Archive for October, 2009

Book Review-Holy Bible Mosaic

I want to thank Tyndale House for the courtesy copy of Holy Bible Mosaic.

Holy Bible MosaicBook Details:

Holy Bible Mosaic (NLT)

Tyndale House

ISBN 1414322032

Buy Holy Bible Mosaic (softcover) (or hardcover)

Those of you familiar with me and this blog will know that to the extent I am critical of another member of the body of Christ, it is only ever for causing division in the body. That is why I was so excited to post about the release of Holy Bible Mosaic back in June. It seems to me Mosaic is an attempt to bridge division and bring the body together.

Here is an excerpt from the Mosaic website:

Key Features

  • Writings from every continent and century of the Christian Church – Contemporary and historical writings from Christians across the globe such as St. Augustine, Charles Wesley, and Henri Nouwen.
  • Full-Color Art – Full color art offers another kind of reflective devotional experience, with artwork from contemporary and historical artists.
  • Variety of Reflective Content – The content is arranged so that every week the reader has a variety of content for reading and reflection. Each week follows a theme appropriate to the Church season (such as Advent, Easter, etc). The content included for each week includes full-color art; Scripture readings; a historical reading; a contemporary reading; a prayer, creed, hymn or quote; and space for reflection.
  • Space for your response to God’s promptings – Add your tile to the mosaic-write or draw your response, prayers and questions in the provided space.

And that is only a small sampling of what Mosaic contains.

Before I get in to the substance of the review, I want to mention a few technical matters. First, at 8.6″x5.8″ (5.7″ for the softcover), Mosaic’s size is ideal for personal use. It’s not a Bible you have to keep on a coffee table or at home because of its size. It is certainly attractive enough to display openly, but not so bulky that you won’t be able to carry it around if you choose.

The paper (off-white for the insert, bright white for the Bible text), the typesetting, and the cover are as attractive as any Bible I’ve seen in recent memory, and I look at a lot of Bibles.

Mosaic 1

Mosaic 2

I have previously reviewed the the NLT Study Bible, so I won’t go into an in-depth review of the Bible text portion. As far as the Mosaic material, it is well worth your time, effort and money. The artwork spans from ancient to contemporary and is included with every section.

Mosaic Justice

Mosaic 3

The scripture readings, essays, quotations, and other material are laid out according to a church calendar: A four week Advent, the Christmas season, a six week Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and 28 weeks of Pentecost. And there is related material for each week of the year.

For example, according to the calendar, this is Pentecost, Week 23, and the topic is “Diversity.” The scripture readings are Ruth 1:1-22, Psalm 145, Philippians 1:27, and Matthew 12:46. There is also a “Prayer for the Heart and Will of God” by Thomas A. Kempis (c. 1380-1471), an essay by Derek Chinn entitled “Distinguished by Diversity,” quotations from Justin Martyr and Jerome Nathanson, additional suggested scripture reading, an area for your reflections, and more. A different topic is covered each week, including “Blame,” “Forgiveness,” “Justice,” “Apocalyptic Blues,” “Wealth,” “The Birth of the Church,” and many more. Each section, Advent, Christmas, etc., are treated similarly.

Mosaic is not a study Bible, per se, but you will learn a lot by reading it beyond what you would learn from the Biblical text. These particular uses came to mind when I was reviewing Mosaic:

  • Obviously, personal Bible study
  • Small group Bible studies
  • Family Bible studies
  • Inter-faith Bible studies
  • Sunday school classes

In my interview with Keith Williams, Mosaic’s General Editor, I asked Keith to suggest ways pastors and other church leaders could incorporate Mosaic into their church life, and his suggestions were certainly appropriate and well thought out. Click the interview link above to read those.

I don’t see Mosaic as a replacement for a good study or life application Bible, but, if your primary reading Bible is the New Living Translation, it could certainly replace a regular reading Bible. What I do see Mosaic being is a magnificent addition to any library and a useful tool for every Christian.

