Tag Archives: Bible

“That’s not something Jesus would say.” – Comparison Girl ~ a book review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the I READ WITH AUDRA in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Comparison Girl - a challenge to listen to Jesus and learn to _pour out_ rather than _measure up_

Right from the start, Shannon Popkin has me nailed. And probably most of us. We compare ourselves to others – all over the place, in all sorts of situations. We are listening to the wrong voice because we are under attack. Jesus would not ask us to measure ourselves against someone on this earth to decide if we are good enough, right enough, or any other kind of enough. Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up
World tackles each of us – this comparison girl – and guides us to hear a different voice. (There is a giveaway link at the end of this review to win a copy of the book.)

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Comparison Girl is a brand-new publication from Shannon Popkin, published by Kregel Publication. It is about 200 pages of Jesus-focused study. Using the Bible to help guide our thinking and understanding, we visit the words of Jesus to learn to listen to His voice. Designed as a 6-week study to be using individually or as a group study (recommended by author), there are also videos to accompany the book for those interested.

Mrs. Popkin describes learning to hear Jesus’ voice by reading what she calls his red-letter comparisons. See, as she reminds us, Jesus himself uses comparison to direct our thinking to the type of attitude that chooses to “pour out. rather than the type of attitude that constantly compares to see how we “measure up.” Looking at the red-letter comparisons Mrs. Popkin found some of these “pouring out” attitudes:

  • The greatest among us is she who serves.
  • She who exalts herself will be humbled and she who humbles herself will be exalted.
  • She who is first will be last. She who is last will be first.
  • and more

The teachings of Jesus are where we need to find our comparisons because Jesus leads our thinking to be like His thinking. And isn’t that the goal? When you know the voice of your shepherd, you follow none other. This is what Mrs. Popkin found in her studies of the red-letter comparisons of Jesus. So, she wants to direct us to hear Jesus’ voice and to recognize the lies of the hiss coming from Satan.

The analogies used are strong and really get the point across well. (in lesson 1) I especially enjoy the picture of the measuring cup. After talking a bit about how we tend to measure ourselves against others, Mrs. Popkin then has us mentally tip the cup so that you are now “pouring out.” When you are pouring from the measuring cup, the lines are no longer of any significance. We can no longer “measure up” because we are too busy “pouring out.” That image resounds well with me. And this is just one example of how practical application is woven throughout this study.

There are 6 chapters plus an introduction and a conclusion. Each chapter is designed to take a week, with five parts in each. Each part has a good bit of scripture woven in. There is a reading to start each day. Don’t skip these as they are the foundation of the thoughts for the day. Woven throughout each day’s lessons, there are many more scriptures. I pulled each one up to read and follow the thinking. Sometimes reading the greater context of the scripture, more than the single verse or part of a verse quoted, I got a greater understanding. Looking up and reading the scriptures drawn on for the lesson really does help push that lesson deeper into your heart.

The conversational tone and practical application, plus the raw revealing of the author’s own insecurities and failures in the areas she is talking about make this a very easy to read study. It draws the reader in and help you feel comfortable opening your own heart a bit and taking a look at which voice you are truly listening to. What a good study this is.

About The Author:

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 9.24.28 AMShannon Popkin is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves pointing others to the truth of God’s Word. She combines her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She regularly speaks at Christian women’s events and retreats, encouraging women of all ages to put their hope in God.

Popkin is also a regular contributor for the Revive Our Hearts True Woman and Leader Connection blogs. Her articles have been published by Family FunFocus on the Family MagazineMOMsense and others. She is the author of several books, including Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the BibleInfluence: Building a Platform That Elevates Jesus (Not Me), and Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World.

Popkin and her husband, Ken, have been married for more than twenty years and live in West Michigan. They have three children—one in high school and two in college.

Connect with Shannon Popkin by visiting www.shannonpopkin.comfollowing her on Facebook (shanpopkin)Instagram (shannonpopkin), or Twitter (@ShannonPopkin).

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Visit the link to enter to win a copy of Comparison Girl by Shannon Popkin, hosted by “I Read With Audra.”

