Showing posts with label Tyndale House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tyndale House. Show all posts

April 21, 2017

more on The Message

The more I get to know The Message, the more I want to encourage you to check it out! As you might recall, I’ve previously reviewed a Catholic/ Ecumenical edition, which includes (as the original King James Version of the Bible did) the books often referred to as the Apocrypha. We’ve also talked about a special edition of The Message 100, which arranges the books of the Bible by the dates they were most likely written, rather than the sequence typically found in a Protestant Bible.

Instead of hoping for a review copy this time, I bought myself a present to read during Lent – a large print, reader edition of The Message in a premium leather cover as shown below.

Why leather? I want a reader edition that’s comfortable and pleasant to hold, which hardbacks just aren’t. However, I prefer hardback study Bibles on my desk to do the research needed for writing projects and to find the background information and insights that enliven a weekly Bible study discussion group.

When I’m just reading cover to cover, my Bibles and I often have conversations in the margins and, more important, develop a relationship that’s like the tangible presence of a spiritual being. Since John 1 tells us that Jesus Christ IS The Word, a huggable Bible is the closest I can come to a physical touch or embrace.

If that seems foreign to you, it's possible The Message will too! i.e., It’s not a word-for-word translation in heightened vocabulary and Shakespearean tempos (aka iambic pentameter.) It’s everyday language with rhythms that convey the inspiration, passion, and conversational tones of Bible times yet keep current readers reading and relating.

It’s real. It’s huggable.

To give you an example fresh from Lent, consider the opening lines of this penitential psalms:

Psalm 51
“Generous in love – God, give grace!
Huge in mercy – wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.”


Long before reading those lines – or any other in The Message – I felt God leading me to prayerfully paraphrase psalms and scripture (prayer-a-phrases.) For decades I’ve been studying the Bible at home and in almost every church denomination, but I don’t have the advantage of knowing the original languages in which the Bible was written.

Dr. Eugene Peterson does. Not only did he study Hebrew and Greek, he taught those languages on a university level for several years. In addition, he pastored a church for decades where he brought members of his congregation into the life and heart of the Bible. Once I learned of those qualifications and saw Holy Spirit inspiration in his work, The Message became a totally unexpected favorite.

It’s real. It’s huggable.

Since Lent has now ended in Easter, let’s look at the resurrection story in John 20:19-23 to give you an idea of the language:

“Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, ‘Peace to you.’ Then he showed them his hands and side.

The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: ‘Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.’

Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’ he said. ‘If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?’”


Good question! Frankly, I’d rather let the forgiveness found in Christ Jesus take care of me and those I need to pardon! Otherwise, I have no good place to stack and store my lack of forgiveness.

The Bible is all about the forgiveness, restoration, and redemption culminating in Christ. To clarify this, my copy of The Message has an article in the back matter on “The Story of the Bible in Five Acts,” which includes Creation, The Fall, Israel, Jesus, and The New People of God.

Another unique feature of this Bible comes in the Introductions, which introduce us to the spirit of the message in each book. Take, for example, this intro to Philippians:

“This is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves – the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us.”

Then in verses 9-11 of the first chapter, we read:

“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that yu will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.”

May the grace of God be with us to do exactly that!

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer reviewer, appreciates your clicking the ad on each Bible Reviewer post to order the Bible that best suits your present needs.


My copy in premium leather, large print

471681MI: The Message, Large Print Premium Leather, Black  - Imperfectly Imprinted Bibles The Message, Large Print Premium Leather, Black - Imperfectly Imprinted Bibles

By NavPress




genuine leather, large print




November 10, 2016

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT


People everywhere are hurting. If you are too, the Beyond Suffering Bible has you in mind.

Published by Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a complimentary copy to review, the Beyond Suffering Bible emphasizes the hope found in God as presented in the highly readable New Living Translation (NLT.)

In an opening letter from Joni Eareckson Tada of the Internatonal Disability Center, Joni thanks members of the Christian Institute on Disability (CID) team “who have worked diligently” to bring “a Bible that speaks directly to the hardship of handicapping conditions.” In addition “It showcases the righteousness and mercy of God on behalf of those who struggle under the weight of illness, poverty, and injustice.”

