Wednesday, November 30, 2011

‘The Names of God Bible’ by Ann Spangler, General Editor – Book Review

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Anyone who knows me or has followed my blog for any length of time knows that I love different version of the Bibles. When I learn of new ones, I run toward them! The latest one on my list is ‘The Name of God Bible,’ with God as the author and Ann Spangler as the General Editor. The Names of God Bible is in God’s Word Translation.

Here is the synopsis of this Bible:

One of the best ways to get to know God on a deeper level is to know his names and titles as revealed in Scripture. Now the bestselling author of Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus uncovers the richness of God’s character and love found in his names right within the Bible text.

The Names of God Bible restores more than 10,000 occurrences of specific names of God –like Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay – to help readers connect with the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith and experience a deeper understanding of God’s character. Perfect for personal study, prayer, and reflection, The Names of God Bible includes these specific features:

·         More than 10,000 names and titles of God restored to their Hebrew equivalent and printed in brown ink to stand out within the biblical text
·         Names of God reading paths lead readers to the next reference of the name so they can pray and study the names of God throughout Scripture
·         Calling God by Name sidebars shed light on the relationship between biblical people and the specific names they call God
·         Name pages feature
-      background information associated with the most important names and titles of God
-      key Scripture passages in which the name is revealed
-      devotional readings for each of the featured names
-      specific Bible promises connected to each of the featured names

Here is the biography of the general editor:

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer whose fascination with the Bible has resulted in books that have opened the Bible to a wide range of readers. She is the author or coauthor of several bestselling books, including Praying the Names of Jesus, Women of the Bible, and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Together, her books have sold 3 million copies. She has held senior positions at two Christian publishing houses and lives with her two daughters in Michigan.

Here is Ann explaining this Bible:

As would be expected, this Bible includes an alphabetical list of names and titles of God. Surprisingly, this list is more than a full page! I was unfamiliar with many of them, including Holy One of Israel (Qedosh Yisrael), Jealous God (El Kanna), and the Lord’s Spirit (Ruach Yahweh).

The Publisher’s Note explains what most modern translation do with the names and titles of God:

While most modern translations obscure the names and titles of God by replacing them with just a few terms like “God,” “Lord,” or “LORD,” this Bible reintroduces the transliteration of ancient words to help readers understand the rich distinctions made in the original Hebrew and Aramaic. The translation into which these transliterated names and titles of God have been inserted is God’s Word Translation, which has itself been translated by biblical scholars to reach a twenty-first century reading audience by accurately rendering the text in clear, everyday language.

I like to review Bibles by focusing on some of my favorite verses. The ones I will focus on today are Genesis 1:1-3 and Philippians 4:6-7. As you can imagine, the very first book of the Bible is full of the names and titles of the Creator:

        In the beginning, Elohim created heaven and earth.
The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Rauch Elohim was hovering over the water.
Then Elohim said, “Let there be light!” So there was light. Elohim saw the light was good. So Elohim made the horizon and separated the light from the darkness. Elohim named the light day, and the darkness he named night. There was evening, then morning –the first day. (Genesis 1:1-3)

Here is Philippians 4:6-7:

Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Yeshua.

It is interesting to see how often God’s different names are referenced in His Book. My eyes were definitely opened to His many attributes! I think this would make for a terrific Bible for anyone who wants to know God in a deeper way.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Revell Publishers and provided by them for review purposes.

Advent Verses for the Four Weeks Before Christmas from the Common English Bible + Bible Giveaway!

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As part of my participation in the “Thank You – Come Again – I Promise” blog tour for the new Common English Bible translation, I will be sharing a verse each day for the four weeks before Christmas. As I am a few days late in starting, this post will include verses for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the fourth week before Christmas.

Sunday – Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2 – these verses deal with the prophecies of the birth of Christ:

v  Isaiah 7:14 (CEB): Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel.

v Micah 5:2 (CEB): As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.

