Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Poll: Double Column or Single Column Layout

Double Column Bibles dominate the market and have tradition on their side, but the Single Column layout is on the rise and has a devoted following. Which do you prefer and why? Comment on this post to give me your opinions, rants, discussions, theses etc., and vote on the poll on the left, which will be up for about a month.

Poll Results: How Often Do You Use a Concordance?

This poll did not receive a great turnout. As you can see A Few Times a Year and Almost Everyday tied at 23% of the vote (6 votes each) with Not Enough to Remember close behind. It seems that about a quarter of the readership uses a Concordance very frequently, while 42% infrequently. There was of course the notable outlier of the reader who was using one at the time of their vote. Hopefully the next poll will receive a better turnout.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall/Winter Giveaway! ESV Single Column Reference

Biblereadingproject.com is holding its first ever giveaway!

Crossway recently announced that it will be ending production of its ESV Single Column Reference Bible, a favorite among Bible layout aficionados and Bible Design Blog readers. You can read an excellent review by Matthew Blair and see pictures of this edition here.

# 10-point type
# 14,500-entry concordance
# Words of Christ in black
# Size: 6.5″ x 9.25″
# 1,812 pages
# Verse-by-verse rather than in paragraphs—every verse begins a new line
# Wide 1 1/8″ margins for notetaking
# Over 80,000 cross-references in the inside page margins
# Single column

Get a brand new copy of this soon to be out of print edition (TruTone) for absolutely free, shipping included (within the U.S.), by completing one or all of the steps below. The contest will end at midnight November 6th and the winner will be announced on November 8th. I will draw the winner's name from a hat. You have the opportunity to enter your name into the hat three times by completing each of the three steps!


This is the quick, easy, no-strings-attached entry. Just subscribe/follow the blog and comment below for one entry into the drawing.


Bible Reading Project is in the process of creating a gallery of photos featuring pictures of people's favorite personal Bibles. All you need to do is send a photo of your Bible with your name and your general location to Biblereadingproject@gmail.com (you may also want to include the title of the specific edition you are using). I will post the picture in the gallery with your first name and your location. Be creative in your photography. Highlight what makes your Bible distinctive. Capture any marginalia or wear. Take a picture of your Bible in an interesting environment. But please send only ONE picture. The gallery will have a link under the Introductions and Features box at the top left of the site. This is worth one entry in the drawing.


If you have a blog, write a blog post linking to this post and write a comment below with the link or email the link to Biblereadingproject@gmail.com (you never know, I may add your blog to my blogroll). This is worth one entry into the drawing, you may combine this entry with step one (which is just a comment) for two entries.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tears of the Saints

Tears of the Saints from HistoryMaker on Vimeo.

I know this is not a "Bible" post, but please I beg you, whether you go to the field or stay at home, live your life for missions, give to the lost and the dying, sacrifice yourself while living to touch the dying with the gospel.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you. - JESUS, John 20:21

Friday, October 22, 2010

Walkabout with Jeremiah: The Expositor's Bible Commentary - Jeremiah

we have the ultimate paradox: It is a human being who must deliver the word of God. He share's God's outrage; he shares his people's pain. Divine passion and human compassion vie for his soul and threaten to tear him apart. (Brown, 75)

As my walkabout within the book of Jeremiah continues I've moved into the addition of more study aids, which has both advantages and dangers. As I add outside sources to my Bible study, I want to be careful to purpose in my heart to allow those sources to provide an informational context out of which inspiration can come. My desire to learn from scripture directly as illuminated by our teacher the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27, John 14:26, John 16:13) remains in the forefront as I open myself to the voice of of the Spirit in the context of biblical scholarship and pursue inspiration from the hearts and minds of men moved by the Spirit of God. I may be summarizing some of the points I wrote about in Small Beginnings, but as an academically minded student of the Word I have to be careful to maintain a spiritual perspective based on faith in God's revelation rather than in man's scholarship. On the other hand, I must remain humble and seek the wisdom of others as I seek to understand an Old Testament text which has produced countless scholarship as well as countless inspiration. These principles are vital as I go one large, academic step further into the world of biblical resources by adding The Expositor's Bible Commentary to my studies.

