New Bible Study Helps

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If you are anything like me, sometimes you get in a rut with your time in the Word.  Maybe not, but I know I do.  If I always study the Word in the same way, I get stale (not the Word).

So, I thought I would highlight some new(er) Bible study helps. Maybe these will be new to you, maybe you will have tried them and love them.

KJV Know the Word Study Bible.  This is a new Bible from Thomas Nelson.  I grew u with KJV at my Christian school.  The verses that I have memorized over the years are a hybrid of KJV, ESV, NIV, NASB.  One thing I love about technology these days is to read the Bible in so many different translations – and the KJV is a good one.  This new Bible has topical study notes on subjects: the Trinity, Love, Covenant, Purpose, Church, etc.  These are helpful if you are doing a topical study in your Bible study.  There are helpful footnotes on the bottom margin so you can access it easily as you are reading.  This Bible has book introductions which are helpful if you are doing a read through the Bible, you are getting a brief synopsis and knowledge about the book before you read it. So, if you want a very neutral (not personality-driven study Bible) this new one is a good, basic one.

The Daily Grace Co.  Kristin produces Bible studies that I think are ideal for the beginner.

She Reads Truth – this is an easy app that you can have on your phone right when you wake up, get in the Word right away, or you can purchase their Bible studies.  Solid material.

What are some Bible study tools that you use?

Thanks Litfuse and Thomas Nelson for the KJV Bible.  All thoughts are my own.

Big and Little Coloring Devotional

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When we set up our new home in late this summer, I knew I wanted to have a creative area for my boys.  A place where they could have coloring books, playdough, markers, colored pencils, etc – just waiting to sit and get all their creative juices out!

Well, we set up a little Goodwill table that I found before we moved, and put some bins of creative tools around it – and they sit their every day.  I love it.  I love having pieces of paper all around the house with scribbles and drawings on them.

Another great tool I’ve found for my boys is the Big and Little Coloring Devotional.  I found out about this devo coloring book from my friend Sarah on her podcast with the author Rachel Swanson.  Then I got to be a part of the launch team.  So much fun!

It is a top flip coloring book, made for two people to be coloring at once.  So, I’ve been sitting across from my older, him coloring, me coloring.  And the neat thing about this particular coloring book is that it is based on Scripture.  So, one side will have a (younger age) coloring page with God’s truth on it, the other page will have a more detailed coloring page with a short devotional on it.  These devotionals are perfect for you to read, be encouraged, and it may be a jumping off point for you to share these truths with your child – AS. YOU. COLOR!

Such a great activity for you and your child to do together.  And Christmas is coming – its a perfect gift for any mom of littles you know – I would say even up to 10yo or so – girl or boy.  So, grab some colored pencils, crayons, or markers, and get coloring – and shepherding your soul – and your child’s!

Counseling Under the Cross

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This October marks the 500th anniversary of what marks the beginning of the Reformation: the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door at Wittenberg.

New Growth Press and Bob Kellemen have offered a book that highlights some areas that can help all of us in our daily lives and for those of us in the business of Christian counseling, this book will help as well.

But, I would say, after knowing the personal help this book has given me, its encouragement, and its strength, that we all need to be in the business of counseling others with the Word of God – therefore, rightly, making all of us Christian counselors.

If we use the Word in our counseling, in our friendships, in our marriages, in our parenting, then we will have stronger and truer relationships because the Word of God is sufficient.  One of the marks of the Reformation was the 5 Solas – and one of them is Scripture Alone.  (I won’t go so far as to say that we don’t need any other kind of psychological help, but I do think the Word needs to be the base for all of our counseling.)

At first glance, I thought this book was out of my league.  But, then, as I sat with the table of contents, saw the method with which Bob tackled this topic, it was really quite user friendly and applicable.  He shares personal stories and letters of Luther to illustrate how he counseled with the Word of God alone – in these four areas: reconciliation, guidance, healing, and sustaining.  He broke up each one into the theology of Luther and then how Martin Luther put those theological ideas into practice with those he was in relationship with.

If you are looking for a new counseling book, or these topics (the 4 listed above) sound interesting to you, or you want to know more about the man and preacher and reformer, Martin Luther, then I really think this book will be helpful to you.

Thank you to Litfuse and New Growth Press for this book. All thoughts are my own.

 

The Bronte Plot

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I guess sometimes it is hard on your heart to read books about people who get to travel when you don’t get to do it anymore that often (and would really love to).

But, I really enjoyed the Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay.  Christian fiction without being sappy Christian-ese throughout the book.

A love of books and travel.