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Keeping The Faith: A Study in Jude ~ a book review

#freeproductreceived
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through Side Door Communications for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Keeping The Faith title

Jude has been an interesting book of the Bible to me, mainly because it is so short. It is easy to skip right past it or to read it but just move right on. For precisely this reason, I was interested in using the six week study on the book of Jude titled Keeping The Faith: A Study In Jude. It is written by Lianna Davis and is published by Moody Publishers.

Keeping The Faith is a rich study of the text of Jude and how it works together with so many other passages in the word of God. Mrs. Davis helps us view the text of Jude as it weaves together in meaning and language with other things God has spoken in his Word.

Keeping The Faith is a 6 week study. Each week has an introduction and five daily studies. The introduction is meant to help us view the weekly idea and prepare our minds to focus on that in each of the daily studies. The 5 daily studies each have a narrative written by Mrs. Davis and questions designed to get the student reading and considering more deeply the ideas.

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The narratives often quote other authors, bringing together some great minds to help the student see the bigger idea and bring it together in daily life. It runs 2 or 3 pages, some a bit longer. It is a simple read most of the time, yet it prepares the reader to delve into the idea deeper with the questions.

The questions often focus on Bible passages and how they tie together. Looking up these passages is essential for proper understanding of what is being asked. The questions also require thought and self-assessment, considering the application to the individual’s life.

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Keeping The Faith focuses on “keeping.” What are you keeping, as a contender of the faith for Christ? The weekly topics are Keeping in Truth, Keeping in Grace, Keeping the Soul, Keeping the Body, and He Is Able To Keep Us. This is not a straight verse-by-verse working through of the book but rather tying the verses together through these ideas and strains that run through all 23 verses of Jude.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this study and working through it with my Bible by my side. I appreciated that aspect of it – it is necessary to have your Bible open and look up the various passages to fully gain the idea being addressed.

I do wish it has focused less on the denominational aspects. There were some truly denominational things in the book; she often referred to the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” and “Article of Affirmation and Denial.” She also asks questions worded in ways that bothered me quite a bit. These included statements such as “As a lay Christian. . . ”

I wish these were left out because we should be focusing solely on God’s word. Mrs. Davis does a fabulous job of keeping God’s word center stage for most of this study but by including these and referring to them, she causes me to question a lot more about where her information comes from and the direction she was going with things.

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Two other things that would be helpful: a different color text and I a guide of some sort to go along with the questions. The text was a light blue for the questions and difficult to read. Some of the question purposes were not clear and so I struggled to find an answer or a way to answer that made sense.

Overall, I enjoyed this study of Jude and was able to gain from it. If you are looking for something to guide you through the book of Jude, this would be a good one. Just proceed knowing that there is a denominational influence. And enjoy the study of Jude.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

Venturing With God In Congo ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Venturing With God

Missionary stories are fascinating to me and to my oldest daughter. The amazing difficulties that they persevere through in order to share the word of God, the Bible, and the message of salvation with others can be very inspiring. That was the appeal of this book by Darrell Champlin. Venturing with God in Congo is a hardback book of 290 pages that shares some of the stories of the author with his family and coworkers in Congo over the course of about 10 years, before having to be evacuated due to danger from the revolution. It is published by Conjurske Publications.

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The book begins with the author talking about his childhood and adult life. Mr. Champlin discusses how he felt called to missionary work and how deeply that was taught for many of his generation. This section is followed by a similar discussion from his wife, Louise Champlin. Mrs. Champlin is the main editor of this book as it is compiled after the passing of her husband, though he wrote the stories themselves. And then, the stories begin.

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While the stories are fairly chronological, they are independent of each other. There are stories of people, places, events, and animals. They are engaging stories that really bring alive the life of people from the inland, native villages of Congo. Through these stories, the reader learns of the beautiful, tough country, the lifestyle, the living quarters, and the difficulties the missionaries and the people they taught go through day by day.

Living in stick and mud huts for several years, the family learned to live on a diet of mostly cassava leaves and flour, supplemented by a bit of meat from hunts. This meat could be anything from snake to elephant, though it is devoid of the common types of meat in an American diet. They learned to cook over small fires and do laundry in the river, while watching for animals that could be dangerous. They learned to build using what was available in the jungle.

