Bible Review – Crossway ESV Heirloom Wide Margin Reference Bible in Deep Brown Goatskin

You may look at the title of this post and see a word that you may not use in everyday conversation. In fact, you may not even really have a category or frame of reference for this word. What word am I talking about? It’s the word “Heirloom”.

Heirloom is a term that oozes with meaning. It’s a word that connotes value and tradition. An heirloom is typically something that has extreme value (sentimental or economic) and is passed down from one generation to another.

In the early years of the English Standard Version (early 2000’s) Crossway latched on to this term and began to produce a few Bibles of such a quality that it could be called an Heirloom, a Bible built to be used and passed down from one generation to another. Unfortunately, the market was not ready for the idea. At that time, almost all Bibles were relatively inexpensive, made of cheap materials, and would easily fall apart after any consistent use. Premium Bibles with smyth sewn bindings and luxurious covers had not yet come into vogue. With that said, in it’s time the Crossway Heirloom Bible was not a big commercial success and went into hiding for a few years.

Fast forward ten to fifteen years and the Bible market is a completely different animal. There is now an extremely high demand for premium Bibles with luxurious covers. Now every Crossway ESV Bible you buy is smyth sewn and built to last.

With this new market makeup, the Crossway ESV Heirloom series returned. There are now multiple Bibles which are heirloom “grade”. You are now able to get amazing Bibles with great covers and in various sizes and in different text blocks. Some are thin and portable and some are built for marking up and deep life long study and note-taking.

This brings us to today’s post. In this post I have the privilege of reviewing one of these beautiful high end Heirloom Bibles. Here is a great video which shows where these Bibles are made and all of the skill and effort that goes into making one of these editions.

With that, let me show you what this Bible looks like and highlight some of its great features. (you can click on any photo to see it enlarged)

I love the attention to detail on this Bible. From the raised bands on the spine to the beautiful stitching around the perimeter. Personally this Bible is very attractive and eye catching. They have even done a great job with the box. The box is black and wrapped very nice. Everything about this Bible breathes luxury and it delivers on its promise of being a Heirloom.

Here are some shots around the perimeter of this Bible. I really like how they gave it a slight yapp (overhang). It gives it a very classy look. It’s really difficult to capture the color on the outside, it is a beautiful deep brown, but the inside liner is more of a milk chocolate. It is a nice surprise to open and see it and again gives this Bible a very elegant look to it.

Now the most important part, the actual text block. Here are many pictures from a bunch of different texts and a bunch of different angles. The text is similar to what you would find in a thin line and it reads very nice. The print appears larger than other wide margins I have used in the past (i.e. Cambridge Wide Margin click here to see that review). They have also line-matched the text so there is less bleed through. Line matching is where they line the text up on both side of the page so that it eliminates the distraction of seeing the word on the back side of the page in the white space of the page you are reading.

Here are some of the more technical details. The text has a solid inch around it for notes and or sermon outlines or whatever you like. It is the 2011 edition and not the newest 2016 text, but it is printed by Jongbloed in the Netherlands. Also, there is something that needs to be pointed out here in this last picture. These Bibles have what is called a “hinge”. This is where they connect the cover to the text block. Sometimes this hinge is less noticeable and sometimes it is more noticeable. In this edition it is more pronounced in the front than it is in the back. This is not a defect at all but it part of how these particular Bibles are made. With that being said, this Bible is still very flexible and will age very nicely.

This is a very classy Bible and is a great option for anyone who would like to have a little extra room to jot occasional notes or even extensive notes from a lifetime of study and listening to the preaching of the Word. The great thing about this Bible is that it lives up to its name, it is a true Heirloom, it is a Bible you can use for many years and it is a Bible that can be handed down to the next generation as well.

Grace and Peace,

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Bible Review “Crossway ESV Large Print Bible in Black Top Grain Leather”

It’s been a while since I have done a Bible review but thanks to my friends at Crossway, I am able to do a review of one of their new updates on an old standby.

In the early 2000’s Crossway introduced many of us to luxurious black and cordovan calfskin leather. They would use these beautiful leathers for many of their most popular editions. One that became popular among many preachers was the ESV large print edition. This edition was perfect for the pulpit because it had nice big print in an easy to read font which made preaching from it a joy.

Not only was the inside visually appealing but they went above and beyond and also offered it in their thick black full grained calfskin which was hand-bound by Abba Bibles in Mexico. These are still some of the most highly sought after Bibles in the Bible collecting world today.

