The Most Gorgeous Bible Ever. And a Giveaway!

I have a LOT of Bibles. I love the different versions available – translations, study variations, devotional focused. What I have never had is a truly beautiful one that is almost a work of art.

Now I do though. Crossway has issued a new ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition, with illustrations and lettering by artist Dana Tanamachi.

Each book has its own unique full-page gold ink illustration. If you find cover art discussions as fascinating as I do, you’ll love the list of illustrations: it includes details as to why each book was depicted the way it was.

There are numerous quotes pulled out and illustrated in the margins. Even with all the illustrations, there is plenty of room to add your own notes or illustrations.

It would make a lovely gift – it’s got a beautiful presentation page, and comes in a nice slipcase.

Win a Copy!

Want your own copy, to keep or give away? FlyBy Promotions has provided me with a copy to give to one of my readers! Continental US only, sorry. Enter using the widget below – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

New Book Love: Come & Eat by Bri McKoy

Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table coverCome & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by Bri McKoy

When I first heard of McKoy’s new book, I was eager to read it. There is something magical about what happens when you share food with people. Acquaintances become friends, and friendships deepen.

The church I attend even emphasizes this concept: every week in our bulletin is the acronym BLESS. The acronym is based on “the habits that made Jesus so effective in helping others take their next step with God.”

And the “E” that’s right there in the center stands for “eat with others rather than alone.”

McKoy’s book is all about ways to make that happen, no matter where you are in your current life situation. As she says in the book, “The food never has to be extravagant because the person at the table always is.”

Quote from Come & Eat by Bri McKoy

But if you are looking for delicious recipes, she includes those too, as well as prayers, and questions to encourage conversation.

One of my favorite features (ok, besides the recipes) is the appendix that includes a 21-day “Adventure at the Table” to help you increase the number of times you gather around the table, which may require a radical shift in routines and habits.

The book is very faith-based, so if you’re not a Christian believer it’s probably not going to be a great fit for you. It’s not just the prayers following each chapter, but many of the suggested conversation starters and questions have a strong faith element, as well as the overall narrative.

If you are a believer, it’s very encouraging, and I’ve enjoyed reading it.

Book Details

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Come with your brokenness, your celebration, and your worries, but most of all come and eat.

In today’s busy and often superficial world, we all crave something deeper and truer. Maybe it’s relationships that go beyond the surface or gatherings that allow for joy and pain. Bri McKoy tells us this is within reach! All we need is a table, open hearts, and a simple invitation: come and eat.

McKoy invites us to discover how a common dining-room table can be transformed into a place where brokenness falls away to reveal peace and fellowship. Whether the table is laid with bounty or with meager offerings, whether it is surrounded by the Body of Christ or homeless, broken souls, she shows us that healing begins when we say, “Come in. I may not know you, but I know your maker. And so I offer you my heart.”

For all those who are hungry and craving more of God’s kingdom in their homes, Come and Eat offers recipes, tips, and questions to jumpstart conversation, while reminding us that fellowship in God’s love is always the most remembered, most cherished nourishment. Because when we make room for others, we make room for God, and our homes become a vibrant source of life, just as he means them to be.

Disclosure: I was provided a pre-release copy of the book for review as part of the book launch. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Review: VeggieTales Devotional (and a giveaway!)

Every Day with God covers VeggieTales Every Day with God: 365 Daily Devos

All three of my kids (7, 5, and 2) have loved VeggieTales, so when I found out they offered a devotional I jumped at the chance to look at it. I thought perhaps it’d be something we could do as a family during our morning Bible time – the suggested age range is 4 to 7.

While it could work for that, it’s actually written in such an accessible way that it also works for my oldest to read for himself, and that’s how I’m going to use it. He doesn’t know it but the devotional is going to go into his Christmas stocking.

Why I Like it

Each page has one days’s devotional on it, and it’s short enough to not be overwhelming to newer readers (my son is a good reader, but he still doesn’t like reading things when then text is too small or there’s not enough white space on a page). Each day has a scripture reference (from a variety of translations), devotional text, thought of the day, and prayer starter.

