Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Giveaway!

I Contributed to a BookIt has been quite a while since I held a giveaway, but I am hoping to bring a few back, (along with some more project posts, which I always seem to be promising). For those who are unaware, I co-authored a book on divine physical healing with my fellow missionary-evangelists of WMI. The book is part of a larger project designed to help train the body of Christ in ministering physical healing, which is headed up by the documentary Paid in Full. I am prepared to give away multiple copies of the 360 page 40-day Training Manual, simply asking that you post a review of the book in return. It is a quick read in spite of it's size and is designed for devotional reading. 

Here's how to enter:
1. Enter your first and last name in the comments section no later than Sunday July 13th
2. By entering you promise to read the book,
3. And post a 250 word review on
4. With a disclosure of material connection statement (example: "I received a complimentary review copy from the authors. I have given an honest review.")
For a bonus entry include the URL of your blog and promise to post a review on your blog as well. I will announce the winner on Monday July 14th. I will also contact the winner. The winner has two weeks to respond and claim their prize.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bibliotheca by Adam Lewis Greene

A friend alerted me to this astoundingly beautiful project by Lewis Greene, who it turns out is a friend of a friend. The brilliance, dedication, and pure art involved in this endeavor should make it a favorite among Bible aficionados. You can view the video below and then hop over to the Kickstarter page.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Can You Be Gay and Christian? by Michael Brown

Michael Brown's newest book poses the question "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" and illuminates the Bible's clear prohibition of any kind of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, and specifically homosexual practice. Subtitled "Responding with Love & Truth to Question About Homosexuality," Brown's book is a bold, thorough, and uncompromising answer not only to the question of gay identity and practice converging with Christian belief, but also to arguments that homosexual practice is compatible with Christian faith.

This is a book primarily for Christians, for those who have bowed to Christ as their Lord and Master and seek to faithfully obey Him; however, it remains vital for all who seek to interact with the Christian Scriptures on this topic. While this is a popular treatment of the subject, it is filled with end-notes and a thorough bibliography of academic sources from across the field of study. Can You Be Gay and Christian? never becomes stuffy but draws heavily from the wide range of scholarship on homosexuality within Christianity. Dr. Brown's response to the question is exhaustive without being dense and clear without being dismissive. The book draws from gay authors and theologians and presents both the most compelling and the most horrifying arguments from those who identify as both Christian and homosexual. The question "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" must be answered within the context of Scripture and God's revealed will and Brown systematically examines the Scripture. He not only thoroughly examines the six passages that directly speak of homosexuality, but the whole scope and thrust and Scripture, and passages where gay theologians read homosexual relationships into the text. In spite of the controversy and the booming voices surrounding this question, "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" sounds a clarion call of truth and holiness, dismantling dissenting views of the Bible's clear witness against homosexual practice.

While the book is at no point unclear, there are moments when the undeniabley impressive scholarship overflows in the text. The sheer amount of quotes, and block quotes can be overwhelming, and undisciplined readers may find themselves skipping portions of text, willing to trust the author's citations. At other times, Dr. Brown seems to spend an inappropriate amount of space engaging his critics, especially in the first two chapters. Brown's first book on the topic of homosexuality was a thorough examination of homosexual activism and this book often strays into that realm, warning readers of the sheer number of voices seeking to obscure the truth on this topic. "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" is not as evangelistic as some might expect. The gospel is undeniably present, but the focus of the work is on acknowledging the truth within God's Word and obeying it without compromise. The stark reminder that regardless of our desires, no matter how strong or how integral, we must deny ourselves and follow Christ rather than affirm ourselves and reinterpret Christ should strike us all.

Dr. Brown writes more as a prophet than a pastor or even a missionary. While he expresses great compassion, he does not meet readers halfway; he does not bridge the discussion, but instead boldly launches into a call to truth and holiness. His clear teaching on the language of Scripture's prohibition of homosexual practice and the culture surrounding it, as well as his illumination of an accurate understanding of God's design and desire for human relationships leads to a strong exhortation to deny ourselves and follow Christ regardless of the cost. While some may desire a book that will simply confirm their beliefs and strengthen them against the culture onslaught of acceptance, Brown's presentation challenges readers to understand the grounds of God's demands for holiness, the purpose of God's design, and the challenges of those who are both struggling with the truth. This book is not fundamentalist blustering. It is a wealth of passionate thought regarding Scripture and homosexuality.

