Friday, July 9, 2021

Summoned

 One of the new bible studies in Moody Publishers Women's Bible Studies is Summoned by Megan Brown. Megan is a military wife and bible teacher who also works with Cru Military. Like many of Moody Women's bible authors, she also attended Moody Bible Institute.



So this Bible Study is 8 weeks long and focuses on the book of Esther. While we tend to know the story of Esther (Vashti, Xerxes, Mordecai, and Haman), Megan takes a different approach to this well-studied book. 

Megan approaches this study with the intent to help readers/studiers learn how to study the bible. She starts with basic definitions and identifies materials that can be used in bible study. Then she delves into simple questions that are meant to draw a new believer into studying the Word more. 


The bible study is fairly good, albeit there are quite a few "me" focused questions. I personally would have liked more on the interpretative side of bible study rather than so much on the application end of it. However, I am a more seasoned bible student and this bible study is geared more towards a beginner bible student. 


If I were to recommend this bible study to a person, it would be to someone new to bible study who is looking to get consistent in studying on a daily basis. I would tell more seasoned students of the Word to look elsewhere as they would likely want more meat and higher focus on God than self.



{FYI: Please note that I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.}


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Extraordinary Power of Praise

 I was so excited to receive a copy of this bible study from Moody Publishers!

While this bible study has a video teaching companion, you do not need the teaching videos.


The whole purpose of this study is to use praise to combat anxiety. 

Becky guides us into six weeks of digging into the Psalms. The first week is on facing our fears because you cannot overcome anxiety and fear until you identify what it is you fear and apply God's truth to mitigate the fear.

The second week is giving us perspective on waiting while we worship. One source of anxiety is having to wait. We live in a microwave society. We want God to show up when we want Him to rather than waiting on His good and perfect timing. 

The third week delves into lamenting with authenticity. Lamenting is another word grief and to mourn. There is always a right and wrong way to do everything including grieving. We can allow our grief to overtake us and drown out God OR we can place our grief in proper perspective allow God to be God even over it.  

The fourth week leads us into seeing how praising God leads to contentment. One of the greatest things we can do is be content. Although society would have you believe that you should always be reaching for more, more, more. Rather than reaching for the kingdom of heaven and allowing more to be added unto you in God's timing.

The fifth week is on JOY. Joy comes from the Father. So it's only right to seek Him to rekindle the joy in your life.

The final week of the study is on living in victory. See Jesus already claimed victory, so we can live from a place of victory rather than trying to fight for it.


If you choose to watch the teaching videos, there is a listening guide in the appendix of the book. For me this study is not completed in 6 weeks but rather in about 12 weeks. I have a full plate and can only delve in small bites so it often takes me 2 days per day of the study.

I do recommend it, especially for those who are struggling with anxiety and those who are always seeking more. Sometimes you need to stop and seek Jesus. 



As always, please note I did receive a copy of this bible study from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, June 21, 2021

Life Lessons and Love Language

 


The life lessons from Gary Chapman. This one is good. 
It is his life story after he's helped so many of us win in relationships.
And the best part is that it is in his own words, so it's not anyone's assumption or interviews but Gary Chapman on Gary Chapman. Autogbiography's are the best.

His story is broken down into five sections. The first section focusing on his upbringing and its impact on his life. The second section focusing on his education at Moody in Chicago, Wheaton in Wheaton IL, then in Colorago, and at both southeastern & southwestern baptist seminary. The third section focuses on the life lessons he gleaned during marriage. The fourth section focuses on his parenting journey and what he learned while raising his children. The last section focuses on his work in ministry and the many lessons he gleaned. 

While I'll be honest I'm no fan of southern baptist churches, I do appreciate Gary Chapman and that helped me to get through the book and enjoy the lessons and glean from the lessons he shares with us.

Definitely a solid read and worth reading.