I like that the days are not dated, but numbered, and that the content is age-appropriate, without being babyish. I really liked how the thought of the day connected the scripture to things my kids may be experiencing. It felt like a great way to begin learning to apply scripture to their life.

My only real complaint with the book is that the designating the books either for boys or girls seems unnecessary. Flipping through the boy’s version, I didn’t notice anything that wouldn’t work for girls as well, although I admit that I didn’t read all 365 entries yet. I’m assuming it was more of a marketing decision than anything else, and realize that my older two would probably both love it being “for them” so specifically.

Want Your Own Copy?

Would you like a copy of the devotional? I have one copy to give away (boy’s or girl’s version – your pick). Enter below – the giveaway ends at 12 AM October 10th. I will contact the winner who will have 24 hours to respond, or I’ll select another winner. Good luck!

Find the book: Boy’s version | Girl’s version | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Every Day with God is the latest 365-day devotional (one for boys and another for girls) from VeggieTales. The updated content and art offer the perfect opportunity for parent and child to share time together each day. Each entry includes a Bible verse, short devotion, Thought of the Day, and prayer. The content will help children learn more about God and develop a daily practice to keep Him close in their lives. The book is perfect for bedtime reading, family devotion time, or as a fresh way to start each day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Man Enough by Nate Pyle

Man EnoughMan Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle

If it seems strange that I read this book, well, I had a couple of reasons for wanting to. Thanks to Twitter I discovered the author, Nate Pyle, who is a pastor at a church in the Indianapolis area – since that’s where I live I began following him and wanted to read what he had to say. And as my son grows up, I find myself thinking about how he is maturing; what kind of man am I raising?

I appreciated with his premise (that manhood shouldn’t be defined by cultural ideals and expectations) and enjoyed parts of the book quite a bit. One of the strongest sections is when he writes that as Christians (whether male or female) our focus should be on becoming more Christ-like. He notes that “when characteristics are godly, they transcend masculinity and femininity and become traits that all people should seek to embody.” The final chapter was also excellent as it talked about risk aversion and vulnerability.

It’s very personal, with much of Pyle’s story informing the structure and examples given throughout the text. Unfortunately, it ends up being fairly repetitive, and feels like he’s continually circling around the same concept, without ever developing it further.

There was a small section that talked about parenting boys, and I would have loved to see more there – how do we as parents avoid raising our sons into aiming for the cultural male-ideal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Man Enough challenges the idea that there is one way to be a man. The masculinity that pervades our church and culture often demands that men conform to a macho ideal, leaving many men feeling ashamed that they’re not living up to God’s plan for them. Nate uses his own story of not feeling “man enough” as well as sociological and historical reflections to help men see that manhood isn’t about what you do but who you are. It’s not about the size of your paycheck, your athletic ability, or your competitive spirit. You don’t have to fit any masculine stereotype to be a real man.

In our culture and churches more thoughtful, quieter, or compassionate personalities, as well as stay-at-home dads, are often looked down upon; and sermons, conferences, and publications center on helping men become “real men”. This pressure to have one’s manhood validated is antithetical to Gospel living and negatively affects how men relate to each other, to women and children, and to God.

Man Enough roots men in the Gospel, examines biblical examples of masculinity that challenge the idea of a singular type of man, and ultimately encourages men to conform to the image of Jesus – freeing men up to be who they were created to be: sons of God who uniquely bear his image.

Book Details

Title: Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood
Author: Nate Pyle
Category: Nonfiction / Christian
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 6), the nonfiction

Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

Out of SortsOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving FaithOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey by Sarah Bessey

Bessey’s first book, Jesus Feminist, was one of my most disappointing reads last year. It wasn’t the book I expected it to be, and that aggravation and disappointment made me unable to fully appreciate the book that it was.

Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts, had no such issues for me. I expected it to be a faith memoir, and that’s precisely what it is. This time I enjoyed the personal angle she brought to the discussion of faith and religion.

