A few weeks ago we featured a great book on Jerusalem by Galyn Weimers. Mr. Weimers has now released another book on Israel for free download. This 188 page book entitled Israel Fieldbook includes details and photos from 66 sites in Israel and 80 in Jerusalem. It is accompanied by 300+ photos plus maps, diagrams and charts at the back of the book. The previous book on Jerusalem was in 8.5" x 11" format, but this one is the more compact 5.5" x 8.5". This is another great resource for your library with maps, photos, and diagrams that can be used in classes and Powerpoint presentations. Just be sure to give credit; you might also drop an email to Mr. Weimers and thank him for making this resource available for free. Either click on our link above or go to www.generationword.com and download the Israel Fieldbook in PDF format.
Dr. Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman are two respected Christian apologists. In 2001 they co-edited and contributed with others to the writing of a 658 page book on apologetics entitled, Faith has Its Reasons.
Now they have made two digital versions of this book available for free download. The book includes a history of Christian apologetics, presentation of the four major approaches to apologetics, reviews of the major apologists past and present, an extensive bibliography and resource section and more. This is a great addition to my library.
Faith Has Its Reasons can be purchased in paperback or in ePub format (Nook and iPad compatible) from www.christianbook.com. But for a free download of the book in either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format, follow these links: for Word (.doc) go here; for PDF go here. After downloading your preferred file format, look around on these two websites. A great amount of other useful reference material is also available free.
To best teach our congregation at Tanglewood in Odessa on this vital topic of God's existence, I have been delivering a series of Sunday morning sermons on "The God Who Is There." Click here to go the series and listen to the messages, or go to PAGES above and select "The God Who Is There." Audio will continue to be added each week until the series is complete.
Resources and Bibliography for Studying and Teaching on the Existence of God
I have given some thought to the value of having a balanced and readily accessible set of resources on the existence of God.
- Allows the preacher, teacher and student of the Word to give an answer (with documentation) both to seekers and to critics to the Faith (1 Peter 3:15).
- Makes it possible to more accurately and persuasively strengthen the faith and equip believers.
- Demonstrates integrity in having familiarized ourselves with, and accurately represented, the views on those on "the other side" (those promoting a strictly naturalistic, materialistic explanation).
- Keeps us conversant about some of the leading apologists…
- of the Christian view: Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, John Warwick Montgomery, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, etc.
- of the materialistic view: Anthony Flew, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Dan Barker, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc.
- Makes the agenda of "the other side" more transparent and the urgency of the Christian's opposition more obvious.
- Keeps close to hand something to pass along to Christians struggling with their faith in this arena.
- Helps show that many in the scientific and educational fields are believers in God in some form, contrary to assertions by some in the "no God" movement.
- Provides a contrast to the postmodern philosophy that truth and evidence is relative. Even atheists who espouse this view in theory reject it in the scientific practice. So should we.
Below is a list of websites, multimedia materials, and books which I have found of great value in my research, preparation and presentation on this subject. I am sure that with the help of www.christianbook.com and www.amazon.com you will be able to fill in the details of publishers and copyrights on those books without those details. Books marked with an asterisk* I consider especially useful for sharing with teens (and adults, church leaders and preachers!) with questions but who may lack strong backgrounds in science or philosophy.
