Application based study bible.

When reviewing bibles, a lot of common features tend to appear. The nice thing which happens is when a bible has multiple features coinciding within the work rather than having a single feature. Some of the more common features about which I am talking include book introductions, timelines, character profiles, footnotes, cross-references, etc. The more cohesive the background features, the more I enjoy using a given bible. I like to know the story behind the book, as well as key themes, key players and a general idea of how this all fits into the bigger picture of history.

Enter the Life Connect Study Bible, NIV. This bible has numerous of the aforementioned features. The books begin with the introduction, with and included timeline placing the book in its historically significant period. In addition to these features, the introduction section continues with a “Did You Know” fact section, a key themes section and an overview outline of the book you are reading.

The text of the bible is in a two-column format with a side-bar cross-reference system, as well as a place for taking notes on each page. Study notes are contained at the bottom of the pages, with much important insight into the text of the bible. LifeConnect articles help the reader understand how this section of the bible is applicable to them, and these are interspersed throughout the bible.

Probably the most unique feature of this particular bible is the SOAP study sections. S – Scripture, O – Observation, A – Application, P – Prayer.  A few verses are chosen as the basis of these features, with an observation about them, and how to apply them in today’s world. The summation of the inset is the prayer which is, in essence, a prayer written to pray those selected scriptures. Additionally, there are some pages which contain nothing but lines on them for the reader to use for note-taking in greater depth than the side-bar note sections allow. The full-page note sections have a prompt at the bottom asking the user how the passage just read will affect their life.

This bible is pretty crammed with features, and being in the NIV translation, it is easy to read and highly applicable for the busy individual. It helps direct the reader, inform the reader, and draw the reader to a place of prayer in rather short order. Study bibles are an incredible resource, but a bible which focuses on life application is even better in my opinion.  I believe this bible is a great option for a study bible with a life-application focus.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Book Look Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review.

Veggie Tales Bible 2016

I remember when Veggie Tales was a brand new venture. The animation was so different than earlier cartoons. I still remember standing in the Christian Bookstore with a friend watching my children watch the new show on the running video. That was a long, long time ago. I have moved from father to a new role as grandfather and Veggie Tales still remains dear to my heart to this day.

A few years back a Veggie Tales bible was sold and from what I can tell this version is basically different in the binding primarily. I do not have the original to compare, so if you have the earlier version, you might want to pass on this one. However, if you did not get the original, and you love Veggie Tales, then this might be a great investment for your family.

The binding on this edition is a stitched binding, rather than simply being glued together as I have read the earlier version was. This makes it a durable version that won’t fall apart with harder use by kids. The size is nice for smaller hands, without being too bulky. It is colorfully printed covers, no dust jacket. Inside you find 32 pages of full color of Veggie artwork. These pages encompass 8 stories, told Veggie style. These stories have all been released as videos in much greater depth than the graphic pages, but they make nice additions to the bible.

The text is NIrV, which is a simplified version of the NIV translation, making for easier reading. There are numerous “Remember this!” insets throughout. These are short verses which can be memorized by kids and have powerful importance, for instance, “Sin is waiting at your door to grab you. It desires to control you. But you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7” Other insets include, “Whoa! Check this out!”, “Truly amazing!” and “Listen to this!” among others. Each of these insets has a different character representing it so if you spot a character you can know which type of inset it is. This is a great addition, but the big downfall of this is all of these insets are printed in varying shades of blue, no full color. Actually the entire text of the bible is a dark blue.

Each book of the bible has a child-level introduction, and important biblical figures are profiled on full-page inserts throughout. An index of “Veggie values” and a simplistic dictionary are included in the back of the bible, along with some lined, blank pages for notes.

