Modern Readers and their Books

Guest Post

Modern Readers and their Books

It has been reported in Christianity Today that all 240 of the Family Christian Stores will be closing soon. These Christian bookstores have been extremely useful and helpful to believers. As one who used to work in a Christian bookstore many years ago, I know the disappointment and frustration that this must bring to many Christians who depended upon this bookstore chain for their Bibles, Sunday school literature and related materials.

In the bookstore in which I worked, we would see people come in regularly with issues, problems and needs. We would talk to them for a few minutes, discern what they were struggling with, and then recommend good quality Christian books to help them. This meant that we had to have a good understanding of Scripture, know not only the stock in our store but also anything else that might be available, have discernment, and be able to pick just the right book for them. Sometimes we would stop and pray with them. We wanted to supply them with materials which would help them find the Lord and grow in grace. We viewed this as our primary and basic ministry.

Regrettably over the years, many mom-and-pop Christian bookstores have gone out of business because of the big chain Christian bookstores. And now the big chain stores are going out of business.

There are several possible reasons for these Christian bookstores to be going out of business.

First, a good many of the stores quit carrying Bibles and quality Christian literature. Instead, they began to carry books which were nothing more than self-help literature. Many of these books and tapes would be about inner healing, self motivation and positive thinking. The stores also started stocking ’Christian’ knickknacks, jewelry and art. This stuff was known in the business collectively as ’holy hardware’.

Second, in recent years there has been a tremendous loss of reading skills and abilities. At about the same time there arose various electronic reading devices. There was a drop in the purchase of dead-tree books even from discount bookstores. Now independent discount bookstores are beginning to disappear.

Online businesses such as Amazon have exploded the world of ebooks into the public consciousness. They provide literature which is consistently cheaper than paper books and available within seconds, and have many options which make reading so much easier. With the modern Kindle readers and other e-readers, you can adjust the font size, number of lines per page and marginal spacing. Many people who love to read have moved to these readers because they can carry a huge number of books in their device and take it anywhere they like. This solves the problem that people have who read lots of books but have nowhere to store them.

Another interesting feature is that unlike a dead-tree book which has the added expense of printing, binding and shipping, the ebook can be typeset and made available quickly for readers. Often dead-tree books go out of print. However, it is possible and even feasible that ebooks never go out of print.

Some of the sad details of a populace that is losing its ability to read is the loss of classic literature which has come to us down through the centuries. However, books that have affected the human experience in just about every area of life can still be found in print in ebooks. Some publishers and retailers provide these classic books in ebook format for free or very little money. This is astounding. That cannot be said for paper books which cost a good deal of money to produce and ship.

This must not be understood as attacking paper books. I personally would love to see paper books in print and available widely for everyone to enjoy. But where does this bring us? With the major Christian publishers slow on the uptake in producing ebooks, and the failure of both private Christian bookstores and now major chain stores, where can Christians turn for quality Christian literature? For those who still have the ability to read, ebooks are a distinct avenue for reading.

But even more basic, we must teach our children to read. If your child is not learning good reading skills in school, help them. Let them see you model reading a book (and of course the most important book to read is the Bible). There are numerous things that you can do to help children and others not only learn to read but love and enjoy reading. You can even read a book as a family. It wouldn’t take but a few minutes each day. Be sure and ask questions to determine whether or not your child understands what they are reading.

At any rate, Christians need to take back the high ground of producing good quality Christian literature and help people to learn about the Lord Jesus and to grow in grace.

GW Anderson
Spoudason Services

 

George W. Anderson taught at Columbia International University and served as the Editorial Manager as well as an Editorial Consultant of the Trinitarian Bible Society in London. Mr. Anderson offers his knowledge and expertise at Spoudason Services, a research & teaching consultancy in Bible, NT Greek, hermeneutics & theology for Bible students, SS teachers, pastors & missionaries.

