Complete Guide to Bible Journaling (review)

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Complete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your FaithComplete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your Faith by Joanne Fink

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I got this book, I had only a vague idea there was such a thing as Bible journaling and no idea how to go about it or what a movement it had become. But now that I’ve read it, I’m a convert!

What a comprehensive and gorgeous guide this is!

Six sections take the reader through:

Getting Started: An explanation of what Bible journaling is and how to begin.

Tools and Techniques: A walk through many Bible journaling techniques including lettering in different styles, tracing, using stamps, drawing, coloring with colored pencils, preparing Bible pages for paint, painting with watercolour and acrylics, the use of washi tape etc. The book is lavishly illustrated with colour photos that show processes step-by-step and display the finished designs.

Artist Profiles: An introduction to eleven Bible journaling women who have connected and attracted a following on the internet (through their websites and social media). Their stories are as varied as their styles, which go from demurely decorative illustrations filling the margins of journaling Bibles to scrapbooked Bibles chubby with bold whole page paintings and attached memorabilia.

Gallery: An embarrassment of riches here, featuring 20+ pages of Bible journaling reproductions in full colour, organized by themes (“Patterning,” “Coloured Pencils,” “Line Work” etc.).

Resources and Index: In addition to an index of the book, here you’ll find lists of resources—artist websites and the favourite social media hangouts for Bible journalers.

Bonus Section: A final 30+ pages feature examples of lettering styles and simple graphic items as ideas and to copy, stickers and traceable line drawings printed on see-through vellum.

I was impressed by the artistry and beauty of the work with which these women (no, there was nary a man to be found in the pages of this book—pity, I’ll bet some guys would enjoy this as much as the girls) illuminate their Bibles.

The purpose of Bible journaling—to get individuals to interact with God’s word—gets lots of emphasis in the explanations by the authors and the stories of the profiled artists. I appreciated that.

Over and over the authors remind readers that the object of this activity is not to achieve perfect art. The tone is accepting of any effort and a celebration of the wide variety of styles and personalities that come through in the artists’ works as they dig into the Bible. The book makes you feel like you can do it too.

In addition to people who journal in their Bibles, I can see this book being useful to anyone who scrapbooks, as well as to those who enjoy crafts like making cards and wall hangings.

Perhaps not surprisingly I’ve picked out a journaling Bible (Bibles with wide lined margins, especially designed for journaling) in my favourite version and can’t wait to get started. I’m sure my Complete Guide to Bible Journaling will soon look quite used.

I received the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling from the publisher (Design Originals, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing) as a gift for the purpose of writing a review.

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New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NIV) – Kindle version (review)

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New Spirit-Filled Life Bible NIVNew Spirit-Filled Life Bible-NIV-Signature by Jack Hayford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was excited when I found the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NIV) offered for review by Thomas Nelson as an e-book. I have used the hard copy of this Bible (NKJV version) since 2005—and love it!

What sets this study Bible apart from others is its friendliness to Charismatic-Pentecostal belief. First released in 1991, the editor’s introduction tells us that it is the product of more than twenty denominations banding together to produce a study Bible that integrates the Pentecostal-Charismatic viewpoint (Jack W. Hayford is the editor).

Here are some of its study features:

Book introductions and study notes
Each Bible book contains an introduction that deals with the usual: author, date, content (summarized), and personal application. As well, each book’s introduction has a section that talks about how Christ is revealed in the book and a “Holy Spirit At Work” section. These narrative paragraphs are followed by a book outline.

Study notes and cross-references are designated with letters and numbers within the text. All are linked in the e-book version.

The list of book commentary writers is found in the Table of Contents and includes theologians like Wayne Grudem (Romans) and Jack Hayford (Ruth and Ephesians).

Word definitions (Word Wealth)
Easy-to-understand definitions for more than 550 terms make up the Word Wealth feature. In the e-book version a diamond symbol appears next to the defined word. Click on the diamond and word link and you are whisked away to the definition.

Articles on Bible themes (Kingdom Dynamics)
Various authors explore forty-one themes—values and truths that have characterized the church—called Kingdom Dynamics. They are organized into nine clusters that represent a general category of spiritual truth. Each article is linked with two references at the bottom—one to the article preceding and one to the next in the series.

