It’s Never Too Early

While most folks are breaking out the scarves and pumpkins, I am getting ready for Christmas. It is never too early to start thinking about it. Every year brings about new traditions and new memories. This year brings about a new movie.

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I cannot wait to go see The Man Who Invented Christmas. This film looks like it is going to be an enjoyable film. Check out the trailer at the bottom of the post and be on the lookout for more information coming your way and even some giveaways from me as we get closer to the film hitting theaters.

Synopsis:

The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.

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Review: CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible

First off, let me say that I was excited to finally get my hands on a copy of the new CSB translation. I have been using the HCSB for the past few years and I have come to really enjoy the translation. While it is not a true word for word translation, it also does not take many liberties into being a thought for thought paraphrase. I always thought it did a wonderful job of finding the right balance of each for this wanna be scholar.

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The new CSB is not simply a rebranding of the old and dropping the name Holman from its title, but rather it is an update. Scholars from various denominations came together to look at every verse and ask if it truly was the best way to communicate the idea. If there were any edits needed, they made them. Enough about the translation though.

The new Ultrathin Reference Bible I hold in my hands is a wonderful Bible. Besides being a wonderful translation, the font size is nice and readable. I like a fairly small font size so I can keep the size of my Bible small, but I do not find this size hard to read. Also, the pages feel like they are capable of withstanding some minor note-taking and marking without caving, but given the size of the margins, you may want more space.

Overall, this is a wonderful Bible to carry with you and to read from. Sometimes it is nice to be able to read Scripture for what it is without being bombarded with notes. That is exactly what this is good for. It gives you enough references without causing you to chase a trail looking for that elusive nugget.

I received this Bible for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

No Hate Here

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I struggled with whether or not to write anything. I often feel that my words would do no good because somehow I would jumble my thoughts and would not be able to produce a coherent statement. I have since moved past that and have learned that silence speaks. I would rather speak and have a few misplaced words than to not speak at all and appear to be supportive of a movement. What happened yesterday in Charlottesville has no place in the Kingdom of God. Hate has no place in the Kingdom of God.

I am vehemently against any person perverting Scripture to justify their hate-filled actions. This is not what the Gospel is. In fact, if anything, a movement that seeks to produce harm and tries to justify it on Scripture is a form of an Antichrist. There cannot be any mistaking it. The spirit behind the movement is evil, regardless of what the supporters may tell you.

Thankfully, Scripture is not silent when it comes to living with our neighbors. The Apostle John wrote a portion of the New Testament and was not silent on this topic. The fourth chapter of 1st John speaks to love quite extensively. While this is a short read and one I encourage you to pursue on your own time, I want to focus specifically on verse twenty of this chapter. John tells us that if someone claims to love God, but hates their brother, they are a liar.

Love is the only option for a Christian. It does not mean that I have to endorse the sin in their life, but I am called to love them. The way we treat those that we can see standing right in front of us is an example of how deep our love of God is. If you want to love God more, start by loving your brother more.

You can try and justify your actions and personally, I do not care. I am choosing love. I would rather love and be wrong.

Ruth: Discovering Your Place In God’s Story

Ruth is one of the more underrated books of the Bible. We tend to overlook the truths found in the Old Testament and instead skip right to the New Testament and Jesus’ words. All of Scripture is profitable for a person. I am glad that there is now a way to emphasize the book of Ruth in a new manner.

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This new book from Eugene Peterson is unlike any other of his works that I have seen. This takes us through the story of Ruth, but allows us to see it in a new light by filling in the drawings on the pages. As the pages turn so do the images reflected not only on the paper, but also in my mind. The entire project is relatively short, but so is the book of Ruth.

It is a nice way to help relax after a stressful day while taking in more biblical truth. Overall, the pages are a good thickness and should withstand a fair amount of coloring objects.

I would highly recommend this as a gift or for personal study. I received it for free in exchange for an honest review. These words are my own and have not been influenced by the author or publisher in any way other than the printed book.

Grief

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Comforting Those Who Need Us Most

 

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

Thessalonians 4:13-14
Life is a miracle filled with God’s blessings, love, and cherished memories. Life also comes with struggles, temptations, and loss.  At some point in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one.  Our grief is one of the hardest things to overcome – and it manifests differently for everyone.  We as God’s creatures love deeply and thus we feel loss strongly.  