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Reading the Bible Through

Early one January an adult Sunday school class had just begun its session. The Bible teacher got up and asked a simple question. He had asked this question in other classes and venues, and knew what the answer would be. “How many of you have read the Bible all the way through”? He asked for a show of hands. Many in the class looked at each other and seemed a little ill-at-ease with the question. One lady in the back of the room raised her hand. In classes of 25 to 30 students, this was normal: one or two believers had actually read the Bible through. The rest were embarrassed; inevitably tried to justify their response with mumbled replies.

We now face the beginning of a new year. There are many who will be trying to design improvements to their physical situation or emotional wellbeing. A few will be concerned about their spiritual growth and behaviour and will resolve to read the Scriptures on a regular basis.

Reading the Bible through is one of the most basic and helpful ways to provide growth and maturity in the Christian heart and life.

Some people like to try to read the Bible through in a year. This is a noble task. For many, however, it creates some problems.

open BibleIn our current day and age, many people—especially younger people—have difficulty reading complete books. Some have difficulty with well-written paragraphs. Still others can only comprehend short cropped phrases. For many people reading and writing is confined to 140 characters or less. Some have difficulty following an argument from paragraph to paragraph. All these things affect their understanding of what is formally written, leaving them unable to comprehend what’s on one page of the Bible, much less what’s on the rest of the pages.

A second difficulty with reading the Bible through can be lack of interest—spiritual, doctrinal or subject matter. It is difficult to read the Bible for some because they just aren’t interested in what is in the Bible. It is important that each time you begin your Bible reading you take time to pray and ask the Lord to help you with your interest, diligence and understanding. Ask God to teach you by his Spirit through his Word.

A third problem involved with reading the Bible through is time. There are so many pulls on our time each and every day that we don’t have any moments to spare to come aside and read the Bible. We make good progress at taking ten or fifteen minutes to spend time with the Lord in his Word, but then one thing or another manages to steal that time away.

Thus, it takes quite a commitment to begin daily Bible reading, and particular diligence to read it consistently and all the way through.

The most important thing in deciding to read the Bible on a daily basis is to remember that you are meeting God through reading his Word. You are doing this for your relationship with him and your spiritual growth. It is to know God better.

There are several practical ways of reading the Scriptures and of reading all the way through. First is the need to set aside time to do so; second is determining how you’re going to do it. Would morning or evening be best? Third is should you endeavour to read through the Bible in one year, or two, or five? Will you read straight from Genesis to Revelation or use some other system?

There are many tools which are available for the believer. There are numerous translations in English—some are good, while others are a detriment to spiritual growth. There are devotional Bibles which have the text divided into 365 day increments for convenience. Many Bibles have a Bible reading plan located in the back of the Bible, and there are many Bible reading plans available on the Internet. The wonderful Christian blogger Tim Challies has a recent article on this.

Some people like to read the Old Testament text in the morning and the New Testament text in the evening. Thus they start and finish the day in God’s Word. They will often start in Genesis and Matthew, and just plough through.

There are many who will try to read the Bible through during the calendar year 2017, and while this is a noble endeavour, it can be rather difficult, particularly if you set a specific amount to read daily. There may be certain days that will interrupt the reading schedule because you are ill or traveling or for some other valid reason, and you will struggle to catch up. If you do not have time to go back and catch up on your reading, it is perfectly acceptable to pick up again on the next day and continue on. You may miss some of the details or context, but you will be able to continue without the burden of having to make up readings which slow you down and eventually cause you to stop altogether. Being able to brag that you have read every single verse of the Bible is not why you have committed to reading the Scriptures. It is important to read the Bible completely even if you miss several small sections.

Dr Allen Fleece recommended that you could spend thirty days in a book of the Bible. He recommended starting with Romans. You read as much as you can each day, and when you reach the end you start over. You do this for thirty days. Then you continue in 1 Corinthians for thirty days. Some people like to add “Spiritual Vitamins” by reading a chapter of the book of Proverbs each day of the month.

