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The Young Messiah
The Young Messiah
DVD ~ Adam Greaves-Neal
Price: $16.99
41 used & new from $7.40

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, May 3, 2016
This review is from: The Young Messiah (DVD)
In this mostly fictional account, Joseph and his family constantly stay one step ahead of danger. A watchful and determined demon (unnamed but understood to be Satan) manipulates people and circumstances to try to bring harm to the child, Jesus. A Roman centurion, Severus, has been ordered by Herod Antipas to find and kill the young boy and he tracks Him to the temple of Jerusalem, leading to the film’s climax.

My wife and I and two of our granddaughters went to see “The Young Messiah” at the theater last Sunday and we all enjoyed it very much. The film is loosely based on Anne Rice’s, “Christ the Lord Out of Egypt.” Scripture actually says very little about Jesus’ childhood but we’ve all wondered about His life growing up with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. Being both human and divine, what did He know and when did He know it? Traditions and legends abound but we’ll never know the truth this side of eternity.

The story, acting, and sets are all well done. Adam Greaves-Neal shines as the loving, empathetic, young Jesus and Sean Bean gives a fine performance as the grizzled soldier. The writers took a bit of a Catholic approach by depicting Jesus as Mary’s only child with young James as His cousin but I don’t mean to make a mountain out of a molehill. It also struck me as specious that a Roman centurion would take direct orders from and be threatened by the appointed tetrarch of a conquered territory, but I quibble.

Some Christians object to all Hollywood portrayals of Jesus and other Biblical characters and events. I agree that people should not get their theology from Hollywood scriptwriters but I also believe the Lord can definitely use films like “The Young Messiah” and “Risen” to spark an interest in spiritual matters and draw people to Him. I pray the Lord will work in many hearts through “The Young Messiah.”
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2016 5:56 AM PDT


Making shipwreck of the faith: Evangelicals and Roman Catholics together
Making shipwreck of the faith: Evangelicals and Roman Catholics together
by Kevin Reed
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from $4.33

3.0 out of 5 stars Some good info but also some unbearable sectarianism, May 3, 2016
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When Chuck Colson and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus released their “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” ecumenical declaration in 1994, with the signatures of several prominent evangelical leaders attached, it wasn’t a complete shock. Several evangelicals had been pushing for recognition of Rome as a legitimate Christian church for decades, with Billy Graham being the most prominent. But many other evangelicals were stunned by the declaration and several books were written challenging this betrayal of the Gospel of grace.

In this short book, Reformed author, Kevin Reed, briefly evaluates ECT in light of God’s Word. This book is short on details but very long on rants against contemporary evangelicalism. I’m not a huge fan of much that passes for evangelicalism these days either but Reed makes me look like a TBN televangelist in comparison. He’s a huge critic of “decisionalism” – the saying of a short prayer or coming forward in response to an invitation to “accept” Christ. Hyper-Calvinist Reed says “accepting” Christ is Arminan heresy, but that it’s okay for the person being drawn by the Holy Spirit to “trust” or “rest” in Christ. Yes, I agree many people make shallow, disingenuous professions of Christ that never result in any fruit, but making a distinction between “accepting” and “trusting” Christ is the kind of Nth degree nitpicking that’s sadly characteristic of Reformed (and other) fundamentalists. Many Christians are not fans of the “contemporary worship music” blasting through speakers in many evangelical churches on Sunday mornings these days but Reed even criticizes all old-school hymns as “heretical”! Singing psalms acapella is the only acceptable form of worship music according to Reed. The author makes some good points in this book but the sectarian baloney is unbearable.

Christians must be discerning. There’s some excellent resources out there that responsibly critique Roman Catholicism but there’s also a lot of bad stuff (e.g., Jack Chick, Peter Ruckman, etc.). I’ll file this book among the latter. Reed’s hyper-sectarianism strikes me as equally as repugnant as the ECT betrayal. For responsible reviews of ECT see “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” and “Getting the Gospel Right” by R. C. Sproul, “Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will To Discern” by John MacArthur, and “Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” by Rob Zins.

