The New Living Translation
His Excellent Word Blog Review of the Premium Value Large Print Slimline

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OVERVIEW.  Any economy Bible is not going to fare as well here as a Bible with premium print and paper, but for what it is, the PVLPS does a good job. I spent two weeks doing my daily Bible reading out of the PVLPS, except for a morning or two when I had left it at the church building the night before.  Here’s what I thought: SIZE.  No problems here.  In fact, I might go so far as to say the size is excellent.  The PVLPS doesn’t have the paperback-like form factor that I generally prefer in reading Bibles, but the combination of large page size and light weight has an appeal all its own.  I wouldn’t think twice about one-handing the PVLPS, and I never noticed it as a physical object when I was reading from it. LAYOUT.  Love the column width here.  Purely love it.  Despite claiming to be a large-print Bible, with 9-point font, the PVLPS isn’t, really.  However, 9-point font in a 6” x 9” has another consequence.  Because the page is so wide and the print is relatively small, you get a lot of characters per line, even in a double-column Bible.  Generally, I’m happy if a double-column Bible has more than 40 characters per line.  The PVLPS has something like 47 cpl. That line length works just fine in prose.  It’s amazing in poetry.  As anybody who reads Bible reviews knows, text set poetically is the nemesis of double-column Bibles.  Because most lines of poetry in the Bible are longer than 35-40 cpl, the conflict between poetic line and column width produces a bunch of one-word “widows”, last words of lines that are shoved down to the next line due to lack of space. Not so with the PVLPS.  During the review period, my Bible reading schedule took me through Song of Solomon, which in the NLT is entirely set in poetry (in addition to being rather frank about the subject matter).  Line-length problems were so few and far between that I didn’t even notice how good the line length was.  There are several chapters in the PVLPS version of Song of Solomon that contain only a single widow, which is ridiculously good for a double-column Bible.  Props to the designer! The gutter in the PVLPS is only a quarter-inch wide.  In a thicker Bible, that might cause some problems.  However, because the PVLPS is slimmer, it doesn’t need as much gutter in the middle of the Bible as a Foundation SCR-sized Bible might.  There aren’t enough pages to pile up under the page that you’re reading, forcing text to slide down into the gutter.  I’d be happier if the PVLPS had a ⅜” gutter, which is typical in larger Bibles, but it works fine as is.  This isn’t a Bible where the gutter bugs me. In addition, the PVLPS is a black-letter Bible, which makes reading it easier.  This is, in fact, one of my favorite things about low-end budget Bibles.  It’s more expensive to print the words of Christ in red (or pink or orange or. . .), so in an effort to cut costs, publishers go to black-letter.  Cheaper and less distracting—it’s a win-win! Sadly, the PVLPS isn’t line-matched.  I’m not sure why not.  This is a 2012 design, well after line-matching became a thing in the Bible-publishing world.  Like all thinlines, the PVLPS is printed on relatively lightweight, translucent paper, so it’s a Bible that really would have benefited from line-matching.  It isn’t, so when the Bible is opened, the paper has a sickly grayish-yellow hue that is reminiscent of the China-print Foundation SCR’s from 10 years ago.  This is not a happy association for me to make. However, I do like most things about the setting of the PVLPS.  I think the 9-point FF Meta Serif is a great choice for the text of a Bible (hooray for a Bible that uses text figures instead of titling figures!), and I think the bolded, italic sans-serif section headings make for a nice contrast.  This contrast between serifed text and bolded, italic, sans-serif headings is one of my favorite things about one of my favorite Bibles, the Zondervan NASB Thinline.  It’s nice to see the stylistic choice repeated in the PVLPS. I like the chapter numbers and page headings in the PVLPS too.  The one thing that I don’t like is the book titles.  They’re small, and they’re set in a dingy gray bar that comes across mainly as a failed effort to be cool.  Tyndale would have been much better served to use a more traditional style of titling.

PTS size

 

PRODUCTION QUALITY.  Well. . . the PVLPS is a low-end China-print thinline.  Each of those things by itself is a red flag; together, they pretty much guarantee that the text block is going to have some problems.  So it is here.  The ghosting in this paper is so bad that it looks like each text column is set in a light-gray sidebar box.  I’m not much bothered by ghosting, so I can read the PVLPS just fine, but those who are sensitive to intrusions from the spirit world would do well to look elsewhere.  As for the print quality itself, to be honest, I can’t really tell.  The ghosting tends to make fine lines in the Bible look a little blurry, whether they actually are blurry or not.  I think, though, that this is actually a pretty good print job as China-print print jobs go.

