Tuesday, May 31, 2016

NIV Lifehacks Bible - A Review

NIV Lifehacks Bibe.cover.jpg

A Review

Though not attractive, this Bible is a useful. Fitting someplace between a Study Bible (given its own description) and a Devotional Bible (given its contents), this Bible focuses on the spiritual disciplines that will move the reader closer to God. It does not contain study or devotional noted keyed to the texts where a passage is found. Rather, it provides a wide range of tools that can be used by both the new believer and the established Christian to draw near to our Lord and Savior. Here are five very random selections from the 365 entries included in the book:

  1. 4 Tips for Reading Prophesy
  2. 5 Skills for Sharing God’s Word
  3. When You’ve Made a Vow to God
  4. Pray with ACTS
  5. What Is Biblical Faith?

An alphabetical list of all these short essays can be found at the beginning of the book. Also included in the front pages is a plan for reading through the entire Bible in a year.   

What adds additional value to this edition is the inclusion of two indexes. The first is typical “Subject Index” which points the reader to key scripture references dealing with important topics. The second index points the readers to the included articles which highlight the various spiritual disciplines discussed.

My biggest concern is the lack of any color in the body of the book. If the editor had found time to add some color to the pages (e.g. Each essay could have a different font or background color depending on the spiritual discipline it addresses) the book would be more attractive. With exception of the cover, the entire book is black and white. Even the addition of a color dot (or square, like is seen on the front cover) to indicate the note’s theme would be of help.

The Bible would be a welcome addition to a pastor’s or layman’s library. This Bible would also be a suitable graduation gift for the high school, college, or seminary, graduate. I could also see giving this as a Father’s Day gift. Or add it to your own library as an encouragement for your own spiritual growth.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 23, 2016

NKJV Teen Study Bible - A Review

NKJV Teen Study Bible

NKJV Teen Study Bible.cover.jpg

Features Written By
Larry and Sue Richards

A Review

It has been a few years since I have looked at a Study Bible designed for teens - but this version is one of the better once that I have stumbled upon. Clearly aimed at a teen audience, its helps, notes, and indexes, are designed to assist the teen in addressing the many issues that they may face in the 21st century.

The complete text of the NKJV Bible provides the Biblical standard. Originally completed in 1982, this version still remains one of the most valuable of the more recent translations.

Theologically, this volume is rooted in The Apostles’ Creed. This begins repeating the Apostles’ Creed twice on the first two pages: first to merely print it out, as it might be in a hymnal. The next page then prints it out phrase by phrase, highlighting key verses supporting each thought or concept. Following these verses will provide a brief devotional on that phrase or concept. The devotional thoughts are not overly deep - but deep enough and practical enough that a teen will be encouraged to ask why each concept might apply to life. Just prior to Easter I completed a sermon series on The Apostles’ Creed - having these devotional thoughts would have been handy during my sermon preparation.

A number of sidebars add additional value to the book - a series of “Dear Jordan” letters, similar to the 1970’s “Dear Abby” newspaper columns, ask questions that might be avoided by some teens. A series of Bible trivia questions (actually, questions are paired - a trivia question and a challenge question) run throughout the text. Practical advice is provided throughout in sections entitled “Instant Access”. As might be expected, Book Introductions and Bible Maps are provided. The introductions seem a bit weak for what most teens could use; the maps are comparable to the eight page Bible maps found in most Bibles.

My biggest complaint for any Study Bible is the lack of an index providing access to the included helps. This complaint does not apply to this Bible - two indexes make the material accessible. The first index focuses on the typical Biblical themes a teen might find of interest: e.g. creation, prayer, spiritual gifts, etc. The second index draws attention to issues that challenge the modern teen: e.g dating, doubts, gangs, etc.

Along with the two indexes, there is a cheat sheet provide that allows the Bible reader to mark exactly which chapters have read. Though no formal reading plan is provided, guidelines are given for reading the Bible through in one or two years. Also include is a simple table of weights and measures used by the authors of scripture.

I would not recommend this Bible as a graduation gift for the High School student - it is aimed a slightly younger audience. I would recommend it as a gift for the student starting sixth grade through the start of high school. It would also be a suitable birthday or Christmas gift for the pre-teen or teen entering these grades from parents, grandparents, or the church family. I will provide my copy to a Nepalese ministry that shares facilities and ministries with my home church.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

NKJV Study Bible (Personal Size) - A Review

NKJV Study  Bible
Personal Size
NKJV Study Bible.cover.jpg
Dr. Earl D. Radmacher
General Editor
Dr. Ronald B. Allen
Old Testament Editor
Dr. H. Wayne House
New Testament Editor

A Review

Because the NKJV Study Bible has now been out for a number of years and has been reviewed by others, my purpose in writing this review is not to review the contents of the NKJV Study Bible. If I did, it would be a five star review. My purpose of writing this review is to examine the “Personal Size” edition provided for review.

