Category Archives: Off the Bookshelf

Excerpts from Books I’m Reviewing

A Prayer For Children!

Hello folks,

My brother Tom has a collection of old books (published more than 100 years ago), and in one of them (Prayer by Matthew Henry) I read the following:

O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee; my father’s God, and I will extol thee.

Who is a God like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. When my flesh and my heart fail, thou art the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Thou madest me for thyself, to show forth thy praise.

But I am a sinner; I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

God be merciful to me a sinner.

O deliver me from the wrath to come, through Jesus, who died for me, and rose again.

Lord, give me a new nature. Let Jesus Christ be formed in my soul, that to me to live may be Christ, and to die may be gain.

Lord, I was in my baptism given up to thee; receive me graciously and love me freely.

Lord Jesus, thou hast encouraged little children to come to thee and hast said that of such is the kingdom of God; I come to thee: O make me a faithful subject of thy kingdom, take me up in thy arms, put thy hands upon me, and bless me.

O give me grace to redeem me from all iniquity, and particularly from the vanity which childhood and youth is subject to.

Lord, give me a wise and an understanding heart, that I may know and do thy will in everything, and may in nothing sin against thee.

Lord, grant that from my childhood I may know the holy scriptures, and may continue in the good things that I have learned.

Remove from me the way of lying and grant me thy law graciously.

Lord, be thou a Father to me; teach me and guide me; provide for me and protect me and bless me, even me, O my Father.

Bless all my relations (father, mother, brothers, sisters), and give me grace to do my duty to them in every thing.

Lord, prepare me for death and give me wisely to consider my latter end.

O Lord, I thank thee for all thy mercies to me: for life and health, food and raiment, and for my education; for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the means of grace, and the hope of glory.

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift; blessed be God for JESUS CHRIST. None but Christ, none but Christ for me.

Now to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that great name into which I was baptized, be honour and glory, dominion and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.

What a great prayer, period; let alone for children.  Speaking of which, one of life’s greatest privileges is teaching your children to pray and to see God answer their prayer.  This past Sunday, God allowed Martha (my 3 year old daughter) and I to see a great answer to one of our prayers!  It was exciting to see and it was thrilling to watch her reaction.  I cannot wait to teach Allen as well; however it will be some time since Allen is still learning to keep his eyes closed during prayer.


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1st Century Boat at Ginosar

Because much of Christ’s life and ministry centered around the Sea of Galilee and many of His most powerful miracles were performed either on the sea itself or along its shores, it truly was exciting to see what a boat looked like during the time of Christ. Many of the stories in the Gospels came to life such as Christ teaching from a boat, the calming of the storm, the miracles of the fishes, and the walking on water, not to mention the other numerous passages that describe Christ’s movements by ship in this region.

And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. – Luke 5:3

And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. – Mark 5:21

The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. – John 6:22, 24

The boat was discovered after the Sea of Galilee had receded in more modern times. Because wood was such a precious commodity in Israel during Christ’s time, this boat showed signs of extensive use and repair. It was made from 12 different types of wood, and could be either rowed or sailed. Its crew consisted of 4 oarsmen and a helmsman, and besides these, it could carry up to 15 additional passengers. While we were here, we also learned of the extensive effort to rescue and preserve this boat, which gave us a greater appreciation of the conservation attempts made here in Israel. While there is no evidence connecting this boat to Jesus or His disciples, it was very intriguing to see a ship that Christ possibly saw on one of His many trips across the Sea of Galilee and may have possibly used sometime during His life and ministry in this region. On top of this, the museum that houses this historic ship was very sharp as well as air-conditioned, and the bookstore was very nice. Outside, they have planted each of the twelve trees from which the ship was made, and because it is located right on the sea, there are many beautiful views of the Golan Heights across the lake.

