Not About “Me-Time”

There is this myth in our culture that we have to look out for number one in order to get anywhere successfully. “Put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.” It sounds like such wise advise. It sounds like wisdom. 

People hop from church to church because they aren’t “fed”. Even worse are those that use multiple churches to meet all their own “spiritual” needs. Sunday morning here, Bible study there, women’s group over here— using what they consider to be the “best” of each “option” to build their perfect spiritual atmosphere. 

There is a very big book industry based on this concept. You’ll find options to fit every person, every religious affiliation, every type of person. Moms need “me-time”. Christians need “me-time”. Women need “me-time”. It sounds like wisdom. 

Sometimes, what sounds like wisdom, isn’t wisdom at all. 1 Corinthians 3:19-20 (CSB) says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, the Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are futile.” This message of “me-time”— looking out for yourself first— that isn’t the Christian message at all. In fact, it is pretty much the opposite. As Philippians 2:4 says, we are to look out not for our own interests, but the interests of others. (If you want to argue the “not only” portion, do yourself a favor and look up the MOUNCE Greek translation on Bible Gateway and see that the “not only” has no Greek underneath, because it isn’t in the Greek. See Dr. Kinlaw’s The Mind of Christ for more on that subject.) 

Christ says, to find your life, you have to lose it. He doesn’t say that, to find your life, you need to set aside an appropriate amount of me time in order to better “center yourself” for that life. Nope. Following Jesus is dying to self. Anyone who loves his life will lose it. Jesus is full of paradox. Things that sound like wisdom are foolish. The last will be made first— not because it is fair, but because that is His way. Those who lead will serve. Those who seem wise will be fools. If you really want to live, you lay down your life and let Him live through you. 

I’m not saying to neglect your health. I’m not saying that anything you do “for yourself” is sinful. I am saying that perhaps we need to look a little closer at the wisdom of the world and not accept it just because it sounds like wisdom. Check it against what God says in His book. Check it against your cultural assumptions. (Gym time is a luxury not afforded to many in this world. If you equate your gym time with personal righteousness, you are saying something about who can and cannot be righteous according to your gospel.) 

If I find myself looking for the religious experience that best suits me, I doubt I will find it. If I’m not being “fed”, perhaps the issue is that I’m not out in the field sowing. (“He who does not work will not eat” could apply to spiritual feeding, as well.) Perhaps I need to stop treating church like a spiritual gym and more like the meeting together of the people of God. 

When I am tired as a mother, the Bible does not tell me that luxury (through gym time, manicures, shopping, hair appointments, massages, etc.) is the way to find rest for my soul and strength for my task; the Bible tells me that in my weakness, He will be strong. It tells me that I can rest in Him and His promises. The Bible tells me that I will not work alone and that my work in making disciples of my children is His great commission. I could write an entire book on the blessing of being a mother and the amount of grace I’ve received from letting God work in those tired, busy times— but for today I’ll save you all of that. What I will say to the fellow mother who is struggling, feeling weighed down— the answer isn’t “me-time”. The answer is Jesus. Throw your full weight of burden on Him and watch Him transform it into something beautiful, meaningful, and redemptive.

Be careful, dear friends, in listening to what seems like wisdom. There is nothing wrong with going to the gym, getting your nails done, getting a massage, etc. There is something wrong if you equate those things with what it means to be a godly person. There is something wrong if you see those things as your “right”. There is something wrong if you are so focused and intent on those things that your are putting them first. This isn’t a call to martyrdom— to smear yourself in ashes and sackcloth to prove your righteousness. This is a call to take up your cross and follow Jesus. This is a call to stop thinking about yourself so much and start thinking about how you can serve others like Jesus.

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.

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.**

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.

**This post contains affiliate links. Using your favorite bloggers’ affiliate links is a great way to support them. You don’t pay any extra, but I get a small commission every time you purchase something using one of my links.**

The Complete Jewish Study Bible Review

I have been very into various Bibles lately. There are just so many different study Bibles that capture my attention. Some capture my attention in a negative way. “Why would anyone make that study Bible?!” But most capture my attention in a positive way. So, I’ve been picking up a few here and there to read through, use in my own personal devotion time, and see what my thoughts are on these various study Bibles.

