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Coming Home: A Ramble Through the Middle East and Europe

In 1975 there was nothing reasonable about the road-trip Dad proposed. Much of it would be on rugged, unpaved tracks where services and spare parts were unavailable. If we had mechanical trouble we would, for the most part, have to deal with it ourselves. Should we have an accident or become ill, medical facilities were few and far between. We would have no way to communicate with family or friends except by letter – and, in many places, mail service was iffy. We would be driving through parts of the world where the population, if not actually hostile to Americans, had no great love for them. People, by the way, whose language we could not understand or speak. Unreasonable though it was, the window of opportunity to make such a trip was rapidly coming to an end. Soon, revolutions and wars would close some of the countries we traveled through. Many of the historical sites we saw would be destroyed. So, in retrospect, we made the trip at the right time. We also made the trip at the right time in my life. I was impressionable. I was immature for my age. I was still trying to figure out who I am and what God wanted me to do with myself. It is no exaggeration to say that the trip was formative and had a major impact on my faith. It was one of the highlights of my life. I look back on it with nostalgia. I hope that you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed living it. To illustrate the tale, I’ve included 14 maps and over 120 photographs.

New Testament Studies

A Survey of New Testament History

Survey of New Testament HistoryA Survey of New Testament History provides a broad, chronological overview of the events mentioned in the New Testament. It shows how the various incidents recorded in the Gospels and the book of Acts fit into God’s overall plan to redeem mankind. The first chapter explores how God prepared the world for Christ’s coming. Chapters 2 through 7 are a synopsis of the life, ministry and teaching of Christ. Chapters 8 through 17 are an overview of the history of the early church, the issues it faced, and the incredible growth and progress it made. They also include a brief synopsis of each of the 27 books of the New Testament. Chapter 18 provides an overview of the 4 major schools of interpretation of the book of Revelation plus a brief discussion of its meaning. A special appendix compares and contrasts the book of Revelation to the book of Genesis. The volume also contains 10 maps.

The 18 chapters in this survey emphasize practical lessons and applications which are relevant to us today. Our world shares several similarities to the world into which Christ was born. An understanding of His world can give us a fresh look at our own. The church today faces many of the same stresses and challenges as the early church. Looking at how the first believers overcame their struggles and questions can encourage and inspire us.

A Survey of New Testament History is suitable for use in groups as well as by individuals. Each of the studies has been tested in the classroom.

Beloved Witness

Beloved WitnessWho is better qualified to tell us about Jesus than John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved”? As John himself said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it… We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us….” (1 John 1:1-3 NIV)

John wrote the Gospel which bears his name as a supplement to the other 3 Gospel accounts. Though John used simple language, the concepts and and ideas he presents are anything but simple. His intent was to explain the significance of what Jesus said and did, that we may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Beloved Witness is a practical commentary on John’s Gospel. It explains the difficult passages and esoteric sayings in John in an informal, colloquial style. In addition, 18 maps and illustrations help provide context. Not only does this commentary explain and interpret the text of John’s account, it emphasizes how we may apply what John wrote to our everyday lives.

I Want To Know Christ

I Want to Know ChristWhat is it that makes life meaningful? Many people take pride in their ancestry, credentials and accomplishments. In his letter to the followers of Christ at Philippi, the Apostle Paul points out that however great our earthly attainments might be, they are nothing compared the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and becoming like Him. Only in Christ do we find true fulfillment. When we emulate Christ’s example of humility and sacrifice God exalts us far beyond anything we could ever achieve on our own. It is only in Christ that we learn the secret of contentment—regardless of circumstances.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is very practical. And it is still as relevant today as when he first penned it. The 13 classroom tested studies in this volume not only explore the meaning of what Paul wrote, they show how his words apply to us. A workbook is also available.