For example, cluster one, “Spiritual Foundation,” contains articles on “The Word of God,” “The Blood of the Covenant,” “The Kingdom of God,” “The Pathway of Praise,” and “Worship.”

In the e-book Bible the words “Kingdom Dynamics” appear in superscript within the text and link to the appropriate article.

Practical application (Truth-In-Action)
Following each book (in the case of the Psalms a section of chapters, for the Synoptic Gospels after Luke) is a feature (Truth-In-Action) that addresses what the book teaches and how it might impact everyday life.

Charts
Thirty-seven charts are sprinkled throughout the text. Some of my favorites are “Israel’s Annual Festivals,” “Israel’s Other Sacred Times,” “The Jewish Calendar,” “The Suffering Servant” (Bible references showing how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah), and “The Harmony of the Gospels.”

In the e-book Bible, for some of these I need to change the orientation of the display on my e-reader from portrait to landscape so that the type displays large enough to be read.

In-Text maps
There are forty-four of these. Not all are actual maps; some are paragraphs explaining the geographical movement of characters. Again, sometimes the display orientation needs to be changed for these to be legible.

Essays
The text of the Bible is followed by a series of essays including several on how to interpret the prophesies of Christ’s second coming and Revelation, several on the work of the Holy Spirit, and more.

Concordance
The book ends with a concordance, created by John Kohlenberger III and developed specifically for use with the NIV. It contains 2,474 word entries with links to over 10,000 Scripture references.

Using the e-book version of this study Bible takes some getting used to. It’s well-indexed and linked though, so despite this Bible’s many features, it’s easy to navigate around. I find my best friends for this are the Table of Contents and the “Back” button of my device. The article “How to Use This Bible” (listed in the TOC) explains the differences between the e-book and print editions. I found it helpful.

What I like about this Bible:

– Its emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.

– The easy-to-understand, devotional style of the articles.

– The Word Wealth feature. As a word nerd I love these. They come complete with the Strong’s Concordance number so it’s easy to look up the Greek or Hebrew word in a Lexicon and do even more in-depth word studies if you like. In the e-book version I like how the linking takes me straight to the word definition article (no paging through the Bible to where the article first appears).

– In the e-book version, every reference is linked. Again, no paging around. But it is easy to forget where I am if I’ve followed several links. “Back” button to the rescue!

– In the e-book version the font size is adjustable. My paper Bible’s font size is tiny and still the book is hefty. With an e-Bible, I can adjust the font size to suit my eyes.

My paper New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NKJV) is getting worn with daily use. I’ve found it an invaluable help in the 41/2 years I’ve written my daily devotional blog. I am thrilled to have this favorite study Bible on my lightweight Kindle. I am ever so grateful to Thomas Nelson for offering this Kindle version of the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NIV) in exchange for a review.

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The B-I-B-L-eBook

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The Bible on Kindle

The Bible on Kindle

In the article “Fifty Shades of the Good Book” Christianity Today writer Sarah Zylstra  reports that having the Bible available as an e-book has boosted Bible sales and reading. This is especially true in places where Bibles are hard to get or there is a stigma attached to going into a Christian bookstore, like Muslim countries:

“The fastest-growing areas for digital Bible reading are where access is restricted, said Troy Carl, national director of Faith Comes by Hearing. The ministry’s second-most popular audio Bible (after English) has become Arabic. On average, those in traditional Muslim countries listen three to four hours at a time—far more than the average three to four minutes of those in developed countries.” (Read all of “Fifty Shades of the Good Book”…)

Personally, though my main study Bible is a physical book, I use the Bible on my ipod quite often during my devotions when I want to check a string of references, in church to follow along with the pastor’s message, and anytime I want to look something up and my ipod is handy. It’s not to hide what I’m reading but because having the entire Bible in a gadget that’s compact and weighs a few ounces is just plain fabulous!

What about you? Has the Bible in ebook made a difference on how you read, study and listen to it?

2012 hand-copied, illuminated Gospel

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A news feature in the spring 2012 Bethany College Connection (the alumni newsletter of Bethany College, of which I am an alumna) caught my eye. I will quote from the press release “Candace’s Gospel Project”:

“First-year students in the ‘Jesus and the Gospels’ course, have a choice for their major assignment: write a research essay, or create a beautiful handwritten copy of one of the four gospels.

