Tool Tuesdays: ESV Journaling Bible

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“Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes.” – Psalm 119.5

Continuing with the Tuesday is for Tools idea, I thought I would take one of my favorite Bibles and highlight it.  One of the Bibles I purchased during my time at THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was Crossway’s ESV Journaling Bible.  I didn’t use it that much for a while, but now it is the one I constantly have with me (though at this moment it is on my desk at the office, and I am in my bedroom, so not 24/7, but you get the picture).

The view inside the ESV Journaling Bible is a 4 column text (2 on each page) with lines on the outside of the columns to write in.  There are very few reference notes found at the bottom.  At the back there are introductions to each of the books of the Bible, though definitely not as in-depth as in the ESV Study Bible. 

How I use it: Since I write curriculum for my day job, I use it to take notes on passages that I’m writing on, so if I get to teach on those passages or don’t have the curriculum with me, I can know the exact points that I brought out in the curriculum.  Or…if someone is speaking on a given passage, I can take notes because others are more brilliant than I am and come up with more insightful thoughts into Scripture.  I love sitting, listening to someone preach, and just jot away (either with pencil or a fine-tip pen that won’t bleed through the pages). 

The only thing I don’t like about this Bible is there is not a concordance in the back.  The good thing about it is I’m learning to know where certain verses are and trying to keep their addresses tucked away in my brain.

Fun thing about it: on a random day at the offices: you can walk by both my office and my boss’ office and find the ESV Journaling Bible in black laid open in front of our monitors.  And my boss’ wife has one too – but hers is prettier. 

Do you have a favorite Bible?  Are you a person who writes in their Bibles or not?  How long have you had your Bible?  I do have one from my late elementary years, but I don’t think I have one from any earlier than that.

Book 6 of 52: God is Great (Toddler Storybook Bible): Larsen

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Crossway continues to nail theology and produce Gospel-centered resources for the church and families.  I LOVE this publishing company!

Now: on to the book at hand:

Most faithful readers of this blog know that I love the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  This Bible for children is a Jesus-pointed, engaging read for families and children to read together.  Every story points the reader to Jesus, the Hero of the Bible.

Carolyn Larsen has written a Bible very similar to Lloyd-Jones for toddlers.  What a great gift for new parents, or for a child’s 2nd birthday.  What better way to start them out on a journey toward Jesus then to give them this Bible with beautiful illustrations and theology.

Things I love about Larsen’s God is Great:

1.  Succinct.  There are only 17 Bible stories in this toddler Bible.  For toddlers, this is pretty good.  It is digestible.  It is repeatable.  It is simple.

2.  Color.  Toddlers love bright colors.  It helps the pages comes alive!  Caron Turk does a splendid job of using her God-given talents on this project.

3.  Theology.  Larsen bee-lines to GOD in each story.  This Bible is not about how to make your child a better child, neighbor, sister, or brother, son, or daughter.  This Bible takes them where they need to be headed: to GOD.  This Bible, in child-terms, teaches: the eternality of God, God’s righteousness, His goodness, His Sovereignty, His guidance, His truth, His power, etc. Your children need to know these truths.  This is a resource that can help you teach it!

Do you want more resources as parents:

1.  Jesus Storybook Bible – linked above

2.  Catechisms for Young Children

3.  Leading Little Ones to God – Schoolland

And some I have found fabulous for parents:

1.  ApParent Privilege – Steve Wright/Chris Graves

2.  Big Truths for Young Hearts – Bruce Ware

3.  Instructing a Child’s Heart – Tripp

Book 4 of 52: Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

posted in: Books, food, restaurants | 0

Today is one of those days when I wish I was independently wealthy and didn’t have a job.  If I were – I would purchase a ticket to the closest airport to Big Sur I could possibly find, maybe even tomorrow, and dine at the Big Sur Bakery along the Californian Coast.  Honestly, I wouldn’t go today – because its January and they may or may not be open – but maybe the first week of June.

The Big Sur Bakery was recommended to me by Jenna or Eat Live Run who lives in the area of the Bakery now and loves this cookbook as well.  I really was skeptical of how good a cookbook could really be.  This sets the bar.  A new plumb line for cookbooks.

Honest.  Ingredients.  Journal-type writing.  Amazing breathtaking, simply want to make you run to whole foods and make everything recipes, and beautiful mouth-watering pictures – the type I only dream to one-day take. 

They care about their friends and family, their local ingredients, and specializing in their craft.  And don’t let the term “bakery” in the restaurant’s name fool you.  They are about craftful baking, but they love their meat and potatoes as well.  They even have a pork and beer night once a year, complete with fake pig snouts.  Vegans not apply (that’s why I can’t go for  eleven months).