Mosaic is not just another themed Bible, and to lump it in with the vast majority of themed Bibles would do it a tremendous disservice. But, there is without question a theme that threads through this book, that we are all part of one mosaic, and it’s a work in progress.

My Other Mosaic Posts:

Mosaic Links:

Tyndale and NLT Links:

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Mosaic Blog Tour-Interview With Keith Williams, General Editor

Keith Williams

Keith Williams

I want to thank Tyndale House and all of the people responsible for the Holy Bible Mosaic and the Blog Tour, which stops here today.

I also want to thank Keith Williams, the General Editor for the Mosaic, who has so kindly and graciously agreed to answer a few questions for my readers today.

One of my majors in college was communication, so I have a little (a very little) bit of journalism training, probably just enough to be dangerous, but I’ve set that aside for the majority of this interview and only pitched Keith one really tough question and four softballs – you decide which are which.

Here is my interview with Keith:

1. Now that we are one month removed from the launch of the Holy Bible Mosaic, what has been the public response to Mosaic? Has it been better than expected, about as expected, or something unexpected?

I have been very gratified that so many people have been saying positive things about their experience with the Bible. In many ways, we weren’t sure what to expect, since this Bible is unlike anything that has been available before now. But we believed in the concept and had worked hard to make it as excellent as it could possibly be, so I was very hopeful that it would be well-received. I think the main challenge is helping people to “get it,” since it doesn’t fit in the usual categories. The blog tour is definitely helping with that, and I’d encourage anyone who finds the Bible useful in their walk with God to tell their friends and church leaders about it. I’d like to see it get as wide an audience as possible.

2. If and when there is a second edition of Mosaic, what is one thing you would include, exclude or change?

Great question. I think I would write a much more extensive introduction to the church year and explanation for how to use the Bible. I think that bears some more explanation than the brief space we gave it, and I plan to round some of that out on the website over time. Some people might prefer that I had excluded a particular author or tradition from the Mosaic of contributions, but I think we’ll resist that; it wouldn’t be in keeping with the ethos of the product. One thing I might change is to give each week 8 pages instead of six, to be able to include a bit more content and a lot more whitespace. Additionally, there are a few things that I would do differently from an editorial standpoint, to help the process move more quickly and smoothly the second time around, but that would bore everyone to tears.

3. I’m particularly fond of the Epiphanies. What is your personal favorite part of or thing about Mosaic?

Epiphanies is a good week (Epiphany Week 1, p. m50-55). My favorite part of is the extended historical readings. Each week has one extended historical reading (marked with a small cross with dates above and below in the margin), and I love these because they are more than just a one-liner; they draw me into the thought of a Christian very different from myself. I love that.

4. Beyond personal study, how would you advise a pastor, Bible teacher, or small group leader to incorporate a part or all of Mosaic’s material into a Sunday school curriculum or the life of a church or small group?

This is only limited by the creativity of the leader, but I do have a few ideas for different contexts in the church. The Devotions for Advent booklet ($1.99) could be a perfect entry point for a church that is interested in using the material without wanting to commit to asking everyone to buy the full Bible. In fact, I plan to offer the Devotions for Advent booklet to every interested member of my church next month.

Small groups

Small groups could use Mosaic as the jumping off point for their corporate study of the Bible. Each member could follow the weekly material individually throughout the week and then come together to share about what God had been teaching them through the Scripture readings, artwork, quotes, etc. Or a leader can go a little bit deeper by tracking down an original source or two using the Tesserae and help the rest of the group come along as well. This could also work in a Sunday school environment.

Worship

Mosaic could be brought into the worship of the church in several different ways. Pastors could choose to use one or more of the lectionary passages from Mosaic as a primary preaching text (with or without explicitly following the church year as a church), and then use the quotes and readings either as part of the sermon or as congregational readings as part of the service. Hymns or prayers could be integrated as such.

Congregationally

Church leaders could encourage the entire church to use Mosaic to share a devotional experience together. Worship and small groups could also integrate Mosaic in some of the ways mentioned above to extend the experience and help members get the most out of their time in the Word and connecting with the global, historic Church.

