Tag Archives: Bible Study

Secrets Behind Fig Leaves

Adam and Eve tried to hide from the Lord behind fig leaves. Fig leaves eventually wither away leaving you naked, sin out in the open. The truth always finds a way out from behind the fig leaves we use to hide it.

The best relationships include telling the truth no matter how it hurts you or someone else. Lies divide until truth is forced out. Like Adam and Eve hiding in the garden, God knew where to find them. He knows where we hide. More importantly, He knows what we hide.

The great news about Jesus is how He allows U-turns. Just repent and He gives us fresh clothes from the dryer.

Reading: Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them by Liz Curtis Higgs

Reference Verses: Psalm 32:5, 1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13

 

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Not Merely Memorizing Verses

We aren’t being obedient to God, if we believe and do the things of the world. It is about treating God as a holy God and living differently than the world. Not expecting God to compromise His values for us, as He already gave us the greatest Gift, but for us to humble ourselves before God. The fruit of belief is action, not merely memorizing verses.

Reading: Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them by Liz Curtis Higgs

Reference Verses: 1 John 1:8-9, Luke 16:15

How do you humble yourself before God?

  1. Repent.
  2. Grace and mercy to others.
  3. Letting go of selfish desires.
  4. Recognizing that what you did before was not justified or okay no matter what the world accepted.

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Activist Faith: The Growing Hypocrisy

From The Higher Calling
From The Higher Calling

While teaching a Sunday School on marriage, someone asked me, “What’s the difference between living together and marriage?” The fight for marriage has dominated the headlines, but how can we say that same sex is not okay if we are living together in sin as professing Christians?

Read More Here @ActivistFaith

Book Review: What Every Woman Should Know

Note to Reader: I am not reviewing this book based on biblical or historical accuracy as I am not schooled in theology nor do I have Bible Study experience to consider myself an expert. If there is anything obviously in error, I will point it out, but otherwise I leave that discernment to you. Jori Sams is the author of Revelation in Seven Weeks and  There Will Come No More Tears.  A copy of the book was given to me by the author to review as part of her blog tour. Her website is located here.

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What Every Woman Should Know by Jori Sams uniquely explores gender equality in which she sets out to prove that every woman needs to know their place in God’s heart. This book is a historical and biblical expository with numerous technical errors.

First, What Every Woman Should Know is well-researched. Research demands many hours and the gift of organizing that surplus of information into readable chapters, and this deserves recognition. I felt this book explored well how women ranked in biblical history and scripture. The book begins with the patriarchal society and delves into Mosaic Law, moving us through history to present time. What gives me doubt on its accuracy has more to do with how badly edited and poorly cited this manuscript was in comparison with similar genres.

All this beautiful work deserves the time it takes for re-writes and a professional editor who can cut unnecessary words. This phrase on location 36-37 says,“Then, in a blink of an eye, she was gone as life as I know it passed from her.” Blink of an eye is a cliche. I would have said, “In the time it takes to exhale, she was gone. Life as I knew it changed.

An editor would have caught this mistake here, ¹“The result = less people speaking about it,” and fixed it to read, “The result equals less people speaking about it.”  An editor would have pointed out the necessary places to add a footnote or an end note with proper citing techniques as demonstrated above. The bibliography needed better organizing, perhaps putting the many references by chapter with the numbers referring to the exact place and context where the information was used to make it easier for a reader to delve deeper into a point. The spelling, punctuation, grammar, missing words, extraordinarily long paragraphs, and sentence structure problems were too numerous to refer to in one book review.

²At one place, I winced as the book became crude in its terminology when it read, “As the women were doing the bulk of the work, men were merely hunting or planting their seed in women.” I thought that was unnecessary (unless it was a typo). The author also had a foreword and an introduction. Either include one or the other, but not both. Chapter One didn’t begin in the first two paragraphs, but where the book read, “In reality, so much…” Of course, I would have changed it to read, “So much over the course of history has…”

The first two paragraphs in Chapter One had too many “I’s” in it, and peppered throughout the book were too many references to her frequent worldwide travels and years of experience. What bothered me towards the end of the book were the frequent put-downs of church.

We get enough of that online and through other social media where Christians put down houses of worship whether, as Frank Viola in Pagan Christianity said, the church building is unbiblical, or from the hurt I hear in people’s words. Either way, the rhetoric is getting old. While I agree with her on several points, I think repeating the same arguments causes more harm to the Christian belief. House churches and places of worship can work in tandem.

