Studies have shown that the most influential person for a young person’s faith is his or her parents. The ESV Family Devotional Bible aims to help families read and study scripture.
This hard back Bible includes the entire English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. A fairly new translation, in the midst of quite a few to choose from, the ESV is not all that different from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The ESV seems to have been presented as an alternative to the traditionally used King James Version.
The ESV Family Devotional Bible includes 130 key stories retold, along with questions and a key verse. There are colorful illustrations for each devotion as well. At first the illustrations were a bit nostalgic, as they reminded me of the pictures in the story Bible at my grandparents’ home. I’m not sure, however, they would be the most kid-friendly today.
I recently learned about a new project to get a study Bible in the hands of Africans with commentary and notes from African pastors and scholars. It is called the Africa Study Bible.
Imagine using a study Bible with the notes from another country, with images and illustrations from that context. It would be difficult to understand. This is the case for many in Africa, with their study Bibles written from the viewpoint of the United States and United Kingdom. The Africa Study Bible project aims to close that gap and provide a resource designed by Africans for Africans.
In her book, “For the Love,” Christian writer, blogger, and DIYer, Jen Hatmaker provides a collection of essays ranging from helicopter parenting to the future of Christianity. The idea for her book comes from a phrase she acknowledges she says a lot: “For the love.” It’s like saying, “Good grief,” or “WTF?” in different situations. Each essay (chapter) covers something that she has encountered that has caused her to utter the words, “For the love.”
The target audience for this book is the large number of women readers that have been congregating around Hatmaker for the last several years thanks to successes like her book “7.” Having said that, I enjoyed reading this book (there were some sections I skipped over). Haymaker comes from an evangelical background, which she explains at different points, highlighting the good things that came from that and the more challenging things. At her current place in life, a 40-something writer, mom, and pastor’s wife, she recognizes that church no longer needs to be the way it was.
My Sing-Along Bible: 50 Easy-Read Stories & 50 Fun Bible Songs, Stephen Elkins, Tyndale Kids, 2015.
My Sing-Along Bible is a fun collection of easy to read Bible stories and easy to sing-along songs. The target “reader” is a toddler or preschooler. But, Baby J already enjoys this book, which includes 50 favorite Bible stories and 5o songs, one for each story.
Here is how the book is organized. There’s a “Let’s Read” section which is the Bible story. Most of them are only six lines. Short. The middle section is a key verse, which is followed by the “Let’s Sing” section, with the lyrics to one of the songs on the CD, which can be found in the front cover of the book. Each story also includes a “Little Lesson,” which is the one sentence main idea of the story.
Burning Bush 2.0: How Pop Culture Replaced the Prophet, Paul Asay, Abingdon Press, 2015
The title is what caught my eye. If you know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I like pondering the intersection of faith and pop culture. So, I was interested in Asay’s take, especially in his take on how pop culture has replaced the prophet.
In each chapter, Asay writes on a theme, weaving in different elements of pop culture. For example, one of the chapters deals with call (the burning bush connection) and Asay uses illustrations from various superhero films. Along the way, he makes valid points about why we should expand our thinking enough to hear what God may be saying to us through pop culture.
Church researcher and consultant Thom Rainer addresses a growing problem in many churches, mainline and non-denomotional alike. Church member burnout and declining membership.
Rainer begins his little book, I Will, with a short narrative about a divorced, single-mother of three, Heather. Heather joined a church to make a difference, yet she found herself in an unexpected place in her church. It was a place that left her feeling spiritually sick and after four years, she left the church.
It is reported that active church members, like Heather was, are those who attend church events or services at least three times a month. This stands in stark contrast to what was considered to be the norm: three times a week. A lot goes into this change, but for Rainer, it is not enough. He calls for a “church membership revolution.”
by Brock Weigel
Read Psalm 31: 9-16
“For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away.” (Psalm 31: 10)
While playing basketball, the goal is to get the ball through the hoop as many times as possible. When I play, however, that goal is not on my mind. Instead of maneuvering the ball, my goal is one-upping the other team, or showing off for spectators. I care as little for the ball going through the hoop as plugging a lamp into an electrical socket. The task itself seems mundane when you remove the context. My joy in basketball is not in the ball, but in the victory.
This Sunday, March 1, CNN premieres a new six-week documentary series, “Finding Jesus.” This new series blends science and archaeology as it attempts to discern what is fact, what is faith, and what is forgery. Part documentary, interviewing academics and theologians, part drama, the series explores the value and authenticity of six objects which could bear light on the historical Jesus.
For the last 2,000 years, humanity has been fascinated by the figure of Jesus – the historical man and the divine Christ. Images of Jesus have appeared on icons, stained glass windows, painting, sculptures, television, and film. Jesus has influenced music, politics, education, and philosophy.
But, what is fact and what is forgery? And, what is just simply faith?
Anonymous, penned as a film about the “real” William Shakespeare, is a political drama laced with soap opera-style relational tensions. The film is set in Elizabethan-era England during the time of the Essex rebellion. Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, realizes after watching a play put on by Ben Jonson exactly how powerful words can be. He approaches Ben and offers him a play for him to stage. But the authorship must remain anonymous.
Ben stages the play (Henry VIII) and at the conclusion the audience demands to see and hear from the playwright. Ben anxiously looks up to the Earl’s box for some kind of direction. In the meantime the young, egocentric actor Will Shakespeare (who is like a grown up version of Dopey) runs out on the stage to take the playwright’s bow. Director Roland Emmerich continues to weave Shakespearean plays in the film as the political drama of who will succeed Elizabeth I unfolds. In the midst of this weaving, Emmerich sprinkles in a number of flashbacks that help us (or at times confuse us) in understanding the characters more. For example, in these flashbacks we learn that the relationship between Edward and Elizabeth goes beyond Earl and Queen.