May I Exhort You, Dear Christian, to Invest in a Well Made Bible?

bibleI remember, after the Lord saved me, receiving my first official Bible as a brand new Christian. Sure, I had a stubby, little gift KJV Bible my mom bought me when I was in 6th grade after I completed my confirmation classes at my old United Methodist Church, but receiving a new Bible after I came to know the Lord was extra special.

It was a Ryrie Study Bible (I still have it), black, genuine leather in the King James. It is filled with my hand written notes and yellow marker hi-lights I made on verses as I began to fully understand biblical truth for the first time. I am sure readers may be familiar with what I am talking about because you probably have the same kind of Bible somewhere in your house.

A couple of years later, my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I requested a KJV super wide margin Bible.  At the time, those Bibles were packaged in cheap, bonded leather, (the new versions come in Moroccan leather), but it was thin and carried nicely in my hand. The interior was awesome with the massive wide margins where I wrote copious study notes (and lots of KJVO apologetic stuff). That Bible looked sweet at first. It even had Authorized Version 1611 on the spine (though it was a 1769 text). However, within a few years of use, the edges began rubbing off and the backing starting coming loose. The bonded leather was slowly deteriorating and it started to look ugly. I still have that Bible as well.

By 1997, I was in California attending seminary and working at Grace to You. That was the year the John MacArthur study Bible, in the NKJV, was published. I secured a copy of it in a nice leather version, but within a few years, it too began to look worn. Later, I was able to get the ESV MacArthur study Bible, as well as find a slightly damaged NASB edition I rescued from a give-away bin. The Crossway ESV edition of the MSB is fantastic, by the way. Excellent craftsmanship for a mass produced Bible.

I have pretty much used those two Mac Study Bibles as my primary reading/studying/carrying to church Bibles for the last 5 years or so. Recently, I began taking up only the NASB edition and reading it. I like the translation of the NASB, even though the ESV is the go-to translation these days. Yet once again, that Bible is showing the signs of wearing out with use. It is only a matter of maybe a year before it begins to fall apart, too.

My first thought was to mail it into a place that specialized in rebinding old books and Bibles, like ACE Book Binding, to put on a new cover. They did my wife’s first edition MacArthur Study Bible, and they did a tremendous job. They even have a large selection of colored leathers and orange appeals to me.

Then, in the last year or so, I heard Mike Abendroth mention on his podcast about him getting a really good Bible from Evangelical Bibles. He said it was a handcrafted NASB Schuyler Quentel edition. I texted him for the details and he sent me the links. I was immediately overcome with awe of those Bibles. The 220 buck asking price, however, was steep. I fluctuated between weighing spending the money to do the rebinding on the old Bible, which would had been a bit cheaper, against adding an extra 50 dollars or so and getting a new Schulyer.  I finally landed on the Schuyler.  I began to save my money by selling off commentaries and books in my library that I now had on Logos. It took me a number of months, but I was finally able to secure one, and it is absolutely gorgeous.

As one can tell by the picture at the top, I picked up the firebrick red version. Everybody I know carries a black, tan, or burgundy leather Bible, so I wanted one that stood out. As soon as I unpacked it and breathed in that new Bible smell that came wafting up from the box, I knew I had a thing of elegance in my possession. Picking it up, I can just feel the quality in my hands: supple, natural grain goat leather, the stitching around the edges and the spine, the way it lays open on the table, it is a piece of art in Bible making.

While the exterior of the Bible is breath-taking, it is the interior that is truly amazing.

When I was weighing my options between getting my old MSB rebound and spending a bit more to purchase a Schuyler, I was telling an acquaintance of my choices. He told me that most folks only consider the exterior of a Bible, what it looks like and whether or not it is covered in a good leather. Rarely do folks think about the interior of the Bible, what kind of paper its printed on and the way the text looks and is laid out on the page.

We just so happened to be standing in the church’s book store when we were discussing Bibles and the guy grabs a cheap edition off the shelf and opened it up. He held a single page against the light of the store. “A Bible printed on cheap paper will have what are like little pin pricks all over the page, like this one here.” Sure enough, I saw the little pin pricks on the page. He went on to explain that the bulk of mass produced Bibles that folks pick up in their local bookstores are printed on that low quality paper. A really good Bible paper will not have any of those pricks or maybe just a few here and there on a page.

The first thing I did when I unpacked my new Bible was to hold a page up to the light. There wasn’t a prick one anywhere to be found.