 The Revised Edition of The Expositor's Bible Commentary Volume 7 was released this year with a brand new commentary on Jeremiah by Dr. Michael Brown (whose ministry credentials are some of the most interesting I've seen) a revivalist first and a renowned theologian and Bible scholar second.

The volume itself is remarkably handsome and elegant, a vast improvement over the aesthetics of the previous edition of The Expositor's Bible Commentary. This edition will add an atmosphere of nobility to any bookshelf. The size of the volume is fairly large, but well-proportioned for a reference volume. My own intentions, however are not to use it as a reference volume, but to progress through its information slowly and to let the commentary's division of the book into small portions create moments of both study and meditation.

The introduction of the commentary itself is a lengthy essay overviewing the heart of the book and of the man Jeremiah, while also introducing several of the scholarly and theological topics.

The layout of the volume features a portion of scriptures, usually about five verses, in a gray box under a subtitle which introduces the action and/or theme of the passage. Occasionally the scripture is preceded by an overview of a prevalent theme which the passage introduces or preparation for certain difficult interpretative issues. The passage is followed by verse by verse commentary on the thematic, practical and literary interpretation of each verse or thought. The commentary is then followed by detailed notes which delve deeper into interpretation and language issues and suggest sources for further study. Occasionally the notes are preceded by a section of reflection in which the commentator connects the heart of the passage with the heart of practical ministry or with larger theological concerns. The layout itself is well organized and creates a progress of study and understanding, opening the passage for inductive study and then providing a lens with Dr. Brown's comments, which engages the reader to reexamine the text.

The nature of Dr. Brown's commentary partakes of rare excellence. At the forefront is rich, passionate spiritual insight, which is grounded in a context of deep, holistic scholarship. This combination of spiritual and scholarly wisdom creates a matrix of information and inspiration, which leads to reflection and prayer. Dr. Brown's writing engages the heart and the mind as he bravely ventures into the connection between the word of God, the heart of God and the anguished prophet.

Brown writes of Jeremiah 4:19-20:
 For Jeremiah the pain is unbearable. Long before the judgment comes, he already experiences its reality in prophetic vision. Long before Nebuchadnezzar's armies march from Babylon, he has heard the battle cry, watched the troops advancing, seen the terror of his people, and stood among the dead and dying [...] Jeremiah vividly sees everything caving in, one disaster on top of another (seber upon seber), as judgment upon judgment comes crashing down. But the prophet not only identifies deeply with his people; we also see in these verses the total identification of the prophet with the Lord and his word. (p. 130)

Though the passion of Dr. Brown's writing style creates many pithy and pointed phrases, my goal is to take notes from the meditation his commentary inspires, as I endeavor to let his zeal for God's word and the character of Jeremiah inspire my own. Rather than copying down his commentary I try to add notes to my margins based on what strikes my own heart and my own perception of the prophet. At times I feel Dr. Brown views Jeremiah's compassion as too intrinsic; in my own understanding that compassion is a product of the intercessory role within the prophetic role. Jeremiah's compassion is not his own, yet we see his jealousy for God's glory as also not his own, but conflicting with the compassion for the people. Two aspects of God's heart war within Jeremiah's heart, leaving the man himself overwhelmed in the agony of a divine struggle that goes beyond the simple declaration of God's word and empathizes with the heart of the word.

While this post is not intended to simply review the commentary, I cannot help but reccomend it, as it stands out as a stirring resource that goes beyond scholarship. Even in the excellence of Dr. Brown's writing I must be careful to allow the scripture dominate and let his commentary illuminate as I take the understanding I gain to the throne of grace.

