Bonus: Episode 10 – Exploring Study Bibles for Your Older Children

In this BONUS episode we explore some of the many different study Bibles available. We include eBibles, apps, and online Bible resources as well. Pastor Dave Brown joins again today for this discussion.

Books Discussed in This Episode:


Terrie: Welcome to Books to Spark, a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. I’d like to introduce you to our guest today. His name is Pastor Dave Brown. He is my husband, and he has been a pastor in the ministry for over 35 years, 15 of those years, he was a missionary pastor in Taipei, Taiwan. He has a website called Finding God and speaks regularly about prayer, our search for God, and seeking after God’s heart with all of our hearts. We’re going to be talking about study Bibles today. As your children get older, you may want to get them a really good study Bible. We have several that we like, and we have four kids and got them all different study Bibles. And so, we have a lot to share with you today about Bible resources and study Bibles. Let’s just dive right in. What is your favorite study Bible?

Dave: Actually, my favorite study Bible is the Life Application Study Bible. And I like it because I can access it on my phone or my iPad through Tecarta Bible. I’m able to access that and I have access to just about everything they’ve got, which I love. And the reason I like it is because you have your scripture text in the translation. New Living Translation is what the standard Life Application comes in. And the other thing I like about it is the resources are always there right around the place that you’re reading. So when you’re reading about a particular place, you know, maybe the first missionary journey of Paul you’ll have a map that actually shows that missionary journey right there, where you’re reading, instead of having to dig to the back of the, of the book to find the map, you actually have it right where you need it. And so, I love that and they, they even have that same function in the online version or the cell phone version. Should you decide to go that route? So that’s my favorite.

Terrie: Yeah. I liked that one too, because they also have a timeline, and I’m always needing a timeline to keep track of the order of the history of things. And, you know, the Jewish Bible was not really linear. And so, it helps me to see a timeline and keep all the stories in the right chronological order in my mind. And then the other thing I like about the Life Application Study Bible is it has character studies of the different characters in the Bible and talks about their strong qualities and their weaknesses, and the synopsis of each book is also really good in the Life Application Bible. And, of course, the whole point of the Life Application Study Bible is life application, to challenge our kids and ourselves as we’re being discipled and discipling to apply the word of God to our lives day by day. That’s what we’re after anyway. So, I think, practically speaking, the New Living Translation is easy to understand. It’s easy to teach, it’s easy to learn. And then you have the life application part of that, as well as a lot of background information, the maps, the timeline, the character studies, and also they often put in parallel scriptures and Old Testament compared to New Testament on the same subject and stuff like that. It’s really a beneficial study Bible. I really like it too. My other favorite one is the Master Study Bible, and I have used it so much that mine has fallen apart. The cover is no longer with us, but the Master Study Bible is typically the New American Standard Bible. And so, I do like that. Like I said before, I like to do my word studies in the New American Standard, but it has a Bible Encyclopedia as part of the study Bible. And so that’s really awesome when you first start studying the Bible to have a concordance and an encyclopedia right there with your Bible where you can go and look up words and try to understand what you’re reading and what the story is all about is just excellent. And I first got this when I very first started discipling other people. My mom bought this for me, and I have just used it and worn it out like crazy, but it’s an excellent one for your high school and older kids. I think the Master Study Bible is phenomenal.

Dave: I’d like to also mention my other favorite, which, and Terrie mentioned the Master Study Bible. This is a pretty old study Bible. This is one of the study Bibles that was popular maybe in the 1970s and 1980s. And another one that was really popular back then was the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. And I had one of those. I still do have it. It’s in my office. And I absolutely love it. What I loved about that is it, it has just umpteen number of resources. You know, some of its archaeological resources, they have character studies and word studies and all of these different things. When you pick up the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, half of the Bible is all these other resources, which to me is just phenomenal. Absolutely love Thompson Chain Reference. These are the older versions of study Bible–some of the earlier versions that came out

Terrie: For our daughter who is often on mission trips overseas, we felt that she needed a Bible where she could get a quick reference if she needed to counsel with someone or help them with a situation. And so, we got her The Help Finder Bible: God’s Word at Your Point of Need. And this Bible has many tools in the front of the Bible for if you’re counseling with someone or ministering to someone, and they have a question and you want to find a quick reference for that. For instance, it says, “disagreements, discernment, discipline, dignity,” and then it has verses that go with each of those subjects. “What is the purpose of discipline? How does God discipline his children?” And it has verses that answer these questions. And so, especially with someone who’s young in high school, college, getting ready to do mission trips and they are not totally at ease and comfortable with trying to find a verse on the spur of the moment, this Bible is a really handy reference for trying to find the different verses that go with different situations, different questions that people might have. “How can I be sure of my salvation? Is salvation available to everyone? How can I be saved?” And “how can I deal with stress and pressure? Should I be surprised by the stress of life?” So, these are all questions that are in the front of this Bible, and then it has the Old and the New Testament. And each beginning of the book has information about that book and what you’ll be reading about. So, it gives you an outline for each of the books of the Bible. This one just happens to be paperback. So it was lightweight for carrying in her suitcase as she went to Asia. So, it’s a great little reference study Bible, more of a reference Bible.