So…do you need a good read by a fire-place?  Pick this up.  I may not have a fire going at this moment, but this has been an amazing 3 hour journey into the lives of the owners and lovers of the Big Sur Bakery.

Tax return money, pleae come quickly, so I can buy my own copy.

Book 3 of 52: a platter of figs (David Tanis)

posted in: Books, food | 0

Reading cookbooks.  Such a delight.  Really – there is so much more to do with a cookbook other than to cook by it.  Read it.  Laugh at it.  Savor the pictures.  This will occur if it is a well-written cookbook.

I learned the art of reading cookbooks by reading Jenna’s blog.  Many of the cookbooks she recommends are now on my Amazon wishlist (linked here in case anyone wants to buy one from themselves, or me).  This one, a platter of figs, wasn’t on it – but it was at my local library.  I checked it out, read it, took notes, and added it to my wishlist.

David Tanis, of Chez Panisse fame, has a delightful approach to his recipes and his writing: fresh, simple, gorgeous, local ingredients.

There are four I want to try: fava bean salad, spinach cake, pears and parm, and avocado mozzerella quesadillas.  His recipes are divided into seasons – which is really the only way a good fresh, seasonal recipe book should be organized.  Perfect and helpful.

Here are two quotes that will stick with me:

“I was drawn to the idea that the experience of dining is an end in itself.”

“What a strange idea: comfort food. Isn’t every food comforting in its own way! Why are certain foods disqualified? Can’t fancy food be soothing in the same way as granny food?”

Enjoy a platter of figs.

Book 2 of 52: Death by Love (Mark Driscoll)

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This is a strong statement: Death by Love will always be in my top 3 books about the cross of Christ.  There: I said it.  If a non-believer asked me for a book to read: I would offer this.  Powerful, applicable, doctrinally sound, passionate & empathetic.  Gospel.

Mark, in only a way he can, writes profound letters to people he has had conversations with over the years in ministry, telling them how the Cross of Christ covered and remedied their need for a Savior.  Ransom, revelation, redemption, righteousness, reconciliation – and more.  He doesn’t gloss over their sin, he doesn’t make the cross warm and fuzzy.  He inserts the cross of Christ where God did: into the mess of our lives.

He not only writes letters, but then he also gives doctrinally-sound answers to many of the questions raised about the cross.  And he gives books at the end that will help further your understanding about these truths on the cross.

“You can only overcome sin by an ongoing trust in Jesus and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.” – 59

“The heart of repentance is changing your mind about who is god in your life.  You must stop trying to manage your sin but put it to death before it puts you to death” – 65, 66

This statement brings to mind my favorite part of Genesis.  Chapter 15.

“Furthermore, every covenant has a head, and that person is primarily responsible to ensure that the terms of the covenant are kept.” – 82

Please. Read. This. Book.

Book Review: J I Packer’s Praying the Lord’s Prayer (Crossway)

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Of course during the new year time we see a lot about New Year’s resolutions and most from what I’ve seen this year have to do with reading and memorizing the Word more.  These are crucial to a Christian’s growth.  Another key discipline in the life of a Christian is prayer.  I’ve been flipping through this little gem of a book for a while now, but then decided to sit down and read it.  J I Packer is usually known for his deep theology books like Knowing God (which I also love).  But, this one, though rich in theology, is more pastoral and practical than other ones I’ve read by him. 

He walks through each phrase of the Lord’s prayer which has taught me more ways that I can pray like Jesus, and reminding me of the hope there is in praying the very words of Christ.  My life verse, Colossians 3:16, says to let the words of Christ dwell richly…how much more so in my prayer life?

At the end of each short, read-in-one-sitting, chapter has a list of study questions (perfect to use in a small group setting) and a few other passages of Scripture to broaden your understanding of the subject matter.

In matters of adoption: “Jesus directs us, however, to do it – in other words, to seek access and welcome to God’s presence on the ground that we are children in his family and he looks on us with a father’s love.” (21)

In the matter of sinful nature: “Were we left to ourselves, any praying we did would both start and end with ourselves, for our natural self-centeredness knows no bounds.” (41)

“I cannot sincerely ask for the doing of God’s will without denying myself, for when we get down to the business of everyday living, we regularly find that it is our will rather than his that we want to do, or to see happen.” (58)

On matters of food: “The Christian way is not to deify them (bodies), making health and beauty ends in themselves, as modern pagans do, nor it is to despise them, making scruffiness a virtue, as some ancient pagans once did.  It is rather to accept one’s body as part of God’s good creation, to act as its steward and manager, and gratefully to enjoy it as one does so.  Thus we honor its Maker.  Such enjoyment is in no way unspiritual for Christ’s disciples, for them, it is like their salvation, the Lord’s free gift.” (73)

On the will of God: “Christians look at their lives God-centeredly.  They see God as the one whose action has been the decisive factor shaping their lives, and as the only one who is able to assess what they have achieved.” (96)

Photo Source:

Best Posts from 2008

posted in: Books, Women | 0

Finally getting around to bringing over more of the old posts.  Many of you have not been reading this since 2008, so this gives you a glimpse into what was going on on the blog back then.  Enjoy.

