It is time for My Favorite Things blog. These are things I use or want for my own personal spiritual growth (or at least an aid). I’m trying not to put down the same things as last year, but a few “honorable mentions” would be appropriate. Pigma Micron pens are still a favorite. They are perfect for writing notes in your Bible (they do not bleed or fade). I use the .005, but there are different size tips. Another favorite was the AA Leather Bible binding company. Sue Dean took advantage of this one from last year and has been very satisfied. It is a great way to put new binding on that worn out Bible cover. You can visit their site at http://aaleather.com/. Of course, if you are looking for a Bible, and have questions, let me know. Above is a chart that might help. People usually ask which one I use in preaching and teaching, it is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
Now for my new favorites.
This past year I have really enjoyed using the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern. It is not intended to cover every word and verse. It gives us a clearer understanding of the New Testament from a Jewish point of view. He shows their relation to the Old Testament – historical settings, rabbinic materials and Christian beliefs. This is especially helpful when a text mentions a Jewish festival, sacrifices, etc. in connection to a teaching. Some things may get a little over your head, but most of it will open your eyes to some things. He does use the Hebrew names of inviduals and books of the Bible, but don’t let this hinder you from true learning. Here are a couple of examples from familiar passages:
In Matthew 14, Jesus feeds the multitudes. In verse 19, Jesus took the five loaves, looks up to heaven, and He blessed them. Stern says, “He made a b’rakhah. The Jewish-English phrase means ‘said a blessing.’ The Greek here is evolgeo, ‘bless, speak well of’ elsewhere it is often evcharisto, “thank.” Although the text does not say so specifically, it is reasonable to suppose that he recited the customary b’rakhah (“benediction”) which Jews have said for more than two thousand years before meals that include bread: Barukh attah, Adonai Eloheynu, Melekh-ha’olam, haMotzi lechem min ha’aretz (‘Praised be to you, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth’)… the blessing before the meal is short. A longer ‘Grace’ (Birkat-HaMazon) is said after the meal. One thanks God for something received; moreover, on a full stomach one can relax and express appreciation at length; but on an empty stomach, if the prayers become verbose, one’s mind easily descends from Heaven to the table. The object of the blessing is God, not the food. It is unnecessary to say ‘Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies’; since food is already God’s blessing to us (Gen. 1:29, 9:3-4)! Rather, we thank him for providing it.”
Acts 2:38: “And be immersed (or “baptized”) on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah (literally, ‘on/upon the name (Greek onoma) of Yeshua the Messiah’). The command is to absorb completely and accept totally the work, power, authority and person of Yeshua the Messiah; on ‘onoma’.”
You can find this book on Amazon or Christian Book Distributors (CBD.com).
Another book, which really opened my eyes during my sabbatical is this one. Fortunately, I had time to read, process, and research what was being said. An added benefit was reading this book in nature. If you read it, you will understand. It is called Embracing Creation: God’s Forgotten Mission by John Mark Hicks, Bobby Valentine, and Mark Wilson. The authors take you through numerous passages showing how we should view God’s creation. They show us how the created world was given to humankind for enjoyment and something to be loved and preserved. At the same time, it looks to a coming day when God will purify it from corruption that began with the Fall. This is not a book about “climate change” or the many political arguments out there, but our role of preserving the earth for the glory of God regardless of what people say about ozone layers or melting ice caps.
Now for something I have put on my Christmas list this year. It is not in the same classification of the other things mentioned, but one I could see being an aid for Bible study. It is called the Nu Board. It is 4 X 7 inches and weighs 4.2 oz. It is basically a small notepad made out of dry erase boards. It has 8 pages (4 boards) or 5 sheets. Personally, it would be great for sermon preparation. I use a notebook to outline, write out certain points, references, etc. in putting a sermon together. By using this, I can save a few trees, and have a handy (compact) notebook to carry around. Since it is made of stiff material it can also stand up. You could use it to study a book of the Bible – research the background and write down important information – so you can refer to it as you read. Or you could write down words or phrases in your reading that you would like to look up later, or maybe certain questions or “things to follow” as you go through. It would be great to have for an ongoing prayer list. Maybe you would like to take down class notes, or sermon notes, but you are not planning to keep them the rest of your life. Some folks like to have something to look to over for only a few days. You can find these on Amazon for $13.20. Just click on https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V47UVNY/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A5CNHHXP6365A&psc=1 to go to the site. It would be a great stocking stuffer. They also have similar products in other sizes.
I will stop here because I have a lot of favorite things. These are the ones I thought might be of interests to you.