Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Brief Review: Cutting the Bible down to (big) bite size

The Bible is a big book. Picking it up for the first time can be intimidating.

After all, it’s a book that contains 66 books! And each of those books often contain dozens of chapters. Plus the whole thing is broken out broadly into two “testaments” and broken down on a more granular level into “verses.”

Whew!

And these are just the structural challenges. When you toss in the grand themes, the various literary styles, all the characters, and more, well, it can be a little overwhelming.

Still, for any true believer, becoming familiar with God’s Word is essential to a godly life and overall spiritual well-being.

Fortunately there are a variety of helps available that can make accessing the Bible and grasping key themes a little bit easier.

A good one is Believe: Living the story of the Bible to become like Jesus which has just been released by Zondervan.

The back cover copy describes the book, stating,
“Grounded in carefully selected Scripture, Believe, NIV is a unique spiritual growth experience that takes you on a journey to think, act, and be more like Jesus. General editor and pastor Randy Frazee walks you through the ten key Beliefs of the Christian faith, the ten key Practices of a Jesus-follower, and the ten key Virtues that characterize someone who is becoming more like Jesus.”

A big book breaking down a bigger book

The book is divided into three broad categories of ten chapters per category. These are:
  • Beliefs: What do I believe?
  • Practices: What should I do?
  • Virtues: Who am I becoming?
The bulk of the book consists of extensive excerpts from the NIV arranged around 30 topics in as many chapters. If you already own one or more Bibles, the inclusion of these excerpts is not particularly advantageous. In fact, if they were stripped out, you’d be left with a much smaller “study guide” rather than a full “book.”

However, for those who don’t own a Bible, own a Bible but not the NIV, or don’t like carrying around multiple books, the included scripture excerpts will be a plus.

Each chapter focuses on a single of aspect of Christian living such as church, prayer, spiritual gifts, self-control, and faithfulness.

Frazee offers clarifying commentary that introduces and ties together the excerpts.

Included at the end of the book are discussion questions for each chapter.

A good reference for new believers & others

Believe: Living the story of the Bible to become like Jesus is designed as a follow-up to The Story  that was a resource and program several churches have taken advantage of in recent years. A website for Believe --  www.believethestory.com -- points to additional related tools being released throughout 2015.

This is a good resource for an extended small group study or for use by an individual. It is especially valuable for newer believers, or any believer wishing to better understand and live out their faith.


NOTE: To comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255): I selected this book to review and received it free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


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Have you read “The Story”? If so, what was your experience like? Are there other resources similar to “Believe” that you would recommend for gaining a better understanding of the Bible and faith? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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