PTS Romans 3

Overall, the PVLPS does some things that are really important to me really well, and it falls short in some areas that aren’t as important to me.  I liked using this one for a reader.  I liked it well enough that it’s got me thinking.  I’ve already resolved that in 2016, I do not want to use the NASB for my daily readings.  In fact, I want to read from a translation that’s as different from the NASB as I can get. I might use the KJV (which I suspect everybody ought to read through at least once anyways), but I’m also considering using a dynamic-equivalent translation.  I’d been thinking most about the REB, but my Cambridge REB Standard Text is a Bible with some serious gutter problems.  Now, I’m thinking about giving the PVLPS a shot instead. CONCLUSION.  Self-evidently, any Bible that reads well enough to have me considering it for a daily reader is a good reader.  I’ll give it a 9/10 here.  Overall, then, the PVLPS nets a strong 25/30, mainly by virtue of being a good reader in a convenient size for super-cheap.

All photos courtesy of Brian Meyer

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Tis the Season

In Acts 17:16-33, there’s a story about Paul preaching in a place in Athens called Mars Hill. Mars Hill was the place where philosophers and religious teachers came to have conversations about their latest ideas. We have two equivalents to Mars Hill today: university campuses and coffee shops. On one fall Wednesday afternoon, as is our custom, I met with a group of high school guys at our local Mars Hill—Starbucks—for snacks and spiritual conversation. The guys wanted to read and discuss the book of Matthew. We skipped the genealogy section of chapter one and jumped right into the story of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:18-25). Each of the Gospels provides a unique perspective on it. Matthew’s is especially colorful. So was our conversation.

Our discussion of this well-known passage quickly settled around this question: If you were Joseph, how would you feel? What would you do? The woman you are betrothed to is pregnant. We misinterpret that word betrothal and call it an engagement. It was a binding contract for a future marriage. In fact, betrothal was just as binding as marriage. It lasted twelve months during which time the couple took vows of celibacy. Breaking betrothals was rare and accompanied by a hefty penalty on the party who didn’t fulfill its obligations. Divorce was a word used to describe the ending of a betrothal due to infidelity. The betrothal period ended and the marriage began when the husband brought his new wife home.

Joseph and Mary’s year-long betrothal went according to plan until she became pregnant. Joseph knew the baby wasn’t his, but he was a good guy and decided not to embarrass Mary. He planned to divorce her quietly.

Here’s where our conversation got interesting. As we talked about what it would be like to be in Joseph’s sandals, the guys locked in on the words broken trust and betrayed. We talked about the times we’ve been in situations where people we trusted did something to break our trust, how we felt, and what we did. Walking away from friendships in those moments seems like the logical step.

Alone and pregnant in the ancient world was no picnic. Embarrassed families would often disown women who found themselves in the same situation as Mary. Fortunately for her, Joseph’s visit with an angel changed his mind, and he took her home to be his wife before the betrothal year was over. No ceremony, no reception.

My young theologian friends determined that despite his feelings, Joseph hung in there with someone who he was certain had broken his trust and betrayed him. Even after the angel’s visit, Joseph still had a choice. No one would blame him for cutting his losses and moving on, even though the baby was put there by God. With some Holy Spirit nudging, Joseph stayed the course. He hung in there and strengthened his commitment to someone who, under normal circumstances, would be put out.

Each of the guys then identified at least one Mary in their lives—someone who they felt had broken their trust and whom they would like to put out of their lives. Some Holy Spirit nudging took place as we discussed what they would do to hang in there and strengthen their commitment to those people.

The Christmas season is often a time of reflection about our relationship with God, family, friends, and some who used to be our friends. Which of those do you sense a need, desire, or direction to strengthen in some small way, even though you feel hurt or betrayed? Determine that step, and take it. I’m betting you won’t regret it.

Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Jack Radcliffe is a husband and father of four; Coach (www.redwoodcoach.com); seminar presenter for Parenteen (www.parenteen.com); ministry consultant with Youth Ministry Architects in Nashville, TN; Dean of The Youth Ministry Institute of the Tennessee Conference UMC; and adjunct professor at Martin Methodist College. He has an MDiv from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and a DMin in Practical Theology, Adolescent Development and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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Inspire Bible NLT – Pre-Order Giveaway!

We’re excited to announce that the Inspire Bible pre-launch contest begins TODAY!

978-1-4964-1374-1

To enter, print out the pdf and color or design your page to your heart’s content!