A review copy of this book was provided by Zondervan. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest review.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Which None Can Shut by Reema Goode

Reema Goode is the pseudonym of an active missionary inside the Middle East, and Which None Can Shut is a collection of testimonies of God's heart and faithfulness towards those who have never heard the gospel and are branded with the untouchability of Islam. This book is a struggle to review because its sincerity, passion and blessedness are difficult to analyze. It is not spectacularly well written. It is not theologically brilliant. It does not come forward with a new revelation regarding scripture. It quite simply tells the story of what God has done and reveals His heart for the Muslim world. By doing so it fills a desperate need.

Goode’s witness to the miraculous work of God within the Muslim culture gives great hope to those of us who are involved in Muslim ministry and more importantly reminds us of God’s saving power. Modern methodologies for Muslim ministry document the difficulty of bringing the gospel to those so indoctrinated against it, but Which None Can Shut is a poignant reminder that we are not dealing in methodologies, but in the power of God. Reema Goode’s story is a revelation of how God himself moves to save and how it’s His pleasure to use us and move us as He moves to draw all people to himself.

I recommend this book without reserve. It will stir you, it will break you, it will bring you to a place of hunger to see God work. It may disturb your conscience; it may stretch your theology; it may bring you to a place of desperation. It agonized my own heart as I yearn that I might see God work in such a way in my community and in the ministry I share. God is moving in this generation and amongst the Muslim people, and I don't want to miss the opportunity He has given. 

Reema Goode’s testimony is an anointed word of hope to this generation and an indicator of the mighty move of God the future will reveal in the Middle East and in Muslim culture around the world.

I received a review copy of this book through Tyndale Blog Network. I was not obligated to give a positive review, only an honest review.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blog Roll and Favorite Posts

I've added a couple of new features to the blog, including a blog roll, and a list of "Favorite" posts. The blog roll is something I've been meaning to do for some time and just now got around to doing. As you can see, the list changes according to which blog posted latest. Hopefully I will be able to do some "Blog Spotlight" posts, which feature other work I admire in the blogosphere. I will be adding to the blog roll as I find time and material. If you have a blog you read and think I should add, feel free to comment on this post. Most of the blogs I list will relate to Bible Reading Project themes, but I've also included blogs about Muslim ministry (since that has a personal connection for me) and Christian graphic design (because I'm both arty and nerdy).

The "Favorite Posts" section is not called "Popular Posts" because I added at least one post that wasn't on the all time most hits list, which was one of my favorites and wished got more reads; however, most of them would be considered reader favorites according to hits and comments.  Comment and let me know if you have a favorite post you think I've overlooked.

Jeremiah 15:16

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin (Hardcover)

Cambridge's Wide Margin collection includes a number of beautiful options, including a number of hardcovers, which retain Cambridge quality without the prestige and price tag of goatskin (not that I have anything against goatskin). One of Cambridge's hardcover editions comes in the NKJV, a translation which suffers from limited options. Cambridge offers not only the only full size wide margin edition of the NKJV currently available, but what is also one of the best editions of the NKJV period. While Goatskin or French Morocco leather are options out there, the humbler hardcover is worthy of attention for its beautiful simplicity and functional elegance.

The Bible is built like a quality hardback, with a handsomely textured navy blue cover. The dimensions are 7.25 x 9" which is a bit large, but still within normal range for a hardback. The binding is smyth sewn for durability and the rigid cover may protect the binding even better than leather. The edition comes with only a single ribbon, which is something of a disappointment, but that ribbon is much longer than usual, and a more ideal length than the size of the ribbons on the Cambridge ESV Wide Margin. The functionality of the hardcover binding may not be a luxurious as leather, but makes more
sense for those of us who carry our Bibles in backpacks, book-bags, and messenger bags. It is much easier to bend and damage flexible bindings with such carrying methods than the rigid hardcover.