This year, Prince Albert, SK, student Candace Bighead produced a gospel manuscript that was simply outstanding. Candace, who was often seen around campus sketching and doodling, illustrated a copy of the Gospel of John with over 80 drawings to illuminate the life of Christ.

Most drawings are coloured with pencil crayon, and many are embellished with the thick textures of window paint, often to portray glistening water, wine, or blood. Some of the drawings are more abstract, evoking the theological symbolism of John.

The gospel itself, all 21 chapters, is copied in a very even calligraphic script.
Candace had this to say about the process of writing out this manuscript:

“My manuscript is my prayer journal. I have prayed, reflected, bled, and cried throughout writing and creating it. Drawing the whip marks and the blood of Christ just seeped into my heart and mind.”

For Candace, this was an amazing labour of love. After finishing, she estimated that she spent over 200 hours on this project.”

Gospel of John - Candace Bighead

Drawings from Candace Bighead’s hand-copied Gospel of John || Candace receiving “Award of Excellence”

I’m thinking, WHAT A FABULOUS WAY TO BRING THE BIBLE TO LIFE—one’s own and others!

Read the Bible in 2013

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Girl reading Bible

Let the Bible change you in 2013

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to read the Bible in 2013? Would you like to read through the entire book (or, more accurately, the library of 66 books)? Or maybe you’re not that ambitious. Whatever your goal, there’s a Bible reading plan for you. Below is a list for you to look over now, so that you’re ready to jump in come January 1st!

BiblePlan.org lists thirteen plans that go from reading the whole Bible in a year to the Psalms in a month. You can view each plan on the web and/or be reminded by receiving it each day by email. Each plan is available in several languages and translations.

NavPress.com describes and links three downloadable Bible reading plans:

  • 5 x 5 x 5: five minutes per day, 5 days per week, 5 ways to dig deeper. This plan takes you through one chapter each day. You will read through the New Testament in a year.
  • A book at a time with the gospels spread throughout the year plan takes you through the Bible in a year.
  • The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan reads from four places in the Bible each day and also takes you through the Bible in a year.

Download all of the above from this page

Don Whitney’s Bible Reading Record (link is a pdf) lists every chapter of The Bible so you can check them off, whatever pace or plan you go with.

I found that last link on Justin Taylor’s article “Bible Reading Plans for 2012,” which has more plans and links to articles explaining why reading the Bible is important and the strengths and weaknesses of various reading plans.

Or you can join me at Other Food Daily Devos. There you will find the linked daily readings prescribed by the Canadian Bible Society and a brief devotional. What , of the Bible will you read by following this plan? According to the brochure which contains the list of readings (link downloads a pdf):

“The 2013 Daily Bible Reading Guide is the 28th consecutive one prepared by the Rev. Dr. K. L. Peterson. It is based on texts used in the Revised Common Lectionary and other lectionaries such as those used by Anglicans, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics…. If the Guide is used every day during 2013, 56 books of the Bible will be utilized and 11 will be read in their entirety. With intention for 2013, all 79 biblical texts used by G. F. Handel in his oratorio ‘Messiah’ will be read, as will all the 12 so-called Great Prayers of the Old Testament.”

Happy reading as you peruse this book of books, hear God speak through it, and allow it to impact your life!

Devotional with fit tips (review)

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Women of Strength - a devotional to improve spiritual andWomen of Strength – a devotional to improve spiritual and by Kimberly Payne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kimberley Payne takes us through the year in her devotional e-book Women of Strength. No, that’s not through the year as in 365 devotions, but through it in twenty-four, six each in sections devoted to the seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.

Each devotion is further divided into several parts. In the first, Payne talks frankly about some aspect of her life, relating her everyday experience to her spiritual journey and encouraging us to do the same.

The next section, “Exercise Your Funny Bone,” contains cute chucklers like: “The Best Vitamin for a Christian: B1” – (Kindle Location 108).

In “You Asked” she answers a common fitness or exercise question.

“Faith Lift” is a prayer.

In “Reflection” Payne talks about how she’s putting her exercise and diet resolves into practice in everyday while life—taking into account the season.