Suffering in silence has often been a common condition for many people with chronic pain or worry, but suffering with dignity, purpose, and prayer deepens a person’s spiritual life and relationship with the Lord.

More than any analgesic, relief comes in applying God’s Word as an ointment, and this edition shows you how. With “A Word from Joni,” devotionals, and articles for caretakers and people with disabilities, disadvantages, or pain, this Bible emphasizes the comfort God brings and also provides resources on the theology of suffering and sanctity of life.

Besides helping readers to connect God’s Word to their daily lives, the edition provides Book Introductions, Profiles, and helpful reading plans.

As those of us with good fortune and minimal pain read the articles and devotionals, we just might find our awareness increasing and compassion needing the relief of prayer and a commitment to help others in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT, paperback



May 9, 2016

Slimline Bibles for youth, NLT


One of my favorite renderings of the Bible into English is the New Living Translation (NLT) because of its contemporary language, poetic flow, and ease of use in discussions when others have different translations.

Since I also recommend the NLT as an excellent choice for youth in mainline denominations, I requested the Girls Slimline Bible, NLT, from Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a copy to review.

I chose the girls’ edition rather than the Guys Slimline Bible, NLT, because of the bright cover covered by the word, “Love,” which also covers us and a multitude of sins. If, however, you want to give a copy to a boy, just remove the packaging on this edition or consider the one shown below.

Regardless, the back matter in these editions will help young people in a youth discussion group or Sunday School class. For example, the back pages include:

• Dictionary/Concordance
• Great Chapters of the Bible
• Great Verses of the Bible to Memorize
• 365-Day Reading Plan
• Colorful Maps

Another blessed help can be found inside the front cover, which has Ephesians 3:12 printed in large caps:

Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”

Amen!

Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer


Girls Slimline Bible, NLT



Guys Slimline Bible, NLT



November 20, 2015

NLT Illustrated Study Bible

My first impression of the NLT Illustrated Study Bible, which Tyndale House Publishers kindly sent me to review, was its heft!

Then, looking at the outer edges of the book reminded me of striations in cut rock, colorfully telling what’s gone on prior to its discovery. Similarly, layers of color along those outside edges hint at the wealth of photographs and original illustrations included in this sturdy study edition.

The magnitude of features undoubtedly required keeping page bulk to a minimum. Nevertheless, I regretted seeing the thinness of the paper, which seemed even thinner after feeling the thick, slick book jacket and the canvas-like cover sheets at the beginning and end of the book. An option would have been to cut some of the 1,000+ images in favor of a denser quality paper, but then we would no longer have all of the amazing visuals that help us to open our eyes more fully to God’s Word.

Indeed, the website http://openmyeyes.com/bible/ provides a video to introduce this edition and establish its primary goal as helping us to see aspects of the Bible that might, otherwise, go unnoticed.

To do this, the book includes the kind of helps we generally find in a Bible dictionary – for instance, profiles of 120 Bible characters – and the kinds of color photographs we expect in a Bible atlas. The overall effect is to show us what Bible people, places, and times were like, so we can picture ourselves as part of the scene and relate to the ongoing relationship God wants to have with us and all mankind.

In addition to the stunning visuals in this heavily illustrated study Bible, we also get over 25,000 notes to accompany the updated text of the New Living Translation (NLT), which remains one of my top favorites.

Highly readable and poetic, the NLT translates ancient manuscripts into a contemporary, respectful English version that’s easy to follow in a worship service or in a Bible study group when other people read aloud from almost any classical or modern translation. Even at home alone, however, this edition makes the Bible remarkably accessible to new readers and also visually inspiring to those of us who have loved the Bible throughout our reading lives.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, Bible reviewer, is a poet-writer of numerous books in all genres for Christian and educational publishers. She also blogs about prayer, poetry, and writing and recently began posting her Praise Poems.


