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Where is God when I am suffering

Where is God when I am suffering

The following Pathfinder Discipleship Guide focuses on one of the most commonly asked questions that people bring to pastors: Where is God when I am suffering? Does He even care?  I pray that the points which follow will bless you and be of help and comfort.

 

  1. A possible explanation for suffering: Suffering can help us to identify sin in our lives and also avoid it. (Job 36:1-21)

  2. A prayer in time of anguis (Psalm 22)

  3. God’s Compassion: Via the Prophet Isaiah, God tells all of his people througout all time that He will have compassion on them and bring their suffering to a close. (Isaiah 49:8-1)

  4. Jesus promises us both suffering and peace, we will overcome the world because He did first (John 16:33)

  5. God promises us that we will share in future glory with Him (Romans 8:15-20)

  6. Help in our times of need: Since Jesus has come to Earth and lived among us, he understands our struggle and we can come to Him for help in our suffering (Hebrews 4:15-16)

  7. God is sovereign, cares for us, and will see us thtough (1 Peter 5:6-10)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you have given us your Holy Spirit to be with us until you come. When we suffer, will you have Him bring your Scritpture to our minds and let us feel His comforting presence. Most importantly, when we suffer, help us to use that suffering to bring glory to Your Name. Amen

Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

 

 

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NIV Celebrate Recovery Study Bible 30th Anniversary Edition

 

 

This is a review that I have been very excited to write given that I have a connection to this Bible. 16 years ago, I entered Celebrate Recovery and, through their ministry and discipleship, gained victiory over being a functional alcoholic, all by the grace and power of Jesus and His gospel.  Note: Zondervan provided this copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review and my opinions are my own.

 

Translation

As you no doubt guessed from the title, The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible uses the New International Version, the best seling English Bible in the world.

 

More than in any other Bible that Zondervan offers, the NIV is the ideal choice for this Bible. Addicts come from a wide range of backgrounds and education levels so the easy to read and understand NIV Bible is an ideal choice for reaching a broad audience. NIV is a phenomenal choice for discipleship as most of the commentaries on the market, most of the handbooks, and most of the dictionaries are based on the NIV. There is a host of rescources available to make the life changing message of the Bible come to life.

 

Features

 

Articles explain eight recovery principles and accompanying Christ-centered twelve steps

The 12 Steps and the 8 recovery principles are a discipleship program, no more and no less. The explanatory articles guiod the reader through building a life pleasing to God and free from addiction.

 

Over 110 lessons unpack eight recovery principles in practical terms

These lessons, which I recommend taking two per week, make the discipleship process more intentional and help you to understand the process as well has how the Lord is using the steps to transform your life.

 

30 days of devotional readings

The devotionals help you to gain a foundation of discipline as you begin your new life. They take you through all of the steps in the recovery process.

 

Over 50 full-page biblical character studies are tied to stories from real-life people who have found peace and help with their own hurts, hang-ups and habits

 

Book introductions

Among other things, the Introductions provide a theme, a challenge, an encouragement, and a reflection point. The CRSB is designed to be one of the most practical study Bibles on the market so it is not inundated with a lot of historical background or commentary. It simply provides practical tools for life change. 

Side-column reference system keyed to the eight recovery principles

This particular reference set, goes through each of the recovery principles so that you are able to follos the principle throughout the Bible.

 

Cover and binding

This is  a softcover edition. It is designed primarily for affordability. Given its focus on affordability, it does have a sewn binding.

Paper

The paper is quite opaque for such an affordable Bible. There is no ghosting at all. You could easily use just about any writing instrument for your notes.

Can I use this on my own?

Can you? Yes. Should you? No. Neither recovery nor the Christian Life are designed to be solo endeavors. We are called the Household of the Faithful, the Sheep of God’s Pasture, Disciples of Christ, and, many other names all of which speak to community, We learn from each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other as part  of the recovery process. Victory is more likely when standing with others instead of standing alone.

Is it just for addicts?

Nope, it is not just for addicts and, yet, in a very real sense, there is not any other kind of person. We all suffere from an addiction to sinning and need help to unpack how the truths of Scripture can transform your life.

No matter what you struggle with, the Celebrate Recovery Study Bible offers help, hope, and healing through the transforming power of one simple message: Jesus saves sinners and will transform your life for His glory.

Final Thoughts

The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible is one of the most practically helpful Bible offered by Zondervan. The principles and steps, when paired with Scripture, truly offer the freedom that so many crave. I can tell you from personal experience that the motto of AA is very true, “It works if you work it.” This study Bible is very much a discipleship tool that should be carried not only by addicts but by Biblical Counselors, Social Workers, Pastors, Deacons and anyone else who meets messed up people in their daily lives.

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

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Known for bringing very high quality KJV Bibles to market at incredible prices, Trinitarian Bible Society has done it again. The have refreshed their Large Print Family Presentation Bible with an upgrage to one of their most popular Bibles, now bringing  the  Windsor text into a large print edition.

(TBS provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review only an honest one and my opinions are my own.)

 Cover & Binding

My review copy has the black ironed calfskin cover, a change from the very textured cover on the Large Print Family Presentation Bible. It is Meriva Calfskin. To the best of my knowledge, this is the same ironed calfskin that can be found on the unrivalled perfection that is the Westminster Reference Bible. The paste down liner was rather a surprise. I had expected it to make the cover a little more stiff such as with the Large Print Family Presentation Bible. While it does make the cover more sturdy, it is still more limp and supple than other Bibles I own with a paste down liner.