But even more wonderful is the way the page actually looks.

biblepageThe font is 11 point, and the letters crisp and bold and easily read without my reading glasses. Also, each chapter is a red number matching the exterior color of the Bible itself. And it is not a “Words of Christ” red letter edition, another feature I insisted upon.

And the one fun perk is the edge of the Bible. If you close the Bible and look at the paper edge, there is the standard gold tinting. Once you open it and fan the pages, the edges turn firebrick red.

edgeI cannot be more thrilled with this Bible. I actually get excited anticipating studying the Scripture. That is why I would encourage all believers to consider making a worthy investment in a good, well-made Bible. Evangelical Bibles have more than just this version, though I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Check out their page and look over their ESVs, KJVs, and the NKJVs. There are a number of excellent choices.

Men and women have bled and died to preserve God’s Word for us. We hear it preached every Sunday, and we are supposed to do our daily reading from one. While I am grateful for the mass production of relatively inexpensive Bibles of all shapes and sizes and editions because God’s Word is spread far and wide, if we really maintain a high view of Scripture, why not get a really good one that is worthy of the God who gave us His Word? It may take saving a little every couple of weeks from a year’s worth of paychecks, but I think it would only serve to elevate your love for God and Scripture.

Debunking Ancient Aliens

aliensI remember as a kid watching an episode of “In Search Of…” that told about how aliens had visited earth thousands of years ago and helped humans build the pyramids and other ancient monuments. I sat transfixed as Leonard Nimoy’s sober narration convinced this 8 year old that aliens used tractor beams and levitation in order to stack giant rocks.

So recently I am driving to work early one morning and I am listening to the replay of Coast to Coast AM, which is like the equivalent of Charisma News or Sid Roth for atheists, New Agers, and UFO enthusiasts. The guy that was being interviewed had put together a documentary that basically debunked the whole ancient aliens idea, with particular focus on the History Channel series. The weekend host was asking him questions that had a tone of sarcastic disbelief, like, “You’re telling me men can move giant, 800 ton stones? Really?” The interviewee patiently explained how ancient societies accomplished such engineering feats and how ancient alien believers tend to exaggerate or outright fabricate the evidence. In other words, they lie.

The guy being interviewed sounded familiar and when the show went to a commercial break, the host says, “we’ll be back with our guest, Chris White, right after this,” I thought, “Yes, I know where I heard him before.” He was once a guest on Echo Zoe radio during which he talked about identifying the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18.

Knowing the guy was a Christian, I immediately knew I wanted to check out his documentary. It’s available for free on YouTube through White’s main website,

Ancient Aliens Debunked

The video is three hours long, so make sure to pack a lunch; or you can break it up into chapters or sections and return to it when it is convenient.

Now some folks may be wondering why I would recommend a 3 hour YouTube documentary on debunking the claims about ancient aliens. That’s a fantastic question.

Well, if you are like me, I would imagine you have encountered various individuals from internet subcultures that assert with much passion the truth of ancient aliens building the pyramids. Sure, those folks are few, but they are there and they can have an influence on the unlearned.  Additionally, they tend to be really hostile toward God and Christianity specifically, claiming that the aliens that visited the earth were the deities worshiped by the civilizations.

So while it may seem silly to many, I guarantee my readers that they either have come across such people or will eventually. Here you have a fabulous online apologetic resources to answer such absurdities.

Also, the audio of White’s Coast to Coast AM episode is currently available at YouTube,

Chris White Coast to Coast AM interview

That discussion is only an hour and a half or so rather than 3 hours, but you’ll miss seeing all the great visuals. Make sure to fast-forward to around the 40 minute mark where the interview begins.

The only criticism I had with his interview is that he avoided talking about being a Christian. If I hadn’t known of him beforehand, I would have concluded he was just another one of those typical skeptic debunker types. I personally think he missed an opportunity with not making it clear to the audience from where he was coming from as a Bible-believing Christian. He also made the assertion that he thinks aliens can fit into his current worldview and I totally disagree with that, and believe it messes up biblical theology.

Those peripherals aside, I highly encourage folks to check out the documentary when you can. My kids and I watched the first section dealing with ancient monuments and they loved it. It will certainly help to shore up their thinking if and when they encounter friends who believe in ancient alien civilizations.

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpeners – A Review

1115151827~2So we homeschool.

That’s right. We’re one of THOSE families.

When we pull up to Chic Fil A, we disgorge from our minivan like it’s a nauseated clown car. You get the picture.

