July 2009

The completion of the writing of the Old Testament Bible History Guidebook two weeks ago deserved a big celebration of thanking the Lord for His faithfulness and enablement! I started with the syllabus of about 140 large pages which I had put together back in the eighties and had used these years for the OT course. Now it has become 316 large pages nicely formatted with lots of pictures and outlines. The files are now with the printer in India. Several Bible colleges have already decided to use it for a textbook, so we are excited! Thanks for holding us up in prayer during these months of long days and nights working on this project. I am including some of the book’s foreword below:

My first experience in teaching Old Testament Bible History began with several Arabic students in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1962. Later the opportunity was presented to teach the same course in Tripoli, Lebanon, to some of our Faith Baptist Church young people who wanted to further their Biblical knowledge. More recently, I have been teaching the course in Sydney Bible Baptist College since 1977. The course has been used in a number of churches in Australia as well as being sent to 25 foreign countries for use in church settings, Bible institutes and Bible colleges. This Guidebook is an outgrowth of that course.

I believe I know some of the features that will be a real blessing in a survey book, so I have added some features to this version of the book.

  1. Bible names and words “Under the Glass” will add some salt and spice to the spiritual study diet.
  2. The “Wrap-up” for each book will help tie all the loose ends together and leave the student with a practical lesson from the particular Bible book.
  3. Lastly, “Finding Christ” will keep the study focused on Christ, the object of the study!

I could almost get amused thinking about some good things I’ve done in life that I never intended to do and which, had they been presented to me in an outright fashion, I would probably have said “No thanks!” It brings to mind my early years on the ranch where we worked cattle every year. We got the calves into a corral, then by closing a gate we got them into a small pen with a long chute that looked like they could get out through a narrow passage with an exit at the end. When the calf was coaxed into the escape route and stuck his head into the escape hatch at the end of the narrow passage, we yanked the rope to shut the exit’s steel bars to lock him into position! Then the work began: vaccination to protect from disease, tag the ear for identification, cut off the horns to make him less hurtful to others and castration of the males to make them less aggressive and less mean and to ensure tender meat in the future.

Many times God has coaxed me with a combination of circumstances that showed what He wanted me to do, something perhaps that I had no inclination to do. God put me in the narrow pen: a civil war, life spared, leaving that field, and I cried, “Dear God, my field of service is closing!” The bars clamped about my neck and the work began. Sickness that took one eye’s sight and 3/4ths of the other which left me so terribly weak and took my ability to drive. “Oh, God, why?! My world is crumbling and my ministry is gone!”  A push from behind with a closed door, a constraint on the left, a slap on the right, a painful work of discipline. Some growth vaccine for spiritual protection, a tag to better identify me as His servant in this world. A hurtful horn removed, and in some cases spiritual pruning to make me more gentle, kind and usable, more broken. God uses a range of tools to do it: sickness, physical limitations, uncanny circumstances and the list goes on.

It has been that way with writing this expanded book for an Old Testament Survey. It wasn’t something I intended to do. I didn’t consider myself able to do it anyway. But God coaxed, constrained and opened and worked, and here we are! God is very gentle and subtle with us, just as we were with those calves, to get us into a position where we can comprehend what He wants us to do. It’s wonderful that we have such a God Who is willing to spend so much time to prepare us for useful tasks which we can do together with Him to advance His work in this earth!

My wife, Kathleen, has worked tirelessly with me, doing all the proofreading and spending hours with me as I made the corrections on the computer. Our prayer is that the Lord will use this book for blessing with many. We especially pray that college students will find it a help as they prepare for what God has for them.

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