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Monday, July 28, 2008

FIRST: Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson

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It is August FIRST, time for the FIRST Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

Today's feature author is:

and her book:

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 195 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600062210
ISBN-13: 978-1600062216


Monday, April 30, 6:00 a.m.

My eyes open. Yes, yes, yes. The greatest man in the entire world

is brewing coffee right here in the TrailMama.


“Morning, Scotty. The big day.”


“And this time, you won't have to drive.”

I throw back the covers on my loft bed and slip down to the dinette of our RV. My dad sleeps on the dinette bed. He's usually got it turned back into our kitchen table by 5:00 a.m. What can I say? The guy may be just as much in love with cheese as I am, but honestly? Our body clocks are about as different as Liam Neeson and Seth Green.

You know what I mean?

And we have lots of differences.

For one, he's totally a nonfiction person and I'm fiction all the way. For two, he has no fashion sense whatsoever. And for three, he has way more hope for people at the outset than I do. Man, do I have a lot to learn on that front.

He hands me a mug and I sip the dark liquid. I was roasting coffee beans for a while there, but Dad took the mantle upon himself and he does a better job.

Starbucks Schmarbucks.

He hands me another mug and I head to the back of the TrailMama to wake up Charley. My grandmother looks so sweet in the morning, her frosted, silver-blonde hair fanned out on the pillow. You know, she could pass for an aging mermaid. A really short one, true.

I wave the mug as close as I can to her nose without fear of her rearing up, knocking the mug and burning her face. “Charley . . .” I singsong. “Time to get a move on. Time to get back on the road.”

And boy is this a switch!

All I can say is, your life can be going one way for years and years and then, snap-snap-snap-in-a-Z, it looks like it had major plastic surgery.

Only in reverse. Imagine life just getting more and more real. I like it.

Charley opens her eyes. “Hey, baby. You brought me coffee. You get groovier every day.”

She's a hippie. What can I say?

And she started drinking coffee again when I ran away last fall in Texas. I mean, I didn't really run away. I went somewhere with a perfectly good reason for not telling anyone, and I was planning to return as soon as my mission was done.

She scootches up to a sitting position, hair still in a cloud, takes the mug and, with that dazzling smile still on her face (think Kate Hudson) sips the coffee. She sighs.

“I know,” I say. “How did we make it so long without him?”

“Now that he's with us, I don't know. But somehow we did, didn't we, baby? It may not have always been graceful and smooth, but we made it together.”

I rub her shoulder. “Yeah. I guess you could say we pretty much did.”

The engine hums its movin'-on song. “Dad's ready to pull out. Let's hit it.”

“Scotland, here we come.”

Scotland? Well, sort of.

An hour later

This has been a great school year. In addition to the online courses I'm taking through Indiana University High School, Dad's been teaching me and man, is he smart. I'm sure most sixteen-(almost seventeen)-year-olds think their fathers are the smartest guys in the world, but in my case it happens to be true.

Okay, even I have to admit he probably won't win the Nobel Prize for physics or anything, but he's street smart and there's no replacing that sort of thing. Big plus: he knows high school math. We're both living under the radar. And he's taken our faux last name. Dawn. He's now Ezra Fitzgerald Dawn. After Ezra Pound, one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Lost Generation friends.

I'm just lovin' that.

“Your mom would have loved the name change, Scotty.”

He told me about his life as an FBI agent, some of the cases he worked on, and well, I'd like to tell you he had a life like Sydney Bristow's in Alias, but he probably spent most of his time on com-puter work and sitting around on his butt waiting for someone to make a move. The FBI, apparently, prefers to trick people more than corner them in showdowns and shootouts. The Robertsman case was his first time undercover in the field and we know how terribly that worked out for him. And me. And Charley. And Babette, my mother.

I pull out my math book and sit in the passenger seat of the TrailMama. “Ready for some 'rithmetic, Dad?”

“You bet.” He turns to me and smiles. His smile still makes my heart warm up like a griddle ready to make smiley-face pan-cakes. I flip on my book light.