Like many homeschooling families, we have converted one of the rooms in our house into a makeshift classroom. In our case, it is the room that would otherwise be designated the laundry room. We put the washer and dryer in the garage (which I prefer anyways), and have decorated the space with maps of the world continents, posters explaining the various rules of English grammar, shelves with learning logs and curriculum, the computer, and a long table with a long bench.

As a homeschooling family, we are a pretty much on our own with purchasing our school supplies. That means we have to secure our own printing paper, pencils, pens, erasers, staplers, paper clips, scissors and so forth when the 99 Cent Store, Staples, or Big Lots has a clearance sale.

In our homeschooling world, pencils, both the trusted Ticonderoga and the artsy colored ones, are a necessity. That means we have to have a reliable pencil sharpener.

A number of years ago, my wife secured a nice electric sharpener. It was the mainstay of our makeshift classrooms for several years surviving across two major house moves. Then one day a few weeks ago, I come home and my wife says to me, “We need a new pencil sharpener.” I asked why, and she begins explaining how the electric pencil sharpener isn’t sharpening the pencils but chewing them up like a wood chipper. One of my kids listening to our conversation quickly demonstrated what my wife was talking about and I cringed as I heard the pencil grind to splinters. He produced before me a gnawed wooden stump with a graphite lead sticking out of it.

So then a day or so later, my wife was searching the web for replacement sharpeners and found a link on Facebook to a website called, Classroom Friendly Supplies. The owner claimed he sold the “Best Pencil Sharpener in the World!” We both thought, “really? what’s so great about a pencil sharpener?” I mean, I once drove through New Mexico where this truck stop claimed to sell the “world’s greatest fudge!” and I can tell you that after eating some, I doubted seriously there was a Sherpa in Nepal wishing he had some of that fudge from that truck stop in New Mexico.

At any rate, as my wife browsed the website, she discovered that the owner/creator of the best pencil sharpener in the world offers to send one free to anyone who had a blog with over a 100 followers and who agreed to give some free advertising in the form of a review article with links on social media. I have close to 400 followers and I am an active participant on social media as is my wife, so I thought, why not; I’ll be happy to do a review. I filled out the necessary information, got accepted, and within a week or so, we had our new sharpener to play with.

To begin, the sharpener is constructed from a sturdy, metal case. The one thing I appreciated about these sharpeners is that they come in at least 6 colors: black, blue, red, purple, pink, and green, and not just the typical polished tinfoil. I wish they had orange and even banana yellow, but hey, the choices you do have are nice anyways.

My wife wanted the red one.

1115151837a~2There is a clear plastic box that holds the pencil grounds that slides easily in and out of the metal casing of the sharpener. I really appreciated that design because I don’t have to twist the cover off like with the standard sharpeners thus risk dumping pencil grounds onto the floor and creating a cloud of graphite particles that get all over my hands and clothes.

The only real drawback with that easy to remove and dump design is that the box could get “lost” in the trash can or even broken if there is not care taken when cleaning it out. But, the website offers replacements for just that scenario.

1115151814a~2There is a L-shaped fastener included that holds the sharpener to the edge of a table. One end inserts into a hole in the case and then the sharpener is held down to the edge of the desk by tightening a plastic clamp with a wingnut.

This is probably the one con we have with the sharpener, because the clamp can slip and you have to fidget with the sharpener and clamp to line it up properly. My wife’s immediate thought was that rather than being round, the L should be a hexagram or square shape that fit into a corresponding shaped hole so that the case won’t slip around. I thought maybe a two-pronged, Y-shape that fit into two holes instead of one; but I am not an engineer. I can only imagine that this was discussed during the initial design phase for the prototype sharpener.

The website does make available a permanent mount plate if you plan to keep your sharpener in one specific location. It looks to be easily installed if you go with that option.

Now what makes this particular sharpener different from your general school room sharpener is the sharpening mechanism. All of my kids that this was the absolute awesomest part of the sharpener. We are use to shoving the pencil in the sharpening hole, holding it steady and straight while cranking the handle, and pulling it out every few turns to check if it has reached its desired sharpness.

With this sharpener, you pull out the silver front plate until it locks in place, pinch the two knobs on top, insert the pencil into the sharpening hole, release the knobs so that now the pencil is held into place, and without holding or pushing the pencil, turn the handle clockwise and the plate pulls the pencil into the sharpener. Once the cranking of the handle spins freely, the pencil is sharpened. Just pinch the knobs holding the pencil and pull it out.

