Grow in the Word with Crossways’ Illuminated Scripture Journals
My forays into deeply loving the Word, and better knowing and loving and trusting the Lord, had several jumpstarts.
The first was when I started reading the Word consistently when I was 17. During a summer camp concert, Karl Messner (lead guitarist for Christian parody band Apologetix) challenged a couple of hundred teenagers with the importance of reading daily. He then offered himself for basic accountability. For years I read every day and then emailed Karl’s “reading buddy” address with the scripture reference in the subject line.
The second was in my 20s when my husband and I were volunteering at a summer youth adventure camp. Through the transitions of graduating college, joining the working world, and getting married, my habit had temporarily fallen by the wayside. The speaker challenged the teens to read their Bibles for five minutes a day five days a week before getting on Facebook. Ouch. It was simple, manageable and convicting. My reading habit was reignited and my understanding continued to mature.
Enter Jen Wilkin studies with other women while in my 30s. First, it was Sermon on the Mount, a challenging and transforming study I highly recommend to everyone. Then Joshua. And, man, does Jen make you work. No spoon feeding, no feel-good, no all about me. It’s a deep dive into learning to study and understand scripture for yourself through comprehension, interpretation, and application—no study Bible allowed. I learned the value of reading through an entire book several times to get the big picture along with better personal study skills.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
After 20 years of being in the Word near-daily, I realize that the more I know the more there is yet to learn. Knowing God through his Word is a lifelong pursuit. And there’s a clear directive for us to learn to understand the Word for ourselves, aided by the Holy Spirit, rather than relying on others to teach us.
We are fortunate to live in an age with a wide range of physical and digital tools to help us in personal study. I’ve tried many of them. These may be favorite.
The new Illuminated Scripture Journals from Crossway provide a useful, beautiful tool for in-depth personal study and reflection guided by scripture and the Holy Spirit.
Introducing Crossway’s Illuminated Scripture Journal Set
Crossway generously provided me with this set of New Testament Illuminated Scripture Journals to review. I was positively giddy to receive them. The colors are vibrant, the gold-foil cover illustrations lovely and steeped with meaning, and the blank pages give so much room to write (or illustrate, if art is your thing). Plus, I’m always a sucker for lay-flat binding and grid-dot lines. They’re just so functional.
The New Testament is covered in 19 journals. The shorter books like 1, 2, and 3 John are combined into a single volume. The scripture is presented in the ESV, a word-for-word translation that’s popular with many scholars and preachers right now. ESV has been my go-to for several years. The scripture is presented on the left page with a blank page on the right for journaling and extra blank pages at the end. Text illustrations in the sidebar call attention to key themes and passages in each book.
Thoughtful, artistic cover illustrations were created by Dana Tanamachi, a world-renowned lettering artist and designer. Each volume includes a cover wrapper that describes the meaning behind the art and what themes it represents from the book.
My personal favorites are these covers for Galatians (a starry sky representing God’s faithfulness to Abraham, which Paul references in his letter) and 1-2 Timothy and Titus (a tree symbolic of being ready in and out of season).
The scripture journals are available individually for $5.99 each or in a set for $99.99. If you’re not into the rainbow colors, they do also come in black.
Three Reasons I Love the Illuminated Scripture Journals
The first reason I love these journals is all the space to write. I annotate and reflect pretty extensively, and the two-inch margins in my journaling Bible don’t even cut it any more. Case in point:
All this room to write fuels my ability to conduct personal study (and not lose my notes).
Second, having a separate journal for each book of the New Testament provides focus for ongoing study. I love that I can read the book of Ephesians cover-to-cover like a book, or rather like a scroll that was passed from church to church 2,000 years ago. This both breaks scripture into manageable chunks and puts it back into the format in which it was originally intended to be read.
Third, these journals are so portable! In our church plant’s weekly community group, we’ve been studying and discussing the book of James. My James journal is small and fits easily in my purse. And, even better, I have all of my personal study notes handy to help me contribute thoughtfully to the group discussion.
Gift Yourself or Someone Else
These individual journals or the full set make a great gift—for someone else or to yourself! Consider using them for:
- Personal study with annotation, outlining, reflection
- Praying scripture and journaling
- Artwork and creative journaling
- Personal reflection to scripture
- In-depth study of one book
- Reading the entire book, repeated readings
I expect I’ll be getting years of study, and an eternity of truth, out of these little beauties. Go find your copies on Crossway, Amazon, or ChristianBook.com today!