Click here to download the pdf.

Once you’re finished, post a picture to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and submit it using the form at the bottom of this page.  10 winners* will be announced on Monday morning ( 12/21/15), we’ll post the winners on the Inspire Bible facebook page..

Each winner will receive a hardcover aquamarine Inspire Bible.

(You must be a resident of the U.S. to be eligible to win.)

Here’s an example to help inspire you!
Inspire Bible_sample spread_colored page

Here’s more details on the Inspire Bible:

Inspire is a new single-column, wide-margin New Living Translation Bible that will be a cherished resource for creative art journaling. It is the first Bible of its kind―with over 400 beautiful line-art illustrations spread throughout the Bible. Full-page and partial-page Scripture art is attractively displayed throughout the Bible, and the illustrations can be colored in to make each Bible unique, colorful, and customizable. Every page of Scripture has two-inch-wide margins, with either Scripture line-art or ruled space for writing notes and reflections, or to draw and create. The generous font ensures optimal readability, and quality cream Bible paper is great for creative art journaling. Inspire is the only single-column, wide-margin Bible available in the popular New Living Translation, and it is designed uniquely to appeal to art-journaling and adult coloring book enthusiasts.

Deluxe Hardcover editions of Inspire Bible feature a lovely, aquamarine LeatherLike material over board, with beautifully-designed full-color page edges, a matching ribbon, and an elastic band closure. (Click here to view)

Deluxe LeatherLike editions of Inspire Bible feature a lovely, silky LeatherLike flexible material, a matching ribbon marker, and pretty page-edge designs. (Click here to view)

Features:

  • Single-column setting
  • Black-letter text
  • Two-inch-wide ruled margins with space for note-taking, writing personal reflections, and creative art journaling
  • Over 400 beautiful line-art illustrations, including full-page and partial-page Scripture art that can be colored in
  • Generous 8.65 font
  • High-quality cream Bible paper
  • Beautiful page-edge designs
  • Matching ribbon marker

Inspire Bible_aquamarine

Enter to win using this form:

 

Inspire Bible NLT – Pre-Order Giveaway

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Bible Design Blog Reviews the Tyndale Select Reference and Schuyler Caxton Editions

, author of the Better Bible Design Blog, posted this review of the Tyndale Select Reference and Schuyler Caxton Editions that we thought NLT Blog Readers would find helpful.

I am doing something today I don’t think I’ve ever done before at Bible Design Blog: reviewing two editions side-by-side. But then, it’s a unique situation. Two beautiful renderings of the same impressive design, both printed and bound by Jongbloed in the Netherlands.

A TALE OF TWO EDITIONS Tyndale refers to this text setting as the NLT Select Reference Edition, while Schuyler offers it under the Caxton name. Both editions are printed and bound in the Netherlands by Jongbloed, and at first glance appear quite similar. The Caxton, however, features several grace notes that make it the more luxurious of the two — in particular the leather lining, upgraded ribbons, and wider range of cover colors. (As far as I can tell, the Select is printed on the same 28 gsm Indopaque paper as the Caxton.) If you prefer the Select’s more minimalist cover aesthetic, though, you can choose not only between black and brown, but also goatskin and calfskin covers.

CaxtonSelect2

For all the details on the Schuyler Caxton, visit the product page at EvangelicalBible.com. And for the scoop on the Tyndale Select, check out their beautiful web presentation.

For Schuyler, the Caxton represents both continuity and improvement. The consistent quality that has made Schuyler a market leader in the high-end Bible market is readily apparent here. In this sense, the Caxton is a ‘boring’ release — in the best possible way. You get exactly what you’ve come to expect from Schuyler’s line. At the same time, the leather lining marks a step forward for Schuyler, much nicer than the shiny synthetic liner in the Select’s cover (which is comparable to what we have seen in Cambridge editions from Jongbloed). More importantly, while this is not the first single-column setting from Schuyler, I believe it is the best.

The Select marks an even bigger advance for Tyndale, which dropped the former Select line (reviewed here) some time back. It’s great to see them returning to the high-quality market — and doing so in partnership with Jongbloed, too. Crossway entered this field awhile back, working with Jongbloed to bring us the excellent Heirloom line. Tyndale’s move ensures that readers of the NLT will enjoy Bibles of comparable design and quality.