The text block is smythe sewn as is the case will all TBS Bibles. As I have said in almost every review I have ever written, a sewn text block is an essential feature in a quality Bible; it is this feature that helps the Bible to last across generations.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is crisp white but rather thin allowing modest show through (also called ghosting). The paper does have a minor issue, there is some page curl. The page curl is not severe enough to be challenging but I do find it mildly irritating.

We are given a plain text Bible, laid out in a double column verse by verse format. The 11-point font is crisp and very deep ebony. I do not know of TBS making a red-letter edition of the  Bible and this is no exception, a black letter text all the way through. The font is more of a semi-bold as opposed to the blackface/bold font style of the former Family Bible.

For Preaching/Teaching

This is an excellent Bible for preaching and teaching. The verse by verse format makes it very easy to locate the passage of Scripture you wish to use. Truth be told, I prefer the previous version of the Large Print Family Bible series. Please do not take that to mean that I have any dislike for the Large Print Windsor.

I very much enjoy the Windsor for daily reading but I find the older edition easier on the eyes with its very bold black format.

The Large Print Windsor will lay open on a pulpit or other type of lectern quite easily. It is also light enough to be used with one hand, which is especially handy if one is peripatetic.

For daily use

At less than an inch thick and weighing in at a little over a pound, the Large Print Windsor  is very practical for daily carry.

I am not sure that I would recommend writing in this Bible, unless it was done in pencil.

Should you buy

As I said  earlier this is an excellent Bible. You cannot go wrong  owning it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this Bible is representative of everything I have come to expect from Trinitarian Bible Society. If TBS ever makes a wide margin Bible this would be the perfect choice. If they don’t, this is still a solid choice of KJV to own.

NLT Helpfinder Bible

NLT Helpfinder Bible

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Currently offered by both Tyndale House and Guideposts, the Helpfinder Bible is one of the most practical Bibles you can invest in. (Tyndale House sent me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one; my opinions are my own.)

 

The HelpFinder Bible updates the NLT Touchpoints Bible, which paired a very helpful topical index with an incredibly easy to understand text of Scripture. Here is some information from Guideposts about the Helpfinder Bible:

 

Let God’s Word help erase your fears and comfort and encourage you during difficult times.

The HelpFinder Bible brings you God’s Word at your point of need so you can easily find the exact Scripture that speaks to your heart. When we’re faced with life’s challenges, our own stress sometimes makes it hard to find the right Scripture to bring us peace. But now, you can find the comfort and help you need instantly with the HelpFinder Bible. This beautiful Guideposts edition will help you build your faith with the Promises of God. You’ll always be able to find just the right Scripture to calm your fears, erase your worries, and increase your Biblical knowledge. You’ll turn to the HelpFinder Bible again and again to:

  • Get instant access to thousands of notes and verses on more than 100 “life-needs” with a comprehensive index.
  • Discover the healing wisdom of God’s Word on key topics from betrayal and burnout to debt, discouragement, and divorce…to emptiness and frustration to grief, guilt, and healing…to loneliness to regrets, stress, and so much more.
  • Learn how the truths you read in God’s Word apply to your personal situation.
  • Soothe your soul and work through your emotions as you read the Psalms.
  • Find introductions to each book of the Bible that include: an overview emphasizing its core messages, key themes, and verses, plus an at-a-glance outline.

 

Cover Options

Guideposts offers the NLT Helpfinder Bible in paperback but in a larger format with a 9-point font for easy reading. The Tyndale House Edition is available in paperback, e-book, hardback, and imitation leather. I am reviewing the black imitation leather edition from Tyndale House publishers. Surprisingly, the Helpfinder Bible comes with a sewn binding for enhanced durability.

Paper and Font

The paper is soft white, which is helpful in reducing glare and makes for easier reading. My colleagues tell me that the gsm for the paper is somewhere in the mid 30s. It is also fairly opaque.

We have a red letter edition, here, and the redi is nicely done. It is not as dark as I would prefer but it is fairly consistent. It does not devolve into pink like what happens with many other red letter editions.

The font is a little smallish for my taste, approximately 8-point in the Tyndale Edition and 9-point in the Guideposts Edition.

 

Helpfinder Index

The Helpfinder Index bills itself as bringing God’s word to your point of need and it does this very well. The Helpfinder Index  is a topical study guide which runs to 368 pages. Each topic comes with an introductory paragraph, several questions related to the topic as well as answers from Scripture. It is very similar, in concept, to the NASB or Amplified Topical Reference Bibles. To be clear, the Helpfinder Index is not as in-depth as either Nave’s or MacArthur’s Topical Bibles but I do not want you to think  of that as a drawback; Unlike those resources, the Helpfinder Bible is not primarily geared toward pastors. Instead it is geared toward the average person in the pew who wants to let God’s Word minister at a point of need.

While I do advocate doing your own study, you could actually follow the Helpfinder Index and ready-made lessons for Sunday School or the Sunday Sermon.

 

Application Notes

There are 500 application notes provided to help you apply the truths of Scripture to your life. They appear to be very abbreviated versions of what you find in the Life Application Study Bible.

The Application Notes are found in a grey and red box at the bottom of the page. Each note is a simple paragraph; I would recommend pairing with the either the Life Application Stud Bible or the NLT Study Bible to go deeper with the notes and topical guides.