Christians should lovingly cut their brothers and sisters in other churches some slack in regards to secondary doctrinal differences but the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone should NEVER be compromised the way it was done by the Judas supporters of ECT.

“Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” – 1 Timothy 1:18-20


Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel)
Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel)
by Angela E. Hunt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.25
65 used & new from $5.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read, May 3, 2016
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Ms. Hunt does a decent job of filling in the gaps with this novelization of the biblical account of King David and Bathsheba. I really needed a long, easy-reading novel for the 8-hour plane ride back to the USA and this book fit the bill to a tee. It’s entertaining, informative, and even quite inspirational. Hunt definitely did her homework. Good stuff!


The Borgia Apocalypse: The Screenplay
The Borgia Apocalypse: The Screenplay
Price: $9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Strictly for fans, May 3, 2016
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The Borgias television series aired on Showtime channel for three years from 2011 to 2013. I recently viewed all three seasons via Netflix. The show focused on ruthless Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, and his equally ruthless offspring, Cesare and Lucrezia, and the utter corruption of the Roman Catholic church a few years prior to the Reformation. The show was cancelled in 2013, so series creator, Jordan, wrote this screenplay for a never-produced, two-hour finale. Viewers were left dangling at the end of season three and Jordan attempts to tie up the loose ends. The family’s enemy, Caterina Sforza, is finally disposed of, Cesare deals with the treacherous band of rogue princes known as “The Wild Bunch,” while Lucrezia surprisingly betrays her father and brother in a deadly alliance with Rodrigo’s arch-rival, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere. Jordan has his hands full trying to cram a 10-episode season’s worth of material into a two-hour screenplay and it shows. Strictly for fans of The Borgias cable series.


God's Glory Alone---The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught...and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series)
God's Glory Alone---The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught...and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series)
by Matthew Barrett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.62
67 used & new from $6.95

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, May 3, 2016
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In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, Zondervan is publishing its 5 Solas Series. Faith Alone, the first book, was published in September of last year and God’s Glory Alone followed a couple of months later. Whereas Faith Alone did a very good job comparing Protestant and Catholic perspectives on Sola Fide, this book makes absolutely no attempt to contrast the opposing viewpoints of the two groups regarding Soli Deo Gloria. While there’s some good material here regarding the glory of God, with references to Scripture and the writings of the Reformers, VanDrunen’s and editor Matthew Barrett’s decision to exclude any mention of Catholicism’s defiance of Soli Deo Gloria with its veneration of the pope, Mary, and the saints is an absolutely stunning “oversight” given the theme of this series. Save your money.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2016 2:23 PM PDT


Another Jesus: The eucharist christ and the new evangelization
Another Jesus: The eucharist christ and the new evangelization
by Roger Oakland
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95
54 used & new from $2.12

5.0 out of 5 stars The Jesus Wafer, May 3, 2016
Roman Catholics are taught their priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at every mass. The priests then allegedly offer up their victim as a sacrifice to God the Father for the sins of the attendees and those mentioned. Some of the participants, those allegedly with no stain of mortal sin on their souls, line up to receive a “consecrated” wafer into their mouths so that they can eat Jesus. During the fifteen minutes the host is acted upon by their stomach’s digestive acids, the recipients allegedly receive graces enabling them to avoid committing mortal sins in the future.

In this book, Christian apologist, Roger Oakland, looks at all aspects of the sacrament of the eucharist, the central tenet of the Catholic religion. Catholics pity their separated brethren because they alone claim to have the “real presence” of Jesus in their consecrated bread wafers. Evangelical Christians who think Catholicism is a genuine form of Christianity, albeit with a lot of quirky ritualism, would find this book informative.

