Introduction to Bible Prophecy Course Completed!

2016-11-01-pro501Today I finished up my fourth (full-length) course from Koinonia Institute: “PRO501: Introduction to Bible Prophecy.”

It was designed to be something that covered the major aspects of Bible prophecy, in a condensed format. Some of the things I enjoyed from this class were:

  • The class was very short, with just four sessions, and covered a lot of material
  • The helpful focus on prophecy in regards to past, future and present scenarios
  • I liked how it felt like a good summary class, vs. overly long and complex

I also contributed to weekly forum discussions, took 4 weekly quizzes and then an 80 question final exam also. I did well on the weekly quizzes … and my final grade for the class was 89.6%.

What was my favorite part of the course?

I enjoyed the fact that the class seemed purposefully designed to give students a good overview of end-time prophecy (in a general sense) throughout the Bible. The structure kept the material interesting, and provided enough context for viewers to wrap their head around (for the most part) what was being discussed.

What am I thankful for?

I’m thankful that the other classes from this Bronze Medal track (particular the New Testament course) provided the proper foundation of knowledge for me to understand the topics in this class more. I would highly recommend you take this class after the Old and New Testament courses from Koinonia House.

What could use some work?

The first session is pretty forgettable, because the material it covers is so similar to what you’ve already heard, if you have already taken some Koinonia House classes. I also feel like on its own, some of the material here would go over someone’s head if they didn’t have more fleshed-out knowledge of prophecy, from other sources.

A Prophecy of the Future of America: 2016-2017

2016-10-29-prophecyofthefutureofamerica2016“A Prophecy of the Future of America: 2016-2017” by Paul McGuire is the latest book I have read, and I picked it up after seeing a segment on the Prophecy Watchers show (and being intrigued about the title).

Unfortunately, the book is nothing like what was described or implied by the title (I figured this would be an analysis of the election, the two possible political choices, potential outcomes and how it will all be related to scripture and end-time prophecy).

Instead, what the reader gets are 46 often short but all-over-the-place chapters that seem to have no goal or path to any unifying message. The topic discussed most is wealth, with some scriptural quotes thrown in that sorta tie in to his messages.

The worst thing about the book though comes in the final 25% (last 75 pages or so) where the author starts saying questionable things like:

“It all comes down to this: DOES GOD TRUST YOU? If God knows that when He blesses you with money, power, and position that you will truly use it for His Kingdom priorities, then He will often increase your wealth and power!”

That sounds “prosperity”-ish …. and this stance is later contradicted by the following statement, which downplays the financial rewards for believers and says he’ll simply “supply what you need.”

“Christians are terrified about the future. What is going to happen? Will they have money? They are missing the main point. If you are truly busy being engaged with what God called you to do, God will supply all of your needs, including money and you won’t have to worry all the time.”

Most frighteningly, the author states this at the very end, after you’ve absorbed hundreds of pages of his thoughts:

“We who believe have been given the exceeding greatness of His power, the same power that resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places… …We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and therefore we reign with Him.”

I genuinely hope he doesn’t think believers — flawed humans who need Jesus’ forgiveness to escape Hell — are equipped with the ability to bring the Son of God back from the dead … or that we’ll be sitting next to God, or that we are heirs with Jesus Christ (implying we’re equal somehow).

I would recommend avoiding this very strange book.

The Bible Collection: Jeremiah

2016-10-28-jeremiahIt’s been awhile since a film in The Bible Collection has made me appreciative of the series, but Jeremiah is a nice addition to the other few higher-quality movies that serve as decent, well-made productions.

In this film we see Jeremiah from his youth to his adult life, where he is told by God that he must warn the people in Judah about their wicked ways, because the Babylonians are coming to enslave them all. The way the film is made keeps the story moving at a good pace, and no flashy actors overpower the message. Jeremiah is shown as spreading his message to multiple rulers, priests and royal advisers, but unfortunately almost no one actually listens to his words.

One major reason why this film works so well is that it is a single-part story, told over about 90-minutes. Also, unlike other Bible Collection films that were spread too thin (in terms of content) to accommodate multiple films, Jeremiah stands on its own as a solid Biblical story that can get its message across clearly and efficiently in a normal running time.

I would say that if you are buying The Bible Collection episodes individually, be sure to get this particular entry as well becausethe acting is good, the production is good and the overall film is a good interpretation of the famous Biblical story.

In The Beginning

In The Beginning is a made-for-TV two-part mini-series that was released back in 2000, and created by Hallmark Entertainment. The film focuses on the stories of Abraham to Moses entering the Promised Land, with major portions devoted to Jacob’s life and Joseph’s life as well.