Otherwise, What Women Should Know comes off as strong and confident. This book has a great teaching style so the reader can retain more information. The author shares some insight into her testimony and shows a lot of knowledge. The Bible Study at the end of the book is a nice touch. Other technical issues existed in the book, but I chose to highlight what was important. Overall, I gave this book three stars. The editing errors disrupted what would have otherwise been a pleasant reading experience for me.

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¹Location 2877

²Location 336

I’m Going to Pick Up My Staff

Read Psalm 25:4-5

This is a series based on Carla McDougal’s new Bible Study, My Prayer Chair: A Living, Walking, Breathing Relationship With Jesus. As you read this, you are walking through her study with me. You might remember that I did the same thing with her first Bible Study, Reflecting Him. I don’t know how long this will be, but if you need to catch up, you can go to catagories and look under Book Reviews/My Prayer Chair.

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Like Moses, we make excuses when God asks us to step out of our comfort zone and do extraordinary things that absolutely terrify you. In Carla’s case, she was being asked to lead and write a women’s Bible study.

In my case, God asked, over time, first to speak to a group of women on a topic dear to my heart; then to a writers group on how book reviewing and critiquing go hand-in-hand; and finally, to lead a prayer group which still takes momunmental effort because it’s way out of my comfort zone. But none of these things were done without prayer.

Carla begins her chapter speaking about the inspiration for the title of her Bible Study, My Prayer Chair. Her grandmother had a special rocking chair in which she prayed diligently. In reading that, I felt a bit of shame because I take God for granted and rush to His side when I have realized it, to crawl into His lap and hold on for dear life. I pray diligently, but in several spots, over the course of the day, and sometimes like the other day, in my own favorite chair in the living room. Sometimes, I even escape into the bathroom for private prayer.

While my daily, normal prayer is fine, sitting in my quiet living room and being still is by far the most intimate and where I worship God best. I have trouble praying in a large group, especially for a long period of time. Sometimes, I’m into it, and other times, I struggle. I hear every squeak of the chairs, every burp, every sniffle, and when the phone rings I hear it. I hear every intake of breath, and when we are asked to take turns praying the anxiety builds and I begin rehearsing what I am going to say. It’s never flowery or as nice as other prayers, but to speak what’s on my heart is too intimate. Then, there’s my other worship.

I write. It’s how I worship God. I write and I get out. Writing, like a sponge, is when I can wring out all the excess and make sense of the chaos of daily life, like what I am doing now.

I am writing this and it’s Friday. The television is off. It’s silent. I have a glass of Francis Coppola’s Pinot Noir Diamond edition. I followed Carla’s suggestion when she said to pray first, then read the required scripture. I asked God to reveal what He wants to reveal to me. And I am just basking in God’s presence right now. He’s looking over my shoulder as I write. I’m sure of it.

But is He pleased with my life?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? Is He pleased with my choices? Is He pleased with the every day normal that I live? Lately, I have been making excuses about missions, and until recently, kept it far from me. So I tossed my excuses to the ground with all the rest of the litter, and I commited to a short term missions trip next year to Honduras. Naturally, I also volunteered my husband. He didn’t even know of my desire, like I didn’t know of God’s prodding in his life to lead a men’s group.

Who knew?

I guess there is a lot of us Moseses out there, making excuses, living the way we want to live, instead of living the way God would want us to live.

It’s time to pick up my staff.

Are you making excuses to what God is calling you to do?

I Unfriended Them

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Last week, I had to make a tough decision; to unfriend network and other connections on my personal Facebook. I didn’t want 380 something people knowing what I had for dinner, where I am hiking, or seeing my personal photos. Because I learned much from their connections, I encouraged those friends I intended to unfriend to “like” my author page.

It’s not a personal slap in the face. It’s practical. While Facebook has a way to merge a personal Facebook profile into a page, that action would sever me from groups that I admin, and I would not be able to comment or like on my friends profiles as a page. It would have defeated the whole purpose of having a personal Facebook page. I already have many social networks in which to talk to new connections, new friends, etc. My personal Facebook was meant to only communicate with family and those I considered friends.