 

Promises from God

Promises from God are in red letters (but they are marked out with “Promises from God in black letters). Each one contains a promise from God, Psalm 23:4 for example.

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions are a couple paragraphs related to application points in the text of Scripture.

What You Will Be Reading About

This section is essentially an outline of the book. They are not super detailed but they do bring out the major points of each book.

Key Verses

This section highlights the verses from each book of the Bible which are helpful to memorize.

 

Overall Thoughts

This will be a very practical tool for someone who is new to the study of Scripture. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of topical study but there is a place for it. Life offers us tough questions and the Bible is completely sufficient for answering those questions, especially when you have the help of the Helpfinder Index.

 

Do I recommend it? Yes. If you are looking for helpful ways to apply the Bible to your life, this is a great stepping stone Bible. If you are looking for a solid topical reference Bible, you have found an ideal choice.

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

The Abide Bible and Journals are a very interesting offering from Thomas Nelson. They are not a study Bible system and neither are they a devotional system. Rather, I would describe them as a personal worship system. The Abide Bible is offered in both New King James Version (NKJV) and New English Translation (NET) and the Abide Bible Journals are offered with the NET. In this article we will review the Abide Bible in the NET alongside the 1st and 2nd Peter journal. (Both Bible and journal were provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are my own.)

 

 

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Abide Bible_Thomas Nelson Official Page

Abide Bible-Taylor University

From Thomas Nelson on the Abide Bible Journal

The Abide Bible Journals are designed to help you experience the presence of God and grow in your relationship with Him as you read and interact in Scripture. Each volume contains a book or section of Scripture in a clean, single-column format along with powerful passage-specific journaling prompts. And most important, right within the Word, lightly lined pages invite you to respond to what you’ve read and abide with God in active prayer and reflective response through the act of putting pen to paper.

The prompts within the text are based on four ways of engaging deeply with the Bible:

Praying Scripture: Pattern your prayers after biblical texts

Picture It: Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant

Journal: Focus and reflect on Scripture and its meaning for your life

Contemplate: Follow the simple 4-step practice of feasting in God’s Word

 

The Concept:

The concept for the Abide Bible comes from John 15:4,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

As I understand from Thomas Nelson, the Abide Bible is designed to take you beyond simple reading of the Bible and to move you into the arena of actually living the Bible; having a vital, active relationship with Holy Scripture and more importantly, its author.

 

The Translation

I am reviewing the New English Translation. I have commented on this translation before, if you will recall, I rather like it. NET is a meaning based (dynamic equivalent/thought-for-thought) translation completed by the students and faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary. They Full Notes Edition carries with it all 68,000 translators’ notes, a fact which makes in the most heavily annotated English Bible available.

 

Many of my colleagues will say that a meaning based translation is not suitable for study but in the case of the Full Notes Edition, I could not disagree more. It is designed for study.

 

In the case of the Abide Bible, the footnotes are not provided, not that such a deprivation would negatively impact your experience with the Bible. While I love the NKJV, I think that the NET is a better choice for the Abide Bible. Given its intended use, I want a translation that does not require me to reach for a lexicon but instead, I want a translation that feels like I am with friend, which you definitely will get from the NET. I am also quite glad that the journals are in the NET Translation for the same reason, I want something that is easy to use.

 

Cover and Binding

The journal is softcover with an adhesive binding. I would have preferred to see a hardcover option but I understand that it would be enormously impractical given the groupings of the books.

 

The Abbie Bible that I was sent is the brown leathersoft. Thomas Nelson has really stepped up their game with their imitation leathers. Having handled many leathers over the years, I could tell from the touch that it is not real leather but I am not sure most people would pick up on that-it is very convincing. The binding appears to be sewn. I am glad to see sewn bindings return to the Thomas Nelson Lineup. Sewn bindings wil, literally, last you a lifetime of use.

 

Paper Layout and Font in the Journal.

The paper is a crisp white but not so bright as to cause glare. It performs very well in most light settings, including the Arizona sun, which is quite unforgiving.

On the left page we have the text of Scripture in a single column. On the right page we have the Abide Journaling Prompts and a lined column for journaling. Following the last page of journaling prompts we have an additional 15 lined pages for additional thoughts.

The font in the journal is quite a bit larger for the Scripture portion than what is found in the Abide Bible. I would gauge it at 9-point font while the journaling prompts come in at 8-point. Both, though, are quite readable.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font in the Bible

I am told that the paper is 36 gsm. You can see that it is quite opaque so it should work rather well for marking, highlighting, or journaling. There is a little bit of a newspaper texture to the paper which makes it rather easy to turn the pages.

Unlike the NKJV edition, this is a black letter Bible. The text is laid out in single column paragraph format, which is ideal for the intended use of the Abide Bible.

The Abide Prompts are in the outer column. Many of the pages, I would guess about half, include ample space for journaling.

Helps and Prompts

Introductions

 Each Introduction includes the usual material  including historical and literary context. It also adds a section called Prepare which is designed to help you to engage with Scripture.

Journaling Through Scripture

This section is not for a personal journal or even prayer requests. Instead, guided prompts help you to interact with scripture and to record/catalogue insights that you gather. Journaling is a critical component of Inductive Study which is the essential method to understand and internalize the Scripture.

