Friday, June 29, 2012

Bible Study: How NOT To Treat A Brother - A Study of Obadiah (Part IV)


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Obadiah, although they are a bit better formatted than some former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the Old Testament book of Obadiah one final time. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

16 – Drank on My holy hill – Misbehaved in a holy place. Treated holy things as common

The cup of God’s wrath – Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15-16; 49:12. Jesus drank this cup (Matthew 26:42) for us already. We don’t need to drink it as well

Ezekiel 25:12-14 is a prophecy against Edom.

All nations drink continually/drink and drink – constantly drunk? Constantly punished? Shows a severe lack of self-control.

Be as if they had never been – WOW! God’s wrath will wipe them out!

Lamentations 5:21-22 – they will be naked – bare, vulnerable.

17 – Deliverance on Mt. Zion – see Joel 2:32. Read Amos 9:5-11 which speaks of Israel’s restoration. Micah 4:1-8 talks about judgment from Mount Zion.

Israel will receive her inheritance – implies that Edom may have been trying to take it. This is almost a role-reversal of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob. It would seem that Esau’s descendants wanted it back! Israel’s inheritance is the Lord, but this verse is speaking of the promised land. Too bad Edom didn’t really want Israel’s inheritance, because God would have welcomed them into His embrace.

God will save Zion. See Psalm 69:35. The Lord will save Israel. See Isaiah 14:1-2.

18 – Israel will be a fire – spreading? Passionate? Contrast fire as passion and destruction (punishment).

House of Joseph will be a flame???

Esau will be stubble – there, but insignificant. Annoying, itchy. A full beard was the mark of a man. Not to have a beard was shameful.

Edom will be set on fire and consumed, leaving no survivors. Isaiah 1:31 – punishment; Zechariah 12:6 – Judah will consume enemies; Jeremiah 49:10 – Edom will be wiped out!

19 – People from the Negev (dry wasteland) will occupy Edom’s land. What is significant about that? The Hebrew word Negev means “south”, just like Teman means “south”. Negev replaces Teman, Hebrew replaces Edomite.

People from the foothills will occupy Philistine’s land…and the fields of Ephraim and Samaria. Ooh, Ephraim is a tribe of Israel. Samaria is the capital of Israel.

Isaiah 11:14 speaks of the Philistine lands; Jeremiah 31:5 speaks of Samaria.

Benjamin will possess Gilead.

20 – Israelite exiles in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath.

Exiles from Jerusalem in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev.

1 Kings 17:9-10 – A Zarephath widow ministered to Elijah. Zarephath is in Sidon.

Jeremiah 33:13 – Israel’s flocks will roam the Negev.

Israel will be displaced.

21 – Deliverers will go to Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. Mt. Zion is Edom’s territory? It would be delivered.

The kingdom would be the Lord’s – it already belongs to Him!

Psalm 22:28 – Dominion belongs to the Lord.

Psalm 66:4 – All the earth will bow down!

Daniel 2:4 – God’s kingdom.




Some parting questions:

Who is your brother?

How are you treating him?

What steps could you take to align yourself with God’s Word even further to become a better brother as well as growing closer to the Lord?



• The book of Obadiah teaches much about how NOT to treat our brothers and sisters. What have you learned about how you SHOULD treat others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brave by Angela Thomas – Session 1

I’m not sure what to expect from this Bible study called “Brave: Honest Questions Women Ask”. I’ve heard and read some wonderful things about it, though. In fact, it was what I read about the activities in the workbook on the Bible Café for Women blog that swayed my decision to sign up for this study over the others that my church offered this quarter. Then I was blessed beyond belief when my Pastor asked me to facilitate the study.

I immediately began praying for the women that God would bring to the study and for me to stay out of God’s way so that He could teach all of us.

Video: Session 1 has no viewer guide. But here is what I got out of the 12-minute video introducing the study: Things may not always go according to our plan, but God is never surprised by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is brave to take the adventure of walking with God.

Class Activity/Discussion: We spent the better part of our meeting time getting to know each other. We took a moment to introduce ourselves and explain which chapter of the study we were most looking forward to. We chose prayer and accountability partners, and exchanged contact information so that we could keep in touch with each other. After the video, we took a few minutes to discuss what we learned and were inspired to share our own vacation mishaps. It brought lots of laughter and realization that we have more in common with each other than we imagined.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Central Park Rendezvous

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Ronie Kendig, Dineen Miller, Kim Vogel Sawyer and Marylu Tyndall and their publisher for sending me a copy of "NOVEL" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“Central Park Rendezvous” is a beautifully crafted anthology of historical romance stories. Each story takes a step further back in time to follow the previous generation’s love story. The common threads running through each tale turn out to be deeper than the obvious: a city a family and a coin with a story of its own! The wounds/scars overcome in each beautifully written story are inspirational. These men and their lovely ladies transcend four engaging tales.