The Cambridge layout is beautiful as always. The paragraph format is broken up by sections of poetry which are laid out in verse by verse format. The inside margin is not as large as the outside, which can be frustrating but is the unfortunate norm for wide margin layouts, and the large amount of space in the header and footer provides ample room for notes that won't fit in the side margins. The paper is the same strong, opaque Bible paper that has pleased margin note takers for years, and the print is likewise the familiar 9/10 that Cambridge has standardized.

Cambridge Bibles include a comprehensive concordance and the NKJV provides an impressive concordance which at initial testing seems better than the one provided in the ESV wide margin (don't forget to vote on this month's poll regarding concordance use). The concordance also provides generous margin space, so additional notes or entries could be made to the concordance if certain verses always seem to be out of reach when most needed.

Two of Cambridge's more unique features, a mysterious "Index to Notes" which consists 26 columns labeled with the letters of the alphabet and a small notebook of lined paper in the back add to the interactive capacity of the Bible and encourage new methods of note taking. Finding ways to use the two features can inspire different methods of study and reflection and give the space you might be missing for sermon notes, outlines or quotes.

The Cambridge maps are always beautiful and in greater supply than most Bibles. While the maps in this older edition are not quite as advanced or aesthetically pleasing as the new ESV edition, they are just as functional and still quite impressive considering the meager fair that often accompanies mainstream editions.

The Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin includes all the features that make the Cambridge's line of Wide Margin Bibles such a success, and I greatly desire to see the editions become more popular. The hardback editions are a beautiful option that in no way sacrifice quality or craftsmanship. They are simply a different option rather than a different level of quality. If the same care is given to the Bible as is given to most high quality leather editions, the hardcover will last just as long. In some circumstances, the hardcover may handle brutality better and the price, though still expensive by mainstream bonded leather standards, is completely reasonable considering that wide margin Bibles are still a fringe option. The Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin is probably the best NKJV edition on the market.

Cambridge provided a review copy. I was not required to give a positive review.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jim Lepage Word Prints Giveaway at Strong Odors

A week ago I featured Jim LePage's Word graphics for the books of the Bible (check out the post). Troy over at Strongodors.com is featuring a free giveaway of a Word print of your choice along with an insightful interview with the artist! The giveaway ends Thursday, so rush over and enter to win.

One of my favorite Word designs that didn't make the last post (and probably the best one conceptually):

Friday, October 1, 2010

Walkabout with Jeremiah: Studying with Sermonindex.net

 If you haven't read my introductory post about my ongoing journey through the book of Jeremiah, you should hop over and read the short description of my desire to engage in a time of discovery and revelation in the book of Jeremiah. During this journey, I'm taking advantage of as many study resources as I can juggle, and this includes one of my all-time favorite websites and a tool God has used to both change my study time and my life. Sermonindex.net hosts sermons from some of the most inspiring preachers of the last century. Their broad focus is presenting genuine biblical revival, but they feature resources from all different areas and span from puritan classics to current preaching. They host the sermons for free and provide a vast amount of material from various men of God.

Study often means juggling a number of books while reading and rereading certain portions of the Bible (in this case the whole book of Jeremiah). For visual, language oriented learners, this is a joy and blessing. We love to pour over words and sentences that carry God's truth. We get excited over small syntactical differences between translations and absorb vast numbers of pages on a daily basis in pursuit of Godly wisdom and rightly dividing the word of truth. And God blesses this. However, a large portion of people are not of this nature and have a harder time absorbing the written word. For them a Sunday morning message or an audio Bible may carry a more active interaction with the word than a week of written Bible study. God has anointed the "foolishness of preaching" to spread the gospel and this originally meant the spoken word from the mouth of a man God called to preach. While much "preaching" and teaching can be absorbed in books, many times the real fire and passion of God's word can be best experienced in the spoken word. Sermonindex is a source of that powerful, anointed word flowing from the lives and studies of men who are called to proclaim and edify the body of Christ. The auditory aspect of the presentation can illuminate new niches of understanding and activate the mind and heart in a different way.