Monday – Matthew 1:18-24 and Luke 1:26-33

v  Matthew 1:18-24 (CEB): This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
          Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.
(Emmanuel means, “God with us.”)
When Joseph woke up, he did just as the angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife.

v  Luke 1:26-33 (CEB): When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.

Tuesday – Luke 2:1-5

v  Luke 2:1-5 (CEB): In these days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged in David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.

Wednesday – Luke 2:6-7

v  Luke 2:6-7 (CEB): While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.


As mentioned in my last post, as part of this blog tour, I am able to offer my readers a free copy of the softcover edition of the Common English Bible for each week of the blog tour (which runs through January 31, 2012)!

For this week, please leave a message at the first blog post (the link is here) letting me know which verse in the Bible you are most interested in reading in the new Common English Bible version. Please leave your email address also, so I can contact you to get your mailing address.

The deadline to enter for this week will be Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm ET. The winner will be chosen from all entries by the Random Number Generator on Sunday, December 4, 2011. All the best to you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Introduction to the new Common English Bible + a Giveaway!

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Imagine my surprise last weekend when the pastor at my church referenced passages from the Common English Bible in his message on the Book of Romans last weekend! I was extremely excited, as I am part of the “Thank You – Come Again – I Promise” Blog Tour for this brand new translation!

Here’s an introduction to the Common English Bible:

The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY—using language that’s comfortable and accessible for today’s English readers. It’s available—with and without the Apocrypha—in multiple editions and bindings. 

Known for being “built on common ground,” the CommonEnglish Bible is a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world who joined together to clearly translate the Bible’s original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages into 21st century English. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are currently in print. It’s also available online and in 20 digital formats. 

“When we say ‘built on common ground,’ we mean that the Common English Bible is the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; conservatives working with liberals; teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a vibrant and clear translation for 21st century readers, with the ultimate objective of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world; in essence, helping Bible readers live on common ground,” says Franklyn. 

Combining scholarly accuracy with vivid language, the CommonEnglish Bible is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities, representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. 

Additionally, more than 500 readers in 77 groups field-tested the translation. Every verse was read aloud in the reading groups, where potentially confusing passages were identified. The translators considered the groups' responses and, where necessary, reworked those passages to clarify in modern English their meaning from the original languages. In total, more than 700 people worked jointly to bring the Common English Bible to fruition; and because of the Internet and today’s technology it was completed in less than four years.

Visit to see comparison translations, learn about the translators, get free downloads, and more. You can also follow their Twitter account at @CommonEngBible

The Common English Bible is sponsored by the Common English Bible Committee, an alliance of five publishers that serve the general market, as well as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Chalice Press), Presbyterian Church (USA) (Westminster John Knox Press), Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, Inc.), United Church of Christ (The Pilgrim Press), and The United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press). 


As part of this blog tour, I am able to offer my readers a free copy of the softcover edition of the Common English Bible for each week of the blog tour (which runs through January 31, 2012)!

For this week, please let me know which verse in the Bible you are most interested in reading in the new Common English Bible version. Please leave your email address also, so I can contact you to get your mailing address.

The deadline to enter for this week will be Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm ET. The winner will be chosen from all entries by the Random Number Generator on Sunday, December 4, 2011. All the best to you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Christmas Giveaway for You - 'My Favorite Bible: The Best-Loved Stories of the Bible'

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One of my favorite Christian book publishers, Revell Publishers, offered me the opportunity to give away a copy of one of their new books - 'My Favorite Bible: The Best-Loved Stories of the Bible.' I jumped at the chance! 

Here is the 'blurb' on this beautiful book!

With the vibrant illustrations and engaging text in this Bible storybook, you can enjoy sharing the best-loved stories of the Bible with the children in your life and encourage a life-long love for the Word of God. My Favorite Bible is a book of exciting Bible stories and activity pages that guide children through the foundational truths of Scripture.

Each story is fully illustrated and includes a simple narrative full of things kids love: repetition, rhythm, and energy, along with a key biblical theme, a key Bible verse, and discussion questions to help adults introduce children to the Bible.