My thanks to Charisma House for providing a complimentary review copy. I have provided an honest review.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Authority of Scripture in China's Underground House Church

As a missionary I am devoted to the practical application of the Bible. Evangelism, discipleship, and church planting fill my mind and my day. However, I have an insatiable desire for understanding. One of the great temptations of my mind, is the quest for answers and understanding that goes far beyond practice. In other words, I want to know things that I don' really NEED to know. This hunger occasionally drives me into a theology binge, where I will disappear for a weekend in order to read theological works, read articles, and listen to lectures and debates on theological issues. Atonement Theory; God's foreknowledge, providence, and sovereignty; and the trinity are theological topics that I have studied for some time and still enjoy diving into on a regular basis.

One of the most informative and entertaining ways to learn theological issues is to listen to debates. Hearing opposing views upheld by different exegetical points is immensely helpful, and the presence of personalities and conflict help keep the learning interesting. Many times, however, it quickly becomes obvious that one of the two debating clearly holds a higher view of Scripture than the other. This is particularly obvious in debates on the practice of homosexuality within the church.

This caused me to go back and evaluate my own view of Scripture and its authority in my life. Are there claims in Scripture that I have explained away? Have I valued my perceived experience with the Holy Spirit over what the Bible says? Can I defend my views through sound exegesis? Obviously not all believers will wrestle with these claims. The majority of obedient disciples of Christ throughout the world have no idea what exegesis means. Those of us who are blessed with a wealth of Biblical knowledge have more tools available to us to test our views by Scripture and more tools available to us to deny Scripture's authority over our lives in whichever ways we desire.

The following is from a free e-book put out by the founder of I immensely enjoyed the book. I don't agree with the entire contents and am unsure that it will bear the fruit that the authors desire, but I recognize it as an important clarion call for the body of Christ today.

The book includes a statement of faith from the China Gospel Fellowship, an underground house church network with 8 million members. The following is their statement on the Bible.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After the Lord’s clear leading to use the name Gospel Fellowships there was a word search preformed on the internet and this statement of faith from one of the larger Chinese house
Church networks called: China Gospel Fellowship was found. This was a surprise and great blessing for before we were never aware of this underground house Church name. After reading their statement of
faith, there was an immediate burden to make this statement of faith available to Gospel Fellowships and to any other house Churches or groups that would like to identify with the statement. We believe it is a tremendous way for believers to be in unity worldwide with precious brothers and sisters in China who are experiencing a great expansion of the Church and revival. Below is the statement of faith found on the China Gospel Fellowship.

 We believe that all 66 Books of the Bible are God-breathed. They were inspired by God through the Holy Spirit to the prophets and Apostles who composed them. The Bible is complete and inerrant truth. It has the highest authority. Nobody is allowed to distort it in any way. The Bible clearly states God’s purpose of redemption of mankind. The Bible is the highest standard of our Christian life and ministry. We are against any denials of the Bible; we are against any teaching or theories that regard the Bible as out of date, or as
erroneous; we are also against the practice of believing only in selected sections of the Scripture. We want to emphasize that the Scriptures must be interpreted in light of their historical context and within the overall context of scriptural teachings. While interpreting the Bible, one must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the principle of interpreting the Scripture by the Scripture. The interpretation should be coherent and consistent, but not based on isolated verses. Biblical interpretation should take into account the orthodox faith that has been taken as the heritage of the Church down through history. We are against interpretation of the Scripture merely according to one’s own will, or by subjective spiritualization.
2 Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 1:1, 1 Peter 1:10
Romans 3:4, Revelation 22:18-19
John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9
Psalm 19:7–9, Acts 20:27
1 John 2:27, 1 Corinthians 2:13
2 Peter 1:20

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: Love Hunger by David Kyle Foster

David Kyle Foster's autobiography grips the reader with a potent and poignant intimacy from beginning to end. The subtitle, "a harrowing journey from sexual addiction to true fulfillment" is a tame understatement for the story of self-abuse, prostitution, homosexuality, and redemption this book contains. Foster's transparent retelling of trauma, sin, and self-destruction can only be overpowered by his story of receiving the love of God the Father.

Though I could barely put this book down, there were many times I could barely keep reading. Foster writes with an unsettling intimacy, drawing me into a story I could barely handle hearing, yet I so easily recognize. It felt vaguely dangerous. On one hand I was gripped by a familiar pain and shame; remembering the degradation and hopelessness from the small amount of overlap I have with Foster's experience. On the other hand, I want to disengage from the same voyeurism to which our culture is addicted: obsessed with the next story of scandal and promiscuity. Love Hunger is raw and real, harrowing and at times lurid because it is accurate to the material described. The thread of Christ's redemption always stays visible enough to cling to, and along with Foster, the reader is pulled from soul-staining experiences into the healing and restoring love of God.