THE TEXT SETTING Since both editions use the same text setting, let me cover the interior design first. In a nutshell, the Select/Caxton offers a reader-friendly reference edition in the spirit of Cambridge’s Clarion and Crossway’s Personal Reference. The similarities are striking, especially comparing the Clarion. The same typeface is used, Lexicon, which a lot of designers I’ve spoken with consider the ideal when it comes to Bible typography. The cross reference system looks similar, with boldface chapter and verse headings in the outer margin and references underneath. Textual notes are placed at the bottom of the text column.

Comparing the Select/Caxton to the Clarion, however, you notice some differences. The chapter headings are set in bold italics instead of the Clarion’s plain italics. The page header is in all-caps, like the Clarion, but the spacing between letters is looser, which gives a more elegant impression (and is in keeping with the generally whiter, more spacious page).

The biggest difference has to do with page proportions and the resulting impact on the proportions of the text column. The Clarion page measures 5” x 7”, a classic footprint for books intended for hand-held reading. On that page, the text column is 3.5” wide and 6” tall, which creates a wide, page-filling impression. The Select/Caxton, however, is a larger book. The type size has been bumped from 7.5 pt. to 8.75 pt, and so the page is enlarged to accommodate, measuring 5.25” x 8.25” — comparable in width to the Clarion but a full 1.25” taller. The taller page allows a taller text column: the Select/Caxton’s single text column is 3.625” wide and 7” tall. In other words, while it’s only 0.125” wider than the Clarion, the Select/Caxton’s column is a full 1” taller than the Clarion’s.

Reader-friendly editions compared: The Clarion (top) is smaller than the Select and the Caxton (center), which occupy a middle space between it and the Heirloom Legacy (bottom).

As a result, the Select/Caxton sits prettily between the Clarion and another beloved single-column text setting, the Crossway Legacy. I mean that literally. This text setting looks like the fruit of a conversation that went something like this: “What if we took the text setting of the Clarion and gave it the proportions of the Legacy, minus the huge margins?” The Heirloom Legacy, in case you’re wondering, has a text column that measures 4” wide and 6.5” tall.

Another significant difference has to do with the line spacing, what typographers call ‘leading’ since in the old days of metal type, spacing between lines was achieved by inserting plugs of lead. Making allowance for my middle-aged eyes, I estimate the leading of the Clarion to be about 9.5 pt., while the larger Legacy has roughly 11 pt. leading. When I apply my scale to the Select/Caxton, though, I get something along the lines of 11.5 pt., which gives each line a bit more air to breathe. This can aid both readability and your ability to keep your place on the page, since lines spaced more generously are harder for the eye to mix up.

To be honest, I find the difference in type size between the Clarion and the Select/Caxton fairly negligible. I knew from the stats which one was larger, and confirmed this by measuring, yet eyeballing the two side-by-side I can’t really tell much difference. That is not the case with the leading, however. The extra line-spacing has a curious effect. At times the Clarion’s type appears as large or larger to my eyes, but the Select/Caxton’s lines are easier to skim over. I am not sure which page I prefer, frankly, and I cannot guarantee you would experience the same effect. It goes to show how significant even the smallest changes can be to the way we process words on the page.

Comparing the Select/Caxton to another high-end NLT, the R. L. Allan NLT1 (reviewed here), illustrates two very different approaches to readability. The Allan features Tyndale’s Premium Slimline Reference book block, a two-column text setting that packs larger individual words onto a considerably larger page. Even setting aside the Select/Caxton’s superior paper quality, I would argue that the Select/Caxton, by virtue of its spacious one-column text setting is both more readable and more suitable to general use.

Both the Select (top) and the Caxton (middle) improve the reading experience over the Allan NLT1 (bottom) — but that big, floppy green cover is still amazing.

One last detail I want to point out is that, thanks to the New Living Translation’s more fluent use of dialogue tags, the translation benefits particularly well from a single column layout. As the passage below from Acts 22 illustrates, despite the slight anachronism that comes from retaining dialogue tags at the beginning of speech instead of in the middle or end of the line, which is much more common in English today, the NLT is formatted in a way that will scan smoothly for readers, with minimal confusion about who’s saying what. This isn’t always true in more literal translations, where retaining the antique grammatical form of the dialogue tags prevents new speakers from being indicated by the start of a new paragraph.

Here you can admire both the way the single column setting shows off the NLT’s fluent formatting of dialogue and the way the generous line-spacing makes reading easier.

The print impression in both Bibles — at least, both of my review copies — was nice and dark, consistent from page to page. Line-matching seemed very consistent, too. Occasionally I found what appeared to be mis-matches, but in fact this was the result of other pages showing through underneath (a harder metric to control). Jongbloed did an excellent job with the printing on these editions.

