Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bible Review: Super Giant Print HCSB

HCSB Super Giant Print Reference Bible. 2015. B&H Publishing. 1824 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I believe that Bible reading should be comfortable. No, not exactly comfortable for the heart, soul, and mind:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
But comfortable on the eyes. Perhaps you can relate. Have strained and tired eyes ever kept you from reading as much as you liked in the Bible? 

The print in some Bibles is so tiny. And unless they're also super-light-weight--meaning you can bring it in as close as you need--it is near impossible to read without squinting--without strain. And if that tiny-print Bible is also red-letter, then forget it! My eyes simply can't handle the stress of trying to read red-letter in small print. (The MEV Thinline Bible comes to mind as a recent example. I wanted so badly to read that one since it's a new translation. And I did manage to read all the New Testament. But oh, how my eyes suffered, and suffered especially in the gospels which were red letter, of course, and the orange-y red letter too.) 

So I have been looking for a comfortable-on-the-eyes Bible for quite a while. I am happy to say that I've found a perfect-for-me line of Bibles. B&H publishes a line of Super Giant Print Reference Bibles. So far, the translations include: the HCSB, the KJV, the NKJV, and RVR 1960. And each one, I believe, is available in many different covers and indexed or not. For example: mint green, cobalt blue, teal, brown/tan, purple, brown/chocolate, brown, mahogany, pink, burgundy, charcoal, genuine cowhide, and saddle brown. 

The font is 18 points. Chances are you'll either be: WOW, THAT'S WAY TOO BIG. Or, like me, WOW THAT'S PERFECT! My goal is not to try to convince the "wow, that's way too big" crowd to buy a Super Giant Print Reference Bible. 

The Super Giant Reference Bible would be great for personal use for believers who like or need large print. It might also be great for church use: for example, for use on the altar or the pulpit. 

This review will focus on the HCSB Super Giant Print Reference Bible. There are a few things you should know. 

It's the HCSB Translation. I am not as familiar with the HCSB translation as I am say with the ESV. But I have had the opportunity to read all of the Old Testament in the HCSB earlier this year, and, I'm now making my way through the New Testament too. I am enjoying it very much. 
For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:20-26
If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
“This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:12-21
“The poor in spirit are blessed,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Those who mourn are blessed,
for they will be comforted.
The gentle are blessed,
for they will inherit the earth.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed,
for they will be filled.
The merciful are blessed,
for they will be shown mercy.
The pure in heart are blessed,
for they will see God.
The peacemakers are blessed,
for they will be called sons of God.
Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Matthew 5:3-10
Here are just a few reasons I'm enjoying the HCSB:
  • I love, for example, that Old Testament passages used within the New Testament (quoted in the New Testament) are in bold font. 
  • I love that the HCSB has "bullet notes" (a glossary of terms)
  • I love that it translates the word servant as slave. (For example, Romans 1:1, HCSB; James 1:1, HCSB)  Paul calls himself a slave. The Greek word doulos is mistranslated in most Bibles as "servant" or "bond servant." A slave was owned, was bought for a price, received no wages, and could not quit. A servant could quit, got paid, and was a free person. Jesus Himself took the form of a slave ( Php 2:7), and Paul reminded Christians that "you are not your own, for you were bought at a price" ( 1Co 6:19b-20).
  • I love that it is readable, yet, holds onto rich theological words like PROPITIATION. Here is the "bullet note" definition for propitiation: the removal of divine wrath; Jesus' death is the means that turns God's wrath from the sinner. 
The font is large, 18 points. 

It is red letter. But. Honestly, for once, I don't mind. The font is large enough that even red letter is easy on my eyes. 

When appropriate, it is in paragraph format, not verse-verse-verse. Poetry, of course, is written as poems.

The cross-references, though fewer than a traditional cross-reference Bible perhaps--though I haven't compared side by side--are found at the end of paragraphs.

It has a small topical concordance. More than I was expecting since I wasn't expecting one at all. But not as large as I've seen in other Bibles. 

It has in addition a three page "where to turn" guide for helping you find Bible passages.

It has a few color maps

It does have a presentation page, and places to record marriages, births, deaths, etc.

It does not have book introductions, a bible reading plan, or any notes. It does have a ribbon marker, however. 