Hungry Adulterers: Thoughts on a JD Greear sermon

My Favorite Chili

My Go-To hummus recipe

Ruth – A review on quite possibly my favorite commentary ever

Ode to the Oreo (go with it, really)

Sacred Influence – one of my top 5 books every wife (or woman preparing to be married, or any female for that matter), must read.

When Sinners Say I Do – my top recommendation for all engaged/married couples

Some books are worth just their forward – but this book has a great forward and is a good read:

Easy Cobbler recipe

Interesting that in May of 2008, I read his book – now I work for the man.  Great boss.  If you are a youth pastor or pastor, read this book.

Do you like strawberries – you’ll love this

My favorite Jerry Bridges book, and I loaned it out and never got it back…hmmm…

Man, has it really been this long ago that I read and loved this book?

My favorite Ed Welch book – to date.

I’m really glad my photography has improved, but this trifle is amazing

Gender-Roles, Pre-Marriage

Great winter, holiday, special salad

Book Review and Giveaway: Read and Share Bible (Thomas Nelson)

posted in: Bible, Books | 5

The kind folks at Thomas Nelson Publishers recently contacted me about doing a book review on their Read and Share Bible and gave me one to giveaway to one of my readers.  So, to be elegible for this giveaway, just leave a comment about one amazing thing you do in your family worship or children’s worship at church to get the Bible into your children’s hearts.  These comments alone will be a blessing to me in the ministry I’m involved in.

I have to say there is one children’s Bible out there that I use as a plumb line for all others.  Unfortunately, this one doesn’t match up, but it does have some great qualities.  Here are the impressive traits about this children’s Bible:

1.  The amount of stories.  Some children’s Bible only has the “popular” stories or ones that are often told.  This Bible has over 200 stories retold by Gwen Ellis.

2.  I love the user-friendliness of this Bible.  There is a table of contents (including topics, Scripture passages, and page number).  Ok, I know this may not sound like much.  But, I find it difficult in other children’s Bibles to find the story corresponding to the passage in the “real” Bible.

3.  At the end of every story, there is a question.  So what?  This is a helpful tool for parents as they take the leadership in their children’s lives as their primary discipler.  Some parents have no clue what it means to teach their children about worship and Jesus.  Maybe they didn’t grow up in a home with Christian parents who led in family worship?  Maybe they are new believers who don’t know what that might look like.  Thankful these questions are there so parents can have a helpful resource for starting conversations with their children about what it means to treasure Christ.

So, what are your tips for getting the Word in the lives and hearts of children?  Leave your comment and I’ll choose a winner and send out the Bible on Tuesday, January 11th.

Thanks Thomas Nelson!

Response to John Starke: Gender, Suffiency of Scripture, and Life on Life Ministry

posted in: Bible, Books, Women | 0

My friend, John Starke, who serves at The Gospel Coalition, wrote this article as a response to a book review of How I Changed My Mine about Women in Leadership.  I wholeheartedly agree with everything John said (as I knew I would), but wanted to elaborate on some of his points and maybe state things from a women’s POV who is in full-time ministry.

Disclaimer: Some may say that the “women in ministry” issue isn’t really timely.  I do not find that to be a valid argument.  Anytime we have failing marriages, dysfunctional churches, and church leadership teams that aren’t biblical, then it will be a valid topic for discussion.

Complementarianism is unsatisfying to egalitarians.”  The reason I think it is.  We, all of us, sin-nature, is to put man first.  Sin nature is man focused.  God is God-focused.  To use the Westminster Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  We like to focus on ourselves, our desires, our wants, making our name great (Genesis 11:4).  God’s authority and plan for our lives is that we make MUCH of Him (John 3:30).    Most of the arguments I’ve heard from egalitarians is man-focused.  “I’m gifted in preaching and can’t use it.  I can work just as well as my husband at _________.  Being a mom is not really a satisfying job.”  The underlying theme in all of these is “I”.  The gospel is not about “I”.  The gospel is about Christ.

