The Story of Redemption Bible Review

Crossway sent me this beautiful Bible. Pictures do it justice much better than words can. And I will attempt both. This white cover is just the dust cover on the hardback version of this Bible. Under the dust cover, the hardback version is solid black with a gold foil spine. There are also imitation leather and top grain leather versions available. 

This Bible has commentary alongside the Scripture to help you see the unfolding story of redemption throughout every page. You’ll see how God is working and shaping the world and His people toward Christ. 

This Bible has beautiful gold accents. The beginning of each chapter has a small illustration to begin. There are also some lovely simplified maps throughout. 

I love the single column layout. It makes it so easy to read. The commentary is just interspersed throughout where needed. 

You’ll also notice the timeline fold out in the back of the Bible. This is a lovely detail. It is more of a general overview, but it is lovely and will help you wrap your mind around the Biblical timeline. 

This Bible would be lovely for gifting. And stick around the blog and website, because there someone will be getting this Bible as a gift. Also, at the time of writing this, Christian Book has these on sale! And I do recommend you use Christian Book for all Bible purchases. They tend to have the lowest prices and the best selection. And they’ll personalize them for a small fee if you’re interested in that aspect. Links in this post are affiliate links. 

Crossway Scripture Journal Review

I had the opportunity to review Crossway’s Scripture Journal a few months ago. Then Crossway gave me the opportunity to review their new Illuminated Scripture Journals. Both are amazing. Want to know which one is for you? Read on.

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First, let’s look at the Illuminated Scripture Journals, since they have a little more going on.

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If you get the entire set, they come in this nice box. The top lifts straight up and reveals a nice box set of books inside.

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I really appreciate the effort they put into the set. See the nice gradient they have going on? It is so aesthetically pleasing.

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They are made like the Illuminated Journaling Bible. If you haven’t read my review on that beauty, you can check it out here. The Scripture Journal paper is much thicker than Bible paper, so you’re going to find writing, drawing, and even painting on it will be a little easier than in a Journaling Bible.

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They currently only have the Scripture Journals for the New Testament. I am looking forward to the Old Testament sets coming in January. Each book of the New Testament is in its own book. The book is similar in size and feel to a Moleskin Cahier.

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The Illuminated Scripture Journal is on top here, and the regular Scripture Journal is on bottom. They are excellent for inductive Bible study, or any Bible study really. They are also great for daily prayer journaling, reading through a specific book. And they would be awesome for Bible journaling, since you can really add a lot into these without them getting too bulky or crazy.

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They are extremely similar in layout. You have the Scriptures on the left hand side of the page and a blank space to write on the right hand side of the page. The Illuminated version does have multiple colors in the fonts (black and gold), where the regular version is all black text.

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The Illuminated Scripture Journals have a dot grid on the blank writing page. The Scripture Journals have these dotted lined pages.

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The Illuminated version does have some images on some of the right hand pages. They also add in bigger images of text.

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They both end up with the same text on the left pages, the Illuminated version just has extra pages for the larger images. But if you were doing a Bible study with multiple people using whichever they prefer, your Biblical text will match up, it just may be a page off.

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As for which is better, it is entirely personal preference. While The Pastor appreciates the look of the Illuminated Scripture Journals, he’ll pick the simplicity of the standard Scripture Journal. He also tends to prefer lines and I tend to prefer a dot grid. The Illuminated version does add some emphasis through the artwork which might distract when doing an Inductive Bible Study, but nothing that I would think is too detrimental. It is really just going to come down to preference.

Y’all, do you see how beautiful these are?! They are absolutely stunning.

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The Illuminated Scripture Journal and the Scripture Journals are available in a boxed set, which is lovely, or individually. If your small group is studying Romans, you can buy just Romans for everyone. If you want the whole set so you can stare at it, that is available too. They are really affordable, too. (Affordable enough to buy each person in your small group a copy of Romans.)

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I highly recommend these. They will have you interacting with Scripture in new ways. You can Bible journal without feeling like you’re going to mess the whole thing up. You can write Scripture study notes right next to the Scripture and have plenty of room. The Scripture Journals have a sleek simplicity that everyone can love. The Illuminated Scripture Journals are gorgeous! Whichever you choose, you’ll love them.

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**I was sent both of these products free for review. I am under no obligation to give them a good review.**

Pastor’s Bible Review

I received The Pastor’s Bible from Crossway in order to review it. I thrust it upon The Pastor after I had a chance to use it a bit and asked his opinion, as well. So this is our review, not just my review.

I received the cloth over board cover. Though it also comes in imitation leather and genuine leather. While it may seem like something a pastor has to have, honestly, it was a miss for us. I’ll tell you why.

