Note: I’m writing this post from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. It’s a bucket-list place, filled with ancient history, modern technology, and more than a few breath-taking encounters with the written and living Word. I first wrote about the museum several years ago, right after it opened. For my “top five” reasons to visit, click here. And if you want a chance to win a copy of my favorite Bible, keep reading!
What’s the best Bible?
I guess everyone has their favorite version or style, and if you visit the Museum of the Bible, you can see what lots of kings liked, from James to Elvis to the great-grandma of Henry V:
I respect their picks. But for me, it’s the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. Back before there was Google—before anyone had ever heard of a search engine—this workhorse got the job done.
The book was chock full of tools like a concordance for finding specific words, colored maps to get the lay of the land in the ancient world, book-by-book outlines, and character studies. All super engaging and helpful.
But what made this particular Bible so very special was the chain reference system. I have no idea how they did it, but a bunch of brainiacs put their heads together and came up with a way to let regular folks navigate Scripture and discover what God had to say about more than 8,000 different topics, from sibling relationships to handling money to what our heavenly home will really be like.
With the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, you didn’t need a seminary degree or even a commentary to understand Scripture, as valuable as those things may be. Instead, you could open to any page in the Bible, follow the links, and let God’s Word reveal and interpret itself.
Alert readers will note that I’m writing in the past tense. It’s true. I loved my old chain reference Bible, and I used it to help me write all my books. I used it so much, in fact, that after more than 30 years it started falling apart.
Not even duct tape could help anymore.
Which is why I was so very excited to get my hands on the brand new, UPDATED edition of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. It’s available in several translations, with different cover styles, sizes, and fonts (hello, Comfort Print!). To celebrate its release, I am GIVING AWAY a copy of the MacDaddy version: Genuine goatskin leather, gilded page edges, ribbon markers—the works!
This particular style costs almost as much as my first car, but you can access the entire collection, with all the different price points and features, by clicking here. (And heads up: All the versions are on sale at FaithGateway between now and the new year!)
Am I grateful for Google, and for online resources like BibleGateway? Of course I am. But for anyone who wants to discover God’s heart as it’s revealed in the actual pages of Scripture—whether you’re doing a topical study, preparing a talk, or just enjoying a quiet morning with God—I don’t think you’ll find a better study Bible than this.
…and then drop a comment letting me know your favorite Bible story/verse/character and tag someone who’s helped cultivate your love for God’s Word.
Speaking of loving God’s Word…
Do you have a reading plan for 2023?
Not to get all judge-y about it, but as one of my mentors used to say, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you want a Bible reading plan for the new year, here are two of my favorites:
The Bible in One Year. Whether you prefer your daily readings delivered via email, phone app, or podcast, this step-by-step tour takes you through every chapter and verse in the Bible, with reflections and prayer prompts from the always engaging Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. Robbie and I have “done” this reading plan several times; it never gets old—plus, it’s kinda cool to know that you’re reading the same parts of God’s Word with over a million people, worldwide, every day! Click here to learn more or to access your free subscription.
Search the Scriptures. If you’re looking for a slightly slower pace, you might enjoy Alan Stibb’s book, Search the Scriptures. It takes you through the entire Bible in three years, not one, and Stibbs offers questions for reflection and biblical cross-references for deeper study. I’m wrapping up Year One of this book and I love it, but I do have three caveats:
First, the book isn’t cheap. It’s nearly $34 on Amazon. But if you break that down into three years (or get it for Christmas!), it becomes almost a bargain. 🙂
Second, the thing is a doorstop, heavy and thick. I took my copy to Kinkos and had it chopped into three parts (one per year) and spiral bound, which provides the added benefit of giving you something that will lay flat as you read.
Third, Stibbs provides thoughtful questions—but he doesn’t give us the answers. Consider “doing” the book with a friend or two, and compare notes. I’m super grateful to my pal Margaret for her spiritual insights (and for the fact that she almost never misses a day, which is more than I can say for myself). Click here if you’d like to try Search the Scriptures yourself.
Okay, enough pictures of Bibles. I know you’ve got wrapping and baking to do. But don’t forget the Bible giveaway—which, by the way, is exclusive to our email friend group; it’s my Christmas present to one of you! 😊 We’ll pick the winner on Sunday 12/18 and announce in my stories that afternoon. That way, I can head to the post office on Monday, with all of the last minute gift-mailers, and send the book on it’s way!