All in all, this is a very nice children’s bible. My biggest issue is with the coloration. The predominant blue color printing is not problematic for me, but I do wish there was more of the full color printing to be found. I understand the cost of full-color is more expensive, but the list price of $29.99 for this bible would seem to merit more of the endearing characters as they are, rather than gradient blue. Personally, I think this bible is overpriced at the list price; however, it can be found at significantly lower prices if one simply shops around. The price is determined by the link to Veggie Tales rather than actual features of the printed bible. If this were an unknown set of characters, exactly as it is, the price would likely be under $20.

One of the best things about this children’s bible is it is actually a full-text bible, not excerpts or simply stories. It is designed 4-8 years old primarily, but that range is listed differently on different sources. Early readers will find it tough, but love the pictures. Older readers will find the text easier to understand than an adult bible. A great overall combination. I just wish there were more full-color inclusions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Apply the Word Study Bible, NKJV

Rather than reiterate the manufacturers list of features for this bible, I will recommend an interested buyer read the list of features. I do this because there is much I wish to say about the features and for the sake of brevity, I turn to this now.

Each book begins with an introduction, then a list of key events in the book. Maps of interest are a nice addition in varying sections. Character profiles help the reader understand more about key figures in given passages. Inset articles discuss various topics as they relate to given passages, for example in Matthew an inset article discusses Jesus family tree. A page or so later another article discusses the women in the genealogy of Jesus, the net result is greater depth and insight into this section of text many people generally skim over, or skip altogether.

A 31-day reading plan in the book of Matthew helps place the events in Matthew in a chronological order, and allows the reader a chance to experience 31 days with Jesus, following the logical progression of how the events unfolded rather than reading the versus in numerical order. This helps clarify a lot of things, especially when they relate to annual events like Passover and trying to determine which year for which a given passage is referring.

I could go on about the abundance of features, but I hope I have whetted your appetites enough to intrigue prospective buyers. I do not believe you will be disappointed in this wonderful study bible.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers {http://booklookbloggers.com} book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 {http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html} : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I Will follow Jesus Bible Storybook

One of my favorite authors of the past few years has been Judah Smith. He brings a perspective of love and acceptance to a hurting world in his works, because he directs people toward Jesus Christ rather than toward religion. I greatly admire this about the books of his which I have read, and honestly, I try to get each book as soon as possible to take in what Judah’s new insights might be.

In the introductory letter to parents, the authors state, “Our desire is to translate the gospel for children in a way that they can grasp, to help them grow in their faith from a young age, and to inspire them to follow this Jesus for the rest of their lives!” To this end, the book is a storybook format of the bible, co-written with his wife Chelsea. The stories are dreamily illustrated by Alexandra Bell, beautifully captivating the imagination as well as the heart of the stories.

The book is written in sections, first an introduction which includes stories and applications of the material to follow, then a re-telling in simplified format of the stories, followed by an “I Will Follow Jesus” application page of the stories just relayed. A child-sized prayer concludes the “I Will Follow Jesus” page and the cycle starts again with the next section.

This book is due to be release on February 9, 2016 and is targeted at children ages 4-8.  I think you will find it to be a great addition to your child’s library, or if you are a children/youth pastor, you might find this a great resource for sharing the Jesus of the bible in a fun, entertaining new set of new narrative based on the age-old truths of Scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible for Kids

This bible is targeted at children ages 9-12 and is a bible which includes devotions, teaching tools along with three reading plans as well as a topical index. All of this with the main emphasis of teaching children about how to pray and giving them practical insights as to how and why to pray.

Each book of the bible begins with an introduction page, giving a brief description of author, important people, important events and key themes. Throughout the text of the scriptures, verses which contain specific examples of what conversations with God are highlighted. The brief introduction to the bible discussion “What is Prayer” tells the reader to pay particular attention to the highlighted verses and to memorize some of them. These verses are prayers in and of themselves.

Frequent devotions are spread throughout the bible. The devotions are placed near relevant passages of scripture and help draw life applications from each passage. Included as full color insert pages are a few helpful tools including a version of the Lord’s prayer written in a memorization format. Breaks are written in this version to assist in memorizing bite-size segments of the prayer. Additionally, there are color pages with the 10 Commandments and the ABC’s of Salvation along with a couple more such items. In the back of the Bible there are several pages which have two columns to journal prayer requests and their subsequent answers.