A family that has real problems – but not dismissing the problems but knowing that generational sin has an impact on us and what we do with it and its impact with shape our own lives.

Doubts with life and death.

And hope.  Hope is always fitting in a Christian fiction.  Not hope that all is going to work out perfectly.  But hope in a God who does all things well.  That’s of course where our hope lies.

I think my only thing I would do different in this book is not make the conclusion about 2 pages long.  I wanted a continuation of this book based on where it ended.  I would have liked that with her Dear Mr. Knightley too.  So, I guess that’s a good thing!  How about it Katherine Reay – sequels?

Gracelaced

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The kids wake you up all hours of the night.  Whether its night terrors, wet beds, loss of their stuffed animal, or maybe still night feedings.

You have an argument with your husband early in the morning that sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Your jeans don’t fit the way you want them to.

The car won’t start.

You burn the cookies.

You don’t love well.

You are anxious about meetings coming up in the coming day.

Whatever hits your world today, the Word of God is your hope.  Christ is your hope.

That’s why I think Gracelaced is a helpful book, no matter the season you are in.

If you are female – this book will meet you were you are.

Ruth is a watercolor and lettering artist, mom of lots of boys, wife, writer, believer.  I had the opportunity to meet her at the last TGCW conference.  Engaging in every way, in person and on the page.

She writes a devotional book for women that is full of truth – just overflowing with it. I know many women who don’t think they can understand deep theology.  Theology is just what you believe about God – the study of God.  And this book will help you grip tighter to your solid beliefs about God.

This book will help you rehearse the truth of the Word that your soul, your heart, and your mind, so desperately need!

And its pretty!

Other Gospel-rehearsing books for anyone to read:

The Gospel Primer

Cross-Centered Life

Dear Mr Knightley

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I think I might be becoming more of a fiction reader.  As long a its good fiction.

With being a mom and a creative and a wife, sometimes I don’t have the mental capacity to read a Christian living non-fiction book.  Its a lot of hard heart work.

And Christian fiction really doesn’t do it for me a whole lot because it is filled with cheesy loaded Christian-ese, and it is sorta predictable.

This is why I liked about Katherine Reay’s book Dear Mr. Knightley.  About halfway through the book I looked on the spine to see Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher.  I was surprised.  I just thought it was a clean novel, chicklit, that was fun with a good story.

By the time I finished the book (2 days later), I had fallen in love with the author’s way of storytelling, loved her letter forms for this novel. and couldn’t wait to get my hands on her other books.

If you love non-overbearing Christian fiction, Jane Austen, books, literature, a good chicklit story without a bunch of sex and language – then this is your book.

What I loved about this book from a personal side : growth.  I thought back to what I was like when I was 23.  I had just started seminary.  I moved away from everyone I knew.  I was on my own.  I was thin for the first time in my life.  I could really choose to be anything I wanted.  I was growing.  I was growing in faith.  I had finally come to realize that the world as I knew it wasn’t perfect.

And you know what, I keep growing. I keep going through experiences and daily life that make me think, ponder, and grow.

I like reading books that help me think about who I am – and make it entertaining too.

Acts: The Unexplainable Church

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Last night I was at a church in the country outside of Augusta.  Friendliest church to newcomers I’ve ever been in.  I was quickly shown a seat, many people were including me in conversations, introducing themselves to me, and telling me about the oldest church building in Georgia and that they did baptisms in the creek there and still do them there.  Talk about a loving church.  A welcoming church.

The book of Acts is all about the early church, the adventurers they had in sharing the Gospel, and how the word of the Cross was shared throughout the region.

In Erica Wiggenhorn’s second Bible study, The Unexplainable Church, one covering the last half of the book, you will find thoughtful questions, great history, and spaces to write your own story – how God is leading you to obey the commands that is found in Acts.

We all have a journey in the Gospel.  Acts is filled with conversions, and beatings, joys, friendship, sorry.  And today, in the life of Christians, we find relationships, new relationships with Christ, we find our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted because of the name of Jesus.

When you study the book of Acts, you find yourself in God’s story.  His story is neverending.  And so thankful we get to be a part of it.

For a good study on Acts, check out this one., which is the first half of the book of Acts – and then follow it up with this one here. Here is my review of the first one. They are a great set of studies and you will know God’s story better.  Thanks SideDoor communications for this book and Moody Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Fitting in or Belonging (Included in Christ review)

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There are some themes that take over the Christian conversation world from time to time.  And by that I mean so many of the books being published are about the same topic, or podcasts are interviewing people speaking on the same topic.