5. Now, on a more serious note, I’ve often thought that the one themed Bible that the market sorely lacks is a Blogger’s Bible. If I volunteer to edit it, will you pitch the idea to Tyndale House ;) ?

I love the idea, but let’s flesh it out a bit. How many bloggers are we going to include? And is there any way you can keep John Hobbins from trying to make everything sound like it was written for a poetry seminar at Harvard?

Holy Bible MosaicYou can join me in thanking Keith for all of his time and hard work in the comment section below, or by showing your support on the Mosaic website, the Mosaic Blog, or the NLT Blog.

The blog tour will continue throughout the day with my review of the Holy Bible Mosaic, the announcement of the winner of the Mosaic giveaway at 5:00pm (CST). If you haven’t entered yet, you better hurry. You have about 1 hour left, entries will be accepted until 12 noon (CST) – enter the Holy Bible Mosaic Giveaway.

Buy Holy Bible Mosaic @ Amazon (softcover) (or hardcover).

My Other Mosaic Posts:

Mosaic Links:

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Hebrews Chapter 7-Study Notes

These are my study notes for Hebrews Chapter 7. I don’t know if they will make much sense to anyone else, but if they are helpful to anyone feel free to use them.

The scripture references and discussion notes should have aligned with the appropriate scriptures, but I lost that somehow when I loaded the table into my blog. On the left is, obviously, the Bible text, the center column contains the scriptures I referenced or wanted to reference, and the right-hand column has discussion topics.

Hebrews 7 (NASB)

1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.

5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.

6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.

7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.

8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.

9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,

10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.

14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.

15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,

16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.

17 For it is attested of Him,
“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness

19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath

21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him,
“THE LORD HAS SWORN
AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND,
‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER'”);

22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,

24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.

25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

Scripture Refs.:

7:4 – Numbers 18:20-26 7:14 – Genesis 49:8-10

7:17 – Psalm 110

7:19 – Romans 8; 2 Corinthians 3:7-8.

Discussion Notes:

7:1, 6 – “blessed him,” and “blessed the one who had the promises.” Had Abraham received the promises yet?

7:1 – Melchizedek: see notes Ch. 5.

7:4-10 – Abraham gave tenth to Melchizedek, Levi paid tithes while still in Abraham’s loins.

7:4 – “tenth of the choicest spoils” – Abraham took nothing for himself, gave from the spoils?

7:12 – “change of law” – What does this mean?

7:14 – “tribe of Judah” – Israel’s blessing to sons.

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Reminder: Mosaic Blog Tour and Giveaway

Holy Bible Mosaic

This is just a friendly reminder that the Holy Bible Mosaic Blog Tour will be here tomorrow and there is a lot of cool stuff planned.

Also, you only have until noon (CST) on Friday, October 23, 2009, to enter to win a free Bible in the Holy Bible Mosaic Giveaway. The winner will be announced here at about 5:00pm (CST), so stay tuned.

If you can wait, or if you don’t win, you can still buy a Holy Bible Mosaic from Amazon at the BOB Bookstore.

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Christian Haiku Meme

Oh, that Jeff, poo-pooer of memes, has come up with a dandy. Here is my take:

Tagged by the Zealot,
to pen Haiku for this blog.
Jeff’s meme challenging!

And:

My theology:
Jesus Christ died on the cross
to redeem mankind.

Finally:

God’s Word is life to
the soul in need of rescue.
Hear, listen, obey!

Tags:

I tag Polycarp.
Tagged too is Jason, and tagged:
Matt (at Broadcast Depth).

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10 Things Churches Do Right

The web is full of stuff that churches do wrong, and a lot of it is probably right on. What disturbs me more, however, is our collective quickness to point out everyone else’s flaws, when we all have them.

If I am publicly critical of one of the flaws in the church, it is the church’s willingness to divide the body. So, rather than perpetuating division, I want to point out a few things churches do right.