Engage Through Artwork

“Consider a classic piece of art—photograph, sculpture, painting—and let it deepen your meditations on scriptural truths.” The Bible, itself, is art; it is God’s masterpiece and has inspired countless artistic works over the years. The artwork provided does not simply help us to visualize what we see in scripture, it spurs us on to worship by bringing the text to life.

 

Praying the Scripture

“Pattern your prayers after biblical texts, personalizing the prayer and gaining language for the thoughts and emotions you want to express.” This is a similar concept to the Prayer Book used by some denominations. Many of us do not really know how to pray but the Abide Bible helps to guide us through the process.

Picture It

“Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant in important events.” The Bible IS literature, among other things, and the best literature invites us into the story. We identify with the characters and, on varying levels, the story speaks to us.

Contemplate

We are given a  4-step practice of reading, meditating on, praying, and contemplating a passage of Scripture.

Assorted Articles

There are some articles explaining how to engage with Scripture, studying vs engaging, and why we read the Bible. These are more of background material rather than what will take you through the process.

 

Final Thoughts

The Abide Bible and Journal  is an excellent resource when used as a complete system. Could you use each one separately? Yes but they are better together.

My preference is for the NKJV for study and teaching though the NET will do quite well for understanding and internalizing the Scripture.

It is important to remember that this will take time and discipline, but this is to be expected; nothing worth having comes easily. I think you, dear reader, will enjoy the Abide Bible and Journal and they will help you with your growth.

The NIV Open Bibles

The NIV Open Bibles

 

Following the 2019 and relaunch of the NKJV and KJV Editions of The Open Bible, Thomas Nelson has FINALLY released the NIV Edition of the Open Bible, an edition that I have been waiting 20 years for and some have been waiting nearly 40 years to launch

 

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Disclaimer:  Thomas Nelson sent one black imitation leather with thumb indexing free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Some information from Thomas Nelson

Product Description

The Open Bible is a great way to explore Scripture with the tools and helpful information that you need to understand it better. It features an easy-to-use topical index of over 8,000 names, places, concepts, events and doctrines. It also includes book introductions and outlines to with information on the historical context and themes of each book in the Bible. The Open Bible is sure to help you glean more from God’s Word.

Features include:

  • Topical index with 8,000 plus names, places, concepts, events, and doctrines
  • Book introductions and outlines provide historical context and themes of each book in the Bible
  • References include both verse and page number
  • Visual Survey of the Bible
  • 9-point print size

 

Layout

We will start with the biggest change first…The layout has always been a double column verse by verse format and that has not changed. Happily, in the NIV Edition, Nelson returned to not having a center column full of references.

There are 3 types of notes, each of which is laid out differently. Translators footnotes are found at the bottom of the right column. References, separated by a solid black line, are located at the bottom of the page, similar to what you will find in the NKJV Preaching Bible, except when there is a section of expositional notes. When expositional notes are provided, the references are placed into a box above the notes.

My review copy includes Nelson’s readily identifiable half-moon thumb indexing tabs.

Cover, Ribbons and Binding

I’m reviewing the imitation leather one but there are also genuine leather and hardcover versions available as well. The text block appears to be sewn as the Bible does not have any issues lying flat where I open it. There is some cockling (that popcorn sound) when you open the book. The cockling sound is a little irritating but it is not overly terrible. Like the NKJV, the cockling sound will go away with more use. We receive two ribbon markers for your daily OT and NT reading.

Font

We have Nelson’s Comfort Print series in 9-point font. The Open Bible is a red-letter edition and the red is really well done. Different publishers will often have trouble with the red lettering but Nelson executed quite nicely; The red letters are deep and rich.  For most people the font should be very easy to read.

The NIV Edition is, to my eyes, more readable than its NKJV cousin, even though it is not verse by verse like its counterpart. With the center column removed, the page looks less busy and if, like me, you need glasses, you will find this much easier to read.

Biblical Cyclopedic Index, now called The Topical Index

This is the standout feature of the Open Bible but it had been renamed for 2019 and is now called the Topical Index. There are 8000 entries cataloguing various topics in scripture. I have always found this to be most useful. It is very similar to the indexing that Kirkbride does with the Thompson but its keyed to NIV Reference System.

I would argue that this is one of the most important features in the NIV Open Bible. Many teachers lack resources for lesson preparation and this Topical Index easily provides a lifetime of lesson preparation material

Paper

The paper is surprising. It is fairly heavy (maybe 30-34 gsms) and quite opaque. This would work really well with colored pencils or with very fine tipped liquid highlighters.

We have similar paper in the NIV and NKJV editions BUT the paper is much less ostentatiously white in the NIV. That, coupled with the darker black in the NIV font makes readability much less of a chore.

Christ in the Scripture

Each book introduction includes a section showing how that book portrays Christ and shows Him throughout the whole of Redemptive History.

Survey

Each introduction also includes a brief survey of the book to be studied. The survey provides an overall summary of the book to be studied.

Exegetical and Expository Notes

Unlike most Study Bibles, the notes in the Open Bible are not commentary but exegetical and expositional in nature. The notes give you a solid foundation for your exegesis of Scripture.

Additional Helps 

The Front and Back Matter includes the Following Articles and Charts

How to Study the Bible

Christian’s Guide to the New Life

Guide to Christian Workers

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Harmony of the Gospels

Laws of the Bible

Miracles of Jesus

Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Christ.