“Top Tip” is a cautionary tip for readers. For example, the tip for the first devotional is to check with your doctor before making significant changes in your physical activity level.

“Bible Truth” is a Bible verse to read and/or memorize.

“Challenge” contains a diet or exercise challenge, e.g. “Drink one less caffeine beverage per day” (KL 125).

And in the final part, “Praise Move,” Payne describes a physical exercise readers can try, along with advice on what to avoid when doing it.

I found this a great little devotional for several reasons. For one, Payne’s writing style is warm, friendly and easy to understand. She often tells on herself, reassuring us that we’re not the only ones that fall off the diet and exercise wagon.

The seasonal aspect of the book gives us an opportunity to see Payne in action throughout the year. Especially in the “Reflection” part, we see how she deals with seasonal challenges like exercising outside in winter, the changing schedule of summer holidays when the whole family is underfoot, and incorporating exercise into days when her children need her attention.

I really like her emphasis on living life in balance, which includes balance in exercise—she encourages a combination of flexibility, strength, and aerobic exercises—balance in eating, balancing the needs of family with personal needs, and balance in not allowing secular demands choke out spiritual life.

I found the “You Asked” sections informative. And though all the “Funny Bone” jokes were amusing, several were really quite hilarious.

This book would be great for personal use. I can also see it being a good resource for a woman’s Bible study group in the way it brings up a variety of topics for discussion, deals with seasonal challenges, encourages healthy living, and has a built-in activity (exercise) component.

You’ll make fit ladies out of us all yet, Kim!

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Dynamic duo by Laura J. Davis (review)

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Come to Me

Come to Me by Laura J. DavisFictionalizing the story of any Bible character is tricky, but Laura J. Davis chose some of the most sensitive characters when she set out to write Come to Me—the story of Jesus’ life as seen through the eyes of His mother.

Mary’s narrative begins with her betrothal to Joseph, and ends after Jesus’ resurrection. Her attentive audience includes Matthew and Luke, who intend to write her story, as well as fictional characters who accompany her on travels to join John the Beloved (who, in Davis’s tale, is Jesus’s cousin).

Davis, aware of the sensitivity of the characters she is fictionalizing (“With some works of fiction, a writer is free to do what he or she pleases. However, when it is about the Son of God that freedom is somewhat limited” –  from the Foreword) sticks pretty close to the Bible account. Thus don’t expect to find extra-scriptural scandals or controversial “what ifs” in Come to Me.

What you will find is a warm, caring mother who struggles, as mothers do, with letting their kids go, seeing them make mistakes (as Mary interprets some of the things Jesus does), and watching them suffer and die. She comes across as deep, wise, with the odd glint of mischief and humor, but above all a woman worthy of respect.

The experience of seeing Jesus’ life through a mother’s eyes was one of the things I enjoyed most about the book. Another moving aspect was the heart-rending portrayal of Jesus’ passion, recalling scenes of Mel Gibson’s film Passion of the Christ.

This book would be a great addition to any home, church or Christian school library.

Title: Come to Me

Author: Laura J. Davis

Publisher: Word Alive Press, October 21, 2010, 338 pages, paperback & Kindle versions

  • ISBN-10: 1435705564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435705562

Learning From the Master

Learning From the Master by Laura J. DavisDavis has also written a twelve-week study guide, Learning from the Master, to accompany Come to Me.  This workbook assigns chapters from Come to Me to read, then introduces discussion topics pulled from the chapters (over twenty topics in all), and poses questions with space left in the book to write the answers.

The study guide underlines and reinforces the novel’s themes of surrender, trust, and how to translate principles from the life of Jesus and His mother into modern living.  Learning From the Master also includes word studies, explanations of the history and setting of the times, lists, and a timeline of the Passion Week. Each lesson ends with a prayer

Davis’s friendly conversational style is sure to make this a popular study. It deals with many Bible themes, refers to lots of Scripture, and I can only think that twelve weeks spent in this kind of study would encourage the best kind of spiritual growth. The study guide could be used independently from the novel, however the two together would make an excellent resource for use in Bible studies or book clubs.

Title: Learning From the Master

Author: Laura J. Davis

Publisher: Word Alive Press, March 22, 2012, 124 pages, paperback & Kindle versions available

  • ISBN-10: 1770695125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770695122