Dollars And Sense – What The Bible Says About You And Your Money

I had received this 20+ year old book this past Christmas from my parents, as part of a small finance-planning organizer bundle they gave me and initially I figured it’d be a quick-read.

Written by Larry Burkett — a Biblical finance radio host from years ago — Dollars and Sense was only a couple hundred pages long, with each page covering a new keyword, and a related verse supporting the subject matter above. The main point of it was to give Christians a solid overview of key, wealth-related Biblical ideas.

Originally I planned to finish reading this book and review it nearly two months ago, but this title — unfortunately — was so unpleasant to finish that I had to push myself to get through it at least a dozen times. The way the content was presented and the “tone” of the author made me dread even opening the book. But, since it was a gift — and should be easy to finish — I felt obligated to read it.

The book had many core issues, which I’ll briefly touch on, including: 1) The book used the same verses over and over, for multiple topics. 2) The author merged verses together, without context, to support his message above them. 3) The translations used (TLB and NAS) are questionable in their accuracy, given so many context issues already present. 4) Sometimes Larry referenced parts of the Bible in support of his opinion, but the verse(s) below would then be something totally different. Confusing! 5) A few times words were clearly mentioned as being opposite — like “strength” and “cowardice” — even though they aren’t, just so a specific verse could be used. 6) Another issue was that often the verse used for a topic had nothing to do with the content above it at all, or was too generalized to make a connection. 7) Lastly, Burkett’s a guy who nags about modern-day tithing — multiple times — without giving the subject its proper, historical context.

Long-story short, I would say avoid this book at all costs. For it being so simplistic in style and so short, you should be able to get through it quickly — but instead you’ll likely be like me, and find it to be an absolute chore. Spend your precious time studying with God, using more valuable materials.

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Left Behind – 2014

I had heard unflattering things about this film before I ended up renting it, but when the price dropped temporarily to less than a dollar, I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to see it. After all, Christian films often get negative reviews –in spite of overall decent stories and acting, simply because of their Biblical message — so reviews could be wrong.

Well, in the case of Left Behind (the 2014 remake of the 2001 Kirk Cameron-led film), the criticism from audiences and critics alike was well deserved. The movie stars Nicholas Cage as an airplane pilot who is flying from New York City to London when the Rapture occurs, which results in a lot of the passengers disappearing instantly, thereby causing all sorts of chaos.

I actually had no problem with Cage’s character or his acting in the film — of all the people trying to take the film seriously, it’s clear Cage at least gave it a shot. Everyone else, however, seemed like a strange caricature of normal people, from all walks of life (particularly the Mom). The film also has very odd casting, music and dialogue choices that will make audiences groan and scratch their heads.

The biggest offense of the movie though is how little it actually speaks of Christianity. It mentions “the Rapture” a couple times, and a few times a generic “God” is mentioned, but that’s about it. I don’t recall hearing one mention of Jesus Christ, and near the end when people were faced with death, they were just told to pray. Not to Jesus Christ, asking for forgiveness of their sins … but just to “pray.”

By the end of the film you don’t really like any of the characters (especially the unbelieving daughter, who never does repent) and the film ends abruptly, setting up a sequel. Thankfully, no sequel is being made.

Revelation Road, 2 and Black Rider – Triple Feature

I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant to watch this series at first, only because acting and production in values in Christian movies have largely been so-so for me over the years. However, after finishing the latest film — Black Rider: Revelation Road — I can say now that I was pleasantly surprised.

This is good deal on three movies in the same series — only $15 or so — and I’m looking forward to the fourth installment, if and when it ever gets made.

The first movie is a tad hokey in places, from a cinematic standpoint, but shows promise. The second one is better, and fleshes out the characters more, and is where the bulk of the “good news” message is in terms of the main character finding redemption. The first two films are basically one, at made-for-TV quality. Not bad, but not great.

The third one, however, shows real signs of quality shining through, and is a very good follow-up film overall. It also places a heavier, more obvious focus on end time prophecy playing out, and I think that was a welcomed addition, where the first two films were a bit more vague, up until the very end.

The acting, pacing, soundtrack, editing and plot structure are pretty good across all three, considering their small budgets and limited casting choices … and have a very Christian message to spread throughout, despite the depiction of violence. I would say, if you’re looking for an interesting end-time scenario film series to watch, you should give the Revelation Road series a chance. You’ll most likely be like me, and find yourself glad you watched them by the end of the third film.

The Theory Of Everything – Trey Smith

Wow — I just finished up my first, full-length documentary of Trey Smith’s … and it was great! The Theory Of Everything summarizes exactly what Trey practically attempts to cover — just about everything!

