Category Archives: Review



In May, my wife had her birthday (her 29th I think), and Caleb & I got her a new game, Agricola.  I, like Mark Twain, am often impressed by my parents.  Both of them recognized that Agricola is latin for farmer.  They both mispronounced it, but they still understood the word.

Agricola is, without a doubt, the best board game I have ever played.  In the game, each player has a small farm and 2 people who live on that farm, representing a young husband and wife.  Throughout the game, players attempt to gather resources, build fences, plow fields, grow grain or vegetables, etc., in an effort to establish a diversified farm by the end of round 14.  It is fun because no matter how poorly you are doing, there is always something on the farm you can be working on (just like in real life).  Also, around round 9 or 10, you begin to realize that there is absolutely no way you can get everything done in time (just like in real life), so you start to prioritize (just like in real life).

Gina, Caleb, Meagan, & I have had immense fun playing Agricola over the last 5 months.  We have shown the game to some friends and some are overwhelmed by it while others love it.  My Mom (Oma) just won her first game this past week.  My Dad (Opa), on the other hand, is not a big fan.  I have to work on him to make him a big fan.  I want to keep playing Agricola!

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The Name of God

The most popular search term that finds this blog is, unbelievably, ‘Floyd Nolen Jones.’  Floyd Nolen Jones is the author of Which Version is the Bible?, a book I reviewed a few years ago.  I read the book because I had recently been exposed to “King-James-only” types (otherwise known as “King James or else”).  Dr. Jones’ book appears to me to be one of the top books explaining this King-James-only view.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Jones starts his book with a section labeled, “To the Reader — the Sounding of an Alarm.”  Following is its text:

In the King James Bible, Isaiah 14:12, 15 reads:

How are thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
… Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell.

However, the New International Version pens:

How you are fallen from heaven O morning star, son of the dawn
but you are brought down to the grave.

Indeed, the New American Standard and all the modern versions read almost exactly like the NIV (except the NKJV).  Yet historically Isaiah 14 has been cited throughout the Church as the singular biography and identification of Lucifer [citation omitted].  In verse twelve of the King James, Lucifer is in heaven;  in verse fifteen Satan is in hell, and the continuing context establishes that Lucifer and Satan are one and the same being.  The new versions have removed the name “Lucifer” thereby eliminating the only reference to his true identity in the entire Bible — yet the change in these versions is not the result of translation from the Hebrew language.

The Hebrew here is helel, ben shachar, which translates, “Lucifer, son of the morning” (as is found in all the old English translations written before 1611 when teh KJB was published).  The NIV, NASB et al. read as though the Hebrew was kokab shachar, ben shachar or “morning star, son of the dawn” (or “son of the morning”).  But not only is the Hebrew word for star (kokab) nowhere to be found in the text, “morning” appears only once as given in the KJB — not twice as the modern translations indicate.  Moreover, the word kokab is translated as “star” dozens of other times by the translators of these new “bibles”.  Their editors also know that kokab boqer is “morning star” for it appears in plural form in Job 38:7 (i.e., morning stars).  Had the Lord intended “morning star” in Isaiah 14, He could have eliminated any confusion by repeating kokab boqer there.  God’s selection of helel (Hebrew for Lucifer) is unique as it appears nowhere else in the Old Testament.

Moreover, Revelation 22:16 (also 2:28 and II Pet. 1:19) declares unequivocally that Jesus Christ is the “morning star” or “day star” (II Pet. 1:19, cp. Luk. 1:78; Mal. 4:2), meaning the sun — not the planet Venus.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Thus it must be understood that the identification of Lucifer as being the morning star does not find its roots in the Hebrew O.T., but from classical mythology and witchcraft where he is connected with the planet Venus (the morning “star”).

The wording in the modern versions reads such that it appears the fall recorded in Isaiah 14 is speaking of Jesus rather than Lucifer the Devil!  The rendering of “morning star” in place of “Lucifer” in this passage must be seen by the Church as nothing less than the ultimate blasphemy.  The NASV compounds its role as malefactor by placing II Peter 1:19 in the reference next to Isaiah 14 thereby solidifying the impression that the passage refers to Christ Jesus rather than Satan.  But Lucifer (helel) does not mean “morning star”.  It is Latin (from lux or lucis = light, plus fero = to bring) meaning “bright one”, “light bearer” or “light bringer”.  Due to the brightness of the planet Venus, from ancient times the word “Lucifer” (helel) has been associated in secular and/or pagan works with that heavenly body.

Among the modern versions, only the King James (and NKJV) gives proof that Lucifer is Satan.  Without its testimony this central vital truth would soon be lost.  This fact alone sets the King James Bible apart from and far above all modern would-be rivals.  Truly, it is an achievement sui generis.  Indeed, the older English versions (the 1560 Geneva etc.) also read “Lucifer”.

