Book Review: My Bible Adventure Through God’s Word, Thomas Nelson 2016

My Bible Adventure contains 52 bible stories for kids.  The stories begin in Genesis chapter 1 and end in Acts chapter 16.  Each story gives the scripture reference then tells the story in terms young children can understand. The story is followed by “Today’s Adventure” which relates the bible story to relevant, current situations.  There is a “Pray with me” section with a short prayer you can lead your child to say.  Finally the “Take it with you” section succinctly summarizes the whole devotional.

The illustrations in My Bible Adventure are beautiful, brightly colored and very interesting to little eyes.  It is printed on thicker, slick paper which allows the colors to really pop off the page while it seems to be a little stronger and may prevent children’s hands from tearing it so easily.

Each story is written by a different person or couple from around the country.  I found it fascinating to see where these stories came from and will enjoy pointing out these locations to my children.

The book includes a ribbon marker which seems like such a simple addition but is an indispensable tool in a book that you wouldn’t try to read from cover to cover in one sitting.  There are a couple of great lists included at the end of the book:  The Books of the Bible and The Twelve Disciples; these are great lists to memorize and it’s nice to have them included in the colorful illustration scheme.

There is no actual scripture printed in the book save an appendix of “Selected verses from the Book of Proverbs.”  These are given in the International Children’s Bible version.

I would highly recommend this bible story book.

Thomas Nelson, the publisher of My Bible Adventure supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: The Woman’s Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 2016

I am really excited to review The Woman’s Study Bible because it is a nice study bible written specifically for women. 

It opens with the customary pages for writing marriage details and a brief family history.  The marriage page introduces the Ketubah which is the Jewish marriage contract and there is very interesting historical information given there. 

Quotations from women famous and little-known (at least to me) are scattered throughout the book and are though provoking and inspiring.  Of course each book is introduced with details of the Title, Date of writing and Background as well as Themes and a general Outline of the book. 

The two elements of The Woman’s Study Bible that I found most interesting and helpful were the articles aimed directly at issues relevant to Christian women and the character profiles.  Articles cover topics such as marriage, prayer, goal setting and feelings of unworthiness.  Certainly these are good subjects for both men and women but they seem to speak directly to a woman’s heart.  The character profiles pull out women that I read right over in the scriptures.  In 2 Chronicles, Jehoshabeath the wife of Jehoiada who “risked her own life to save the life of an innocent child marked for murder.”  In Romans the character of Junia is brought outwho was a friend of Paul’s and a woman who “exemplifi[ed] the already established fact that Christ commissioned both women and men to proclaim the gospel.”

There is also a great index among the appendices which points the reader to the special features of this bible.

The copy I received is bound in bright, floral fabric over board.  It is beautiful but I am a little concerned with on-going use this binding will show ugly dirt. 

Everytime I review a study bible I’m tempted to keep it for my own and The Woman’s Study Bible”  is no different.  I try not to stock pile these bibles but share them with folks who are in greater need.  But I must confess I’m particularly tempted with this one.

Thomas Nelson, publisher of The Woman’s Study Bible, supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: Treasured Grace, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House Publishers, 2017

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Treasured Grace opens in 1847 as sisters Grace, Hope and Mercy make their way along the Oregan Trail.  After losing their mother, their only family is an uncle living in Oregon City and she is desperate to reach him.  Grace marries the Right Reverend T.S. Martindale in order to join a wagon westbound wagon train.  When the Right Reverend passes away on the trail, Grace agrees to winter at Whitman Mission.  During their time there, the trio meet many colorful characters including Alex Armistead and a tribe of Cayuse Indians. 

Grace feels an immediate attraction to the surly trapper and despite a reluctance to admit it, Alex feels the same.  But tensions are growing between the white missionaries and their Native neighbors.  When the Cayuse blame a measles epidemic on the mission’s founder trouble is inevitable.

Treasured Grace is a great historical novel set around an actual historical event.  Peterson’s research is evident as she paints the culture of the Native Americans, even contrasting the Cayuse to their Nez Perce cousins. 

The book is transparent in its evangelical theme and I loved the number of Bible verses woven into the text. 

Grace is a healer and while her advocacy for pure water was obvious to me, I never understood why she always took vinegar or what other herbs she used in her many tonics.

