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. **

***This blog regularly contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite bloggers as we do receive a small commission if you buy using our links.***

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.

ESV Illuminated Bible Review

I might be a little bit of a Bible fanatic. I am always looking at the new Bibles coming out soon and admiring them. When I saw that Crossway was releasing the ESV Illuminated Journaling Bible, I was immediately obsessed. All the pictures just looked so beautiful! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Just know the pictures don’t even come close to capturing the beauty of this Bible! Crossway made this Bible in 4 editions. This is the green hardcover version. You can also get a burgundy imitation leather or navy blue cloth bound hardcover. They also had a black topgrain leather version that is no longer available. And yes, they all feature the beautiful gold patterns on the cover. The green hardcover, this one, has a book jacket. The other three have a slipcase box. I’m honestly never a fan of either and both end up getting tossed in my house.

Each book of the Bible has a beautifully illustrated title page. Every illustration in this Bible is shiny gold. It is a best of both worlds kind of journaling Bible. It already has beautiful, finished illustrations. But it also has plenty of room to add your own illustrations or notes.

As you can see, there is a bit of ghosting in the margins. The paper is thick for Bible paper, but it is still Bible paper. It is thick enough that you don’t have to be precious about which highlighters you use. I find Crossway journaling Bibles to be thick enough to color and even paint on. It just takes a little practice getting your paint thin enough or your paper prepped so it won’t bleed.

There are small illustrations in the margins throughout the Bible. They are all so pretty. You could leave this Bible on your coffee table just to flip through, it is so lovely.

You can see that even though it is full of beautiful gold illustrations, there is still room to add your own doodles, art, and notes. The margins are completely blank, but I still think this would make an excellent Bible for someone who wants a beautifully illustrated Bible, but is more of a note taker. You can also see that the pages lay pretty flat.

Really, the only “extras” in this Bible are these pages at the end (there are more than pictured) that have pictures of each book’s cover page and a brief explanation of the art you see there. I would absolutely love to have these as art prints to frame on the wall, but there are so many! But they are so beautiful! I just want them out where I can see them all the time. But there are no maps, no concordance, no topical studies. This is just a single column ESV Bible text with wide margins and lovely gold illustrations throughout. Very simple. Very beautiful.

This Bible ended up being so much more beautiful in person than I imagined, which was a difficult task because everything I had seen was amazingly beautiful. The Illuminated Journaling Bible is just so beautiful and such high quality. This is just another great way to fall in love with God’s Word.

**This Bible was sent to me from Crossway Bibles free for review. I am in no way obligated to give a favorable review. Because I received this item free for review, none of the links in this post are affiliate links.**

Am I Crazy?

the crew

Of course the answer to that question is almost always yes, otherwise, I wouldn’t need to ask. But really, am I crazy or are people seeming nicer these days? Are people seeming to come out of their narcissism or cynicism or what ever kind of -ism they find themselves, and notice the whole world around them? It seems that way to me, at least, in my little community, at least.

Peregrin Happy Bubbles

There was a time when I dreaded leaving my house. And not for the usual mom reasons. It wasn’t about someone will inevitably pee their pants and it will never be the child you brought a change of clothes for. Someone will start crying that they are hungry and refuse the only snack on your person and proceed to whine for 45 minutes straight. There will be someone who will loose a shoe, a dinosaur, a book, a hair bow, a quarter- something they just can’t live without and you’ll spend 30 minutes in Target searching for said item. It wasn’t about those things. Those come with the territory. It was about *them*. Those mean people who would make jokes about my family size. (*Ahem.* Not funny.) Those people who would act shocked and make rude comments about me within earshot or directly to me. Those people who seemed to always seemed to send my kids the message that they were unwanted in my community; that our family was the wrong kind of family. They could turn a simple run to the grocery store into a nightmare for me. I have six kids, which means I do not need the added stress in my life of meanies. Not that anyone with one kid , two kids, twelve kids, or no kids needs that kind of meanie stress.

