Sunday, January 25, 2009

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

I have had a copy of Mathew Henry's Concise Commentary on my PDA for many years. It is a free resource from Olive Tree.

Last week I got a copy of the complete version. What a difference. I went from one volume to six. Instead of abbreviated or non-existent comments on verses, the complete commentary goes into great detail.

I have several other commentaries on my PDA that I use regularly. I would think of them as more technical. They explain the language, point out nuances and comment on what the passage means. With Matthew Henry, I feel like I am listening to a sermon. It's almost like reading a devotional but with much more detail.

Since the first of this year, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. I have read it in different versions, looked at in different commentaries and have started taking it apart word by word.

This morning I was reading Matthew Henry's comments on it. I felt like I was sitting in church listening to a great sermon. The preacher exhorted me to follow God, put Him first and receive the blessing of redemption.

Here are some of the words that stood out to me: "Seek these things first; first in thy days: let the morning of thy youth be dedicated to God. Wisdom must be sought early; it is good beginning betimes (early) to be religious. Seek the first every day; let waking thoughts be of God. Let this be our principle, to do that first which is most needful, and let him that is the First, have the first." As I read this, it made a strong argument for starting the day with something that helps us focus on God that day. It may be "devotions" or it may be something else. If we are going to seek God's kingdom and his righteousness first, then we need a plan on how to do that. Otherwise, our kingdom and plans will be the focus of our day.

I heard it said that you should start your day the night before. Get to bed so you can get up when you need to. Maybe you need to lay out clothes, pack a lunch or make other preparations so there is time in the morning to focus your day on God.

This good commentary doesn't just give me information but it exhorts me to live a Godly life and points out the tools for that journey.

This commentary was originally published in 1706. There are places where you have to think about the language and as in the above quote, you might need to use a dictionary on occasion. Aside from that, it is such a great work that I would recommend it to anyone who wants to shine some light on their Bible reading and life.

I am thankful to Olive Tree for making the Bible and other great resources so portable and usable. It's great to get good books off the shelf and to have them with me whenever I want to look something up.


For better and easier Bible study check out the links below.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Olive Tree has products for Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone. Over 150 of the resources are free.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Color versus Character

Obama becomes President.

For many people, their dream is about to become a nightmare.

To elect an African American to be the president of the United States is historic. Too bad the wrong man got the job. Too bad that Martin Luther King's dream didn't come true in this election. Part of his dream was for a day when someone would not be "judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I remember the rhetoric during the campaign when many people claimed the reason people wouldn’t vote for Obama is because they were racist.

Wasn't it possible that some people were more concerned about character than color?

Sadly, some preferred color over character. Many people ignored their own values to elect the most liberal Senator. People who claimed to be Christian or prolife voted for a man who is their enemy. They ignored his character.

I will continue to pray for Obama. I will pray that God will frustrate his plans to wipe out all protections for the unborn. I will pray that his liberal, socialist agenda will not prevail.

And I will hope for the day when color or race will not be determining factors but that content and character will be.

Here is the I Have a Dream speech.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

TV - the new civil right

A tragedy is about to hit our land.

The "most vulnerable Americans" may end up without TV.

Here are Brad Stine's thoughts on the coming crisis:
The Unimaginable Pain of No T.V.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pennzoil – Bad, Bad Oil

Last week I noticed an engine noise when I started up my work van (2002 Chevy Express). It sounded bad. At first, it went away within a minute but then on Friday it lasted longer. On Monday morning after hearing it again, I knew I had to take it to the shop.

I was pretty much sick to my stomach as I waited to hear back. I feared the worst but prayed for the best. I knew they needed to keep it Monday night and hear it as it started cold in the morning. Tuesday morning the call came. It was a stuck lifter. I asked a few questions and got a vague idea of what was wrong. The mechanic then told me that sometimes they get dirty so what he wanted to do was change the oil, put in an additive cleaner and see if that will do it. If not, we were looking at a major engine repair.

Thursday afternoon the call came that the work was done and it looks like the sound may go away. It wasn’t there after the oil change. The plan was for me to try it for a few days and see what happens. Wednesday morning there was no sound and Thursday morning it lasted less than a minute.