I must confess that it felt somewhat disjointed in the first couple of chapters as we met Alex and his trapper friends completely separately from the main characters and there were a number of members of the wagon train introduced.  I didn’t feel like I had a good grip on who’s who until nearly the middle of the book.  However, by the climax of the story I felt I knew the important characters well enough to follow the story line.

Bethany House Publishers supplied a copy of Treasured Grace in exchange for a fair review.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: KJV Word Study Bible, Thomas Nelson 2017

I’ve reviewed several study bibles over the past few months but I knew as soon as I opened the box containing the KJV Word Study Bible that I had a winner in my hands.  Perhaps the review copies that are sent out are naturally going to be in the least expensive bindings, but when I’m considering a study bible one of the things I’m thinking about is how well the binding will hold up.  Just a note about personal experience, in my favorite study bible I’m carrying the THIRD copy that I’ve owned simply because the binding did not hold up and after a few months big chunks of pages are separating. 

The binding of this bible is called “leathersoft” which is some kind of manmade material but it has a really good feel and my instinct is that it will wear pretty well.  It does have a ribbon page marker and pretty good quality paper, not the onion skin we traditionally see in bibles.

The words of Christ are in red and the font throughout the bible is very clear and easy to read.  There is not commentary included, but there are 1700 “easy-to-understand Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek word studies.”  The Strong’s reference number is included if you want to cross reference to that larger work.  I did try a cross reference and frankly I appreciated the explanation giving in the KJV Word Study Bible better than that of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. 

Less than 2 inches thick and measuring 9 ½ by 6 ½ inches, this is a great size to carry with you to church.  That doesn’t allow much room for notes in the margins and there are only 2 blank pages between the concordance and the maps.

There are 8 beautiful maps again with very readable font – it’s amazing how important clear fonts become with every passing year!  Also included is a 19 page concordance which doesn’t list numerous uses of a word but gives a single descriptive passage.

Overall, I’m thrilled to give the KJV Word Study Bible five stars.

Thomas Nelson, the publisher of the KJV Word Study Bible supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: Love’s Faithful Promise

Love’s Faithful Promise (Mason, Susan Anne, Bethany House 2016) is the third book in Mason’s “Courage to Dream” series.  It opens in 1922 as young medical student Deirdre O’Leary rushes to her mother’s bedside.  Colleen O’Leary has just suffered a stroke and her wealthy husband is determined she will have the very best care available.  Unfortunately, the best is Matthew Clayborne and he’s unwilling to uproot his motherless daughter to travel to Long Island where the O’Leary estate lies.  When Deirdre’s attempts to convince Matthew fail she settles in to learn his techniques in order to treat her mother herself.  Eventually Matthew agrees to go to Mrs. O’Leary and the journey blesses him, his daughter and Deirdre as well and by the book’s end they’ve married.

I really enjoyed Love’s Faithful Promise as it explored deep and painful emotions in both Matthew and Deirdre’s pasts.  Even Matthews young daughter has been through a lot but faces life with the resilience of childhood and enjoys the beauty of her surroundings whether she’s on the rustic Long Island estate or her Boston home.

Both the O’Leary’s and Dr. Clayborne live amid the wealth of the 1920’s and Mrs. Mason beautifully presents the setting. 

I would certainly recommend this to you.

Bethany House, the publisher of Love’s Faithful Promise supplied a copy of this title for review purposes.

Book Review: The Low Pressure Guide to Parenting Your Preschooler

 

The Low Pressure Guide to Parenting Your Preschooler, Tim Sanford, Tyndale House, 2016 is a great book for any parent.  Mr. Sanford gives very practical advice first in adjusting the mindset a parent has.  He accurately points out some of the flawed thinking that can trap and defeat parents. 

Our children come in all shapes and sizes – both physically and emotionally.  If your particular child isn’t just what you were or just what your mother, mother-in-law or pastor thinks he should be, Mr. Sanford has comfort to offer.  He urges parents to focus on the fundamentals of parenting – nurturing and validating. 

Once free of the bondage of perfectionist-thinking, he offers three major principles with practical, day-to-day action items: Make friends with free will, Step away from the power struggle and Reduce the rules.

This will be a great addition to the library of any parent..

