Category Archives: Bible

The Lifeway Women’s Bible ~ review and giveaway

Disclosure: Many thanks to Lifeway Christian Resources for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

The Lifeway Women’s Bible is a CSB (Christian Standard Bible®) translation and study Bible, and it would make a lovely Christmas gift for women of any age. (Hint: You can get 50% off your copy of the CSB Lifeway Women’s Bible today using the code SAVE50LWB!)

There are several features to this Bible to assist with study and diving deeper into God’s word. Also, there are some that placed in this Bible specifically to speak hope and truth into women’s hearts.

  • over 100 articles placed alongside corresponding Biblical texts to help in study and to foster deeper reflection on the topics and passages, many focusing on the needs of women
  • close to 100 short devotionals placed throughout the Bible
  • short Bible genre introductions with an overview and reading plan highlighting key sections in that genre
  • book introductions for each of the 66 books of the Bible, including an overview and book-specific timeline
  • character profiles of over 40 women in the Bible with study questions for application
  • reflections questions to help women engage more deeply with the Bible
  • about 100 brief inspirational quotations sprinkled throughout
  • over 25 word studies on meaning and significance
  • over 30 charts, graphs, and maps
  • multiple reading plans, including 90 days, one year, and three year plans
  • concordance

This lovely Lifeway Women’s Bible comes in genuine leather, LeatherTouch, or cloth-over-board covers. The marigold LeatherTouch that I received is bright and beautiful. It is a heavier Bible with wide margins for note taking or illustrating. Each page contains a single column with cross-references and text notes at the bottom. The text is a black on white print in a 9.5 point size. There are 2 ribbon markers sewn into the binding, which is a Smyth-sewn, lay-flat binding. All-in-all, this is a lovely Bible that I can’t wait to begin using.

How To Purchase:

Get 50% off the purchase of (1) Lifeway Women’s Bible with code SAVE50LWB
(Only available on Lifeway.com. Limit 1 Bible at 50% off retail price, any Lifeway
Women’s Bible sku. Limit one offer per person. Cannot be stacked with any other
offer. Valid 11/15/22-12/31/22.)

Giveaway:

1 (one) copy of the Lifeway CSB Women’s Bible (Marigold LeatherTouch
Edition) Note: This is limited to US winners only. Winner will be drawn on December 13. Enter through the link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6ac1648a20/?

Good Luck!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CSB Explorer Bible for Kids ~ a review and giveaway

Disclosure: Many thanks to Lifeway Christian Resources for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

The CSB (Christian Standard Bible) Explorer Bible for Kids helps kids place God’s Word in the middle of God’s World.

About The Explorer Bible for Kids:

The NEW CSB Explorer Bible for Kids is filled with fun facts, timelines, photography, and more. Kids will see the Bible as REAL, EXCITING, and LIFE-CHANGING TRUTH. QR codes even bring engaging videos, discussion questions, and activity pages to life. These help apply the imagery of the Bible to real world experiences. The Bible is available in hardcover and four (4) different leathertouch editions.

The Explorer Bible is intended to help readers engage meaningfully with the word of God through understanding more about the world, both in the past and the present. There are several ways that this particular edition of the Bible is designed to help with this.

  • Book Introductions – The one page introductions for each book of the Bible highlights key information for the book. It includes who wrote the text, who it was intended for, the time period of the writing, the time period of the events of the book and what was occurring in the world at that time, why it was written, and how it points toward Jesus the Christ. There is a table of contents with the books listed in the traditional order as well as one listing them alphabetically.
  • Excavating the Past – These are images of historical and archaeological discoveries to help understand the world, history, and culture of the Bible. There are 205 of these, noted by olive green boxes throughout the Bible. There is a table of these at the front of the Bible.
  • Exploring Creation – There are 115 teal boxes throughout the books that highlight facts and show images connecting modern day objects and things in the world today to God and the Bible.
  • Discovering the Truth – There are 237 Discovering the Truth boxes that help understand the essential truths of the Bible and apply them to everyday life. Most are accompanied by a QR code that leads to a video.
  • Character Field Guides – These are yellow boxes throughout that highlight important people in the Bible timeline, indicating different facts and insights. There are 79.
  • Charting History – There are 15 illustrated timelines that survery key time periods and events. These are also found in yellow boxes.
  • Archiving Discoveries – These are highlighted verses throughout the Bible that are key memory verses. These 336 verses are suggestedfor memorization.
  • QR Codes – There are QR codes for some videos, mostly related to the Discovering the Truth boxes. There are also other QR codes for things like activity pages that can be downloaded.