The colorful illustrations will capture the imaginations of children ages 4–8, and the stories will help adults to pass along the most important truth in life—the Gospel. Families will cherish this time as they read, listen, learn, and love, growing closer to one another even as they grow closer to God.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?! This is not a children’s Bible; it is a Bible story book that includes key verses and parent pages called “Family Talk” and “Family Fun” to assist adults in discussing the stories with children. Awesome!

To enter to win 'My Favorite Bible,' please leave a comment telling me which story in the Bible you are most interested in sharing with a young loved one! Please leave your email address, also, so I can contact you if you win. I will pass the winner’s information along to Donna at Revell (thanks, Donna!), who will send out this wonderful publication. This giveaway is not restricted to the United States; it is open to the international audience (we want to get the Good News out to all nations!).

Deadline for entry is Monday, December 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm. The Random Number Generator will choose a winner from all entrants on Tuesday, December 13, 2011! All the best to you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

10 Tips for Setting a Beautiful Holiday Table - by Roxanne Hughes Packham

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Here is another post from Roxanne Packham pertaining to setting a beautiful holiday table. I hope it inspires you!

Drawing from a rich family history and her own collection of acclaimed designs, California-based interior designer Roxanne Packham has joined with her teenage daughter Hannah to create InspiredDesign (Inspired Design Publications), an idea-provoking book filled with stunning photographs, treasured family traditions and a plethora of truly inspirational tips for creating a warm and welcoming home, not just throughout the holiday season, but every day to follow.

Whether seeking unique ways to entertain for the upcoming holidays, celebrate with friends, begin new family traditions or showcase the family history, talents and passions in the home’s interior design, the Packhams have shown the way. In doing so, they have utilized the beautifully structured pages of Inspired Design to reveal the classic truth that any home is made more beautiful when it is filled with love, joy and the determination to make those who enter it feel welcomed.

10 Tips for Setting a Beautiful Holiday Table

By Roxanne Hughes Packham,
Co-Author of the Hospitality Book: InspiredDesign

In today’s rough economic climate, keep in mind that although I hope to inspire you to set a beautiful Thanksgiving or Christmas table the real beauty comes from the thought and love you show your friends and family. Beautiful tables comprise equal parts from the “Inspired” & the “Design” categories. See examples at


~Place cards

I love to use the ceramic place cards that can be written on with a wipe-off marker. You can quickly write people’s names, a favorite quote or sentiment. Friends love that you thought about them before the dinner and even something as simple as writing their names on the place cards really makes them feel remembered.

~Welcome Sign

It is so welcoming, to have a sign somewhere near the front door to greet your family and friends. From a very personal “Welcome Smith Family” or a seasonal “Merry Christmas” to “We are so glad you are here” on a casual chalkboard or an elegant mirror or glass framed, and write with a wipe-off marker, that welcome sets the tone for the rest of the event.  I used an antique French cupboard door and painted it with chalkboard paint on the raised panel part.

~Quote or Scripture

The most inspirational part of the Holiday table is the beautiful quotes and scriptures. It depends on the occasion, but a quote that is either inspiring or focused on gratitude is the favorite. There is nothing like feasting your eyes, and then your thoughts, on what we can be thankful for, especially as an example for our children. Scattering them around the home (powder room, end tables, above door jam’s) is a great way to elevate your family and friends thoughts.


~Fresh Greenery

Sometimes we mistakenly think a tabletop has to have flowers as a centerpiece to be really elegant and festive. Greenery is a wonderful, fresh and festive way to make a beautiful Christmas table. Simply cut a few small twigs of trees/bushes like pine or ivy, or my favorite boxwood branches, bay tree and magnolia leaves and put them in three smaller glass or crystal vases. 


No table is complete, in my opinion, without 5 to 7 little glass votives with white candles in them. The light sparkles and makes everything else on the table more beautiful and sets a soft, relaxing, and often more romantic tone.

~Seasonal Piece

By seasonal I suggest a “Santa” figurine or such, a gingerbread house, or a standing cross to have in the center of the table. A clear jar of candy canes, M&M’s or such would do just fine, as well. Think: Something available only at this time of year. I usually have plenty of items in the Holiday Decor that I switch out to put on the table for each dinner.