It lays flat well. The text in the margins is just as readable as the rest of the text.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

July "Memory" Work

I started out the year wanting to memorize Scripture, I've discovered that I'm satisfied meditating on Scripture. Here are the verses I'll be adding in July:

  • O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1, ESV
  • He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Isaiah 25:8-9, ESV
  • You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV
  • For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40, ESV
  • No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44, ESV
  • Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 21, ESV
  • Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25, ESV

Past memory verses:

  1. Revelation 21:3, 4
  2. Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Psalm 34:3
  4. Psalm 34:8
  5. Psalm 103:1,2,3,4,5
  6. Psalm 103:10, 11, 12
  7. Psalm 96:2
  8. Psalm 95:6-7
  9. Matthew 11:28
  10. Hebrews 7:25
  11. Ephesians 2:8, 9, 10
  12. Psalm 138:8
  13. Psalm 27:14
  14. Proverbs 18:10
  15. Philippians 4:4
  16. Philippians 4:13
  17. John 14:1, 2, 3
  18. John 14:6
  19. John 11:25, 26
  20. Psalm 16:8
  21. Psalm 16:11
  22. Psalm 18:30
  23. Psalm 25:5
  24. Psalm 27:4
  25. Psalm 28:6
  26. Psalm 30:4, 5
  27. Psalm 31:5
  28. Psalm 31:9
  29. Psalm 32:8
  30. Habakkuk 3:17, 18
  31. Zephaniah 3:17
  32. Jeremiah 17:14
  33. Lamentations 3:22, 23, 24, 25, 26
  34. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5, 6, 7
  35. Exodus 15:18
  36. John 6:40
  37. John 6:44
  38. Jude 21
  39. Jude 24-25
  40. Isaiah 26:3, 4
  41. Isaiah 25:1
  42. Isaiah 25:8,9

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: June 29-July 4

John: That You May Believe, R. Kent Hughes
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:12-21, ESV
  • Psalm 1-10
  • Matthew
  • Romans
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Hebrews
  • Jude
  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Genesis 
  • 2 Kings
  • Jeremiah 43-52
  • John
Living Bible
  • John 9-21
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Challenge Updates

Host: Operation Actually Read Bible
Title: Clouds of Witnesses (sign up post)
# of Books: my goal is 12
Dates: January - December

What I read:

1. Don't Give Up, Don't Give In. Lessons From An Extraordinary Life. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 2014. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
2. Weighed and Wanting Addresses on the Ten Commandments. D.L. Moody. 1898. The Bible Institute. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
3. Living As A Christian: Teachings from First Peter. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
4. Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
5. To The Glory of God: A 40 Day Devotional on the Book of Romans. James Montgomery Boice. 2010. Baker Books. 183 pages. [Source: Bought]
6. The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine. A.W. Tozer 1948/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 70 pages. [Source: Bought]
7. No Little People. Francis A. Schaeffer. 2003. Crossway. 239 pages. [Source: Bought]
8. Experiencing the New Birth: Studies in John 3. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 2015. Crossway. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
9. The Root of the Righteous: Tapping The Bedrock of True Spirituality. A.W. Tozer. 1955/2015. Moody Publishers. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

So three more books--at least--to read for this year's challenge! Are you participating in this challenge? What have you read? What are you still planning to read? 

Host: Operation Actually Read Bible
Title: Operation Deepen Faith (sign up post for 2015)
Dates: January 2015 - December 2015

I'm signing up for
I. Wonderful Words of Life

My goal: To read the Bible 4 times through in 2015. I'd love to read it each quarter. But I typically end up checking my progress in November/December and making a list of which books I need to read, and how many times, in order to make it to that year's goal.

Early July Check-In
I've read the Bible  through twice so far this year.  The first quarter I read "extra" in the New Testament. The second quarter, I read "extra" in the Old Testament. James and John will have extra  because they've  been MacArthur-ed. Chosen to read 30 times in a row. 