Sadly, the ESV large print in black calfskin faded off the scene. Yes, the large print edition was still printed but it was wrapped in covers that did not match the glory of the text block. A few years back though, Crossway began releasing editions in “Top-Grain” leather. It was not as beautiful or luxurious as the Abba calfskin of old, but it was nice to the touch and handsome to look at. I began hoping that Crossway would use this leather on more of their editions, and that wish has come true.

Recently Crossway released their large print in black top grain leather and that brings us to our business for today. Today I want to highlight this Bible for you and show you some of my favorite features of this Bible and give you a sneak peek at it in case you are interested in buying one for yourself.

Here is a quick look at the box and the pledge from Crossway that this is a quality product which they back up with a guarantee. In case you are not aware, Crossway has a wonderful guarantee policy and should you receive a damaged Bible or defective Bible you should give them a call or send them an email. I have had to do this before and they have been very gracious and kind. So this is a genuine pledge of quality.

Here are pictures from all sides (quick note: you should be able to click on any of these pictures to see them even larger). I really like the Crossway is bringing back the ribs on the spine, it really adds a lot of character in my opinion. They have also begun to remove “ESV” from the spine which I also like. Previous editions would have some form of ESV on the spine three times! It always felt like a little bit of overkill to me. The spine on this Bible looks very clean and attractive to my eye.

Here are some shots to show off the flexibility of this cover. I always like to open a Bible to Genesis 1 and Revelation 22 to see how flexible it is. Well, as you can see, this Bible has no problems at all. This text block is smyth-sewn and it easily lies flat at both positions and I have only minimally handled this Bible. If I could point out one thing I would change it would be this, and this is where I long for the calfskin of old, the cover is a little thinner than I like. If I could make one improvement to the cover it would be its thickness. But that may just be a preference of mine. Personally I like calfskin that is a little on the thicker and heavier side. Make no mistake, this cover is still very soft and beautiful, it’s simply something I wanted to point out.

Here are some pictures of the actual text from many different angels. This text layout is beautiful. I have had many people see it and do a double take. I am often asked what Bible I was using because the text size and font tend to be so attractive. What is also nice about this Bible is that has large breathable font (11pt.) but it is not a huge bulky Bible. This Bible is extremely portable. I would almost call it a large print thinline, though there is already another Bible with that name. My point is this, this Bible is so handy that you could take it with you anywhere and yet when you open it and look inside you are almost surprised at how readable and beautiful the print is. It’s a great balance between portability and large readable print.

I highly recommend this edition to you and I would also encourage you to go to your local bookstore and get your hands on one. You could also go online and here are two of my favorite places to shop for books online:

http://www.wtsbooks.com/bibles

http://evangelicalbible.com/shop/

Grace to you and Peace,

“When Worship Lyrics Miss the Mark” – John Piper (Ask Pastor John)

worshippageYesterday I heard this great “Ask Pastor John” episode from Desiring God. This content is worth your time and is very helpful. Everyone who leads others in worship through singing should listen and apply these principles. Here is the link “When Worship Lyrics Miss the Mark”

A few key excerpts:

“given the hundreds and hundreds of worthy, substantial, rich, deep, old hymns that speak nourishing doctrinal truth, and given the many, many, many new songs of the last thirty years that are solid and Christ exalting and gospel rich and God centered, there is no reason for any church to sing songs that are misleading or even questionable.”

“Here’s another popular lyric that we sang it in Asia recently. I wish they weren’t singing this. It’s very popular: “Like a rose, trampled on the ground. You took the fall and thought of me above all.” That’s not true. That’s not true. It’s not helpful. I’m not frankly even sure what it means. Above all what? Above all other people whom he saved? No, it can’t be that. Above all his own glory? No, not his own glory. Above all what? That was a beautiful song before it got to that line. He saved us precisely so that we could see and savor his glory as the supreme treasure of the universe above all. I’m not sure what the lyrics are trying to communicate, but it doesn’t communicate that to most people.”

Grace and peace…

2 Samuel 24 “David Counts the People”

At the end of his life David falls again. As I catch myself thinking “what a stupid move there David” I was immediately convicted. I am just like David. I sin in similar ways (if not worse) over and over and just like David, I find myself confessing and repenting of sins and begging God for mercy.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t only show us the sin of David it also tells us about his repentance. It’s good to remember that David didn’t sin and then never deal with it. When David sinned, he also repented (though sometimes not as quickly as he should), and he often repented in big public ways.

Here in 2 Samuel, David numbers the people. Joab tells him it’s a bad move but David moves forward. Something for me to learn there. When others who are around me throw up red flags of caution, I should listen. If David would have stopped and considered the advice of those around him throughout his life he could have avoided so many problems.