THE SCHUYLER CAXTON Now that we’ve looked inside and considered what the Select and the Caxton have in common, I want to explore their differences more, which have mainly to do with the binding. My review copy of the Schuyler Caxton is bound in limp natural grain goatskin, in a shade of dark purple that I imagine resembles the shade of a Roman emperor’s toga. Byzantine emperors were said to have been “born to the purple,” and many quite literally were, their mothers having given birth in a palace chamber lined in porphyry.

The color compares favorably with the Cambridge Prayer Book & Bible bound in purple calf split leather. Like the Cambridge, the Caxton’s lining is black, and you know how unhappy black liners inside a color cover make me. My objection to the practice is rooted in the fact that black has been the default option for so long. To me, a color cover with a black lining just screams that no one was paying attention to the details. Having said that, in this instance I happen to know for a fact that someone was paying attention to the details. Early in the process, the folks at Schuyler queried me about what color lining to use with a purple cover. The available options were limited, and as much as it pained me, black was indeed the most complementary of the choices. The others would have made for jarring combinations. All this to say, I’m not deducting points for the black lining in this instance — not that I keep track of points to begin with! — but I don’t want anyone to think I’ve made peace with the thought of black linings in non-black covers. I haven’t, and I never will.

The purple cover and the purple ribbons make a painfully elegant combination. This is high church through and through. The red-under-gold page gilding and the gilt line around the inside cover are standard on Schuyler editions (also present on the Select), but something about the purple-on-purple combination elevates the look, each shade bringing out the richness of the other.

The purple ribbons look great with the dark purple goatskin cover. Good luck getting one of the happy few owners to part with one, though.

The bad news is, the purple Caxtons are all gone, sold out during the pre-order phase, and there won’t be more of them for months. Mourn if you want, but there are some beautiful color combinations available. Personally, I would suggest either the dark green or the antique marble brown. Or the blue. (Like I said, there are options.)

One tweak I would love to make to the Schuyler’s aesthetic is the scale of the printing on the book’s spine. It’s simply too large. The ‘HOLY BIBLE’ and ‘NEW LIVING TRANSLATION’ are borderline for me, but I would reduce them at least ten percent. This would make the spine less crowded and give a more refined impression.

The logo at the bottom could be reduced considerably more. Graphic designers often complain about the perennial client request to “make my logo bigger,” and for good reason. You want attention and you think the best way to get it is to yell. The design equivalent of a raised voice is the big logo. The reason designers buck is not just that oversized logos result in an unbalanced overall look; it’s because yelling doesn’t really have the effect the yeller thinks it does. Things that are balanced, in scale, in proportion, communicate a level of assurance that look-at-me enlargement never does. Over time, Schuyler’s cover decoration has grown more sophisticated. Bringing the elements into proportion on the spine should be the next big step.

Inside the cover, the story is all about the leather lining. While it may create a subtle improvement in feel, the gain I noticed most actually had to do with sound. One of the gripes I’ve heard from readers is that some high-end Bibles, when you handle them, make a squeaking sound. With the synthetic liner on the Select, I get a little bit of that — but I haven’t heard it once with the Caxton. Admittedly, comparing two individual copies falls short of a definitive test, but I’m going to tentatively agree with folks who’ve traced the sound back to the synthetic liners.

A NOTE ON THE HINGE The Jongbloed hinge has been a concern of mine for awhile, and the Caxton review copy was sent along with a note to the effect that, while the problem hadn’t been eliminated, the in-house team at Schuyler felt that the hinges on the Caxton weren’t as stiff as past editions have been, resulting in a Bible more apt to open flat. Imagine my disappointment when I opened my Caxton and found it would not lay flat. The good news is, the disappointment has abated. Let me explain.

Out of the box, it wasn’t a pretty sight: the Jongbloed hinge strikes again.