What I mean by “friend” is someone I’ve met in real life, go to church with, been in Bible Study with, who has interacted more than once with my statuses in the last 60 days, and some writers in my writers groups and people I’ve met at Writer’s Conferences. A friend takes an interest in their friend’s lives. It’s not just about me as Facebook has become and privacy is almost an alien thought nowadays. We all want to be known, but it’s not wise to invite every person who sends a friend request. Scary people exist in the world whose intentions aren’t sincere. Soon after severing ties, a friend request came from someone I didn’t know, perhaps an extended family member of a branch that I am unaware of. But that’s where I draw the line, too.

When I found my father in 2008, I also discovered a lot of immediate family and those I didn’t mind having on my Facebook. We’ve either talked on the phone or interacted since then in a consistent manner. Any friend of the family I haven’t met in person or extended family I haven’t met is more than welcome to like my author page or follow me on twitter, but not on my personal profile. My personal profile is for people I actually know. I even deleted some church members who haven’t interacted with me in real life or online in quite some time, keeping those I know who have admitted to being “stalkers.” They like to read people’s statuses, but don’t interact. In my unfriending frenzy, I deleted some network people who have become friends. I had to re-friend them which confused them a little and like I said, it was a tough decision. Even people I have met in real life, but no longer interact with me in real life or online became unfriended.

Healthy boundaries should exist in the online world. That’s why we have fan pages or groups on Facebook. On my personal Facebook, I want to share my adventures with family and friends, people who may someday hike those slopes of Mount Humphreys with me or make time to have coffee with me in real life. Not everyone will understand.

Be assured that I will not neglect you, my readers. I love to interact with people online and would love it if you followed me here on twitter and/or “liked” my Facebook page. There’s a lot we can learn from each other. That’s why I encourage discussion, too, on my blogs even when there are no discussion question at the end of a piece. I hope that you understand my desire for privacy.

How have you kept your private life apart from your public life?

Angel Eyes: Corrupting The Soul Via Healing

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Read my review here.

Every so often it comes up in conversations or Bible Studies. I hear of healing services. On the television, a pastor knocks his hand against the forehead of someone and they fall backwards. Miraculously they walk or are physically healed. In Angel Eyes, the character Jake Shield has the gift of healing.

The author, Shannon Dittemore cleverly uses the demon to show how a healing gift can be exploited via manipulation.

“The gift of healing is rare and so easily corrupted. Could be used to advance the kingdom of darkness. It takes so little to convince a human to do wrong. Especially a human who cares for others. In many ways, this one would be easier to destroy than Horacio. And a human like this boy, his gift twisted to serve darkness, would surely garner favor.” Page 94, Damien’s point of view.

To set the record straight, I do believe in healing. I believe in both physical and spiritual healing. Some other theologies believe if you aren’t healed, you must have done something wrong. According to Gospel Way, “This doctrine is becoming increasingly popular among believers in the “Charismatic Movement,” Pentecostalism, and faith healers. Preachers teach that God will reward faithful service with good physical health and material abundance: people have a right to expect this, and God will even do miracles to accomplish it. Many call this “the gospel of physical health and wealth.””

I am skeptical of healing ceremonies. Not because I don’t believe God can heal, but because of the damage it can do to someone if God chooses not to heal. That’s why the prosperity theology is so wrong. It makes promises the Bible doesn’t make and God is not interested in seeing us rich, but for us to prosper in the way of serving His purpose and growing as a person. As Dittemore so cleverly shows in her story, the gift of healing is corruptible as is power and money.

Power and money are temptations humans can least resist. Once given, the things we say we would do with money or power, the good we would do with it, compete with the things money and power can do or control. And those things usually win. God wants us to seek Him.

Crosswalk.com says, Seek God Himself rather than His blessings. Yes, God loves you and wants to bless you, but He’ll do so in His own ways, according to His will – not yours. Contrary to what the prosperity gospel claims, God hasn’t promised to bless all people with good health and plenty of wealth if they ask Him for it in faith. Instead, God has promised something better: His presence. You can count on the fact that God will be with you, no matter what. But trying to manipulate God into giving you want you want simply won’t work.”

Brielle in Angel Eyes grows through all the books in the series as she copes with her grief and her questions. In Angel Eyes, Jake makes the hard decision not to heal a dying girl in front of a warehouse-full of kidnapped girls. Healing the girl would have corrupted his gift, made him well known, and given him notarity that would have caused him to change in a bad way. The demon flies into a rage over it. Jake is not corruptible after all. Jakes’ faith remains unshaken. Healing isn’t always in God’s plan.