The Complete Jewish Study Bible caught my attention. I grabbed a copy of the hardcover edition, but there are fancierleatherversions. This hardcover is a shiny, glossy cover, but it is really good quality. Just for aesthetics, I like the color and the intricate stained glass patterns they use throughout.

And guys- two sewn in bookmarks! That makes me really happy. I’m still waiting for a Bible to come with three. One for the Old Testament reading, one for the Psalms, and one for the New Testament reading. The Pastor wants 4- Old Testament, Psalms, Gospel, and Letters. The font is easy to read and in single column format. The margins are very narrow and not really suitable for writing in.

This Study Bible is packed full of useful study tools and information. I’m not the intended audience for this Bible. However, I have really liked this Bible. It has helped me see God’s Word in a new light. It has given more life and deeper meaning to things I’ve been reading my entire life. It has been a challenge to use, but it has made me slow down and really study the Word and not just breeze right through it. This won’t be the Bible for everyone, and I will get to that later, but it is an excellent study Bible.

The first issue to note is that this Bible is not in our typical English order. It still begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation, but it is not in the same order in between. You have the Torah first (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Then you have all the prophets together (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel [1st and 2nd], Kings [1st and 2nd], Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). Followed by the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles [1st and 2nd]). In the New Testament, you have the Gospel first (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), followed by Acts, then you have the letters broken into three categories; Letters to Communities (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians), Pastoral Letters (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon), and Messianic Letters (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude). And then you end with Revelation. If you’re not used to this, you’ll have to just use the table of contents as you acclimate to the order of the books.

Next, you’ll likely notice that you don’t recognize the names of the Bible. The aim of this particular translation was to restore the Jewishness of the Bible. So the names of the books have been taken back to their Hebrew names. No worries, though. The English names appear on the right hand pages with the Jewish names on the left.

I also found I didn’t know any of the people or places in the Bible! Those got put in Hebrew, as well. I actually really appreciated this. It made me read it a little outside of my language. It also had me noticing who was doing what a little bit more. And fortunately, they included a handy Glossary of Hebrew (with pronunciations!) to English. So, I could look them up as much as I needed to.

Each book of the Bible has a great introduction to bring you into the book, including an outline. It also goes ahead and tells you the main names and places in English so you don’t have to look them all up straight out of the gate.

The Complete Jewish Bible also contains a great amount of introductory material. It tells why they translated it the way they did. It goes into translation issues. It brings up the vision and potential audience of the translation. They go into detail on why the Bible is God’s Word to humanity. It explains poetry, law, legalism, and more. It fully outlines the prophesy of the Messiah and how Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophesy. The introduction is almost a full book of great information to help as you study God’s word.

Now, this Bible is not going to be for everyone. There are plenty of people who are about calf-deep in their walk into the river of God’s Word and this will just make them almost drown. If you were just stepping in and knew nothing of the Bible, this would be a fine place to start. No worries there at all. But there are people who are not yet fluent in the Bible but are getting there. This is going to overwhelm those people. People completely non-fluent in Scripture and people very fluent in Scripture will find something amazing here. But those middle people may need to get a little more comfortable with The Word before diving into something like this. I’d hate for anything meant for good to be a stumbling block. This Bible is very much of the scholarly side of things. This is not about life application or practical application of doctrine. This Bible helps you understand the world into which Jesus came into and the world the Jewish people came from. It brings you back into those Hebrew roots so you are better able to read the stories and the words more in their context. It is an extremely eye opening experience.

This Bible is packed full of even more features than I’ve listed. Articles from Jewish scholars. Information of Jewish customs. There is just so much here. It also has footnotes that describe the culture of what is going on within the Scriptures.

I will definitely be hanging onto this Bible. It makes the Scripture new and fresh. It brings to life deeper meanings. It brings more understanding of Jewish faith and culture. And all along the way, you can see Jesus woven throughout. It just highlights those threads of grace so we see the shadow of the cross stretching across the entire span of man’s history.

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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.