{FYI: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.}

Monday, April 5, 2021

LIFE

LIFE, a new devotional recently released by Lisa Harper caught my eye, with its bright pink cover and its tag line: 

An Obsessively Grateful, Undone by Jesus, Genuinely Happy, and Not Faking it Through the Hard Stuff Kind of Devotional


Yet, it is not exactly what I was expecting in a devotional. It's one that relies more on the author's stories, experiences, and anecdotes rather than scripture. And it goes fairly off base in translations (to one I'd never heard of or used) to find the word happy in the Bible. 

I struggle with reading it because off the bat, as Christians, we aren't called to being "happy" but we are called to JOY. Happy relies on emotions and circumstances but joy relies on God and therefore it isn't turbulent or fickle. And yet Harper takes us to this place of trying to make happy the goal justifying it by using that there are words in scripture that are in the "happy" family.

I'm sure there are some people who would love this devotional because of the seeming transparency but yet I do not see the transformation in it nor the focus on Jesus rather than self.




FYI: I received this devotional from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.


Friday, March 19, 2021

Seeking Him

 All of life comes down to one thing:

who or what are you seeking?



Are you seeking self? Are you seeking riches?

Or perhaps, you are seeking first His kingdom and righteousness? Perhaps you are like David, a man (woman) after God's own heart?
Perhaps you are indeed seeking HIM.

Seeking Him is a 12-week Bible study written by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom. 
12 weeks of seeking God, seeking Him deeper, more abundantly. Seeking His heart and not His hand. Seeking to know and be known by Him.

Each week focuses on an aspect of God's character and how that looks not just on HIM but in our lives because as His creation we are to be image-bearers. To bear God's image is more than just appearance but it is in the fruit of our lives. 

The first week sets the foundation. Personal revival. We often think we need some white tent for revival but honestly, revival is a heart posture. You could be in the white tent but without the heart posture, you'll simply be a spectator rather than a participant.

Then, the weeks of the study flow into humility, honesty, repentance, forgiveness, grace, holiness, obedience, having a clear conscience, sexual purity (which starts at pursuing whole life purity), a spirit-filled life, and a life of personal devotion (one where your life is marked by devotion to God). 

These are foundational, maybe a bit out of order, as I would have not have limited purity to just sexual purity but whole life purity that is founded upon God's principles rather than simply sex because we do not want to scar people any further than "purity culture" already has.

Even with that hiccup, still a pretty solid book. And one worth studying through in your faith walk.

To read a quick excerpt before purchasing, click here, be sure to click free sample.





And as always, please note that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Moody Publishers, in exchange for my honest opinion.




Kitchen Table Devotions

 So, what if your family devotions went through the bible from A-Z?

What that be fun?



And here enters, Kitchen Table Devotions by Sergey Sologub. 

This is a light devotional made just for families, especially those with younger ones who can correlate the alphabet with these devotions or those learning about the bible for the first time.

The book is first broken down into three sections. The first one sets the foundation for "why" to adhere to family worship. The second one is where the devotions lie. And the third section is the "for good measure" section, where we are sure what's being planted is not only in good soil but that the soil is watered. 

There are 26 devotions. One for each letter of the alphabet. The devotions are short because as most parents know, children's attention spans are short. So no more than 2-4 pages per devotion. 

It's also a lightweight book so it can be easily tossed in a bag when travelling so that the family keeps up with their devotion no matter where life takes us each day. 

One of the best parts is that the word choice for each day is not predictable. Another is the style of writing. When reading, you can tell with ease that the author revers God and wants the reader to get to that same place of reverence. 

For family's who are just starting out with family worship and coming together for daily family devotions, I recommend you start here. Somewhere that sets a foundation for your family worship and devotions together. 

To read a quick excerpt before purchasing, click here.





And as always, please note that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Moody Publishers, in exchange for my honest opinion.