1115151819~2~2Look at the point on that thing! Be careful not to put out an eye!

 

1115151820a~2Sorry, got carried away there. Anyhow,

Instructions and video presentations are available at the website if you are interested in seeing the sharpener in action.

There could be a little bit of a learning curve with this sharpener. Again, it is not your average sharpener we are all familiar with, but the point on the pencil was fantastic. I wouldn’t say it is the world’s best, but it was certainly a nice sharpening. And you get that with every pencil.

A good, sharp blade is key to getting a nice, crisp pointed pencil and the cool thing about School Friendly Supplies is that replacement blades are available for sale. That means that rather than tossing your sharpener and having to by a new one, you can just get the blade, follow the instructions for replacement and have what amounts to a brand new sharpener. I appreciated that option, because it shows me the designer cares about not only the product, but the folks who purchase them. The sharpener is not meant to be a disposable cheap tool, but something built with a bit of quality and concern with how it is used.

So. If you are homeschooling parent, Sunday school teacher, public school teacher, or even some non-educational individual, like an architect who needs a good pencil sharpener, I’d recommend checking out School Friendly Supplies and their superb sharpeners.

Dispensationalism/Covenantalism Q and A

On a Facebook group, a fellow posted a list of questions he had for apologists Matt Slick of CARM and Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity ministries. The questions were primarily directed at those two men and specifically centered around the systems of Dispensationalism and Covenantalism.

I asked if I could take a shot at offering my answers and the guy who posted them said sure. I spent a couple of hours on AWANA night in the TMS library compiling my responses. Seeing that I am stalled at the moment on my KJVO book review, I thought I would create a PDF and post it here if anyone else is interested.

There were a few questions I skipped, because they were too specific with Presbyterian WCF ideas, and I’m not a Presbyterian. The subject is kind of geeky, but deals primarily how we are to interpret the Bible and the interplay between the OT and the NT.

CovenantalismDispensationalism

Apologetic Methodology in Dialogue

A few years ago, over at the old Blogspot version of my blog, I posted an article outlining in bullet point fashion the basics of presuppositional apologetics. In that post, I mentioned Ratio Christi, a national parachurch ministry on a number of university campuses across the United States who seek to train young Christians to defend their faith.

My comment about Ratio Christi was contrasting their doctrinal statement about the nature of man with what the Bible teaches regarding the nature of man. They teach that though mankind is fallen, he still retains his ability to reason about reality and theology. Which means according to the Ratio Christi way of doing apologetics, Christians can be trained to have a reasoned discussion with hostile unbelievers about the Christian faith.  On the other hand, what the Scriptures teach about men is that their reasoning ability is severely broken, and no amount of reasoned discussion with them will change that. Instead, the primary focus of apologetics is to train Christians to challenge the corrupted foundations of the unbelievers’ anti-God worldview and proclaim the Gospel to them.

After I posted that article, Adam Tucker, the Ratio Christi chapter director at UNC Greensboro, came by and left some excellent comments challenging my assertions. Over the course of a few weeks, we had a long, extended discussion about our apologetic theology and methodology. I wrote up a few follow up posts from that discussion that can be found on my articles page under apologetics and evangelism.

When I moved my blog from Blogspot to WordPress, I lost the formatting of a number of my better articles, including even the comments under them which now appeared run together in a long, unreadable paragraph. As I began the process of reformatting and reposting a number of those blog articles, I also recognized the great comments under them, including the one with Adam. So I cut and pasted them to save.

The conversation with Adam, the classic apologist, I thought was useful, so I have edited our comments in to one document for others to study. I found it useful, because Tucker does a fairly good job outlining his reason for his apologetic methodology and challenging mine. In fact, he did a presentation for an apologetics conference on many of the same themes we tackled in our discussion. I wrote up a two-part response to his presentation that can be found HERE and HERE.

The conversation between us was like 10,000 words or more. I put together a PDF that folks can download if they want. It is not a thrilling read by any means, but I post it for individuals who want to go a little deeper in the study and theory of apologetic methodology. Especially seeing the two primary positions laid out and debated.

AdamTuckerDialogues

Northlandz

I had no idea this placed existed until I saw this video. Located outside Flemington, NJ, Northlandz is one of the world’s largest model railroad sets. It is also a doll museum, but we’ll ignore that this time.

Some photographers got together and took some awesome miniature pictures of the place. Their work can be found here, Separate Together

They also made a short video about their work. Some of the related video is worth checking out too if you are into model railroading.