My life isn’t a great story to tell. It’s fraught with anguish, rejection, abandonment, illness, disappointment and verbal abuse. In victim mode, I let my past influence every decision. Even the good memories that I can remember I can’t trust to be true because of all the lies. But God healed my soul. I am in the healing process as we speak, and He chose to minimize my disease. It’s now controlled by diet and exercise with some medication. But first, I had to lose the weight. In losing the weight, I grew and learned new disciplines. It wasn’t an easy journey, but healing doesn’t always come instantaneously at times. Humans also make the choice not to heal when healing is just a prayer away. My healing took over half of my life. Only a couple of years ago did I begin my healing process.

Then, there’s stories of instant healing. They happen everywhere. People who leave hospice. People whose organs heal and the doctors are left with too many questions. I love those stories. You don’t hear those stories coming from major television shows.

A friend reminded me in one Bible Study that we need to let God have a chance to heal. Healing does happen, but when it doesn’t, we need to realize that maybe God has another purpose for our illness or spiritual wound. We need to ask ourselves how we can serve God in the questions. How can our faith grow in our spiritual or physical illnesses? The Prosperity Theology is wrong and Angel Eyes reminds us off the danger of power and notariety. Because that’s what Jake would have to struggle with had a warehouse-full of girls witnessed the miraculous.

There’s also the temptation of worshiping unintentionally the person who heals. So when I hear of healing ceremonies or happen to catch one on television, I wonder if any of it is real and how many people are asking themselves, “Why didn’t God heal me?”

Share your story of healing.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

*Book link – http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Eyes-Shannon-Dittemore/dp/1401686354/

Author Website – http://www.shannondittemore.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/ShannonDittemore

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There Are a Lot of Reasons to Give Up, but There Are Greater Reasons to Finish Strong

By Sheri Rose Shepherd

When you have dedicated your life to loving, encouraging, praying for, and pouring yourself into your husband, only to watch him, in a moment of weakness, destroy the foundation you worked so hard to build, you may feel as if your entire world has been wiped out. If this describes you, I invite you to read a real-life love story that I believe will give you the passion you may need to persevere under any and every trial. It will also give you a true picture of what love looks like when lived out with a legacy perspective. I call this story “The Grand Finale.”

John and Marie were college sweethearts who dreamed of furthering God’s Kingdom together. During the first decade of their ministry, God blessed them with a growing church, two beautiful children, and a strong and loving marriage. Because of their commitment to God and each other, they became one of the most respected couples in the community. Their marriage was a beacon of hope to other young couples who wondered what marriage could be. John loved the ministry, and he loved the life God had given him. He was passionate about the call of God on his life, and he truly loved his wife.

One day as John was busy working at the church, a young lady burst through the door of the church office. She was crying hysterically, and John came out of his office to see what he might do to help. As she struggled to catch her breath, she told John about her desperate attempts to escape from her abusive husband. She was sure he would kill her if he found her, but she didn’t feel safe going to the police because they had failed to help her in the past. John quickly called Marie and asked her to take the young lady to a safe place. After Marie helped this distraught young mom gather her kids and some clothes, she brought them home to spend the night with her and John.

In a matter of days, Marie and John’s love for this young woman led her to become a Christian. After spending a few weeks in their home, she seemed like a new person. She was hungry for God and at peace. John and Marie felt great, knowing they had made such an impact on this young woman and her kids.

When this woman and her children were still staying in John and Marie’s home several weeks later, many of his good friends and family approached John and recommended that the woman find housing with another single mom. He was blinded, saying, “Marie is really helping her. I can’t ask her to leave now; she may fall away from the Lord.”

John’s good intentions without wisdom and his unwillingness to heed the warnings of others left him unguarded against the enemy’s attack. One night when Marie was out leading a Bible study, John was home alone with this woman. She had fallen for Marie’s husband and was determined to have him for herself. Tragically, Marie walked into her home to find John and the young woman in their bed together. Everything John and Marie had built was destroyed.

