Tuesday, May 31, 2011

June 2011 Giveaway

This month's giveaway is Keri Wyatt Kent's Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 Words from the New Testament. The contest is open to those in the U.S. You can read my review of the book here. The rules to the giveaway have changed a bit. One of the changes is that you can enter a large number of times if you share the giveaway on your blog or Facebook. Every hit registered from your link to the giveaway post will equal an entry. Enter only once with the form below. Entry will close on June 15th. The winner will be announced shortly after.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: NASB In Touch Ministries Wide Margin

The Lockman Foundation has a strong legacy of producing high quality Bibles, and I was greatly impressed by the NASB Side-Column Reference Bible; however, the NASB In Touch Ministries Wide Margin Edition is by far the finest edition of the NASB I have ever seen, and it might be the nicest Bible I have ever handled. This calfskin wide margin Bible was designed in partnership with Charles Stanley (a well-known abuser of Bible editions (edit: He always wraps the back cover around the front, which puts a lot of stress on the binding)) and reflects a distinct usability with the finest craftsmanship. Dr. Stanley's introduction to the edition immediately reveals the heart behind this Bible's intentional design:

I'm excited to join The Lockman Foundation in creating the In Touch Ministries Edition of the NASB. This Bible features the translation of God's Word that is most accurate to the original languages, with greatly expanded margins perfect for extensive note-taking. Included are a solid concordance and an impressive full color map section. We also have selected a wonderful imported paper that will not allow distracting bleed-through of the text. The unique binding allows this Bible to open and lie flat from the first time you use it. Finally, we chose premium cover materials--top-grain cowhide, genuine leather, and hardcover--to make it a lifetime tool.
I am exceptionally impressed with this handsome edition.


The burgundy calfskin edition features a rich color (a bit darker than the pictures reflect), a deep pronounced grain and soft, supple leather. This is the only Bible I've reviewed other than the Cambridge editions which has a leather-lined interior and it gives this Bible a distinct feel. The thickness and softness of the calfskin rivals and may even surpass Cambridge's goatskin editions and is considerably cheaper. The difference between calfskin and goatskin often comes down to individual preference. Goatskin editions come with a natural grain, whereas all other leathers have a grain stamped into the leather. While my Cambridge goatskin Bible has a complex natural grain, the grain on this edition has a greater depth and definition and provides a highly pleasurable texture.

The spine features raised spine bands, which are a favorite feature of mine, and raised bulges at the top and bottom of the spine for added protection.

The dimensions of the Bible are 10.7 x 8 x 2.1 making it slightly taller and narrower than a Cambridge wide margin. The binding is smyth-sewn, providing the most proven and durable method of Bible binding.

This Bible does gymnastics fairly well, though not as flexible as the Side Column Reference its flexibility parallels a Cambridge edition. The flexibility and thickness is achieved not only with supple leather, but with a leather lined interior.

A truly beautiful spine accented by rich gold letters and gilding.



The layout in this edition is one of the major attractions this is a wide margin edition with a very readable 10 point font. The margins themselves are about 1" and 3/16ths on the outside, top and bottom margins and about an inch on the inside margin. As usual the inside margin is smaller than the outside, which is counter-productive. The inside margin curls into the spine and is much harder to write in, which would make a larger inside margin desirable. The outside margins are somewhat smaller than the margins within a Cambridge wide margin, but the top and bottom margins are significantly larger. This could be an advantage depending on your note-taking habits. This edition gains space by foregoing a cross reference system, but takes more space for the larger font.

The 10 point font is very readable and a desirable option, as this is the largest font I know of in a wide margin edition, but this also means the columns are narrower than usual, allowing about 20 verses per page. This allows more space for notes per verse but may also make reading slightly more difficult. This layout takes advantage of a readable font and a format that permits extensive note-taking, highly comparable to the Cambridge editions, but with a few different choices.

This edition features a full 70 page concordance with a very small font, making it fairly extensive. In addition it features 8 color maps and a few pages of blank paper at the end for notes. The cover is complemented by a felt slipcase. The paper in this edition is high quality but perhaps not as high quality as I have seen elsewhere. It should only be a drawback for those with highly selective tastes. This Bible also features some of the best ribbons I have ever seen, they are thick, durable wide and high gloss. This Bible may not feature cross-references or other extras, but it maintains a high quality in all its features.