Out of the box, the Caxton did not feel any different to me than past Jongbloed Bibles, and I can confirm that the hinge is still there, and it is still stiff. What I found, however, was that with just a little bit of use, my Caxton was opening pretty much flat. Maybe the leather lining helped? Having two bindings of the same book block in hand presented a rare opportunity. I decided to see if the application of brute force would make the Select open flat the way the Caxton was. After bending the cover back and struggling with the hinge in ways I really wouldn’t recommend, I found that yes, the Select would open fairly flat, too. While these Jongbloed editions might not open as flat as, say, an Allan right out of the box, this seems to confirm that things get better with a bit of use.

 is the creator of the Better Bible Design Blog where he  discusses good Bible design with an emphasis on reader-friendly formats, which means elegant layout, opaque paper, and sewn bindings that open flat.  Learn more at http://www.bibledesignblog.com/

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The Case for Christ

If you’ve not yet read author Lee Strobel’s A Case for Christ, this might be a good time to download it onto your e-reader or check it out of the library. Strobel looks at the evidence in the four gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection and deconstructs the events, the claims, and the lies, finishing his investigation with an undeniable verdict: Jesus is the one and only Son of God who died on the cross for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, and was ascended into heaven after promising he would return to us one day.

If you’re not able to get your hands on a copy of Strobel’s book, read the four New Testament Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—for all the evidence you need. I’ll summarize here what Strobel outlines in his book based on the truth found in the Gospels.

Strobel says everyone agrees on one thing regarding Christ’s death: The tomb was empty. He then sets out to prove the Resurrection. The Jewish leaders at the time also agreed the tomb was empty; but they began spreading a story that the disciples had taken the body away and hid it, even though, as Strobel puts it, they lacked both motive to do so and opportunity. All four Gospels agree that women discovered the empty tomb. Strobel says this is compelling evidence for the truth of the resurrection because in first-century Jewish culture the testimony of a woman was not considered reliable. In fact, if you read the Gospels, you will see that the disciples did not believe the women. Strobel raises this point to prove how counterintuitive it would have been for the disciples to plan a conspiracy in taking Jesus’ body. They would never have chosen women to be the ones who discovered that Jesus’ body was gone, says Strobel. They would have picked Peter or John or any man. Strobel points out, as a lawyer might in a courtroom, that women discovered the empty tomb because that’s exactly what happened.

Strobel goes on to point to the over 500 eyewitnesses who saw the resurrected Jesus. First Corinthians 15:3-9 is Paul’s account of the eye witnesses: “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.  He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.  After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.  Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.  For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.”

After Christ died, rose, and ascended into heaven, the disciples continued to preach the gospel of Jesus and, being Spirit-filled, perform miracles of healing. Strobel asks, as if to a jury, why would Jesus’ disciples be so willing to face the hostility of unbelievers and even death if they knew his death was a hoax? Strobel says nobody willingly and knowingly dies for a lie. They saw the empty tomb, they saw the resurrected Jesus, and they believed and spread the news because it was true.

And finally, Strobel argues in his book, A Case for Christ, that Jesus Christ is the only figure in the history of the world—“against all mathematical odds”—who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies to the letter and therefore became the fingerprint of the chosen Messiah.

The verdict is clear: Jesus is the one and only Son of God who died, rose as he promised and as was promised in the prophecies, and lives in heaven today.

Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator living near Toronto, Ontario.

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The Only Thing Worth Being Concerned About

How many things can you think of that you are concerned or stressing out about? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were only one thing that was worth worrying about? There’s a story in the New Testament that says just that. It is the story of two sisters and two very different reactions to the arrival of Jesus at their house. It is the story of Mary and Martha, found in Luke 10:38-42.

Jesus arrives in the village where Mary and Martha live, and Martha welcomes Jesus and the disciples into their home. Martha proceeds to scurry about making preparations for a meal, but her sister, Mary, goes out and sits at the feet of Jesus to listen to what he is saying. Martha, the gospel of Luke tells us, “was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” She complains to Jesus, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” Jesus’ response to her complaint is this, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Only one thing worth being concerned about! What a freeing concept! It’s not that all the details of dinner were unimportant, or that the details of what you do in your life are unimportant. Notice that Jesus didn’t rebuke Martha for preparing dinner; he chided her for being worried about it. There is a big difference. The “one thing” we need to worry about in our lives is whether we’re spending enough time at the feet of Jesus. All too often we let the details of our lives, work, and ministry get between us and the time we spend at the feet of the Master.

“But,” we say, “look at all the things I’m doing for God! Surely that’s important!” And so it is. But it’s not as important as spending time with God first. You see, once we learn to make a habit of spending time at the feet of Jesus, the rest of the things that need to get done will get done, and with much less stress and worry than before.

From the simple story of Mary and Martha (see Luke 10:38-42), we realize that the only thing worth being concerned about is making sure that we’re spending time at the feet of Jesus. There is, however, yet another application that we can draw from this passage. Jesus says that Mary has discovered the only thing worth being concerned about, and that is sitting at the feet of Jesus. But why sit at the feet of Jesus? Jesus here is elevating the importance of relationships over tasks.

