Book Review: How Will The World End?

These days, it seems, many are fascinated with the end of the world. The number of apocalyptic movies is evidence of this. Even in the field of theology there is much study on end times. Yet, too often the response of all this is the “fascination mixed with confusion tinged by fear” (Rinne 7). Now, enter Jeramie Rinne. Jeramie dares to ask the question “How will the world end?” in the next of the Questions Christians Ask book series. Going back to the Bible, he lays out what will happenHow-will-the-World-End-by-Jeramie-Rinne, how it will happen, and when it may happen while reminding his readers the focal point is Jesus (chapters 2-5). He ends the book challenging believers to reflect on how this topic calls for us to live in the present (chapter 6).

This book is a surprising accessible book on a frequently confusing subject. While the author admits the book is not meant to provide an in-depth analysis but a big picture view about the end of the world (Rinne 9, 51-52), I believe he accomplishes much in his overview. He reminds us to not be too dogmatic or indifferent to eschatology (Rinne 7). He, then, lays out the different views of Christ’s second coming (i.e. premillenial, postmillennial, etc.) in an understandable format (chapter 4). He does not get caught up so much in who may be right in their view but that our ultimate focus is to “keep your eyes on Jesus and keep studying your Bible” (Rinne 27). And, indeed, Rinne takes us back to the Bible to show how God says the world will end. The book ends by showing how these future events should be affecting our lives now. Faith, godliness, and hope are just three of the outcomes we should seek to apply to our lives in view of Jesus’ return (chapter 6). All in all, this book is a helpful and fruitful tool for all Christians. From church leadership to the new believer, How Will the World End? is a resource worth reading.

I received this book for free from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

Review: 1 Samuel for You

Chances are if you know anything in the book of 1 Samuel it is the story of David and Goliath. Those unfamiliar with most of the Bible at least know this story. Whether the metaphor be used in sports or something else, we want to cheer for David. We see ourselves as ‘the David’ in the story. We all have giants and we need to defeat them. However, having this particular framework is not fruitful. One, to speak of the story of David and Goliath in this way risks turning the narrative into nothing more than allegory. Two, it removes the story from the larger context. 1 Samuel 17 is a part of the whole book and is set in a context of the grand narrative of the Bible. We are not meant to take the place of David (Chester 126-127). The imagery in 1 Samuel 17 reminds us of Genesis 3 and points us to Jesus Christ. See, rather than us playing the role of David, David is meant to point us to Christ. This is just one takeaway from Tim Chester’s 1 Samuel For You in the God’s Word For You series.

The series’ goal is for the learner to read, to feed, and to lead. It excels in all three. Chester does a tremendous job explaining the text as well as phrases and words some people may not know, thus, making the book readable. He aids us in understanding what a well-known verse really does mean (Chester 90-91), clarifying what is meant by the removal of God’s Spirit from Saul (Chester 113), and how we need to see the issue of mediums and spiritists (Chester 185-186).

The book’s approach is not nearly as much concerned with commentary as it is forimage devotional use. The questions for reflection at the end of each section prove this to be the case. They encourage the reader to apply what they have learned to their own lives without burdening them with a long list of questions (each section has three questions for reflection). Its opening paragraphs relate the text to a contemporary setting, showing how what happened back then can, in some manner, be applied to what God is doing in our lives now. In the tenth study which includes 1 Samuel 21:1-23:25 (Chester 163-164), I was especially struck with the reminder that as David went through the wilderness and faced suffering before glory (which also points us to Christ), so we live the Christian life knowing that we will face hardship and suffering before we go to be with God in glory one day.

While this book is probably best used as a devotional resource, it can be a tool for leaders in their equipping so that they may be able to clearly teach the Bible to others. One form I saw this in was the use of illustrations. One particular illustration sticks out: in discussing the matter that we, as mere humans, cannot use and manipulate God, Tim Chester compares it with treating God as a waiter in a restaurant. God is not a God who serves us when we want to be served while we sit, eat, and get fat. No, God is a God who is sovereign and who works things out in His ways and His timing.

In conclusion, the God’s Word For You series seeks to provide Bible-centered, Christ-glorifying, relevantly applied, and easily readable resources for the study of God’s Word (Chester 5). I believe they have accomplished this in their 1 Samuel For You volume. I heartily recommend this resource for anyone who desires to know the Word of God deeper, to grow in applying the Word to life, and to see how it all points to Jesus Christ.

I received this book for free from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

The Seminary Decision (Revisited)

In a blog post I shared last April, I announced the decision to hold off on seminary. The idea was to not go to seminary (right away). As I approach my bachelor’s degree completion with graduation this May, I have more exciting news. I was wrong! I will not be taking as big of a break as I thought. As God usually does, the moment I think I have my life figured out, He switches it up on me. It is a great reminder I am not in control of my life. He is.

Anyway, my reasoning for holding off on seminary included gaining ministry experience and focusing more on my spiritual life. Those two things have not changed. However, the opportunity for seminary has. At the time, the seminary I was considering was Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Their professors are top-notch and have an incredible passion for the gospel. Yet, I knew if I plunged in right away there would be major problems. For one, I did not want to burn myself out. I knew the workload would be just as much, if not more, than what I have experienced being in Bible college. I have been a full-time student, taking no fewer than four classes and averaging five courses a semester. I have struggled spiritually as I have devoted more time to assignments than to communion with God. Secondly, especially as a single I find myself struggling with the idolatry of lust and honestly SBTS is filled with gals who have been gifted by God with good looks. Therefore, I did not want that stumbling block in front of me, taking my attention off my studies and to other things. Put that all together and that is why I decided not to go and pursue my Master’s right away.