The In Touch Ministries Wide Margin excels in materials, workmanship and design. It accomplishes elegance and beauty in a classic wide margin format that gives the reader a number of new options, including a larger font and a more even distribution of writing space. While the inside and outside margins may not be as large as some wide margin editions, but the larger font allows more space per verse. This is my favorite NASB of the editions I've handled, and it would be my first recommendation to any note-taker looking for an NASB. Different readers may be looking for different features or aesthetics, but this edition meets my preferences at many levels and provides exceptional quality in a simple approach.

My thanks to the Lockman Foundation for providing this complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review but an honest review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Extra Bibles?

Bible Senders Logo
Do you have some extra Bibles lying around? Maybe some that are well-read but you've replaced with a fresher copy? Bible Senders helps connect individuals with those in need of Bibles and welcomes donations of any extra Bibles you have lying around. While I have not yet used Bible Senders, they may get a shipment from me very soon. There is a desperate urgency for Bibles all over the world. Our affluence and abundance puts us in a unique position to reveal the generosity of God to the rest of the world.

Bible Senders - The Place to Get Free Bibles and Donate Free Bibles to others...  
Help spread the "Good News" worldwide by putting new, used or old bibles back to work! If you are like many Christians, you probably have 3, 4 or 5 extra bibles in different translations and languages, just lying around collecting dust.  Here is a chance to put those used bibles back to work and help fulfill the Great Commission in Mark 16:15.  Join Bible Senders.org as we work to send bibles all over the world and give them "Free Of Charge" to anyone who can't afford a bible and wants to hear the good news!  
Imagine, not having your own bible to read...Today, as you read this, there are still literally millions of people around the world who have yet to hear the Almost Too Good To Be True News.  Together, your family and mine, we can make a difference.  
What you can do...Send us new bibles, your used bibles and / or old bibles.  You can buy new ones online, purchase some at the store, find them at garage sales, do a bible drive in your church or get them from your friends and relatives as there is a huge need for bibles in any version and in every language .  Once you get one or a few  bibles, send them to us and we put them into the hands of individuals and missionary groups not only here in the United States but all around the world.  So, come on, share the love, get off your duff and send us your dusty bibles and get to work fulfilling the Great Commission in Mark 16:15!  
What we will do...When we receive your extra bibles, we ship them or hand deliver them into the hands of those who ask, "Free Of Charge" its as simple as that!    If you are a Christian missionary out in the trenches preaching biblical truths, a Christian who can't afford a study bible or a Non Believer who is asking; "Is God real" and "If he is,  how does Jesus fit in the the story?"  We will send you a free bible to help you with your biblical studies and finding God's bible promises

For more information on the scarcity of Bibles check out this article from VOM. They have numerous articles on the need for the Bible around the world and in persecuted churches.

Statistics for VOM's Bibles Unbound program.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Watchman Nee on Meditation

Both Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2 tell us that we have to meditate and dwell on the word of the Lord all the time. At ordinary times (i.e., other than the times when we are reading the Bible), we should meditate on the Lord's Word. We should learn to mold our thoughts according to the thoughts of the Bible. We should be meditating whether or not we are reading the Word. Romans 8:6 speaks of the "mind set on the spirit." This means that we should think on the spirit, and fix it on the spirit. This verse does not mean that we should set our mind on the spirit only, but that we should have a mind of the spirit. We should not just concentrate on the spirit, but should have a concentration that is of the spirit. In other words, whenever our mind turns, it should always turn to God's Word. No matter what the circumstances may be, our mind should always be fixed on God's Word. This is a matter not of artificial reminding but of spontaneous meditating. Ordinarily, our mind should be a mind that is set on the Word. Our mind should not be set on the Bible only when we are thinking about the Bible; it should be on the Bible even when we are not thinking about it. We should be inclined toward God's Word in a spontaneous way.
There are two sides to our meditation. On the one hand, we meditate when we read the Bible. On the other hand, we meditate at all times. When we are reading the Bible, our mind should be meditating on God's Word. But when we are not reading the Bible, we should also be actively exercising ourselves with our trained mind. It is not a matter of forcing ourselves to think about the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will direct our thoughts in this direction, and it will become part of our habit. Once we develop such a habit, we will spontaneously become rich in the Lord. (Watchman Nee, How to Study the Bible p.86-87)

Watchman Nee presents an alternative side to meditation, one that does not demand intense concentration or patience or internal stirring, but an identity in the Word and the continuing process of the Holy Spirit renewing our mind and establishing us in the mind of Christ. In a world of quick hits and many distractions, it is comforting to know that the Holy Spirit is more energetic than the things around us vying for our attention. He aggressively and vivaciously plants scripture within our thoughts and heart. When we read and study, the Word is planted within us. The Holy Spirit sets it bubbling up within our mind and heart, creating a different king of meditation: a mind of the Spirit. I once heard a preacher say, just let your mind wander, wherever it goes, that's where your heart is. This also is meditation: a mind that wanders back to the Word.