At the back of the Bible, you will also find,

  • A table of weights and measures
  • An explorer glossary
  • An index to Bible stories, separated by Old Testament and New Testament
  • A topical concordance for kids
  • QR Code links by scripture
  • 9 maps, and
  • A list of art credits

Utilizing full-color and images, this edition of God’s word engages student’s natural curiosity and helps them experience the wonder and truth of God’s word. Looking at real people, real events, and real cultures expands understanding and is just what young people need to know and understand God better. This all helps students hide God’s word in their heart, something that will transform them like nothing else. Learn more at this LINK.

My thoughts:

The CSB translation is one that blends accuracy and readability. It is linguistically accurate, combining the word-for-word translation with the contemporary rendering of a dynamic translation in more difficult passages. It draws from original language texts for the purposes of translation and over 100 scholars, editors, stylists, and proofreaders worked together, committed to biblical inerrancy. This seems to have brought us a translation that is understandable for young readers and new Christians alike, while staying true to older translations that will continue to challenge more mature Christians in their study. I have found this translation to be one I enjoy.

I think the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids is a wonderful combination of complete Bible text and apologetics information that is appropriate for younger students. This may be aimed for young kids, through elementary age, but I can see it being useful through junior high. The videos are definitely aimed at the younger groups but the text information, the book introductions, the character highlights, and the archaeology/culture information can be an impetus to those a little bit older to dig deeper. It is good information and a great start.

I have not seen anything that gives me pause. (I generally find an incorrect plan of salvation in Bibles directed at children but have not.) I would not have a problem with one of our girls having used this Bible when they were younger.

HOW TO PURCHASE:

Get 50% off your CSB Explorer Bible TODAY by using the code EXPLORERGIFT50. Valid
for 50% off retail price for up to 1 copy of the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids. This is
only available at LIFEWAY.COM. VALID THROUGH 12/31/22, CANNOT BE COMBINED
WITH ANY OTHER OFFER, LIMIT 1 COUPON PER PERSON.

GIVEAWAY:

1 (one) copy of the Lifeway Explorer Kids Bible
Note: This is limited to US winners only. Winner will be drawn on December 6 and notified. You must leave your name and address as one of the entry options to be selected as the winner.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6ac1648a19/?

#ExplorerBibleMIN #ExplorerBibleForKids #MomentumInflu-encerNetwork

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Light Before Christmas ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received a digital review copy of this book from New Growth Press for the purpose of the review. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines.

The Light Before Christmas is a new devotional book for families dedicated to the advent season. Written by author Marty Machowski, it is a devotion focusing on LIGHT. Contrasting light and dark, good and sin, these devotions will help families seek to understand God’s light in the world. It is designed to fit into under 15 minutes a day, three days a week. It is most appropriate for children ages 4-11, though the discussion will allow opportunity for older or younger folks to participate easily.

From the publisher:

This four-week Advent family devotional by best-selling author Marty Machowski combines devotions on the theme of light and darkness with the story of eleven-year-old Mia and her grandmother as they prepare for Christmas. Grandma loves to share her faith, especially at Christmas time, and although she is blind, she can see the light of Jesus shining bright and helps Mia—and children of all ages—to do the same. 

Every year, Mia loves to spend the month of December with Grandma getting ready for Christmas. This year, they read a special devotional, The Light Before Christmas, together. Machowski brings families into their devotional time, sharing the story of Christmas. Through a Bible study of light and darkness, readers will discover how the theme of light weaves its way through the Christmas story and God’s plan of salvation.

The Light Before Christmas contains thirteen devotionals—three for each of the four weeks of Advent and one more for Christmas. Each devotional includes a Scripture for the day, an object lesson, a question to discuss as a family, a song to sing together, and a prayer.

The story of Mia and her grandmother starts each week of the devotional with a short piece of the story, just a few pages. It is followed by 3 devotions on the week’s theme: light, darkness, rescue, and come to the light. There is an object lesson for each devotion, a few verses of scripture to read and consider, a “think about it” section, and reminders to sing the hymn of the week and pray. Before the devotions begin, there are instructions for creating your own advent wreath if you choose to follow this tradition.