At first glance, this may seem obvious. Of course relationships are more important than tasks! But do we really live our lives that way? Or does the daily grind so often seem all important, and even perhaps like an emergency, distracting us from what is really important: our relationship with God and, flowing out of that, our relationship with the people that God has placed in our lives?

If we look back at trends in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we see him spending a lot of time with people. Adding everything up that Jesus accomplished during his lifetime doesn’t produce much in terms of how our culture views success. After all, he was a homeless itinerant preacher who never wrote anything down, couldn’t manage to keep a consistently large following, and managed to get himself killed after he annoyed the religious leaders of the day by saying that he was God.

What then was his accomplishment? Relationships. This is the heart of Jesus’ life. He became human in order to restore the relationship between him and us. And throughout his ministry as an adult on earth, he spent the vast majority of his time hanging out with a small group of disciples, living his everyday life with them, including them in his ministry even though most of the time they had no clue what was going on.

How powerful were those relationships? You and I are sitting here now, having this dialogue because of those relationships. What came out of the disciples’ relationships with Jesus was the start of the church, the writing of the New Testament, and a movement that is still moving anywhere followers of the risen Christ gather in his name.

So next time you start to panic over all the things you have to do, stop and take inventory of the status of your relationships and make sure that those are where they need to be first. The rest will fall into place.

Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Anna Aven Howard is the Director of Youth Ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church, Winchester, TN. She has an M.A. in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Theoloigical Seminary and writes regularly for youth ministry journals.

 

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The Call of Christ

Imagine for a moment that you are at your place of employment, busily working away. Suddenly a stranger, a fairly average-looking guy, walks up to you and says, “Come follow me.” And the really strange thing is that there’s something about him so compelling that you actually get up, leave your job, and follow this stranger.

This is essentially what the disciples did that day Jesus walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Mark 1:17). The disciples most likely had heard things about this carpenter that made them profoundly curious about him (see John 1:35-51). It was probably the same with you, when you decided to look into this “Jesus person” more. So here is the call, both to them and to us: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

A number of things are implicit in this call. First, the call is to a relationship, not to a lifestyle. Naturally, when you decide to attach yourself to a person, your lifestyle changes. If you get married, you are no longer single, and that joyful event has a profound impact on how your daily life looks from that day on. So it is when we decide to attach ourselves to Jesus. As a result of our relationship with him, our priorities begin to change, our activities begin to change, and hence, our lifestyles change.

Let’s look at the first three words of Jesus’ call.
1. Come. This requires action and motion. We have to move from where we are to where he is in order to “come.” A decision is required. Jesus calls us to come, and we decide to get up from wherever we are and go.

2. Follow. Now that we’ve moved to where he is, we discover that he doesn’t want us to stand still, but he wants us to come with him in his journeys, to accompany him in what he is doing in the world. This involves a continual choice. We can come to Jesus initially, but then we must continually make the choice to follow him.

3. Me. Jesus says, “Come to me; follow me.” Jesus is God in the flesh, come to save the world, a living manifestation of God’s love for all of us. This is the God who was audacious enough to come to earth and become human, to forever have humanness as a part of him. This is the God who is loved us enough to offer himself as a sacrifice in our place. (Lots of other “gods” require sacrifices, but none of them offer themselves as that sacrifice.) It is this divine audacity, whether we understand it or not, that compels us to take another look at this Jesus, this love, this God— because it is unlike anything we’ve ever seen or heard.

The second part of Jesus’ call is: “I will show you how to fish for people.” This echoes the words of Matthew 28:13, often called “the Great Commission” because Jesus is sending the disciples out. There he says, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” His call is to fish for people, to make disciples. A disciple is simply the term for one who chooses to follow Christ and obey him.

The call of Christ, then, is two-fold. First, it is a call to come to the person of Jesus, come to a relationship and come to the lifestyle that is an outworking of that relationship. Second, it is a call to go, to be active in your sphere of influence as a disciple of Jesus, so that you, in turn, can be a part of calling other people to Jesus. These two elements must always go hand-in-hand, for you cannot have one without the other. To come to Christ without making disciples is to live a stagnant life. To try to do things in the name of Christ without knowing him is an exercise in futility.

Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Anna Aven Howard is the Director of Youth Ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church, Winchester, TN. She has an M.A. in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Theoloigical Seminary and writes regularly for youth ministry journals.

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Life Application Study Bible Giveaway!