www.reasonablefaith.org – William Lane Craig’s apologetics website
bible.org/series/faith-has-its-reasons – 24 articles on the subject of apologetics (downloadable)
www.cslewisinstitute.org/node/1185 – free online apologetics course with 20 videos
Francis A. Schaeffer books:
The God Who Is There — deals with the existence and relevance of God, and modern man's rejection of belief in Him
Escape from Reason — How the rejection of the biblical God causes man to lose contact with reality and reason
He Is There and He Is Not Silent — How God speaks to man through the Bible
A Christian Manifesto — Christian principles and people need to be in the political and public arenas
John Warwick Montgomery books:
Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question, edited by John Warwick Montgomery
How Do We Know There Is a God?, Bethany House Publishers,
C.S. Lewis books:
The Problem of Pain
The Case for Christianity
Lee Strobel books:
*The Case for a Creator, Zondervan, 2004
The Case for Faith, Zondervan, 2000
Access to a number of videos on existence of God, resurrection of Jesus, etc. at www.leestrobel.org
William Lane Craig books & media:
On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, David C. Cook, 2010
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Crossway Books, Third Edition 2008
Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Exploration, by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Baker Academic, 2004
God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, IVP Books, 2009
(DVD) What Is the Evidence For – Against the Existence of God, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 2006
(DVD) Does God Exist?, Debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig, La Mirada Films, 2009
*The Source, by John Clayton
*The Presence of a Hidden God, by D. James Kennedy
Evidence for God: Seven Reasons to Believe in the Existence of God, by Andy Christofides
*God and the Atheist: A Lawyer Assesses the Evidence for the Existence of God, by Paul Ferguson
Thinking God's Thoughts After Him: Great Scientists Who Honored the Creator, by Christine Dao
Is There a God?, Richard Swinburne, Oxford university Press
*Is There a God?, by Dr. John Oakes, Illumination Publishers
A Dire Situation
A great battle is now in progress in our American culture. It's a battle that has been going on for perhaps half a century now. Unfortunately the spiritual forces opposing belief in God and all that comes with it have been winning this battle.
At present we wonder why we are seeing the majority of our own youth abandoning their faith as they leave home. Perhaps it is because they have no deep conviction about the existence of God and the absolute necessity of seeking Him with all their hearts and lives (Hebrews 11:6).
Consider this. Our youth do not hear affirming evidence and acknowledgement of God in their public schools, their university classes, their favorite music, in Hollywood produced films and television programs, or in American public life in general. The forces of atheism and scepticism have essentially won the day in all these arenas already! Where then will they hear (and faith does come by hearing!)?
Will they hear what they need in their homes as they grow up? They know that their parents believe in God and (hopefully) in the Bible as His Words. But can they, have they, heard believable, persuasive, oft repeated reasons to believe in God from their parents? Likely not! The parents themselves may not be able to explain why they believe.
Have they and their parents heard regular, persuasive presentations about the evidence for the God of the Bible at church — in Bible classes, youth gatherings, Sunday sermons? Again, unfortunately, we think not!
A Wake Up Call
It is time for every minister of the Gospel to devote time and effort to regularly and thoroughly teach on this subject. Our Christian homes and our church gatherings are the last bastion for confirming this ultimate truth. We must not lose any further ground!
I have regularly preached on this topic for most of my ministry of 40 plus years. Now I am engaged again in trying to thoroughly teach our congregation, both young and old. I cannot assume that anyone should be exempt.
My next several postings on Effective Bible Study will include first a kind of bibliography, and then my series of audio messages and accompanying notes. I hope this will encourage others to pursue this same type of series in their ministry.
Without argument, more paintings, drawings, images and statues have been made of Jesus than of any other person who has ever lived! Early catacomb images pictured Him with short hair and clean-shaven. Western artists of the Middle Ages up until today give Him longer hair, a beard, and more Western European features. But the truth is, the eye-witness records do not give us one shred of evidence about his actual appearance. Why? The answer is not clear. But this is clear: the gospel writers were not interested in what He looked like – they wanted everyone to know what He WAS like! Welcome to our study entitled, "Portraits of Jesus."
We will look at twelve different "portraits" drawn of Jesus in the Scriptures, inlcuding His deity, Sonship, humanity, temptations, and more. The study covers a total of 18 messages since some topics are too extensive to adequately complete in less than two sessions.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words should be one of the most treasured books in any serious Bible student’s library. It has gone through numerous editions since its introduction around 1940. More recent editions have added Old Testament words to the original New Testament only version. My first mentor, James Wilson, introduced me to the use of this resource. Later, we hope to produce a good tutorial on the use of Vine’s (as it is often called), but for now, here are some of the great benefits of using this book properly (Greek section):
- Discover the Greek word behind the English word (Vine’s is based on the ASV)
- See the range of meaning of the Greek word, usually dictated by the context
- See how translators often used one English word for different Greek words
- See how one Greek word may have been translated with different English words
- Easily see which basic part of speech the Greek word is – noun, adjective, verb, etc.