In the same way that we experience pain after pain and shame after shame through Foster's eyes, he draws us into encounter after encounter with the love of God. He does not describe a process, or even a journey, but a relationship: an ongoing experience with the saving person of Jesus. The book is full of practical insight and wisdom, but that is only a byproduct of the encounter that overflows from its pages. Love Hunger is an encounter with the tragedy of human sin, the beauty of salvation and redemption and God's great love. It is an intensely human story, told in an intensely human way. Perhaps the greatest miracle is the fact that such a story can be told with such integrity and innocence, proof that Foster is not clinging to some claim of a miraculous encounter. He is the miraculous encounter. His encounters with God's love define his story and the way he tells it.

This book contains explicit content some believers may find inappropriate (Eph 5:12).

My thanks to Chosen for providing a complimentary review copy. I have given an honest review.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Passion Week Visualized - BibleGateway

BibleGateway has a phenomenal post featuring the following infographic as part of a series of brilliant infographics from the NIV Quickview Bible:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Holy Fire by R.T. Kendall

R.T. Kendall's Holy Fire steps into the current debate concerning the Spirit's work in our lives, providing an inspiring, bold, yet curbed approach to the current presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. Kendall does not openly respond to John MacArthur or the "Strange Fire" conference, but has taken the occasion to write a book that strongly emphasizes the continuation of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit's "direct and immediate" work in our lives, and reformed theology. Kendall's emphasis on the activity of the Spirit in assurance of salvation and transformation opens the door to the current work of the Spirit by bridging into the supernatural with sound theology and common experience.While hardly an exhaustive work on the Holy Spirit, Kendall's book stands as an inspiring and accessible introduction to the reformed charismatic perspective.

Kendall's writing remains exceptionally clear and accessible throughout the book, in spite of handling some rather deep theological issues and citing a number of nuances in theology from different puritan writers. He illustrates his theology with testimonies from his own life, illuminating how his own personal journey and his relationship with Christ revealed his current stance on the continuing operation of the gifts of the Spirit and reformed Calvinism. The book also draws heavily from the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, Kendall's mentor and one of the most respected reformed preachers of the last century. Jones' own embrasure of the gifts and operation of the Holy Spirit and his passionate advocacy for receiving the Spirit's empowerment stands as one of Kendall's most drawn upon arguments. These factors make the book seem more like an appeal to the reformed church to embrace the Spirit, though Kendall does take a significant amount of time advocating reformed theology to Charismatic readers.

I greatly appreciated Kendall's emphasis on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. A large portion of Holy Fire reminded me of the teaching of Roy Hession and Norman Grubb, which sprang out of the revivals in Africa in the 1950's. The reminder of the Spirit's work to convict, correct, encourage, refresh, inspire, and cleanse is desperately needed in the church today, as is Kendall's teaching on grieving and quenching the Spirit. One of the most disappointing parts of the book was his outlandish claims regarding open-theism and "hyper grace" teaching. While I'm not an open advocate of either, Kendall's brief and scathing misrepresentation of both views will not help either side of the debates regarding God's foreknowledge or His grace. His final chapter, which contains a prophetic word for the future of the Church was exhilarating and the most inspiring and poignant chapter in the book for me.

While I would only recommend portions of this book, it stands as an important bridge from cessationism into the work of the Spirit. I hope it will have a profound impact on the reformed church and a positive impact in redirecting the Charismatic church back to focusing on transformation and a step by step walk with the Spirit of God.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Movements Reading Project

Though this blog hasn't featured a deluge of new projects, I have been diligently reading and studying the Bible. In fact, I've been in the middle of one of my most involving Bible reading projects ever. I've been hinting at this project for some time. I started in 2014 (actually I gave myself a head start at the end of 2013), and continued it through my trip to Uganda, which yielded some interesting experiences.

My life and ministry has been consumed by a vision of multiplication. I am fully committed and involved in the principles and practices of Church Planting and Disciplemaking Movements. My constant involvement in this lifestyle and mission has led me to consume the word of God voraciously with the Great Commission (really the only commission) and Church Planting in mind.