The Life Application Study Bible is today’s #1-selling study Bible, containing notes that not only explain difficult passages and give information on Bible life and times, but go a step further to show you how to “take it personally,” speaking to every situation and circumstance of your life! It’s the one Bible resource that incorporates today’s top scholarship in answering your real-life questions and includes nearly 10,000 Life Application notes and features designed to help readers apply God’s truth to everyday life.

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Win a FREE copy of the Life Application Study Bible NLT!

Here’s how to enter:

-Fill out the Rafflecopter form below and follow the directions for sharing to earn extra entries.

-We’ll choose 15 winners on 10/9.

 

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(Form not loading? Leave a comment letting us know you shared this post and we’ll count it as your entry.)

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Select Reference Editions: The Finest-Quality NLTs Available (Enter to win a copy!)

Contest Closes – Thanks to all who entered, the winners have been contacted!

We are delighted to introduce the premier handcrafted Tyndale Select Bibles, Select Reference Editions. Carefully crafted through the collaboration of leading Bible scholars, designers, and artisans and united by their passion to present readers with the highest-quality Bible, Select Reference Editions deliver God’s enduring word in an exquisite and timeless reading experience.

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Printing experts searched the world for the finest Bible paper, looking for just the right weight, opacity, and brightness. The attractive typography and single-column layout are presented on quality Bible paper to deliver optimal readability and enjoyment. The line-over-line setting maximizes the brightness of the page and minimizes show-through for a superior reading experience. Other premium interior features include the generous 8.75 font and over 40,000 cross references set on the outside margins for visual appeal and ease of use. Select Reference Edition Bibles contain the most recent updates to the New Living Translation text (2015 scholar alts).

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Each full-grain leather Bible is meticulously handcrafted with excellence and Smyth-sewn with the greatest of care to ensure durability, flexibility, and a lay-flat binding. Handsome editions are available in black or brown goatskin or calfskin leather. The full-grain leather and quality construction ensures Select Reference Edition Bibles will stand the test of time and also makes them a pleasure to hold. Each hand-crafted goatskin leather cover is edge-lined to deliver a luxuriously supple and durable Bible.

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Goatskin leather editions also include perimeter stitching, a gold foil frame around the inside cover, and luxurious art-gilded page edges that reveal red under gold gilding.

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Attractive, hand-bound calfskin leather covers are made of the highest-quality full-grain leather, displaying the beauty of the natural grain. They also feature exceptional gold-gilded page edges. Printed, bound, and meticulously handcrafted at Jongbloed’s premier bindery in the Netherlands, each Select Reference Edition Bible is made with excellence for a treasured edition of God’s word. You can discover more at www.TyndaleSelect.com.

Enter to win a copy of this this beautiful NLT Bible.

We’re giving away 12 copies of the FULL-GRAIN CALFSKIN LEATHER.

Here’s how to enter:

– Fill out the Rafflecopter form below and follow the directions for sharing to earn extra entries.

– We’ll choose the winners randomly in one week on Oct. 6th (winners will be contacted by e-mail).

 

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(Form not loading? Leave a comment letting us know you shared this post with your friends and we’ll count it as your entry.)

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NLT Selfie Celebration!

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Join in the fun!

To celebrate the launch of the New Living Translation Instagram Page we are giving away your choice of an iPad Mini 3 or Apple iWatch Sport Edition, plus 25 copies of the NLT Illustrated Study Bible¹. (Note: We added an additional 25 copies, now bumping up the total to 50!)

Here’s how to enter:

-Follow @NLTBible on Instagram – https://instagram.com/nltbible/

– Post a picture of yourself on Instagram with your NLT Bible and use the hashtags #ireadtheNLT and #openmyeyes.

Note: you can include any NLT print or electronic Bible in the photo. You can include your phone, tablet, or computer.  If possible, please show the NLT text on your device’s screen in the photo.

We’ll contact the winners on September 11th, 2015. (Winners will be contacted through Instagram direct message)

 

¹ Prize details:

 

Grand prize: one grand prize winner will be selected by 9.18.15 (deadline extended).  The grand prize winner can select their choice of either an Apple iPad Mini 3, Wi-Fi, 16 GB, or an Apple iWatch Sport Edition 42mm Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band.  No data service is provided.

 

Prizes: Tyndale will give away 25 NLT Illustrated Study Bible, hard cover edition Bibles by 9.18.15.    Twenty-five winners will be selected, each receiving one NLT Illustrated Study Bible, hard cover edition.

 

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