When first given the opportunity to review this edition of the NKJV Study Bible I was concerned given the small size of the Bible. I was pleasantly surprised that the text (even footnotes) is very readable, and the images are sharp. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the text will be difficult to read in low light, but this is not the case in normal lighting. The text may be difficult to use a highlighter on (the paper is a bit thin). I have gotten into the practice of using Crayola Twistables as my main highlighter for Bibles (hey, crayon does not bleed through), but the highlight may be too big for the text used in the Bible.

The Bible is the complete NKJV Study Bible - all 2300+ pages of it. It is the right size to fit in a briefcase or backpack to use when away from my larger library. A number of months ago I went looking for just such a Bible. At the time I settled on a slightly larger version of a Catholic Bible - the Personal Size NKJV Study Bible would have serve as an excellent choice, if it had been available at the time. I honestly do not know which I would have chosen - the list price of the Catholic study Bible is half that of the version being reviewed. It would also served as a helpful addition to my collection of study Bibles since I already owned a hardback version of the NKJV Study Bible. I may end up carrying both as I travel.

If you are looking for a relative low cost study Bible for your use or as a gift (note there is a didication page included just inside the front cover), this compact size but complete study Bible may serve the purpose.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Framed to Death - A Review

Framed To Death
Framed to Death Cover.jpg
Christina Freeburn

A Review

High school football, Illicit drugs, and arson, do not mix. Yet that is what faces the residents of Eden, a small town that appears nothing like its namesake.

Suspects include high school students, the football coach, local entrepreneurs, and police officers, all appear as possible suspects. It would take the work of Faith Hunter, an ex-husband, her grandmothers, friends, and the local police chief, to solve the crime before more murders and stores could go up in flames.

Like most books coming from Henery Press, Framed to Death was enjoyable and fun. But it was not the book I kept wanting to return to - finding excuses to watch another hour of TV or lay down to sleep, rather than picking up the book to finish what should have been a fascinating story. The story seemed to drag a bit more than others - at least for this reader. Thus the book, is good, is not great.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Disaster Ministry Handbook - A Review

Disaster Ministry Handbook
Disaster Ministry Handbook.jpg
Jamie D. Aten
David M. Boan

A Review

Disasters come in many forms. The authors break them into four categories:

  1. Natural Disasters
  2. Technological and Accidental Hazards
  3. Terrorist Hazards
  4. Public Health Emergencies

The author then goes on to discuss the various phases disaster response must respond to in the initial hours after being identified through the days, weeks, months that follow. Rarely is a local church, according to the authors, prepared to make a planned response to such urgent disasters. This book is designed to assist the local church to make advance preparation in order to support its members and community.  At the same time it will want to dovetail its response to other responders (United Way, Salvation Army, first responders. etc.) in the community.
The book is designed for the church leadership (starting with the pastor, regardless of the church size) as they prepare a local response in their community - but part of that job is identifying members of the church family that can contribute to the church’s response. This would include health professionals, first responders, mental health providers, etc., who are part of the congregation. This represents the second audience for which the book is intended. Ultimately, the book is designed to assist the team that the local church will need to build in order to respond - both its leadership and those trained to work alongside.

The book not only builds a solid case for the church’s involvement in disaster recovery, but also provides practical tools to create a local church disaster response plan and how to integrate that response into that being provide by others in a given community, whether government or non-profit organizations.  

The authors present an new opportunity for local churches to minister within their local communities with the love of Christ during what can be some of the darkest times in that community’s life.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Double Knot - A Review

Double Knot
Double Knot.jpg
Gretchen Archer

A Review

Having read a number of Gretchen Archer books, I expected to like this one. But it was not the book that excited me. It was the boat (err … ship) that the Bellissimo Resort made available to its patrons that really attracted me. In fact, I would encourage Henery Press to include a one week vacation on board as the prize in its next drawing.  

Here are the amenities - 50 state rooms/suites each furnished with its own chef and butler. In addition there are 17 restaurants on board, a submarine for extra vehicular excursions. And there is the obligatory casino. My only requirement would be not to be locked into my suite with a serial murderer who is trying to rob the other travelers blind.  

Of course that is where the very pregnant David (that is “Davis”, stupid) Way found herself. She also found herself impersonating the resorts manager’s wife, Bianca Sanders, also pregnant and not wanting any publicity that was not impersonated by Davis Way. It was a lot for a casino security specialist to handle for a day, not to say for the week.