Parables of Jesus

As a Preaching Bible

The Open Bible’s size leaves it ideally suited to preaching ministry, it is challenging for my bifocals and I. A pastor who is not visually impaired should not have any issues. 

Overall Thoughts

The Open Bible is a Bible which I have enjoyed regularly in the past. Overall it will be something I will continue to enjoy.

I am quite glad to see that my dissatisfactions have been addressed. It has been worth waiting 20 years for an NIV Edition.

 

Tony Evans Bible Commentary Review

Tony Evans Bible Commentary Review

 

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I had, previously, written on the Tony Evans Study Bible and now we are reviewing the other component of the Tony Evans Study Set, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Note: Unlike the Tony Evans Study Bible, this was NOT provided by Holman for the purposes of a review; I sourced it at my own expense.

Notable fact: The Tony Evans Bible Commentary has a unique place in history as the 1st Bible commentary to be compiled and edited by an African American, Dr. Tony Evans.

Prefatory Remark:

I have certain theological disagreements with Dr. Evans (I am a Calvinist where he, clearly is not.) BUT I value the experiences that Dr. Evans brings to the table both as a person of color and as a pastor focused on the needs of the urban church. Dr. Evans’ emphasis on living the Kingdom Life really resonates with me. As Dispensationalists we are often accused of not being focused on current realities of the Divine Kingdom and Dr. Evans really blows that claim right out of the water as he teaches us to be aware of both the coming physical and political reign of Christ and the realities of living as Christ’s Kingdom Emissaries in the world.

Translation Used

Unlike most commentaries, the Tony Evans Bible Commentary is based on the Christian Standard Bible. I am quite glad to see this as several other translations offer a broad array of commentaries.

CSB as you will remember, is a mediating translation, which is to say that falls in the middle of being fastidiously literal and meaning based.

Cover and Binding

This is a jacketed hard cover with what appears to be an adhesive binding. Normally I prefer a sewn binding but that is frequently not done with commentaries.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper in the commentary is quite a bit thicker than in the Study Bible. It is a muted white and very opaque. While I don’t yet know if I will mark in it, you should have no issue with liquid highlighter, gel highlighter, colored pencil, or ball point pen.

The text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. It has a black letter text in around a 9.5-font. The text is broken up by the Outline as section headings, which are in a red letter font.

Supplemental Content

QR Codes

This is the first commentary that I have seen where QR codes are included. Each QR Code is linked to a video introduction provided by Dr. Evans and B&H Publishing. The videos are concise but fairly informative. The QR Codes are, actually, my favorite feature as they make the commentary more interactive, more personal, and less dry. I would like to see this feature carried on to other commentaries.

Introductions

Each book comes with a concise introduction, approximately 1-2 pages. They are nowhere near as detailed as in most other commentaries but they do cover the essentials: Author, Historical Background, Message and Purpose, and a brief outline. In this particular commentary, the concise introduction fits the overall intent of the commentary.

The format of the introductions is well suited for the person who is new to the study of the Bible.

Overview of Theology

Here, again, is a feature that is not often seen in a commentary but which is most useful to have. Virtually every commentator has a theological position from which he writes, in this case Dispensationalism. The inclusion of the Overview of Theology provides the reader an introduction to the commentators perspective as well as a lens through which to view the comments.

The late Dr. R.C. Sproul pointed out that everyone is a theologian at some level and it is clear that Dr. Evans agrees. We all have some form of theology and, in this case, the Overview of Theology helps the reader to lay out an orderly and systematic approach to that theology.

The Overview of Theology is very similar to the one Dr. MacArthur provides in his one volume commentary and his study Bible. In both cases, I am very glad to see it included. Helping our congregation to have a proper view of God is our foundational task as pastors.

Outlines on the Godhead

The entire purpose of the Scripture, and its study, is the understanding and glorification of the Godhead. Dr. Evans provides a basic outline of each Person of the Trinity to help us understand the Person, His role in Redemptive History, and how best to give Him glory.

This is a very important section to be included in any commentary. The most mysterious and inscrutable doctrine in the entire Bible is the doctrine of the Trinity. We cannot grasp this doctrine in its entirety and Dr. Evans does not try to get us to understand it. Rather, he provides clear and easily understandable teaching as to each person in the Trinity so that we understand the role of each and we are able to relate to them.

Topical Index

There is a brief Topical Index included. While a systematic study  of a book of the Bible is best, a topical study can provide an break in the intensity of your study. Also, the Topical Index helps with understanding how the Bible speaks to the issues of life.

Glossary of Doctrinal Terms

Many times in a commentary, we find unfamiliar terms. The inclusion of a glossary to define those terms is quite helpful.

Overall Thoughts

The Tony Evans Bible Commentary is not an academic commentary by any stretch of the imagination though that’s not a bad thing. It takes a fairly pastoral approach to the Scripture. The commentary notes are much more in-depth than the Study Bible but all of the notes from the Study Bible can be found in the commentary.

When pastoring a church as large as the one Dr. Evans pastors, it is very difficult to have one on one ministry with everyone which is where this commentary comes into play. The tone of the commentary is very personal. It comes across as though you and Dr. Evans were in his study and he was mentoring you through the Scripture.

I am very new to Dr. Evans and his teachings so I do not have many comments on his study material. I am pleased with the volume. I think it fills a need, one which we were, perhaps, not aware existed. Most commentaries are multi-volume and filled with theological language; even many single volume commentaries have this issue. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, taking a much more pastoral approach, sits alongside the MacArthur Bible Commentary (single volume) as one of the most understandable and readable commentaries currently available.