NLT Illustrated Study Bible, hardcover




October 7, 2015

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook


When Tyndale House Publishers kindly sent me a review copy of Just Like Jesus, my first impression was, “Nice!” With its lightly padded cover and thick, slick pages, this book should stand up to long use and sticky fingerprints that can probably be wiped off with a barely dampened sponge. That sturdy construction is impressive as is the beautifully done artwork, which will undoubtedly appeal to young children and also adults of all ages!

Unfortunately, beginning readers will most likely deem those same illustrations as “babyish,” which matters only because elementary school children will identify with the vocabulary and content far more than will children 4 to 7, who are seldom mature enough to understand abstract, character-building concepts.

Exemplary character, as perfectly shown by Jesus, is the overall purpose of this sturdy little storybook. If, therefore, a child received it at an early age and grew up reading it, concerns about age and abstracts would no longer be a factor.

In the book's clear aim to build character, each section begins with a theme and relevant Bible verse before guiding children and their parents, grandparents, or other caretakers to discussion various aspects of Jesus’ character, which we’re all to emulate.

If we want to be just like Jesus, that means we’re to be thankful, responsible, kind, caring, and spirit-filled.

In focusing on the latter, for example, the title “Jesus Was Spirit-Filled” precedes scripture from Matthew 3:16, which says, “After his baptism… [Jesus] saw the Spirt of God descending like a dove and settling on him.”

The adjacent page, “Jesus in The Bible,” goes on to develop that verse more fully by saying:

“Jesus was perfect. So why did He come to be baptized? He had no sin to wash away! When Jesus came up out of the water, God’s Holy Spirit filled His heart.

“It was time to start His mission! Jesus came to teach us about God and to forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit gave Jesus the power to do it!”


Although the question posed was not answered in the text, parents might discuss it with their children, depending on their ages or ability to understand.

Then, the next page “Jesus In Me,” explains:

“When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins, we give God control of our lives. Then He fills us with His Holy Spirit. When we are full of God’s Holy Sirit, His love controls our actions.

“Now we can be just like Jesus!”


The last page on each theme and section ends with a prayer such as:

“Lord, I want to be Spirit-Filled! I pray for more and more of Your Holy Spirit each day.”

And finally,under the ribboned healing “To be just like Jesus….” we read, “I will be Spirit-Filled.”

The consistent format covers each theme in four-page sections, which young readers can be encouraged to read by themselves with a little help from adult caretakers, who take time and care to help children develop character with the sterling examples only Jesus can provide.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and lifelong student of the Bible, is also a Christian poet and writer who writes on biblical themes.

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook (Wonder Kids), padded hardback



June 26, 2015

Sing-Along Bible stories


Parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caretakers of toddlers and preschoolers will have fun remembering these 50 Bible stories with accompanying songs to learn along with the kids! Stephen Elkins not only selected the stories and translated them into child-friendly language, he provided the lively artwork for this sturdy picture book, which includes a CD.

The slightly padded front cover, which can be easily wiped clean of sticky fingerprints, is nicely sized for young children and early readers. For the latter, a “Let’s Read” upper section has 6 or 7 lines in a clear font with easy-to-read song lyrics in the “Let’s Sing” section at the bottom of the page. In between, you’ll find the title of the story with a relevant “Little Lesson” on the facing page, which, again, many young readers will be able to read for themselves. If they know how to put a CD on pause, so much the better!

Younger children will need an adult’s assistance, playing the CD, keeping track of the stories, and guiding each reading. You might also want to skip the “David and Goliath” story, which almost every Bible storybook includes even though toddlers and preschoolers don’t need the thought of whacking bullies in the head with a rock! The “Little Lesson” on the facing page says, “There is power in the name of the Lord!” but the take-away could be in discovering the power of hurling objects across a room. (Yes, I’m apt to worry, but then one of our little ones loved to throw things, and the power of a flying Matchbox car wiped out a TV set!)

Other than that concern, the stories in this picture book, published for Tyndale Kids, fit preschoolers well. They’ll love the idea of “Balaam’s Donkey” talking with the “Little Lesson” take-away of “God can do all things!” And, as a parent, grandparent, and Bible teacher, I love the idea of teaching the very youngest child to “Pray about Everything” and planting the thought, “I can pray for my puppy!”