~Napkin Rings

These can be such a pretty way to pull a linen napkin through to set on a place and make a really beautiful table setting. You can use french ribbons, or plain silver rings and they help to really make a bigger impact for an inspiring table.

~Sparkling Glasses

Whether crystal or glass, tall freshly washed glass sparkle so much with the votive candles that it is hard to wrong with this combo. A tall glass and short glass of whatever kind you like is very dramatic and beautiful, set together. Whether colored or clear the sparkle is crucial for the holiday table.

~White Plates

Although I love to use seasonal chargers and salad plates a crisp white plate is the most beautiful element to my favorite tables. They can be dressed up or down, and makes each setting look fresh and not heavy and overdone. 

~Seasonal Linens

Of course, linen napkins add the most wonderful touch of elegance to any table, and Christmas plaid or red and green are no exception. My grandfather, who was a “Silversmith to the Stars”, loved a bare table with only plates (or placemats) but wasn’t a fan of covering a beautiful wood table. I have followed suit. Try leaving the wood table bare! The natural elements together are beautiful and simple.

“I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Three Things Every Traditional Christmas Tree Must Have' by Roxanne Hughes Packham

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On this Thanksgiving week, thoughts naturally turn to the entire holiday season. I wanted to share this post by Roxanne Hughes Packham, co-author of the hospitality book: Inspired Design. I don't know about you, but I can always use inspiration for holiday decorating! 

'Three Things Every Traditional Christmas Tree Must Have
by Roxanne Hughes Packham

I can remember back thirty years ago, as a little girl, getting dressed up with my sister in our matching Christmas plaid dresses, getting ready for Christmas Eve dinner, and posing for pictures in front of our brick fireplace in our first house. I can still remember how excited we were for Santa Claus to come and leave presents, how much fun it was to have our crazy, loud family all together for Christmas. There are so many memories of Christmases past, but mostly the beautifully set tables and decorated trees and presents are the forefront of my memories. Our family is so much fun, and there was always so much laughter, loud and often hysterical storytelling, great food, and mostly an appreciation for our blessings, not material, but the blessing of our family.

Sometimes the decorating during the holidays gets so overwhelming, it becomes more daunting than it does desirable. You must keep in mind that for most people the memories made by Christmas past is the sweet memories that it conjures up time with family, friends, surrounded with textural delights all in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So keep that in mind when you are breaking out the decorations that you are simply setting the backdrop for memories for family and friends, not trying to get an award for the best tabletop design in the country nor the most amazing tree in the land. Most of our deepest desires for the Christmas Season are to make a lovely, festive memorable day for our nearest and dearest.

Keep the following in mind for your tree: There is no award for the most amazing tree (that I know of), but you will touch the hearts of all who enter your home and enjoy the beauty of your tree because your tree represents your family.

~ Family ornaments!

This may be funny to some who have more than 25 years of ornaments saved and carefully packed each year. Good for you! Even if you just buy one new ornament per year on a vacation, or special event someone in your family participated in it makes such a story once the tree is fully decorated. I like to take a permanent marker and write the specific event and year on each ornament, after purchasing, in case I forget all the little details. It makes decorating the tree quite a tradition as each person takes the ornaments out of the boxes and begins to reminisce about the event or trip. Even with shiny new ornaments the old ones really give a history for the family and meaning to the tree.

~ Sparkle! 

This might go without saying, but little white lights and colorful red Christmas balls really go a long way in making a Christmas tree look Christmassy! The lights reflect off the balls and the more the better, in my opinion. It is traditional for the tree to be mainly red and green. Since the tree itself is green, invest mostly in red ball ornaments. The more little white lights the better, especially important towards the back. Hang the simple round ornaments way back towards the trunk so that it sparkles all the way through. Don’t just hang the ornaments right on the front of the trees. Remember also to do a topper on the top! If yours broke, or you haven’t had one, use ribbon and make a large loopy bow and stick it almost on the very top. This one you will have to tie to the tree with the bow facing towards the front.