There is also a 4 week Sunday School Curriculum that is designed to complement the family devotions during this season. The curriculum includes lessons, songs, crafts, and object lessons to use to communicate the Bible lesson. It can be used as a stand-alone, without the family devotions, as well as the family devotions being used without the Bible class curriculum.

My Thoughts:
I was drawn to these devotions based on the idea of studying light and the light of God. I do not participate in advent, as many do, but the idea of a study of light was appealing. I honestly struggled with the writing of this and the way the devotions were written. The author took on the metaphor of light and ran with that, rather than the meaning of the scriptures. Many of the scriptures were not in context when used and that lessened what could have been a really strong study.

The weekly story between Mia and her grandmother was sweet and I loved the idea explored between being physically blind and spiritually blind. This part of the devotional was good, though very short each week.

I also took a look at the sample of the Bible class curriculum. It is a good curriculum that covers the ideas pretty well. I do wish there was more Bible included rather than the skit-style story telling. I felt it stayed fairly close to the actual Bible and drew in additional events from the Bible to enrich understanding. It seems to set up very clearly all you would need to teach these lessons to preschool and/or elementary ages. I would not personally use it, as it is somewhat out of context, but it would work well for a congregation that is looking to focus on the idea of light vs darkness for a few weeks. I only saw week 1 of the curriculum so I cannot speak to the other parts of the curriculum.


About the Books:

The Light Before Christmas: A Family Advent Devotional
Print ISBN 978-1-64507-292-8
October 10, 2022 / Retail Price: $16.99

The Light Before Christmas: An Advent Sunday School Curriculum
Digital ISBN 978-1-64507-294-2
October 10, 2022 / Retail Price $59.99

By Marty Machowski, Illustrated by Sarah Bland-Halulko

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Where Is God In This? ~ a JustRead Tours book review

Where Is God In This? by Landra Young Hughes is a self-help book with roots in Christianity and the Bible.

After quoting John 16:33, Mrs. Hughes starts out with, “I’m not really OK.” This pushes the reader straight into the life of struggle, difficulty, and suffering we each face by putting her own life under the magnifying glass to help us see better. Mrs. Hughes approaches struggles in life through her lens of seeking God and finding the truth in His words and the example of Christ. She has had many struggles of her own, as well as family struggles, that she shares openly and honestly in her chapters. This gives the application of the information she shares some real-life experience.

Mrs. Hughes looks at the adversity, suffering, isolation, surrender, burn out, expectations, hurt, pain, failure, fear, judgment, and cravings that are par for the course for humans. But she doesn’t just say “yes, they are there.” She helps see God’s will and way through them so that arrival on the other side of them is possible. “God does not want you to fail. He wants what is on the other side of that failure.” (chapter 6)

There are many strong, good parts of this book. I found much to be considered in it. The Bible is not a typical translation that I read and thus was difficult for me to follow along with. (Scripture is from the NIrV.) I had my own Bible out alongside of it so that I could read and understand the passages included in something that was not so much like a paraphrase. I found the second half of the book to be much more engaging and helpful than the first half but there was plenty there to consider.

If you are in the “hard” of life right now, you might really resonate with what Mrs. Hughes has included here. I encourage you to check it out.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Ezra and Nehemiah – a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the publisher New Growth Press for the purpose of this review. 

Ezra and Nehemiah: Rebuilding What’s Ruined is a small group Bible study published by New Growth Press. It is a part of the Bible study series The Gospel-Centered Life In The Bible. This study is written by Iain M. Duguid. I received a PDF file for the purpose of this review.

I was pleased to get the opportunity to take a look at this small group study because I have enjoyed the other studies I have from this series. (Take a look at my reviews of Ecclesiastes, I John, Ruth, Psalms, Jonah, and Mark.) Ezra and Nehemiah: Rebuilding What’s Ruined is a bit shorter than others I have read, incorporating only 10 chapters. It is a more focused theme study than previous ones that have focused more on the purpose of the book. Regardless, it is a good study that I have enjoyed reading through.

As noted, there are 10 chapters. Each chapter contains 6 elements: Big Idea, Bible Conversation, Article, Discussion, Exercise, and the Wrap-up and Prayer. Each of these elements work together to help keep the study moving and to guide the study towards seeking what God shares in His word. Each chapter is designed to take approximately 60 minutes; however, that can easily move either direction based on the size of the group and how vocal the members are about sharing thoughts, challenges, ideas, and more.