Accompanying another important story, “Jesus Promises to Love Me,” the “Let’s Sing” section gives the lyrics to “Jesus Loves Me” – the life-changing song I first heard as a toddler and immediately believed. Still do.

The book continues to builds on that early teaching moment and other stories, for example, by saying:

“Do you want to be a good friend?
Jesus taught us how!
He said, ‘Love other people the way I have loved you’.”


Then the “Little Lesson” brings that home by adding: “Loving others makes us a friend of Jesus!”

Yes, and amen.

Thank you, Tyndale House Publishing for this lovely, lively book and the complimentary review copy you kindly sent.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.


My Sing-Along Bible, padded hardback picture book






January 23, 2015

My Keepsake Bible


As a poet and writer, I've discovered that the most difficult books to write and place with publishers are those for very young children. The content must be age-appreciate, the text honest, and the facts accurate with only a few words of one or two syllables used to create a lively, child-friendly tone. The artwork must be kid-appealing, too, with clear, colorful pictures that help a preschooler better understand what's said.

In My Keepsake Bible published by Tyndale Kids, author Sally Ann Wright and artist Honor Ayres beautifully accomplish all of the above, but that’s not all to consider!

A “keepsake” book for young children needs a sturdy, wipeable cover and a manageable size. Long before a publisher gets that far, however, the initial idea or concept for the book must have a unique perspective or a fresh approach to an old story.

Wright accomplishes this, too, by connecting each child's personal history to his or her Bible family.

With pages for a birth announcement, family tree, and individual progress of the child’s development, this edition combines key parts of a "baby book" with key Bible stories to show our progress and ongoing development in our relationship with God.

That unique approach appealed to me enough to request a review copy from the publisher, which Tyndale kindly sent, and I studied with special interest as I would love to write this type of book!

After including pages to record the child’s story, the book begins with “The Story of Creation,” told in an appropriately poetic style.

“Long ago, at the very
beginning, God was there.”


And
“God made silvery fish and buzzing bees, song birds and bright butterflies.”

Ending with,
“Everything in God’s world was good.”

Prayers of thanks follow with subsequent prayers expressed by the author or by scriptures chosen from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. Those prayers, which can help to establish a precedent for praying regularly, intersperse the stories throughout the book.

Looking at those stories closely, we find the honest truth that people mess up and do wrong! Nevertheless, our loving God continues to protect, guide, and love us, which pretty much sums up the Bible message. Then, as these clear, concise stories come to an end, “Paul’s Thank-You Letters” bring this word to young readers:

“Paul reminded them to live as God wanted them to – to be kind and forgiving to each other and to share what they had with others. He told them that the most important thing they could do was to love God. Then they would begin to act like him, loving other people too.”


©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.


My Keepsake Bible, lightly padded hardcover




August 26, 2014

Reviewing The Life


At first glance, my review copy of The Life, kindly sent to me by its publisher Tyndale House, appears to be just another magazine in a handy size for carrying. Inside, however, most of the slick pages have been filled with Holy Scriptures from the Gospels of the New Living Translation (NLT) to reveal the life we’re to live in Christ.

The table of contents summarizes “The Life: What’s Inside.”

Surprising Encounters with Jesus
Jesus’ Message Isn’t about Easy Religion
Death Is No Match for Jesus
What Does It Mean to “Remain” in Jesus?
Ordinary People Given God’s Power
The Choice


With colorful illustrations, wise words from “Youth For Christ,” and the highly readable NLT text, young people and new readers of the Bible receive a warm “Welcome to The Life,” where they “begin to get acquainted with God’s story through reading the story of the life of Jesus and his earliest followers straight from the Bible – or at least part of the Bible” and begin to see “there’s plenty more where this came from.”

Staying strongly focused on the person and power of Jesus, a brief magazine-type article challenges readers to remain in Christ then asks “What Does Remain Mean In John 15?” A sidebar beside the biblical answer adds illustrative examples such as:

• In order for a lamp to shine, the light bulb must remain in the fixture.

Remain within coverage areas to use cell phones.