The clarion has been faithfully and clearly sounded (I Cor. 14:8).  If the reader is not greatly alarmed by the above, it is pointless for him to continue reading.  However, if concern has been aroused as to how this deception has been foisted not only upon the Christian Church, but on the general public as well — read on.  The story lies before you.

Well, I have to say, these first two pages did not greatly alarm me.  Perhaps they should have, but they didn’t.

What I find interesting today is that with all the alarm Dr. Jones expresses over the omission of this singular occurrence of the name of Lucifer, there is not one single mention in the entire text of the repeated and deliberate omission of the Name of God, not just in the NIV and NASB, but in his beloved King James Authorized Version as well.  Go ahead, read your Bible through time and again.  It says quite plainly that those who call upon the Name of the LORD shall be saved.  So, what is His Name?  The God of the Hebrews makes a very big deal about names in general, but makes an especially big deal about His Name.  But what is it?  Just to be clear, is name is not LORD, although that is how it is typically translated.  Sometimes, your Bible probably says Lord and other times it says LORD.  There is a difference, but you wouldn’t know it from reading your Bible from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.  You won’t find it in your Bible, but His Name can be transliterated “Yahweh.”

The translator’s notes admit to what they have done in the NIV and the NASB.  The NASB notes are particularly interesting:

In the scriptures, the name of God is most significant and understandably so.  It is inconceivable to think of spiritual matters without a proper designation for the Supreme Deity.  Thus the most common name for the Deity is God, a translation of the original Elohim.  One of the titles for God is Lord, a translation of Adonai.  There is yet another name which is particularly assigned to God as His special or proper name, that is, the four letters YHWH (Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 42:8).  This name has not been pronounced by the Jews because of reverence for the great sacredness of the divine name.  Therefore, it has been consistently translated LORD.  The only exception to this translation of YHWH is when it occurs in immediate proximity to the word Lord, that is, Adonai.  In that case it is regularly translated GOD in order to avoid confusion.

It is known that for many years YHWH has been transliterated as Yahweh, however no complete certainty attaches to this pronunciation.

So, in summary, the Name of God is incredibly important, or essential, so we have left it out.  Instead, we have translated His Name as the title LORD, which is, incidentally, how we translate one of his titles, so to avoid confusion, rather than translating His Name as Yahweh and his title as Lord and the two together as Lord Yahweh, we will translate His Name as LORD, his title as Lord, and the two together as GOD.  Just to avoid confusion.

Deleting the Name of Yahweh from the Bible is far more offensive to me than deleting the name of Lucifer.


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Decision to be Made

Okay.  Last week I went to Cabela’s intending to buy a new pistol.  I don’t have a certificate from the Sheriff’s office saying I am not a danger to society, so I couldn’t buy it last week.  But I didn’t know that until the end of the shopping trip.  When I walked in, I knew I wanted a Baby Glock, which is a subcompact 9mm semiautomatic pistol.  I wanted this pistol because I wanted a 9mm (easier to shoot for Gina and the kids as they grow up), I wanted a subcompact (who needs all that bulk), and because Glock makes a good, safe, reliable pistol. Just to be clear, we are looking for a pistol that can be worn around the farm for personal and livestock protection as we are out working, without all the bulk of a rifle.  The most likely targets will be Coyotes, Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks.  We may someday be interested in carrying concealed, but we aren’t at this point.

I told the salesman what I was looking for, and he recommended I take a look at the Springfield XD-9, which comes as a compact and is a 9mm. The Springfield XD-9 included some features that he liked, such as a visual indicator on the back and top of the pistol that there is a cambered round and a back safety, which requires pressure on the back of the pistol grip as the trigger is pulled.  Otherwise the pistol won’t fire.  Springfield is a US company, but the XD-9 is manufactured in Croatia.

So then another customer comes up and asks me if I have ever held the Smith & Wesson M&P, which also comes as a 9mm compact pistol.  More incredibly minor points to be made, no back safety, but the trigger is easier to pull if you have a gloved hand.  The customer felt like you want the pistol to go bang when you pull the trigger and you don’t want a fancy trigger or a back safety preventing you from a successful firing experience.  Agreed.  Smith & Wesson is a US company that still manufactures their weapons in the US.

While there, we also looked at some really tiny pistols, like a .22-caliber pistol and a .380-caliber.  I didn’t feel like these pistols were as well made as those listed above.

So, anybody out there have any votes or recommendations?


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How the Pastoral Role Damages Body Life

I have been reading the book Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna.  The subtitle to the book is “Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices.”  The basic premise of the book is that most of the practices that modern churches engage in are traditions that are rooted in pagan culture, not the Bible.  The inside dust cover states:

Many Christians take for granted that their church’s practices are rooted in Scripture.  Yet those practices look very different from those of the first-century church.  The New Testament is not silent on how the early church freely expressed the reality of Christ’s indwelling in ways that rocked the first-century world.