It's still dark and we're headed to Asheville, North Carolina for Charley's latest shoot. A film about Bonnie Prince Charlie called Charlie's Lament. How ironic is that? The director, Bartholomew (don't dare call him Bart) Evans, is a real jerk. I'm not going to be hanging around the set much even though Liam Neeson is Lord George Murray, the voice of reason Prince Charlie refused to listen to. But hey, that's my history lesson. We're still on math.

I finish up the last lesson in geometry . . . finally! Honestly, I still don't understand it without a mammoth amount of help, but the workbook's filled and that's a good thing.


I set down my pen. “Finished!”

Dad gives a nod as he continues to look out the windshield. You might guess, despite the tattoos, piercings, and his gleaming bald head, he's a very careful driver. And he won't let me drive like Charley did.

“So . . . driver's license then, right?”

He's been holding that over my head so I'd finish the math course.

“You know it. After the film, we'll request your new birth certificate and go from there.”

“What state are we supposedly from?” The FBI has given us a new identity, official papers and all that.


“Are you kidding me? Wyoming? Why?”

“Think about it, honey. Who's from Wyoming?”

“Lots of people?”

“Know any of them?”

“Uh. No.”


“Okay, Wyoming it is, then.”

“You realize you'll only have my beat-up old black truck to drive around.” The same truck we're towing behind the TrailMama.

“I'll take it.”

So here's the thing. The rest of the entire world thinks my father was shot in the chest and killed when he was outed by a branch of the mob he was after. This mob was financing James Robertsman's campaign for governor of Maryland.

The guy's running for president of the United States now.

I kid you not.

Wish I was kidding.

We thought he was after us for several years because Charley knew too much. But then last fall, we found out the guy chasing me was my father, and Robertsman is most likely cocky enough to think he took care of everything he needed. I say that's quite all right. Although, I have to admit, the fact that a dirtbag like that guy may end up in the Oval Office sickens me to no end.

Thanks to that guy, we had been running in fear from my own father.

The thing is, I could be really mad about all those wasted years, and a portion of me feels that way. But we've been given another chance, and I'll be darned if I throw away these days being angry. There's too much to be thankful for.

Don't get me wrong. I still have my surly days. I don't want Dad and Charley to think they have it as easy as all that!

Okay, time to blog.

Hollywood Nobody: April 30

Let's cut to the chase, Nobodies!

Today's Seth News: It's official. Seth Haas and Karissa Bonano are officially each other's exclusive main squeeze. The two were seen coming out of a popular LA tattoo parlor with each other's names on the inside of their forearms. How cliché. And pass the barf bag.

Today's Violette Dillinger Report: Violette has broken up with Joe Mason of Sweet Margaret. She wanted you all to know that long-distance romances are hard for any couple, but espe-cially for people as young as she is. “Joe needed to live his life. I'm on the road a lot. It wasn't fair to either of us.” Sounds like she's definitely not on the road to Britney. I'm just sayin'.

Today's Rave: Mandy Moore. The girl can really sing! And her latest album is filled with good songs. The bubble gum days of insipid teen heartbreak are over. She's finally come into her own. (Wish some others would follow her example, but I won't hold my breath. And man, are we on the theme of bratty stars today or what? Well, there are just so many of them from which to choose!)

Today's Rant: Crazy expensive celebrity weddings. What? If they spend more, will they be more likely to stay together? I have no idea. Mariah Carey's $25,000 dress pales in comparison to Catherine Zeta-Jones's $100,000 gown. What are those things made of?

Today's Quote: “Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” James Dean

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watcher in the Woods: Dreamhouse Kings, Book #2 by Robert Liparulo

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It's July 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)

Comes a Horseman



Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544968
ISBN-13: 978-1595544964



At twelve years old, David King was too young to die. At least he thought so.

But try telling that to the people shooting at him.

He had no idea where he was. When he had stepped through the portal, smoke immediately blinded him. An explosion had thrown rocks and who-knew-what into his face. It shook the floor and knocked him off his feet. Now he was on his hands and knees on a hardwood floor. Glass and splinters dug into his palms. Somewhere, all kinds of guns were firing. Bullets zinged overhead, thunking into walls—bits of flying plaster stung his cheeks.

