Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jeremy Burris, Another Soldier Killed in Iraq -- Plus Two New Books to Read and Discuss

I rushed home from church to be here in time (noon) to reconnect with Billie Rae Walker (in New York) on the phone. (Billie Rae interviewed me for STARTREK.COM and STAR TREK MAGAZINE, as you may recall. We met in Vegas at the TREK convention in August after corresponding for almost a year.) Things have been so nuts with me here that we haven't talked on the phone since before the convention.

When I got home I had a voice mail from her. Her car broke down in the way to or from church; her brother and sister in law are en route to rescue her. She'll call again as soon as she gets home... Gads... I hope the weather is decent over New Yawk way. It's lovely here in the Pacific NW at the moment. We even have sunshine after a very foggy morning...

Sad news. One of the young men who went through our ministry course at Church For All Nations (CFAN) lost his life in Iraq this past week. His name was Jeremy Burris, and he was 22 years old, from Texas.

CFAN has been very blessed to have lost just one fighting man. Our congregation is pretty much jam-packed with soldiers and their families from the famous Stryker Brigade (and other military brigades Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy), so we have prayed for and sent many off to war. Until this incident, all of them have come back alive and well.

Jeremy was proud to serve, and said that if he lost his life there, he couldn't imagine any better cause to lose it for, as a devout Christian devoted to setting people free from oppression. To find out more about him, here's a link to his hometown newspaper, where he is remembered:

Pray for his family. Jeremy himself is now just fine, living with the Lord... ("To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.") That doesn't make it much easier for his family, but it does make it surviveable to know they will see him again...

I have two new books to recommend. The first is Lee Strobel's The Case for the Real Jesus, A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ. I was up until 1 am reading it. Bought it around 1 pm at Costco. Couldn't out it down until the last page. It's just fabulous!

The back cover reads (in part) :

"In this dramatic investigation, award-winning writer and former legal editor Lee Strobel explores such controversial questions as:

* Did Christianity suppress "alternative gospels" that portray Jesus more accurately than the New Testament?

* Did the church distort the truth about Jesus by tampering with early biblical texts?

* Have fresh insights and explanations finally disproved the resurrection?

* Were the essential beliefs about Jesus stolen from earlier mythology?

* Have new objections disqualified Jesus from being the Messiah?

Evaluate the evidence for yourself as leading experts grapple with the latest objections from today's foremost critics. Then reach your own verdict in The Case for the Real Jesus.

The six current and most-often voiced "challenges" to the veracity of the "Christ as Savior and Messiah" claim are these:

"Scholars are uncovering a radically different Jesus in ancient documents just as credible as the four gospels."

"The Bible's portrait of Jesus can't be trusted because the church tampered with the text."

"New explanations have refuted Jesus' resurrection." The cross examination.

"Christianity's beliefs about Jesus were copied from pagan religions."

"Jesus was an impostor who failed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies."

"People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus."

The book concludes with two appendices. Appendix A is a summary of evidence from Strobel's earlier book, The Case for Christ. Appendix 2 offers helpful websites to investigate the real Jesus, to help separate the wheat from the chaff that exists across the Internet and around the world within different major religions.

About the author, Lee Strobel: Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of nearly 20 books and has been interviewed on numerous national networks including ABC, PBS, CNN, and Fox.

He has won numerous journalistic awards. He has a free e-newsletter. Access it at

If you read both LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS by Chuck Missler and THE CASE FOR THE REAL JESUS by Lee Strobel, you will begin to understand why it's vitally important to join a Bible study, if you haven't joined one already. There are very real consequences to living "Christian Lite" and to ignoring the claims Jesus made about himself. You are in a position to save lives for eternity, but until you believe the facts about Jesus as they are laid out in the Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments), to the core of your being, the likelihood that you will become an eternity-saver for someone you love and want to be with in heaven is pretty close to nil.

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The next book I want to recommend (even though I haven't read it yet -- I will start on it later today and take this segment away if I'm not as crazy about it as I expect to be) is The Year of Living Biblically, One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs. It has been recommended by Bruce Feiler (author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born), P.J. O'Rourke, Rabbi David Ellenson (president of Hebrew Union College), and Rev. Jim Wallis (author of God's Politics, a book I recommended a few months back for anyone who votes in this country).

The jacket cover reads (in part):

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, AJ Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible at literally as possible for one full year... [including stoning adulterers!] The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes... He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations -- much to his wife's chagrin. Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does scripture study with Jehovah's Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly-archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first century brain. Jacob's extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part CliffNotes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.

"A hilarious memoir." -- Time

"Tender... Entertaining." -- Janet Naslin, The New York Times

"Inspired and inspiring." -- Vanity Fair

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I expect to laugh and learn!

May as well get started... until the phone rings and Billie is there to say, "I'm home, safe and sound!"

Be well. Read! Let me know what you think of these two books after you've read them. Also let me know what you think of LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS, which I have been recommending for months. Let's get a discussion going!

1 comment:

Jay Rogers said...

I just got finished doing some edits to the complete and final version of The Real Jesus DVD.

I was happily surprised when I began production on this in 2005 that “The Real Jesus” has become an apologetics buzzword of sorts. Lee Strobel’s "The Case for the Real Jesus" and Luke Timothy Johnson’s "The Real Jesus" are two books I highly recommend.

I used Johnson’s book as a reference in the video and I just got Strobel’s book as I was finishing up this month. I was surprised to see that the format of Strobel’s “Six Challenges” and my “Seven Myths of the Higher Critics” were so similar.

The final version is now finished! Really! The total running time with all the extras is now 2 hours and 20 minutes -- up from the hour-long project I announced was almost finished earlier this year.

The DVD just needed a few cosmetic edits (nothing the average viewer would even notice) and we even added seven minutes of a "Bonus Feature" entitled: "Who is Jesus?"

It's the best feature of the DVD and adds a lot of appeal especially as an introduction when it will be show to small groups as a five to ten week seminar. The video is divided into ten parts for this reason.

The final version is available now!

Check out the YouTube clips at website.

Then you can order it if you like what you see. The final version has over an hour of additional materials, interviews, a bonus feature and is re-edited with Eric Holmberg as the host and narrator.

I've been doing a weekly radio show on Tuseday nights with Pastor Joe Dunn of Metro Praise Church in Chicago. It's a Skype-based web-cam/chat-room/radio-show with two pastors in Chicago and Indiana. A lot of diverse people show up in the chat room -- witches, atheists, nihilists, etc. -- and ask crazy questions.

I sent Joe Dunn an advance copy of The Real Jesus DVD. I was really pleased to hear his comments. He opened the show by holding it up to the web cam and saying, "I just got done watching the best video on Jesus that I've ever seen! This is the greatest thing ever! I've seen all kinds of stuff by Ankerburg and other guys like that and this is by far the best thing I've seen on the topic of The Real Jesus."

He loved the interviews with the experts, the graphics, the music, everything. He said he wished he had 100 to give away, and so on. He said he likes all the "charts" and was going to go back and study them on still mode. That, of course, speaks to me about what is needed in a future study guide, not just text, but the same visuals I used in the video.

This is a good review because I have all kind of ideas about how I want to continue. I have enough script material to do at least two more of these in the next few years. I was thinking that that there are at least 10,000 Joe Dunn's out there, pastors who are training young Christians in their churches how to stand up against postmodernist reinterpretations of Jesus and militant atheist attacks on the Bible. This video is the perfect training tool.

The big question is how to reach these pastors.

Obviously, we need to get about a dozen endorsement quotes from pastors and a few well-known church leaders on The Real Jesus -- then we need to advertise this to thousands of church leaders throughout the world.