Some people read the Bible all the way through, not concerned with when they finish. They average a chapter or two a day, and take time to slow down if necessary to ensure they understand what they’ve read. They take their time day-by-day in God’s Word.

It is my hope and prayer that you will make a decision and a commitment to read God’s Word consistently in the coming year, that you will understand what you read and that you will be able to have a much closer relationship to God through his Word. God is as willing as he is able to assist, help and bless you in this.

As Dr Fleece used to put it, “When you open your Bible God opens his mouth; when you close your Bible God closes his mouth”. Make your commitment today.

Blessings,

GW Anderson
Spoudason Services

 

George W. Anderson taught at Columbia International University before becoming the Editorial Manager as well as an Editorial Consultant of the Trinitarian Bible Society in London. Mr. Anderson offers his knowledge and expertise at Spoudason Services, a research & teaching consultancy in Bible, NT Greek, hermeneutics & theology for Bible students, SS teachers, pastors & missionaries.

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Update to the Essential Greek New Testament for the Absolute Beginner

We have just updated our personal favorite OSNOVA publication, the Essential Greek New Testament for the Absolute Beginner.
 
EGNTThe latest edition of the Essential Greek New Testament for the Absolute Beginner adds a hyperlinked Greek concordance (i.e. the lists of occurrences of all Greek words in the Greek New Testament) to the included Greek Lexicon.  Only a small number of extremely frequent words have a shortened (rather than complete) list of their occurrences.  The concordance will allow you to see the passages in the New Testament where a specific Greek word occurs.
 
As a reminder, this book represents a new approach to the study of the Biblical Greek by allowing an absolute Greek beginner to start “reading” the Greek New Testament from the first day. As such, it is an indispensable resource for those who would like to get a glimpse of the New Testament in the original. The compilation of resources will also be useful to those who have some knowledge of Biblical Greek.

For a limited time only, we set the price to $4.99. Get your copy today.
 
THIS VOLUME CONTAINS A NUMBER OF VALUABLE FEATURES:

  • Parallel Greek-English text for each verse.
  • Each word in the Greek text is hyperlinked to its grammatical information and then to its entry in the Greek lexicon.
  • A list of each word form found in the Greek text identifying the grammatical codes for that form and hyperlinked to the explanation of the code and an entry in the included Greek lexicon.
  • An extensive Greek Lexicon organized by Strong’s numbers. The Lexicon can be accessed in a number of ways (e.g. searching for g9 or agape, using the word frequency list, etc.).
  • A list of over 1,000 most frequent Greek words in the NT and flash cards for the Greek word study. Note that the list of Greek words can be used to navigate the Greek lexicon on devices that do not support the index function (e.g. Kindle Fire).
  • On some Kindle devices, you can use the Direct Verse Jump to find the passage or word in the Lexicon in seconds.  Even without the DVJ, this publication is extremely useful on all portable devices supporting the Kindle application: Android tablets and phones, iPhones and iPads, Kindle Fire, etc.

 

If you already bought this publication on Amazon, you can obtain an updated version for free through the “Manage Your Content and Devices” page on Amazon.com.  If you bought this publication directly from us, please contact us for the updated file.

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Peace on Earth

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,

good will toward men.”  Luke 2:14

Our family here in Virginia had a lovely Christmas season, enjoying a nice warm weather and wonderful time with family and friends. What a blessing it is to be able to celebrate the true reason for the season – Jesus Christ born as a humble baby to bring the peace to this world and demonstrate God’s good will toward men!

Family Photo

However, as we enjoyed the festive Christmas service, the holiday meal, and the warmth of fire in the wood stove, we couldn’t help but think and pray of Christians in the Middle East, in North Korea, in Africa who face persecution and death daily, of all the countries torn by unrest and war, of our motherland Ukraine under attack, of our wonderful new homeland America scarred  by unrest in Ferguson. Our world is drowning in violence and pain, and peace seems to be a mirage. Our thoughts and feelings are nothing new. Over a hundred years ago Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed pretty much the same but more poetically in his ‘Christmas Bells’:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

….