I have another one that I really like, and this one is called The Evidence Bible. It’s compiled by Ray Comfort. Kirk Cameron wrote the forward in it, but it has such great information in between the passages for talking about how to use apologetics. When you’re talking to people to answer their questions about how we know that the Bible is real, it’s irrefutable evidence for the thinking mind. And I think it’s really well done. And one that’s similar to that, that we bought for two of our kids and for our daughter’s boyfriend is the Apologetics Bible. And so that one also has throughout the text. It has little notes for how to talk to people, answer their questions about the Bible, answer their questions about why we believe what we believe and to use apologetics, to answer people’s questions. And so, I think especially today, when people haven’t been raised necessarily with the Bible and knowing what all it says to be equipped and to be prepared, to know how to answer their questions is always beneficial. Okay. Do you have another one you’d like to talk about?

Dave: Yeah, actually I have several because I have the Tecarta Bible on my iPhone. It’s an app. I have multiple translations that I’m able to download, so I don’t have to be online. You can get it, you can access most of these for free that translations you can, but the study Bibles, you usually have to buy those. But I have several study Bibles that I really like that I’m able to access and they’re on my phone. This is what I love about modern technology, you know, with iPads and Kindles and stuff like that. You can take a whole library of your books with you in one little device. And here I have, I have four different study Bibles in my iPad that I can both access because of Tecarta. And I have the Life Application that I mentioned a minute ago. I also have the Lucado Life Lessons Bible, a study Bible. I have Maxwell Leadership Bible, which if any of you are familiar with John Maxwell and his leadership principles and stuff, this is a study Bible that actually shows you the different leadership elements throughout scripture. And it’s incredible. And then of course, those of you who love Charles Stanley, probably the most famous most popular TV preacher on television. He has The NASB Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Study Bible. And I like Charles Stanley because it’s very practical. I like the Life Application because the commentary notes, the explanations of the text are very application oriented, which I love that. And Charles Stanley’s Study Bible, The Life Principle Study Bible is the very same way it deals with daily life principles and how the Bible answers those. And these are incredible study Bibles. It’s like they have a study Bible for everything now. And I just love that, you know, that you can, if you want to find a Bible that a study Bible that helps you to focus on a specific thing like apologetics or like archaeology, or like, you know, leadership or all of these different things, you’ll be able to find just about anything you want. It’s just determining if you like the author and the notes that they’re going to write. And the fact is there so many out there you’re bound to find something good and helpful for you.

Terrie: And speaking of archaeology, for our other son who wants to be a history teacher we got him The Archaeology Study Bible, which gives you a whole lot of the historical and archaeological background for the scriptures and the setting in which they were written and took place. And so, we got him that study Bible because that’s where his heart is and what he’s interested in. I also have the amplified study Bible, and I also have a Jewish study Bible. So, I have a lot of different study Bibles for the different situations. And then another study Bible that I think would be wonderful to give to your children who love art, the study Bibles, where you illustrate them, where you put the journaling and the pictures into the Bible. And so, I have the Christian Standard [Notetaking] Bible and it has on every single page, a place to write notes. And then you have certain pages that are blank for you to draw pictures. And so, our daughter who’s an artist would just love this and being able to write all over her Bible and draw pictures, and I do the same thing. So, this is fun to have, and it’s like making the Bible your own and really taking ownership for it. So, when you’re looking for study Bibles, you want to also check some of them have the version. That’s just the regular version. And then they have one that’s a special version for students. And these are usually geared toward middle school and older. So, you want to make sure that they’re appropriate for the age of your child. If you are wanting to get a study Bible for your child, who’s still in elementary school or better yet. If you’re wanting to get a Bible that you can use as a family to study together for your family devotions, there’s a couple out there. A Family Worship Bible Guide includes the text of the Bible. It includes daily prayer, time, daily singing and praise and daily devotionals in scripture, reading together as a family, you can also use a simple One Year Bible Reading Plan to go through the Bible with your family. Another one that is just a guide for doing family devotionals, but this one has a guide for using the Bible for your family devotions and how you can keep your children engaged in the conversation and can open up conversations with your kids for Bible study. Now for the younger children, there’s of course The Discoverer’s Bible. There’s several different Bibles geared toward children of different ages. And last time, like we mentioned, there’s the very young Bedtime Devotions with Jesus Bible. And then we have, you can go a step above there with the adventure Bible and there’s different ones that will step up until you get to these study Bibles for your middle school, high school and college age children.

Dave: There’s one here, the NIRV, the Study Bible for Kids. And this one is put out by Zondervan it’s for younger kids, and it has pictures and stuff like that, but it has helpful tools and things like that to help kids who are, are learning to read the Bible. It’s written at a third-grade reading level. And so it’s perfect for learning those learning to read. It’s got colorful artwork, easy to read Bible text and fun features.