Old Testament Studies

Beginnings and Patriarchs – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 1

Beginnings and Patriarchs“But why should I bother studying some boring, old, dusty tome?” she asked, referring to the Bible.
“Ah! But is it? Boring, that is… If you find it boring it’s because you’ve had boring teachers. For herein lie tales of hope and intrigue, faith and betrayal, weakness, courage, loyalty, avarice, treachery, sacrifice, honor and exile. Above all, it tells the story of God’s incredible love and faithfulness.”

This book is a survey of the Old Testament from the Creation through the life of Joseph. Teachers of teenage and adult Bible classes will appreciate the twenty-eight well organized and thought provoking lesson plans in this volume. Topics include: the fall and God’s promise of redemption, the flood and restoration, the dilemma of God’s justice, the faith of Abraham, the choice between Salem and Sodom, the life of Jacob, and much more.

The lessons are deep enough to hold the interest of those who are already familiar with the Bible, yet simple enough for those who are new to the Bible to understand. In addition, the lessons are practical. They emphasize principles which students can apply to their lives. Examples of applications are: recognizing and avoiding sin, overcoming environment, choosing friends and associates, choosing a mate, and restoring broken relationships.

An essay on the art of teaching is also included. It discusses the purpose of teaching and provides a simple acronym to help teachers remember the elements which make a class effective.

Exodus and Wanderings – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 2

Exodus and WanderingsThe seventeen lesson plans in this volume cover the time-period from the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt to just before their crossing the Jordan river in order to enter the land of Canaan. A few of the topics are: Moses’ call, judgments on Egypt, revolt in the desert, and Balaam’s prophecies.
Aside from the “Exodus” from Egypt the defining element of this period is the covenant God established with the Israelite people by means of the Law of Moses. Teachers and students alike will appreciate Turner’s concise summaries which cut through the sometimes mind-numbing complexities of key features of the Law, and Tabernacle worship.

Each lesson not only explains the biblical text and events, but emphasizes practical applications for Christians today. Among these applications are: waiting for God’s timing, living holy and consistent lives, dealing with criticism and discouragement, keeping promises, and entering covenant relationships.

In addition to the lessons, the book also includes an essay on the Exodus.

Conquest and Judges – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 3

Conquest and JudgesThe twenty-one lesson plans in this volume cover the Conquest of Canaan and the time of the Judges – one of the most chaotic and turbulent eras in Israelite history. In spite of the sometimes unsavory incidents involved, the lessons, which are suitable for both teenagers and adults, stress the positive. Topics include: the fall of Jericho, the Gibeonite deception, the career of Gideon, the capture of the Ark of the Covenant, and much more. Three of the lessons are on one of the most beautiful love stories of all time, that of Ruth and Boaz.

Each lesson emphasizes principles which are relevant to life today. Examples of applications are: making and keeping vows, overcoming the past, overcoming bitterness and restoring a relationship with God.

In addition to the lessons, the book includes an essay on the nature of God. It explains how a loving God can also command things like genocide.

The United Monarchy – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 4

The United MonarchySolomon, the Queen of Sheba, David, Goliath, the Witch of Endor, Absalom, the Song of Songs – the very names conjure up visions of intrigue, romance and daring. But the “Golden Age” of Israel supplies us with far more than marvelous tales of adventure and romance. Behind the stories lie enduring principles which are as valid today as they were then. Our very language owes many of its figures of speech to that era.

The twenty-nine studies in this volume cover not only the events of the greatest era of Israelite history, but also the “Wisdom Literature” which dates from the time. In addition, the lessons provide practical applications which can help us in our lives today. Among the subjects covered are: peer pressure, loyalty vs. expediency, friendship, leadership, repentance and romantic love.

The book also includes an essay on whether the biblical texts are reliable and historically accurate.

Kings and Prophets – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 5

Kings and ProphetsFollowing the “Golden Age” of kings David and Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two competing kingdoms. The two kingdoms represented two conflicting world-views. The northern kingdom of Israel adopted a policy of cultural accommodation. Toward the end it became virtually indistinguishable from other nations. The southern kingdom of Judah (with notable exceptions) held fast to its Covenant with God. Its citizens remained a separate people with a distinct culture.