This film covers so many topics via Trey’s unique “vlogging-style” film-making approach (quick cuts and bits of information thrown at the viewer) it’s actually challenging to pinpoint exact talking points at specific times … but the overall topics covered include the complexity of life, DNA, evolution, metamorphosis, dinosaurs, the flood, etc.

In short, this very lengthy documentary covers about a hundred different talking points, at the very least.

In fact, if I had one criticism of the entire film, it’s that it is a very long movie (about 2 hrs. 45 min. long!) and there are no titles or indications as to where you are in the documentary or how much content is remaining. During the segment when Trey was describing things he wouldn’t hold against evolution in a hypothetical debate (“to make things fair”), I was convinced he simply had moved on to the next topic — but nope — about 15 minutes later he was back on track.

Still, Trey is great to watch, and you can see the improvement in style and approach over the original documentary he released (“Enoch: It’s Real”). I also liked how he spent a good deal of time talking about Jesus and what He did and how important He is to everything … when a lot of filmmakers would have skimmed over that topic (assuming watchers already knew about Jesus) and focused purely on the science-related content.

Apparently this documentary is still available on YouTube, so there’s no need to buy it on DVD (but buying does support the God in a Nutshell project). If you’d like a nice overall primer to what Christians believe in regards to many scientific areas or you just enjoy Trey’s work, be sure to check this out.

Enoch: It’s Real – Trey Smith

Trey Smith is an interesting Christian documentarian  to listen to — and he got popular thanks to his many YouTube videos on topics like Enoch, Nephilim, Noah and other “fringe” topics in Christianity.

I recently ordered his complete DVD package from his site godinanutshell.com, but unfortunately his first major documentary — Enoch: It’s Real — from 2011 was never released on DVD. An updated version was, but that will be covered later on. Before delving into those newer films, I wanted to see his first major documentary from 2011 (as stated by his About Trey Smith section of his website).

This documentary says it’s approximately 90 minutes long, but that’s misleading — the first 40 minutes is about Enoch, the next 20 minutes is about Trey’s 2011 book called Thieves and the last 30 minutes is just his video’s logo (back in 2011 when YouTube used a still shot for the thumbnail preview, this was the best way to guarantee it to show up as a thumbnail option).

The Enoch part was quite interesting, and well produced for what is basically a guy having Skype and phone conversations with other Christian researchers who are knowledgeable about the Book of Enoch. The background music played, along with interesting visual cuts and Trey’s distinct voice and personality make for an entertaining watch. Trey’s editing and speaking style may not be for everyone (it’s fairly fast paced, and some people might find the music volume a bit distracting during parts from the message), but the content is good, which is what matters. He genuinely tries to boil core talking points down.

I also like how after his section on Thieves, he makes it clear he’s not the same person anymore, and has learned from his so-so past. That’s good to know.

One thing in particular that I learned from this documentary that I want to seek out more information on is the Dr. Walt Brown section that talks about the way the flood occurred — from within the Earth — and how that caused the Earth’s crust to split apart (called “Hydroplate Theory”).

If you can, check out this preview of Trey’s content — he’s an interesting documentarian to watch and listen to, and for his earliest effort, you can see hints at the editing/narrative style he would later polish. This 2011 documentary can be found here: https://youtu.be/BZGN6EKjvAo

Studying With God Anniversary – Year #1!

2017-03-01-jesusWow! My, how time flies! It’s hard to believe that one year ago exactly, I officially launched this Studying With God blog, and I have been so excited and pleased with the results!

I feel like I’ve learned a lot as a Christian over the past year, and have already invested a lot in what I hope to be even more things I learn about in this upcoming year. I’m still very much a newbie at all this, but what I’ve found is that I really enjoy the following things:

  • Learning about Bible prophecy
  • Old Testament stories and info about the Jewish culture
  • New Testament teachings regarding Jesus, the Apostles and Paul
  • Watching Biblical documentaries, films and TV programs
  • Following online programs, such as Prophecy Watchers & SkywatchTV
  • Listening to sermons from John MacArthur, Dr. Charles Stanley, Ravi Zacharias, etc.

It’s just awesome that I have been able to officially make the Bible my #1 hobby and focus over this past year. So much so, in fact, that all my other stuff (including work-related interests) have waned considerably! I’m 100% alright with this!

Now, while I haven’t been able to accomplish all I’ve wanted in the past year (like working my way through the Bible fully — though I did get through a graphic novel version of it that covered the Old & New Testament well), I did reach my goal with Koinonia House, and I have completed reading a few Christian non-fiction books as well (book reading, unfortunately, is always a slow-paced thing for me).

In short, I just wanted to say ‘thanks’ to anyone who has followed my blog over the past year, and that I appreciate whatever traffic God has blessed me with so far. I hope to continue maintaining this blog for years to come, and I hope my posts (over 45! …almost 1 every week!) can be a valuable source of information for other Christians as well.

Thank you for reading. Praise Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father.