*****The author’s fascination with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is apparent in Ronie Kendig’s present day story, “Dream a Little Dream”. (TBI is also a major plot point in her latest incredible novel, “Trinity: Military War Dog”.) Jamie Russo has come across a stack of undelivered letters from the Wolfe Estate. She hunts down Sean Wolfe, a former soldier with TBI, to deliver the letters to the Wolfe family. While they are getting to know each other, Sean deals with demons over his father’s death and the two try to untangle the mystery of the missing coin. A letter leads Sean into the next tale…

*****“A Love Meant to Be” by Dineen Miller is set in the early 1970s where Marcia Wolfe entices her sister Gail to indulge in one final fling before marrying. Alan James was Patrick Wolfe’s best friend and the perfect target for Marcia’s idea. Instead of a fling, these two seem to have found true love as Alan escorts Gail around New York City. But Marcia’s lies keep Gail and Alan from fulfilling their plan to reunite after Alan returns home from Vietnam. This story continues to the present day and a possible third chance at love. The song at a dance serves as a segue to part 2 of “Dream a Little Dream” which transitioned to the next story through another letter…

*****Kim Vogel Sawyer’s contribution, “To Sing Another Day,” finds Helen Wolfe having given up her dream to finish her music course and sing opera to take care of her siblings after their parents’ deaths in this WWII era story. Bernie O’Day runs a pawn shop. Taking an interest in the Wolfe family when he meets Helen and then her younger brother, Henry, Bernie hires the boy and becomes Henry’s role model. This offers a wonderful opportunity for Bernie to share God’s love with Henry but winds up sharing that love with the whole Wolfe family…leading to part 3 of “Dream a Little Dream” and another letter of another love…

*****“Beauty from Ashes” by Marylu Tyndall, set at the end of the Civil War, tells the story of William Wolfe, a soldier wounded and disfigured during battle, and his fiancée, Annie. William returns to the Williamsburg area to make her his bride. What he doesn’t know is that her sister, Permelia, has loved him silently for years. He also doesn’t know that he had been corresponding with Permelia when he thought he was writing to Annie. As he spends time with Annie, William’s suspicions about her character are ignited and he begins to notice Permelia’s kind and generous nature. The conclusion of this Civil War romance leads to the final installment of “Dream a Little Dream” where Sean and Jamie’s story is concluded.

A terrific weekend read!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Janice Thompson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Director's Cut" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“The Director’s Cut” by Janice Thompson is the latest humorous, thoughtful and entertaining read in her Backstage Pass Series. Tia Morales, the director of the hit television show, “Stars Collide,” is spreading herself too thin. With one of the shows stars about to take maternity leave and two new additions to the crew – one of which is her flirtatious sister, Tia’s work life is chaotic enough. But throw in the personal issues of hiring her brothers to renovate her house and matchmaking attempts by her family when she already has a crush on her cameraman, Jason, and you have one hilarious recipe for a terrific romance with typical Janice Thompson flavor!

This delightful novel transports the reader directly to the set of the top rated TV show with lots of backstage insider info that might make her appreciate her favorite shows a bit more. The characters – even the annoying ones – are supremely likeable and entertaining. The mix of cultures adds lots of pizzazz. The story moves right along and captures the reader’s attention even beyond the turning of the final page. This book is a keeper!

Friday, June 22, 2012

REVIEW: The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Darrel Nelson and his publisher for sending me a copy of "The Anniversary Waltz" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.
“The Anniversary Waltz” by Darrel Nelson is a heartwarming story of marriage, romantic love and life.  It is an encouraging fiction read for romantics of all ages derived from a wonderful male perspective a la Nicholas Sparks.  It brought back memories of my own grandparents and great-grandparents as Adam and Elizabeth’s love story is told on their 60th wedding anniversary, whose lifetime of love began with a dance.  Following the dance on this auspicious occasion, which is re-enacted as it happened the first time they danced, the family gathers to hear Adam and Elizabeth tell their love story, an anniversary tradition and a beautiful gift to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and each other.