aidan 3

But slowly things started to change. First, it was just a few people. The random person who would tell us we had a lovely family. The passing stranger who would comment how lucky my kids were to have so many siblings. The outrageously generous person who paid for our meal last year around Christmas because she remembered how tight things get with having kids around the holidays, particularly for large families. Suddenly there were small sparks of light out there. And going out and mingling with the community didn’t seem quite so bad anymore. (As an introvert with General Anxiety Disorder, it is always somewhat of a difficulty for me to be new places talking to new people. However, I am talking about this added stress that made it almost unbearable to be part of life outside our safe walls.)

imogene 4

We went from having the worst experience imaginable at one Waffle House where the waitress was downright rude and nasty to my family. To a few months later experiencing a wonderful brunch at Waffle House because people were just so kind. (By people, I mean the other customers. The waitresses were at least not rude this time.) One older gentleman even paid for every kid’s meal because he said they were so polite.

Ransom 2

Something changed out there. And I don’t know what it was. Maybe the people in our community are just used to us. But I think people are just becoming nicer. I know that sounds completely naïve, but I really believe they just might be nicer. People are finally realizing what an impact they have on others, on complete strangers. They are finally seeing the power in their words and glances and interactions. And they see they can make the world better, happier. They have the power to change their world. They can help a stressed mom out by telling her they appreciate her efforts in raising the next generation. (Yes, I have been told that by a complete stranger. I was having a hard time getting my kids to behave like normal people, you know those days. So I felt like I was doing nothing but correcting them and correcting them and correcting them. It was getting old. Then someone acknowledged the work I was putting into getting my kids to sit in that waiting room. They told me that I was doing a good job in raising the next generation and my kids were lucky to have a mom who cared enough to help them.)

Topher

So what changed? Are there less jerks in the world? No. I highly doubt there are. But those neutral people, those people who minded their own business before, they are stepping up in a big way. Those little lights are burning bright out there. I now see more light than darkness. The darkness is still there, but people are kindling their fires. Why? I think social media has a little to do with it. We see articles and posts all the time about the downfalls of social media and how it is removing our ties to one another. And maybe that was true, but I think we’re starting to build them back. We see uplifting videos, get inspirational words send to us daily, and we kindle our fires, burn a little brighter, and pass the light on.

Emery

We look at the news at say “Where is God?!” But I see Him out there. I see Him in my neighbors. I see him in a teenager helping an elderly lady in the parking lot by returning her buggy (I’m Southern, I don’t know what the rest of y’all call those things) to the store. I see Him in a lady stopping to help another woman at the store when she knocked over a display of cheese. I see Him when I am greeted with a smile and not a scowl, when the words on the lips of others is not scorn, but encouragement. Those bright lights, they’re the sparks of life in us, the breath of God. We share the grace we receive. Sure, bad things happen all around the world. I have honestly had one of the absolutely worst years of my life- I’m not even kidding, it has been truly awful. I have no idea how I can even hold my head up with how beat down I have been this year. Crushed and then crushed and then crushed a little more. But then I’m offered some grace- some word of encouragement, some pleasant compliment, some hope- and I see God is with us. I see that God is with me. I see broken people offering hope and light, even when they need some themselves. That is self giving love. That is God.

pip hand

So, keep it up people. Your words are powerful. Even when you can’t help in other ways, words are free, and words are healing. When words fail you, smiles and friendly looks will suffice. A small act of kindness to help you fellow man (or mama). I can see us changing and I like the change in us. “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”- St. Francis of Assissi

Grateful for Enough

flowerEnough is not a concept we’re very aware of in Western culture. We want excess. We want more. Enough to us is just not enough, and that desire for more transforms our prayers and our perception of God’s answers to our prayers.   We have no concept of daily bread. Our perception of need is very off.