But, the focus here is on the people. The attempts these missionaries made to live with the people of Congo in order to reach them with the gospel. And there were many successes. The beliefs that had to be overcome in order to do this were significant, as is always true in a culture that doesn’t know the gospel of Jesus Christ. There were family issues that had to be understood and worked through. But, they were able to convert many to Christ and these converts stood strong, often in the face of opposition.

One of the strongest stories to me was of a young man who had converted and was studying at their school. He was always there. Always! When he stopped arriving, they were concerned but knowing the ways of the jungle, knew he could have just been delayed. When week after week went by, they grew worried. Finally, after weeks and weeks, he arrived back at the school ready to continue learning. What they found out about him was that his father had illegally killed an elephant and was to be punished for it. The young man knew his father would not survive the punishment as jail there tended to include daily beatings. So, the young man petitioned the judge to allow him to take the punishment of his father. It was allowed. So after the time for his father was served, this young man went back to school to learn to preach God’s word. Now, if that isn’t truly taking the gospel of Jesus to heart, I don’t know what is!

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The heart of the book is what Mr. Champlin wrote above. Many stories in here serve to strengthen and encourage, but they also are just so we can know what others go through in order to serve God. It is intended to help the reader serve God more boldly. Not every one will be a missionary whose lives are in danger often but every one can be a missionary on the street where they live, with those they are in contact with. And that is why stories like this are so important.

I definitely recommend this book. I would love a better map as I like to follow the places the stories take place. I looked a couple maps up online but they don’t really use the same village names. Also, they are often post-revolution maps, so they don’t contain all the villages and places that were burnt and destroyed.

I do know that some of the stories are tough to read and might not be appropriate for a child who is sensitive to the suffering of others or who is frightened from reading stories of danger. Both of these are possibilities for the readers of these stories but that should not prevent us from reading them.

Be encouraged.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about the stories from Venturing with God in Congo.

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Psalm 95 – hymn

Psalm 95

Okay, I am honestly not sure if this counts as a hymn but it is a song that we have sung for a long time. I have taught it to just about every Bible school class I have taught because learning scripture through music is so natural for children.

Psalm 95:1-5
Come let us sing with joy to the Lord,
Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation,
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving,
And extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the Great God.
The Great King above all gods.
In His hands are the depths of the earth.
The mountain peaks belong to Him,
The sea is His, He made it.
And His hands formed the dry land.

This past week, we were studying Psalm 95 at our bible study. We took a look at these verses and focused on what the instructions here are all about.

This call to worship is a direct one. Come.

Don’t wait, come.

Sing. Not just sing but sing with joy. To the Lord!

Extol Him in the process.

Because He is worthy.

He has created all that there is and that includes you and me. From the top of the top (mountains) to the deep of the deep (sea), He made it. He spoke it into being and has a purpose for it. See Genesis 1 if you want to read more on God creating all that is. It is a beautiful story that is worth reading again and again.

Psalm 95:1-5 is not a somber, plaintive call to worship. It is joyful. It is celebratory. Because we should celebrate who God is and what He has done for us. For me. For you.

And because of that, we should obey His word. Don’t delay. Read and believe. Confess your sins before men, repent, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. He tells us that when we are obedient to Him and follow these steps, He washes us white as snow, the sins are no more, and we are given the gift of eternal life with Him. What a blessing. And definitely something to sing in a joyful way.

So, today, sing joyfully to God, being obedient to His word, and sharing it with others.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Love One Another

Love one another for love is of God.

This song has been running through my head today and it is based off of I John 4:7-8. The words:

Love one another
For love is of God.
He who loves is born of God
And knows God.
He who does not love
Does not know God.
For God is love.
God is love.

In our songbook, this one is titled The Greatest Command and has three other melodies for the other voice parts to sing with some different but related words.

But I have sort of stuck on the “love one another” part.

Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Well, what are those? We find them throughout the New Testament but they often fall under one of two options:

1 – Love God.
2 – Love others.

(See Matthew 22:37-40 for one example of this.)

Love. It is a theme that we cannot ignore. Yet, it is so easy to do let it go by the wayside. By getting busy or distracted, we can easily be taken away from seeing the needs of others and stretching to meet them.