Okay, so he wasn’t sure the bullets were meant for him. The guns seemed both near and far. But in the end, if he were hit, did it matter whether the shooters meant to get him or he’d had the dumb luck to stumble into the middle of a firefight? He’d be just as dead.

The smoke cleared a bit. Sunlight poured in from a school-bus-sized hole in the ceiling. Not just the ceiling—David could see attic rafters and the jagged and burning edges of the roof. Way above was a blue sky, soft white clouds.

He was in a bedroom. A dresser lay on the floor. In front of him was a bed. He gripped the mattress and pushed himself up.

A wall exploded into a shower of plaster, rocks, and dust. He flew back. Air burst from his lungs, and he crumpled again to the floor. He gulped for breath, but nothing came. The stench of fire—burning wood and rock, something dank and putrid—swirled into his nostrils on the thick, gray smoke. The taste of cement coated his tongue. Finally, oxygen reached his lungs, and he pulled it in with loud gasps, like a swimmer saved from drowning. He coughed out the smoke and dust. He stood, finding his balance, clearing his head, wavering until he reached out to steady himself.

A hole in the floor appeared to be trying to eat the bed. It was listing like a sinking ship, the far corner up in the air, the corner nearest David canted down into the hole. Flames had found the blankets and were spreading fast.

Outside, machine-gun fire erupted.

David jumped.

He stumbled toward an outside wall. It had crumbled, forming a rough V-shaped hole from where the ceiling used to be nearly to the floor. Bent rebar jutted out of the plaster every few feet.

More gunfire, another explosion. The floor shook.

Beyond the walls of the bedroom, the rumble of an engine and a rhythmic, metallic click-click-click-click-click tightened his stomach. He recognized the sound from a dozen war movies: a tank. It was rolling closer, getting louder.

He reached the wall and dropped to his knees. He peered out onto the dirt and cobblestone streets of a small village. Every house and building was at least partially destroyed, ravaged by bombs and bullets. The streets were littered with chunks of wall, roof tiles, even furniture that had spilled out through the ruptured buildings.

David’s eyes fell on an object in the street. His panting breath froze in his throat. He slapped his palm over his mouth, either to stifle a scream or to keep himself from throwing up. It was a body, mutilated almost beyond recognition. It lay on its back, screaming up to heaven. Male or female, adult or child, David didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. That it was human and damaged was enough to crush his heart. His eyes shot away from the sight, only to spot another body. This one was not as broken, but was no less horrible. It was a young woman. She was lying on her stomach, head turned with an expression of surprised disbelief and pointing her lifeless eyes directly at David.

He spun around and sat on the floor. He pushed his knuckles into each eye socket, squeegeeing out the wetness. He swallowed, willing his nausea to pass.

His older brother, Xander, said that he had puked when he first saw a dead body. That had been only two days ago—in the Colosseum. David didn’t know where the portal he had stepped through had taken him. Certainly not to a gladiator fight in Rome.

He squinted toward the other side of the room, toward the shadowy corner where he had stepped into . . . wherever this was . . . whenever it was. Nothing there now. No portal. No passage home. Just a wall.

He heard rifle shots and a scream.

Click-click-click-click-click . . . the tank was still approaching.

What had he done? He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or . . . something that amounted to the same thing: Dead.

Dad had been right. They weren’t ready. They should have made a plan.


David rose into a crouch and turned toward the crumbled wall.

I’m here now, he thought. I gotta know what I’m dealing with, right? Okay then. I can do this.

He popped up from his hiding place to look out onto the street. Down the road to his right, the tank was coming into town over a bridge. Bullets sparked against its steel skin. Soldiers huddled behind it, keeping close as it moved forward. In turn, they would scurry out to the side, fire a rifle or machine gun, and step back quickly. Their targets were to David’s left, which meant he was smack between them.


At that moment, he’d have given anything to redo the past hour. He closed his eyes. Had it really only been an hour? An hour to go from his front porch to here?