During this time, God sent many prophets as His spokesmen. As people turned away from the Covenant the prophets acted as prosecuting attorneys presenting God’s case against them. However, the prophets not only brought warnings, they also gave a message of incredible hope.

The 30 studies in this volume cover the period from the breakup of Solomon’s empire to the destruction of the northern kingdom. Each lesson includes at least one application which is relevant to us today.

The book also includes an essay on the “10 Lost Tribes” of Israel.

Judah Alone – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 6

Judah AloneAfter the fall of Samaria and the deportation of the Israelites from their land, only the citizens of Judah and Jerusalem remained of God’s covenant people. The question was whether they would follow the example of their relatives by adopting idolatry or whether they would remain true to the Covenant. The prophets presented the options as a choice between death and life.

Though they lived thousands of years ago, the people of that era have much to teach us. Many of the choices they faced still confront us today. Among the lessons we can learn from them are: God is faithful even when everything is falling apart around us – His promises are always true; God restores as well as punishes; Even the most vile and wicked can be forgiven if they repent.

The 29 classroom-tested studies in this volume cover the period from the resettlement of Israel to the prophet Jeremiah’s involuntary exile. Every lesson includes at least one application which is relevant to us today.

Exile and Return – Lessons From the Old Testament, Volume 7

Exile and ReturnBecause they turned from their Covenant with God and embraced idolatry, God banished His “Chosen People” from the land He promised to give them. For 70 long years the Jews remained in exile, separated from the land they loved.

The generations which grew up away from Israel and Judah might have lost their connection to the land and, more importantly, their ties to the Covenant. Instead, the exile had its intended effect of purifying and refining. The people’s hearts once again sought God. The return and restoration of the Jews is important for it points to the much greater restoration which Christ makes possible for all people.

The 18 studies in this volume span the period from the beginning of the exile to the last recorded prophecy in the Old Testament. Each lesson includes at least one application which is relevant to us today.


Pi-Dog Miracle – A Story of Redemption

Pi-Dog MiracleBenjamin Carpenter, a gifted Bible teacher and church planter, is still recovering from his wife’s death five years ago. He leaves his home in the United States to develop a training program for church leaders in Pakistan. This helps him regain purpose in life. However, he discovers that teaching and living in a different culture also makes him vulnerable. He runs short of food and money. He faces ridicule and false accusations. And he’s drawn the attention of someone who is willing to kill both him and his students.

Donish Ullah is a radical Muslim dedicated to the spread of Islam. However, he is in disgrace for acting against the wrong target. When the leader of his Madrissah directs him to spy on Benjamin, Donish jumps at the chance to redeem himself. He plants bugs in Benjamin’s home and classroom hoping to catch him in blasphemy, only to find that he’s trapped himself in a moral dilemma.

Truth and Love – An Adventure

Truth and LoveProfessor of Linguistics, Stacy Foster still grieves for her late husband. Preacher Keith Campbell suffers from ministry burnout. While on a tourist jaunt to Turkey, a natural disaster forces them to trust and depend on each other for survival. In the process they stumble upon an archaeological discovery which, if brought to light, will forever change biblical scholarship.

But some scholars have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Others are even willing to kill to suppress the truth. If Stacy and Keith persist, they risk their reputations and their lives. But if they don’t, their own integrity is at risk.

Strangers and Aliens – A Tale of Survival

Strangers and AliensHe never imagined that banter with friends was a federal offense…

Condemned to internal exile for saying the wrong thing, Carl Thompson finds himself fighting for survival. He and his new Tribe of misfits must overcome privation, the extremes of nature and the malfeasance of petty bureaucrats. Not to mention those who have decided the Tribe is fair game. Carl must defend the Tribe against all threats, both internal and external while remaining true to the moral compass which cost him his old life.

One of the joys of writing is the opportunity to play with ideas. A writer may wrench a concept out of its natural context to see what happens. He may chase a thought to an absurd conclusion. In this novel I have extrapolated several trends in society and asked, “What if?” The resulting tale is by no means a prophecy. But on the other hand…

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