The Dimensions of the Boat  

25.5 ft. (8.2 m) long

7.5 ft. (2.3 m) wide 

4.1 ft (1.25 m) high

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Megiddo – The Past, Present, & Future Of All Humanity

Tel Megiddo

Looking out over the valley from on top of Tel Megiddo

Situated in a strategic location in the Jezreel Valley, the city of Megiddo controlled the most important crossroads of the ancient world.  Consequently, its history has been one of battles and warfare as the nations of men struggled for power, wealth, and dominion. From the battle between Thutmose III and the Canaanite Coalition in the 15th century to the battle between the Allied forces led by General Allenby against the Ottoman army during World War I, there has been much bloodshed spilt in this valley, and many important battles fought.  Yet, despite of its historical significance to the past, the fame of Megiddo is due largely to its role in the future and the events to come.  It is here that the Apostle John foresaw the final conflict between rebellious man and Almighty God.  The outcome of this battle, which ultimately will usher in eternity, will prove forever God’s sovereign power and dominion over all the realms of men.

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. Revelation 16:16

The archeological excavations here at Megiddo are some of the best in all of Israel, and they involve 25 different layers. We saw the gates of the city built by Solomon, and we walked through a tunnel, carved out of rock during the time of Ahab, to get to the city’s water source.  There was an ancient altar here that has also been excavated. But by far, the most exciting thing about Megiddo is the breath-taking view that the city has of the Valley of Jezreel. It is much broader, wider, and longer than I had ever imagined, and from its lookout, you could see Mount Carmel, Mount Tabor, Nazareth, and many other Biblical places. The feeling one has while standing here is quite surreal because here, more than any other place in the world, is where the past (25 layers of civilizations), the present, and the future (the events of Revelation) all meet.

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The Hills of Kursi

The Hills of Kursi

There were two main events in the life of Christ that occurred in the hills of Kursi: the feeding of the four thousand and the deliverance of the two possessed of devils. 

And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. – Matthew 8:28-32

*Also see Mark 8:1-21

During the time of Christ, the Sea of Galilee served as the border between the jurisdictions of Herod and Philip. Thus a short trip across the top of the pear-shaped sea would take Christ out of Herod’s predominantly Jewish region into that of Philip’s. Kursi is located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which is a part of today’s Golan Heights. The hills of this region literally rise up straight out of the Sea of Galilee.

During Christ’s ministry, He performed two miracles involving bread and fish: once on the predominantly Jewish side in Tabgha (the feeding of the 5,000) and the second time on the other side here in Kursi. The Bible calls this region the country of the Gergesenes or literally the land of the repelled ones. There were seven groups of people that Joshua and the Israelites defeated and drove from the land: the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites (Joshua 3:10). These people resettled in this region, and Christ often came to the other side to heal their sick and to teach his disciples. Interestingly enough, there were seven baskets left over after Christ fed the four thousand here in Kursi while there were twelve taken up after the feeding of the 5,000. In John’s Epistle, the details of both of these miraculous events are combined. Why so? Because John chapter six is Christ’s famous discourse on the Bread of Life; Christ was teaching that He was the Bread of Life for both Jew and Gentile alike, and that He was sufficient for the salvation of both. 


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God Is My “Masada”

MasadaBeyond a shadow of a doubt, our visit to Masada was one of the highlights of our entire trip to Israel. Situated with a commanding view of the Dead Sea, this rocky fortress was virtually impenetrable, and standing on top of it gave you an indescribable sense of awe and security. Add on top of this the courage, sacrifice, and bloodshed that was shed here nearly 2,000 years ago during the Jewish Revolt of A.D. 70, and you will always have a place of respect in your heart for Israel’s second most holy site. For almost seven years, Jewish patriots held off the Roman army, which had completely surrounded them, and they would have lasted much longer except for their unwillingness to kill their brethren who had been enslaved by the Romans to build a gigantic rampart up to the walls. In the end, they chose death over enslavement, and their heroic act immortalized them in the minds of both Jews and Romans alike. Today, every Israeli child visits Masada at least once while he is in school, and Israeli soldiers are sworn in on top of this historic monument with this oath:

I swear – I swear – I swear – Masada will never fall again.

