Crossway Heirloom Study Bible Review

The pictures of this Bible aren’t going to do it justice. You really have to hold this Bible in your hands to appreciate it fully. I’m pretty much going to let the photos do most of the talking. This is the ESV Heirloom Bible by Crossway. The cover is goatskin. It has four (!) ribbon markers. There are so many extras in this Bible. It is pretty big. This is not a compact Bible by any means. This is the big, fat Bible of your grandparents. And this one will last that long, too.

This is a study Bible. It has so many maps, charts, articles, and features. It is amazingly packed full of anything they could think of that would help you better understand the Word of God. The articles and insights are thoroughly Biblical. If you’re more liberal leaning, this will likely not make you very happy.

When I said packed with extras, I really meant it. It is PACKED with extras. The Pastor has been using this Bible as a preaching Bible for a few months now. (His preaching Bible fell apart at the end of last year. He preached the cover right off!) While this Bible is a bit large and weighty for a preaching Bible, I highly recommend anyone in the ministry to get a high-quality Bible like this one that won’t fall apart on you with excessive use.

** I was sent this Bible for no cost. I do use affiliate links to help support this blog.**

Crossway Single-Column Journaling Bible Review

I’m sure you know by now how much I love my Interleaved Journaling Bible from Crossway. I love having every other page fully blank to create without worrying about obstructing the Word. Most people use the side column journaling Bible, so I figured I would check that out.

I am going back to school (if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, that is your answer). So, I thought it might be nice to keep a Journaling Bible for my studies.

This Bible comes in a variety of covers. There are so many beautiful options, it is hard to choose. You can even buy a customizable cover version! They also have a two-column version. It only has a single ribbon, which is what most Bibles have, but I am getting spoiled with some of my multi-ribbon Bibles.

The text is in a single column and then the margins are lightly lined with dots. The lines are light, but definitely noticeable. If you’re more into sketching, these lines might be problematic. For my purposes, I was just writing in the margins and not doing any type of art, so it worked fine for me. It would also make a nice Bible to take sermon notes in the margins. If you’re doing artwork in the margins, you may want to prep the margins before beginning.

As you can see from my pen test, the pages are pretty thin. Everything shadows through and some things will bleed to the next page. Again, prepping the page with gesso before beginning your art will help this problem significantly. It also helps to keep a blank piece of paper under the page you are currently working on so it won’t bleed to the next. (And my Mildliner was dying. Don’t worry– it has been replaced.)

You can see how the Pigma Microns that I use show through the page a bit. It isn’t enough to really bother me when taking notes in the margins. I still feel like both sides are legible.

This Bible is very light on extras. There is a reading plan to read the Bible in one year. No index. No maps. Pretty simple.

Overall, it is a beautiful Bible. Now, will it fit your needs? I don’t know. If you’re wanting a Bible for art, I highly recommend the Interleaved version. If you’re wanting a Bible to take notes in the margins– this Bible is likely perfect. I’ve really been enjoying using it for school. I have a highlighter color for each class that I am taking. During my weekly reading, I highlight the applicable verses and write quotes I come across that I want to save in the margins. I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like at the end of my degree program. I use a similar Bible for church on Sundays to keep sermon notes, and I think this Bible would be perfect for that. If you use a more scrapbook style of journaling or don’t mind gesso prepping the margins, this Bible can be used for art, as well.

I typically purchase Bibles from Christian Books Distributors. They typically have the best price. Amazon, however, will get it to you faster and if you are shipping internationally, will be overall cheaper because of shipping.

This Bible was sent to me free for review. I am not obligated to review it positively. This blog contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links from your favorite bloggers is a great way to show them a little love. Affiliate links do not cost your more to use but do give a small portion of any sales to the affiliate.

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.

**This post contains affiliate links. Using your favorite bloggers’ affiliate links is a great way to support them for providing the content you love.**

**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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Lent 2018

If you’re looking for my annual Lent family devotions, they are in book form this year! I was coming up with a way to make the family devotional more user-friendly. Scrolling through an entire week of blog posts is a bit messy. It is free, but it is messy. Then, I had this idea to add a personal devotional for moms to the front. In pitching the idea to The Pastor, we kind of thought, “Why just moms?” So, I enlisted his help in getting both a full 40-day devotional for all people and a 40-day family devotional written. We then put it on Kindle for ease-of-use. (It is also available in paperback if you’re not a digital person.)

The entire thing is really cohesive: The personal devotions and family devotions tie into each other, so you’ll all be walking the same spiritual path together. And as usual, the family devotional includes activities to do! Fun!

