Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review: Can You Believe It?

Can You Believe It: 31 More Stories and Devotions to Start Your Day
By Joseph Akins
Self Published, 2014
English, 108 pgs
Available online at:

Can You Believe It? is the second in a series of books containing short stories and devotions that have a definite homespun flavor. If you enjoyed Joy Comes In The Morning, make sure to order the next installment, Can You Believe It?.

About the Author:
Born and raised in South Georgia, Joseph has never strayed far from his southern roots.  More importantly, raised in a Christian home, he has also clung to the spiritual roots which are the foundation of his Christian faith.  The child of a WWII veteran and his Italian "war bride", Joseph draws many of his stories from an eclectic cultural background and happy childhood on the family farm.  Having worked in conventional ministry, lay ministry, and numerous sales positions, he has developed a wide base of  experiences which give him his "unusual" viewpoints on everyday life. 
Joseph is a husband, father, writer, teacher, and poor man's comedian.  He and his wife, Wendy, have a blended family of four children and one dog.  They reside in Statesboro, GA.

This is a 31 day devotion book. Each chapter is fairly short and easy to read in one sitting. The topics covered include "pet" sins, why we should believe the things God tells us, storms in our path and missing the mark in our life.

The devotions are written with a lot of heart and humor. I particularly enjoyed the stories from the author's life. From flea ridden puppies to refinishing a table, I can only imagine what kind of trouble he gets himself into on occasion. (Don't we all though?)

But beyond the humor, the application and use of the Bible is spot on. I did not find anything that I did not understand nor did I find anything that I disagreed with in interpretation.

This would be a good book for gifting as well as reading during your morning/evening prayer time.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. This reviewer has personal connection to a member of the author's family, but that connection did not affect the review in any way. All opinions, as stated, are my own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: NIV Zondervan Study Bible

NIV Zondervan Study Bible Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
By General Editor D.A. Carson
Published by Zondervan, 2015

English, 2912 pgs

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is a founding member of the Gospel Coalition.


The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. An ambitious and comprehensive undertaking, Dr. Carson, with committee members Dr. T. Desmond Alexander, Dr. Richard S. Hess, Dr. Douglas J. Moo, and Dr. Andrew David Naselli, along with a team of over 60 contributors from a wide range of evangelical denominations and perspectives, crafted all-new study notes and other study tools to present a biblical theology of God's special revelation in the Scriptures. To further aid the readers' understanding of the Bible, also included are full-color maps, charts, photos and diagrams. In addition, a single-column setting of the Bible text provides maximum readability.

The accessible and fresh interior design will capture your attention and enhance your study experience. Along with your purchase, you'll also receive free electronic access to the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.

Features include:
  • Over 60 scholarly contributors 
  • Over 1.2 million words of new content 
  • Over 3,000 pages packed with in-depth study tools 
  • Nearly 20,000 all-new, comprehensive verse-by-verse study notes 
  • Customized, theologically rich, illustrated book introductions 
  • 6 section introductions to literary genres ("The Pentateuch," "The Historical Books," etc.) 
  • Full-color interior with extensive use of over 60 colorful charts, over 90 maps, and hundreds of photos 
  • Comprehensive library of over 30 articles by award-winning scholars on topics such as "The Bible and Theology," "The Glory of God," "Covenant," "Love and Grace," and more 
  • Cross-reference system 
  • Complete text of the New International Version 
  • Concordance with over 35,000 Scripture references 
  • Free electronic access to the study Bible

This is not a small Bible. This is a heavy, massive, well done Bible. The editor has clearly worked hard compiling the information, pictures and then putting it together in a very usable format. I don't think I've ever seen this many maps in a Bible. There is one in almost every book. If there isn't a map, there is probably a chart or illustration. Seriously, there is nothing left to wonder about in this Bible. It has notes at the bottom of the page to help explain the verses. Every book has introduction pages which help the reader to know things like author, date, audience and structure of the book. The section introductions help put the related books into context with each other.

At the back are articles that are not long but will help you in your understanding of the scriptures. Bear in mind though, while these are well researched and written and the authors are "award-winning scholars" they are not God and their words are not part of the canon of the Bible. They are opinions based on their experience and research.

The best part about the Word of God is that it's alive. It will speak to you when you spend time in reading and study. It will comfort you, encourage you, teach you. If you listen to the Holy Spirit while you're reading and really spend the time to get into the words you'll find that you can understand more of it than you might think you can.

The access to the free digital version is quite handy as well for portability reasons. An iPad is much lighter than this huge book.

The only criticism I have is with parts of the translation itself. The "new" NIV translation changes a few things from the 1984 version that really make a difference in the translation. For instance, the difference in Hebrews 12:2, which now says "the the pioneer and perfecter of faith" instead of "the author and perfecter of our faith" makes a difference. Author and pioneer are very different in meaning. Even the Holman translation of "source and perfecter" is much better. Basically the difference, in my very humble and not award-winning opinion, is that author or source tell me that the faith originates there, with Jesus. A pioneer is someone who goes out and explores or charts new territory. And while Jesus has charted a new territory for our faith, it began with Him. There was nothing He had to go out and find.

Anyway, if you're looking for a deeper study Bible, this is a great one. If you're needing a portable Bible for going to church or something, the digital version of this is great, but the paper one will build your biceps.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this site and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions, as stated, are my own.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review: Believe, Kids Edition

Believe, Kids' Edition
Randy Frazee, General Editor
Zonderkidz, 2015
English, 224 pgs

Written for kids 8-12, Believe: Kid’s Edition is part of the national church-wide campaign led by bestselling author Randy Frazee that takes kids on a journey to become more like Jesus in their beliefs, actions, and character.

They know the story of the Bible, but do they know what it means? Adapted from the ground-breaking new Believe campaign from bestselling author and pastor Randy Frazee, the Believe: Kids’ Edition takes kids on a thematic tour through the Bible and shows them how to think, act, and be more like Jesus.

As children ages 8-12 walk through the three big categories of Christian life—beliefs, practices, and virtues—they’ll begin a journey that will take them closer to the heart of Jesus and deeper into the words of Scripture. They’ll learn what the Bible has to say about everything from the nature of God and the identity of Jesus, to prayer, worship, and the fruit of the Spirit. Foundational and faith-building, this book can be used by individuals or in conjunction with the all-church campaign.



Oh, I need to say more? Well, this is an excellent book. It is written in a meaningful and understandable way for this age group. It is arranged into three sections: think, act and be. It tells stories from the Bible and uses scripture memorization as well as asking questions for reflection and comprehension.

I have an 8 year old who has already made a profession of faith but who has had a hard time understanding "what now?" He is a proficient reader so I got this for him to work through. He has been reading it and asking us questions as he has them. The majority of the chapter is scripture but they have thoughts and ideas for kids to learn what the scripture means.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Everything I've seen from the Believe line of books has been outstanding.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review on this blog and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.