The Big Idea is a sentence or two summarizing the main idea to focus on in the lesson. Bible Conversation is a quick introduction to the Bible passage that will be read and then the reading of the Bible passage. The article is a couple of pages from the author on the idea. Discussion is some focused questions about the passage and/or applications to personal lives to have the group consider and talk through. The exercise is a practical application to your own life of the idea and how to change yourself. Wrap-up and prayer is time of closing out the class and praying over the application and time with God.

The chapters in Ezra and Nehemiah: Rebuilding What’s Ruined include:

  • The Lord’s Work
  • Worship
  • Facing Opposition
  • Devotion to God
  • Lament Over Sin
  • Mission
  • Battling Discouragement
  • The Joy of The Lord
  • True Repentance
  • Lasting Reformation

The study includes an introduction to the book as well as the study set up. There is also a timeline that is helpful to understand the history of Israel’s decline, their captivity, and their restoration. At the end you will find a set of leader’s notes to help the leader guide the study. There are helpful notes on the idea for each chapter that expand upon and give additional context. (The Leader’s Notes did have a section on chapter 5 where I am actively studying the Bible to see if the information is correct. The author noted in the next to last bullet point on page 115 “that Paul still says it is completely wrong for a believer to go ahead and marry an unbeliever.” I am researching because I have not ever understood this is what is being said in the passage quoted in the book.)

The study does not cover every chapter. There are several that are skipped for whatever reason. It is recommended at the end of each chapter that you read any skipped portions prior to the next Bible study session.

One of my favorite things about this study series is that the focus is first on the Bible and what God says. This is a bit less focused than I have seen in some of the other titles in the series but it is still a focus on the Bible. I appreciate that the exercises are applications and can really change one who is looking for God’s work in his life.

I have not completed the entire book but have not found it to be way off base biblically, though I did note in the previous paragraph about one concern I have found. I have enjoyed what I have read and studied and look forward to continuing on. I am considering purchasing more books to do this as a study with my girls, as we are studying the books of Ezra and Nehemiah for their Bible Bowl this year with Lads to Leaders. I have no qualms recommending this book, but as with all materials that are written by man, know the book of God, have it open next to you, and consult it to see if what you are being told is right and in accordance with the word of God.

If this type of Bible study is appealing to you, please visit New Growth Press to learn more and order a study.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Coloring God’s Love For Me ~ a JustRead review

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

I have found coloring to be an enjoyable way to absorb scripture. Sitting and coloring while meditating on the words shared or creating an image related to the ideas, even just doodling while considering the purpose of the verses, allows my mind to take it in. Janae Dueck has brought us Coloring God’s Love For Me: 100 Devotions to Inspire Young Hearts.

This is a softback book that is about the size of your average paper – 8 1/2 x 11 inches. It has smooth pages with black print. The pages are thick enough to stand up to most children’s coloring with crayons but markers will likely bleed and colored pencils could tear the pages if the child colors hard.

This is a devotional book aimed at children ages 6 – 9. Each devotion includes two pages. There is a written portion which includes the title, the scripture being discussed, and a few short paragraphs bringing the passage to life in some way. There is decorative images around the devotion and the second page is typically a full page of coloring or an activity. Most of the pages are coloring pages, though there are some activities such as a puzzle to create, a complete-the-picture, instruction to draw something, or a short writing activity. There are 100 devotions in the book covering topics about God and what we can do through Him.

The devotions help children use scripture to look at the character of God. By learning about the character of God, they will find they are His children and that He holds dear plans for each of them. Learning about the truths of God and the depth of His love, children will learn more about the world and God’s people. This coloring books can help direct children to learn more about God’s promises to them.

This books could be a great addition to a vacation bag, a gift basket for Easter, a Christmas gift, or an every day encouragement. It would be wonderful to guide home Bible studies with younger children or make an addition to a Sunday school classroom. There are lots of different ways to use this book and bring encouragement and learning about God to elementary aged children.