Inspired by Steve Addison's What Jesus Started and the example of Jeff Sundell, I committed to read the Gospels and Acts thirty times in 2014. That means I am reading ten chapters per day of just Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. In addition to that, I will be reading the New Testament at least twice, and the Old Testament once. Just writing about it makes me feel a bit overwhelmed.

In my study of the Gospels and Acts I am focusing on six major themes, and diligently taking notes on each subject. Each time I go through a book, I carefully take notes on one of the following:

How did Jesus, the Disciples, the Church, and Paul:

1. See the End (see and cast vision)
2. Connect (with lost people)
3. Share (the gospel)
4. Train (disciples)
5. Gather (and do church)
6. Multiply

These six topics are part of Steve Addison's Movements Diagram, and his missiological study of the Gospels and Acts in What Jesus Started. In a sense, I'm retracing Addison's steps for myself. I've read his book twice, but I won't go back to look at it again until the end of the year. I'll check to see if I missed anything that he found and if my conclusions match his.

I'm extending the study beyond the Gospels and Acts and using the same note scheme on the rest of the Bible. While I'm taking notes on one of the six topics per read-through of the Gospels and Acts, I'm taking notes on all six at once per read-through of the Old Testament and the Epistles. This means a far less thorough study of the other books, but the majority of the Gospels and Acts is evangelism, discipleship, church planting etc. I am surprised at how much I am finding these themes through the rest of the Bible, however.

This project features the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible and 005 Pigma Micron pens. I may write a follow up post on the fruits of this study, but you can see some in the video below along with the vision of Movements and an explanation of the movements diagram.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Nine Lies People Believe about Speaking in Tongues by Steve Bremner

Have you ever believed or been told that speaking in tongues is not for today? Or do you believe that it is for today, but not for everybody, or that its contemporary use is suspicious? 

These are some of the most common misconceptions people have about this particular gift of the Holy Spirit. In this book, Steve Bremner Scripturally answers these and other objections to modern-day glossolalia. 

Other objections covered in this book include: 
"Tongues are not for today." 
"Holy Spirit baptism already happened at salvation." 
"Speaking in tongues is the least important of the spiritual gifts." 
"You aren’t supposed to speak in tongues unless there’s an interpreter." 
"You can't just speak in tongues at will." 

This book will help you destroy the traditions of man and the lies of religion that nullify the power of God in your life. Begin a new love walk and experience depths in God you never knew were possible through praying in tongues.

I often joke that 1 Corinthians 14:18 is my life verse. Though it is a joke, I'm such a truth oriented person that my humor often barely escapes being blunt honesty with comedic phrasing. I genuinely desire to speak in tongues as much as possible. My passion for this good and perfect gift from my Father above makes me incredibly grateful for Steve Bremner's down to earth apologetic for an accurate understanding of the presence and practice of the gift of tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit today.

Nine Lies People Believe about Speaking in Tongues presents an entertaining and readable explanation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues, dismantling misconception after misconception with precision, tenacity, and a heavy dose of personality. Rather than presenting a succinct, academic answer for each lie or misconception, Steve Bremner weaves his own story of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues as well as his encounters with each lie into his teaching. His journey from complete ignorance of the gifts of the spirit into cessationism and then into Pentecostal and Charismatic experience is bold and honest. The result is a highly personal, but effective argument for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.

Though unexpected and jarring at first, I was immediately thrust upon a couch listening to a friend's impassioned arguments complete with exaggerated inflections of "Put that in your Bible and read it!" While at first riling, the transparency of the author's own personality and communication style quickly became what set the book apart. The book left me feeling that I received information in a very personal and oddly intimate way. The extremely familiar style creates an affection for the writer and the content and attaches a person to every argument. I never found myself thinking, "I agree with that," or "I disagree with that," but "I agree with you" or "I disagree with you." This may not affect all readers, but was tremendously impacting for me. I was moved to tears by Bremner's story of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and provoked when he brought up points that I had not thought of before. His personality was as much a part of the book as the arguments.

The weight of the verve in the prose keeps the book from being stuffy, and it also keeps the book from being for or from an "expert." This may be detrimental to readers who choose not to see the lucidity of the arguments over the flair. The content engages the reader immediately and is out to persuade with insights into Greek, exegesis, wit, imagination, comedy, and plain old rants. The variety of styles of argumentation, the witty storytelling, and the contemporary humor and attitude compelled me to finish the book in two sittings.