Book Review: Discipline that Connects with a Child’s Heart

Book Review:  Discipline that Connects with a Child’s Heart

I found Discipline that Connects with a Child’s Heart (Jackson, Jim and Lynne, Bethany House Publishers, 2016) to be a powerful read.  The Jacksons are parents, they know what the rest of us are going through and are willing to share their own parenting struggles, success and failures with the rest of us.  I have so much respect for authors and especially for professional Psychologists who give so much of themselves in a book.  Too often I find self-help books written by people who apparently never needed any help themselves.  It’s a lot easier to trust folks like the Jacksons.

Beyond their own family, this couple has worked with many other parents facing similar as well as vastly different problems.  Yet they have boiled down the key to all disciplinary problems to love.  The resounding message of this book is to love your kids.

Now it’s not hard to love kids, especially your own.  Somehow those little rats wriggle their way deep into your soul and I find myself struggling not to laugh at some antics that require a stern look.  And very often I just have to squeeze them.  Yet in the heat of anger – and disobedience produces very real anger – maybe my love for them isn’t quite so obvious. 

Certainly the 288 pages of Discipline that Connects with a Child’s Heart are a little more detailed than that and the examples the Jacksons draw from their experience helping families will apply to almost any situation you are facing with your own children.

I’m sure this will be a book that I will refer to again and again.

Bethany House, the publisher of Discipline that Connects with a Child’s Heart supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: The Beginner’s Bible King James Version

The Beginner’s Bible KJV is a beautifully bound hardback version of the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible.  There are twenty full color images throughout the book; these are cartoon-like characters that will be very appealing to young readers. There is a sixty-seven page concordance included as well as the original letter of the translators.

Nothing but good can come from putting the complete text of God’s word in a person’s hand.  But I do think this bible would have a unique audience.  The child-like cover will not be something an older child would feel he’d outgrown.  In fact, I asked a ten-year-old friend if he’d like to carry this to church and he ultimately had to say no.  But his eight-year-old brother liked it a lot.  The challenge would be reaching a child that is young enough to appreciate the illustrations but already able to read.

I love the illustrations in this book.  They are attractive and well-describe their subject.  However, there are so many stories in the bible that it would be very large if all of them were illustrated.  Unfortunately, these images don’t appear anywhere near the story they are describing.  The “Baby Jesus is Born” picture is on the back side of “Jonah and the Big Fish” and are printed at Psalm 121.  “Samuel Hears God Calling” does appear in 2 Samuel 23 but it’s on the back of “Joshua and the Battle of Jericho”.   “Jesus and the Children” and “Jesus Enters Jerusalem” are printed between the books of Nahum and Habakkuk.

There is no commentary at all in The Beginner’s Bible King James Version and it includes only limited references which appear at the end of the verses.

Zondervan, the publisher of The Beginner’s Bible KJV provided a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: NKJV Know the Word Study Bible

Book Review:  NKJV Know the Word Study Bible, 2016 Thomas Nelson

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The NKJV Know the Word Study Bible is a great little book that can easily be carried to church or bible study class while also serving well for personal and in-depth study. 

I especially like this study Bible for a new student of God’s Word.  There are twenty-one different “topic-by-topic” articles that lead you through such complex subjects as the trinity, the Holy Spirit and sanctification.  These are each broken into several different articles and addressed not only with the scripture reference but the page as well.  This would be so helpful to someone who doesn’t yet know their way through the order of the books of the Bible.  At the end of each article, it tells you where the next article in this topic is found. 

There are also extra “study the book” articles which also map where the previous and next articles can be found.  All through the Bible are verse-by-verse commentary notes. 

The book ends with eight beautiful, full-color maps.  There is no master legend and I would have enjoyed an alphabetical listing telling me which map shows a given city or special site. 

I don’t much like to admit it, but I’m finding the size and readability of font is more important with every passing year.  Understanding this may be a common concern I would like to point out that the wonderful overall size of the Know the Word Study Bible is achieved by using a very small font.  The Bible text is fairly readable but the verse-by-verse commentary is really quite difficult for my vision.