col31516

So we end up adopting one of two theologies. One theology we use to bridge this gap is to say that, if we’re not getting what we pray for, the fault is ours. We’re just not doing it right. In our heads, we say that God gives all things requested to the super-spiritual elite. If we’re not getting all we’re asking for, it is because we just haven’t made it to VIP status with God yet. Clearly, the problem with this theology lies in everyone that isn’t Western. Very real poverty exists in much of the world. Are we really willing to say that is their fault? The Christians in Third World countries are just not as loved by God as we are. Saints who spent their entire lives living in poverty for the sake of others are just somehow not among the spiritual elite, as evidenced by their poor surroundings and lack of wordily goods. The Christians in Egypt are just missing out on some secret that puts you in God’s “favorites” column. So we swing the other direction and embrace an opposite theological assumption: God doesn’t care about your happiness. He wants holiness only. Your enjoyment of life or lack thereof is none of His concern. Your emotional needs don’t matter. You just need to put your head down and run the race He sets before you without complaint. Carry your own cross and don’t complain about it. With this, we’re willing to say our Heavenly Father cares nothing for us except that we do as we are told. He’s apparently a “children should be seen and not heard” type of Dad. Your obedience is all that matters. Not sure where we file the God-is-love bit under this theology.

1thess51618

There is a middle ground we overlook– something between the extremes we forget. God does love us, and God does want us to be happy. We just have to readjust our goals, our vision. We’ve got to learn what provision really means. We’ve got to learn to be grateful for enough– to turn off the cultural impulse to have the most, to live with excess. We have to learn what it means to have daily bread. Our prayers for half a million dollar homes need to be replaced with gratitude for a safe place to sleep. Instead of prayers for extra money for our saving accounts, dream vacations, and big screen TVs, being thankful for paid bills, comfortable surroundings, and jobs to support our needs… I’m not saying there is anything wrong with nice houses, vacations, and comforts. But those are not proof that God loves you. It is simply proof you live a very privileged life.

God clearly wants you to be happy. Look at the flowers, clouds, stars, birds. This world has plenty of enjoyments– holy enjoyments. God wants you to be happy with His provision. You just have to change the terms of your own happiness. Learn to be grateful with enough. Learn to be grateful for the privileges we have as Westerners.

phil412

I may not own a big, fancy house, but I have  a safe, comfortable home. I may not have a huge amount of money in the bank, but my needs are all met. We may not go on elaborate vacations, but I have a lovely family and time to spend enjoying everyday life with them. I have enough. I even have more than enough. I am grateful.

Interrupted By God

bonhoeffer interrupted

I am so ridiculously over scheduled. I know it could be so much worse. I actively try to keep my commitments to a minimum. So, I know it could be so much worse. But I find myself with no time. Ever. No time to really stop and think about those around me. No time to really even see the person in front of me. It is popular to blame technology, but that really isn’t it at all. I’m just self absorbed. Period. Blame the phone. Blame Facebook. I can’t see those around me because of me. I’m over schedule because of me. The handwriting all over the calendar is mine. The schedule that keeps me from that theoretical ideal was created by me. I think it’d be easy to blame our technology centric culture or blame other parents who “make me feel” some certain way. But blaming everything but my own bent heart will get me nowhere. It won’t take the ink off the calendar. It won’t open my eyes to the struggles of those around me. It won’t free me for the work of God.

I’m trying to get free. Not free from Facebook, my smart phone, or any of the other bogey men we like to blame. I’m trying to really be free. Praying God will remove my blinders, turn my heart outward, and realign my priorities. I can waste my days focused on me- my schedule, my kids, my life. Or I can open myself up to being interrupted by God. Open myself up to being led instead of trying to blaze a new path each new day. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis.

How about you? Want to actually leave the blame behind and allow yourself to be interrupted by God? Friend, I have no idea what that will look like. I make no promises or assumptions about a life where I am not the center. I just know it won’t look like this- with my calendar inked with all the “have to’s” that have no eternal significance. I just know my focus has to change. I need to stop thinking about being a better mom and focus on my children. I need to stop thinking about being a better wife and focus on my husband. I need to stop looking for what to DO for God and just seek His face. There is a lot of doing in the Kingdom, but His face is first. I’m going for it. I’m going to be ready for God to interrupt my life.