Monday, September 28, 2020

Conversations with Heather M Dixon

 There are few things that can make us feel as helpless as living with a story we don’t like. Life is rarely fair, and things happen beyond our control that impact our lives in negative ways. Maybe our story involves the loss of a loved one, an unwanted transition, a difficult diagnosis, or a dream that fell through. At one time or another, we all deal with disappointments and feel that we are being punished. For women searching for a glimmer of hope, Heather M. Dixon has written Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story (Abingdon Press)a four-week study diving into the life of Naomi from the Book of Ruth.

 
Dixon wrote Renewed for any woman that is carrying a difficult and life-altering story they did not choose and cannot change. She also wrote it for the woman who yearns to trust God’s sovereignty and His plan for her life even as she grieves and is angered by her circumstances. She believes that trusting God and grieving your story are not mutually exclusive. Dixon herself lives with incurable and terminal genetic disorder, so understands what it means to live a story that is not easy. With insight from her own journey, she teaches women to flourish even as they live hard stories through a willingness to trust that God can transform them and trade their heartache for hope. They will learn to rely on God’s movement in the details of their story, even when it can’t be seen, gain confidence to act in the part of their stories that they can change, and watch expectantly for God to redeem the parts they can’t.
 
Q: Most studies on the book or Ruth focus on Ruth and Boaz but Renewed looks at Naomi’s story. Why do you think Naomi’s story is such an important part of the book? 
 
I’ve always read and taught Ruth from Naomi’s perspective because ultimately, I think it’s her story. However, there are three main reasons why hers should be explored:
 
One, for all believers, a transformed heart is one of the key identifiers of life with Christ and as readers, we get to experience that journey with Naomi—from bitterness to renewed joy. Ruth and Boaz are beautiful characters, but they are rather stagnant. It’s Naomi that changes, and her transformation echoes that of anyone who has struggled with a hard story and found Jesus to be faithful along the way.
 
Two, from a literary perspective, there are a number of devices the author uses to indicate that Naomi’s story is the important one.
 
And three, it’s my personal belief that Naomi’s response to grief has often been judged too harshly. I wanted to give my readers a safe place to explore feelings of bitterness as they learned to look for God’s movement in their own story.
 
Q: Can you share more about your own story, specifically the part of your story you don’t like?
 
There are several pieces of my story that I could share with you that I don’t like, but the milestones would be when I lost my mother at the age of eleven, when my father died twenty years later, and when I was diagnosed with an incurable, connective tissue disorder that I inherited from my mother. We know now that this disorder is what took her life at thirty-seven. Doctors have told me that my own life expectancy is forty-eight.
 
I understand grief, loss, and life changes where you just have to close the door, determine not to look back, pick your head up, and keep going. But I also know the sweet and life-giving love of a Heavenly Father who fills our story with comfort, hope, and purpose, even when we feel that all is lost. God breathes renewed life into our weary souls, and that truth keeps me putting two feet on the floor in the morning, even when I still don’t like my story.
 
Q: How did your diagnosis change how you look at life? What does “living your life well” look like to you?
 
The answer is always evolving. At its core, it looks like waking up and knowing the next twenty-four hours might be my last. So, living my life well means pursuing ways that I can honor God, love my family, and serve my community until I lay my head to rest for the night. I fail at this everyday! But it gives me a sense of focus that I didn’t have before.
 
My diagnosis also changed my perspective on hardship. Anyone who has walked through any measure of suffering can quickly tell you what matters and what doesn’t. Things that might have seemed like a major problem before are now minor inconveniences that I know will pass. That’s a blessing.
 
Finally, my diagnosis has taught me to pursue bucket-list living. I’m much more spontaneous and carefree than I used to be, and I seek activities that will make lasting memories, big and small. A scoop of mint chocolate chip from the local ice cream shop is just as precious as a spur of the moment family vacation. I am thankful for each moment I have, which is something most people search for their entire lives.
 
Q: You write, “God doesn’t call plays out of a playbook from the clouds in the sky. He wants to walk with us along every step of our story, holding our hand when we are unsure of the plan.” What are some things we need to remember about God’s sovereignty when it comes to our story? 
 