In this house, stranger things had happened. . . .

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's the Big Deal About Other Religions by John Ankerberg and Dillon Burroughs

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It's July 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature authors are:

and their book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2008)


Dr. John F. Ankerberg is the President and founder of The Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. He is also the producer and host of the nationally televised John Ankerberg Show, a half-hour program seen in all 50 states via independent stations, the DAYSTAR Network, the DISH Network, DirecTV and on the SKY ANGEL Satellite, numerous cable outlets, as well as on the internet. The program can be seen each week by a potential viewing audience in excess of 99 million people. John presents contemporary spiritual issues and defends biblical/Christian answers.

Writer and communicator Dillon Burroughs is author of fourteen books and serves as a staff writer and research associate for the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. In the past two years, his books have sold over 113,000 copies while his edited works have sold more than two million copies. On subjects related to spirituality and culture, Dillon’s written projects have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salem Radio Network news, Moody Radio Network, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, iLife Television Network, Prime Time America, Leadership Journal, NBC affiliates, The John Ankerberg Show, Discipleship Journal, Group Magazine, and many other media outlets.

Dillon Burroughs is a ThM graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary in addition to graduating with a B.S. degree in Communications from Indiana State University. As time allows, he also serves as an adjunct professor at Tennessee Temple University. Dillon lives in Tennessee with his wife, Deborah, and two children, Ben and Natalie.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736921222
ISBN-13: 978-0736921220



What’s the Big Deal About Jesus?

“Christianity is good for you, but it’s not right for me. I think you ought to believe whatever makes you happy and gives you peace.”

“Christianity is the ‘right’ religion—isn’t that being naive?”

The label Christianity covers a broad range of people today. While over 2.1 billion people are statistically considered followers of Jesus Christ, polls by religious researcher George Barna have observed that only four percent of American Christians hold to a biblical worldview (that is, beliefs consistent with the Bible’s teachings), and just 51 percent of Christian clergy hold to such a view. As a result, even many who call themselves Christians have agreed with the quotes that appear above, asking if it is perhaps naïve to claim Christianity is the only way to God.

However, the above quotes are inconsistent with Christianity’s origins and founder. In this chapter we’ll briefly review how Christianity began, consider its early beliefs, introduce its founder, and investigate the reliability of the New Testament, which is part of the Bible.

A Firm Foundation

All of Christianity is built around one basic belief: the resurrection of its founder, Jesus of Nazareth. On Passover Friday around A.D. 30, Jesus was executed on a Roman cross on the accusation of conspiracy against the government. The Sanhedrin (Jewish leaders) had insisted that the Roman leader Pilate condemn Jesus, though Pilate had not found him guilty of any crimes worthy of death. After the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus in a tomb, the body disappeared three days later. Immediately this was followed by many “Jesus sightings” reported over the next 40 days. A social revolution began ten days later in Jerusalem, Israel, as over 3000 people joined the movement after a street message given by the apostle Peter (Acts 2). Christianity was off and running, and has been growing ever since.

Oxford University theologian Dr. Alister McGrath has noted,

The identity of Christianity is inextricably linked with the uniqueness of Christ, which is in turn grounded in the Resurrection and Incarnation.

How do we know Jesus came back to life? First, the 27 books of the New Testament are based upon this one event—the resurrection of Jesus. Despite the attacks of many, the writings of Christianity have been shown to have emerged during the first century with the courageous message that Jesus, a man executed by the government, was alive. This carried many implications about his life and death and beyond. What other motive did these writers have except that they truly believed all this had occurred?

