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.

Inhuman: The Next And Final Phase Of Man Is Here

2017-02-26-inhumanInhuman is a pretty interesting documentary that covers the topic of Transhumanism — that is, the idea that humans can “transcend” the limitations of our current biological, intellectual and societal barriers and become a “better” form of life.

It’s a topic rarely discussed by the mainstream church, and can be enticing and exciting to younger and/or less-informed people … which can lead to over-enthusiasm about a subject that is frankly quite disturbing.

This two-disc, three-hour long documentary takes an in-depth look at the origins of Transhumanism, how science and politics is pushing it all over the world nowadays, its ties to eugenics (and the racial eradication attempts by Nazi Germany) and lastly, its connection to the Bible.

I will say that the first two-thirds of the documentary were quite boring to me, because I had heard much about this beforehand, and didn’t necessarily want another explanation of things relating to the Transhumanist movement origin and current agenda. But, luckily, the final act of the documentary ties the content to Biblical discussion, and that is where I feel the film is most effective in its messaging.

The guest speakers for the film from the Transhumanist side — namely Dr. Natasha Vita-More and Dr. James J. Hughes — are quite disturbing. Hughes, in his endorsement of messing with human biology — actually tries to make the case that humans should have cat whiskers if they want, just because it is possible. Meanwhile, Vita-More is visibly shaking (and almost looks possessed) as she talks in one segment about how God did a lousy job and we could do better. These key players in the Transhumanism movement are indeed against Jesus.

The most interesting speakers in the film were Wesley J. Smith (senior fellow at the conservative Discovery Center think tank) and Dr. William B. Hurlbut (a Neurobiology adjunct professor at Stanford) because they seemed to approach the subject from a Biblical perspective (in Smith’s case) and/or simply a “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” perspective (in Hurlbut’s case). They both understood the positives of tinkering with human potential, but were more concerned about the potential downsides.

I would say watch this movie if you can find it very cheap — my copy cost me $16.00, and I believe that is a bit too much, considering most of the film isn’t necessary if you have some knowledge of the subject matter.

Luther

2017-02-20-lutherIt’s hard to believe that this film — Luther — came out nearly 15 years ago and has pretty much stayed under the radar since then … because in all honesty, it’s a very, very good historical film about Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation movement.

In the film we follow Martin Luther as a young, inexperienced Catholic priest who wants to glorify God and know God’s will — but is at war with himself because he feels he cannot overcome his own personal demons. On top of that, when Luther visits Rome, he is disgusted at the blatant disregard fellow men of God show for God!

Upon returning to Germany and seeing even more money grabbing behavior by the newest Pope affect people in the land, Martin Luther creates a list of things that all in town need to read. The letter, boldly nailed to a church door, details the major conflicts Catholic teaching has with the true Word of God.

From then on Rome is at odds with Luther, and eventually the Pope and Cardinals and German royalty in it get involved as well — all the while Martin works on translating the New Testament to German, so everyday Germans can read the Bible for themselves, vs. being told what to believe.

Overall the film is very well done, and has very good production values, acting, dialogue and a good score as well. The pacing is a bit off at times though, and a lot of material is covered near the end (an extra 30 minutes would have fleshed things out more). This is a great historical drama, and can be enjoyed by just about anyone — whether they are a believer or not. But if you are a believer, you will find the story even more interesting, because it shows how Europe finally escaped the Dark Ages by embracing the Word of God instead of keeping it hidden away, as a means to rule others.

KJB: The Book That Changed The World

2017-02-12-kjbKJB: The Book That Changed The World is an excellent documentary about the formation of the King James Version of the Bible, in England, during the time of the 1600s.

John Rhys-Davies does a terrific job of narrating and guiding the watcher through the complex tale of events that led up to the translation’s creation … and also helps break up what could have been a long series of still/static shots by having John walk through many real-world locations, describing things even further.

This documentary has a heavy emphasis on acted-out-segments, which means that while the narrator covers material in a general sense, the actual acted-out scenes show specific events in a more dramatized and realistic manner on-screen. The acted-out scenes were on-par with Hollywood productions about historical dramas, and were a pleasant surprise.

What I liked the most about the film was its dramatized segments — all of which feature very good acting, costumes, makeup, dialog and casting — because this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to having a legitimate Hollywood retelling of the true-life events surrounding the KJV translation’s creation.

If I had any complaints, it would likely be just one — I would have loved another 15-20 minutes detailing what books were accepted or left-out (and why exactly), and how the sources for the translation varied so much and created a different book from, say, the Catholic translation of the Bible.

Even with that one minor complaint, I would have to say KJB is one of the best Biblical educational films available. You can’t go wrong with this film, and can find it for cheap on eBay.