The theme of this year’s Lenten devotional is Refocus. Lent is a great time to look over everything and evaluate if you’re living the way you think you should be living. “Does my life reflect Christ?” It’ll challenge you to reevaluate where you put your time and money. It will ask you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments. Basically, it is going to step all over your toes and probably make you uncomfortable and you might even hate me for it. Or… you might refocus your life on the cross and do big Jesus-work this coming year. I think it’s worth the risk.

If you want a free devotional, all my previous years of Lent family devotions are still available here on the blog. Since Lent is always 40 days, always starting on Ash Wednesday and always ending on Easter, any of these can be used any year.

Lent Family Devotional 2017 – This family devotional looks into the life and ministry of Jesus.

40 Holy People – This is a Lenten devotional looking at the lives of those who have followed Christ with great courage and wisdom.

Fruit of the Spirit Family Devotional – This is not a Lenten devotional, but you can use it during Lent if you’d like. It is 9 weeks, so it is a little longer than Lent.

Click here to buy this year’s Lent devotional on Amazon.  My hope and prayer is for families to come together around a table and talk about Jesus. So, whatever you chose to do this Lent, be it using Refocus, using one of the free devotions on my blog, using another devotional book, or just reading through a book of the Bible together after dinner— make sure that you don’t miss Jesus during this season. Let the season bring you closer to Him and closer to your family.

Choosing A Bible Translation

We have a huge blessing available to us in modern Bible translations. Not only do we have the Bible translated into our language, but we have multiple translations that are great for various walks of life and situations. We are abundantly blessed. So, don’t get yourself worked into a tizzy over which translation is the right translation. They’re all translations. You may prefer one, but our preference does not equal rightness. You may find yourself in a spiritual drought at some point, needing the Word to be fresh for you. A different translation can be all it takes to make the Word come alive again. You may find yourself discipling a child and need something on their level, but not a Bible storybook level either. You may find yourself reading the minor prophets in a new translation that makes it sound so poetic and beautiful and you experience Scripture in beauty for the first time. You may be helping a new Christian and need something readable for someone with no personal Christian history. Read on and find the translation for you now.

Translations are made one of two ways. Well, that simplifies it a little too much, but for the sake of this conversation, we’ll go with it. If you’re looking at a foreign language and you’re going to translate it, you can either translate each individual word or you can translate the whole thought. Translating word for word can lead to some things that just don’t make a lot of sense, since we arrange our words in English very specifically. (Did you know we even have a specific order for arranging adjectives?) So, in translating word for word, you can see you’ll run into problems. However, when translating thought for thought, you may not accurately convey the right word or the right emphasis. You find people complaining about the exact accuracy of thought for thought translations. But all translations will fall somewhere between an exact word for word translation and a thought for thought translation.

Each translation also comes in at a different grade reading level. Lower grade levels are typically going to have a less expansive vocabulary used.

King James Version (KJV)

This translation is a word for word translation with a very high reading level. (12th grade) While many people that grew up in a conservative church find this to be the Bible translation they are most familiar with, new Christians typically struggle to make sense of this translation. It is more like reading Shakespeare. It is incredibly beautiful in its language, but can be difficult to understand or get to the point. This translation is often a good one for memorizing Scripture because the poetic language is easier for some people to memorize. The flow just lends itself to getting lodged in the brain. However, for new Christians, people feeling spiritual draught, and younger Christians, the reading level is just too high and they have trouble making sense of the Word. This translation was published in 1611. This is a very common choice for a family Bible because it feels and reads like an old classic.

I John 1:9 “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”

New King James Version (NKJV)

This translation is still a word for word translation. Modernized a little and the reading level brought down to a much more readable 8th grade level. It still has a lot of the poetic feel of the King James, but makes a little more sense and is easier for most people to study. This is often the choice of pastors for their preaching Bible translation. Again, Scripture memorization may be easier with this version as it is more poetic and sticks in your head like a song. This translation was published in 1982. It is a classic, conservative feel that is understandable by more people. I use this translation as our homeschool Bible. This is the translation my kids learn their memory verses from and we do our group reading from.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “ He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.”

