Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review: The Scroll-The Un-Davinci Code

"The Scroll" brings answers from both the Bible and the News to an amazing "what-if" question.  I am not going to spoil it here by telling you "what" that "if" is.  Biblical archaeology provides a framework to a mystery story that spans thousands of years.  "The Scroll" is set in the near future and borders on science fiction.  It informs and invites faith in the same way that Brown's Davinci Code tries to excuse it. 
The key character is David Chamber, a popular but burned out archaeologist.  His specialty is Biblical archeology in and around Israel.  He is an expert in the various tunnels connected to this history.  Chambers, dubbed the Carl Sagan of archeology, has suffered a loss of faith and love.  Soaking himself in alcohol, he is going through the motions of teaching instead of pursuing the field work that brought him notoriety.  His lost love is Amber, another archaeologist.  They broke up at the altar and had not spoken in several years.  Now thrown together by a mysterious billionaire, John Trent, they go to work on an equally mysterious dig.  Set in Israel, the cast takes Landau, the tough security man, David's mentor and friend Abram Ben-Judah, the troublesome Nuri and others, including the Israeli Prime minister and the president of the USA on a journey of apocalyptic proportions.  

The star of the book is a set of copper scrolls with cryptic clues leading to the fabulous treasure of the Temple in Jerusalem which was plundered and destroyed by the Romans.  Our characters team up, with unlimited civil and military resources, to uncover these priceless heirlooms of God.  Political intrigue, terrorist attacks, and betrayal are only a few of the obstacles put in the way.  Perseverance, intelligence, and technology join God's gracious favor to bring this team closer to their ultimate goal.  Restoration for our hero Chambers lies at the end of this long journey.  God is indeed faithful in this tale.  The end goal is an exciting possibility from Biblical prophesy and the world's response to it.  The true treasure recovered is faith and not gold.

"The Scroll" is written by Grant R. Jeffrey, Bible Scholar, teacher and archaeologist, along with the writer and novelist Alton L. Gansky.  The book has a great grasp on archaeological procedure and jargon.  This brings life to the story.  The book is also clearly written, organized well and entertaining.  These two make a great team.  The ending is a pleasant yet terrifying surprise and leaves the door open to a sequel.

I enjoyed "The Scroll" and found it thought provoking as well as entertaining.  It is Christian fiction with a point, is free of bad language and adult themes, yet has enough reasonable romance and violence to drive a good story.  I would recommend this book but also remind the reader that it is a novel. The Scroll is appropriate for youth aged readers through adults.  I look forward to Jeffrey and Gansky's second installment.

Thanks to Multnomah Press for giving me this book in exchange for this review and Thank you for reading the Thoughtful Pastor Blog. Please rate my review!  I need a certain number of points to stay in the program.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This is Grayson Chapel.  It is on FM1365 between Teague and Mexia Texas.   On September 4, 2011 a fire started about 10 miles north east of this building.  Started by an exploding transformer and fueled by 20 to 35 mile per hour winds, 7500 acres burned over the next four days.  Nearly three months of 100+ degree weather with no measurable rain made our area a tinder box.   Nine volunteer fire companies sprayed what water they could, bulldozed fire lanes, and scores of fire fighters worked with rakes and shovels.

Crews were spraying water on the chapel when the call came to clear out.  The high winds were more than the crews could contain.  The fire blew through this area and fire fighters report that it then "rolled over the top and kept going".  Pasture and trees to the right burned and a house burned to the ground to the left.  The fire followed a straight line all the way through the property and left the building and cemetery untouched.

I believe in miracles yet I also believe in the physics of fire.  Several have tried to make "sense" out this but haven't come to a consensus.  Mystery and miracles often get kicked to the curb.  This story is best answered by simply allowing God to be the answer.  A CBS reporter from Waco asked me if I was surprised.  I hadn't heard the story or seen the building yet.  These pictures were taken on the 10th, 6 days later.  Before I could really think about it I blurted out "no".   She waited a second for an answer and again, before thinking, I told her that sometimes God just shows up and usually when things are terrible.

One said water residue steaming, another wind blowing up and surrounding the building or maybe just a freak thing....whatever.  Everything around the church burned and the building just east of the church vaporized.  Is it so hard to just praise God for a visible presence?

Coming to Christ was hard for my too rational brain about 25 years ago.  After being so real to me as a kid, I walked away.  God wooed me back  and sent some particularly patient people to allow me to get over being stupid.  This fire is just one more time that God showed up.  There have been many times that I settled for the scientific answers and trashed all of the rest as superstition.  Faith is a wonderful thing.  When reasons wears thin, God overwhelms but you have to choose faith.  Today at Grayson's Chapel,  but also watching volunteers sacrifice to fight an unstoppable wildfire, I choose to recognize God being God.  Our community came alive, fire was bent and no one was killed or seriously hurt. People showed up with sandwiches, water, gatorade, and personal heavy equipment and cared for the five family burned out of their homes.  This is all a visible move of God's hand.

I have arrived at two conclusions:  First, Jesus Christ is alive and still in the miracle business.  Second, I want these people praying for me.  Choose faith for life.  

Saturday, September 10, 2011