Overall, I am excited to give this book four stars.  Thomas Nelson, publisher of Know the Word Study Bible, supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: The Power of a Praying Grandparent

Book Review:  The Power of a Praying Grandparent, Stormie Omartian, Harvest House, 2016

 

Stormie Omartian has written numerous Power of Prayer books and I have enjoyed many of them.  I find them a great resource for daily devotions and return to these books again and again.  Her format is uniform across all of the books I’ve read taking a single topic, offering a short lesson, a prayer and then a few applicable bible verses. 

My review copy of The Power of a Pryaing Grandparent was electronic and a pre-distribution copy so the formatting is often a little out of whack.  However, the basic format of the chapters seems to follow her established pattern and I certainly enjoy that uniformity.

Mrs. Omartian is a relatively new grandparent, according to the preface to the book.  However, she’s certainly an established prayer warrior.  I greatly enjoyedthe topics she chose in this book.  They are broken into four categories;  ‘Understanding of Godly Love and Relationships’, ‘Safety and Protection’, ‘Spiritual Growth and Development’, and ‘Provision and Well-Being’.  Each topic contains six or seven sub-topics resulting in twenty-eight lessons.  So that makes for a great month-long devotional dedicated to your grandchildren.

I will certainly be giving this book to my own parents in hopes they will systematically cover my children in prayer.  And I’m giving this book five stars to strongly recommend it to you.

Harvest House, publisher of The Power of a Praying Grandparent, supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: Praying through the Bible for your Kids

Praying through the Bible for your Kids, Nancy Guthrie, Tyndale Momentum, 2016

Praying through the Bible for your Kids is a great devotional guide for any parent – or even grandparent.  Our children need our prayers throughout their entire lives.  Of course I pray for my children ever yday, but the idea of taking a year and praying for them each day in a very structured manner is very exciting to me. 

Mrs. Guthrie has structured this book first with a set of Bible passages to read that range from a single verse to several chapters.  Reading each set daily will take you through the whole Bible in a year.  Next there are topics that are specific to children of all ages.  From “They Know His Voice” which talks about our children seeking God’s voice and direction in their lives, to“Rebellious Children” that reminds us that God knows all too well the heartbreak of rebellion and in this shared experience we can find a closer relationship to The Lord.

After a short lesson and parenting-application, she ends each day with suggested prayers that cover both child and parent.

The book uses a variety of versions of the Word of God, NLT being the primary version.  However,  most of the scripture is given only in book and verse so you would need to use your own Bible to read those and therefore the version of your own choosing. 

I am a little disappointed in the binding materials chosen.  While it’s not a book that has to be carried to church every week, it will get handled a lot over the course of the year.  Therefore I’m concerned the less expensive paper and binding will get pretty ragged. 

I confess I’m writing this review less than a year from receiving the book.  However, I’ll be happy to update this is my opinion changes over the next year because I’m certainly going to use this each day.  In the meantime, I believe you’ll enjoy it too.

Tyndale Momentum, the publisher of Praying through the Bible for your Kids supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: When Mountains Move, Julie Cantrell, Thomas Nelson, 2013

When Mountains Move (Cantrell, Thomas Nelson, 2013) was given to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair in impartial review.  It is a story written in the first person featuring a young girl recovering from a violent attack and adjusting to a new marriage.

While I have a little trouble sketching together the timeline of events, Millie joins the rodeo shortly after her parents’ deaths.  She is staying with a well-to-do family when the man of the house attacks her.  Somewhere along the way she’s met Bump who falls madly in love with her and asks her to marry him.  She is of Choctaw descent and eventually meets her grandmother who teaches her much about her Native American heritage.  Unfortunately, Millie chooses to carry alone the secret of her attack and therefore is very slow to recover from it.  She only admits the crime when confronted again by her attacker.  She and Bump work through all of the newlywed adjustments as well as a neighborhood seducer, accused murderer living with them, mountain lions on their Colorado ranch and a new baby within the first year of marriage.

I’m afraid I read the first-person narrative a little too much like the Joe Friday narration of Dragnet.  Therefore, I missed a lot of emotion.  I also failed to get a good image of either Millicent or Bump, which might have been gleaned from a third-person voice.  However, the story drew me in and I truly wanted to see the outcome of it. 