I’ve taken the top 10 Christian denominations according to a The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey and want to give them each a pat on the back for one thing each does right. Note: I haven’t distinguished so finely as between “Evangelical” and “Mainline,” or this sub-group and that.

Denomination (% of US population) – The good stuff:

1. Catholics (approx. 24%) – Disclaimer: I was born and raised Catholic, and a large part of my family is still Catholic. Catholics do “reverence” better than any other Christian denomination. I prefer a more contemporary, laid back worship service, but I have a great deal of respect for the reverence Catholics give to the Church buildings, altars, services, and rites. They get that God is holy, and we should approach Him that way.

Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I (am) holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NAB).

2. Baptists (approx. 13%) – Disclaimer: I was “saved” while a member of a Baptist Church (Beltway Park) a few years ago, and I wouldn’t trade my time in that Baptist Church for anything. Baptists do “numbers” better than anybody else right now. They keep the calculators in heaven busy with the newly saved. Baptists get mission work and know how to evangelize.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

3. Methodists (approx. 6%) – Disclaimer: I graduated from a Methodist university (Southwestern University); the connection was tenuous but important. The Methodists were charismatic before charismatics were cool. The Methodists once did mission work better than anyone else. Now, Methodists bridge gaps better than anyone – gaps between traditional and modern, fundamental and progressive, liturgical and extemporaneous. Methodists get inclusion.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)

4. Lutherans (approx. 4.6%) – Obviously, Lutherans have historically done “grace” and “reformation” better than most. They do doctrine, confessions and creeds well. We should all have such well articulated beliefs. Lutherans get that you should be able to articulate and defend what you believe.

He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (NRSV)

5. Non-denominational (approx. 4.5%) – Disclaimer: I currently attend a non-denominational church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church). Non-denominationalists do “worship” better than anyone. They let loose and worship shamelessly. Hands raised, banners waiving, and dancing in the aisles. Every church service is a party. Non-denominationalists get that God is to be worshiped.

Then David danced before the LORD with all his might…

Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22 (NKJV)

6. Pentecostals (approx. 3.5%) – Pentecostals do Holy-Spirit religion better than anyone else. They understand that we are spiritual beings first and foremost, and that we should live in a state of communion with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals get that the gospel has to be presented not only in word but in power.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)

7. Presbyterians (approx. 2.7%) – Presbyterians do education well. I would guess that, per capita, Presbyterians are probably the most educated group of believers. Presbyterians get that you don’t have to check your intellect at the church door.

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. Proverbs 15:7 (NRSV)

8. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (approx. 2.4%) – Christian Churches and Churches of Christ do discipline and perseverance like no one else. I don’t think I know a more committed and determined lot. They get that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint, something many Christians lose sight of.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

9. Anglicans/Episcopalians (approx. 1.7%) – Anglicans and Episcopalians embrace diversity. This is not true for a lot of the Christian church, and it should be. There is, after all, a common thread which should bind all of us. Anglicans get that the body needs all of its component parts.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:9 (AV)

10. Holiness Churches (approx. 1%) – Holiness churches do non-conformity well. They actually try to live what many Christians profess. They get that an encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit should be a life-changing encounter.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)

On the whole, it sounds like a body of Christ I want to be a part of. Now, if we could get all of the component parts working in unison.

NOTE: My readers know that I allow and respond to virtually all comments and criticisms, but not on this post. If you leave a comment critical of a Christian denomination, please know it will be deleted. I know charismatics can take things too far, and I know other denominations can be legalistic. I get it. None of us are perfect, and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the problems later. You are, as always, certainly free to criticize me or my positions, but not the other members of the body. Not this time.

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Oh Crap! That was Funny!

The worship pastor at our church (who also happens to be accompanying my wife on her mission trip to Brazil) emailed this to my wife today regarding their full calendars, and I thought it was funny enough to share:

Oh CrapI hope REGAN will forgive any copyright infringement. If he would like, he can have all of the profits I’ve made off of this post.

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