II. How Firm A Foundation

My goal: Same as last year. To spend time with the Apostle John. To focus on John, 1 John, and Revelation. I'd love to read each of these 30 times. (Last year, I read the gospel of John 25 times, and the book of Revelation 43 times. I believe I read 1 John, 21 times.)
Early July Check-In
What have I done to meet this goal? Well, I chose to read John 30 times this summer. So far I'm around 16 or 17? I think. So I'm on my way to getting to that number 30!  I've started reading  R. Kent Hughes' John: That You May Believe Preaching the Word Commentary published by Crossway. I hope to finish that this summer or perhaps this fall. I have several other commentaries that I'd love to get to.  We'll see.

III. Deep and Wide

My goal: To use the MacArthur System of study several times throughout the year. Candidates include: 2 Corinthians, Galatians, James, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, and Jude. (I am not brave enough to tackle the gospels or Acts.)

Early July Check-In
I've read James. I'm in the process of  reading John. If you haven't tried this way of reading the Bible, you should be brave and just do it! I promise you that it is worth it!!! Yes, it takes time and effort. A commitment to read the Bible each day, but, it is so rewarding!!!
I will probably take a break after reading John, but, maybe one more book before the end of the year? Anyone want to be brave and read a book with me? Let me know! Pick a book, pick a month!!!

IV. Meditate or Memorize.

My goal: I'd love to memorize a verse per week. But. Since I'm completely new to memorization--at least as an adult--I'd be content with 24 or so. I'd rather really, really know 24, than be able to stumble through fifty.

Early July-Check-In
Am I memorizing the Bible? No. Not really. Have I  been meditating on the Bible verses I've selected? Yes and no. That is sometimes.  I seem to be contrary. Either I'm really on-task and read/meditate several times per week--sometimes even five or six days of the week--or else I'm horrible at it and go two or three weeks without. So I'm not as consistent as I'd like. But this has been helpful to me overall. It was a great blessing this spring to have these verses ready-to-go.

V. Christian Nonfiction

My goal: To read twenty-four nonfiction books.

Early July Check-In
I've read 59 Christian Nonfiction books this year.  That's twice my goal.  And the year is just half over. So my best books might be yet to come! 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: End of Me (2015)

The End of Me. Kyle Idleman. 2015. David C. Cook. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I definitely enjoyed reading Kyle Idleman's The End of Me. The book is about how important it is to recognize our brokenness and weakness; the book stresses that it is only when we reach the end of ourselves that we reach out to God who is able to make us whole and strong--in Him.

The book challenges believers to closely examine the teachings of Christ, and also to examine his life. Christ taught some revolutionary ideas that we--if we're honest--are reluctant to follow and embrace. Chapter by chapter, he encourages believers to choose to turn their thinking upside down and inside out. To go against their natural instincts and live as Christ lived and taught. Not to do this in their own strength, of course, that would be impossible. But to turn to the Savior, to surrender to God daily and let God use them where they are--in their weakness, at their weakest.

Kyle Idleman stresses several points throughout the book. But one of the most important is this daily need. Every day needs to be surrendered to the Lord. Every day you need to make the choice to live to God and to die to self. Every day has opportunities--opportunities perhaps so small that most people ignore them or discount them. Opportunities at home, in the car, at work, at the store, etc. Often it's in the small moments when we realize how much we've failed to do the right thing, how far we are from where we want to be--need to be.

Also by Kyle Idleman: Gods At War (my review).

Reaching the end of me is a daily journey I must make because it's where Jesus shows up and my real life in him begins.
Getting to the end of me is not an easy journey because me doesn't want to go there. Me doesn't like confrontation, and me is most interested in the promotion and success of me. Me would much prefer to read a book about advancing me, not ending me.
A great part of the upside-down, inside-out message of Jesus is that God doesn't look so much upon the outside, which is so easy to fake. He looks more on the inside, where we are what we are. 
Emptying is never painless, and not everyone is willing to go there. Jesus is eager and willing to fill.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Uncensored

Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible. Brian Cosby. 2015. David C. Cook. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Are you unintentionally censoring the Bible? Perhaps even intentionally censoring the Bible?

Brian Cosby has written a great book on the Bible, on how it is important for Christians to read the whole Bible. In other words, it isn't quite enough to just read and "embrace" the parts you really, really love. You have to consider the Bible as a whole, and try to grasp what the message of the whole Bible is.

He examines why different people "censor" the Bible--possible motivations--and how they "censor" it.