I was talking to my son, who is a mechanic, on Tuesday afternoon about what was going on. He asked what kind of oil I used. I told him Pennzoil as that is what they put in at the lube shop. He said that he had heard of many problems with Pennzoil gumming up engines. Well that was news to me. I thought all oil was basically the same.

When I picked up my van later on Tuesday, I asked the mechanic if one oil is better than another. He told me what kind they use and then said, “just stay away from Pennzoil.” He went on to tell me that it is paraffin based. He said if he was tearing an engine apart he immediately knew if that kind of oil had been used.

It sure made sense to me now. That explains why the problem happened when the engine was cold. That paraffin sludge gummed up my engine.

Last night at church, I mentioned what had gone on and one of the old guys, an engineer, asked me if I knew why it happened. I said paraffin and he replied that it’s the Pennsylvania oil. I guess Quaker State is the same.

So, I learned a lot in the past few days. Why don’t they teach us these things in school? From now on, I will be careful of what oil I use. The shop used Mobile 1 and I have heard Castrol recommended too. Now I hope that my engine will be okay. Time will tell if the damage can be completely reversed.

Now a word about the shop I go to. It’s called Colorado Auto Tech. They are located in Lakewood, Colorado at 1510 Kendall Street. I have gone there for many years, I would guess close to twenty. I have found them to be honest and competent. I know they are looking out for me and I am very comfortable leaving my car with them.

Auto repair is an area filled with dishonest and incompetent people. I’m so glad to have a shop like Colorado Auto Tech that I can trust.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Moody Handbook of Theology

The thing I like most about this book is that it gives the various viewpoints related to the topics it covers. There are plenty of similar works that give one side to a controversy and then act like there is no room for discussion. In this handbook, the author may lean a certain direction but he won’t push you there. You are given room to think for yourself. The handbook is written from a conservative, orthodox, evangelical perspective.

The book is broken down into five areas of theological study: biblical, systematic, historical, dogmatic, and contemporary. Here is an idea of what each section covers.

Biblical theology is the study of the Bible itself and how God has revealed himself to man. Old Testament to New Testament, creation, the fall to redemption, it’s broken down into eras such as Edenic, Mosaic, Patriarchial, Prophetic, Acts, Paul, Hebrews, John, etc.

Systematic Theology deals with a system of Christian thought. It attempts to give an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs. It draws on sources outside the Bible such as sacred texts, history, philosophy, science and ethics. It covers subjects such as the origin, inspiration and interpretation of the Bible, God, Christ, man, angels, salvation, the church, and last days.

Historical theology shows how Christian theology has unfolded through the centuries. It explains how cardinal doctrines were developed and how they have changed. The four main divisions would be ancient, medieval, reformation and modern theology. Subjects covered are things like God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation and the church. Various controversies during each period are covered as well.

Dogmatic theology is a body of belief held by an organized church body. Some of the theologies covered would be Calvinistic, Arminian, Covenant, Dispensational and Roman Catholic.

Contemporary theology covers theologies such as liberal, neo-orthodox, radical, socialist and movements in modern conservative theology such as evangelicalism, fundamentalism, neo-evangelicalism and neo-fundamentalism.

Does that sound like light bedtime reading? Not for most of us. For me it’s a great resource to use when I hear of a particular belief and want to look into the background of it. As I have been using this handbook I have found that it does a good job of giving me the various views surrounding theologies, doctrines and controversies.

I have the Moody Handbook of Theology on my Palm PDA so it’s easy to look things up wherever I am and searching is done in a flash. I really like having my questions answered as they arise. I use the version from Olive Tree.

Here is my recommendation on how to use a book like this. I think we need to be Bible fluent first. We need to get into the Bible with child-like eyes. In Mark 10:15 Jesus said, Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. Now I know that Bible study can be hard work at times but my first rule has always been to wonder what a child would take a passage to mean. What does it simply say? I carry that over to theology and doctrine as well.

There are certain doctrines and dogmas that I have come across that are so complicated that it takes a tutor and a pair of magic glasses to understand what is being presented. The teacher speaks rapid fire throwing out verse references that “prove” what he is presenting. If you slow down and read each verse you find that there are long leaps between what someone says a verse means and what it actually says.

My point is that if you don’t have a fluency in simple Bible you can be led astray very easy. You can pick up a book on doctrine or theology or listen to a message and it will sound great. It may or may not be.