New Nature Video (on vimeo and youtube)

Download the audio and the transcript from my earlier post on the project.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: The Almighty Bible

The Almighty Bible is a new and exciting project which aims to present the entire narrative of the Bible in a graphic novel format for teen and preteen audiences. What makes this project so attractive is that they are publishing individual books of the Bible with an almost complete text of the book in a translation based on the American Standard Bible. This means that a good chunk of the Bible is presented with full color illustrations, elevating this from a simple picture Bible to an elaborate and thorough illustrated version of the Bible.

The Almighty Bible is edited down from the World English Bible translation, that is itself based on the 1904 American Standard Translation. The chapters and verses that are the source for each page are listed on each page of the book and the full text is a simple two-fingered tap away on the iPAD version. The Almighty Bible is produced under the direction of Kevin O'Donnell who has 25 years of experience with high level children's projects, including Liberty's Kids on PBS (which he created and co-produced) - The Adventures of Hyperman (on CBS - which he co-created and produced) and interactive games for companies like Lucas Arts, IBM and Sundance.
Professor Tremper Longman III, PhD (Yale) writes forewords for the books and helps bring his insight to the project as the team attempts to be as historically accurate as possible, in terms of dress and technologies of the times. The Almighty Bible is created in a manner that maintains the drama and excitement of these amazing books but is also respectable of family norms and values when it comes to the nature of the images. Pastor Charles Kim heads a multi-denominational Advisory committee that is designed to keep The Almighty Bible on track for years to come.

Moses begged Yahweh and said, "Repent of this evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you said, 'I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.'" Yahweh repented of the evil which he said he would do to his people. Exodus 32:11-32:14

The illustrations are not elaborate but they are dynamic and hold a strong style, almost appearing like stills from a Disney film. They illustrate the text and give movement and emotion to the story, helping the imagination and providing emotional detail to the text. This combination with solid biblical text creates a good transition from a children's Bible to a full Bible. The Almighty Bible is currently available in Genesis and Exodus, with the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Acts soon on the way. In addition to the hard copies, the Almighty Bible is available for the IPad and on CD.  

This project has innumerable strengths because of its emphasis on accessible storytelling, technology, art and depth; however, there are a few notable weaknesses. First, the Almighty Bible features an abridged form of the text. This is true for all children's Bibles, but this is understood because of the limitations regarding the age group. You could argue that many teens and preteens are capable of reading at an advanced enough level to appreciate the full text, and anytime you abridge the Bible, you risk losing the meaning and negatively influencing the interpretation and meaning of the text. It's risky business, especially the closer you get to the whole text because the abridgment becomes more intentional. Children's Bibles are understood to be a loose paraphrase. Will this project be understood that way, or will it be approached as a whole Bible? 

The second negative is one I noticed immediately: the unrealistic portrayal of the supernatural. Surrounding Jesus's miracles with bright lights and some sort of magic energy adds an unreality to the text and could easily encourage people to not believe in Christ's miracles. The power of God becomes something akin to the magic of children's movies or worse. When Jesus healed someone it was real, but there wasn't magic energy and stirring music, it was unseen power manifested in a healing and miracles, to portray otherwise makes it seem like magic. In addition, not all of the illustrations are in the best possible taste and depending on your personal convictions may portray moments like Adam and Eve in the garden in too graphic a presentation. This is part of the battle between literary and graphic presentation for all artists and publishers must decide what is better left to the imagination. My hope, however, is that projects like these will help engage the imagination in a positive way and encourages readers to better understand the engaging reality of the narrative of scripture.

In spite of these weaknesses, I am pleased with the ambition of the project and the holistic approach of the material. I may have wished the publisher would have gone about it a little differently in some areas, but this still makes a great bridge between the Children's Bible and the whole text if your adolescent needs such a bridge. The graphics' ability to draw the reader in should be useful and accessible. I hope The Almighty Bibleopens the door for many comprehensive illustrated Bibles and opens the Bible afresh for a young generation. You can flip through Genesis and Exodus below.

