Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Understand the Faith Study Bible from Christianity Today

Understand the Faith Study Bible from Christianity Today is an NIV translation of the Bible that seeks to include theology, history and devotional lessons throughout scripture.  There are several things I look for when reviewing Bibles and this particular Bible is hit or miss across the board.

First, the NIV is one of my preferred Bible translations for general use.  There are other translations that suit other needs better, but for general use, the NIV proves more than adequate.

Next, I look at the usability of the Bible.  Bibles are big books and little things can make the difference between awesome and annoying.  The paper book cover isn't going to last long, but thankfully, the publisher has made the hard back cover underneath aesthetically suitable.  The print is a nice size between easily readable and small enough to not make a ginormous book.  I like how the color red is used as an accent in the inserts and chapter titles.  The pages are of a nice thickness, not too stiff, but also thick enough that you can highlight on them without making the other side of the page illegible.

Lastly, I look at the extras included in the bible.  There is a nice concordance at the end of the Bible.  I like the subject index and glossary of theological terms at the end.  Unfortunately, the insets are what miss repeatedly for me.  In something called a "study Bible", I want a lot of facts and explanations.  The historical people profiles do this well, but the theology insets were more like reading a devotional or a blog post than a useful teaching on theological topics.  Many of them were utterly useless in that they stuck to very superficial understandings about things.  There also seems to be an aversion to talking about the Holy Spirit.  Even in topics such as The Trinity and The Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is only mentioned as an aside.  The comparison tables between different theological stances sometimes seemed objective and sometimes seemed skewed.  Also, there were many times that I felt the stances picked to look at weren't always the main stances people disagree on.  Many of the stances chosen are obviously not scriptural.  They often left me feeling cheated.

This would be a good study Bible for someone just starting out in studying the Bible.  If you have an intermediate understanding or higher, I think this Bible will leave you wanting.

I was provided this book free of charge from the publisher in return for my honest opinion.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn

I like journals that lead me somewhere.  Either the lead me to growth, or in understanding, or in a new skill.  This book, Instant Happy Journal:  365 Days of Inspiration, Gratitude, and Joy by Karen Salmansohn, is definitely one of those books.  While the title "Instant Happy" may be a little misleading since this book won't make you instantly happy, it does build the momentum for building a happier overall life.

The book is divided into 365 pages of journaling.  Each page has a different topic, question, or thought to write about.  I was impressed with how the author was able to keep all 365 questions unique, but relevant, without beginning to sound like a broken record around day 100.  The pages are bright and colorful, with plenty of space for journaling a paragraph or more.  Even though this is not necessarily a Christian book, it reminded me of Philippians 4:8, which tells us to dwell on whatever is lovely, beautiful, admirable, etc.  This book would be a great tool to start or end your day with a moment of reflection on life.  It would also be good for someone who wants to keep a journal of who they are to pass down to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My only critique of the book is that it is a little hard to get open flat enough to comfortably write in.  Perhaps another edition can have lay flat pages or be bound in a spiral ring.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to journal or any one who is looking to derail negative thought patterns in their life.

I was provided this book free of charge from the publisher in return for my honest opinion.

Best Hair Book Ever by Faithgirlz and Girl's Life Magazine

This is not the typical book I review, but I have a ten year old daughter who is growing her hair out for the first time in several years and I thought it would be fun to go through a book like this, spend time with my daughter and end up with a few new cute hairstyles.

This book, Best Hair Book Ever:  Cute Cuts, Sweet Styles and Tons of Tress Tips by the editors of Faithgirlz and Girls' Life Magazine, is a good book for what it is.  It is definitely aimed at that preteen/early teen age girl and my daughter found the book appealing.  It is packed with bright colors and lots of pictures, which made following the directions easier for her.  Even though I only thought about half the hairstyles in it were interesting, my daughter bookmarked a bunch she wanted me to try on her.  I even used the book to do an updo of her hair for my sister's wedding, which saved me the cost of going and getting her hair done.

Overall, I would recommend this book for girls 9-15.  It would be a great gift for a girl who wants to be creative with her hair or as a book to bring out at a slumber party for girls.  The book includes hairstyles that could be done on anyone, some would even work for African-American hair.

I was provided this book free of charge from the publisher in return for my honest review.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Slow to Judge by David B. Capes

Slow to Judge:  Sometimes It's OK to Listen by David B. Capes is one of those books that just needed to be written.  The main theme of the book is that we as Christians don't need to openly debate everyone we disagree with.  Instead, if we spent more time making the other person feel as though they are being heard, we will make a greater impact with fewer words.  In this day and age, it may not be the popular sentiment, but it is a true one.

I think anyone who reads this book is going to find it a humbling read.  The author tells us that often times we don't listen to others because we have been quick to judge them.  If we judge someone poorly, we don't feel as though they have anything valid to say and we ignore their input.  In turn, the person we've judged harden their heart toward what we have to say because they no longer feel listened to or valued.

In this way, Slow to Judge becomes a relationship book, one that sets out to show us how Jesus expects us to treat one another.  Not only that, but the author's style of writing is insightful and intelligent and even the most literate of us Christians have something new to think about.  I love how the author ends by looking at the thoughts of a Muslim leader and then at the thoughts of C.S. Lewis.  Both sections shined a new light on the ideas and helped flesh out what the reader has just learned.

Overall, I recommend this book to all Christians, and honestly, to anyone that has two ears and one mouth (so the saying goes).  We all need to listen to one another before we ever speak a word ourselves.

I was provided this book free of charge by Thomas Nelson in return for my honest review.