‘Pastors should take these concerns seriously and labor to answer them appropriately.”  For complementarian pastors and ministry leaders, it is not enough to just say “Egalitarianism is wrong.  The Bible says so.”  You need to know what the Bible says about this and why/how these truths are applicable.  Some content that will decidedly be helpful to you as you learn more about this is: CBMW, Grudem and Piper’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth.  Theologians and pastors such as Dr. Grudem, Dr. Peter Schemm, John Piper, Randy Stinson, and Chris Cowan have all been highly instrumental in my thinking on this subject and I’m grateful for their ministry and knowledge of this subject and the Word of God.

The Bible must be our “go-to” starting point for this discussion.  If we start anywhere else, we’ve started at the wrong point.  And I my boss says, ‘If we are only 1% off now, ten years down the road, that 1% has turned into 40%”.  We don’t want to be 40% off on this subject.  It is too crucial to the understanding of the gospel to a lost and dying world that needs Christ.

So, we take our situations (existential) and we see what the Bible has to say to them.  If I have the ability to speak and write, then what guidelines does the Bible give me in how I can use those gifts.  Am I a Mom?  Then what does the Bible say about how I’m to respond to and respect my husband and how I’m supposed to nurture my children and order my home?  What does the Bible say is important in these roles?

We should conform our worldview and feelings around the Word of God – the norm above all norms.”  Pivotal statement by John.  If you understand this, then the rest will fall into place.

We trust that complementarianism makes sense of reality and can be satisfying to believing hearts.” God’s rules and authority are not for our torture.  They are for our good and His ultimate glory.  Jesus said in the gospels that His yoke was easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  If we are burdened or put-out by these rules and regulations as woman, then our hearts needs transformed by the gospel.  We all stand in need of redemption and sanctification.  Pray that the Spirit would sanctify and transform your heart as you see God’s bigger Truth and how it is completely satisfying.

Here is where we fail, where I fail, as pastors, ministry leaders, women’s leaders, wives, friends: we don’t know how to have a pastor’s heart in this area: a shepherd’s heart: like Jesus who was compassionate to us, knowing we are stupid like sheep and tend to wander away.  We need to have a more compassionate heart to meet women where they are, take their circumstances, and lovingly walk them to the gospel, show them the right ways of Jesus and the gospel and allow them to see that God has such a more glorious path for them to be on. 

This world is full of sin, abuse, neglect, pride, dysfunction – not at all the way the beauty of the original Creation was: walking in the Garden of Eden in perfect harmony with God.  We suffer broken marriages, poorly led churches, men who abuse the authority that God has given them.  My word of exhortation and edification: pray that God would soften your hearts to those who are in need of the truth of God.  These may be non-believers who need to surrender their hearts to God.  These may be women who do not yet see the beauty of God’s design for the home and church as He designed it.  Live life on life with these women (or men, life or life with other men), pulling them aside the gospel, praying that your life and God’s truth would be transformative in their lives. 

God has a Grand Design.  It is based in the gospel.  It is based on His character and not our situations.  He redeems.  He has purchased us.  He has made His plan known through the Bible.  Let’s share life with people, live in authentic community, and bear with our people.  May God use His sufficient and perfect word to transform our lives, hearts, churches, and homes.

For His Fame.

Best of 2010: Books I Read

posted in: Books | 8

“Read or get out of the ministry” was a quote a I learned when I started seminary at SEBTS 11 years ago this month.  Yes, I do like to read, but I’m not a fast reader.  Love actual books – not electronic reading.  Love a pen in hand, book in hand, maybe a drink in hand – its a good life!  I read 28 books in 2010.  My goal for 2011 is 52.  We’ll see.  Goals are goals.  They take work.  Here are some of my favorites:

1.  Mudhouse Sabbath: Lauren Winners.  Thanks to Janel for introducing me to this book.  Great Christian look at her Jewish upbringing and how she can still live the traditions and laws under the new grace of Jesus.

2.  What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert.  The coolest thing about this little book is that Greg, and his wife, Moriah, live out what he wrote in this helpful book.  Always a winner.

3.  Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  So nourishing for the soul and especially to have walked through it over breakfasts with Becca.

4.  Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian.  Biblical truths for living out God’s Word in today’s world.

5.  Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware.  Especially if you are a parent, or new in your faith – ok, everyone.  You need to read this book.  Theology 101 – or 99 – or 50. 

6.  Surprised by Grace by Tullian.  Meaningful commentary and life application on the book of Jonah.  You’ll never read Jonah the same again.

7.  Radical by David Platt.  I know this will be in almost everyone’s top 10 for 2010.  But, what are you going to do with what you read?

What are your reading goals for 2011?  What are your favorite books?  Do you have favorite authors?  What are you reading right now?