My most recent book on the night-stand was Storylines, Your Map to Understanding the Bible. The title alone draws some lines. To some, the idea of needing a book to help understand the Bible is insulting. To others, it sounds like an answer to prayer.
If you've been listening to sermons since you were in the womb, this book might not be overly enlightening, but the authors do have a knack for refreshing conversation. If bible-reading is new to you, or if you've put off reading it for a long time, the book can be very enlightening and the refreshing tone makes it a very easy read.
The authors highlight themes throughout the bible that might be brand new concepts to some readers. For instance, in describing a parallel between Joseph and Jesus, they point out that Joseph was condemned (after that Mrs. Potiphar incident) with two criminals. To one of these, Joseph spoke life. The other, died. Similarly, while on the cross, Jesus promised life to another while another chose death.
The book is divided into 6 segments:
These storylines reveal God's sovereign plan of salvation, foreshadowed for centuries. Parallel after parallel is shared to convince readers that our salvation wasn't an afterthought; God planned it from the beginning. He always thought we were going to be worth it.
The book also has two appendices. Appendix A shares a synopsis of the Bible in 20 pages. Appendix B helps readers learn "What, Why, and How of the Bible."
The audience makes all the difference with this book. The conversational tone will be very refreshing to those wanting to discover or renew a love for God's Word. To another audience it could also be seen as irreverent. Each chapter focuses on scripture, refers to scripture, and ends with a paperchase leading readers to explore scripture more deeply. Dotted throughout are personal anecdotes and observations that can put some readers at ease while irritating others.
In all honesty, I was in the irritated camp. Some beautiful, holy truths were shared in an almost flippant tone at times. Please understand, I'm a pentecostal gal that fully believes in freedom in worship and a very personal relationship with God. But I still felt uncomfortable with some of it. It wasn't that it went against scripture, it's just that there were times when it seemed to lack an awe of the holiness of God.
From the back of the book: "C'mon, admit it: You haven't been reading your Bible. It's so...long. Honestly, it's intimidating. What you need is an overview. Something that will pull it all together."
If you're in the irritated camp, do you see what I mean?
That said, it is a book I am excited to be able to share with young Christians. It really is a book about discovery and realizing the love story God has been writing to us all along. It's also quite educational, tackling Christian-speak in an easy-to-follow manner. If this is a new idea to you, or if you've lost your enthusiasm, I think this is an excellent book that has a lot to offer.