~ Candy Canes and Bows!

Although I often do themed trees throughout the house, it is always our big main tree that I like to be very traditional, red and green, with all the family ornaments. And, of course, no Traditional tree would be complete without candy canes and bows! Hanging the candy canes on last after the tree is decorated is the easiest, filling in every spot where there isn’t an ornament. They don’t even need a hanger, but can just be set hanging on a branch! Tying bows can be fun while watching a favorite Christmas movie or listening to your favorite Christmas music. While I know sometimes the teenagers have other things to do, they are always glad we took some time to make some more Christmas memories together. Lastly, tie the bows. I recommend something very “red & green” like polka dot ribbon with those colors, or something very Christmas-plaid! Those say Christmas-time more than any other types of bows. You can either tie the bows right onto the candy cane before you hang it, or tie the bows, and use an ornament hanger on it to hang the bow. I find it way too hard to tie the bows onto the tree. 

Enjoy your time together this Christmas. Time is the most precious thing there is with loved ones! Bless someone by asking them over for simple coffee and tea, and to enjoy your beautiful Tree. Practice Hospitality, Romans 12:13! Merry Christmas!


You can find more design ideas in 'Inspired Design,' co-written by Roxanne and her daughter, Hannah. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

MissioLife Small Group Study – Structure Information

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In my last post, I shared about an exciting new Small Group Resource, MissioLife, which is a multi-generational approach to spiritual formation. In this post, I will provide you with more information on how this resource is structured.

First, take a look at Pastor Syler Thomas, a youth pastor, explaining MissioLife and how it can impact the youth - and his/her family:

MissioLife is divided into three learning groups: children, youth and adults. With the entire church community journeying through MissioLife together, families and multi-generational communities will be able to share in this formative experience.


Breathe is the MissioLife small-group resource for adults. Each week of Breathe has three components: a biblical reflection to equip the facilitator with a background of each week’s scripture passage, a facilitator’s guide to help guide discussion, and a participant’s guide to encourage interaction and reflection. At the end of each 6-week module there is a communal experience activity that is designed to be a hands-on practice to reinforce the message of that particular module.

One year of Breathe is divided into six-week modules. Each module is designed to take you through the story of God using the spiritual formation method explained here.

Each week of Breathe will explore a different scripture passage that both builds on the week prior and continues the spiritual formation journey. To begin each community discussion time, Breathe incorporates the same four questions each week.

What does this passage say about God?
About ourselves?
About others?
About the world?


Image is the MissioLife small-group resource for students, grade 7-12. We were each made in the image of God, which means we are already part of His story. Through conversation and discussion, Image will help students discover how we all fit into God’s story and explore what Scripture says about God, others, ourselves, and the world.

Like Breathe, both Image and Rhythms have three components and follows the six module per year format. All age groups will explore a different passage each week that builds on the week prior.


Rhythms is the MissioLife small group resource for children. God’s heartbeat is the rhythm of a child’s life. Rhythms invites elementary children, ages 6-12, into the story of God.

Using an easy-to-follow small group plan, Rhythms will help children explore a Bible story, be informed by the narrative, and be transformed through reflective questions, deeper thinking, and purposeful prayer to live into the mission of God.

Each week of Rhythms will explore a different scripture passage in four parts that both builds on the week prior and continues the spiritual formation journey.

Part 1: The Story. This is the narrative of the session’s Bible story.

Part 2: Teaching and Reflection. This section contains various activities, such as journaling and handouts, to help the children respond to and understand how God’s mission becomes their mission as followers. The students will explore what the Bible story had to say about God, ourselves, others, and the world.

Part 3: Deeper Still. This includes a variety of activities for children to respond, journal, use student handouts, and understand how God’s mission becomes their mission as His followers.

Part 4: Prayer. This will engage students in significant and focused time for conversation with God.

MissioLife  is published by Beacon Hill Press and was provided by the B and B Media Group for review purposes.

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