- Realize how challenging the translation process is from Greek to English (and give Bible translators a break!)
- Help either confirm or refute various arguments by some based solely on the English word in a context
- Take advantage of the Strong’s numbering system to use Strong’s, Thayer’s, and other resources
In preparing and presenting my recent series on the Apostle Paul, I leaned most heavily on the following books. As I studied, it was with a view to what would illuminate and make plain the life, times, and activities of the great apostle. I had no interest (for the sake of my audience) in pursuing the more esoteric topics often written about concerning him.
Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, by F. F. Bruce. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans. The most detailed and perhaps scholarly of these books, and written by a highly respected New Testament scholar. Still, it is quite readable with only the occasional detour into less interesting topics.
Paul, by F. B. Meyer. A classic which I thoroughly enjoy. The author clearly speaks of God’s providence and work, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the ministry of Paul.
Paul: Living for the Call of Christ, by Gene Getz. Published by B & H Publishing Group. The author tends to “pick his spots” concerning what parts of Paul’s history he covers, but his insights are valuable. This book is part of a larger series entitled, Men of Character.
To Live is Christ, by Beth Moore. Ms. Moore has a wonderful gift of making Bible characters “come alive” and provides both hard facts as well as reasonable assumptions about aspects of Paul’s life and work. This should not be the first or only book you read on Paul, but you should by all means read it.
The Pauline Circle, by F. F. Bruce. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans. Hard to find, though listed still on Amazon. Examines key companions of Paul and what we can know about them: Ananias, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Luke, Titus, etc.
Two other texts which I consulted but did not find as useful were Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, by Charles Swindoll and Apostle Paul: A Novel, by James Cannon. The first is more devotional that exegetical in nature. The second is very interesting and entertaining – but is, after all, a novel, and the author takes great liberty at times to make up quite a bit of the “back story.”
I addition to the above, extensive reading and cross-referencing of the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul was necessary. Also, several of my good Bible dictionaries and atlases proved most useful.
Have another book you would recommend for this list? Write me at rcravy @ gmail.com.
At the Tanglewood Church of Christ we have just completed a 38 lesson series on the apostle Paul, entitled, “I, Paul.” It was a comprehensive and in-depth examination of the historical record of the New Testament, and the cultural and historical background, together with Paul’s writings – all woven into a narrative of his life (as much as we can know of it) from birth to death.
Raised in the most strict Jewish family, educated by the leading rabbi of the day, and well connected with the Sanhedrin leadership, Saul of Tarsus seemed incapable of being touched by the gospel message. . . until that fateful day outside Damascus! This is a study of this man who became the most prominent, and perhaps most effective, spokesman for Jesus the world has ever known.
Follow this link, or go to our Free Resources page, to listen.
On October 5 news spread like wildfire across the internet that Steve Jobs, co-founder and long-time CEO of Apple, Inc. had passed away after a 7+ year battle with pancreatic cancer. The news coverage of his death as well as the huge outpouring of tributes and honors from all quarters spoke to the tremendous influence this man and his company has had on our modern, technological world.
He has been variously described as a genius, a visionary, a secular prophet (see the Wall Street Journal), a “P. T. Barnum” marketeer, a tyrant… or all the above! He is compared to Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford all rolled into one. He and his company did not invent the personal computer, portable music player, laptop, cell phone or tablet computer. But they managed to re-think and redesign each of them in such a way that they became objects of great desire, and turned Apple, Inc. into one of the most valuable companies in the entire world.
I am no stranger to the attraction of the Apple brand. One of my first computers was an Apple II clone, followed by the original Macintosh. Over the years I have had Powerbooks, iMacs, Mac Minis, iPods, Touches, and now iPads. Like millions of others, I have found their products generally easier to use and more functional than competing products, even though costing a premium over others.
How did Jobs and Apple reach this pinnacle of success. What is/was so unique about their approach, marketing, design, philosophy, or “secret sauce” which other very competent and capable companies seems to have missed? Certainly the suggestions I am about to make are not original with me but can be widely found in books, articles and internet sources. Nevertheless, these principles ring so true with my experience that I cannot but help seeing a correlation between the “good news of Apple” and its products, and the “Greatest News of Jesus Christ.” Here are a few of those principles:
- “Think Different” – long a slogan at Apple, they chose to lead, not follow, and create more than imitate. They seem to constantly re-think what is important and needed in a product rather than what is simply the cheapest or quickest way to get it to market.