New International Version (NIV)

This is a mixture of word for word and thought for thought translation. A little of both has made this a pretty standard choice. It is just below an 8th grade reading level, so it is pretty well understood by most people. This was published in 1978 and is now the most read and the most trusted translation choice.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

New Living Translation (NLT)

Like the NIV, the New Living Translation is a balance between word for word and thought for thought translation. The reading level is just above a 6th grade level, so this is a very understandable translation for most people. This was not a translation of a translation, but a brand new translation undertaking by 90 Biblical scholars. This translation flows smoothly and makes a lot of sense. It is less poetic, but much more readable and understandable. This is an excellent translation for new Christians. Published in 1996.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

English Standard Version (ESV)

This is a word for word translation in a little above a 7th grade reading level. This is the most popular choice for Bible Journaling. It is very readable. It isn’t unnecessarily wordy and makes a great modern choice for Scripture memorization. Publish in 2001, it is an updated version of the Revised Standard Version. This makes an excellent family Bible. I use this translation in my Bible Journaling and we have a family Bible in this translation. This also makes a great gift Bible.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is a modern word for word translation at a higher reading level, 11th grade. It has a more formal feel than most of the other modern translations. Published in 1971, updated in 1995. This is very readable, but also more of a scholarly translation. This is a great choice for a preaching Bible or a Christian ready for deeper Bible study. Not always the best for Scripture memorization as it does get a little wordy. This also makes an excellent family Bible.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

This is more of a word for word translation. It has a 7th grade reading level. This version is clear and concise. It is excellent for Bible study. It can also be a great translation for New Christians. I think my primary recommendation is for Christians experience spiritual dryness in their life and need the Word to come alive again. This is the translation that you can read the stories you’ve heard your whole life and see something completely new and shocking in it that has always been there, but you are just seeing it. It is a good eye opening translation for personal study. I think it would make a great preaching Bible, as well, but I don’t know many pastors who actually use it for that. This is the Bible I use as my church Bible and for personal Bible Study.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.”

International Children’s Bible (ICB)

This is a thought for thought translation in a third grade reading level. This is a translation meant for children. If you’re a children’s pastor, this would be a good preaching and teaching Bible for you. This is a good choice for a first Bible for a child. It is very easily understood. Published in 1982. This can be difficult for kids to follow along in service or Bible study if the leader isn’t using this version.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. We can trust God. He does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrongs we have done.”

Psalm 40:2 “ He lifted me out of the pit of destruction, out of the sticky mud. He stood me on a rock. He made my feet steady.“

The Message (MSG)

This is a thought for thought, paraphrase version. A lot of hate out there for this version, but I think it definitely has its place. This translation is excellent for seekers who have no Christian back ground or experience. It was published in 2002, and can sometimes seem too flippant for many conservative Christians. But a teen who has never read the Bible will find this an invaluable source of God’s Word. And not just teens. The reading level varies with the passage, but it is about a middle school average. This can also be a good version for those experiencing spiritual aridity, but it doesn’t make for a very good study Bible. You will hear and notice things you didn’t before, but not in the same way you will with the CSB. This is a difficult version to follow along with in service or Bible study because of the paraphrasing.

1 John 1:9 “ On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.“

Psalm 40:2 “ He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.“

New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)

This is a blend of word for word and thought for thought. This has the lowest reading level of any of the translations, just below 3rd grade. This is a translation for very young children. This was published in 1994 and updated in 1998. It is a beginner’s Bible. Excellent choice for a first Bible for brand new readers. This is a good resource for homeschooling parents to use to teach young kids to read or write using the Bible. This is the translation I usually buy my kids as they are learning to read.

1 John 1:9 “But God is faithful and fair. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure.”

Psalm 40:2 “I was sliding down into the pit of death, and he pulled me out. He brought me up out of the mud and dirt. He set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand on.”

This isn’t all the Bible translations available to you. Check out biblegateway.com if you want to compare more translations. These are just a few that I hope might help you in choosing the Bible that is right for your situation.

Another note: I used to find myself feeling bad for owning multiple copies of the Bible. That was surely a luxury many in this world do not have. And that is correct. There are many who don’t have the luxury of owning one single full copy of God’s Word. So, it often felt very first world of me to own many copies. However, I have come to accept that a Bible used in my house by me or my children is to God’s glory. No matter how many Bibles we have- if we are using them, it is for His glory. Also, supporting Bible publishers is supporting Bible translators. These companies can do good around the world with my support. Supporting them is supporting the work of furthering the spread of the Gospel. Choosing to put my money in their pockets is better than what I would have spent it on elsewhere. Also, I am always willing to give my Bible away. Whatever copy I may have in my hand at the moment, if someone else has no copy- I’m always ready to give mine away. I am not hoarding Bibles, though it may seem that way.

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