First, the good parts! The English Standard Version is an excellent translation. The Pastor doesn’t like to preach from this translation, he has always only preached from the New King James. I like it as a preaching Bible and have used it in that capacity. The translation is going to amount to personal preference. I also like the cross references and the foot notes in this particular Bible. I find those very helpful and they don’t scream for your attention as your eyes run over the text.

The extras in this Bible are what I just don’t like. You should also note, there are no maps. There are some instructional throughout. I say instructional, because they are all leadership oriented and not exactly Scripturally based. Like bits and pieces of a hermeneutics book got stuck into a Bible.

These seem like a nice touch, but the reality is that you’ll fill all these spots up pretty quickly. Unless your ministry duration is less than five years, you’ll definitely run out of room for births, deaths, and marriages. Also, since this is a Pastor’s Bible- I’d expect the list to be marriages, baptisms, and funerals.

I couldn’t figure out where on earth they were getting the supplemental resources. Found out in the front on the Bible. It being from a Reformed tradition is probably what bothered me most. We are Methodists, so our liturgy and flow is a bit different- in addition to the obvious doctrinal differences.

The reading plans were troublesome for me. The four part mimics the Lectionary, but isn’t the Lectionary. It has four parts, but instead of an OT Reading, Psalm Reading, Gospel Reading, and Epistle Reading this Bible sets 2 OT Readings, a Psalm Reading, and 1 NT Reading. Essentially both plans are to read the Bible in a year, which is fine, but the close to Lectionary format just doesn’t make sense to me.

The resources also don’t make sense to me. It is like having the Book of Common Prayer in your Bible, only it isn’t the Book of Common Prayer. In our particular denomination, we have the outlines for weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. in our handbook- as I imagine most church organizations do. So this seemed a lot like reinventing the wheel. Also, putting it into the Bible gave me quite a bit of pause and reflection on if we should even be adding these resources into our Bibles in the first place. It seems to elevate the resources above what they might deserve. It made me question if we were adding authority equal to the Scripture in and making the Word profane. I haven’t sorted through all of that in my mind, but having things in my Bible that I disagreed with made me question adding those sorts of things, even those I agree with, to Bibles in the first place.

It has two bookmarks, which is becoming more standard with Bibles. I personally think a Pastor’s Bible should have 4 bookmarks- one for each Lectionary Reading.

So, overall, we didn’t find this Bible helpful or useful. We have so many resources that provide better resources than are found here. Also, don’t buy your pastor a Bible- unless you’re buying them a super fancy calf skin covered one or something.

Someone from a Reformed tradition might like this Bible more, but I found most of the information was redundant and something every pastor already has access to. I love the version. I like the format. I just didn’t like any of the extras.

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Wild Explorers Club Review

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I came across the Wild Explorers Club through Wild and Free. It seemed like a really good fit for our family. We don’t have the time for Scouts or whatever variation of that you present. With Wild Explorers, we could get outdoors and earn some badges in our own time. All the kids could participate. It seemed like a really good fit.

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The program cost is $14 a month. You get a monthly magazine, which is really short but has no ads and very high quality paper and printing. My kids really enjoyed the magazine. You also get a patch when you enter the program and additional patches when you finish each level. You only get one patch per subscription, but can buy additional patches for additional kids. We did it as a family activity, so the family was earning patches, not the individual. The assignments come available one at a time once a week. If you get behind, no worries, the assignments are still there for you to complete.

Each assignment has a short video for the kids to watch. I was able to play ours on the TV via Air Play. There is also a checklist for each assignment, which you can print or view on a tablet or computer. The video quality is really good. The handouts are good quality and consistent in how they look.

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There are 10 levels to complete. Our family has only completed the first two levels. With their old system, you had no way to look ahead and see what assignments might be coming. With the new system, I can sign in and see all the assignments, I just can’t access them until it is “time.”

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My kids loved Wild Explorers at first. They were really excited about it and excited to get outside hiking and observing nature. However, the program doesn’t really have as much outdoors as I anticipated and I eventually decided to cancel based on seeing the upcoming assignments and realizing that some of them would be impossible for our family and there wouldn’t be as much Exploring as I initially expected.

There are 10 levels and the levels get longer as you go. I broke down the number of assignments and if they were indoor or outdoor. I also took note of assignments that would cost us extra to complete assignments, because we don’t always have extra money budgeted for these sorts of things.