Terrie: We used to use this in one of the schools where I taught it is like a paraphrase of the NIV. So, it is more of a paraphrase, but it is excellent for that very young reader who is just learning to tackle the Bible. So that is something to consider. And so, it’s really well written. And of course, the NIV is a great translation. So it isn’t, you know, bad. It’s just be aware of what you’re getting when you get that for your child. And so, it is one that’s great for the third grade level. If they’re at sixth grade level, the NLT new living translation, and if they’re at 11th grade level, then you can go into any of them. But the NASB is the 11th grade level.

Dave: There’s a New Believers Bible. So if your kids become Christians and they have just invited Christ into their life where maybe, you know, someone in your church who has just become a new Christian, who’s a young believer, the New Believers Bible would be a good one for them. It’ll have some helpful tools and helping them kind of get through the beginning phases and the challenges that a new believer deals with, you know, cause this study Bible will be able to help you with some of those things. There are so many different possible choices: Life Journey Bible, you know, the Life Connect Bible. There are some really cool study Bibles here. The NIV Student Bible is a good one for students so that if you’re especially dealing with your children or you’re dealing with you know, middle schoolers or high school students, there are so many choices. You just have to kind of go check them out and see what best appeals to where you think they are and what they need to hear.

Terrie: Yeah. And that’s what we did with our kids. We looked at what our children were interested in and what would best meet their needs as they were studying the Bible. And that’s how we came to decide what we were going to get them.

Dave: They even have some that are gender related to a particular gender of a teenager. Like here’s the Revolution Bible for Teen Guys, which I think is nice. So, it deals with, you know, girls and boys and especially in their teenage years have different focus and different needs. And so this would be a good one for them.

Terrie: Yeah. That one, the devotionals that are in the margins of the book are geared toward guys, and they have one that’s geared more towards girls.

Dave: Yeah. It’s the True Images, The Bible for Teen Girls.

Terrie: Yeah. And so those are cool. I think we got one for our younger daughter at one point. There’s a lot of material out there. If you have any questions about them, feel free to shoot me an email or put a question in the comments, and I’ll try my best to answer your question. We’ve done a lot of research on a lot of different Bibles because we wanted to get good study Bibles for our own kids over the years. And so, we’ve researched a lot, and I’ve had so many different ones that I’ve liked over the years that I’ve used for study and for preparing. ‘Cause I write Bible studies and write devotionals and as well as my children’s books, so I have a lot of good study Bibles at my fingertips all the time. I hope this has been helpful to you. And as Dave was mentioning for you as the parent, there are some excellent online Bible study materials that are free, that you can access. Of course, you can always go to BibleGateway or which is also a crosswalk. Yeah, but there’s also the, a sword ESword has commentaries. It has the Naves Topical Index. They have Bible dictionaries, word studies. So those are available online for free. And then you use Tecarta. You said? Where can they find that? Is that a free one?

Dave: It’s a free app on your phone. And some of the translations are free. If you have data on your phone, then you can access all the translations for free, as long as you’re streaming, as long as you’re able to, to use the internet, but you can download them onto your phone so that if you don’t have access to the internet and some of those you need to buy, but you have access to all of these different Bible study Bibles on the Tecarta. So you can have multiple study Bibles in your phone and have access to all of those and be able to access them very easily.

Terrie: We want you, of course, as we’re going through the Books that Spark podcast, to first, the most important book that we can introduce our children to is the Bible and to get them excited about knowing and reading and memorizing the Bible. And as we teach our kids, we get more excited about the Bible as well, and can dig in deep. And I love digging in deep to the word of God and just really learning more and more and more about the heart of God as we study the Bible together.

Dave: I would like to do a pitch for a book that is geared towards Bible study. If you can get your children to love to study the Bible, we have all of these study Bibles, which are wonderful, but there is a tool that I have used for years. It was the first one like it that ever came out written by Rick Warren called the Bible Study Methods. And in that, in that book, he talks about the different ways of studying the Bible. There’s the devotional method and thematic studies and word studies and, and chapter studies, character studies and biographical studies, all these different study methods. And one of the things he says just to whet your appetite is he says the answer to studying the Bible is learning to ask the right questions. And he tells you what questions you need to ask for each of these Bible study methods. And he also shows you the resources that you will most likely need for each of those Bible study methods. So, it’s a wonderful book still in print. After 25, 30 years, it’s been a tremendous resource. And so, I highly recommend that to you. Bible Studies by Rick Warren.

Terrie: I hope that this will challenge you to dig deep into the Bible and share it with your kids. Thank you for joining us for books that spark a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions. I hope our discussion will spark meaningful conversations with the children in your life. You can sign up for my mailing list to get weekly reminders of this podcast. And my blog, my website is When you join my mailing list, you automatically have several freebies that you can download and enjoy with your kids.

Our Guest:

Pastor Dave Brown
Dave is the English pastor at Life Change Baptist Church in San Leandro, California. The church has Indonesian, Mandarin, and English congregations. He is my husband, and he has been a pastor in the ministry for over 35 years, 15 of those years, he was a missionary pastor in Taipei, Taiwan. He has a website called Finding God and speaks regularly about prayer, our search for God and seeking after God’s heart with all of our hearts.

Your Host:

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials. Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, and discussion. For more information, visit her website at

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