Does this matter to you and me? Or, why should this matter to you and me?! Because when we censor the Bible--intentionally or not--we just aren't censoring a book. We're censoring the God that inspired book reveals. And when we recreate God in our own image, that's idolatry. We're to worship God in spirit and truth. When we worship a god we've made ourselves, that's not true worship. We need the truth--and the whole truth--to worship truly and glorify God.
When we censor the full character of God, we soften His justice, elevate man, and devalue our need for the cross. But when we embrace the entire Bible, we are freed from making God "fit" our politically correct, tame caricatures of a god who seems no more omnipotent than a divine grandpa. But like Aslan, God isn't safe.. The Lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered. Eternally self-sufficient, He's dependent on no one. And His Word reveals His majesty and glory from Genesis to Revelation.
Part One is "Embarrassed by the Bible." And part two is "The Art of Censorship." Part one focuses on the realities facing the Christian church: The need for the whole Bible, and, a need to trust that the Bible is the very Word of God, and that the God of the Bible is worth trusting and believing. This section also includes a summary of the big picture of the Bible, and an overview on how to read the Bible and interpret it correctly.

Part Two highlights seven areas of the Bible that people tend to censor including creation, sin, hell, suffering, parenting, etc.

Who should read this one? First, I recommend it to all Christians. But. Knowing that not everyone is a reader, I'll just add that it would be of special interest to any believer who preaches, teaches, or leads devotions, publicly or privately. (Pastors, teachers, parents) I do think all believers would benefit. Especially those who aren't regularly reading the whole Word of God. (I'm not one that says you have to have a structured plan in place to read the whole Bible in one year. But I am one who encourages you to have some plan in place to read from the (whole) Bible regularly.)
If the Bible is truly inspired by God--as His self-revelation--and profitable for His people, then I should embrace the whole counsel of God for a healthy, balanced, and fruit-filled faith. When I censor the Scriptures and selectively choose which parts to meditate on, day and night, I fail to become the tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in its season (Psalm 1:1-3). I miss out on the life-altering and joy-infusing revelation of God which is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).
If you listen closely to our Christianese, you will notice a large amount of extra biblical thought squeezed in. Try to find "God helps those who help themselves," "Invite Jesus into your heart," or "Accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" in the Bible. They're not there. Not only are we cherry-picking the Scriptures, but we're also inserting our own feel-good notions.
An incomplete Word leads to incomplete joy. Why would we settle for an incomplete text when every jot and tittle is inspired by our great God? This is a journey to embrace the Bible--the entire Bible--every book, every verse, and every word. It's both daring and exciting.
When I question, or decide, which passages in the Bible to follow, I miss out on the truth that sets me free. When we avoid the biblical practice of church discipline, for example, we miss out on the joy of seeing wayward sinners reclaimed or seeing Christ establishing greater peace and purity in His bride. When we avoid the doctrine of hell in our preaching and teaching, we miss the experience of gratitude of what we are saved from and the hope of what we are saved for.
To put it bluntly, we don't want sin, wrath, or God's judgment in our Bibles. Richard Niebuhr, the early twentieth century theologian, once remarked that we want a "God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."
It's tough to convince the world that the Bible is true when we don't communicate our own belief in it. When we are embarrassed by what it says or censor those "difficult" passages in sermons or in conversations on the elevator, we communicate as much. When we cherry-pick those feel-good verses and leave the convicting fruit behind, we rob God of His glory by making ourselves the arbiters of truth. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quotes from the Cloud #26

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge

For fellow participants, what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here.
The idea that God will pardon a rebel who has not given up his rebellion is contrary both to the Scriptures and to common sense. How horrible to contemplate a church full of persons who have been pardoned but who still love sin and hate the ways of righteousness. And how much more horrible to think of heaven as filled with sinners who had not repented nor changed their ways of living. ~ A.W. Tozer, Root of the Righteous
The Lord does not shine on us, except when we take his Word as our light. ~ John Calvin
Contentment with earthly goods is the mark of a saint; contentment with our spiritual state is a mark of inward blindness. ~ A.W. Tozer, Root of the Righteous
They [Adam and Eve] wanted, as we say, to “call their souls their own.” But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours.” But there is no such corner. ~ C.S. Lewis

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible