Read the Word Publicly

Just a note to let you know that we’ve posted a new article to the website titled Read the Word Publicly. We advocate reading large portions of the first five books of the Bible and the first five of the New Testament. We use an annual reading schedule that is popular in synagogues called the Parasha or Portion, except we modify it with New Testament readings. It takes a while in our meetings to read eight or ten chapters, but in a lot of ways it is much better than preaching.

The article is about eight pages and covers a number of reasons for why we think this should be a widespread practice among people who genuinely follow Jesus. Click on this link or copy and paste into your browser.

http://www.wholebible.com/read_the_word_publicly.htm

Oh yeah. The new Manna for Whole Bible Christians reading schedule booklet ready for printing is also posted on the site at

http://www.wholebible.com/Manna/MannaBooklet17_18.pdf

Shalom

Bruce

The Demise of Christian Bookstores

Publishing a book is not an easy task. Traditional publishers want you to get a literary agent and won’t accept manuscripts if you don’t. A literary agent can be good or bad, but mostly they are limited by their own perspective on what will sell. What sells is frequently not really connected with the Bible or good Bible teaching but more likely something based on feelings only loosely connected with the Bible. If you write a book, as I think I have, that is not only biblical but comes from an unexpected direction then you are pretty much out of luck with traditional publishing. You won’t even get a second look.

Another huge problem in publishing is the Christian bookstore. My wife and I are getting ready to take another trip to see family in San Diego. So I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to buy some copies of my book and take them around to the bookstores there and see if they would like to carry some copies. I started researching on the web to find the stores and got a shock. One chain calling themselves Family Christian had just closed (something like 240 stores) after filing for bankruptcy a couple years previous. Another chain calling themselves Lifeway tells me on their website that they don’t accept Product that is self-published. The “Product” must come from a traditional publisher or a literary agent. A third option I remembered in San Diego was the Evangelical Bible Bookstore which was famous for a long time because they carried a lot of serious theology books, were very knowledgeable and helpful, and discounted their books. To my surprise they had gone the way of many independents and closed their doors too after 40 years in business.

Locally, the three or four independent Christian bookstores we used to have are also out of business. The only stores around here are a Barnes and Noble (not exactly a Christian hotspot) and a couple of church bookstores. We used to have a Borders also, but they bit the dust some years ago. You would think we could maybe try the church bookstores and see if they would carry our book. But the problem with the church bookstores is if you have a book that is not “church friendly,” such as our book Whole Bible Christianity, or you are not one of their own famous people or pastors, you are not going to get a fair hearing from them. They only carry stuff with which they agree, usually written by their own people.

The church bookstore does okay because the overhead is paid by the church, and they don’t have to meet sales goals. They are present just to push the publications and music of the particular church or denomination. Catholic bookstores sell Catholic books, Calvary Chapel sells books by Chuck Smith or others of their pastors, Christian Science sells their own teachings, and so on. Since Whole Bible Christianity just teaches the Bible, and we don’t push a particular church teaching, we are out of luck.

So why is the Christian bookstore (or even just bookstores in general) disappearing from the landscape? Many people jump to blame the internet, and Amazon in particular. They have a point. Amazon has a tremendous selection, fast shipping, discounted prices, and are open 24/7. But did the rise of Amazon kill the bookstore, or did Amazon and others like them come into existence because the bookstore wasn’t getting the job done in the first place? Did Amazon kill the bookstore, or did the bookstore help create Amazon?

In my estimation, Amazon or the internet in general has not killed the bookstore. It is also not the main factor hammering the traditional publisher either (traditional publisher sales, Christian and otherwise, are also slumping). Two things I think are doing it. One is the lack of vision; the ability to discern what people need and would want, or if you will, the ability to tell the difference between a good product and a bad one. The second is the church itself.

Publishers and bookstores have to make money. Printing is expensive, and carrying space in stores costs money. If a publisher prints a bunch of copies of a book and they don’t sell, it can get costly. A bookstore has limited space, so if a book doesn’t sell it is a double whammy because the space could’ve been used by a book that did sell. So the industry is forced to gear all of their decisions around what will sell. If they make a mistake it can get real expensive real quick. So the nature of the market causes them to be super cautious. The publishers use literary agents to sift the writers material, which helps a little, but the literary agents work off of commission and tend to be extra cautious also. They have reputations to protect too, because if they keep recommending books that bomb then they will not be able to continue in the field. Everything is driven by money, which is not necessarily a bad thing (costs have to be paid somehow) but it tends to make people in the industry want to find the guaranteed “sure thing” and stay away from stuff they simply don’t have the vision, skill, imagination or judgment to evaluate properly.

A couple of cases in point. The first Harry Potter book was universally turned down by every publisher by the account of J. K. Rowling. A book called The Shack which has become a multi-million bestseller (although I think it is a piece of trash) was also turned down by everyone. Many more examples could be listed, but I think you get it. People in the book industry have purposefully become dumber than a sack full of hammers, too afraid to take a chance because of the dollars involved and reputations that could suffer.

The same problem afflicts the Christian book industry. But another problem serves to double the damage, and that is the church. I will go out on a limb here and say that the church doesn’t teach the Bible anymore. They just teach opinions about the Bible. Pastors, priests and rabbis have (in general) made themselves into champion ear-ticklers. They have convinced themselves that no one wants the truth, because the truth may not fill the pew or the offering plate. The lure of a bigger paycheck, a mega-church or a spot on late night talk shows is too strong for most of them.

Obviously, the Bible is the champion bestseller in history, so why would we back away from teaching it? Money and ego, again. It is easier to write and sell a book catering to the latest fad or to sentiment than it is to take the time to learn and teach the Bible or anything from it. You also don’t (seemingly or immediately) get very far with Bible teachings because those require humility to learn and teach.

Fortunately, God doesn’t need the world’s systems (including the worldly church) to get His Word out. One way or another He gets the job done. His Spirit is causing all sorts of people all over the world to wake up and embrace the pure, plain, soul-saving teachings of the Lord of Life. We may or may not be able to sell a single book, but His work goes on and on for eternity. His holy, just and life giving will is being done, and you can come along for the ride if you want. A bookstore could find that the difference between bankruptcy and success lies in the radical marketing concept of the Book that beats all others. Publishers would see fewer reverses if they would just commit to serving up the meat of the Word instead of the bland, nutrition-less saccharine they insist on providing at the present time. If we submit to His Word we find that judgment for finding what really matters comes roaring back.

The bookstore, the publisher, and the church/synagogue are sowing the seeds of their own demise. Blame Amazon if you want and it makes you feel better. But you might want to look in the mirror instead.

Shalom
Bruce

Whole Bible Christianity, The Book

Our book Whole Bible Christianity has finally been published! It is on Amazon at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997501413/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1DQVER67Q2HMX&coliid=I1RPTLB6JQO1FI

There is a Look Inside feature, you can flip between the front and back cover, and it is only $19.50. If you would prefer, we will have the entire text on a web page when we update our website so you can read it online.

The book has about 800 direct quotes from the Word, around 1,500 entries in the Scripture Index, and is about 340 pages. One of the many uses of the book is as a handbook for whole Bible Christians everywhere who need a reference to help counter attacks against a whole Bible lifestyle. Chapter 7 deals with a bunch of the objections to following God’s living oracles, and chapter 8 has a list of blessings from doing what Jesus says.

Let us know what you think, and make sure to post a review on Amazon if you would be so kind.

Shalom
Bruce

A Whole Bible Look At Romans 9 through 12

The third video in our Romans series is up, and I’ll bet you’ve never heard Romans this way!

Shalom
Bruce

Hating Religion

It seems fashionable nowadays to talk about hating religion but loving Jesus. One young man (Jefferson Bethke) has even made a career out of it, starting with a youtube video of a rap song he created titled ‘Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.’ It has over 27,546,644 views, so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

Others are writing books, like the

book by Alex Himaya. He’s a pastor of a church that has grown from 120 to over 5,500 people in eight years (by his own testimony), so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

Um. No. Neither are correct, at least from a biblical standpoint.

Why? Because they only offer two choices – religion or no religion for one thing. For another, they confuse (as many people do) Bible teachings. They are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They both define religion as “following rules,” when they should distinguish between God’s rules (the Law) and man’s rules.

There is good religion and bad religion. Bad religion defined correctly is man reaching for God or trying to get to God on man’s own terms. I prefer to call this “man’s traditions.” Good religion is following God’s rules written on a heart of flesh by the Spirit in love. We can call this “God’s traditions.” Also known as The New Covenant.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV)

Man’s traditions can include some of the Bible, but frequently are way outside what God requires. God’s traditions, however, are always good. We can follow His rules or laws with confidence that they are living oracles, a light to our path, a guide to eternal life, and in every way huge blessings and a beneficial lifestyle.

It is true that God hates man’s efforts, in his own knowledge and pride, to connect with Him. From fig leaves in the Garden to works righteousness by following some laws (even His), He has always discouraged man’s efforts to buy a stairway to heaven. The opposite is to use the free stairway of His Word, the stair steps of His Laws, statues, commands, and charge, a ticket to which has been secured by the blood of His Son our Messiah. Even repentance is a command.

Just because people have a big church (which in my opinion isn’t biblical) or a lot of views on youtube, that doesn’t make them right. Popularity to me is suspicious, because generally people don’t like the truth. Truth is too uncomfortable. Ear tickling is more fun. When the popular kids are poking at you for following His laws, remember that they are only using part of the Bible. We need to fill them in on true religion. God’s religion. The New Covenant. The Law written on a heart of flesh by the Spirit. God’s traditions followed in love.

Shalom
Bruce

New Video: A Whole Faith: Six Assumptions about Bible Interpretation

Hello All,
Thank you for your continued support of whole Bible Christianity. New on our youtube channel is the next video based on our book Whole Bible Christianity. This one covers six assumptions that undergird whole Bible Christian Bible interpretation. They are 1) His Word is the highest authority. 2) It reveals, it doesn’t conceal God. 3) It is clear, plain and easy to understand if we do what we read. 4) It means what He intends which is our definition of a literal interpretation. 5) It is self-explaining, or, the Bible interprets the Bible assuming we use the entire book. 6) His Word requires a response. Whether you embrace it or run and hide, it doesn’t just allow you to sit there like a bump on a log.

We also answer the question, “Can the Bible be trusted?” (Of course it can.)

Enjoy, subscribe, and shalom.
Bruce

Video the Second: Our Second Youtube video

I probably won’t keep posting these, but they’re so useful I want to make sure people get the word. Our youtube channel is wholebible if you want to bookmark it. This video is on Reintroducing Whole Bible Christianity. If you’ve been reading the book you’ll notice right away that it provides much of the text for these videos. Just another format to get the word out about the Word.

Shalom

Do What Jesus Did

From the book Whole Bible Christianity chapter 9 Whole Bible Instruction section titled “Do What Jesus Did”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:5–7, ESV)

Guideline four here might be a little more obvious if we realize that the word “put” is the same word as “test.” Literally, “test God with a test.” And testing is exactly what we think it is. We do not make God prove Himself with tests of our own making. This is what the deceiver was trying to get Jesus to do by throwing Himself off of the Temple. Testing like this includes a lack of belief and even outright disobedience. The Satan quoted parts of Scripture (he’s skilled at part-Bible doctrine) and Jesus responds with the missing sections.

16“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah. 17“You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. (Deuteronomy 6:16-17 NASB95)

Israel “tested” God at Massah (a word that means “test”) by moaning and complaining about the lack of water, and faulting God for failing to provide. They were questioning whether God was present, and disobedience followed. Instead, they should’ve had patience and trusted that God would not have led them to that place without providing water.

7He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7 NASB95)

In effect, they were saying that God couldn’t or wouldn’t follow through. That implied either He was too dumb to know they needed water or was deliberately messing with them. They were saying that God did something wrong on purpose. They made up a fault in God and were using that to remove Him from the throne and put themselves in His place. Testing God in this way is nothing more than high-handed disobedience, and shows we do not trust God’s Word. When we test Him with a test of our own making, it is because we are afraid He won’t live up to His Word. Or that we want to use a perceived failure of the test for an excuse to go our own way.

A different kind of test is laid out for us in Malachi. This testing is approved by God.

10“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10 NASB95)

The testing mentioned here is within the bounds of obedience, as in “obey the Lord, and in so doing test Him and see that His Word is true. He will deliver as He promised.” We don’t test God by disobedience; we test Him by trusting His Word and obeying it.

When we decide on our own to switch the Sabbath to another day, this is also testing God with a test. He doesn’t immediately (or apparently) zap us, so we think we’re okay. Then we go on to break other laws. If we eat bacon and don’t drop dead we keep eating. We presume on His grace, making it cheaper. Then we compound our sin by sharing the results of the test with others. We encourage them to test Him in a sinful way also. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Either we stick with the whole of His Word, carefully and exactly, as Jesus did, or we test Him to justify our own knowledge and pride. I think I’ll pick the testing of obedience, myself.

Shalom

Judging with Righteous Judgment Pt. 7 – Fight Back

There are no specific obscenity laws in the Scripture. Perhaps that’s one reason modern society feels free to define it any way they choose. And the frequent choice is there is no obscenity. Everything is fine. Public nudity, sex in movies, jamming the homosexual lifestyle choice down everybody’s throat, foul language, baby killing, pornography in campaign videos and every place else they can get away with it – it seems nothing is clean anymore.