For many, it takes time, faith, prayer, and support to heal from the loss of a loved one.  But for some, the journey may be too difficult and their burden too heavy.  We’ve all heard that there are 5 stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  But what if someone struggles to heal?  What happens if they get stuck in one of the stages of grief – anger- for example can lead to a great deal of self-destruction.  How far might a person go “to make the pain go away.”

There’s an upcoming film “Annabelle: Creation” that deals with this very premise.  I’m not usually a fan of horror movies but there’s something in the storyline of this upcoming film that’s worth talking about.  The movie begins with two parents – the Mullins – who suffer through the unimaginable and sudden death of their daughter.  Their grief is unbearable, and it is when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable that temptation and evil comes with whispers of consolation, and a way of “seeing” their little girl again.  I don’t want to give away any more plot spoilers, but needless to say the Mullins give into temptation, and a supernatural battle against evil takes place in their home.  If you’re a fan of horror movies, you may really enjoy this film which releases in theaters this Friday, August 11.

Though the Mullins are fictional characters, the idea that we’ll do anything to hold on to a loved one who has passed and/or that evil wants to take advantage of us during a time when we are vulnerable can be very real.  

Grief, especially when it comes unexpectedly, can crush the spirit of even the strongest among us.  As Christians, it is my hope that whenever we come across someone who is grieving, we reach out to comfort and support them with their immediate needs (ex. cooking dinner for the family, babysitting the children, etc.).

It is also my hope that we minister and share God love with them and remind them that they are not alone.  As Christians it is our duty to take care, comfort, and pray for one another.  Healing may take weeks, months, or years, but it is a comfort when they know they can turn to God and to their neighbors to help them through.

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”

2 Corinthians 1:3

“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Thessalonians 4:17-18

 

Photos provided by Warner Bros.

Thought Overload

I really need to be posting things here more often. I suppose posting is not the best terminology. Anyone can hit the post button and throw something up on the internet to live forever. Rather, I need to take the time to sit and hammer out some words. Not only will it help keep the creative juices flowing, but it will also hopefully allow my brain to process the thoughts that I do have.

I do not know if my brain ever slows down. I would not say that I need a therapist or anything like that, but rather my brain always runs scenarios, sequences, word analysis, and a host of other things without slowing down. I can have a conversation with someone and be analyzing their choice of words and actions while trying to figure out if any of it will fit with an upcoming sermon and continuing to dwell on the Scripture and book I read earlier that morning. My brain is a scary place.

Writing helps me take these thoughts captive for a few moments to put together a coherent string of words. It is a little refreshing, if we are being honest.

More on this to come….

Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out

Evangelism is lacking in the church today. I am not one to believe the theory that it is not being done simply because people are ashamed of their faith. I believe the main reason Christians are not sharing Jesus is because they do not know how. They have come to know Christ, but then no one has shown them how to actually share Jesus. Instead, they have seen it more as a step by step process that if you miss one, you damn a person to hell eternally. This is not the case and I am glad the new book from Alvin Reid Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out is now available to help a new generation of Christians learn to share their faith.

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Throughout the book, Reid’s desire is for the reader to see that sharing the Gospel does not have to be a pressuring topic. Instead, Jesus should be something that comes up in our normal conversations of life. If this Gospel has transformed our life and is still working in our lives, we should be talking about it. We should not simply leave evangelism to those who are deemed evangelists. Evangelism is the call of every believer.

If a believer will follow the steps outlined by Reid, they will feel encouraged to share Jesus, but not in a pressured manner. Rather, the believer will see that sharing Jesus is as simple as living life and capitalizing upon the situations that arise on a daily basis. When we spend time talking to our neighbor, we build a bridge for the Gospel to eventually cross. When we speak words of encouragement to a coworker we allow the Gospel to slowly work its way into the person’s life. When we share the Gospel and it transforms the heart of a person we have played an integral role in God’s mission on earth. Whether we find ourselves able to explicitly share the words of Christ, we must trust that God is working in the lives of those around us and in the end it is not our responsibility nor in our ability to save anyone. That role is left to Jesus.

This book is the best one that I have read designated specifically to sharing Jesus. Reid does not condemn those who have not actively been sharing the faith, but he gently encourages them to start sharing. It is an easy to read book that would be a perfect study for a small group or even a church-wide campaign.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words above are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the publisher or author.