Who should buy this volume?

The Tony Evans Bible Commentary would be fairly well suited to most Christians, but it is most suited to the new Bible student. Generally, commentaries are geared toward pastors and seminary students. However, in this case the commentary is more pastoral than academic so I repeat myself  in saying just about any Christian will benefit from it.

 

 

NLT Giant Print Bible Review

NLT Giant Print Bible Review

 

The NLT Giant Print Reference Bible brings one of the most helpful English translations of the Bible to one of the most helpful formats, giant print. Before we continue the review, Tyndale House Publishers provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one, and my opinions are my own.

 

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The Translation

NLT is often confused with its predecessor, The Living Bible Paraphrased, but NLT is an actual translation. It is a Dynamic Equivalence Translation (Meaning Based). NLT usese the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Hebrew Text and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition and was translated by a team of 95 scholars across several denominations.

The English used is around 4th-6th Grade reading level. It is incredibly readable, making it one of the three best selling English translations of the Bible. In fact, it is one of the top two, rivalling NIV.

Is NLT good for teaching? Believe it or not, yes. Two-thirds of the world’s 800,000,000 English speakers have it as a second language. It is wonderful for teaching, so much so, that Oasis International, a ministry focused on resourcing African Christians, exclusively uses it

Cover and Binding

The edition that I am reviewing is teal leathersoft (a type of imitation leather) with a sewn binding and a paste down liner. The cover has a medium stiffness and is easy to hold in the hand,

Font

This is one of the largest fonts I have seen in a bible. It is a 14-point font on par with the monstrous Lexington font in the Giant Print ESV from Crossway. In the NLT, I have not encountered a more readable font. Tyndale really hit a sweet spot with the font size.

The black letter portions are very well done, a deep rich ebony. I hate to complain, it feels so ungrateful, but the red ink leaves a little to be desired. The red is not dim but it is not as dark as I would prefer. In the pulpit it does pose a little difficulty as the overhead lights tend to be severe and they cause the red letters to look faded out. On the other hand, in my reading chair, I had no issues. It is adequate for most situations but in the pulpit a black letter is preferable.

Paper and layout

I am not aware of an NLT in a verse-by-verse setting and this is no exception. This is a text only Bible laid out in paragraph format. There are no references at all but translation foot notes are provided at the bottom of the page. A solid black line separates the two columns of text with chapter numbers being very bold.

The paper is much improved over earlier editions. There is a tiny amount of show through but nowhere near as bad as in earlier editions. If you are going to mark, I recommend using Prismacolor brand colored pencils. In most Bibles you will get a good color without show through. The paper is bright white and it is very easy to turn the pages.

As a carry/reading Bibles

The Giant Print NLT is a 6”x9” Bible so it is considered full size. Is is relatively portable. Naturally, it is quite readable

For preaching and teaching

For the most part this does well for teaching and preaching. That being said, we must be candid and tell you that the type of lighting available will impact utility as a preaching and teaching Bible. There may be some fade out on the red letters.

Other Observations

There are no helps other than the translation footnotes and maps. A single teal ribbon marker is included for you to mark your progress in your reading plan. Bonded leather and thumb-indexed editions are available but I cannot find whether or not a black letter only edition exists.

Should you buy this Bible?

I cannot see any reason why not. Tyndale is really improving the quality of their Bibles as global adoption grows. I always recommend that teachers get the largest font which is practical for them and this Bible will fit the bill nicely.

 

 

 

Exodus Essentials Lesson Notes

Exodus Essentials Lesson Notes

Exodus- Story of Redemption

 

The message

Trust, obey and worship the redeeming, covenant-making God who is with us.

 

Storyline

In Exodus the Lord saved His people in a manner that foreshadowed the ministry of Jesus. First, He came to them while they were in bondage and freed them. He did so not on the basis of their good works, but by grace; withholding judgment when He saw the blood of a spotless lamb covering the doorposts of their homes (see Exodus 11–12). Then, after he saved them, God gave His people laws to govern them—on His terms, for their benefit—and called them to faithful obedience. Following that pattern, Jesus Christ died for His people while they were yet in bondage to sin (Romans 5:8) and freed all who will believe in Him through His death and resurrection. Then He made them new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) and taught them obedience (John 5:14–15). Given the similarities between the exodus and God’s plan to bring about the redemption of all who will believe in Him through Christ, it is no wonder Jesus told the Jews in Jerusalem, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46). 

Key Words in Exodus

Delivered: Hebrew natsal —3:8; 5:18; 21:13; 22:7,10,26; 23:31—this verb may mean either “to strip, to plunder” or “to snatch away, to deliver.” The word is often used to describe God’s work in delivering (3:8), or rescuing (6:6), the Israelites from slavery. Sometimes it signifies deliverance of God’s people from sin and guilt (Psalm 51:14). In 18:8–10, however, the word is a statement of God’s supremacy over the Egyptian pantheon of deities.

Consecrate: Hebrew qadash —28:3,41; 29:9,33,35; 30:30; 32:29—this verb means “to make holy,” “to declare distinct,” or “to set apart.” The word describes dedicating an object or person to God. By delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God made the nation of Israel distinct. Through His mighty acts of deliverance, God demonstrated that the Israelites were His people, and He was their God (6:7). By having the people wash themselves at Mount Sinai, the Lord made it clear that He was claiming a special relationship with them (19:10).