Trying to merit your way into Heaven by perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments is impossible. We break God’s laws every single day. Those who claim they have no mortal sin on their souls might delude themselves but they don’t deceive God who sees every filthy thought and motive. But Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to this world and died on the cross for your sins. He rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith. Taking a wafer into your mouth won’t help you. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

Chapters

Deception in His Name
A Missionary Vision
Understanding the Eucharist
The Eucharist: A Biblical Review
The Monstrance – A Container for Christ?
The New Evangelization
Adoring the Eucharist
Eucharistic Miracles
Eucharistic Conversions
The Mary Connection
The Eucharistic Reign of Christ
The Passion and the Eucharist
The Biblical Jesus and the Gospel
A Christian’s Commission


The Witch [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
The Witch [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
DVD ~ Anya Taylor-Joy
Price: $13.99
41 used & new from $9.28

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Note to self: Don't locate farm on edge of dark woods, May 3, 2016
My wife and our two sons REALLY enjoy horror films. Me? Eh, not so much. Anyway, my wife is always pestering our oldest son who lives in town about five miles away to come over with his brood for a scary movie sleepover. Well, they finally agreed to stay over last night.

We started things off with lots of junk food and pizza. So, what’s to complain about? After our youngest granddaughter, age 4, went off to bed at 9 PM, the rest of us watched “The Witch,” which our son provided via his laptop. The plot of the film centers around a Puritan family that’s banished from their community in 17th-century New England and start a farm on the edge of some very dark woods. We all know that dark woods spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e. As the story continues, the family’s set of young twins admit to conversing with the goat, Black Phillip, an infant and pre-teen boy are apparently abducted by a witch, and the oldest daughter is drawn ever closer to the diabolical. After having escaped the clutches of the witch, the pre-teen boy declares his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior in a dying swoon.

I know a lot of Christians object to this type of entertainment and it’s certainly not my first choice but Satan doesn’t attract anyone to his cause by these repulsive horror films. On the contrary, the Bible says Satan is transformed into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He does his damage by presenting an alternative “christian” religion that teaches a “gospel” of salvation by merit rather than the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He advises everyone can merit salvation by “following the light they’ve been given” and by being “good” even if they don’t believe in God. The belief straight from the pit of hell that’s widely accepted throughout the world today is that everyone is basically “good” and most will merit Heaven IF there is one. Christians strongly object to a dumb horror film about a witch but it’s perfectly fine and even commendable to embrace those who preach a different gospel of sacramental grace and merit as “brothers and sisters in Christ.” Oy! Does anyone else see the irony operating here?

I’m not an expert on the topic but I do know the Puritans of colonial times did not always act in accordance with God’s Word. They continued the Catholic practice of uniting church and state into a theocracy. Those who disagreed with church leadership were punished by the civil authorities. Charges of “witchcraft” were leveled against congregants, neighbors, and associates out of hatred or jealousy. Praise the Lord for raising up Reformers like Roger Williams and others to challenge the lingering Roman residue.


Poetry:  Psalms II Chapters 42-89 (Thru the Bible)
Poetry: Psalms II Chapters 42-89 (Thru the Bible)
by J. Vernon McGee
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
68 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Psalms - Singing songs to the Lord, March 26, 2016
Don't know how to pray? The Lord gave us the Book of Psalms to show us how it's done. McGee continues his study of Psalms with this second volume.

J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) provides informative and life-applicable commentary in a reverently folksy style that's uniquely his own. As I've mentioned in other reviews of the McGee commentaries, the use of the old-school KJV is a bit distracting but it's not a deal breaker.

McGee's commentaries are a wonderful resource. I use them as a part of my "deep-dive" Bible studies in which I also use a Bible dictionary, a concordance, and a more scholarly, one-volume commentary. If you enjoy using the McGee commentaries you may want to think about purchasing used copies of the five-volume compilation set rather than buying these yellow paperback editions individually. With 60 total volumes @ $8.99 each the cost adds up quickly.