The book gets better as it progresses both in its arguments and its passion. Bremner moves from an explanation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and a brief explanation of how this baptism relates to tongues, to common objections to the current presence and practice of tongues, teasing out the relationship between tongues and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and exhorting the reader on the value of exercising the gift of tongues. I especially appreciated the later sections and appendices on receiving and helping others receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Though I received certain points within the book with nuance, I concur with the author's conclusions and was poignantly reminded that we don't know how to pray as we should, but that the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses with a good and perfect gift from heaven. I am tremendously grateful.

My thanks to the author for providing a complimentary review copy. I have given an honest review.

Steve Bremner is a co-laborer in the harvest. Please consider supporting his gospel work by purchasing his books or supporting him directly.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi takes the reader on a riveting journey into the mind and heart of  a man passionately seeking and receiving revelation from the one true God. The book succeeds not only as a gripping narrative autobiography, but as a poignant presentation of the truth of Jesus Christ as revealed to a brilliant young Pakistani Muslim. This is a life-changing book that stirs the heart, arrests the mind, and brings the reader into a step-by-step revelation of Jesus as the Savior for all the world.

Nabeel Qureshi does a phenomenal job of taking the reader into his mind and heart to reveal a cultural background and mindset that remains mysterious to most of the world. His vivid portraits of his life as a child, the discomfort of teenage years as a third-culture kid, and the challenges of fighting for truth and identity as an adult thrust us into a different world. His honest descriptions of his struggle with the truth, his foundations, and his own understanding and relationship with God are unlike any biography I've read before, yet they seem so familiar and close to my own heart. In writing a book about himself, a young Muslim seeking the truth, Nabeel Qureshi has managed to capture the inner wrestling for and against the truth of God in Jesus Christ.

Nabeel's story is beautiful. It is so much more than a testimony of a Muslim meeting Jesus. It is a thrilling account of intellectual honesty in the midst of extreme tension. It is a powerful story of supernatural encounters, dreams, and visions. It is a crash course in apologetics taught through riveting dialogue. It is the story of how God loved the world so much, that while we were still sinners, He sent His Son to die for us. It is the story of how God reaches down and intervenes in the lives of His creation, guiding us into all truth. As a minister who works with Muslims everyday, has been through numerous trainings and read numerous books, this book has contributed so much to my understanding of Islam, Muslims, Pakistanis, apologetics, evangelism, and even relationship with God. Even more than that it has given me fresh hope and inspiration as I share the truth of the Gospel with a world that longs for the truth and a God who will intervene in their lives.

My thanks to Zondervan for providing a complimentary review copy. I have given an honest review.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Birthing the Miraculous by Heidi Baker

Birthing the Miraculous by Heidi Baker weaves the story of Jesus' miraculous birth with the story of the birthing of Iris Global and the movement of the Holy Spirit that is sweeping Mozambique and the world through the lives of Rolland and Heidi Baker. The parallel is fitting. Both stories are intensely personal for those involved and tell of great humility, obedience, and sacrifice as women of great faith and favor surrendered to the call of God and the work of the Spirit in their lives. Both stories contain valuable principles for our lives and ministries, and both stories tell of miracles that touched the whole world.

Heidi Baker uses her own life to illustrate the principles that have rooted and sustained the movement catalyzed by Iris Global. The book effortlessly moves from biographical sketches to passionate calls for intimacy with the Father. The core of the book is a call to abide in Christ from John 15. Heidi Baker convinces us with story after story, and paragraph after paragraph that the only way to bear fruit is to stay connected to Jesus. Intimacy with God is the open secret. It's something we all nod our heads to, but it's something that the Bakers have fought for and proven with their lives.

Birthing the Miraculous is a life-changing book. The stories are unforgettable as is the example of the Bakers and what God is doing through their ministry to the poorest of the world. But beyond the stories and testimonies there is something more to this book. There is that almost tangible presence of God in these words. Words string together into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, but there is something so much deeper than well written prose and well-articulated passion. It's not the writing itself, but the Spirit within the author who has inspired the words. The presence of God leaks off these pages, whispering behind the words and drawing us closer and closer to Jesus. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I cherish every one of Heidi Baker's books, and of all of them, this one is perhaps the most complete, and the most articulate. This book comes from one of the giants of our generation, one of whom the world is not worthy. May we follow her as she follows Christ.