In addition, many individuals of that day claimed to have encountered Jesus after his death. According to the Gospel writers and the missionary Paul, Jesus appeared a total of at least 12 times after his return from death:

The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ

# Sighting Source

1. Mary Magdalene--Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18

2. Women returning from the tomb--Matthew 28:9-10

3. Two men walking to Emmaus--Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32

4. Peter--Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5

5. 10 disciples; two men from Emmaus--Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23

6. 11 disciples (including Thomas)--John 20:24-29

7. 7 disciples--John 21:1-24

8. 500 people at one time--1 Corinthians 15:6

9. James, the half-brother of Jesus--1 Corinthians 15:7

10. 11 disciples Matthew 28:16-20

11. 11 disciples before Jesus returned to heaven--Luke 24:50-53

12. Paul-- Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8

In just one of these sightings, over 500 people claimed to see Jesus alive after his death. Did you know that if each of those 500 people were to testify in court for only six minutes, including time for cross-examination, we would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Few other events from over 2000 years ago find this level of support. None offer the number of witnesses the resurrection does for a supernatural event.

Further, the changed lives of the early followers of Jesus supported their report that Jesus was alive. All but one of Jesus’ 11 followers died for his belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Hundreds—if not thousands—of other Christians suffered or died within the first century of Christianity for their beliefs as well. The killing of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, led to the persecution of the Jerusalem church, which eventually forced many Christians to flee the area for safety.

“Could you convince thousands of people in our own day that President Kennedy had resurrected from the dead? There’s no way…unless it really happened.”

The amazing phenomenon of Christianity’s growth also stands as a powerful testimony that this faith is based on a supernatural resurrection. How could a crucified Jew (Jesus), former tax collector (Matthew), Jesus-hater (Paul), and small town fishermen (including Peter) establish a movement that has resulted in the largest religion on Earth? How could this happen?

When Christianity began, the Roman Empire was the greatest government of the time. Yet 300 years later, the Roman Empire had crumbled, and Christianity was continuing to grow. This, in spite of its humble beginning as a grassroots network of individuals who witnessed that Jesus had come back to life. Even though the proclamation of Jesus’ teachings produced persecution of the greatest kind, Christianity continued to spread across the Roman Empire—all the way to the palace of Caesar in Rome, the world’s political and social capital.

Christianity 101

So Christianity originated from a group of Jesus-followers who spread the message that they had personally witnessed his three years of teaching and miracles, watched him die on a cross, and then personally met, saw, talked to, ate with, and received instructions from him after his resurrection from the dead. But what are the core beliefs of Christianity? There are six central elements of
traditional Christianity.

First, there is the common understanding of Jews and Christians that there is only one true God—who is infi nite, holy, loving, just, and true. In addition, Christians believe that in the nature (presence) of the one true God there exists three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christianity does not believe in three gods, but one. As Dr. Norman Geisler, bestselling author and cofounder of Southern Evangelical Seminary, has written,

The Trinity is not the belief that God is three personas and only one person at the same time and in the same sense. That would be a contradiction. Rather, it is the belief that there are three persons in one nature. This may be a mystery, but it is not a contradiction. That is, it may go beyond reason’s ability to comprehend completely, but it does not go against reason’s ability to apprehend consistently.
Further, the Trinity is not the belief that there are three natures in one nature or three essences in one essence. That would be a contradiction. Rather, Christians affirm that there are three persons in one essence…He is one in the sense of his essence but many in the sense of his persons. So there is no violation of the law of noncontradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Traditional Christianity also accepts the 66 books of the Holy Bible as revelation from God, perfect and authoritative for all spiritual matters. While Roman Catholicism accepts the additional authority of the pope and church tradition, and Eastern Orthodoxy accepts church tradition as equal in authority to the Bible, the earliest traditional Christianity and later Protestant Christianity have been based solely on God’s written revelation through his apostles and prophets.

Third, Christians believe every person who has ever lived (with the exception of Jesus Christ) has been born a sinner separated from God. It is our sin nature that keeps us from knowing and experiencing God and creates a need for reconciliation through a means only God can provide.

Fourth, in his infinite love, God has provided the solution to the barrier between himself and humanity through Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that the death of Jesus provides payment for our sins, and on the basis of our believing, he is our sinbearer and he will forgive us the moment we believe. All this is confirmed by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—he has paid the penalty for sin and conquered death. In this way God offers a basis for a person to place his or her faith in Christ and to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, in which he enters your life and you walk through life with his power and guidance.