• A fish that wants to breathe must remain underwater.


As we remain in Christ, we're alive in Him and can live NOW in the power of His Spirit, knowing, “Jesus is able to fight his own battles. He specializes in reversing the course of enemies so that they become dedicated followers.”

And as they believe, as I believe, as you believe and choose to remain in Christ and The Life, “Jesus will work miraculously within you to help you become more and more like him.”


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a traditionally published author of 26 books, including the Bible-based book of poems Outside Eden and poetry book Living in the Nature Poem.


The Life, paperback





July 8, 2014

Psalms and The Wisdom of God


We’ve talked about the Psalms before in The One Year Book of Psalms, a daily devotional from Tyndale, highly recommended for individual use. Recently, Crossway sent me review copies of the Psalms: A 12-Week Study and also The Wisdom of God, a 10-week study which includes 5 weeks on the Psalms. Whether for personal use or group study, I highly recommend both books.

As previously mentioned, studying psalms and wisdom books of the Bible gives an excellent foundation for prayer, poetry, and biblical insights into the people of God, who have turned to these books over the centuries for guidance. More importantly, both books from Crossway show how Psalms provide insight into the mind of Christ as they repeatedly point to Him, prophetically and poetically.

From Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series, Psalms: A 12-Week Study coordinates somewhat with the ESV Study Bible, but any translation you or your Bible study group chooses will, of course, be fine as you proceed numerically through the Psalms.

Beginning with the “Week 1: Overview,” the text offers a helpful outline of the five “books” within the book of Psalms. For instance, Book 1 includes Psalm 1-41, many of which were written by King David where “Prayers issuing from a situation of distress dominate” and are “punctuated by statements of confidence in the God who alone can save.”

In Book 2, Psalms 42-72 present the Korah collection where “Once again, lament and distress dominate the content of these prayers, which now also include a communal voice.” In Book 3, the “tone darkens” as it brings “most of the psalms of Asaph (Psalms 73-83), as well as another set or Korah psalms (Psalm 84-85; 87-88).” However, Book 4 (Psalms 90-106) “may be seen as the first response to the problems raised by the third book.” Then Book 5 (Psalms 107-150) “declares that God does answer prayer (Psalm 107) and concludes with five Hallelujah psalms….”

In addition, a footnote in this Overview tells us “the basic type of psalms can be summarized as laments (presenting a trouble situation to the Lord), hymns of praise (calling believers to admire God’s attributes) and hymns of thanksgiving (thanking God for an answered prayer). There are also hymns celebrating God’s law…, wisdom psalms…, songs of confidence…, historical psalms…, and prophetic hymns (echoing themes found in the Prophets, especially calling God’s people to covenant faithfulness).”

Throughout the study guide, a consistent format considers the setting, glimpses of the Gospel, theological terms, and personal implications with ample room for writing responses in “Reflection and Discussion.” Besides the high quality of information provided, Bible students and discussion groups will appreciate the high quality of the paper, cover, and print in this well-done series.

In the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series, previously included in a review of Bible Study Resources, Nancy Guthrie gives us insight in studying The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books.

As a 10-week study that also includes the books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, five of those weeks focus on the Psalms. Instead of a sequential study, however, the author groups the psalms, not by book, but by divisions of “Psalms: The Songs of Jesus,” “Blessing and Perishing in the Psalms,” “The Royal Psalms,” “Repentance in the Psalms,” and “The Suffering and Glory of Messiah in the Psalms.” The wise insights and personable writing style make you feel as though you’re having a deep conversation with Nancy about the scriptures, but this series works well in group study too.

If you’re as interested in the psalms and wisdom books of the Bible as I am, you might decide to do what I did: Soak up both of these excellent resources from Crossway.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible, writer in all genres, and poet-author of the Bible-based book of poetry Outside Eden


Psalms: A 12-Week Study from the Knowing the Bible series, paperback



The Wisdom of God (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Book, paperback



Outside Eden,paperback


May 9, 2014

The One Year Book of Psalms


As a Christian poet, I’m naturally (and, most likely, supernaturally) drawn to the biblical Psalms. Over the years I’ve collected a number of books that approach these prayer-poems from various angles, ranging from poetic retellings to lengthy discussions about as dry as parchment left out in the sun. However, The One Year Book of Psalms brings another perspective by placing a lively New Living Translation of each Psalm on one page with a related word or reading on the page adjacent.

