The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews
The Character Reference Bible Kit Review by Melanie ReynoldsJean McPherson
Character Reference Bible
294 River Drive
How do you teach your children principles from the Bible? Many of us, as parents, desire to teach not only the great truths and stories of the Bible to our kids but also specific character traits that godly and faithful people embody. What if you had collections of verses marked in your Bible along with questions which enabled your family members to not only learn these instructions but to review their own habits and behavior in light of the Bible’s teachings? If that sounds appealing to you, then you will be interested in The Character Reference Bible Kit from Character Reference Bible. This kit includes a beautiful journaling Bible with wide margins, the Character Reference Bible Study Guide, 297 sturdy laminated tabs, 362 question labels, three positioning guides, and two guide stickers. Complete Bibles and kits can be purchased (both the ESV and NKJV for $75, and the NASB for $65), or just the Universal Kit (containing the tabs, stickers, positioning guides, and study guide) without the Bibles (for $45). For the purposes of this review, we received the ESV softcover Bible and the Universal Kit, which supplied everything we needed to create our own Character Reference Bible for our family and individual studies.
I found that this Bible and study materials came along at just the perfect moment for us. Our family has read and studied the Bible together for years, whether it is for devotionals, bedtime reading, or during our homeschool studies. Yet I have noticed that with a teen who is in high school, we are discussing and looking up specific traits, qualities, and matters of faith in the Bible more than ever before. I was truly delighted to discover that there is a Bible and its accompanying study materials which are just what we needed for this time. What I have learned is that they are not simply perfect for teaching and aiding our son in his growth, but in our own (as parents) study and personal development as well!
The Character Reference Bible Kit came to me unassembled with all the materials I listed above; the ESV Bible (specifically the Single Column Journaling Bible Large Print with a gorgeous, leaf-embossed cover) and laminated tabs, the study guide, question labels, and positioning guides. Here is a little more information about the kit and materials:
- The Character Reference Bible Study Guide is a softcover, comb-bound 97-page book. It has instructions on how to assemble the tabs/study materials into the Bible along with full-color pictures to further guide the user. The rest of the book is devoted to Bible studies on 20 life issues (such as money, parenting, speech, forgiveness, salvation, friends) and character qualities (like honesty, purity, obedience, gentleness, love). The Bible studies include specific Bible verses along with self-examination questions (for example, “Do I treat all people with kindness and concern?”). Under each Bible verse, there are also four Bible application questions that help the readers to see if they are doing or not doing what the verses instruct.
- The 297 laminated tabs are self-adhesive and include Bible verse addresses and character qualities or issues. They are designed to be attached to the pages the verses are located on. They are also keyed to colors; brown for problem-solving, green for honesty, blue for humility, yellow for parenting, orange for purity, etc.
- The 362 question labels are printed on adhesive labels and go along with specific verses. They are intended to be adhered on the Bible pages along with the laminated tabs. They enable families and individuals to think more deeply on the issues studied. While studying courage, a reader might find this question, “Do I trust the Lord to take care of me? Can I be courageous when I know I am following God’s commands?” Or this question about pride, “What does God see in my heart?”
- Positioning guides help the user to align all the tabs of a one color in the same spot on various pages, so that when one is looking for a specific topic, it can be seen at a glance which tabs are about that topic by finding its color. There are three of these positioning guides because the tabs will be applied along the top and bottom edges as well as the side edge of the Bible.
- The ESV Bible has a relatively large print, as well as a 1 ¾” lined journal area on each outer edge of the pages. This provides not only spots for placing the question stickers but for the reader to write notes or impressions in the Bible.
The company’s website states that putting the Bible and all the tabs and stickers together takes about 40 hours, and that it can be done section by section (that is, applying the tabs and stickers as a topic is studied) or it can be done in large sections. I chose to assemble the Bible over several Saturday afternoons, spending about 2-3 hours at a time. (It took about 4 Saturdays in total.) You will also need some additional supplies (a paring knife for making a crease in each tab; coloring pencils to color-code verses to tabs; scissors to cut out the stickers and tabs) as well as a flat surface to work on. The company recommends paper clips for aligning tabs correctly, but I just used a regular pencil and eraser instead with the positioning guides (lightly marking where the tabs would go, applying the stickered tab, then erasing any extra marks left over). That worked perfectly well for me. The study guide is necessary to use while applying the tabs, as it has each specific Bible verse noted but not the Bible books (only the numbers and character qualities are printed on the tabs, no doubt due to lack of space). I found that the assembly directions included in the study guide were clear enough, but there are also videos at http://www.characterreferencebible.com/ if more help is required.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this process; cutting out the tabs, applying them in the right spots, reading the Bible verses and thinking about the application questions as I worked. It was very, very enriching for me. But I also must tell you that I am a person who enjoys crafts and Bible study, both. It might be a bit more time-consuming or cumbersome for someone who does not enjoy those pastimes. But the result will be utterly worth the time, in yielding a fantastic study Bible as well as the personal benefit of looking all the verses up as the Bible is tabbed and stickered. (Bibles which are already completely assembled can be purchased from http://www.characterreferencebible.com/ for $400.)
However, as much as I enjoyed the assembling process, the real purpose of the Character Reference Bible is for us to learn and to grow, as families or individuals. And for that, it is just so effective. The different character quality studies have three to seven verses apiece. That makes it not too much work or information for the younger members of the family while still giving older children or teens (and parents!) powerful teaching and guidance. It gives instruction on our relationships with God, with other people, and in our own character. My son said it was “epic.” And I was deeply impacted as well. In fact, just this week in study time with the Character Reference Bible, I was personally convicted about one character quality, and two ways that I was interacting with other people. What an incredible tool!
The Character Reference Bible Kit is just what I was looking for to address specific traits, corrections, and fruits of the Spirit in our daily homeschool Bible times. It enables us to focus on specific character qualities and areas of growth I (or we) can see we need to learn more about; to know what God wants for us and would like to see us move towards. That way, we can move through the book quality by quality. And even though my son is a teen, we focus on only one or two verses each time. One could certainly do all the verses in each section together. But I subscribe to the water fountain rather than the fire hydrant method of personal correction and teaching. I would rather my son and I focus on personal evaluation and application of just a couple of verses rather than a lot at a time, or too many to take in at once. That enables us to place our attention on just a couple of things that God might be showing us today. And I am really seeing spiritual growth as a result. I thought that the correction from these verses and questions might be a bit too strong for us (we are all sensitive folks). But I have found that you can count on the Holy Spirit to bring correction in the learning process tenderly and kindly. It has truly been a pleasure. And the book, and all that we are seeing God do with it, is wonderful.
So, who would benefit from the Character Reference Bible Kit? Families (with children of any age) who are looking for fantastic Bible devotional materials. High school students or young people heading to college or out on their own will find this invaluable. New believers who are just becoming grounded in their faith will love its clear, simple, yet powerful instructions. Homeschoolers who want to spend time teaching Bible study and application to their children; or even who are looking for a character study will value the Character Reference Bible Kit. Really, even people who want to develop excellent personal character would find this useful. We have loved it; and we are looking forward to using it for years to come!
--Product review by Melanie Reynolds, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2019