My youngest spent some time one day this week, hours really, working on a project or two. I didn’t know what she was doing but she just asked to have the art materials. So, she got the boxes and worked, and planned, and figured. And this is what she came up with:

It is an example of love to me that she thought about doing for others with her time. This sits in an area where I see it several times a day. It makes me smile but even more reminds me to serve others through acts of love.

These acts don’t have to be gigantic. They can be small. My middle daughter likes to surprise me with little notes on my pillow thanking me for something I might have done for her during the day. I try to show my husband that I love him by taking care of things he might need before he needs them, such as clean uniforms for work or getting his food bag packed for work, making his bread for sandwiches or picking things up so he won’t trip on them when he comes home in the dark from work. I can write notes to someone who made me smile or who is having a hard time. Small acts matter.

I encourage you to find small acts of love that will encourage others each day. Big gestures are great – being one of the greeters at the church building where you worship so visitors will feel welcomed, taking a meal to someone in need, or giving extra to a specific need such as sending to a missionary who has a particular project. But sometimes, the small acts of love make a bigger impact so don’t forget them.

What are you planning to do today to love one another?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Gospel In Hard Times ~ a book review

Disclaimer: New Growth Press (www.newgrowthpress.com) has sponsored this post by providing me a free copy of the book for review. I was not required to write a positive post. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines.

The Gospel In Hard Times

Hard times come to us all. Some are easy to see from an outside perspective. Others are not so easy to see. The Gospel In Hard Times for Students by Joni and Friends takes a look at suffering and how God works in the lives of those suffering. This small group Bible study looks at personal stories of how God can use suffering to bring His children closer to Him, deeper into their faith. How one responds to and reacts to suffering can have long-term, life-altering impacts and this study will help students see this reality.

“Why me, God? How can such tragedies be part of your plan? Looking back on more than fifty years as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, having endured chronic pain, as well as a battle with breast cancer, I can assure you that God isn’t afraid of our questions,” writes Joni Eareckson Tada in the book’s foreword. “In fact, he wants us to cry out—scream out to him if we must—because when we turn to God and his Word for answers, we’ll find a loving Father who promises to never let us out of his sight and who wants to turn our tragedies into triumphs.”

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Designed with an eight-lesson format, this study will help students take a look at the hard parts of suffering through the eyes of many who have “been there, done that.” The real-life testimony is one part of the study. Combined with leader’s notes, discussion, biblical application, suggested video clips, and action plans to demonstrate how Jesus identifies with our sorrow, students will learn how God’s plan can be seen and followed, even through suffering.

The need to for strong, faith-based communities is another aspect of suffering that is explored in the study. Our brothers and sisters in faith not only meet our physical needs, they help meet our spiritual and emotional needs as well. Carrying burdens and helping to seek Biblical answers to the hard questions is something that is needed during suffering. This study will help students explore this need.

The age level for this study is junior high to high school. Set up in eight lessons, each lesson would take a minimum of 2 hours if you cover every section and utilize the videos. The time frame could possibly be longer with in depth discussions or less if you choose to not use some of the sections or the students are not very talkative in the discussion. However, you will lose depth and understanding if you leave out any of the sections.

My recommendation is to use the entire study, including the videos found online. (There is a link in the study guide.) You can either plan for long, possibly open-ended sessions or plan to break the lessons up over multiple sessions. A good way to use this is in a Sunday school setting by starting the lesson during Sunday morning class time and continuing it on Wednesday night class times. You would have to spend a bit of time refreshing everyone on what was covered previously or catching up anyone who wasn’t there before but it is very doable.

This study is quite appealing to teenagers. My 15 year old daughter is looking forward to finding a time where she can go through the study. The videos really bring the hardship and attitudes to life. As a video was playing on the computer for one of the lessons, both our 15 year old and our 13 year old became interested and sat down to watch the video. After it was done, they asked to watch more videos. These are high interest, personal stories that really enhance the study. Don’t skip them.

The study is a strong and much needed topic among our youth today. Joni and Friends do a good job with making the information relevant to the students. They take on a hard topic head on and students will really benefit from it.

Also available is a version of this directed towards adults and it is titled The Gospel In Hard Times: study guide with leader’s notes.

About Joni And Friends:
Joni and Friends is an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Founded in 1979, their mission is to communicate the gospel and equip Christ-honoring churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disability.