Published by Tyndale House, this highly recommended book gives us entry into “exquisite poetry, crisp theology, and stirring history,” but, as the Preface goes on to say, Psalms “are far more than all that. Most of all, they are intensely personal. The Psalms meet us where we are, and they take us to where we ought to be. You don’t have to dress up for the Psalms. Come as you are.”

We’re free to bring our real selves to these biblical writings mainly because the Psalmists did! Their honest responses to life and their vulnerability in laying themselves open before God (and us too) give credibility to their faith whether they're expressing their fears, worries, laments, thanksgivings, or praise. We, too, have been there, working through our doubts and bouncing along our up and down emotions, so I felt stunned when I heard someone admit, “I don’t like reading Psalms! I just don’t get them.”

Frankly, this could mean low esteem of God or high expectations for ourselves, straining to “be good,” in which cases, the Psalms might seem shocking. For most of us though, Psalms can become remote whenever the customs, situations, or surroundings seem too distant from our own experiences or background for us to connect well. But, that’s where the readings accompanying each Psalm in this book come to our rescue!

For example, Psalm 24 “may have been written in honor of the Ark coming at last to Mount Zion (I Chronicles 13:8), but that’s only part of the story…. As it approached the city, the gates were commanded to open. The Ark came in, and King David came in," then David’s call to “Open up, ancient gates” not only spoke to that present moment, but also prophetically to the coming of the King of Glory, Jesus Christ.

Many Psalms and, indeed, the whole Bible point to Jesus, so when we read Psalm 68 and see “The Psalmist’s View of the World” where “The kings of all the other nations are coming to pay tribute to the Lord in Jerusalem," we have hope for the future as peoples everywhere return to God.

Besides helping us to envision the situations, scenes, or prophetic possibilities in many Psalms, the adjacent readings in this book also give us a glimpse of some ways the Psalms have spoken to and through social reformers, historical and political leaders, hymn writers, and poets, each of whom brings new insights.

For example, Isaac “Watts had written his first hymn in his teenage years as a protest to his father, a minister. Watts had complained about singing from the old psalter that had been around for over a hundred years, and his father told him, ‘If you don’t like these hymns, write better ones.’ So he did.” Watts then “wrote metrical versions of all the Psalms” with his timeless rendering of Psalm 98 coming to us as “Joy to the World.” Later, George Frideric Handel, who was partially paralyzed and recovering from “bankruptcy after several musical failures,” produced the music for Watts’ poem in the gorgeous masterpiece known as Handel’s’ Messiah.

Lord willing, these blessed prayer-poems and the readings about them will continue to uplift, inspire, and empower us for the work we've been given to do in Jesus' Name.


© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer


The One Year Book of Psalms, paperback




December 5, 2013

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, NLT

What a Bible for Bible lovers! If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for your pastor, Bible teacher, biblical writer, or a Bible student who already has a study Bible or readers’ edition, the Chronological Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation (NLT) from Tyndale House Publishers makes an excellent choice. Having another Bible first matters only because the books in this edition have been arranged chronologically, rather than by traditional groupings, so if you want to look up a passage quickly, say, during a discussion in your study group, you’d need to know the book of Job most likely occurred before the time of Moses in order to find its placement. The easier way, though, is to look up the scripture you want in the “Canonical Table of Contents” in the opening pages, where you might find Haggai and Zechariah interacting with the book of Ezra and the Gospel stories intermingled.

Despite the confusion some have when flipping pages can't be done efficiently, the chronological arrangement clearly shows how books in the same time period relate to one another. For example, after fleeing from King Saul (I Samuel 22), David wrote Psalm 57, which places those passages together in this edition.

As portions of scripture weave together in time, the introductions and overviews of each book needed to be gathered in one section entitled “The Bible, Book-by-Book.” Also, in the back pages, you’ll find a “Master Index,” concordance, and maps, along with other features you might expect in any good study edition.