Silence

2017-01-29-silenceIn recent years Hollywood has gone out of its way to paint Christianity in a bad light whenever possible. Last year’s Best Picture winner, “Spotlight,” focused on the abuse scandal within the Catholic church and how that was an investigative journalism and criminality breakthrough by the media.

Unfortunately, it looks like this year’s obvious best film — Silence — also about the Catholic church, will almost certainly be given the cold shoulder by those same award ceremonies and industry types who loved talking about Christianity in a negative way just a year ago.

Martin Scorsese’s Silence is about the last few Christian missionaries from Portugal in feudal Japan, back in the mid-1600s. After the Japanese government started slaughtering Christians converted by missionaries (the film reports hundreds of thousands had converted before widespread persecution began), the last remaining priest was rumored to have renounced his faith, publicly.

As a result, two more — but final — priests were sent to Japan, in an effort to verify whether the story was true or not. Upon entering the country in secret, however, it becomes very clear how hate-filled Japan had become regarding anything Christian. Entire villages were wiped out, with public torture a common thing.

The entire film is beautifully shot, amazingly acted and is very well written overall. The cruelty of punishment endured by the Japanese (by their own countrymen) is sad to watch, and the film ends very differently than expected, which is also something you’ll be thinking about for quite some time after it ends. I would say go into the film expecting an epic, historically accurate view of Christianity in Japan at that particular period of time … and you’ll probably be less shocked by what you see.

Luckily, the film doesn’t go overboard with anything, and there’s nothing risque or heretical displayed on screen, but I would still recommend very young people not watching it, due to the violence.

Since the film is nearly out of theaters, barely promoted and hard to find (I had to drive two hours to a theater it was playing at), I would just wait until it comes out on video, and then watch it on the largest screen you have available to use — and then be amazed by it for three hours — as you sit in silence.

The Remaining

2017-01-28-theremainingSomehow, this film from 2014 had slipped under my radar (I’m always on the lookout for big-budget Hollywood films involving Christianity, since they are few and far between) … and what an interesting movie it is!

“The Remaining” can be summed up pretty simply — it’s a Christian “horror” film centered around a small group of friends, and the events take place during and immediately after the Rapture.

The director stated he wanted a Biblically accurate depiction of the Rapture events, vs. trying to make it too Hollywood-ized. While the film does fudge details here and there regarding the trumpets and timing and things like that, the overall message is on target.

And wow, what a message the film has! By focusing on a small cast of characters as they are caught up in the scary times after the Rapture, the film gives the audience plenty of time to hear fairly deep discussions regarding — I’m not exaggerating — Jesus, the Bible and the end times! The film portrays the information clearly and in a very respectful manner … which made me very happy.

The movie doesn’t beat you over with “preachiness,” and you could easily show this to a non-believer and they’d surely find the film very interesting. I’m not positive if it’d make them a believer, but I do think it’d pique their interest enough for them to look into Biblical end time content even more.

Personally, I felt like the acting, editing, production values and writing were all very well done, and the changing of the characters seemed entirely believable. The last portion of the film is very creepy and unsettling as well — but hopeful at the same time. Unlike so many poorly made Hollywood thrillers/horror films, this one actually presents what the stakes are — and they feel significant. You’re rooting for the non-believers to understand God, so that they’ll be protected.

The Remaining is an excellent Christian film, and one that even normal audiences could find an engaging story in, as long as they don’t have their hearts hardened.

The Bible Collection: The Apocalypse

2017-01-23-apocalypseStrangely, the final film in The Bible Collection — The Apocalypse — is not actually included in the Google Play offerings … so, if you want to see this final chapter of the monumental series, you’ll have to look online at a place like eBay or Amazon (luckily, you can find a copy for just a few dollars plus shipping).

This final film stars Richard Harris — an amazing actor who played Abraham in The Bible Collection: Abraham (filmed seven years earlier). Just as in the first film he appeared in, he steals the show in this second one also, as he plays the Apostle John (near the end of his life), while imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos (a prison colony).

Supporting cast members show how John’s visions are written down and spread among churches throughout the area, and the film also does a good job of showing the cruelty (and insanity!) on Rome during that time. The Emperor Domitian was particularly loathsome in the film, and actor Bruce Payne did a great job of showing that ruler’s craziness on screen.

The other actors do a very good job as well, bringing both a human and regular believer element to the story, to accompany the heavier Revelation content.

If I had any complaints it would be that the special effects were inconsistent and obviously lower budget/TV quality, and that the visions weren’t always described well … but overall, the film presents a good story, message and detailed look at an often overlooked part of the Bible (in Hollywood). If you get a chance, I would say seek out a copy of this film, and watch it for some quality, Biblical entertainment.