Thomas Nelson KJV Study Bible, Second Edition

I got this KJV study bible from Thomas Nelson back in late 2016, and I did so mainly because I saw it in a bookstore and liked how packed-full the pages were with notes, diagrams, charts and definitions of terms. There’s also a good deal of verse cross-references in the inner margin area, but I never really looked at that. I mainly just looked at word definitions and verse analysis text at the bottom of each page.

The hardcover edition which I got is far cheaper than the softcover/leather kind, and holds up well in terms of book spine condition even after months of use.

A study bible is a great way for a new Christian to have an all-in-one, quick-and-easy reference to terms, insights and topic descriptions that otherwise might be found only by referencing many books simultaneously (albeit in a more condensed form). Additionally, the authorship descriptions at the start of each book are very detailed and helpful too.

Unfortunately, after reading the entire New Testament using this (and doing so very slowly and methodically by using the definitions and explanatory text on each page), I found a few major issues with the study bible. For one thing, not all verses are covered at the bottom, and dozens of times I wanted to understand the wording/meaning more and there was nothing to look at. I could also say the same about word definitions, which many times are just absent.

The biggest issue for me is the questionable analysis text presented. Later in Revelation I believe the study notes say how such-in-such verse means that we should compensate preachers, and other verses talk about tithing — when none of these verses actually say that at all. This feels like a modern church commentary slapped on the KJV.

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Self-Study Bible Course

Around this time last year I announced that I would be giving a self-study Bible book a shot, because of how inexpensive it was, and I wanted to see if real value could come from a straightforward book, vs. more expensive Bible courses.

During this past year however I decided to actually enroll in a Bible college, and follow that path, because I wasn’t feeling like my Christian education was formal/detailed enough (for if I ever wanted to dive into deeper Biblical subject matter). I shelved this book rather quickly as a result, and I only ever completed the first lesson.

Flash-forward to the end of 2017 and I decided it was time for me to review the guide, even if I hadn’t completed all of its content. Instead of doing all the questions, reading and memorization, I instead decided to just read the content, and then answers’ summaries at the end of each chapter. I figured that alone would give me a good enough grasp of whether or not this was a good studying tool.

Boy, I’m glad I never actually finished this book. By about Chapter 4 or 5 the horrible realization hit me — that this was a study guide written by a charismatic believer (Derek Prince, who I only looked into AFTER discovering this craziness). Charismatic followers believe the spiritual gifts the Apostles got are still in use today — speaking in tongues, laying on of hands to heal, etc.

In short, from Chapter 4 or so onward you are sometimes obviously and other times not so clearly indoctrinated into these weird teachings. I’m so glad I never finished this book, and I am going to throw this out when I get a chance, because it’s really that pointless. Avoid this nonsense at all costs.

Time Changer

I had never heard of this early 2000s Christian film until I came across a mention of it in an online preacher’s video … and surprisingly, Time Changer turned out to be a very good movie.

The story revolves around two seminary professors in 1890 having a disagreement over whether or not the teachings of Jesus should be taught, even if Jesus Himself is omitted from the conversation. The disagreeing professor urges the other to visit him late one evening, to show him something. The other reluctantly visits him, only to find that the urging professor claims to have build a time machine. The reluctant professor initially thinks it is a prank, but nevertheless, he goes along with it, as a doubter, and soon finds himself in the year 2000, but only for a few days at the most.

However, in that time the professor (who wishes to teach the message of Jesus even if it means not mentioning Him) learns very quickly how corrupt the world has become.

The acting is pretty good throughout the film, and even though the main character is portrayed almost childish and naive at times, I suppose that is how someone might behave if propelled forward a century where so little makes sense. The message presented to the audience is good, and on the whole the film is satisfying (and warrants repeat viewings).

The thing that stuck out with me the most though was the final scene, in which the music, editing and content makes you go, “Wow.”

Bamboo In Winter

Recently I watched a film about Christianity in oppressive Communist China, and I felt like it didn’t do a very effective job of showing the transforming nature of belief in Jesus Christ, or have a strong narrative regarding ordeals normal Christians dealt with in that country.

Bamboo In Winter, released in 1990 (on an obvious low budget and mere 58 minute runtime), focuses on the everyday Chinese resident and is set in a rural community, but at a time when cars and televisions are known to citizens — so maybe late 80s, early 90s.

The plot begins with a girl who is home from studying at a university, and enjoying her brief time with her father, a farmer (her mother passed away years earlier). She enjoys the familiar, slower-paced lifestyle, but fully expects to return to college, where she can study modern things she enjoys, like science, logic and topics like Darwinism. When a traveling preacher comes through town though, she humors her elderly grandmother by attending the service, and becomes enthralled with the teachings of the Bible. She asks the preacher one question after another, in an attempt to not only trip him up, but understand why he genuinely believes it’s the word of God.

Ultimately she has to decide between following the teachings of Jesus Christ or going along with what atheist China demands of its citizens, and she makes the difficult, life-altering choice, with minutes to spare before the credits roll.

It may not have the biggest budget, camera quality or best production values, but it certainly has heart, and very good acting throughout. I would definitely recommend this … and even better, it’s free on Amazon Prime.