I’m no angel when it comes to some related issues. I’ve been known to cuss a blue streak when I hit my thumb with a hammer or I’m talking about the latest liberal pile of smelly stuff. I like a good action movie. And I don’t think we should necessarily go around telling people to stop watching R rated movies or give up their subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket.

I can’t tell though if it is that unclean things are getting more invasive and bold, or if I’m just getting more sensitive to it. Could be both. Maybe, in part, I’m just growing up a little more. The more I read the living Word, the more I try to put it everywhere in my life, the more worldly things bother me. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s why we affirm whole Bible Christianity and try to reach people with it instead of preaching at them to give up their favorite things. Get the Word into them, and there’s no room for anything else.

In a little way then I suppose I have a partial responsibility for some of what is out there because I don’t preach fire and brimstone. But it has gone way too far. So in my personal life I am starting to fight back. It’s not just obscenity. It’s also the many people who are actively working against biblical values in entertainment and politics. I’m especially tired of all the profanity and perverted themes in music, TV, movies and political campaigns. Particularly music, because we play songs more often than watch particular movies or vote.

Apparently there are many who think like I do. I found it hilarious that most of this summer’s biggest bombs at the box office had liberal themes. I’m just rolling on the floor laughing now that Matt Damon is king of the box office flops. He is taking over for the second place George Cloony. Maybe Hollywierd is getting the picture that most of us are tired of them smashing liberal lies into our faces.

So to fight back I’m not buying any of the products. I won’t go to a movie if it’s got filth for filth’s sake. If I get a chance to vote on a law against it I will do so. I’ve stopped buying cable TV and use subscription services from the internet. I won’t buy the music that glorifies sex and gratuitous violence. I refuse to purchase movie tickets for the dreck that passes as entertainment. We bagged some door hangers recently for our school board election (though my kids are grown and my grandkids are home schooled), and I am helping make a database for calling conservatives to get out and vote. The candidates might not be perfect, but we can keep trying.

If you are tired of it too, fight back. Get the Word inside of you. Read it and do it. Take His diet recommendations, change your holidays, rest on Sabbath, and use those as steps for learning more mercy, justice, and compassion. Share from the Word as much as you can, mostly with actions. This is the main thing. The emphasis is on what you do, not trying to jump on others about what they do. Get involved in the Word, then let that motivate you to get involved in your local politics. Help find candidates that will stand up for the values you’ve been given from God. There are more of us than there are of them, and if we all get together we can maybe change things for the better. Probably not, because the world is going to hell in a handbasket and it won’t be dissuaded from it’s ordained goals. But I can fight back a little wherever I can. The world might insist on going down the tubes, but it won’t be because I stood by and didn’t try to stop it.

Distractions, Part Three, Bible Codes

Whoops. When numbering these distractions, I got distracted. So I posted part four before this one. Sorry. Your fingers aren’t lying to you. And there’s no secret code to it either.

 

A Bible code is supposed to be some hidden message in the text that we find by looking at every third letter in a sentence, or the first word in a line or something like that. Put all the letters together with some involved math and allegedly they impart secret information. This information is supposed to reveal things like the plot to assassinate certain leaders or natural disasters.

 

It is kind of interesting that you can do this with the original languages of the Bible. It’s also interesting that you can do it with just about any writing. The system depends on looking for certain words or names to start with. For instance, if you want to search for “Reagan” you can find the name. But if you don’t start with something you want to find, you can’t find it. Hmm. Sounds like the approach non-believers use to reject the Bible message. They start with the assumption that God is a meany, and surprise surprise they find their proof when they selectively look at certain texts separated from context. Or separated from common sense for that matter.

 

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:18, ESV)

 

The problem I have with the distraction of Bible codes is that while interesting they don’t mean anything. People who love these codes spend so much time on the puzzle of the letters that they don’t have time to read (or follow) the plain language. They spend more time looking for alleged codes than they do in reading the message and doing what it says. People who preach the codes also seem to avoid preaching the plain meaning of the Word. It seems that people become experts in codes and other distractions only to lose the Bible message in the chatter.

 

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11–14, ESV)

 

God caused His words to be written down in plain language easily understood by anyone. There are a number of messages from Him that He wants us to get. They are not hidden, except to a heart of stone hardened to the desire to follow them. I suggest becoming expert in those messages first. I think you’ll find they will occupy your time so well that you don’t have time for shiny baubles like Bible codes.

 

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7, ESV)