This is a work of Christian fiction, published by a major house in the Christian Book Association.  Millie spends much time in prayer, especially when she’s in trouble.  She has apparently had some biblical teaching from her mother as she recalls in the final pages her “mother’s idea of being ‘born again’”.  Unfortunately, despite meeting the local clergyman in her new town, she never has a rebirth experience at least not one where she hears God’s word and understands it and sees its application in her own life.  Instead, the book ends with her Choctaw grandmother performing a traditional cleansing ritual in their home and where she gives “thanks to the spirits of each direction” in order to “[rid] the home of bad spirits”.   The book closes with, “Somehow, whether through smoke or through song, passages or prayers, I believe our message gets through.  We forgive.  We are forgiven.

Personally, I read fiction as a kind of escape from the troubles and burdens of our world today.  That’s probably why I most enjoy historical fiction.  But my basic belief that we are saved from our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the strongest factor in choosing titles.  I am not comfortable with religious pluralism and despite a good story, I cannot recommend writing that might lead you toward that belief that all roads lead to God.  Therefore I regrettably give When Mountains Move only two stars.

Book Review: Running on Red Dog Road

Review of Running on Red Dog Road, Drema Hall Berkheimer, Zondervan, 2015

Running on Red Dog Road is a memoir of an Appalachian childhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Zondervan, the publisher, supplied this book in exchange for an impartial review.  I am writing this review after completing only three-fourths of the book.

I really enjoy Mrs. Berkheimer’s style of writing as I find it comfortably familiar to my Appalachian ear.  Her stories are a generation older than me yet I related to so many things she talked about either from the stories I grew up with or my own childhood experiences.

Unfortunately for a book published by a respected publisher of Christian books, she chooses to relate the four letter words she associates with some of her stories as well as pseudonyms for those words.  I was overlooking this language as well as a youthful depiction of God failing his saints and continued reading until the author relayed her experience as a nine-year-old exposed to a nude man at a carnival. 

I could appreciate an adult sharing such an experience in an attempt to protect other children or to work through a trauma.  However, this story was only related as entertainment and I felt it was utterly out of place in a Christian memoir.  It was the last part of the book that I read so I cannot say whether her faith grew with the years to understand the grandmother that she saw fervently praying even when she couldn’t immediately see the results.  Nor do I know whether she suffered from these childhood experiences for no clue was given in their telling.

I am very disappointed that I cannot recommend this book to you as I long for Appalachian stories and authors from the mountains that will spread our culture and encourage appreciation for our people.

Book Review: American Woman’s Bible

I’ve been delaying writing this review because I want to be completely frank yet it’s hard to write a less-than-rave review of a Bible.  Yet, that is I’m afraid what I must present to you. 

The American Woman’s Bible is a companion to the American Patriot’s Bible which was also edited by Dr. Richard G. Lee.  He explains in the introduction that while researching the American Patriot’s Bible his eyes were opened to “the superiority of [the American] women” [pg ix].

I love the idea of celebrating and drawing courage from the women of our past and Dr. Green does a wonderful job presenting brief biographies and character sketches of the women who helped to form this great nation.  He also incorporates quotes and poems that are well worth reading and remembering.  I have nothing bad to say about the quality of his research or his presentation style.  As a booklet about American history or American personalities, I would gladly read this work.

However, the retail price on the book’s back is $34.99 and for a 1500 page book that seems a reasonable price point.  Still I’m unsure how exactly I would use this particular bible.  It is a nice hard-bound bible of the New King James Version so it would be fine for carrying to church or bible study class.  But the additional material doesn’t particularly help you understand the scripture or point you to reference material in other parts of God’s word for deeper study.   So you wouldn’t call it study bible. 

There are entries about character traits or behaviors we should emulate such as thankfulness, or honor or justice.  These articles incorporate stories of women who particularly exhibited them and they are very encouraging.  In this way I can imagine using this book as a daily reading bible.

For overall value and practicality I would give the American Women’s Bible only two stars.  However, for the value of the historical material I am giving it three stars.

Thomas Nelson, publisher of the American Woman's Bible supplied a copy of this book for the purpose of review.

 

 

Book Review: A Haven on Orchard Lane, Lawana Blackwell, Bethany House, 2016

A Haven on Orchard Lane is a delightful novel set in the English countryside near the end of the nineteenth century.  Actress Charlotte Ward married a landed gentleman after she left working on the stage.  However, the marriage wasn’t as blissful as she’d hoped and when she received an offer to return to the stage she couldn’t resist.  When she is thrown back in with her estranged daughter, they both have to come to grips with mistakes from the past and find the path God has for them.