The hardcover version I received is durable and compact enough for smaller hands. I highly recommend this version for the target audience ages, but in my opinion this is a great version for new believers who have little or no religious background. Learning what prayer is and how to pray are vital elements in the life of any believer. Why shouldn’t we train new believers this crucial element of the spiritual walk right from the beginning?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fiction or reality?

I have been reading a book for review purposes and I have to wonder out loud about some things. The title of the book is the 11th Demon by Bruce Hennigan. This title is the third in a series which began with the 13th Demon, then the 12th Demon. The books are to be a series of 13 volumes, with each volume detailing the encounters of demon hunter Jonathan Steel and associates battling the ever increasingly potent demons.

The question of whether this work is fiction or reality really is a matter of perspective I guess. While the characters and attributes are fictional, the battle between dark and light, evil and good, is very real. The novel has a way of wriggling itself into one’s imagination and beginning to help the reader “see” glimpses of the spiritual battles which Paul wrote about in the scriptures.

If the reader is familiar with the works of Frank Peretti, “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness”, or C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” they will find the works by Hennigan edgier, more compelling and far more intense. The 11th Demon does not need to be read after the first two, but I believe it might help. The author draws his reader into the story fairly quickly through recounting incidents in the previous book, setting the stage for this installment of the epic battle series which is being written.

Being a fan of Peretti and Lewis, I am curious as to how this series will progress. Hopefully, the author will keep things from becoming too similar in scope, and at the same time refraining from delving too far into darkness to reveal the power of the light. As for this book, I recommend reading it if you are a fan of suspense and mystery. Shy away though if you scare easily.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

God’s Justice Bible review

Due to release on February 23, 2016, God’s Justice Bible is an interesting and powerful read. With the subtitle of “The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil”, the God’s Justice Bible is a blending of bible types. Instead of trying to categorize this bible, I would rather dive right into the review, which will offer more information.

From the introduction, “The book you hold in your hands is the story of a God who sees disease and wants it healed, who hears the cry of the oppressed and is determined to make things right. Many people restrict the Bible by thinking it’s just a book of rules and religion…The Bible tells the story of God’s amazing kind of justice, with love and mercy inextricably intertwined.”

The introductions and commentary throughout this bible are written by scholar and social activists from all around the world. A four-fold approach to the reader finding their place in the story of God’s justice is included: 1)Begin to learn the story, 2) Commit to following Jesus, 3) Live a life of justice and 4) Find others who area acting out the story of God’s justice. The focus of all of the commentary in this bible are aimed at helping the reader fulfill those four objectives.

The primary text of this bible is the NIV translation. The books of the bible are color-coded in one of seven categories. The edges of the pages then form a beautifully designed vine-like pattern linking one section with the previous, indicating a continuity to the bible as a whole. The notes at the bottom of the pages include points of historical significance, cultural importance and similar study type notes. In many sections, the notes help focus the reader to look for specific thematic elements running through a given section of the text.

I love the concept of this bible, as well as the execution of this concept. I have always believed the Bible to be more than a set of rules and regulations. God has revealed a call to action on behalf of His followers. This bible helps the readers take a guided journey through the Word, helping them see what God has done on behalf of humanity. God has not been silent in regards to injustice. This bible helps us understand this and it helps us determine what our role should be in helping alleviate the injustices God detests.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Not your typical devotional

Sometimes reading devotionals can be a bit tedious. Perhaps you might disagree, but how many different ways can an author really express uplifting thoughts in one work. Most authors have a style, and this style becomes apparent early in the work and follows throughout. Perhaps it is to hit upon a key verse and expound upon it. Sometimes the key verse is simply a jumping off point to begin a personal dialogue with the reader. Hopefully you get what I am trying to say. I do not believe devotionals are a bad thing, and I do not believe consistency to be a bad thing. Yet somehow devotionals tend to slog along if the trend is infrequently varied.