Though I have only been privileged to be on one cruise, I want the next one to be on the Bellissimo’s newest addition, The Probability.  If that cruise was as funny as the book, as exciting as the caper, and as fancy as its maiden cruise, my wife and I would never want to deboard.

My opportunity to board this boat (I mean ship) is slim, but the opportunity to read the book was a hoot. Though it has taken me an extra two to three weeks to write the review, I could not put the book down as I read it. Whether the reader is a fan of cozy mysteries, casinos, or cruise ships, I expect this would make the perfect spring or summer read. The reader will laugh, worry, and celebrate as the protagonists find their way out of the locked room - you will get to visit the submarine, taste some the food provided in the room, and solve the mystery of the Double Knot.  
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kids' Quest Study Bible

Kids’ Quest Study Bible

New International Reader’s Version

A Review

Originally published in 2005, The Kids’ Quest Study Bible remains one of the better choices for 3rd through 8th graders wanting a deeper understanding of scripture than given by the standard “children’s Bible”.  The Bible text is in blue type; notes and sidebars are presented in various shades of blue and orange. The translation used is an easy reader version of the NIV called the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV). This translation is suitable for both young readers and for any person learning English (e.g. students of English as a Second Language).

Notes are presented as questions (see the attached sample).  Brief answers are given, including suggested Bible references for further study. Though designed for children, the questions and answers may be of help to new believers of all ages.

A variety of additional helps are also included. Each book opens with a series of questions introduce the book. For example, Obadiah opens with the following four questions:

1. Who wrote this book?
2. Why was this book written?
3. What do we learn about God in this book?
4. When was this book written?

Each book ends with a “Quest Clue” or a “Quest Challenge” to encourage the reader to study or think deeper about the book. These will be particularly helpful for the older child or reader.

I will be pleased to donate my review copy to the Nepalese ministry associated with my local church. I expect that  it will be given to a child associated with that ministry, but could just as well be used by an adult or family that is unfamiliar with all of the nuances of the English language.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Chronological Study Bible - A Review

The Chronological Study Bible is first of all an rearrangement of the Biblical text into its chronological order rather than its canonical order. But, beyond this, additional notes and helps add considerable value to this tome. A number of comments may help the reader understand its value.

It should noted that this book has not been updated since 2008. I own a personal copy of the 1st printing of this work; I was provided a copy of the 15th printing for the purpose of creating this review.  The two editions are page for page exacting the same with two exceptions. First, the new edition adds two reading plans for reading the Bible Chronologically - a one year plan and a two year plan. The two plans are exactly the same, except that in the two-year plan, each suggested reading is allocated to two days, rather than a single day.

The second change is the addition of a new set of maps. The first printing uses maps copyrighted in 1983 by Thomas Nelson. The fifteenth printing uses maps copyrighted in 2008 by GeoNova.
This reviewer noted one additional difference between the 1st printing and the 15th printing. Though not part of the Bible itself, the purchase of the newest printing of the Chronological Study Bible allows the user to download an additional 500 pages of Bible study materials. This material is available separately (if one wanted to purchase it), but it does add value to the purchase.

With the exception of these three changes, all comments apply equally to both the earlier edition and the latest edition provided for review.

A number of useful indexes are included as part of this Bible:

  • Cultural and Historical Topics
  • A Glossary
  • An extensive Concordance
  • An Index of Scripture Passages - allowing the reader to find the page number for each passage of scripture

It should be noted that the concordance is a bit difficult to use. As with most concordances, the user is pointed to the passage where the words are used. But since the Bible is not in Canonical order, the user will need to consult the Scripture Passage Index to find the page where that passages is actually located.

The editor has divided the Biblical timeline into nine “epochs” - six epochs focus on the Old Testament, one epoch focuses on the intertestamental period, two epochs are devoted to the New Testament. These are consistent in the table of contents, in the body of the work, and in the reading plans. Along with the rearranging of the Bible text, a good many notes and other helps are included.

The volume that I was sent for review was nicely bound in grey and navy “Leathersoft” imitation leather cover. This material is said to have the longest life expectancy of the various leather and leather like materials used for binding books. The pages of Bible are quite thin, which is not in itself a problem, but the pages stuck together. It took more effort than one might expect to separate those pages; though once separated, the pages were easy to manipulate and read.

Provided a pastor does not own an earlier edition of The Chronological Study Bible, this volume would make an excellent gift for a pastor or any serious student of the Bible. Thus it would make a suitable graduation gift for the college or seminary graduate.  The Bible would also make an excellent addition to a local church library.  

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.