The book tackles some really tough issues but handles them with grace.  When pair of young boys need these ladies’ love and we have to face child abuse.  Charlotte has to face the fact that she has rushed into three marriages without really consulting God about the decisions.  Ultimately, Charlotte risks losing the serenity of Orchard Lane, in order to fulfill God’s current calling on her life.

A Haven on Orchard Lane is written from the point of view of a couple of different characters.  I enjoyed this change and felt it was smooth throughout the book.  The epilogue gives a great conclusion to the various story lines and we see not only that the characters live happily ever after, but just how they live.

I would certainly recommend A Haven on Orchard Lane to you.

Bethany House, the publisher of A Haven on Orchard Lane, supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: Behold the Man

Book Review:  Behold the Man, Bodie & Brock Theone, Zondervan, 2015

Bodie & Brock Theone have written over seventy novels and while I haven’t read all of them, I’ve never read any of their work that wasn’t wonderful.  Behold the Man maintains that tradition. 

Set in Israel during the time of Christ, it is the experience of a Roman family as they contend with the politics of the Roman Empire and encounter the Savior.   Claudia is the wife of Pilate, the Roman governor who ultimately sentences Jesus to be crucified.  Marcus was Claudia’s lover before she was forced to marry Pilate by Tiberius Cesear, her father.  This love triangle provides a plane of drama throughout the novel and would make for a decent romantic novel in any historic setting.   However, the novel spans the time from John the Baptist’s emergence until the crucifixion; that time period adds an additional layer of drama.

Because the key characters are Roman, the names and the inclusion of a few Roman phrases made for a slow read for me in the first part of the book.  I confess had I not known these authors and truly believed they would ultimately deliver a great story, I might have laid it aside at that point.  If you find yourself considering that choice, I urge you to keep reading; you will really miss a great story if you leave it in those first few chapters.

The biblical account of both John and Jesus’ ministries is interwoven into the story.  Characters see and hear both men preaching and rather than quoting biblical text, the Theone’s have written the teaching into the body of their novel.  While this is a fictional work, and the characters are from their imaginations, the doctrine of the story is quite sound.

I have long believed that the bible stories are greater themes and plots than any author can create and I really enjoy a dramatized presentation of them.  It is an incredible method to see the events we know so well unfolding almost in the background as these people move through their lives.

I can rate this book no less than four stars.  The only reason I would not give it five is that slow beginning and my concern that some readers might not perservere.  I would certainly urge you to read it.

Zondervan, publisher of Behold the Man supplied a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Book Review: One Spring Lamb

One Spring Lamb by Anne Vittur Kennedy (2015, Thomas Nelson) is a delightful children’s book about Springtime and Easter. 

This is a counting book that sums up ten elements of springtime, including Easter dresses, baskets and eggs.  It wraps up with “So many gifts from God’s own Son.  On Easter it’s a joy to know that Jesus lives and loves me so” which I found to be a beautiful ending as it’s accompanied by an illustration of a child sleeping with his stuffed animals all around him. 

The book is of board construction so it will last through many page turners by little hands.   The cover depicts the little lamb with jonquils and tulips which are treated so they sparkle and really invite toddlers to choose this book from the pile.  The illustrations are bright and colorful with flowers, kites and butterflies.

Overall this is a lovely children’s book that I am pleased to review with five stars.

Thomas Nelson, the publisher of One Spring Lamb supplied a copy of this book for review purposes.

Book Review: Apply The Word Study Bible

Book Review:  Apply The Word Study Bible

I am thrilled to offer you a review of the Apply The Word Study Bible, (2016, Thomas Nelson, Inc) to which I am giving four stars.

This study bible with New King James scripture has many great features to aid in your daily devotions or as a tool in organized bible study.  You will periodically find “application notes” which apply scriptural principles to modern-day situations.  For example, in Nehemiah 4:7 there is a note about “when you’ve been left behind” referring to neglected communities and applies Nehemiah’s return to and repair plans for Jerusalem to urban renovation projects.  Similarly there is a box Romans chapter 12 entitled “Three Invitations to Serve” which summarizes the scriptures’ call to service.  I found these notes very encouraging.  Several of these boxes end with a “more” or “think about it” notes which are certainly helpful to direct meditation if you are just reading through a book or passage.