One thing, however, that is often overlooked amongst the breath—taking views and impressive ruins of Herod’s palace (built along the side of this fortress), is the fact that Masada is mentioned in the Bible.  David took refuge here at least three different times (twice when running from Saul and once when the Philistines sought for him), and he also wrote of Masada in the Psalms (18:1,2; 31:1-3; 71:1,3). 

I Samuel 22:3-5  And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and bewith you, till I know what God will do for me.  And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.*  And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.

II Samuel 5:17  But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.*

Psalm 31:1-3  In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.  Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for a house of defense to save me.  For thou art my rock and my fortress*; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. 

*The English words hold  and  fortress are the same Hebrew word for Masada.

While Masada was a temporary place of refuge for David, David understood that his real fortress and security was in God.  In Psalm 31:3, David says to God, “Thou art my ‘Masada’.”

*Bible and Spade 22.1 (2009). Pages 16-18

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Slavery and the Bible

The following is an excerpt from the book, Slavery and Christianity (Paul’s Letter to Philemon)
by John Robbins (pages 25-26) :

Paul… wrote this letter as a form and model of church discipline.  Again, unbeknownst to many commentators, it is Philemon the slave owner, not Onesimus the slave, who is doing something wrong.  Paul writes to him and simultaneously to the church in order to correct him. Notice that Paul does not first approach Philemon privately, as churchmen today say is required, based on their inability or unwillingness to understand Matthew 18.  The reason for Paul’s publicly correcting Philemon is obvious: The procedure for Matthew 18 is for private sins, not public offenses, and Philemon’s is a public offense. Philemon has not sinned against Paul privately; his actions involve several other people – most obviously Onesimus, but also, the other members of his household, the church that meets in his house, and Paul’s fellow laborers.  By approaching Philemon as tactfully and firmly as he does, Paul furnishes an example of how elders should handle cases of public sins through church discipline.

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Scientists Who Believe

lunar_eclipseThe following is an excerpt from the book Scientists Who Believe
edited by Eric Barrett and David Fisher (pages 103-108 ) which included the testimony of Colonel James B. Irwin, one of only 12 humans to have ever walked on the surface of the moon.  He was the Lunar Module Pilot of the Apollo 15 mission which lifted off from Cape Kennedy on July 26, 1971, and landed on the moon four days later.  His stay on the moon was a record 67 hours!:

The hours passed slowly as we waited for the great day.  But the last minutes flew by quickly, and finally – “all systems go!” – we felt the tremendous power of the rocket pressing us back into our seats.  We were leaving earth.  The trip to the moon had begun.  We counted on the fact that many people were praying for us – our families, our children, and our friends.  We are thankful to all of those who prayed for us then…

In the lunar module “Falcon” we made our landing in the region of the Apennine mountain chain.  Mountains surrounded us on three sides, while on the fourth, the eastern side, there was a big canyon, a deep ravine.  My first feelings were connected with the mountains.  I spontaneously recalled the words from Psalm 121:1-2: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” (KJV) …

Now I thank my God that I was able to visit the moon, as I had hoped to do even when I was a boy.  I also thank Him that He helped us to return safely to Earth.  I praise Him for giving me the opportunity to be His servant, and to be yours as well.  In closing, I would like to say to you all, God lives! He is on the moon as well as here on Earth.  He is everywhere, wherever man may be.  It was He who created the planet where we live.  Earth is like a magnificent spaceship, completely in His care.  God loves us with an eternal love, which He proved to us in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Because He loved man, Christ died for each of us.  He alone can forgive our sins and change our hearts.  He is able to enter the life of each one of us and fill it with Himself.  He gives strength to the weary and makes us victorious over death.

This quote was taken from a sermon Colonel Irwin preached in 1979 in a Baptist church in Moscow.

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