Times have changed.  Pagan Christianity? leads us on a fascinating tour through church history, revealing this startling and unsettling truth:  Many cherished church traditions embraced today originated not out of the New Testament, but out of pagan practices.  One of the most troubling outcomes has been the effect on average believers:  turning them from living expressions of Christ’s glory and power to passive observers.  If you want to see that trend reversed, turn to Pagan Christianity? . . . a book that examines and challenges every aspect of our present-day church experience.

I have been reading this book whenever I get a chance (which isn’t very often), but I just finished chapter 5.  Speaking of which, check out these chapter titles:

  1. Have We Really Been Doing It by the Book?
  2. The Church Building:  Inheriting the Edifice Complex
  3. The Order of Worship:  Sunday Mornings Set in Concrete
  4. The Sermon:  Protestantism’s Most Sacred Cow
  5. The Pastor:  Obstacle to Every-Member Functioning
  6. Sunday Morning Costumes:  Covering Up the Problem
  7. Ministers of Music:  Clergy Set to Music
  8. Tithing and Clergy Salaries:  Sore Spots on the Wallet
  9. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper:  Diluting the Sacraments
  10. Christian Education:  Swelling the Cranium
  11. Reapproaching the New Testament:  The Bible is not a Jigsaw Puzzle
  12. A Second Glance at the Savior:  Jesus, the Revolutionary

This whole book has been fascinating to read as I try to discern what God intends for His Church.  I believe firmly that God did not call some to be pastors as we see them today.  I am also firmly convicted that God did not call us as believers to build buildings or temples.  He called us to gather whenever and wherever we can and to live lives of service.

The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ.  It has divided the believing community into first- and second-class Christians.  The clergy/laity dichotomy perpetuates an awful falsehood — namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord.

Permit us to get personal.  We believe the pastoral office has stolen your right to function as a full member of Christ’s body.  It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear.  It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate.

But that is not all.  The modern-day pastoral office has overthrown the main thrust of the letter to the Hebrews — the ending of the old priesthood.  It has made ineffectual the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14, that every member has both the right and the privilege to minister in a church meeting.  It has voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every brother and sister is a functioning priest.

Being a functioning priest does not mean that you may only perform highly restrictive forms of ministry like singing songs in your pew, raising your hands during worship, setting up the PowerPoint presentation, or teaching a Sunday school class.  That is not the New Testament idea of ministry!  These are mere aids for the pastor’s ministry.  As one scholar put it, “Much Protestant worship, up to the present day, has also been infected by an overwhelming tendency to regard worship as the work of the pastor (and perhaps the choir) with the majority of the laity having very little to do but sing a few hymns and listen in a prayerful and attentive way.”

But there is something more.  The contemporary pastorate rivals the functional headship of Christ in His church.  It illegitimately holds the unique place of centrality and headship among God’s people, a place that is reserved for only one Person — the Lord Jesus.  Jesus Christ is the only head over a church and the final word to it.  By his office, the pastor displaces and supplants Christ’s headship by setting himself up as the church’s human head.


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Escape From Sobibor

Over the past two nights, Gina and I watched “Escape from Sobibor.”

Escape From Sobibor

Sobibor was a nazi death camp in eastern Poland and is also the site of the largest successful escape.  From what I can gather, this was a made-for-TV movie, so it is without bad language or on-screen violence, but this definitely does not make it child-appropriate.  There is much off-screen violence, and obviously the themes of the movie should be disturbing to most.  The acting is a bit wooden at times, but the movie is so powerful because it details and illustrates such a horrid time in our past.  It is just hard for me to believe that such crimes could be perpetrated, and yet I don’t doubt that these things happened.  And they only happened 65 years ago.  This movie led me to a better understanding of how these camps worked, but it also gave a frightening glimpse into the psychological torture the prisoners underwent.  The prisoners did anything just to survive, but ended up living with so much guilt because of the way they had to deal with the death of their families and friends.

Overall, I recommend this movie to any adult.

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Settlers of Catan

Last night, we had a friend come over for dinner and he brought a new board game he had recently bought, Settlers of Catan.

Settlers of Catan

We all played together, with our guest helping Meagan and the rest of us playing on our own. It was probably a bit too much of a boy game for the whole family to always enjoy playing together. Gina struggled throughout the game, although she had a respectable finish. Caleb did quite well during the game, despite being in a tough spot — he raised the largest army, which really satisfied him. He kept wanting to use his army to wipe out one of my settlements! I looked like I was doing really well throughout the game, but ended up losing at the very end to Meagan and our guest.