Throughout this edition, you’ll find the type of footnotes and “Personality Profiles” that made the Life Application Study Bible a popular choice, but the unique features of the Chronological Life Application Study Bible come as a clock or calendar.

For example, the article “A Chronological Study of the Bible” in the opening pages provides a brief but helpful overview of biblical history from creation to the first century church. However, the feature I especially love is the “Complete Biblical Timeline” that lets me know the Egyptians built the pyramids not very long after the flood, which makes me wonder if the design occurred as an attempt to get above water level!

Also, in Egypt, papyrus and ink were invented for writing and horses domesticated long before the birth of Abraham. About the time his grandsons, Jacob and Esau, were born, Stonehenge appeared in England, and within a couple years of the birth of Jacob’s son, Joseph, someone invented the wheel.

In Babylon, Hammurabi wrote his code of law around 300 years before the laws came through Moses. About 50 years after Moses’ death, King Tut entered his famous tomb, and, about ten years before a whale swallowed Jonah, Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Such interesting information continues for several pages, and then a brief timeline tops each page of scripture, keeping us connected to the world context in which the Bible lives on and on as the living Word of God.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.


Chronological Life Application Study Bible, hardback



Chronological Life Application Study Bible, Kindle, e-book





January 4, 2013

Bibles for children

A couple of years ago I bought The Beginner’s Bible by zonderkidz, the children’s publishing division of Zondervan, in hopes of having a kid-friendly Bible story book on hand to read when our young grands visited. My plan got waylaid, however, when they liked the book so much, they took it home!

Those well-told, well-illustrated stories have an easy-to-follow format that eases the way for parents or grands to read to young children. I'd review that edition here, but, well, I don't have a copy.

For kids just starting to read the Bible by themselves, I like these two editions on my bookshelves.

[Note to publishers: If you have other Bibles for children, I’d be happy to receive a review copy. Just Contact me through my website. Thanks.]

Deep Blue Kids Bible

Published by Abingdon, this 5.5”x8.5” edition comes in a deep blue cover and easy-to-read Common English Bible (CEB) translation that’s been accepted for use in many mainstream churches. So I especially like the idea of the children being encouraged to read the same scriptures heard in church, instead of stories or paraphrases that remove them from the actual words of the Bible.

In addition to the usual contents such as maps and measure charts found in “big people” editions, the Deep Blue Kids Bible includes interesting info, episodes, and insights to help young readers relate Holy Scriptures to their everyday lives. Although the font appears on the thin-ink side, I found the layout easy to follow and the biblical aids helpful.

Hands-On Bible

As a great lover of the church in all its parts and great appreciator of ecumenical efforts that went into producing the CEB, I hesitate to admit it, but I prefer the New Living Translation for readers of all ages. To be more specific, NLT is a personal favorite and the translation chosen for this children’s Bible by Tyndale House.

My first impression, however, was a bit negative as the many helping hands in this Hands-On Bible seemed to be waving and flapping in my face! But school children used to computer chaos will probably be unflappable and able to respond well to the “Learn it,” “Do it,” “Share it,” “Live it” approach taken. The publishers have even included “Secret Messages” through the pages to send children in search of – what else – Bible treasures.

Admittedly, I found some too. What fun, for example, to find an “Is That Possible?” experiment that encourages readers to “Try this ‘impossible’ activity!” 1.) “Fill a drinking glass almost to the top with water. 2.) Drop a small cork into the glass, and make the cork float in the center of the water without touching the glass.” Not going to happen! But then “Now try this” advises young experimenters to “Slowly pour water from another glass until the water rises just above the rim without spilling. The cork will move to where the water is the highest – the center.” The text then goes onto to say “It wasn’t impossible when you knew what to do” then added the side-bar “With God, truly nothing is impossible!”

True, true, but I like the idea of that same experiement being used to fill above the brim with Living Water that just cannot help but center one's cork. Amen?

© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved, but pass it on! To see sample pages from these great choices for kids, click your pick of the pics below:



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