Another rule of mine is that living is more important than knowing. You can have a big head or a big heart. (I’m not saying I have this down).

Some years ago, a group of people invaded a church I was a part of. They were big on doctrine but small on Christian living. They studied a particular Systematic Theology book as if it was Scripture. They used the word doctrine in most of their sentences. But they were some of the biggest liars and thieves I have ever known. Ethical living was off their radar. They could quote chapter and verse but it was misquoted and their lives were rarely touched by love or truth. They left a wake of destruction behind them and never looked back.

Do you get what I’m talking about? A book like the Moody Handbook of Theology is an excellent resource when used right. First, you need a basic Biblical understanding. Otherwise, you will bounce from belief to belief with little foundation. Second, we need to learn, so we know how to live. As Paul said, “knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up.

That said, I highly recommend this book. There are places where I might disagree with the author’s views but I will understand why and how he believes what he does. I will also gain a better understanding of what I believe and be able to examine if it lines up with God’s word. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the handbook has a great glossary of theological words and concepts. Great if you were wondering what trichotomous means. If you are, click on the above picture to see.


For better and easier Bible study check out the links below.

Moody Handbook of Theology

Olive Tree has products for Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone. Over 150 of the resources are free.

Monday, January 12, 2009

No Regrets on a Large Family

Recently I was talking with some friends about regret and it seemed the common thought was that regrets can be used by the devil to squish us. On the other hand, it's good to examine our lives. We need to take ownership of our sin and look behind us once in awhile to see the wake of destruction left by our actions.

I have many regrets but I was thinking of one big thing I've done that I don't regret. It was the decision to have a large family. Or more accurately, the decision not to interfere with God's desire to give us a large family.

We believed what Psalm 127:3-5 says: Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

When we were married, it was accepted that babies came with marriage. I can't think of anyone I knew who would have thought of completely rejecting children. Even in 1978, the idea of birth control was not accepted in Christian circles as it is today.

Few people seem to know that prior to 1930, every Christian church rejected contraception as morally wrong. It was the Anglican Church, in 1930, that opened the door and look at where they are today. In 1931 the Federal Council of Churches (forerunner of the National Council of Churches) in the United States followed by endorsing "the careful and restrained use of contraceptives by married people," at the same time admitting that "serious evils, such as extramarital sex relations, may be increased by general knowledge of contraceptives."

Here is what an editorial in the March 22, 1931 Washington Post said,

Carried to it's logical conclusion, the committee's report, if carried into effect, would sound the death knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be "careful and restrained" is preposterous.
We've come a long way baby!

Anyway, early in our marriage, we decided to leave the number of children to God. Our first baby boys, twins, were born about a year after we were married. They were premature, born at five months, and didn't survive the birth. We had to trust God in that.

Two girls and three boys followed. Then a baby boy died within weeks of when he was due to be born. What sorrow that brought. We had to trust in the goodness of God.

Three more boys followed and then a final child died in the first months of pregnancy.

So we have eight kids we get to see regularly and four we will get to see in heaven.

Marriage and children have challenged me to be a better person. Both regularly show me how selfish I am and many other lessons I have a hard time learning.

I'm glad that we had a simple faith in those early days. I'm glad the decision on the number of children wasn't based on what we could afford. I've seen God increase our income through the years as the gift of more children was given. Here is what Matthew Henry said: "Children are God's gifts, a heritage, and a reward; and are to be accounted blessings, and not burdens: he who sends mouths, will send meat, if we trust in him." I've not always been faithful in taking advantage of the opportunities that God has given but that has been my fault and not His.

In all honesty, I would admit that raising children is much harder than we ever imagined. There has been a cost in other ways too. We drive old cars, shop at thrift stores and scrimp and scrape most of the time. I know our kids have felt deprived at times, but there are things that are of more value than private bedrooms, fancy clothes, new cars, bank accounts, and other things that money can buy.

Children indeed are a gift. My wife and I are rich in blessings. For that, I have no regrets.


Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Here is a post from comedian Brad Stine on New Year's Resolutions.

A New Year to Fail!

Really good thoughts.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Passion Music Video

Came across this video. Scenes from the Passion of the Christ movie and songs by Keith Green.
Very powerful.