I know Meagan had a good time because she got to play the game with our guest.

It was definitely a fun game for the entire family and one that I wish we had in our inventory.

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Which Version is the Bible? by Floyd Nolen Jones

“Is the Word of God on planet earth today?  If so, where is it?  Why do the modern versions read so differently from all the older English versions?”

After 62 pages, I abandoned reading the book, Which Version is the Bible? by Floyd Nolen Jones.  Basically, the book reads to me as a defense of the King James-only belief — a belief held by many that the King James Authorized Version is one of the only true and accurate translations into English of God’s holy word.  There are other acceptable English translations, but none of our modern translations (NIV, NASB, RSV, NLT) are acceptable to those who hold this King James-only belief.  We have been attending a King James-only fundamentalist baptist church, and I wanted to understand the nature of this belief because I was raised on the NIV and have found pleasure in reading the NASB.

Most of the pages I read were filled with comparisons of sections of scripture from the KJV and one of the more modern versions, to demonstrate the alleged omission or addition.  For instance, Colossians 1:14 reads in the KJV, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” whereas in the NIV it reads, “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  The point being that the NIV has completely removed Christ’s blood from the redemptive process.  Another example is in Matthew 9:13, where the KJV reads, “for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” and the NIV reads, “for I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

The point made by the author is that God promised to preserve His word to us and that the KJV is that preserved word.  All of these newer translations are based on an adulterated version of the Greek text.  My thought is that the deletions that the author perceives could be additions from scribes over the years.  It is true that there are words that disappear between the KJV and the NIV, but could this not be words that were added by scribes in an effort to make the word of God clearer?  Or just because it seemed appropriate to the scribe, it seemed like those words belonged?  In any event, the author started to launch into a discuss of Erasmus, Hort, and Westcott, a discussion I probably would have had a hard enough time following had I believed there was a problem, a discussion which I found it wholly impossible to follow given my lack of conviction that a problem exists.

In the end, I must do as the pastor of the church I currently attend said.  I must pray on it and listen to God.  God is not convicting me that there is a problem with the Bible I choose to read.  In the end, I was saved while reading the NIV.  If the KJV is a more accurate translation, it is not the only translation that has a claim to having led thousands of people to Christ.


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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  It was truly a fascinating story and a fairly good page-turner.  In the end, the author explains the story quite well, so that even a dense guy like me can see some of his points.


This is not the story of pi (3.14159…), but rather the story of Piscine Molitor Patel, a young boy in India whose family owns a zoo.  Piscine goes by Pi in order to avoid being teased because his name sounds like ‘pissing.’  The thrust of the story line is that Pi’s family decides to sell the zoo and move from India to Canada.  Along the way, the cargo ship that they travel on sinks, and Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a variety of animals, including an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger.  If that doesn’t get your interest, I don’t know what will.

Pi is an interesting young boy who is a boy of faith — he claims to be a hindu, muslim, and christian all at the same time.  I do not think the Mr. Martel’s point is that all three religions could co-exist, but rather that the truths that he points out in the novel could apply to any of those three religions, or indeed any religion.  During the book, one man does not believe Pi’s story, because he simply can’t believe it.  Pi tells him that the things of faith are also unbelievable, but that doesn’t make them untrue.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable story — one I would recommend.

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A Journey Home

Thanks to the generosity of Herrick Kimball, we were able to enjoy a documentary tonight entitled, “A Journey Home,” produced by Franklin Springs Media. The movie features the Waller family — Tommy Waller was a successful manager with FedEx when several years ago he walked away from his job and bought some land in the country (my dream). His family then began to make a living in organic farming while living totally off-grid. Today, the Wallers have 11 children and live in Israel, where they have an agrarian ministry called Ha Yovel.

I found the movie to be inspiring. Tommy Waller had a God-given dream — he was led by God to turn his back on the world and pursue a vocation where he could raise his boys (at the time he had five boys, he now has seven boys and four girls). We all should be strong enough to trust in the Lord and follow His lead. Some have stated that they would like to know how the Wallers made it work. It was obvious in the movie — they trust God and He provides.  Of course, if they paid cash for their house, their expenses would have been minimal: no mortgage, no utilities, most likely no insurance, they grew their own food, so their total expenses per year were probably less than $10,000.

Please check out previous reviews here and here, and look for the next review here.


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My Absolute Favorite Blog

My favorite blog, and the one that got me wanting to try this out, is Sugar Mountain Farm by Walter Jeffries. What an inspiring tale he tells of living in the cold North, battling the forces of nature and the evils of big government, all while providing a decent living for his family of five. I enjoyed reading through all of his back posts, but now I am all caught up and can’t wait for another installment. How great this internet can be, giving us the ability to share information so rapidly across such a great expanse in miles. Thanks, Al Gore!

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