Level One- Wolf- There are 4 assignments, so you complete your first patch pretty quickly. Two assignments are outdoors, one is indoors, and one is half in and half out. The first assignment did cost us extra because it is making your adventure pack, where they tell you all the things you might need and you build your pack. Even using backpacks we had lying around, we still purchased pocket knives, compasses, first aid supplies, etc.

Level Two- Bobcat- 8 assignments. Three indoors, four outdoors, and one half in and half out. We had already purchased a compass, so we didn’t need to buy one when we came to an assignment requiring it. But one assignment was to try an exotic food, so we did take all the kids out to eat, which is expensive. We could have purchased ingredients for a special exotic meal at home.

Level Three- Bear- 8 assignments. Five indoor assignments, three outdoor assignments.

Level Four- Elk- 8 assignments. Seven indoor, one outdoor. These included some things that would be very difficult to do. Sell something and donate the money- that is a lot of work on me as a mama. Find out how to help a child in need in another country. Go to an animal shelter. These may or may not be things you can actually do. I can’t actually go to an animal shelter because of severe allergies, so that task wouldn’t have been able to be completed.

Level Five- Fox- 8 assignments. Seven indoor, one outdoor. There was at least one assignment in this batch that we could not do. (Go to work with a parent.) One assignment was to do a behind the scenes tour at a museum, farm, or business- which could be cost prohibitive depending on what your chose.

Level Six- Bison- 12 assignments- All twelve are indoor assignments. One assignment has the kids start a book club. One has them start their own library. These are not things the kids can execute on their own and they may or may not be things I wish to begin in my home.

Level Seven- Beaver- 12 assignments. Two indoor, six outdoor, and four that could be either. One assignment would cost you money to go to a zoo or aquarium to see an exotic animal. Two others may cost money (a picnic and historical site tour) depending on where you live and what you have available to you.

Level Eight- Owl- 12 assignments. 11 are indoor, 1 could be either indoor or outdoor. One would cost money, since it involves taking a craft type class.

Level Nine- Hawk- 12 assignments. Nine are indoor, two are outdoor, and one is half and half. You’ll be buying and collecting a lot of craft supplies for this level.

Level Ten- Eagle- 12 assignments. Ten are indoor, two could be indoor or outdoor. This level would be completely cost prohibitive for us to actually complete. There would be no way we could complete it. One assignment is to apply for your passport. One is to go on a boating trip. One is to take a trip by train. One is to go to another country. One is to take a guided tour. You get the idea. If you are not already planning a trip out of the country, this one is going to be a bit ridiculous. Unless you happen to live on a border, go on lavish vacations already, or are already planning to leave the country- this one is just not achievable by the average kid.

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Wild Explorers was an excellent idea. However, it ends up being something we just don’t have the money to complete and don’t really have the desire to do a lot of the indoor activities.  I’m pretty bummed about needing to cancel, because my kids were very into it and we devoted the time and money in getting through two levels. But knowing the kids will never complete two of the levels, and knowing half the assignments are things we have done before or will be doing anyway, it just seems like a waste.

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So, I’m going to have to make up my own version so my kids can continue their own Explorers Club. But Wild Explorers did not work for us. It is a really pretty program, but the actual assignments are just not going to work for our family and they just were not quite filling the need we needed them to fill.

 

Kindergarten Math Box

Last school year, in addition to our Kindergarten Math book that we used, I also made a Math Box for my little guys. I was super pregnant at the beginning of the year and then had a newborn, so I knew I would need something easy to grab and execute to help them with math. I found so many awesome ideas for math games and activities on Pinterest, so I simplified what I found and put everything in these neat little drawer system.

I had some specific pre-made activities, but I also had extra supplies for additional ga,es and activities. This is at the end of the school year, so you can see it held up quite well. And it was super easy to pull out and use.

My first drawers were for these little containers that I found at Hobby Lobby, colored Pom-poms, and little grabbers I found in the kitchen section at Wal-Mart. I colored a side of each box, so we could dump the Pom-poms out and sort them by color. Or we could practice making patterns. Or we could practice counting or adding. They were a lot of fun and the grabbers made it even more fun.

I had another drawer with a similar activity. It was my ice cream counting. I got these wooden cards at Hobby Lobby and drew an ice cream cone and number on each with a Sharpie. (I used the front and back of the card to use less cards.) Then we used our fancy grabbers to “scoop” the Pom-Pom ice cream onto the cone. They loved this one. We used it for some adding, too.

I used more of the wooden cards to make these number cards. One side had the number written out, the other side had the numeral with dots. We used clothespins to cover the dots as we counted. We also used these for addition and subtraction.

I purchased pre-colored popsicle sticks for this drawer. I wrote on the sticks with a Sharpie. We used these to make shapes and count the sides of shapes.