If you liked Jesus Feminist, you’re almost certain to enjoy this one. And even if you didn’t care for Jesus Feminist, Out of Sorts is a stronger, more cohesive account, that takes her story, and makes more universal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey—award-winning blogger and author of Jesus Feminist, which was hailed as “lucid, compelling, and beautifully written” (Frank Viola, author of God’s Favorite Place on Earth)—helps us grapple with core Christian issues using a mixture of beautiful storytelling and biblical teaching, a style well described as “narrative theology.”

As she candidly shares her wrestlings with core issues—such as who Jesus is, what place the Church has in our lives, how to disagree yet remain within a community, and how to love the Bible for what it is rather than what we want it to be—she teaches us how to walk courageously through our own tough questions.

In the process of gently helping us sort things out, Bessey teaches us how to be as comfortable with uncertainty as we are with solid answers. And as we learn to hold questions in one hand and answers in the other, we discover new depths of faith that will remain secure even through the storms of life.

Book Details

Title: Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving FaithOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey
Author: Sarah Bessey
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir / Faith
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review. I was not required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cooking the Book: Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

Girl Meets ChangeGirl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You through Life’s TransitionsGirl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You through Life's Transitions by Kristen Strong | Review by @SheilaRCraig by Kristen Strong

Relatable and encouraging. I enjoyed her writing style, which discusses her heart without being overrun with emotional appeals.

It’s very quick to read, and I appreciated how at one point she emphasized something along the lines that it’s not a competition, and just because something would be no big deal to someone else doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to you – acknowledge what you’re experiencing.

I also really liked how she discussed change can still be difficult, even when it’s something welcome and hoped for. (Say, a new baby or great new job). I tend to expect myself to get back to normal immediately and need to remember to give myself grace when things have changed, especially when those changes were positives.

Recommended if it sounds appealing to you. It’s not a must read, but it’s worthwhile and I’m glad I read it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Whether chosen or unexpected, all change brings stress. Kristen Strong knows about change–especially the kind you didn’t choose. Over the years, she’s fought hard to learn an important truth: change is not something to be feared but something to be received as a blessing from a God who works through it, not in spite of it.

In this hope-filled book, Kristen invites you to see all the ways you are loved and cared for in the midst of change. She walks alongside you as a friend, gently ushering you toward a new view of change, one that meets you at the crossroads of your own sense of anxiety and God’s sense of purpose. With practical advice for coping in every part of life, she draws from her own experiences, the stories of others, and stories from Scripture to help you find contentment, purpose, and renewed strength.

Book Details

Title: Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You through Life’s TransitionsGirl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You through Life's Transitions by Kristen Strong | Review by @SheilaRCraig
Author: Kristen Strong
Category: Nonfiction / Faith
My Rating: 4 Stars


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review, but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

For the LoveFor the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible StandardsFor the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker by Jen Hatmaker

I feel like most of the “Christian” books I’ve read lately have missed the mark for me, and I was starting to wonder if I was just expecting too much. Was I a cranky reader?

Then I read Hatmaker’s latest and LOVED it. Her humor makes me laugh, and her perspective enlarges mine. I highlighted entire swathes of the book, and couldn’t even begin to pick out my absolute favorite parts.

(But I think her Thank You Notes are the funniest.)

I’ve found myself continuing to think about sections of it, especially how she cuts through the cultural trappings of Christianity in America by distilling it down to one question: Is this also true for a single mom in Haiti? Because if it’s not, than it’s not true for us. The chapter on youth groups is also stellar, and gives me plenty to ponder as I think about the church environment I want to find for my children.

Does this mean I agree with her 100%? No, and one chapter in particular I kept wishing I could talk with her about it and why I think it was missing a little bit of clarification/expansion. I was also initially confused on the overall theme of the book (admittedly I was reading in snippets while watching kids, so sometimes I can miss things like that), so I went to reread the description to see what it was supposed to be. Oh there it is – dealing with PEOPLE. Ok, yeah, I see it now, and yes, that makes more sense of the organization of the book.