My thanks to Apple of the Eye publishers for providing complimentary review copies of Genesis and Exodus. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest review.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Top Bible Verses to Memorize Wallpaper

Inspiks once again has created a phenomenal wallpaper for scripture memorization. I highly reccomend browsing through their site and picking up more wallpapers to help memorize and illustrate scripture or create a visual for meditation on the word.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sermon Jam and Transcription: New Nature

Earlier this month in the Jots and Tittles May 2011 post, I linked to a sermon jam I created from a sermon from Graham Cooke on the new nature. The sermon offered a fresh, redemptive perspective on a familiar concept and one that has been absolutely paramount to my own growth as a Christian: our death and life in Christ. Cooke's message is overwhelmingly positive, incredibly encouraging and transforming. His words reflect the heart of God and the eyes of grace.

I took the sermon and cut and pasted various pieces together using Audacity and added background music to blend the piece together. Later, I transcribed the recording and added relevant scriptures to support various points. 

One of the comments on the Jots and Tittles post follows:

 re the New Nature sermon - when he got to Phil 4:8, well, pass the kleenex...really needed to hear that. This is a concept that was never "taught" at our mainline denomination - it was almost considered impertinent to believe that the Lord wanted to have a direct part in your life. It's hard to shake off the teachings of decades (I'm in my 40s) and re-learn what the Bible really says/means. Don't have a clue who that was (maybe you could give an answer later in the month? and what was the music as well?)Thank you for sharing this.Lynn in ON, Canada

God is using this message to teach us His heart and renew our minds: to redirect our eyes off of our failures and our old nature and onto our new nature, the nature of Christ within. The music is from James Newton Howard's soundtrack to The Village. I don't recommend many movies these days, but I wholeheartedly recommend the soundtrack. 

Part of the transcription is below. The full transcript and New Nature sermon jam have been uploaded using Digital Dropbox. Download them by right clicking and clicking "save link as..." I hope you are blessed.

 New Nature
Graham Cooke
(Taken from a sermon preached at the Mission Vacaville on 4-11-2010.)

The paradox for you spiritually is that a part of your life is already a finished work, but another part of it is an ongoing work that’s clearly not finished. The finished part of you is the old nature: it’s dead.
 How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:2-4
Your old nature is dead; God is not going to resurrect it. You’re not allowed to raise it from the dead in any way, shape or form. Neither is your wife or your husband.  There is a part of you that is a finished work. Your old nature is dead. It’s in the ground; it’s buried; it has a personal headstone. There is no possibility of it coming back. God says to you in Romans 6:11, “consider yourself dead…but alive to me.” 
…our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:6-7
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11

So the finished part of the work of God in you is that you’re dead. Jesus came to deal with your old nature. 
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
Colossians 2:11-13

The Bible says that God dealt with sin once and for all, which means He’s not dealing with your sin anymore. It’s dead. 
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Romans 6:10

He’s not resurrecting a corpse. He’s not dealing with your old nature. Why would God deal with your old nature and tell you that it’s dead at the same time? Does that make sense? That doesn’t make sense to anybody. It certainly doesn’t make sense to the Lord. Because He’s not a schizophrenic, so He wouldn’t say to you, “You consider this dead. Oh, but I’m dealing with your old nature.” 
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11
So when God puts His finger on a part of your life that’s not working He’s inviting you into the site of your next miracle. He’s saying, “We’re going to bring some life into this area.” So we’re in Christ. We’re dead. We’re learning to be Christ-like. We’re learning to be alive in Him. 

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

The role of Jesus was to kill off the old nature. The role of the Holy Spirit is to establish your new nature. So everything that God is doing in your life, He’s not working with the old nature. It’s dead. He’s working with your new nature. So God is not dealing with your sin; He’s establishing your righteousness.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 So when He puts His finger on a part of your life that’s not working, He’s not bringing condemnation into that area because He knows it’s already dead. But the thing is we don’t have a sin nature anymore. We have a sin habit. There are some things that we’ve learned over the years, and now that we’re in Christ we’re learning how to stop doing those things because we’ve done them so long it’s almost second nature. And what God is doing is, He’s dealing with the residue. He’s dealing with the habit that we’ve had of always thinking this way, of always behaving this way, that when we’re under pressure or under threat we push back. We react, but we’re learning not to react. We’re learning to respond. So when He puts His finger on a part of your life that’s not working, what He’s actually saying to you is, “I have something for you, in this area.” When God looks at you He doesn’t see what’s wrong with you, He sees what’s missing from your relationship with Him. And He’s absolutely committed to giving you that. He’s dealing with your new nature. He’s establishing who you really are. 
put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