- “Give People What They Don’t Yet Know They Want” – a sense of what people really wanted in a device or technology to improve and enrich their daily lives.
- “Keep Focused on the Most Important Thing” – for Apple and Steve Jobs that was innovative products that opened up new markets in technology, and not diversifying into many areas that would dilute their resources and passion.
- “Make It Your Purpose to Change the World” – Apple was not committed to addressing world hunger, world peace, illiteracy or the cure for cancer. But they were committed to changing the world of computers and personal technology devices.
- “Make Your Happy Users Your Evangelists” – owners of Apple products often exhibit a zeal and even fanaticism scarcely seen in owners of any other company’s products. Happy customers and users are the number one advertisers and recruiters of new “converts.”
- “Keep it Simple & Get it Right” – Steve Jobs is usually credited with seeing how to take very complex, technical concepts and turning them into easy to use, beautiful products which non-techies are not afraid to line up to buy and use.
- “Provide an Immersive, Wholistic Experience” – Their products interconnect in such a way that when someone buys one product they soon feel compelled to buy another and another to extend their enjoyment. Mac computers communicate with the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and iTunes – and they in turn link to each other. Apple stores (350+) around the world give customers and users a place to visit, buy, learn, and socialize.
- “The Customer Is Number One” – Apple’s customer service is legendary, for years ranking the highest in their industry. Going out of their way to satisfy their customers produces repeat customers as well as “evangelists” (as noted above).
Now think of each of these philosophies in regard to the Kingdom of God, the Gospel, and our mission in this world. If you would like to hear a recent lesson I delivered on The Gospel According to Apple, Inc., you can click this link to hear the audio.
Perhaps the most popular book of Christian fiction ever written is In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon. Written in 1897, over 30 million copies have been sold according to Wikipedia. Its premise revolves around a church which tries to answer the question, “What would Jesus do?” in their interaction with each other and within their community.
This past summer, Charley Huffman of the Sunset Church of Christ taught for 13 weeks on this topic. Charley and his wife (and their son and his family) are long-time missionaries to Brazil.
In this series Charley discusses the practical implications of discipleship, and being caring and evangelistic like Jesus was. He has generously given us permission to offer his 13 lesson outlines on EffectiveBibleStudy.com. Right CLICK HERE and select “Save Link” to download, or go over to our FREE RESOURCES section.
I occasionally have my hearers ask me how I know so much about the historical background of the Scriptures. Perhaps they heard something I taught which connected in a way they had not thought of before, or learned something which had previously eluded them. My response is pretty uniform: I have spent most of my adult life seeking to know more about the Scriptures!
In 2008 a book called Outliers: The Story of Success, by author and New Yorker magazine writer Malcolm Gladwell became a best seller. Gladwell had previously written The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2002) and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2007) – all three books examine the relationship between success, inspiration (i.e., genius), hard work, and opportunity in business and careers.
I mention these books because of their proposal that circumstances and opportunities often outweigh innate talent. But he especially emphasizes over and over that real competency at something (including, I would think, Bible knowledge or teaching) is greatly determined by his so-called “10,000-Hour Rule.” This “rule” states that truly successful or capable people in a given field have invested at least 10,000 hours working at their passion or interest to get to their skill level. He acknowledges that opportunities and “being in the right place at the right time” played a part, but pursuing and working at something consistently and persistently for thousands of hours over 5 or 10 or more years have the most profound effect.
Where am I going with this? Certainly Gladwell was not writing about spiritual pursuits but about business. And probably there are many things in his books with which we would take issue. But I think his fundamental proposition stands firm. There are no true shortcuts to success in Bible knowledge and application. Spending 10-20 hours per week for 10 or more years reading, studying, teaching, analyzing, outlining, and exegeting the Bible has its reward. That may not be the message a microwaveable, fast food, instant gratification generation is looking for, but it is the lesson it needs.