The organization authors numerous books including the new releases The Gospel in Hard Times and The Gospel in Hard Times for Students (study guides about suffering in which participants are guided to look to Jesus to understand who God is in the midst of their own suffering and the suffering of others), God Made Me Unique (a children’s book helping parents and caregivers teach children that God creates every person in the image of God), and a series of minibooks providing personal insight & encouragement for tough circumstances.

You can learn more about Joni and Friends at www.joniandfriends.org.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Gospel in hard times

 

 

The Mission Centered Life ~ a book review

Disclaimer: New Growth Press (www.newgrowthpress.com) has sponsored this post by providing me a free copy of the book for review. I was not required to write a positive post. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines. Mission Centered (1)

Most Christians see a part of their life as living for Christ, reaching out to others. Some  people are called to go abroad for this purpose but all of us can look around our own neighborhood and see a need for this. Bethany Ferguson has been abroad to serve others but has also seen the need to share her gained wisdom with those at “home” to do the same in their own lives.

The Mission Centered Life: Following Jesus Into The Broken Places by Bethany Ferguson shares many of the hard things Bethany has experienced in her mission work abroad. This Bible study has a gospel focus which means the study keeps the focus on Jesus and the good news of his love and power to save. The study will prompt you to go out to serve others, whether near or far.

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This Bible study is set up with an introduction and then ten (10) lessons. The study can be done independently, though more will be gained from a small or large group study. Each participant will benefit from having their own book as some exercises have lists or charts and having the written discussion questions in front of you allows you to better consider answers and participate.

This is considered a topical study with each lesson approaching a different aspect of missions. Much of the scripture used comes from the book of John. I found that reading all the way through John before I began the study really helped me focus on the mission life being addressed. You can expect each lesson to take approximately an hour of group time, though I found I could easily spent close to an hour working through a single lesson on my own. I would expect, if I were working through this in a group, that it could be easy to spread each lesson out over two meetings or closer to an hour and a half.

Each lesson contains seven sections:

  1. Big Idea – summary of the main idea of the lesson
  2. Bible Conversation – reading and discussing a passage from the Bible, discussing what was read; this is intended to have several good answers for each question and to generate discussion
  3. Article – the main teaching section of the lesson, written by the author and including observations and stories from her life on the mission field abroad
  4. Discussion – questions following the article to apply the Big Idea to your own life
  5. Prayer – suggestions ideas and guidelines for a specific prayer time related to the mission aspect of the lesson
  6. Essay – a second article with additional scripture readings written by the author with additional teachings and reflections; can be used for personal study time
  7. Reflection – questions following the essay to consider more deeply the mission ideas addressed

The author’s purpose is to help the Bible student hear the call of Jesus for your own life. Hope is that you will see his love for you and the world, taking his salvation to others, joining his “life-giving mission.”

The mission aspects addressed include:

  • Going – article “Beauty and Brokenness”, essay “Beginning in Bundibugyo”
  • Identifiying – article “Who Are You Really?”, essay “Jesus Becomes Like Us”
  • Changing – article “A New Home”, essay “Believing in Jesus”
  • Praying – article “Daily Bread”, essay “The Bread of Life”
  • Seeing – article “Our Need to See”, essay “Seeing God’s Work In You”
  • Believing – article “Grief and Glory”, essay “Transformed Expectations”
  • Serving – article “Heroes or Servants?”, essay “A Life of Humility”
  • Suffering – article “A Mugging”, essay “Hope and Cynicism”
  • Repenting – article “Preparing the Way”, essay “Life in the Garden”
  • Celebrating – article “Grace and Celebration”, essay “Light and the Mission-Centered Life”

The ideas behind each of these articles honed in on challenging aspects of how a person who claims to be Christian lives their life. Reaching out to those around us is not necessarily second nature to us and this study will push us to push our own personal boundaries. It is a good study and the personal touch of the author’s experiences helps bring the ideas to life.

There is a good big of scripture in the study, though I do feel it would benefit from even more. That will be easy enough for the study leader to add while working through the ideas.

If you are looking for a challenging study about reaching those around you and around the world, consider taking a look at this study.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

mission centered life

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