Therefore, when God puts His hand on a part of our life that’s not working, we’re really excited because God is saying to us, “I’ve got something for you in this area. I’m taking away from you something that you don’t like, and don’t want, and I’m going to give you something you’ve been crying out for. I’ve come to give you life.” Jesus didn’t say, “I have come that you might have meetings and have them more abundantly.” He said, “I have come that you might have life.” So when He puts His finger on a part of your life that’s not working, He’s got some life to give you because He’s already done the death thing. Now He’s giving you the life thing. 
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,  by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 1 Peter 1:1-4

There is a part of our walk with God that’s a finished work, but there’s a part of our life that’s an ongoing work, because we’re learning how to grow up in all things in Christ. Here’s the thing, when God puts His finger on a part of your life that’s not working, He doesn’t say, “Let’s fix this.” He says, “Lay it aside.” You lay aside the old nature. You don’t work on it. 
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, Ephesians 4:22
 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, Colossians 2:11

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, Colossians 3:8-10

He doesn’t want to throw you a quick CD on five ways of dealing with your anger problem. He just looks at you and says, “You don’t have an anger problem, you’re dead. What you have is that you haven’t discovered yet how to be gentle.” When He’s dealing with your frustration, He doesn’t throw you a book: Fourteen Ways How Not to be Frustrated. He says to you, “You’re not frustrated. You’re dead. What I’m dealing with now is your patience. If you had patience, you wouldn’t be frustrated, so I don’t want to deal with your frustration. I want to give you some patience.” Always He’s dealing with our new nature: who we really are in Jesus. He’s dealing with your true self, your real self, in Christ. So the Holy Spirit is always energized when He talks to you because He’s only dealing with what is good. He’s looking at you thinking, “Brilliant, let’s deal with this next.” So when He puts His finger on something and says, “I want to deal with this,” You’re going, “That would be so cool!” It’s like somebody coming to your house and saying, “I want to remodel your kitchen for free.” Of course you’re going to sit there and say, “Well, I’m not really sure about that. A new cooker, brand new fridge? I don’t know. I don’t know. What? New countertops? A new floor? New everything? I don’t know. I’m going to have to pray about this.” In a pig’s eye you’ll think like that. You’ll be saying, “Here’re the keys to my house.” When God comes to your life and touches a part of your life, He’s saying, “I’m absolutely committed to remodeling this area and making it completely new. And no, we’re not just going to change out a few things.” God doesn’t want to fix you because you were too bad to be fixed. You had to be destroyed. You were too bad to cleanse; you had to be crucified. He ain’t trying to fix you. He’s already killed you. He’s not resurrecting your old man. So neither are you. This is where we become Christ-like. 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 1 Corinthians 5:17
 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. Galatians 6:14-15

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Your Dream Bible

Randy just posted a great article over at Bible Buying Guide describing his dream Bible. This is something many of us have spent time thinking about and publishers have yet to satisfy most of us. Hop over and comment on the article and let us know what your thoughts are and if you have a dream Bible in mind. I have a few. I'm still waiting for my KJV/Amplified parallel interleaved edition. . .

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Creating Cross References

Cross-References are one of the oldest, most trusted and most effective Bible study tools, and while there are many complex and extensive cross-reference schemes, the fundamental principle behind cross-references is simple. Applying that principle can reach great depth.

One of the fundamental principles of Protestant biblical interpretation is that "Scripture is its own best interpreter." Luther expressed this principle with the words, Scriptura sui ipsius interpres ("Scripture is its own expositor"), and it was summed up by the authors of the Westminster Confession thus: "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture ... it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly." For this reason the most important feature of any edition of the Bible (aside from the quality of the translation itself) is the system of cross-references provided in the margin, which helps the reader to find out the meaning of any hard place by "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor 2:13). A good set of cross-references, when used diligently and with intelligence, will make much commentary unnecessary.
Bible-researcher.com does a phenomenal job of explaining the philosophy and method behind cross-references.
Cross-references follow a simple logic and can operate a number of ways. My Cambridge ESV features an explains the following types of cross-references featured in their edition

  1. References to Specific Words or Phrases.
  2. Comparative References. These references direct the reader to passages with the same theme.
  3. Less Direct References. These references generally provide additional information or insight about a specific theme.
  4. Quoted References. These references indicate the source for verses or phrases quoted from other places in the Bible.
References to specific words or phrases seem to be the most common. Similar language causes recognizable association. This means that cross-references will vary by translations in a similar way that concordances do. Comparative references and less direct references fall under the umbrella of topical references, which link verses by content, topic or theme rather than language or wording, though the two often converge.

