS (better known as Mormon). I believe this rally was put on so Beck could point back to this event and say, “See I am a Christian and I call for unity, not divisiveness.” However Beck also calls for us to put or faith, hope, and charity in America and not in God. I seem to recall Jesus preaching the Kingdom of God (Heaven in Matthew) and Jesus made it clear this was not an earthly kingdom such as an America. This is why it is not a good idea to get spiritual/religious guidance from and uneducated man (Beck did not finish a college course or receive any Biblical training). Yet Beck continues to try to teach us what it means to be an American (despite not taking a college level History class) and how to be a Christian (despite being a LDS member and not having any training in the matter). It scares me more that people look to him for advice on these matters. I implore you to reconsider taking Beck at his word and do some research yourself, if you follow him.

While Beck and those who spoke did not make any implicit political statements, many were there in the under tones, especially Palin’s speech. It is obvious from how Beck spoke and how ideas were presented, there was a deep under tone of political ideas and thoughts, the current (and I would say they meant Democrat) politicians are not honorable. Of course none of this was actually said but I think everyone knows this was implied. One only needs to read the comments of those who attended, they got political messages out the rally.

So Glenn Beck tried to restore honor in America, good try Beck, but we need to restore honor in our faith in Christ and live it out as Christ preached. Christ preached the Kingdom of God and not the Kingdom of Israel, Rome, or America. I am sure most of the people Beck had at the rally meant well, but I think Christians in America have gotten off track on what it means to be a Christ follower. Jesus did not come to America (unless you are LDS, as is Beck) and has made no promises to America as a country. Christianity is not own or controlled by Americans, it is a worldwide belief and faith (not a religion though that is how it is practiced). Also it is impossible for America to be a Christian nation, as nations cannot be Christian only people can be.

Galapagos: Snorkeling off Isabella (end of Day 2)

We had two options for our second afternoon, we could snorkel or walk where Darwin walked but only see the same animals as we had previously seen. I elected to snorkel and got to see several sea turtles, sea stars, fish (including a puffer fish), and some sea urchins. 

a Puffer fish

a "chocolate chip" Starfish

Following the snorkel we took a dingy ride around the island to see wildlife in action along the rocky edge of the island. Then we returned to the boat to relax for the rest of the day. I am still feeling well (I was ill the day before).

This is a pic of our boat while we were on the dingy

Penguins, the only place to see them North of the Equator (though I think we where south of it at the time)

Flightless Cormorant

One of the first Blue-footed Boobies we saw

As you can see the wildlife is friendly with each other

a Blue Heron posing for us

During our briefing for the next day my cabin was selected to eat with the captain. Six people can dine with the captain each night and so each cabin is selected for certain nights. But before dinner and after the briefing we went up top to look for whales, orcas, and dolphins. We did get to see one or two whales slightly (no pics though). Last week the group saw a pod of orcas.

Then the call came for dinner. However, Shelby felt bad and had to miss the dinner. The Captain told us about a great story concerning his time in the Ecuadorian Navy. He found a boat not moving on his radar screen in the Galapagos. He drove up the ship and after some work he got a hold of the captain. He found out that they had been illegally fishing for Tuna and were from Columbia. The fishing vessel was rather large and could not be handle at San Cristabol. So he had to accompany the boat all the way to the mainland. Later on he found out that boat not only had 700 tons of Tuna but also 400 kilos of cocaine and heroin. Needless to say he got a promotion for the bust. After dinner I went up on the “Sun” deck to see the stars and then came down to write this (I wrote an entry for each day this entry is only half of the day as is obvious).

For our first day in the Islands and the morning portion see Shelby’s blog (link on the side). I will also mostly likely post my thoughts on the first day and this morning later (Shelby decided to have these posted differently than I was thinking and she had more time and so she won by doing when I could not.)

Galapagos Posts

Right now I should be cruising the Galapagos Islands with my family, thanks Mom and Dad. Upon returning Shelby and I are planning to do some sort of joint postings about the trip spanning both our blogs. We would do so while on the trip but we have little or no internet access, as I wrote this post before we left. This will also explain why there will be no posts for a while. Hope all is doing well back in Waco and the States.

Clive Staples Lewis

C. S. Lewis is tenth (and final) on the list.In modern thought no one stands out like C. S. Lewis in my mind. I cannot think of any other person who could write an enduring, gospel filled children series and write a mind blowing (in many ways) book, Mere Christianity. While he is viewed mostly favorably today I think his place in history is still up in the air. I am hoping he over many others represents this era.

Jacobus Arminius

Jacob Arminius is ninth on my list.To even out Calvin I included Jacobus Arminius, just as I did sort of with Aquinas and Luther. I did not think Arminius himself was a great theologian like Calvin but I think he helped balance out God’s sovereignty and God’s love together.

John (Jean) Calvin

Jean Calvin is eight on the list.For those who know me, my find Calvin’s inclusion strange. However, I realize that not matter what I am going to have to deal with some variation of his theology. I applaud Calvin’s commitment to God’s sovereignty but have to think he went over board on what that means.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther is seventh on the list.Martin Luther is the most devious on the list in my opinion. While he was a great theologian, I question his Christian spirit from my reading of him. Name calling really. I realize you had a differing view on some elements of theology from the Catholic but it could have been done more maturely. See Erasmus for a potentially better way to handle the situation, aka reform from within not splinter. I also picked Erasmus but thought he is not quite known enough and too close to Luther.

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas is sixth on the list.Thomas Aquinas I think has done the most to define Christianity today. By this I mean you either mostly follow his ideas or mostly disagree. I do believe the difference between the two is minimal since Aquinas used a lot of orthodox tradition but of course then added a unique twist and I think over analyzed everything. Nonetheless if one is too dwell into theology seriously I think they must deal with Thomas Aquinas earning him sixth on my list.

I want to mention that this list is in chronological order so I have not rank them.