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today, just like ever before, this world needs peace; today this world still desperately needs a Savior. This world needs Jesus. We as His people, His followers, are given the mission to carry on the song sang by angels so many years ago: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”. Our God is not dead, and He is coming back for His Church! While there is still time, we will shine His light and carry His Word to the world in need.

May this new year be a year when we re-commit to  our Lord and Savior, draw closer to Him, and spread the good news of His salvation to all the nations! And may God’s peace rule in our hearts and minds!

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When “errors” are not errors.

Amazon’s email to OSNOVA:

 

Hello,

We’re writing to let you know that at least one of your readers has reported some problems within your book [the KJV Bible], and we have confirmed the issue. … There are some words in your book that our spell check dictionary could not identify. … Here are the words and their locations

For example “cieling of wood; ” should be “ceiling of wood; “(loc:48522),”burglers” should be “burglars” (loc:48385),”sodering” should be “soldering”(loc:27757),

 

OSNOVA’s Email to Amazon:

Dear Amazon,
As always, we have carefully reviewed your report.  Given that we are dealing with the text of the KJV translation of the Bible, we have to faithfully reproduce all the spellings of its authoritative editions.  Neither you nor I are qualified to update the spelling of the KJV Bible to the modern standards or decide that the original text contained errors or misspellings.

In this particular instance, all of the reported “errors” cannot and should not be corrected even though they look strange to the modern eye because the original text had “cieling of wood,” “burglers” and “sodering.”  Please see the attached reproductions of the text of the KJV that served as the basis for our electronic edition.

I would appreciate if you would pass this information to the customer who reported these “errors.”

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OSNOVA’s Very Special Thanksgiving Offer

This Thanksgiving we are offering a very special super sale on OSNOVA’s Christian e-books for Kindle!

As low as Amazon would go!

For a limited time, get OSNOVA’s Christian publications for Kindle at the lowest prices Amazon would allow for our books!

Over 30 titles by OSNOVA are ON SALE!

Check out these wonderful Bible Study tools, and make sure to let your friends know, too (they’ll thank you for that!).

 

KJV Bible (paragraphed)
$1.99
Unabridged Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible
$2.99
Calvin: The Institutes of the Christian Religion
$1.99
Spurgeon's Treasury of David (Commentary on Psams)
$2.99
Spurgeon: Feathers for Arrows
$0.99
Easton's Bible Dictionary
$1.99
KJV Bible (verse per line)
$0.99
KJV New Testament with Strong's markup, dictionary and more
$1.99
Young's Literal Translation of the Bible
$0.99
Bibel-Die Heilige Schrift (German Bible)
$1.99
OSNOVA Study Bible (incl. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and more)
$1.99
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentarry on the Whole Bible
$1.99
Albert Barnes' Notes on the New Testament
$2.99
Spurgeon: New Park Street Pulpit
$1.99
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
$2.99
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
$0.99
KJV Bible (TTS-friendly; no verse numbers)
$0.99
$1.99
World English Bible
$0.99
La Bible avec des Textes Parallèles (en Français et Anglais); English-French Parallel Bible
$1.99
KJV Bible (with Apocrypha)
$1.99
Gill's Bible Commentary
$2.99
Collection of Works of Jonathan Edwards
$1.99
Spurgeon: Barbed Arrows
$0.99
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament
$1.99
Value of the Bible and excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster
$0.99
1611 KJV Bible (warning: Not your usual KJV)
$0.99
Douay-Rheims Bible
$0.99
La Santa Biblia Versión Reina-Valera (1909 Spanish Bible; warning: not the modern translation)
$0.99
English-Latin Diglot Bible (D-R, Vulgata)
$1.99