Israel had 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword and Judah had 500,000. Together that’s 1.3 million. I wondered how that compares with our military here in the USA and per Wikipedia that’s about the size of our military without the reserves. That’s a big army for them!

What’s the takeaway?

The military was huge! Compare the country size of the USA with Israel. The USA is much larger and yet Israel had roughly the same size military. For that country it would have probably been an obvious fact that their military was very large. Plus, they had won many wars. Plus, they had a warrior as their king. Plus, all those who were David’s closest friends were his “Mighty Men” (i.e. military). It would have been obvious that the military was healthy and the country was blessed by God and it was doing well. Yet, David wanted to number them. David wanted the stats. David wanted the details. This only happens when you desire to boast about something. You never want the details of an event that was embarrassing, but if someone mentions that someone else said something positive about us we cry out “tell me more!” It was a total pride issue. Maybe even along the lines of Nebuchadnezzar “Is this not Babylon the great which I have built” (Daniel 4:30).

Application: I need to be on guard of the same pride when God works in my life or uses me in someone else’s. It is only by His grace and it needs to be for His glory alone, not my own.

The Doctrine of Concurrence
There is also one more important illustration from this chapter and it is the doctrine of Concurrence. Here is a helpful definition of concurrence:

“The doctrine of concurrence affirms that God directs, and works through, the distinctive properties of each created thing, so that these things themselves bring about the results that we see. In this way it is possible to affirm that in one sense events are fully (100 percent) caused by God and fully (100 percent) caused by the creature as well. However, divine and creaturely causes work in different ways. The divine cause of each event works as an invisible, behind-the-scenes, directing cause and therefore could be called the “primary cause” that plans and initiates everything that happens. But the created thing brings about actions in ways consistent with the creature’s own properties [which God unchangeably gave and sustains], ways that can often be described by us or by professional scientists who carefully observe the processes. These creaturely factors and properties can therefore be called the “secondary” causes of everything that happens, even though they are the causes that are evident to us by observation.” (Reference:  Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, Zondervan, http://www.zonderan.com, 1999, p. 145.)

You can also listen to this message on Concurrence by RC Sproul, click here.

Why is 2 Samuel 24 such a good illustration of this doctrine? Because multiple persons are said to be involved with the act of numbering the people. Here take a look:

God is said to be involved

Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)

Satan is said to be involved

“Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:)

David is shown to  be responsible

“Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army” (2 Samuel 24:4)

“Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”” (2 Samuel 24:10)

“Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”” (2 Samuel 24:17)

So who was is that moved David to number the people? Was is God? Was is Satan? Or was it David? The answer is YES! All three are involved. God had a sovereign plan for David’s good and God’s glory (Rom 8:28, Gen 50:20). Satan wanted to tempt David to sin (Job 1, Matthew 4). David is responsible and decided to sin on his own (Gal 6:4-5, Rom 14:10-12, James 1:12-16).

For more on this issue please see my post on trials and temptations.

Grace to you and peace…

Is This Not Bathsheba?

Sin never affects only us. Whether done in private or in public, sin always spills over and stains the lives of those around us.

When David sinned with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) it began with a look, a quick glance. The glance turned into a lustful stare and the stare led to a summons and the next thing you know Bathsheba is pregnant and Uriah, one of Davids Mighty Men, is being murdered.

This sinful chain of events didn’t just affect Bathsheba and Uriah and David. Yes those were three key players but there was a whole slew of people affected. Those who warned David, those who went and called Bathsheba to come to the Palace, those who helped David try to goad Uriah into going home and sleeping with his wife to cover up David’s sin, Joab who had to enforce David’s death wish on Uriah, and the list goes on. Sin is deceptive, it downplays how bad your sin really is.

In this post we are going to examine how David’s sin affected those related to Bathsheba. You see, Bathsheba was part of a very connected family, a family that was deeply involved in David’s government and military. So when David asks who she is, those around him simply drop the names of her family members in hopes that once he hears who she is related to, he will stop his pursuit. Let’s take a look.

“Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah?” (2 Samuel 11:3)

1) We find out that Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam. Later in 2 Samuel we find out that Bathsheba’s dad, Eliam, was one of Davids Mighty Men. (2 Samuel 23:34) So Bathsheba’s dad is one of David’s most faithful and trusted men. A warrior. A man who fought for and with David. A man who probably hid and protected David when Saul was pursuing him. At this point, David should have taken a moment to stop and set his mind on things that are true and pure, to put off his lustful thoughts and put on thoughts of purity and righteousness. Red flags should be waving and sirens should be going off alerting him to the danger he is inviting, but they don’t.