About The Book:

⇒ Book Name Coloring God’s Love for Me: 100 Devotions to Inspire Young Hearts

⇒ Author Janae Dueck

⇒ Publisher Tommy Nelson

⇒ Purchase Link –  Purchase via Amazon

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Your Finances God’s Way ~ a book review

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

Your Finances God's Way JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for the Your Finances God’s Way book and workbook by Scott LaPierre, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Your Finances God's Way

Title: Your Finances God’s Way

Author: Scott LaPierre

Publisher: Harvest House

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Genre: Christian living – nonfiction

Experience the Peace that Comes with Wise Stewardship

Financial insecurity can be one of the greatest threats to your well-being—but the good news is that even if you’re on a tight income, you can eliminate many of your monetary worries when you create and abide by a biblical plan for your spending.

In Your Finance’s God’s Way, you’ll identify the negative money management habits you need to break and the positive habits that should take their place. Implementing the teaching laid out in the Bible, this book gives you advice and practical steps backed by proven principles, helping you

• get the most out of your money by paying off debt and building up savings

• make wise spending decisions that enable you to avoid anxiety, regret, and conflict

• find a healthy balance between being financially frivolous and frugal to a fault

Even when you have less to spend, you can use what God has provided to thrive. Whether you’re young or old, married or single, working or staying at home, Your Finances God’s Way will give you everything you need to be a careful steward of the resources you’ve received from the Lord.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub

ALSO AVAILABLE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott LaPierre

Scott LaPierre is a senior pastor, author, and popular conference speaker. He holds an MA in biblical studies from Liberty University. Scott and his wife, Katie, live in Washington State, and God has blessed them with nine children. Learn more about Pastor Scott at his website, www.scottlapierre.org, and connect with him on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

CONNECT WITH SCOTT: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the Your Finances God’s Way book and workbook!

Your Finances God's Way JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 9, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 16, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Books US only, Amazon gift card where available. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links from JustRead Tours.

My Thoughts About The Book and Workbook:

Your Finances God’s Way: A Biblical Guide to Making the Best Use of Your Money has been an interesting read. I have found it, thus far, to be biblically based and without denominational influences. This is a huge plus when talking about money and God’s word. The style of writing is easy to understand and Scott LaPierre approaches the topics with a unique approach.

Topics included are:

  • stewardship and faithfulness,
  • God’s kindness and severity,
  • Money is the foundation of faithfulness,
  • The Dangers of loving money,
  • Learning from a rich fool,
  • How to avoid being a rich fool,
  • Give willingly,
  • Give sacrificially,
  • God’s Generosity encourages giving cheerfully,
  • Good stewardship toward the poor,
  • Spending problems versus an income problem,
  • God’s view of debt,
  • Avoiding and eliminating debt,
  • Saving the right and wrong way,
  • Retiring well,
  • The greatest riches.

So far, one of my favorite chapters has been when he is dealing with the parable of the unfaithful servant in Matthew 25. He really dissects the parable in a way I have not seen done and deal with the monetary decisions made in it. While this parable is often used to talk about the use of the talents, Mr. LaPierre looks at the fact that the steward was going to have to give an account and that he took that very seriously. Did he do it right? No, as Jesus called him dishonest but looking at how seriously the steward took the fact that he was going to have to be accountable, he prepared for the future. He knew he had a limited amount of time so he worked quickly, he knew it was coming so he worked hard, and he used the situation to create some safety for him in the coming days after he had faced judgment. I found this look really interesting. And there have been other looks at things that were different and interesting. I am really enjoying this study.

As for the workbook, well, I am not as impressed with that. It is a good supplement, especially if you are needing something to document completion (as with a high school student getting credit) or as a guide for a small group study. As an independent study, I feel that the workbook is unnecessary. A large part of it is basic knowledge questions that don’t require a depth of understanding or application. Those types of questions are there but they are not the majority. Still, the workbook has its place in certain situation but it is not required to make the study helpful.

As of this writing, I am only about halfway through the study. There could be things later in the book that I have not yet come across to be concerned about but I don’t suspect there will be based on what I have read so far. I am finding this an enjoyable study that has presented some financial ideas in a bit of a different way. I have enjoyed that.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Before The Throne ~ a book review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Before The Throne: finding strength through prayer in difficult times by Crickett Keeth is a new Bible study that takes a look at prayer in the Bible. With all that is troubling the world today, there is no time more relevant than now to take a look at prayer in the Bible when the speaker of the prayer is in difficult times.