My thanks to Charisma House for providing a complimentary review copy. I have given an honest review.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfect Theology - Brad Jersak

I am currently enjoying Can You Hear Me? by Brad Jersak. It is one of the best books on the voice of God I have ever read, and the voice of God is perhaps the subject I read the most about. It is a phenomenal, practical manual on how to listen. While I recommend it highly, I do not agree with every word or statement in the book, and I disagree with Brad Jersak's theology on a number of major doctrines which he adresses in other books. I read from many authors, ministers, and theologians with whom I disagree. I know that I will not stand before God, justified because of my perfect doctrine or theology. That is not what justification by faith means. If I was judged by my theology, I have no doubt that I would be condemned. In my understanding of doctrine and God, I have missed the mark. I do not have perfect theology. But I have Jesus. 

This is not to say that anyone who claims Jesus is justified by faith, but that faith and understanding are not the same thing. It is absolutely true that we must have our faith placed in the One True God, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and live with Him as our living Lord. Our understanding of God can violate that faith and we can find ourselves worshipping a God that is not real. Our theology matters. But what matters most, in theology and practice, is that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of the Father. He is perfect theology.

Brad Jersak recently posted the following on his Facebook page. It has been said many times before, but it must be emphasized again and again. As we read the Bible and study the Word, we must see the living Word before us: Jesus Christ, the perfect revelation of the Father.

My doctrine, part 5:
Jesus is the only perfect theology.
John 1:14 (NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18 (NIV)
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and* is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 14:9 (NIV)
Jesus answered: “Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father'?
Colossians 1:15 (NIV)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 2:9 (NIV)
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)
[1] In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. [3] The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When You Take a Bible to Africa

A few years ago I wrote Damaging the Cambridge ESV: 2 Days Inside a Backpack with Over Five Inches of Rain, which detailed the result of an unwise choice to bring my Goatskin leather wide-margin on a backpacking adventure with urban youth. The post was picked up by Bible Design Blog and quickly became the most popular post I had ever written. Though older and wiser, I am still just as committed to bringing my Bible on adventures. This time it wasn't a rainy backpacking adventure, but a two week trip to Uganda, where I stayed in the bush of Wanenga with a team of 14. Much to my delight, I ended up preaching twice a day, twice to a crowd of over 2000 people. My trip was truly a transforming experience and I have a journal full of miraculous stories. Over 200 people made decisions to give their lives to Jesus Christ and well over 1000 people reported miraculous healing. I will be publishing several reports about the trip as well as audio and video soon, but this early post will focus on the Bible I brought on the trip, how I studied, and how it fared.

You can see my setup above. I brought two journals and the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible from Crossway. I had rolled all of my clothes tightly and wrapped them in rubber bands for packing. These rubber bands were later used to secure my books together and hold my pens: two ballpoints and a black 005 Pigma Micron for those ever important minuscule, archival quality, waterproof Bible notes.

The Bible itself fared well. It did not have to endure any rain; instead it was subjected to my grubby hands. We were staying in the rural villages where there was no running water and red dust invades everything. My hands, and really my whole body, were always dirty. The camera didn't pick it up, but the pages were smudged with dirty fingerprints and dust, and the letters on the binding were nearly rubbed off. In addition to this, the Bible was tread upon by a number of cockroaches, though I avoided smashing any on the cover.

The cream colored hue of the paper in the Bible helped mask some of the dirt, and I am not at all disappointed with the character that has been added to this Bible. I'm glad I brought a hardback, rather than a more expensive Bible, though several times I opted to preach out of a cheap urethane covered Bible a friend brought, so I could fold the Bible in half (scandalous, I know).

The journal I brought along specifically for chronicling the trip fared somewhat worse than the Bible. This is a hardcover sketchbook I picked up from Walmart. I like the textured hardcover, the price, and the thick, blank pages. The rougher texture of the paper gives my pen more traction and I like the cream color. The texture of both the cover and the paper attracted a lot more dust and grime. The cover was roughed up quite a bit and there is at least one very unfortunate stain as, in the heat of the moment, I smashed a cockroach with it. See the whiteish stain next to the binding below.

This journal contained some quickly formed sermon outlines which were often only half used. Most days I would wake up at 5:30am or so and have a scripture or a story on my mind, which would become the text for whatever crowd I was addressing that day.

If you look carefully at the inside of the Bible, you will see my tiny scrawl in the margins. I have been using the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible since the beginning of the year. I have a specific project in progress, which I will be detailing in the future, and I continued working on it during the trip, reading ten or more chapters of the gospels each day in conjunction with some hurried sermon preparation. I may have missed a few days here and there, but I am immensely glad I brought this Bible and my current Bible reading project on the trip. No serious damage was sustained, but a lot of memories and character were added to the Bible. More about my trip to Uganda is forthcoming at