This is one of the deepest blessings I have discovered walking through my hard story. God is a relational God—He seeks to walk every step with us. And we can trust Him with that path because in His sovereignty, He is also compassionate, merciful, and loving. We aren’t puppets in His playroom; we are His beloved daughters, whom He values and cherishes. Walking in intimacy with Him blesses us with peace, comfort, and joy. Another important truth about God’s sovereignty is that He has a master plan—for us and for His creation. We are a part of that plan, treasured pieces in a divine puzzle that will be complete when all things are renewed. He won’t let us stray off course, nor will He leave our lives to chance. Every moment matters to Him and He has a plan to renew every piece of our hard story.
 
Q: Have you always seen God working in the details of your story? Should we be looking for how God is moving or simply trust that he is?
 
No, yes, and yes. I wish I could tell you that I have always been aware of God moving in my story. There were seasons in my life, particularly the season after my father died, that I could not sense His presence. Was He moving in the details of my story then? Absolutely. My regret is that I allowed my earthly then vision to cloud my heavenly perspective. Which is why I am always in favor of looking for how God is moving.
 
I am emotional and fickle—prone to wander if I don’t see results. God knows this about me. It’s always in my best interest to keep my eyes open for God’s fingerprint. But the moments that I can’t see it are faith-builders; those are equally as valuable and help to build our trust in Him. So, yes we should always be looking for God’s movement and yes, we should always simply trust that He is.
 
Q: You share a suggestion for overcoming stress and anxiety that readers might not expect. What has helped you that you encourage others to try?
 
On nights when I am particularly anxious and have trouble going to sleep, a prayer that utilizes God’s gift of imagination often helps to settle my thoughts. I close my eyes and imagine a large field in front of me. Standing in the field are all the things bringing me anxiety, like current stressors in my life, confrontational moments, tensions with loved ones, worry about the unknown ahead, or health concerns. Whatever is renting negative space in my head at the moment, I imagine those things standing in my field.
 
Then, I imagine a giant hand and forearm lowering down to the field from the sky. Slowly, but steadily, the forearm wipes all my worries on the field away. The field empties and the hand gently opens, revealing soft and gentle wings. I climb into them, curling up to rest in their protection as they fold over me. In my imagination, the forearm, hand, and wings belong to God. I take several deep breaths and begin to meditate on verses about God’s kindness and refuge. This simple prayer exercise helps me to remember that God’s refuge and kindness are more powerful than my anxiety.
 
Q: What are some creative ways the study can be done in groups since we’re still supposed to be social distancing? Can a participant get just as much out of the study if doing it alone?
 
There are a handful of technological helps that will assist in group study during social distancing requirements. A few suggestions are:
  • Meet with your group virtually via Zoom, Facebook meeting rooms, or Google Meets.
  • Stay connected with each other, sharing prayer requests and thoughts throughout the week via a private Facebook group or text/email thread.
  • Take advantage of the resources available from Amplify Media, where you can access Renewed teaching videos, Abingdon Women and other Bible study video sessions, inspirational short videos, and children’s content available anywhere from any device. Amplify Media is a streaming service allowing churches large and small unlimited video access in order to discover, customize, and share diverse resources that encourage deeper discipleship and equip churches to pursue their mission with greater impact.
  • If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with pleasant weather, meet outside!
And yes, absolutely, a participant can get just as much out of the study doing it alone. The most efficient way to hear the voice of God is to immerse yourself in His Word. There is no substitute for this. I’ve had some of my most profound Bible study experiences sitting alone on my back porch, diligently walking through a study on my own. The group components for Renewed are there to enhance your study, but are certainly not a requirement.


 I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Heather M Dixon! And be sure to come back for the review of her new bible study. 🤗🤗🤗





Summoned

 One of the new bible studies in Moody Publishers Women's Bible Studies is Summoned by Megan Brown. Megan is a military wife and bible t...