One of the most common ways to take notes in your Bible is to create your own cross-references in the margins, linking verses that interpret and illuminate each other. Often the process and order of creating these cross references leads to new revelation as topics connect and diverge, one theme leads to another and the relationship between topics in the Word often brings light. The Word's relationship and association with itself is astounding as it confirms and empowers itself, while also creating tension within itself.

A brother in Christ and on the mission field here studies the Bible predominately through creating cross references. The margins of his Bible are filled with references and topical studies that often converge and morph into new topics and associations. As we struggle through difficult situations and conflicts in life and on the mission field, he often copies down references from his Bible into diagrams and gives them to me for study. Our conversations have led to the creation of many of these studies, and cross-references have become part of our fellowship and ongoing dialog in discerning the will and Word of God.

The above diagram tracks topics of freedom, authority, righteousness and the second coming.

This features a study on faith and works, living out a radical lifestyle that confirms our faith, a topic we are basing our high school camp around in August.

Cross-references have the potential to create a dialog within scripture itself, isolating the Word of God within itself to allow it to bring light to itself. Our goal should always be to find the best interpretation of scripture through scripture itself.

For more understanding of how to create cross-references and topical chains see this post from Studiesinscripture.com.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms


Zondervan's new Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms couples succinct information with an attractive presentation, creating a highly accessible resource. Accessibility may be the greatest strength and the greatest weakness to this volume. The book gives basic information and insight into each psalm, but does so on a quickly and easily digestible level. Most adept students of the Bible will find their knowledge amplified, but will probably not regularly find new understanding. This makes the volume good for a devotional supplement or for a quick reference beyond a simple study Bible; however, a pared down commentary may be even more beneficial to an apt student.

The format of the book assigns each psalm a page (even 119) and gives brief commentary on Theme, Type, Author, Structure, Special Notes: which includes language issues, cross references, etc. and Reflection, which operates as a short summary or introduction to the psalm. Included is an attractive color scheme and some pleasant (though not always relevant) illustrations.

One of the most useful sections in the book is the front which includes a large number of indices and resources for topical study. These studies should be useful for any number of purposes.

The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms presents basic information and background on each psalm and important concepts for understanding the context of the psalm. It does not include lenses for interpretation or vast segments on application. It does not provide piercing theological explanation or deep word studies. In some cases, a thorough study Bible may do more for explaining the psalm than this resource simply because it doesn't give explanation or reflection for specific verses. Digestibility is a main value in this work. The information is highly introductory and partnered with a format and presentation that gives clarity and makes it highly readable and highly accessible. The entire book could probably be read in a couple hours. This makes it limited as a reference work and probably more suited to a devotional work. The charts and indices in the front are the piece most suited for deeper study and reference. Much is left to be desired, but if you approach the book as a devotional aid or supplement to basic understanding rather than a reference tool it becomes much more useful. I would recommend the volume for those looking for some basic introductions to the psalms that they can absorb quickly or use for devotional study. I would definitely not recommend it to scholars or mature students of the Bible as a reference or study tool, as they will be looking for something either more academically satisfying. I would probably not recommend it as a preaching aid either because it lacks a consistency of interpretation involving the new covenant or the gospel. These are not necessarily weaknesses if you understand the focus of the work as fairly limited: a simple, accessible introduction to each psalm. Within that focus The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms succeeds by majoring on accessibility.

My thanks to Zondervan for providing this complimentary review copy.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Jots and Tittles May 2011

Lot's of good reads and resources to post this month. Last month's poll results are in. Thanks to all who voted.

  • Randy from Studies in Scripture has created a new site: Biblebuyingguide.com, which will feature reviews from this site.
  • In the future I will be uploading files in conjunction with the blog using Digital Dropbox. A 2gb account is free. If you sign up for an account using my referral link, we both get an extra 250megs of space.
  • I've created a sermon jam (hosted on Dropbox) from a recent sermon on our New Nature that is challenging my view of myself and others and provides what may be a controversial freshness. Comment on this post identifying the speaker (a bit controversial himself) to receive a No-Prize. Comment and let me know if you love it or hate it.
  • For those interested in my missionary activities my May Newsletter is up and almost in the mail.

And here I thought it was discipline.