About Before The Throne, from Moody Publishers

God’s people know they can turn to Him when times get tough. Instead of trying to fix things on our own, we can enter God’s throne room in prayer. The access granted to us by Jesus our High Priest is our comfort when the world is turned upside down. In Before the Throne, Crickett offers eight prayer warriors from Scripture who turned to God when times became difficult. You’ll learn to pray with:

·        Moses in times of disappointment

·        The Psalmists in times of need

·        Jonah in times of disobedience

·        Hezekiah in times of battle

·        Habakkuk in times of questioning

·        Jesus in a time of intercession

·        Paul in times of hardship

·        Revelation saints in times of worship

As you study these prayers, you’ll be strengthened as you see how these godly Bible characters poured out their hearts to God and how He responded to them. You’ll learn how to pray with the same power when you feel weak, helpless, stressed, or afraid. As you turn your focus toward God’s character through prayer, He will supply the strength you need to face whatever is before you.

About Crickett Keeth

Crickett is the Women’s Ministry Director at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where she writes and teaches the women’s Bible studies. She is the author of several published Bible studies, including On Bended Knee (Moody), The Gift of Rest and Sumatra with the Seven Churches (co-authored with Sandra Glahn). Crickett was on staff with Cru for ten years and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. In addition to teaching regularly at her own church, she also speaks at women’s conferences and retreats. She offers free resources for discipleship and encourages others in their own walk with God through her website at www.crickettkeeth.com. Her life purpose is to encourage others to passionately pursue Jesus Christ.

How I Used The Study

This study is designed as an 8-week study, with each week having an introduction and five days of study. I have used it as a part of my daily study, so I have been moving through it faster than one lesson a week. I have found it a comfortable size to read and the print, for the most part, is easy to read. There is plenty of white space on the pages, making it relaxing and enjoyable to work through. This also means there is plenty of space to write your answers, notes, and thoughts.

I found that Ms. Keeth has chosen to look at the prayer of some of the most prayerful people in the Bible – Moses, Jesus, Paul, the Psalmists. But she has also chosen some people with short prayers – Jonah – or who we may not think of first when we talk of prayer – Hezekiah, Habakkuk, the saints in Revelation. Such a variety of people who dealt with different types of hardship all sought God through prayer in their difficulty. This makes for an example for each of us today. Ms. Keeth examines the prayers and the context in which the prayers are made. Each chapter has you looking directly into God’s word and examining the prayer and what it included. It asks you to look upward, wrestling with thought-proking questions and perhaps creating some discussion. You look deeper, into more scripture and how it relates to the scripture prayer examined earlier. And finally, you look reflectively into yourself, how will this change you, how will you use it to change yourself and your relationship with God, applying what you have learned.

I really enjoy a study that looks to God’s word for the majority of the material, using a bit of personal input and thought to guide only, not as the bulk of the lesson. This study definitely does that and pushes your thinking about God’s word. The study also includes a group leader’s guide at the back to help a group leader consider which questions to dwell a bit longer on or to focus on.

I enjoy the fact that this study does focus first and foremost on what God is giving us in His Bible. This is what a Bible study should be and this one does just that. If you are looking for a study to support you in tough times, when prayer seems far away or harder than it should be, this might be just what you are looking for. Come Before the Throne and see what God will do for you.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Manger Mission ~ a nativity book and activity set review

Disclosure: Many thanks to The Manger Mission for providing this product/product information for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Nativity sets are such a common and joyful part of the Christmas tradition for us. We enjoy having a number of these out each Christmas season and having a variety of styles. One thing we noticed when our girls were young is that playing with the nativity set is something they did almost daily and really enjoyed. We kept a kid-friendly nativity set where they could reach it and play whenever they wanted. The Manger Mission: A Family Christmas Tradition written by Kristin Vazquez and illustrated by Hannah Santi is just such an activity set with a hardback storybook to go with it.

The Storybook – The Manger Mission

This is a lovely little storybook about about 6″x6″. This hardback book is a fairly muted color scheme of teal, gold, grays, and white. It matches they activity set beautifully. The story introduces the three wise men, modeled on the story from the Bible found in Luke that tells of an unknown number of men, also unnamed, who traveled to Judea to find the king that was foretold in prophecy from the Old Testament. (This Bible account is noted at the end of the story.)

The story is of the three wise men recounting their journey to see the newborn Christ while they are being moved daily by the children of the home for their yearly reenactment of that journey with a nativity set.