Unable to handle his guilt, John felt like such a failure that he left his marriage, his children, and his church to marry this young, attractive woman. Two years into his new marriage, however, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and given only ten weeks to live. His second wife, who was still in her early twenties, decided she did not want to take care of a dying man. After emptying his bank account, she left him alone to die. He had no family and no loving church body to rally around him. In fact, he had nothing to show for his years of hard work and dedication to ministry.

As tragic as this story is, the ending is proof of God’s amazing grace. Marie decided that when John died, he should be free of guilt and shame. She went to his bedside, not gloating with condemnation, but offering to care for and forgive him. Her kids seemed almost angry at her for loving her ex-husband after all he had done. Her friends from church asked her why she was helping him. However, Marie wanted her children and church to remember, not how John had left them, but how she took care of him, never leaving his bedside until he drew his last breath.

On the day John died, his children and members from his church gathered around his bedside with Marie. They held hands and shared memories of how John had touched others’ lives when he was walking with God. Marie got a greater gift. By her sacrifice, she began the healing in her own heart and in her children’s hearts. Today they can all live free of regret and anger because they said a final good-bye to their father in a setting of God’s glorious love.

Marie finished strong in spite of the devastation, and she gave John and their kids an amazing final gift: she gave him her forgiveness and the opportunity to finish what he had started, even if it had to take place on his deathbed after their marriage had ended.

If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. (1 Peter 4:19)

For more teaching from the Your Heart’s Desire book and Bible study, visit www.biblelifecoaching.com.

The Beauty of Trust

from: http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/436653.html

Damaged people trust little.

The beauty of trusting in spite of my reservations had the consequence of friendship. I know people will let me down, but I chose through this study to live a life as if I had never been damaged. These women in my Bible study are truly wonderful and caring people as I am sure many women are and it’s just our circumstances that color our outlook and make us so wary that we hide instead of trusting in God.

I found myself opening up slowly, pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed this study.

Beth Moore said in our study committing what has damaged us to God is letting go of it. She also said that feeling pain means you love. Beth Moore said to not close up or shut down. Pain can isolate us from the blessings God has in our future. By not trusting Him, we forfeit such beauty as trust.

The friendships I am making and the authentic conversations during study feel like someone just blew the dust off of my old heart, reminding me how much I still hold back. In five years, this is the first time I have reached out, not in ministry, but in friendship. I have isolated myself out of protection and that’s not living. Living is risking vulnerability and authenticity.

You fall.

God picks you up.

As long as you keep letting God pick you up, you’ll be blessed and taken care of, for we worship God in spite of our circumstances. And I don’t want this weekly gathering to end. It’s been so much fun.

Do you hold back?

Book Review: Breaking Free From Fear (Bible Study)

Breaking Free From Fear by Kay Arthur attempts to resolve the fear we all struggle with while attempting to adjust the studies around this culture’s over-crowded schedule.

You can read a few of the studies here. The study is meant to be a group study, but I reviewed it as an individual. Kay Arthur includes instructions to the leader on how to run the group. The first few studies were well-done, but on week two I became frustrated. The lessons weren’t clearly separated except by week. For instance, week two, presumably day one ends on page 15 where day two begins. I would have liked to see each study beginning on its own page with clearly defined headings.

I loved how the scripture is pre-written in the margins. A person who forgets their Bible at home can read all the scripture referenced in the study in this book. There are lots of space between the discussion questions for people to write down their answers. In a group setting, I would enjoy this study. Individually, the organization seemed confusing and distracting. The scripture is separated by week only. I also wondered if there was a copy available for the individual without the leader’s notes?

Kay Arthur wraps up each week with short explanations, getting to the gist of that weeks discussion. I chose not to continue doing my online study of this book. It was meant to be done in a group. If each week is supposed to be done in one setting, this book fails. In my experience, groups tend to run long no matter how great the facilitator.

Kay says in the instructions, “If necessary, you should feel free to spread out a lesson over more than one session.” But if the series is called 40-minute Bible Studies and the table of contents has each lesson separated by week, not day, each lesson should not take more than 40-minutes. The study also advertises itself as a six-week study. One week for each meeting. Kay’s instructions say not to assign homework because the questions should be answered together at the same time. Again, in my small group experience, there are too many questions for 40-minutes. In fact, there are too many questions in one week for one sitting.

I gave this study four stars for group work and three stars for individual. Kay Arthur has good information and is thorough with each study. I might join a group study for this, but not do this study individually.

*Book given by publisher to review.