 

 

 

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John Calvin on Prayer and Thanksgiving

By prayer and supplication we pour out our desires before God, asking as well those things which tend to promote his glory and display his name, as the benefits which contribute to our advantage. By thanksgiving we duly celebrate his kindnesses toward us, ascribing to his liberality every blessing which enters into our lot. . . . The sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving can never be interrupted without guilt, since God never ceases to load us with favor upon favor, so as to force us to gratitude, however slow and sluggish we may be. In short, so great and widely diffused are the riches of his liberality towards us, so marvelous and wondrous the miracles which we behold on every side, that we never want a subject and materials for praise and thanksgiving.

— John Calvin,
INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION,
Book Third, Chapter XX, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989, page 176 in Volume II. ISBN 0802881661

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Thanksgiving and Prayer

by Charles H. Spurgeon

 

“Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.” — Psalm 65:11

All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake, his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave off shining, but our God will never cease to cheer his children with his love. Like a river his lovingkindness is always flowing, with a fullness inexhaustible as his own nature, which is its source. Like the atmosphere which always surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days appears to gladden us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen with the rain, and as the atmosphere itself on occasions is fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God: it hath its golden hours, its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifieth his grace and lifteth high his love before the sons of men. Continue reading

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Countdown to Thanksgiving

“Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains”. Psalm 147:7-8

This November Facebook is abuzz with “3o Days of Thanksgiving”. Many Christians post one gratitude note everyday. Some “thank-you’s” are big ticket items, while others are the recognition of small everyday blessings. And then there are some who thank God for ‘blessings in disguise’: lost jobs, financial struggle, health issues – all those things that test our faith, build up your trust, and make our hearts seek God with new eagerness.

“Gratitude is our ability to see the grace of God, morning by morning, no matter what else greets us in the course of the day”. ~ Craig Barnes

Whatever our situation is today – or any day – a grateful heart is the attitude we are called to as the redeemed children of God.

  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV).
  • “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:23.
  • “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” Hebrew 13:15.

We learn about thanksgiving every day as we wake up to a new dawn, have a morning cup of coffee, enjoy food on our table, hear our children’s voices, see our loved ones, get a phone call from a friend, watch the sunset, kiss our spouses good-night. There are things we might be missing. There are circumstances we wished be different. Yet none of that can or should diminish our gratitude to God for all what we do have: our life, His constant presence, protection, and provision.

“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled”. ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Our family had a good year. We stayed very busy with our three kids: homework, swim classes, field trips, AWANA. One of the biggest highlights of the year was our summer vacation to Virginia Beach along with Oksana’s sister and her son, who came to visit us for a month.

Our children are a constant reminder of God’s special mercy and His blessings. Each one of them is a gift from above. Their little hearts full of wonder and love, their eager minds hungry for truth, their arms outstretched toward us. We delight in our precious gems every day. What a blessing to be a Mom and a Dad!

With the headlines telling us that the world is falling apart all around, we thank God for His faithfulness and hold on to His everlasting promise:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

__________________________________________

What are you thankful for today?
Have you had any ‘blessings in disguise’ lately?

Please share with us in the comments.

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What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ? (part 3)

[Part 1] [Part 2]

Then we come to the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, ‘The importance of the Resurrection is that is gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.’ On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door, which had always been locked, had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into ‘ghost’ and ‘corpse’. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

 The question is, I suppose, whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis. That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe, down to manhood — and come up again, pulling it up with Him. The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost. It is either lunacy or lies. Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

‘What are we to make of Christ?’ There is no question of what we can make of Him; it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.

The things he says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, ‘This is the truth about the universe. This is the way you ought to go,’ but He says, ‘I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.’ He says, ‘No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.; He says, ‘If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and from me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, all of them, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.’ That is the issue.

– from “God in the Dock” by C. S. Lewis (part 3 of 3)

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