May 2013


Acts (17-18 Series)I must confess that I am not a journaler. The only journal I have kept was in college which I logged while I was engaged and then gave to my wife as a wedding present. I have always had a hard time sitting down writing my thoughts out. I do keep copious and detailed notes in the margins of my Bible but journaling through my Bible reading has never been a habit.

But that can change. The 17:18 Series is a series of books for each book of the Bible and is designed to help readers journal through their Bible reading time. The series is written by Joel Beeke and Rob Wynalda and is based on Deuteronomy 17 where Moses gives instructions for the future king of Israel. Specifically, when it comes to the law the king was to hand write his own copy of the law. RHB has aptly termed these books journibles.

This series of journaling books is to get readers of Scripture to more engage the text and leave a legacy of Bible reading and meditation for future generations of Christians. The specific book of the Bible I have is for Acts. The book itself looks and feels like a regular journal with journal style pages. One the left side of each page are a series of questions stemming from specific verses which are written on the other side. Most of the time the given questions do not take up the entire page so there is room for more questions to add yourself or just regular notes. On the opposite side there is room given to write out each verse of the book of Acts.

There are several benefits to journaling through your Bible reading time. First, writing out the text of Scripture is another way in which the words embed themselves into your mind and memory. This is evidenced in our general education in school with spelling, grammar and other subjects. Writing out the text enables the words to seep into your mind in a unique way that reading and saying them does not. Second, writing out the words forces you to slow down your reading of the text which results in paying more attention to what is being said. Benefits are obvious. Third, closely tied to number two, journaling causes one to look at the text repeatedly while writing and making sure to get each right. This is similar to reading the text over and over but with the added mix and benefit of writing the words.

With The 17:18 Series of journaling books there are much fewer excuses not to journal through your Bible reading experience. The concept is simple and yet profound. The hardback binding ensures the books will last a lifetime so you can pass on the legacy of your journaling experience with your kids and grand kids. Give it time and the benefits will become more clear and experienced. I recommend these books for all Christians – journalers and non-journalers alike.

Here is a short video with Rob Wyland on the Journible series:

NOTE: I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books through Cross Focused Reviews. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the words and thoughts expressed are my own.

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Two weeks ago I posted my review of Chris Brauns’ new book Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices. The books is great and I encourage everyone to get copy. This week I have invited Chris to answer a few questions about his book to further peak your interest in this great read.

Question: When you discovered the principle of the rope, what was the hardest thing for you personally to accept? Did it change the way you think about and make your decisions?

Craig, thank you for taking the time to interact with Bound Together. I really appreciate it.

Before I forget, I would invite your readers to stop by my web site (www.chrisbrauns.com). In the month of May I am giving Bound Together by Chris Braunsaway the last of some books as well as some free Nooks (see the Bound Together Quiz). The goal of my web site is to post material that would be helpful to people in our local church. But it ends up being helpful to a lot of other people as well.

For those who are not familiar with my book, I should explain that he principle of the rope is a metaphor that I use to reference corporate solidarity: the idea that we are not islands unto ourselves but that we are bound together with other people. I explain in Bound Together:

Our future and place in this world isn’t simply the sum of our own individual choices. On varying levels, we are roped together with others.  When someone we are roped to is lifted up, we are lifted up with them. When he or she jumps off a figurative cliff, we are pulled over with them.  This is what I refer to as the “principle of the rope”: the simple truth that our lives, choices, and actions are linked to the lives, choices, and actions of other people.  To put it simply, as I have in the title of this book, we are “bound together,” tied to others in our good and bad choices.

There are endless illustrations of this principle . . . We talk a lot about the principle of the rope in our church and at home. Recently, when I was out for a walk with my ten year old son, I asked him, “Benjamin, what do I mean by the principle of the rope.” He responded quickly. “Oh, I think about that a lot. Here’s the best example I can give. Today a couple of kids in my class got in trouble. So, none of us got to go out to recess. That’s the principle of the rope.”

The hardest part for me about the fact that we are roped together or bound together is that children suffer because of the choices that adults make. I love children, always have. One of my favorite parts of being a pastor is loving on the little ones.