Up front, the film states that it basically tries to stay true to the message of the Bible, but as you soon discover it has altered characters, events and even messages for the sake of the filmmakers’ desired presentation. And what is that presentation? Unfortunately, to cram as much content as possible into 3 hours.

While the initial segment with Martin Landau as Abraham is quite nicely done, by the last part — the story of Moses — the “rushed” feeling of the production is very apparent. I have no idea why there was a need to cover so many things in a short amount of time, unless this type of studio pitch was the only way to get a Biblical movie made in the modern era with a decent TV budget. In fact, looking back at it, this almost would have been better as an 8 or 9-episode, 30-minute series, than one massive two-part film. Why? Because all of the stories flow into one another, with only a few seconds inbetween to establish what’s happening next. There’s no time to take a breath.

The weakest parts of the film are the casting choices (the talent for Jacob, Joseph and Moses acted poorly and look very out of place), the low-quality special effects (many blue-screen effects clearly show how little of the film was done on location, near the Mediterranean) and the non-stop, fast-paced nature of everything shown. Major subjects are often touched upon, but rarely explained. A narrator would have helped, and some slow-paced scenes would have given a better insight to the people portrayed. Also, some scenes felt very questionable to source material, like Joseph going pretty far with Potiphar’s wife, Jacob’s mom telling Esau how much she liked Jacob more, Joseph’s exaggerated cockiness and the unrepentent nature of Joseph’s brother’s later in their lives. All these things felt very bizarre to me. 

In the Beginning isn’t a terrible Biblical film, but even at bargain-bin pricing (I got this for $5), it’s hard to recommend when other films tackle these stories in far more effective and polished ways.

Survey of the Old Testament Course Completed!

Today I finished up my third (full-length) course from Koinonia Institute: “BIB501-1: Survey of the Old Testament.”

It’s a great compliment to the previous survey class I had, which focused on the New Testament exclusively. Some of the things I enjoyed from this class were:

  • The focus on the first five books of the Bible, and how they are especially important to Jewish people
  • The explanation of many Jewish traditions, customs, cultural/legal proceedings, buildings, the tribes, etc.
  • A focus on the many prophets from the Old Testament, and how they varied from one another.

I also contributed to weekly forum discussions, took 12 weekly quizzes and then a 100 question final exam also. I did well on the weekly quizzes … and on the final test I got a 90% on it (that exam took me over 6 hours of studying/research to complete, over several days!).

What was my favorite part of the course?

I really enjoyed the detailed look at Jewish origins and traditions, as so much about Jewish life is unknown to me. I find it fascinating that Jewish people — despite their obvious flaws throughout history and rejection of Jesus Christ — still love and revere the God of Abraham, and want to keep Him happy in the way they think is appropriate, based on tradition. The other thing I really enjoyed was the focus on all of the prophets — especially the minor ones, because I try to put myself in their shoes and wonder what their lives must have been like (communicating with God, and then trying to be a man doing His will — all while being a sinner).

What am I thankful for?

I think this class is an excellent introduction to the Old Testament, and covers the content with just enough depth to whet your appetite for more. Dr. Missler’s no-nonsense and thorough teaching style leaves the student feeling like every minute was worth listening to, and the visuals/charts really helped as well.

What could use some work?

Some of the books, people and events described in the Old Testament are only briefly touched on, while others seem to get more than their fair share of coverage. I understand that some books may be more interesting story-wise than others, but it would have been nice to have an extra hour or so at the end of the series to flesh out later/lesser books more, or to cover key Old Testament topics that often come up in a general-sense.

The Bible Collection: Solomon

2016-10-01-solomonOne thing that’s very clear by the end of this two-part film about Solomon is that regardless of how blessed Solomon started out, he finished the race poorly.

The first part shows the life of Solomon as he deals with his brother and rebellion within Israel, as his father David slowly passes away. After that, in the second film, we see how Solomon has become obsessed with foreign wives (including the Queen of Sheba) and how he really doesn’t mind the false gods his wives bring … as long as the “women he loves” are happy.

What’s really odd about the story of Solomon is how — that despite having the favor of God and wisdom beyond most men —the son of David ultimately finds himself rejecting God so that he can live how he wishes. As an elderly man he finds that his own nation despises him, and that it would be split apart due to his idol worship.

The film does a pretty good job of presenting the content in an interesting way, but there is a scene of nudity, and you get a sense that Solomon was mostly crude and not-wise throughout his entire life — whereas you’d imagine Solomon would be shown singing and worshiping God throughout, except in the worst of times.

It’s a very hard film to like, and is definitely a weaker entry in the Bible Collection series. I understand what was trying to be conveyed plot-wise, but across two-parts, you’d think a better representation of the post-David time could have been presented much better.