Washing: Hebrew rachats —2:5; 19:10; 29:4,17; 30:18,21; 40:12,30— washing or bathing. The term was used in both religious and cultural settings. The ancient custom of washing a guest’s feet was a part of hospitality still practiced in the New Testament period (Genesis 18:4; John 13:5). Ritual washing was an important step in the purification of the priests for service in the Tabernacle (40:12). Washing with water symbolized spiritual cleansing, the preparation necessary for entering God’s presence (Psalm 26:6; 73:13). The Old Testament prophets used this imagery of repentance (Isaiah 1:16; Ezekiel 16:4). In the New Testament, Paul describes redemption in Christ as “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5).

Key Verses: Exodus 6:6; 19:5, 6—“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments’” (6:6).

“‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’” (19:5, 6).

Key Chapters: Exodus 12–14—The climax of the entire Old Testament is recorded in chapters 12–14: the salvation of Israel through blood (the Passover) and through power (the Red Sea). The Exodus is the central event of the Old Testament as the Cross is of the New Testament.

Key People in Exodus

Moses —author of the Pentateuch and deliverer of Israel from Egyptian slavery (2–40)

Miriam —prophetess and older sister of Moses (2:7; 15:20–21)

Pharaoh’s daughter —the princess who rescued baby Moses from the water and adopted him (2:5–10)

Jethro —Midian shepherd who became Moses’ father-in-law (3:1; 4:18; 18:1–12)

Aaron —brother of Moses and first high priest of Israel (4:14–40:31)

Pharaoh —unnamed Egyptian leader at the time of the Exodus (5:1–14:31)

Joshua —assistant to Moses and military leader who led Israel into the Promised Land (17:9–14; 24:13; 32:17; 33:11) 

Key Doctrines in Exodus

Covenant promises —God’s promise to Abraham to preserve his heritage forever (12:1–3,7,31–42; Genesis 17:19; Leviticus 26:45; Judges 2:20; Psalm 105:38; Acts 3:25)

The nature of God —human beings cannot understand God completely but can come to know Him personally (3:7; 8:19; 34:6–7; 2 Samuel 22:31; Job 36:26; Matthew 5:48; Luke 1:49–50)

The Ten Commandments —the basic truths of God (20:1–17; 23:12; Leviticus 19:4,12; Deuteronomy 6:14; 7:8–9; Nehemiah 13:16–19; Isaiah 44:15; Matthew 5:27; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 13:14; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 5:3,5)

God’s Character in Exodus

God is accessible —24:2; 34:4–7

God is glorious —15:1,6,11; 33:18–23; 34:5–7

God is good —34:6

God is gracious —34:6

God is holy —15:11

God is long-suffering —34:6

God is merciful —34:6,7

God is all-powerful —6:3; 8:19; 9:3,16; 15:6,11–12

God is provident —15:9–19

God is true —34:6

God is unequaled —9:14

God is wise —3:7

God is wrathful —7:20; 8:6,16,24; 9:3,9,23; 10:13,22; 12:29; 14:24,27; 32:11,35

Points to consider/Teaching Points

Exodus demonstrates that rescue from bondage is accomplished only by God. The Israelites could not save themselves from oppression, nor from plagues, nor from the pursuing Egyptians, nor from their own folly; but God could.

The plagues overcame aspects of nature that the Egyptians thought their gods controlled. Through the plagues, including the ultimate plague of death, God showed his power over Egypt’s non-existent “gods” (12:12).

Exodus emphasizes the need of a covenant relationship with God. (No rules? No relationship!) God desires to shape us in his image, requiring obedience to him as evidence of faith in him (Jas 2:14-18).

The presence of God is another major theme: God wants us to enjoy him, his blessings and his life. But his presence does not tolerate sin, so God often reveals himself protectively, via a symbol behind a barrier. The tabernacle and its curtain (veil) provided a barrier, such that the Israelites were required to believe in an ark (his symbol) that they never actually saw. Inside the ark were two copies of the Ten Commandments: God’s and Israel’s, the words of the covenant showing how people could connect to God and his favor.

 

Personal Application

Exodus contains three powerful principles:

God blesses those who remain in a covenant relationship with Him. He is our God and we become His holy people. Because God knows that our lives are fruitful when we follow His ways, He clearly explains what is acceptable to Him. God delivers those who are in bondage. Deliverance may not come instantaneously, but it will come to those who wait and prepare for it by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our deliverance is based on obedience to God’s expressed will and on moving when He says to move. Before the children of Israel could be delivered, they had to wait until after the Passover meal was completed. They also had to wait until the angel of death had passed over those households under protection of the lamb’s blood; after that, God gave the command to go. As we seek to live by God’s Spirit, we need to wait at times, but be ready to move as He leads.

Foreshadowing Christ

Moses is a type of Christ, for Christ delivers from bondage. Aaron serves as a type of Jesus as the High Priest (28:1) making intercession at the altar of incense (30:1). The Passover indicates that Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slain for our redemption (12:1–22).

The “I am” passages in John’s Gospel find their primary source in Exodus. For example, John states that Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48); Moses speaks of the bread of God in two ways, the manna (Ex. 16:35) and the showbread (25:30). John tells us that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5); in the tabernacle, the lampstand serves as a never-failing light (Ex. 25:31–40).