We need to learn from David here. Do not be like David in this situation. When others are warning you and your conscience is screaming at you to stop you need to stop. Don’t let sin cloud your thinking. Mortify your sin. Kill your sin before it kills you.

2) According to 2 Samuel 23:34 the father of Eliam is Ahithophel. This makes Ahithophel Bathsheba’s grandfather. Again, red flags, sirens and blinking lights should be going off at this point! Ahithophel was one of Davids closest counselors. It is said of Ahithophel that his counsel was so good it was “as if one inquired of the word of God” (2 Samuel 16:23)

But after the defiling of his granddaughter (Bathsheba) and the murder of his grandson-in law (Uriah), he turns against David and helps support Absalom’s revolt and seeks vengeance against David until the day he dies.

In 2 Samuel‬ ‭16:21‬ ‭Ahithophel seemingly tries to get specific shaming revenge on David and says to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.” No doubt Ahithophel is trying to pay David back for what he did to his granddaughter. This also happens to fulfill what God told David would be a consequence for his sin (Samuel 12:9-12)

Ahithophel never gets his revenge and ends up becoming so depressed that he commits suicide. A sad end. David is not first hand responsible for this but he certainly played a part. This is a good reminder that not only does sin blind and cause us to do insanely stupid things but it also causes those we sin against to do things that are foolish and insane. Sin is bitter. Sin is deceptive. Sin is deadly.

3) Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was also one of Davids Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:39). As we saw with Bathsheba’s father Eliam, Uriah was a faithful active duty soldier for David. In fact, while David was lounging around the palace, Uriah was out doing battle for David. And yet David was so blinded by his sin that he takes Uriah’s wife and sleeps with her and ends up killing this faithful and loyal friend. Sin clouds our thinking. Sin is a liar. Sin is a deceiver.

So when they tell David “Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah?” they are really saying “Isn’t that Bathsheba the granddaughter of Ahithophel your great counselor? And isn’t that Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam one of your Mighty Men who has faithfully stood by you through all these years? And isn’t that Bathsheba the wife of Uriah who is also one of your Mighty Men and who is out fighting in one of your battles this very day?”

It’s startling how blind and stupid lust made David, he was able to ignore all that he knew and all the people who would be hurt who had been so loyal. Sin is so deceptive.

The same thing happens to you and I. Be on guard. Hate sin. Kill sin. As John Owen says “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”

Daily Reading: Mark 11

I’ve been slowly reading through the gospel of Mark over the last month or so and decided to start making a record of some of the things I am learning. If you read this I hope you are encouraged and that it spurs you on to study and love the word of God more.

Warning: these are just the observations of a simple man trying to read and apply God’s word to his own heart and life.

Mark 11

Opens with the triumphal entry. The crowds cry out:

“Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

I’ve heard the word Hosanna before but to be honest I’m really not very familiar with it so I went back to a post I wrote a few years ago and found this very helpful explanation from John Piper, “[In the OT] It used to mean, “Save, please!” But gradually, it came to mean, “Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!” It used to be what you would say when you fell off the diving board. But it came to be what you would say when you see the lifeguard coming to save you! It is the bubbling over of a heart that sees hope and joy and salvation on the way and can’t keep it in. So “Hosanna!” means, “Hooray for salvation! It’s coming! It’s here! Salvation! Salvation!”And “Hosanna to the Son of David!” means, “The Son of David is our salvation! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king!”And “Hosanna in the highest!” means, “Let all the angels in heaven join the song of praise. Salvation! Salvation! Let the highest heaven sing the song!” The word moved from plea to praise; from cry to confidence.”

Cursing of the fig tree. Apparently when a fig tree has leaves it also begins bearing fruit. Jesus finds a fig tree with leaves but no fruit. It has the appearance of health and fruit bearing but in reality it is not bearing any fruit so He curses it.

Application: don’t be like the fig tree having only an external appearance with no internal fruit bearing reality

He then goes into the temple and cleanses it. No doubt there is a connection between the fig tree and the temple practices. They have the appearance of worshiping God but no reality.

At the end of the chapter Jesus exposes the religious leaders by asking if John the Baptist was from heaven or from man. They decide to say “We do not know” because they fear the people. This answer still exposes them. If everyone considered John to be a real prophet (v32) and they didn’t recognize that, then how can they recognize if Jesus is from heaven or man? They have disqualified themselves.