My pipe cleaner drawer was a bit of a mess. I maybe should have put them inside a sandwich bag. Live and learn. Some pipe cleaners were labeled with washi tape with numbers on them. You put the number of beads on the pipe cleaner that the tag says. We also used beads and pipe cleaners for patterns. And we used pipe cleaners to make numbers.

One drawer just had card games in it. We would pull out the cards and play a game! This was one of their favorite drawers. And miraculously, the cards ended up all together and in really good condition.

I also had some extra supplies. I did make wooden tags with each of their names and then write the letters of their name on clothespins so they could learn to spell their own names. We used the Pom-poms as manipulatives. They used clothespins and extra popsicles sticks to build three dimensional shapes. Overall, the math boxes were a big hit.

The Apologetics Study Bible Review

I’ve had this Bible for several months. I’ve been using it in my personal devotion time to get a feel for it and see what I think about it. Now, I’m ready to give you my full review.

I have the hardcover version, but it also comes in a hardcover thumb-indexed version, an eBook version, a brown imitation leather version, and a navy imitation leather version.

The Bible translation is the Christian Standard Version, which I really like for personal devotion. If you’re unsure of how you’ll like a translation, you can always go to BibleGateway.com and read some passages in the version of your choice. It can help you get a feel for the version without committing to buying it.

Apologetics is the defense of the faith, answering those big questions we might have. This Bible not only explains the Bible in the footnotes sections, but it gives some answers to big questions through articles peppered throughout by Christian apologists.

There are several articles in the front of this Bible to explain some more general concepts. These are articles that cover more than just one specific area of Scripture.

Each book of the Bible has a rather lengthy introduction. It sets the scenes, explaining the context of the book. It also covers some topics related to that specific book. For example, Genesis covers the reliability of the book of Genesis and the relationship of Genesis to Ancient Myths. Clearly, these are only short articles. If you wanted a full study in those areas, there are plenty of complete books, but these articles are enough to at least touch on the topics before you move into your Bible study.

Throughout, there are full articles on various topics, written by a variety of authors. Again, they won’t cover the topics in depth, and related to each of these articles are entire books written about the topic. But they do give you some TL;DR answers to some hot topic issues— maybe even some issues you’ve never even considered.

My favorite feature of this Bible is the Twisted Scripture blocks. They are just small, quick explanations of how some people misuse Scripture. I found those bits to be extremely helpful in my reading. Again, these quick writings are in no way in-depth discussions on the topics, but they will help you as you read to not get lost in the weeds of heresy.

The footnotes are quite expansive. You’ve got two layers of footnotes. The first is the standard Bible footnotes. The second layer is the bigger layer, and they explain the issues of the Scriptures on a deeper level. In some books, they are quite expansive; in others, they are more minimal, depending on the Scripture.

There is a full and pretty awesome concordance in the back. It is pretty lengthy and includes a lot for a simple Bible concordance.

It also has some pretty awesome full-color maps in the back. (I’m a sucker for a good map.)

Now, this Bible is not for those outside of the Orthodox Christian faith. If you believe something that isn’t in-line with the rest of the church, this is going to step all over your toes. If you don’t believe what is in the Apostle’s Creed, this Bible is not for you. (And you probably need to read it anyway.) It doesn’t take stances that I would say are denominational; however, it doesn’t shy away from tough issues. And it just straight “calls it like it is” and doesn’t “beat around the bush” about it.

It calls out bad theology by name. I found that helpful in knowing exactly who or what they were talking about. Some books try not to call out the groups by name, and it can be confusing who or even what they are talking about.

So, be aware that if you believe something that isn’t in the Canon, you will likely be offended at some point in your reading.

Honestly, that candidness is what makes me like this study Bible so much. It is very clear in what it is telling you. I really appreciate this Bible. I love the CSB version, I have several Bibles in that version, and that is my preferred version for personal Bible study.

I recommend this Bible pretty highly. I know the nature of apologetics doesn’t appeal to everyone. There are some who choose to be inspired rather than challenged. This would make an excellent Bible for a teen, young adult, new Christian, or someone solid in their faith who isn’t quite sure what they believe or who wants to deepen their understanding of their faith. They do make a version for students, but I am unsure how it is different from this version. This Bible is for anyone who really wants to get down to answering the questions they may have. Again, this is a Bible. It is intended to be a help as you read and study your Bible. There are entire books on apologetics that you can read if you want, but I do think this Bible will help as you are studying God’s Word to answer some of those big questions. This Bible can be a help to different people across many life situations. While perhaps not the right choice for everyone, I really like it.

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ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

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