 The Holy Spirit at Work

Oil in the Book of Exodus represents the Holy Spirit (27:20). For example, the anointing oil, used to prepare worshipers and priests for godly service (30:31), is a type of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22, 23 parallels God’s attributes described in Exodus 34:6, 7: He is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, good, truthful, and forgiving.

The most direct references to the Holy Spirit can be found in 31:3–11 and 35:30—36:1, when individuals were empowered by the Holy Spirit to become great artisans. Through the Spirit’s enabling work, our natural abilities are enhanced and expanded to perform needed tasks with excellence and precision.

 

Teaching Structure

  1. Liberation from slavery in Egypt
  • Moses preserved and prepared to lead (1:1-4:26)
  • Israelite suffering and confrontation with Pharaoh (4:27-7:25)
  • Plagues show Egyptian gods’ impotence (chs. 8-11)
  • Passover, Israel’s exodus reminder festival (12:1-30)
  • Escape from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea (12:31-15:21)
  • God’s provision for his traveling people (15:22-17:16)
  • Israel gets a legal system (ch. 18)
  • Preparation for the covenant at Mount Sinai (ch. 19)

 

  1. God grants his people a covenant relationship
  • The Ten Commandments: basic rules for righteousness (20:1-17)
  • Prophecy and proper altar worship (20:18-26)
  • Basic provisions: holy living required (chs. 21-23)
  • Acceptance and ratification of the covenant (ch. 24)

 

  1. Design and building of the tabernacle
  • Interior, including the ark of the covenant (ch. 25)
  • Exterior and standards for priests (chs. 26-29)
  • Worship materials and times (chs. 30-31)
  • Idolatry and resulting suffering (32:1-33:6)
  • Final plans and materials (33:7-36:7)
  • Constructing and equipping the tabernacle as designed (36:8-39:43)
  • The tabernacle erected and filled with God’s glory (ch. 40)

 

 

The Book

The Book

 

Photos of The Book (Cllick Me)

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One of the most popular categories, in Bible Publishing, today, is what is called the Reader’s Bible. In this article, we are looking at the volume that created this category and we have to go back in time to 1971, the year when Tyndale House Publishers revolutionized the way people interact with the Bible and released a volume simply titled, The Book. Note: I acquired this copy of The Book on my own; Tyndale House Publishers did not ask for this article and my opinions are my own.

The Name

Calling this edition of the Bible The Book was quite apropos for two reasons: Christians and Jews are called, pejoratively, called the People of the Book and secondly, this particular edition of the Scripture is laid out like a normal book.

The Concept

When you go to the Bible section of the bookstore and you pick up a Bible, most of them are fairly intimidating and many of them are rather busy. There are all manner of “helps” but those “helps” are often times a distraction to our interaction with the Bible This is where The Book comes into play and really shines. It is laid out like a normal book, really it’s laid out very similarly to a novel. I will cover the layout more in the next section but, suffice it to say, you could sit in your favorite chair with The Book and your favorite beverage and, easily consume, large amounts of the Bible in a single sitting. 15 years ago when I got my first copy (I have worn out 3 or 4 copies over the years), I read the entirety of the Gospel According to Mark in a single sitting and without even realizing the time lapse.

Layout, Font, Paper

The Bible text is laid out in a single column paragraphed format, exactly how any secular book would be laid out. There are 3 and only 3 helps in the text itself and they are chapter numbers, verse numbers, and subject headings. It rather blends a novel and a text book. There is one other set of “helps” in the front of The Book, a topical guide to read about the Christian Life.

The font, which is entirely black letter, is very crisp and easy to read, which should not be a surprise in a volume designed to be read in large quantities of pages. It looks to be in the Lexington Family with the chapter numbers being bold, dark, and very large.

The paper is not your normal Bible paper which is often fairly thin; this paper is a little thinner than in a textbook but very well suited to its purpose. To my surprise, many of the people that I have seen with this volume do highlight and make other markings in The Book. I would venture to say that if you were inclined to write in The Book, you will have no issues with just about any writing implement.

Translation

Originally offered in The Living Bible Paraphrase (the green one in the pictures), the Book is currently offered in the New Living Translation. The New Living Translation is what we call a meaning based translation. It is more free flowing and endeavors to capture the original thoughts as the original readers would have understood them. It is not a technical or a woodenly literal translation.

Cover and Binding

The Book is offered in both Hardcover and Softcover (Paperback). It is considered a milestone in the publishing world when a book goes paperback and The Book has done that in both editions.

The binding seems to an adhesive binding. You might expect me to be disappointed in this fact but, in the case of The Book, I am not disappointed at all. It is exactly what I expected. Since The Book is designed to be as close to a “regular” book as possible, a glued binding fits.

As a Carry Bible

The Book is an incredible choice for an everyday carry Bible. First, it is the perfect format for reading and second, people see the cover and cannot help asking, “so what is The Book about?” and when that happens, it opens the door to a conversation about the Bible and the Gospel.

As a Giveaway Bible

The price point is not my favorite level for a giveaway Bible but The Book is a very practical choice for a Bible to giveaway. In this format, people that otherwise will not read the Bible, will find themselves with an option that they not only will read but will actually want to read it.

Final Thoughts/Overall Impression

The Book is a great choice for gift giving, especially for new disciples. The most important aspect of our faith is the actual reading of the Bible. For 49 years, The Book has been helping Christians to do just exactly that. It will continue to do so for many years to come.