That minor issue aside, I LOVED THIS BOOK. I want to form a Supper Club like she mentions. I want to have Sunday Night Church on my porch.

I think I’ve officially crossed the line into a total Jen Hatmaker Fan Girl. Get her book & read it – it’s so worth your reading time. Any book where I highlight THAT MUCH is one that I think is worth reading.

Publisher’s Description:
The popular writer, blogger, and television personality reveals with humor and style how Jesus’ extravagant grace is the key to dealing with life’s biggest challenge: people.

The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning first with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, live for, go to church with, don’t like, don’t understand, fear, struggle with, compare ourselves to, and judge. People are the best and worst thing about the human life.

Jen Hatmaker knows this all too well, and so she reveals how to practice kindness, grace, truthfulness, vision, and love to ourselves and those around us. By doing this, For the Love leads our generation to reimagine Jesus’ grace as a way of life, and it does it in a funny yet profound manner that Christian readers will love. Along the way, Hatmaker shows readers how to reclaim their prophetic voices and become Good News again to a hurting, polarized world.

Book Details

Title: For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible StandardsFor the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker
Author: Jen Hatmaker
Category: Nonfiction
My Rating: 5 Stars
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Relentless by Darcy Wiley

RelentlessCoverfinalNot a book review, but a heads-up about a new Bible Study that is available.

Relentless: The Epic Story of a Hardhearted People, Their Warrior God, and His Unstoppable Love is a six-week study of Judges, and there is no way that it’s not amazing, because it’s written by my friend Darcy Wiley. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recognize her name – she guest posted for me and shared her Favorite Books of Hope and Redemption, and we’ve also co-led a writing group in the past.

She’s a beautiful writer who always has lots of thoughtful insights on what she’s reading, so I’m excited to dive into the book of Judges and see the fresh perspective she’ll bring.

The study is offered as part of Hello Mornings, and you can sign up to be part of a group, or you can just download the study and do it on your own. Hello Morning’s session working through the study begins on the 24th.

Description:

Do you ever feel like you’re in a downward spiral, or that our culture is? Do you ever feel like everyone around you is doing what is right in their own eyes and that life has become crazy as a result?

Then you’ll want to lean in and listen to this epic story. In the book of Judges, Israel ignores God’s instructions and cozies up to the enemy and their false gods, bringing all kinds of trouble on themselves. But God sends a whole array of heroes, like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson to come to the rescue.

Designed for 30 minutes a day with five days of study each week (plus optional bonus material), the readings and prompts will help you learn how to resist temptation, avoid the pitfalls of cultural trends, gain confidence for the tasks God has assigned you, deal with narcissistic people and cultivate unity in your family and church, recover from life’s disappointments, deal with anger issues, bring stress and trauma under the healing relief of the Holy Spirit, develop a proper reverence for God, and stand up for those who are victimized.

We’ll take a long hard look at sin and its dangerous consequences. And we will glory in our warrior God who comes to our rescue, even when we don’t deserve it. We may be relentless in our disobedience, but God’s love is unstoppable.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah BesseyJesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of WomenJesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah Bessey by Sarah Bessey

I liked the subtitle on this: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women.

I liked the additional teaser on the cover: Exploring God’s Radical Notion That Women Are People, Too.

I thought I’d be getting a thoughtful look at doctrine and history and scholarship (I mean, that’s what the description promised: “Through a thoughtful review of biblical teaching and church practices…” Instead, the book is heavy on Bessey’s feelings. Not just her’s, but other women’s feelings as well, about being denied opportunities in the church because of being female.

The book is much more of a memoir of Bessey and her experiences, and not really what the title and description promises. And that’s ok – I like memoirs. But I like to know I’m going to be reading a memoir, and not be expecting something else.