Given my heart for children, it is very, very difficult for me to accept that when Israel entered into Jericho that all the children were executed. But rather than running from that truth, in Bound Together, I leaned into ittrying to understand where my views of reality need to be reshaped. While I still cannot completely get my mind around the destruction of Jericho, I accept that it is God’s Word and that I can profit from it. Accounts like the destruction of Jericho shows us that Jericho was not viewed as a collection of individuals, but rather as a city “bound together.”

Of course, it has changed how I view life. It shows me, for one thing, that if I really love children I need to build into the lives of their parents as much as possible. We cannot just target individuals. We need to work with groups and cultures as well.

Question: Would you use the principle of the rope in evangelism? If so, how? If not, why?

Whether or not we explicitly talk about the principle of the rope, the subject must be a part of evangelism. In order to be saved, someone must understand that all are born in sin, but that the Good News is that it possible to be united to Christ (Romans 5:18-19).

I do think actually using the metaphor of the principle of the rope helps people understand the concept. To say that Adam was roped to all his descendants communicates in a concrete way.

Question: If the tie to Christ is stronger than our tie to Adam, is the principle of the rope an integral part of the gospel message?

Yes, Paul’s point in Romans 5:12-21is that Christ’s victory is greater than Adam’s defeat: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Romans 5:20).” In terms of the book, Christ’s rope is infinitely stronger than Adam’s.

As I wrote in Bound Together, the doctrine of original sin is the ultimate negative example of the principle of the rope. Union with Christ is the ultimate positive example. If we stopped with only saying that original sin is a negative example and union with Christ a positive one, we might be left thinking that Christians are in a figurative tug-of-war between Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness. But the message of the Gospel is that Christ’s victory is greater than Adam’s defeat. The good news is better than the bad news is bad! Through Christ, those who believe in Christ are completely delivered from the dominion of sin.

Thanks Chris for writing this book and taking the time to answer some questions.

Tomorrow I will host a giveaway for a copy of Bound Together.

on-the-seventh-dayWhen it comes to the opinion of the secular scientific community regarding evolution and creation, one of the constant phrases you hear thrown around is “All scientists agree that……” In reality, since views are always changing with the advancement in scientific discoveries and there are often numerous scientific theories supporting these discoveries and their implications, scientific consensus is not always as much of a consensus as we are led to believe.

When you do some digging you will begin to realize that there are numerous credible scientists and academics who are Christians that do not accept evolution as a viable theory of origins and the like. Though contrary to popular belief, their lack of belief in evolution does not impede their ability to do their jobs as scientists and experts in their fields.

On the Seventh Day: Forty Scientists and Academics Explain Why They Believe in God edited by John F. Ashton is a small collection of short accounts from Christian scientists and academics telling us how they became Christians and why they believe in creation.

The accounts are broken into two categories. First, there are accounts under the label reason and faith. These are accounts of people who were brought to faith in Christ through their scientific and academic studies. As they studied they were brought face to face with the truth that evolution is not a credible explanation for life and all it encompasses. Whether in school or working in their field of study, these Christians were hit with the truth of God as creator. There are aerospace engineers, doctors, physicists, educators, psychologists and more.

The second category of testimonies is under the label faith and experience. These conversion accounts are a little different in that they focus not on how each person was brought to faith in Christ because of their professional work but, rather, these testimonies tell the story of how they were brought to faith in their everyday lives. The focus here is on how they experienced God working in their lives through a miraculous healing, Gods presence through traumatic life experiences, God’s provision through other believers and other similar type experiences.

The value of a book like this is that it points to the reality that faith (as secularists and atheists want to define it) is not belief in something in spite of the evidence or because of the lack of evidence, but rather, it is belief because of the evidence. These testimonies contribute to the reality that Christianity is an intellectually defensible and reasonable belief. This book might be good for those who are doubting their faith (both Christian and non-Christian alike) and for those who are looking for some further confirmation of their faith in Christ as the maker and sustainer of the universe. These testimonies are encouraging to read. I suggest reading one chapter a day with your devotions to help the book have the most impact on a persons life.

NOTE: I received this book for free from Master Books in exchange for my honest review. The words and thoughts expressed here are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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