Enter “Devo for the Rest of Us”. The author Vince Antonucci, might be classified in the sharing a verse as a jumping off point category of devotionals. Where differs is his use of stories. Each day’s devotion includes a story, and sometimes more than one, which are relevant to the daily Scripture. The stories are well shared and pertinent. Many times the author shares a story of a “normal” person, the type of person who has problems and issues with life. These stories are not written about pillars of the faith, though sometimes they are mentioned. One story is about a non-believer who attended church just because he felt loved, and the transformation love brought into this man’s life. Another story involves a Navy SEAL sitting on the authors lap, while the author fed him baby food. And the stories go on.

If the book were simply a book of stories, it would be a great read. However, the author does something many other devotional readers omit. He gives the reader something to do in addition to simply reading that day’s insights. Nothing major, but life application is a huge part of each day’s devotional, along with additional Scripture reading.

I thoroughly enjoy this devotional and plan to encourage others to read it for themselves.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Netgalley <https://www.netgalley.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html&gt; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jesus is for You

This is a great little book by author Judah Smith. I became acquainted with Judah’s work through his book, Jesus Is_____ a few years ago. Upon reading that book, I became a fan of the way Judah writes and thinks. His approach is fresh and insightful, and one which I truly admire.

“Jesus if for You” continues in tradition of Judah’s previous works. This book has a different look and feel to it though. Rather than being a book centered around text, with a consistent train of thought, it is a visually stunning work which captures the eye and the imagination. The book, according to the preface is, “a collection of Bible verses, inspirational thoughts, and real-life stories all centered around the simple truth that Jesus if for you.” I have long held this position in ministry, and I was pleased to find this book to help me share this idea with others.

For far too long, the Bible has been seen as God’s rulebook. Christians have memorized passages, often out of context, to be able to support their pet positions on any number of topics. I have tried to share throughout my Christian life the position that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. While this does include certain elements of rules and order, our relationship with God should be founded and sustained in the knowledge Jesus is for us. Paul stated that if God is for us, who can be against us. I believe this supposition, and this little book by Judah Smith does a marvelous job of helping share this message to a world which desperately needs less religiosity and more of Jesus. In my opinion, and that is really what this blog is all about, it would behoove all believers to re-think their relationship with the Word of God to determine whether they view it as rulebook or revelation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A couple of exciting books which are upcoming.

I have been able to participate as a member of a couple of book launch teams over the past few months. I am excited to let you know that two of these books are coming out in the next few weeks and are now available to pre-order with some pretty sweet incentives.

The first one to come out is, “Be You. Do Good”. A summary statement about this incredible book might be this one found on the description, “But if God created each of us on purpose, for a purpose, we should be ordering our lives around that purpose.” Does that sound like something in which you might be interested in learning about? Well right now if you pre-order this book you get a $10 gift card for Land of a Thousand Hills coffee, and a downloadable study guide/action plan, and access to a live webinar with the author. All of this is in addition to an awesome read. Right now you can pre-order the book from Amazon for $10.75. For more information, please check out the author’s book website: http://beyoudogood.com/book

The second book which is soon to be released is titled, “Breaking Busy”. This book is written by a woman named Alli Worthington, who is a wife, mother and author. She knows all about a hectic lifestyle (she has 5 boys), and writes about finding ways to decrease the hectic nature of life to be the person God wants you to be. She uses practical advice, and a great wit to share her story and give her insights. this book is due to be released on January 26, and if you pre-order it before then, you can get a downloadable study guide for it. Check out this link for more information: http://alliworthington.com/breaking-busy-guide

Both of these books are valuable resources for Christians trying to find their place in this world. Being the person God want you to be without burning out while trying to become that person. If you have a chance, I recommend both of these books, but be warned Breaking Busy is directed toward women for the most part. It is great material, but men may not find the humor and/or illustrations as applicable in their lives.