The "index" portion of Sermonindex provides an organization of the messages and sermons, allowing spiritual consumers to effectively search for the message they are looking for. In this case I used "Sermons by scripture" to find a list of all the sermons Sermonindex hosted that featured scripture from the book of Jeremiah.

The results were intimidating and would take a massive amount of hours of listening to fully appreciate. However, the list includes a large number of "Through the Bible" or survey sermons, where Preachers covered the entire book of Jeremiah in a single sermon, highlighting specific points and over-viewing the book with a distinct purpose. I decided to start with a few of these messages and then work my way into individual passages of interest.

The Sermons I used for this project were "Jeremiah" by Leonard Ravenhill, a passionate rambling sermon that touches on the heart and character of the prophet and how that character illuminates Christ, and Through the Bible- Jeremiah and Lamentations by Zac Poonen which is a remarkably fast and insightful journey through both books, highlighting key scriptures with expository deftness and focusing on the private and public life of Jeremiah and the purification of the church. The sermons are highly different with Ravenhill approaching the text with broad passion, while Poonen isolates points quickly with pith and vigor, drawing a complete picture out of specific expository moments spread throughout the book.

Listening to sermons alone with the Bible open and the ability to rewind and take specific notes is an exciting process. You can hang on every word. With an open desk before you, you have room for all your notes, your Bible a few pens and your cd/mp3 player, so there's no book juggling on the pews. When the speaker quotes a reference you can pause the message, find the scripture, read it, write it down and then hit play again. It's absorbing preaching at your own pace. It feels like in depth study, but its less strenuous, more dynamic and provides more texture as you can gain information from the inflection of the voice, the strain of passion in a certain phrase, the sincerity of thought in a certain idea from the scripture. While it may not be as personal a guided study, it can be more inspiring and even relaxing to actually hear someone's voice expounding the scriptures.

Regardless of the sermon style I tend to take notes as if the message was purely expository, writing down the scripture and then copying down points related to that scripture (see my Sermon Notes post).

One of the most exciting points in Leonard Ravenhill's Jeremiah was his opening thought regarding Matthew 16:14. There was something about Jesus that people identified with the ministry and scripture of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was not a man of miracles, though the touch of the miraculous was on his ministry. He was not known as a man of great public compassion, though he wept often over the nation. He was not known as a man of great position or authority, though he prophesied to multiple kings and nations. He did not have a great following, though today every student of the Bible has read his words. Something about this man resonated in the people's mind when it came to Jesus's ministry, so much so, that they considered that Jesus was perhaps Jeremiah raised from the dead. The public perspective was rarely spiritually astute, but perhaps they gleaned a surprising truth from the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was a man of sorrows and anguish; he was gripped by the pain of God's heart and so was Jesus (Isaiah 53:3). Jeremiah was a man of incredible courage as he prophesied in the face of hostile kings, nations and religious leaders, and so was Jesus. Jeremiah was a man of suffering who endured fierce persecution, and so was Jesus. While their lives do not exactly parallel each other, Jeremiah's life itself is a prophecy as to the character of Christ and just as Jeremiah was lifted from the muddy cistern which was to be his death in Jeremiah 38 and continued his prophetic ministry, Christ was raised from the grave on the third day and continues His ministry to this day.

Zac Poonen's vast perspective on the book focuses on how Jeremiah's ministry reflects on the church. One of the most inspiring points was his explanation of God's commissioning of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:10. Poonen explains that Jeremiah had the difficult task of tearing down old religious structures in order to build the foundation for the true church and true worship of God. The initial work is the hardest. God refuses to put a patch on an old garment. He made Jeremiah a man who would challenge the whole religious structure and topple it in order to build and plant a new, true church.

Pull out your MP3 player, download some sermons and grab your Bible and notebook. You won't be disappointed and it might just add a fresh approach and fresh fire to your Bible interaction.