Risen
Risen
DVD ~ Cliff Curtis
Price: $14.99
46 used & new from $9.80

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Resurrection with some fictional embroidery, March 16, 2016
This review is from: Risen (DVD)
I had already read the novelization of Risen's script before seeing the movie. Regrettably, one of the book’s main characters, Rachel, ended up on the film’s cutting room floor. All in all, this is an enjoyable movie about the resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of a fictional non-believer. Roman tribune, Clavius, is in search of “a day without death” and “peace.” Does he find what he’s searching for in Christ?

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t make explicitly clear that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross and rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, to be the Savior of all those who accept Him. Viewers of this film who don’t already know Christ and God’s Word might assume Jesus is just some type of divine, New Age guru who pedals nirvanic bliss to his followers rather than being their Savior from the wages of sin. The book does a much better job of identifying Jesus’ biblical roles as the sacrificial Lamb of God and the Savior of those who accept Him.

But I don’t mean to be too harsh. Transferring the Bible to film and pleasing every viewer is an impossible task and many would say it’s a task that shouldn’t even be attempted. I enjoyed “Risen” and would watch it again. Fiennes gives a fine performance as the battle-hardened tribune in search of life’s true meaning. I choked back tears several times at the depictions of my Savior’s death and His triumphal resurrection and appearances. What a price He paid and what a gift He offers! But, if you want the factual details, and you should, read the New Testament. Hopefully, “Risen” will be the start of the journey to Christ for many.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2016 12:46 PM PDT


The Borgias: Season 3
The Borgias: Season 3
DVD ~ Jeremy Irons
Price: $9.99
36 used & new from $4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Absolute corruption at the Vatican, March 16, 2016
This review is from: The Borgias: Season 3 (DVD)
I just finished watching the third and final season of “The Borgias” via Netflix. The series dramatized the exploits of the infamous Borgia family – father Rodrigo (pope Alexander VI, 1492-1503), and his notorious offspring, Cesare and Lucrezia.

In this season, pope Alexander (Irons) recovers from an assassination attempt and immediately purges the disloyal members of the college of cardinals. The new appointees are forced to participate in the legendary “Banquet of Chestnuts,” which Alexander uses to extort their loyalty. In the meantime, his arch-rival, Caterina Sforza, schemes to create an alliance against him. The king of Naples forbids the newly-married Lucrezia (Grainger) from bringing her “bastard” child to Naples so she turns to her brother, Cesare (Arnaud), for help and comfort. Alexander plans a crusade against the troublesome Turkish pirates while a discontented Cesare considers an alliance with France. In Naples, Cesare’s henchman, Micheletto, “removes” all objections to Lucrezia’s baby. Cesare returns to Italy with the French army in tow, which Alexander perceives as a threat. Palace intrigue forces Lucrezia to flee Naples for Rome. Jewish merchants assist Alexander in eliminating the Turkish threat and also help him corner the sulphur supply, necessary for the manufacture of gunpowder. Finally reconciled with his father, Cesare lays siege to Caterina’s fortified city, Forli, and returns to Rome triumphant with his vanquished prisoner in a gilded cage.

No doubt the writers employed some dramatic license in this series but the reign of the Borgias in Rome was an undeniable indicator of the absolute corruption of the institutionalized church at the time. Pope Alexander VI’s only goals were the acquisition of greater earthly power and wealth. The Gospel of the early church of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone had devolved into formalism, legalism, and sacramentalism presided over by an authoritarian and spiritually toxic hierarchy. Only fourteen years after the death of Rodrigo Borgia, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

I enjoyed this series although there are some unnecessary “rough edges” used by the writers and directors meant to bolster viewership. The acting is generally good throughout but Holliday Grainger is excellent in the role of the conniving Lucrezia. Francois Arnaud definitely grew into his role and is quite convincing in his last season as the diabolical “Prince.” Irresolute Jeremy Irons once again demonstrates why he was the wrong choice for the steel-willed Borgia patriarch. The costumes, sets, and special effects are outstanding. Showtime cancelled The Borgias following the third season but series creator, Neil Jordan, published the script for a two-hour, never-produced finale via ebook available from Amazon.com.

For an informative examination of papal corruption, see “Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy” by Peter De Rosa.


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