Fifth, this rescue or salvation God offers through Jesus is based solely on what God has done rather than on what people do. In other words, salvation is a free gift based on God’s grace to us (unearned favor) rather than good works or deeds we can accomplish, though these will accompany a person once he or she becomes a Christian. One of the major points of contention during the Protestant Reformation resulted from the Roman Catholic Church’s unbiblical teaching
that God’s grace consists of humans cooperating with God’s grace to merit salvation, rather than receiving salvation in full as a gift on the basis of faith alone the moment a person believes.

Sixth, Christians believe in an eternal afterlife. God allows individuals the ability to choose or reject him, and after death, that decision is final. Those who have chosen to believe in Jesus will enjoy eternity with him in heaven, while those who decline will spend eternity in hell, separated from God. God will accept every person’s decision and not force him or her to change their mind. While all this may sound politically incorrect in our culture, it has stood as an essential component of Christian teaching from the earliest times. The choice we make here on earth will have eternal consequences.

Jesus: Founder and CEO of Christianity

Christian philosopher Dr. C. Stephen Evans points out that “it is an essential part of Christian faith that Jesus is God in a unique and exclusive way. It follows from this that all religions [that disagree] cannot be equally true.”7 Again, if different religions teach contradictory things about who God is, salvation, the afterlife, and
even Jesus, then one or another could be true, but they can’t all be true at the same time. What are the big super-signs that help us decide which religion is true? According to biblical Christianity, if Jesus claimed to be God and proved his claim by his resurrection, then he is God and Christianity is true. No other religious leader in history has claimed to be God and risen from the dead.

Further, there are at least seven concepts Jesus taught about himself that stand unique to Christianity. First, Jesus communicated that he fulfi lled biblical prophecy, given hundreds of years in advance, that he was the promised Messiah. He repeatedly claimed to be the person that God’s Messiah was predicted to be, and many scholars have created extensive lists of these prophetic connections. Here are some examples of prophecies Jesus fulfilled:

Prophecy--Old Testament Prophecy--New Testament Fulfillment

Born of a virgin-- Isaiah 7:14-- Matthew 1:18,25

Born in Bethlehem-- Micah 5:2-- Matthew 2:1

Preceded by a messenger-- Isaiah 40:3-- Matthew 3:1-2

Rejected by his own people-- Isaiah 53:3-- John 7:5; 7:48

Betrayed by a close friend-- Isaiah 41:9-- John 13:26-30

His side pierced-- Zechariah 12:10-- John 19:34

His death by crucifixion-- Psalm 22:1,11-18-- Luke 23:33; John 19:23-24

His resurrection-- Psalm 16:10-- Acts 13:34-37

Second, Jesus stands as a unique, unparalleled individual among the leaders of various world religions. He made predictions about the future that could only be made by someone who claimed to be God. Further, he noted in advance several of the things that would occur at the time of his death and resurrection. Unlike anyone else, he also promised to one day return to earth to set up his future kingdom.

The Seven “I Ams” of Jesus in John’s Gospel

 “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35,48; see also verse 51).

 “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

 “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7; see also verse 9).

 “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11,14).

 “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

 “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

 “I am the true vine” (John 15:1; see also verse 5).

Further, Jesus is unique in his nature, being fully divine and fully human nature in one person. Jesus was born as a man without sin through a miraculous virgin birth. He challenged his own family, disciples, and even his enemies to prove him guilty of sin, but none could do so. Think of the reaction you would receive if you asked your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends, “Can any of you point to one sin I have committed?” Those closest to us know our faults. We all have them. Yet Jesus lived a perfect life free of sin.

As God’s divine son, Jesus performed miracles, healings, and exorcisms; fulfi lled Jewish prophecies; and accomplished his own resurrection. In these ways he affi rmed his divine nature, displaying power far beyond that of any person who has ever lived. Today people downplay the miracles, but they are documented in careful detail in the Bible, and even Jesus’ enemies did not deny his miracles. They weren’t able to. So they just claimed that he performed them with
the help of evil powers (Matthew 12:24).