Then, an opportunity came along. Crossroads Bible College, where I have been pursuing my Bachelor’s degree, chose to partner with the graduate school of Lancaster Bible College, Capital Seminary and Graduate School. They began offering a Master of Arts in Ministry. While this did seem like something worth considering, I really wanted to pursue a Master of Divinity degree. Then, I had a meeting with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Eckel. Although he no longer teaches at Crossroads, I will remember him as one of my favorite instructors. Interestingly enough, though, he is now a professor for Capital Seminary. Over dinner, he discussed with me the opportunity to actually pursue a Master of Divinity degree with Capital at their Indianapolis site. Each course is blended, meaning online and on-campus, and runs for six weeks. The way this program is set up, you can take one course every six weeks.

With all this said, I still plan on taking a semester off. I need a time of spiritual renewal and refocus as move beyond my undergraduate. Nevertheless, I would like to announce beginning in the spring term of 2015, I will be attending Capital Seminary and Graduate School (Indianapolis site) to obtain a Master of Divinity in Leadership Studies.

Capital Seminary

Why I Am Not Going To Seminary (Right Away)

These last few months have been filled with prayer and consideration. Consideration for seminary once I graduate from Bible college next spring and prayer, asking God to show me whether that is His will for me or not in this season of my life. It is only after this time of taking it before God that I believe I have come to a decision: I will not be going to seminary (right away). I honestly believe this is the direction the Lord is taking me in at this time. This is not to say I will never go to seminary but that I will not be going in the near future. Along with (or because) of God’s direction, there are a number of factors I believe it is best to not to go to seminary right away. They include:

Spiritual Life. Throughout the last three years in Bible college, I must admit I have struggled in consistent Bible reading and prayer. Often, the excuse becomes that I must to do school work so I do not get behind. And, so, the former is neglected. Now, one might say, “Yeah, but its a Bible college. Reading the Bible is part of that school work.” Well, yes, but there is a difference when you are reading for an academic exercise  and when you are reading it to spend some time personally with God. And it is this personal time I have struggled with. It is a maturity issue. Thus, I believe it to be best to take a break from an official school setting so that my spiritual life will not suffer so much.

Ministry Experience. Another reason I have chosen to not go to seminary right now is that I think it would be best to enter into vocational ministry and get practical, hands-on experience. I have learned much in Bible college but have not really been able to put much of it into practice yet. It would be a good opportunity, then, to gain ministry experience and understand the pastorate better before furthering my schooling.

Vast Resources. I have told a few people that if I had lived 200 years ago, I would have probably went to seminary right after Bible college. Why I say this is because as I see it now, in today’s world there are such a vast number of resources out there, such as Gospel Coalition, 9Marks, and Covenant Theological Seminary (they have free lectures from a number of their courses you can download for free). Now, you have to be careful with what resources you choose and be able to discern between the sound and the heretical but I believe I have a level of discernment now that I will be aware of that.

Nevertheless, while a few more options could be given, my point is this: I believe it to be in the best interest of my spiritual health to not go to seminary right after Bible college. I believe this is the Lord’s direction for my life in this season. God bless!

Faithful to the Word

This semester at Crossroads has been the most fruitful for me yet. With this fruitfulness, of course, comes growth pains. I have been stretched more in the last couple of months than what I probably had been in the last five years. Clearly, it has been a while since I have been stretched this much. Albeit, school has not been the only thing stretching me. Church has as well. As I have been entrusted with more responsibilities at the church I am a member at, Crossroad Community, I find myself moving out of my comfort zone and building relationships because of it. It has been amazing! Even with all this, though, the biggest growth and most challenging issue I have faced this semester is a result of a course of I have been taking titled “Hermeneutics”. For those of you who may not know what that word means, it is the science and art of interpreting and applying the Bible. Not only has this been the biggest growth point, but it has also affected my other courses and my studies at church as well. It has cause me to stop and think about how I am handling the Word of God.

Right up front I want to say this: I want to be faithful to the Word of God. I realize now more than ever that to 2 Timothy 2:2 & 4:2 are critical to the ministry that God blesses and entrusts me with. I realize that to preach the Word of God is to preach the gospel. Although I feel it should have been obvious to me before, I am now aware that when I go into studying a text, my first question should be, “What does this teach me about God?” and not “How should I apply this to my life?” (There is a time for application for the individual but it is not of first importance.) Furthermore, when going into a text I must see how it points to Jesus Christ. That being the case, it is important to see at what point in redemptive history the text takes place. You can, then, be able to show how the passage points to fullness in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why the Christian message is unique!

In conclusion, I have been so affected by this course and the teaching that my hope is to possibly, if time and opportunity permit, share these concepts and teachings with the young adult group I have been blessed to be a part of. I know that as I want to be faithful to the Word, my fellow young adult brothers and sisters in the faith want to be as well. I believe this could greatly help and encourage them in studying the Bible. This course has also made me grow in appreciation for men of God who preach the gospel week in and week out even though it may not always be popular. For that, I would like to thanks the pastors God has allowed me to learn under and from, Andy Lee and McKeel Bowden. I, likewise, would like to thank Professor Nicholas Piotrowski for his heart on wanting Christian leaders to teach and preach with the right hermeneutics. May we stay faithful to the Word!