Right now is seems to be about friendships, belonging, community, etc.  And one of the questions or tips with figuring our my enneagram number has something to do with this.  One of the reasons I chose my enneagram number is because I have the ability to fit in anywhere, but I don’t always feel like I belong.

Belonging is a deep sense of “I’m loved no matter what” and “these people get me” verses just being able to get along, hang out, or blend in.  As someone who has been in ministry leadership for 20 years and moved around for 17 years, I’ve been rather good at that.

But fitting in is not belonging.  Belonging is sitting down and having your soul poured into for hours on end, and you don’t even have your flip flops on.

Belonging is sharing whatever is on your heart without a lull in the conversation because you don’t have to worry about what to say.  You won’t be condemned because you aren’t perfect or don’t fit the mold.  I’ve lived in areas where I’ve not fit the mold and so I’ve neither fit in or belonged – and that is so lonely.

I was listening to a podcast just yesterday and they were talking about Sabbath, resting, and loneliness.  And usually, I have found if I am lonely, it is not primarily because I am not around friends.  It is because I’ve been absent from the Word in an intimate way, slow to pray, and seeking all of my fulfillment from those who can’t fill it.

Heather Holleman writes a Bible study called Included in Christ – a study on the book of Ephesians.  She does a really good job at helping us know where we are in Christ – rooted in Him – and known by Him – and tells us that we can belong.  She helps you see your part of the story in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Some folks are very detailed and organized in their Bible study.  I’m not.  I kinda pick a book then study it in different ways: a Bible study, sermons, books, lettering, drawing, writing it out, etc.  So, this is a good one to help me along my journey in Ephesians.

If you would like to win a copy of it, just leave me a comment about anything and I’ll pick a winner soon!

Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Moody Publishers for my copy. All thoughts are my own.

Between Heaven and the Real World : a review

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When I started listening to CCM music in the mid-nineties, it was 4Him, Jars of Clay, Point of Grace, and Steven Curtis Chapman.  I worked at a local Christian bookstore, got to attend many Christian concerts that swept through our town.

I was in our church youth group’s choir and we went on choir tour every summer.  It got me into ministry and shaped my heart for ministry, and we got to wear white hats as we “saddled up our horses” for the Great Adventure tour starring SCC music.

So, to say I was excited when Steven Curtis released his biography I was ready to get my hands on it.  Thankfully I borrowed it, devoured it in a few days and cried my way through it.

I loved how he shared about the good and the bad in his life and marriage and ministry – not just the glamorous life of an artist, but more in-depth.  I wanted to underline most of the book because it is so grounded in the character of God and the truth of the Word.

When we walk through hard times, we can either fall away, fall into a depression, or we can pour out and cry out to the God who made us.  That is what SCC does in this book.

And here is my one warning, you don’t have to read this book.  A few months ago I tried to pick up Mary Beth’s book.  I couldn’t read it.  It was bringing up my fear and anxiety in my heart and my husband, out of care for my soul, asked me to return it to the library unread.  I might be able to read it in a few years, but it wasn’t wise for my heart at this time.  And my best friend encouraged me, if needed, to put the book down and come back to it later.  I couldn’t read this book aloud to my husband because I would weep through most of it.  He finally got to a point and said “no more SCC”.  But, I relished it and finished it, more grounded in the goodness and holiness of God and his perfect and sometimes broken plan for our lives.

My favorite genre of book is memoir or biography.  I love how people can articulate their story.  So often, in our church culture, we get shamed or rejected when sharing the brokenness of our stories.  God accepts our brokenness.  He welcomes us.

 

 

Dragon Seed – a review:

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I fell in love with Marty Machowski’s writing for kids, youth, and parents when I was working on designing a curriculum for a church in Raleigh 7 years ago.  And I’m still influenced by how he handles the Gospel to others.  Whether its kids or teens or parents, any body can benefit from his writing.

His use of the Gospel and application and getting to the heart of the matter and correct theology – is all important parts of his writing.

And how hard is sin to explain to teens?  When lives are hard, emotions run deep, friendships are off and on, hormones are raging, parenting relationships can be difficult.  In his new book, Dragon Seed, Marty does a really good job using his sanctified imagination to explain sin, how it cuts us to the core, and how spiritual warfare is a real thing.

The Gospel is so crucial to that and the empty tomb wins though.

This would be a great book for parents to read with their pre-teen sons, I think especially sons.  Maybe a good one for Dads and sons to read together or go on a weekend trip to discuss.

Thanks Litfuse for a chance to read this book.  All opinions are my own.

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