There are several great charts, such as prophecies of the Messiah from the Psalms and the names of God in Isaiah 41.  This is a very effective way to present information that’s spread throughout a long book, or even over several books of the bible.  Profiles of both cities and key people are included and are often interrelated.  Some of the profiles even refer to unnamed persons which I found especially fascinating.

Functionally, the binding seems strong and the review copy is in hardback (I did find this available at CBD and Amazon in imitation leather as well) so it certainly feels like it will last.  Binding has been an issue I’ve experienced with other Thomas Nelson study bibles so it’s something I want to check before buying or recommending one.  The dust cover shows a “Guaranteed for life” logo which I researched at www.nelsonbibles.com/guarantee and learned the company does offer lifetime replacement for manufacturers defects and surely the binding would fall under that category.  They have replaced a bible for me in the past.

There are a couple of improvements I would suggest.  First, there is no ribbon marker, which seems like a small thing, but it’s something we’re accustomed to in bibles and a very nice extra.  Also, the font in this study bible is a little on the small side.  Perhaps that’s not something I would have noticed a few years ago, but even with reading glasses today, I noticed the size.  Now, the book is a great size that fits well in your hand and a larger font would necessitate a larger book size so that would be a trade off if the publisher considered a change.

Overall, I would enthusiastically recommend this book for your next study bible.

Thomas Nelson, the publisher of Apply The Word Study Bible supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

The Play-Along Bible

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The Play-Along Bible written by Bob Hartman and illustrated by Susie Poole is a delightful series of Bible stories accompanied by instructions for gestures and activities.

There are about fifty stories all a dozen lines or less excluding the ‘activity’ lines so they don’t lose the little ones’ attention.  Now, I will mention that the first few times through while the adult reader learns the activity parts, it’s a little slower and you have to have an attentive child in order for it to work.  But like any song with hand motions, once you’ve gotten them down, the kids love them.

The illustrations in The Play-Along Bible are charming.  They are simple characters but some of the illustrations have a lot of detail.  Even the ‘bad guys’ are not depicted in a way that would trouble the very young.  The only exception I found was “A Good Neighbor” in which the injured man has a fairly gruesome appearance which I’m sure was supposed to be a grimace of pain.  One particular element of the pictures that I really appreciated is that Jesus is dressed in the same robe throughout so the “picture-reader” can pretty quickly figure out which stories Jesus appears in.

Overall, The Play-Along Bible is a great read and I would definitely recommend it.

Tyndale House, the publisher of The Play-Along Bible supplied a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Just Like Jesus Storybook

Book Review:   Just like Jesus, Stephen Elkins, Tyndale House Publishers, 2015

Just like Jesus Storybook presents forty qualities of Jesus Christ, followed by a bible verse in The New Living Translation.  Next is an eight to ten line explanation of what that characteristic means.  On the following page is a “Jesus In Me” application specifically for children.  The final page for that section has a short prayer and a statement “To be like Jesus I will…”

This is an absolutely adorable children’s book.  The illustrations are reminiscent of Bob the Builder and are charming with bright colors throughout the book.  The final page of each section is a buble or polka-dot background in varying colors.  Every page has some picture, from a tiny animal to leaves blowing in the wind. 

This is not a traditional bible story book.  However, the content of the book seems to be as charming as the pictures.  While it doesn’t tell the bible stories per se, it teaches the lessons of those classic stories without telling all the details.  For example, while telling of Jesus healing a leper in Mark chapter 1, only five lines are used:

“Help me!” the man begged.  Jesus stopped what He was doing, reached out, and healed him!  Jesus didn’t want the man to be sick.  His big heart was full of compassion!

Perhaps that’s the beauty of writing to children.  They don’t require a thirty-minute sermon to understand one value-packed bible verse!

My children loved this book.  They are drawn to the pictures even though they can’t yet read the words.  And that makes them eager to sit with the book when I am available to read it to them.

I am certainly giving Just Like Jesus Storybook five stars as I believe it will be a favorite in many families.

Tyndale House Publishers supplied this book in exchange for a fair review.