The illustrations, of course, are modeled on the activity set. In the story, the three wise men figures are taken out of the box and are excited to start their yearly reenactment to get to the manger where Jesus lay. They talk about the different places the children place them, each day a little bit closer to the destination of Jesus’ manger. It is a sweet little story.

The Activity Set

The activity set contains 12 pieces. Each piece is comfortable suited for a child’s hand and is a piece of shaped wood. They wood is painted and the covered with a protective coating. They are coordinated with the storybook. The pieces include:

  • Shelter/Cover/Barn
  • Joseph and Mary
  • Jesus
  • 3 wise men
  • 3 animals
  • a shepherd (mine had 2 but the purchase site shows 1)
  • an angel

Notes

This is a fictionalized story that is based on the Bible, though it does incorporate a lot of the tradition of man. This includes giving names to the wise men, likely based in a denominational tradition, and noted a specific number of wise men, again based solely on tradition and not the Bible account. That does not men this is not an incredible activity set that can bring a lot of meaning to your family. This daily motion of the wise men can start at any time during the holiday season if you would like to use it that way. It could also be just a beautiful, fun activity set for the children to have fun with.

The story is fine but I did not find it super engaging. If my children were still in the age range for this, we would read the story at the beginning and then just have the activity set for the girls to play with whenever they wanted. Whatever works for you family would be just right.

This is a beautiful, engaging activity set that can add a lovely tradition to your holiday season or a play time for your children or grandchildren. It is definitely worth investment. Do remember that they are painted wood, though, so a teething child or one who likes to chew on things could damage the pieces.

This is a recommend from me. My girls are even excited to have this new nativity set to add to our collection this year and they are 17, 15, and 12. 🙂 Visit https://www.themangermission.com/ to purchase your own set or one for a gift and start a new tradition.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

1 John: Relying On The Love of God ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the publisher New Growth Press for the purpose of this review.

1 John: Relying On The Love of God is a small group Bible study published by New Growth Press. It is a part of the Bible study series The Gospel-Centered Life In The Bible. This study is written by Scotty Smith. I received a PDF file for the purpose of this review.

1 John is themed with love and it is the identifying characteristic the John uses in a lot of his writings. The introduction to this study reads:

John referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Surely, this was not because John felt Jesus loved him more than the others, but because John treasured the love of Jesus so deeply.We identify ourselves by the things we treasure. They become the things that most define us. For John, nothing defined him more than the love God has for us in Jesus.

This is what the author of this study really wants us to get a grasp of, to understand in this study. Because 1 John is a shorter book than many others in the Bible, this study is only eight lessons long rather than the 10 that seem to typically be in this series of studies. It is expected that this study will be completed in a small group. It appears to me that it would be a stronger study in a group but would work almost as well as an individual study. Each lesson is structured to take approximately an hour to complete.

Each lesson is structured in the same manner as the other books in this study series. It includes the Big Idea (theme of the lesson), Bible Conversation (reading the passage and discussing it), Article (written by the author of the study), Discussion (questions to consider and draw the group deeper into the theme of the lesson and challenge thoughts and understanding), Exercise (applying the theme and lesson to your life and creating change in you), and Wrap Up and Prayer (closure for the lesson). There is also a section at the end titled Leader’s Notes. These notes include background and information to help the leader guide the lesson and answer some of the questions brought up in the Bible Conversation and the Discussion sections. The notes section is not an answer key as these are not right and wrong sorts of questions. But it is there for consultation to aid the leader.

Personal Thoughts:
We recently went through 1 John in our Sunday night worship series and I am looking forward to going through this study more in depth. I am looking forward to the author’s approach to this. I have found his writing easy to read and his thoughts seem to be grounded in the Bible, rather than a personal take on things.

On a less positive note, I find it difficult to evaluate a book like this when it is in PDF form. I do much better with printed Bible studies. I prefer them. This format is especially difficult when you need to access the Leader’s Notes, which are at the very end. Then you have to scroll back to look at the question and scroll to the end again for the notes, etc. I think I would like this better and find it more enjoyable if I had a printed book.

Overall, I did enjoy this study. Be sure to check out other titles in this study series from New Growth Press, including PsalmsJonahRuth, Exodus, Mark, Ephesians, Titus, Revelation, and Ecclesiastes. You can read my review of some of them here on the blog.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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