The Exorcisms of Jesus

Exorcism-- Source
1. Healed a demon-possessed man at Capernaum ---Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37

2. Drove out demons and evil spirits Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:32-39; Luke 4:33-41
3. Healed the man possessed by demons at the Gadarenes-- Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39

4. Drove a demon out of a mute man, who then spoke-- Matthew 9:32-34;
Mark 3:20-22

Christianity is also the only major religion whose founder sacrificed his life for the sins of those who would choose to believe in him. Jesus’ horrifi c death on the cross stood as proof of his statement that “the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The Nature Miracles of Jesus

The Miracle—Source

1. Calming the wind and waves-- Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24

2. Walking on water-- Matthew 14:25; Mark 6:48; John 6:19

3. Money in the fish’s mouth-- Matthew 17:27

4. Withering of the fig tree-- Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:14

5. Miraculous catch of fish-- Luke 5:4-7

6. Turning water into wine-- John 2:7-8

7. Second miraculous catch of fish-- John 21:6

8. Feeding the 4000-- Matthew 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-9

9. Feeding the 5000-- Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:34-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-12

Sixth, as mentioned earlier, Jesus also rose from the dead. Those in his time could never account for his empty tomb and the disappearance of his body. Jesus’ followers spanned the known world testifying of his resurrection (his actual bodily appearing to them), teaching his words, and dying for their belief in him.

Finally, Jesus promises, at the end of time, to personally judge every person who ever lived. It would be eternally disappointing to have Jesus look at us, fairly judge us, and conclude, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).

Christianity by the Book

Those who want to investigate the truthfulness of the original Christian message can look to a wealth of manuscript evidence regarding the transmission of the 27 books of the New Testament through the years. The New Testament manuscripts offer more supporting evidence than any other ancient book. Christians also accept the Jewish scriptures (the Old Testament) as part of their holy book, the Bible. Traditional Christianity believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, meaning the original words of the Bible’s books are without error and perfect in every way.

As a result, Bible translation, distribution, and teaching stand as important responsibilities within Christianity. The Bible is the most translated book in history, has been used as the script for the most-watched fi lm in history (the Jesus fi lm), and has enjoyed greater distribution than any book in the world. Over 100 million copies of the New Testament or Bible are sold every year worldwide.

Interesting Statistics About the Bible

The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years,

 by more than 40 authors of every sort—kings, peasants, fi shermen, poets, shepherds, government offi cials, teachers, and prophets—

 in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek),

 on three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe.11

What Makes Christianity Unique?

“Christianity isn’t about people in search of God, but rather God in search of
people.”—STEVE RUSSO

Many have suggested that Christianity is about having a personal relationship with Jesus, and not performing good works and following rituals. Religious movements throughout history ultimately hold to a signifi cantly different common thread—that certain actions or works are required to obtain a blissful afterlife. In Christianity, however, the key to reaching God here and now and dwelling with him for eternity is to receive and trust in a gift already provided by its founder, Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul made clear to Christians at Ephesus, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

God’s gift of salvation also brings assurance. If Jesus’ righteous life and atoning death on the cross is the sole basis for God’s gift, then a Christian doesn’t have to worry about earning or losing that gift. Once the gift is received, it belongs to the Christian forever because it rests on what Jesus did—not what the Christian did or does in the past, present, or future.

Christianity in Summary

As we compare and contrast the beliefs of various religions throughout this book, we hope to make the distinctives of each one as clear as possible. Here, we summarize the key teachings of Christianity:

Belief-- Basic Description

God-- One God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Holy Book-- The 66 books of the Holy Bible are the authoritative
works of Christianity.

Sin-- All people have sinned (except Jesus).

Jesus Christ-- God’s perfect son, holy, resurrected, divine (second person of the Trinity) yet also fully human.

Salvation-- Obtained only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by human effort.

Afterlife-- All people will enter heaven or hell upon death based on whether they have salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible does not teach reincarnation, annihilation (ending of the soul), or the existence of purgatory.

Some people assume that biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are essentially similar. But is that the case? What differences exist? Are these differences really a big deal, or only minor details? Our next chapter will address these questions head-on.