At times, it also reads like a series of blog posts cobbled together. I don’t read her blog much to know for sure how much of it is material she might have already published there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a fair amount is familiar. Update and correction, thanks to a comment from Katie. This is not reworked blog material, although it is on similar themes to what she writes about on her blog. However, as a new-to-her reader, at times the material still seemed not entirely cohesive.

The cobbled-together effect, combined with the difference in focus from what I was expecting made for a disappointing read. Some sections were fantastic, but others were so trite and felt like they were written purely to wring emotion from the reader. I don’t like being emotionally manipulated by what I read, and don’t find emotional arguments compelling.

Why yes, I am an INTJ, with a heavy emphasis on the INT part. That alone might be the reason for my dislike of the book – the approach she takes is not one that connects with me, and instead leaves me feeling aggravated.

Now for a bit of a disclaimer: It’s completely shallow, but I find one aspect of her writing to be so annoying and cringe-inducing that it’s possible that’s impacting my entire perspective of the book. Doubtful it’s that extreme, so let’s say that it’s making me take this down from a 2 star book to 1.5 stars.

Update: Katie has written a great comment, giving an alternate perspective on it. Even if you don’t usually read the comments, I’d encourage you to do so to see what she has to say about the book.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible

Publisher’s Description:
Gender roles have been debated for centuries, and now Sarah Bessey offers a clarion freedom call for all who want to realize their giftedness and potential in the kingdom of God. Through a thoughtful review of biblical teaching and church practices, Bessey shares how following Jesus made a feminist out of her.

Book Details

Title: Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of WomenJesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah Bessey
Author: Sarah Bessey
Category: Nonfiction / Faith
My Rating: 1.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Searching for SundaySearching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the ChurchSearching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans by Rachel Held Evans

This is one of the books on my “Looking forward to reading them in 2015 list,” so I was excited to finally get a chance to read it.

While I knew I wanted to read it if for no other reason than I find Held Evans to be very thought-provoking, I especially liked the premise behind this one. It resonated with me and my current life so much.

In addition, I really was intrigued by the book’s structure being based on the seven sacraments – it sounded like such a creative way of arranging to book. Unfortunately, that structure didn’t fully work and ended up feeling more like a gimmick – some things felt forced to fit within that framework, and at times I struggled to see the connection she attempted to draw.

Some of it felt very repetitive from her previous books, or her blog posts, and the ending was a big disappointment. The title made it seem like there’d be a clearer “finding” of the church than just … there’s a church we attend at times. we’re not members, or all that plugged in, but it’s where we go when we go. Um, ok?

I don’t really want to make the review about theology – I don’t have that kind of blog, nor do I want that kind of blog. I like reading books from a wide range of perspectives, and find it valuable to do so, but I want them to be books I can learn from. While I actually related to her many times throughout this book (leaving the church I grew up in and searching for one to call home), there were enough times that I absolutely did not connect with what she says, or found myself noticing inconsistencies in the text that it kept the book from making as big an impact as it could have.

While I’ve found her previous books to be well worth reading, no matter if you agree with her or not, this one isn’t that way. It seemed more like she’s writing to those who already agree with her instead of really reaching out to others. If you feel like her as far as gender and sexuality issues in the church are concerned, you’ll probably read the book nodding your head the entire way. If you disagree with her, the book is unlikely to persuade you otherwise, especially as she comes across as very condescending to those who disagree with her (and I actually agree with her on many – not all – points. I still felt her scorn). I did not think it was as thought-provoking for all readers as her previous ones were.

There are some chapters that are absolutely fantastic. The chapter on healing versus curing was one of those for me, and I also really enjoyed most of the communion section. What I found disappointing is how it felt like the gospel was left out, and the focus was on sexuality and gender over anything else. The ending also felt really forced and rushed, and was a let down to a book that was fairly disappointing in general.

Publisher’s Description:
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Held Evans comes a book that is both a heartfelt ode to the past and hopeful gaze into the future of what it means to be a part of the Church.

Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals–church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.

Book Details

Title: Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the ChurchSearching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
Author: Rachel Held Evans
Category: Nonfiction / Faith / Memoir
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!