Books, Internet, and DVD’s
Now and then, I come across amazing resources that are in-depth, direct and to the point, so much so, that they can strengthen your walk and help you share your faith. In this past year (2016), I have read many books, visited at least 50 websites for the Christian faith (most of which are not worth mentioning), and re-watched a DVD.
Let’s look at the DVD first.
In November of 2008 after my bypass surgery, I was at home recuperating and incredibly bored. Since Christmas was only a month away, I went on the Internet to see if I could find any ‘useful’ information on the Star of Bethlehem. As I am sure you can imagine, there were thousands of hits on Google (there are 815,00 as of today 12/19/2016). One caught my eye; it was the first hit on the long list: www.bethlehemstar.com. This site was so interesting and informative that I purchased two of The Star of Bethlehem DVD’s, one for my personal use and the other for my church.
The DVD is produced by Stephen McEveety from Passion of the Christ. An attorney named Frederick A Larson was interested in the Star, so he researched the available material and created content for a Bible study at his church. It was so well received that he was asked to present it to his entire church and then all over the world. Through the process and notoriety, Larson remains humble and gives all the glory to the Lord.
The information is well presented, cited, and explained. While the website dives deep into the information, the DVD provides a ‘live’ version of the data and can easily be used for group Bible studies. I strongly recommend the use of both; read the information from the site and watch the DVD as they go hand in hand. If you are wired like I am, the information is breathtaking and brings tears to your eyes as the cosmos unfolds screaming to all who take notice the dates of Christ’s birth and crucifixion. The beauty of the cosmos sings His praise for all to hear!
Since numerous sites are giving the actual birthdate away, I will let it ‘slip’: September 11, 3 B.C.
Now for the books.
There are many I could recommend, but there are three that stand above the others: 1) The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural World View of the Bible, 2) Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World—And Why It Matters, both written by Michael Heiser Ph.D. (author and editor for Logos Bible Software) and 3) Man, Myth, Messiah, by Rice Broocks (author of God’s Not Dead).
I will use the explanation of the books exactly as they appear in the texts, as the authors or editors can explain the content better than I.
The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural World View of the Bible
“Theologians & pastors need a supernatural worldview. The Bible can only be interpreted correctly when we understand the worldview of its writers. Instead of basing interpretations on Christian history or theological traditions, the author recaptures the supernatural worldview of the original writers and readers. This book unlocks the meaning of many “problem” passages—verses that many Bible teachers pass over—by shifting readers back to the cultural viewpoint of the ancient writers of the Bible. Theological and social filters make reading the Bible “safe”—and predictable. Remove the filters, and discover in Scripture the story of an epic battle between the unseen forces of good and evil. This book equips pastors and Bible teachers to demonstrate the relevance of Scripture to a culture fascinated by the supernatural. The Bible has all of the supernatural drama of Stephen King with one unique difference—it’s all true. These are theological ideas whose time has come”. (Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.)
My note: I suggest a careful and deliberate reading of The Unseen Realm as it is written for theologians and pastors, and therefore presents a significant amount of material. This book will open your eyes to a world that you didn’t know existed and put the Old Testament in the context in which it was written. By the time you finish, your understanding and love for scripture, and more important, the Lord, will grow to heights you never dreamed.
Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World—And Why It Matters
“Today’s Christians need a supernatural worldview. Start with a skeptical, naturalistic culture. Add the church’s tendency to avoid or gloss over difficult supernatural Bible passages. The result: most Christians miss the supernatural worldview of the ancient authors, and misunderstand Scripture. The Bible is full of passages that offer mysterious, little-known promises and revelations—but too often we misread them because we think, “This can’t mean what it seems to mean.” But it does. And one thing is for sure: Readers of this book will never read their Bibles in the same way again. Their understanding of God, and their hunger to find out more will grow. While this book contains “mind bombs” that will intrigue and amaze the average Christian, they won’t undermine any core beliefs. Instead, readers will find themselves engaged in an enthusiastic pursuit of the truth, resulting in a new appreciation for God’s Word. A quick glance at the movie and book best-seller lists demonstrates that today’s culture is fascinated by the supernatural. The Bible has all of the supernatural drama with one unique difference—it’s all true”. (Heiser, M. S. (2015). Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World—And Why It Matters. (D. Lambert, Ed.). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.)
Man, Myth, Messiah
[In] “Man, Myth, Messiah, we take a closer look at the evidence for the historical Jesus. The central contention that is set forth is that the Jesus of history is the Christ of faith. The Christian faith goes beyond simply declaring God exists and claims that God became man in Jesus Christ, lived among us, and ultimately sacrificed His life in order to atone for our sins. Three days after His death, He would rise again, proving that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and the Savior of the world.” (Excerpt From: Rice Broocks. “Man, Myth, Messiah.” iBooks)
Websites and Blogs
1) www.askelm.com There a significant number of resources available on Associates for Scriptural Knowledge. I recommend reading and listening to The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World by Ernest L Martin. The book is online and free to read. There is also a mp3 so you can listen while following the text. The book is well written for the layperson (like me), and the numerous citations allow for fact checking. Bibliographies and citations are often not available on many sites casting suspicion on the information; if you write something, document your sources. Martin goes into great detail to lay out his theory, being careful not to ‘oversell’ his theories.
There are numerous additional resources on this site, but I cannot comment on them as I have yet to review (will give an opinion once I do).
2) www.drmsh.com Dr. Michael Heiser has developed an excellent website with blogs from a number of areas he has written, taught, and lectured on. The content includes tabs on Biblical studies providing in-depth information on the citations of his book The Unseen Realm, the Divine Council, and more. There are additional tabs, one of my favorites being Fringe History where Heiser debunks the Ancient Astronaut theories. Needless to say, Dr. Heiser is a prolific writer and well sought after scholar as his work is cutting edge and relevant for today.
May “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24–26, ESV)