This story brings hope in the possibility of life-long commitments.  The short chapters keep the pace fast as 60-plus years unfold through the pages.  “The Anniversary Waltz” is an engaging read that touches the heart and ignites the desire for simpler times.  I will be keeping my eyes on this author.

1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ by Jonathan Falwell

First of all, I would like to extenda heartfelt “Thank you” to Jonathan Falwell and his publisher for sending me a copyof "1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ" to review for them. I am truly grateful for thisgenerosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make areviewer copy available to me.
JonathanFalwell’s “1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ” is a fascinating look at Jesus’three-year ministry that puts His service into perspective for me from thetitle through to the final page! Each ofthe 15 short but deep and thoughtful chapters has thought-provoking questionsfor personal reflection and/or small group discussion.

My favorite part of this book is a terrific, meaty Bible study guide withdifferent questions than those at the end of each chapter. This section includes memorizationchallenges, prayer suggestions and practical ways to put what you are learninginto action as well as offering suggestions for further study on each topic.

Thereis also an appendix that records 100 main events of Jesus’ life. This is an interesting timeline of sorts thatchronicles the life of Christ.

REVIEW: “A Man of Honor” by Loree Lough

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Loree Lough and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Man of Honor" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity.

“A Man of Honor” by Loree Lough is the third book of the First Responders Series. Dusty Parker is a man who has overcome a great deal in his past. Now, he is a preacher with a heart for troubled teens. Grace Sinclair seems to be the perfect partner, also having a heart for young people and a few items of her own baggage.

This story has it all: romance, suspense, a thread of faith woven throughout. The characters are realistic and the plot keeps the pages turning. But I struggle to say that this was an amazing book. I’ve never read the first book in the series, but the second and third First Responders novels have not subscribed to the fantastical “Happily Ever After” type of ending. These are gritty, intense reads that feel like real life at times. I usually read Christian fiction to be entertained, so I prefer that sugar-coated hero and heroine riding off into the sunset. So my struggle comes from being too invested in the wonderful characters that Loree Lough has created, I suppose.

Bible Study: How NOT To Treat A Brother - A Study of Obadiah (Part III)


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Obadiah, although they are a bit better formatted than some former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the Old Testament book of Obadiah once again. It’s still only one chapter. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

11 – Because Edom stood by and watched Jerusalem be pillaged and destroyed, God sees Edom as like those who attacked Jerusalem!

LESSON – EDOM STOOD BY AND WATCHED HIS BROTHER BE DESTROYED. EDOM DIDN’T DEFEND HIS BROTHER.

12 – Edom shouldn’t rejoice in his brother’s misfortune.

Memorize Proverbs 24:17 – “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”

Ezekiel 35:15 is a supporting prophecy against Edom.

Proverbs 17:5 argues that this behavior shows contempt for God.

Look down – haughty, superior.

Judah – kingly line.

LESSON – EDOM REJOICED IN HIS BROTHER’S MISFORTUNE. EDOM WAS HAUGHTY.

13 - Edom shouldn’t march on his brother’s cities on their day of trouble.

Edom shouldn’t look down on them and seize their wealth.

14 – Edom shouldn’t lie in wait to cut down fugitives.

Edom shouldn’t hand over Israelite survivors to their enemies.

15-21 – Edom’s judgment will come at the hands of Israel. Poetic justice.

15 – Judgment Day is coming soon. Joel 2:28-32 speaks of the Day of the Lord. Amos 5:18 says it will be a day of darkness.

As you’ve done to others, it will be done to you.




• The book of Obadiah teaches much about how NOT to treat our brothers and sisters. What have you learned about how you SHOULD treat others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

James: Mercy Triumphs – Bonus Material – An interview with Beth and Melissa

Chairein! (Ky Rain)

We’re officially done with Homework and Melissa’s Articles. If you’ve opted for that next level of participation, you’ve already written the entire book of James and you may be continuing to memorize it, like I am. (Currently, I’ve memorized 1:1 through 3:10). Our class had an extra week before the start of our next group study, so we took that week to watch the bonus material.

Video Segment: The little snippets of the interview that Kelly Minter conducted with Beth and Melissa were tantalizing. But the full interview is a feast. I wish I could watch it over and over again so I wouldn’t miss anything said by these godly women.

I did glean quite a bit of information if my note-taking was any indication. The theme of James’ Jewishness has been a valuable point since week one. His orthodoxy is revealed in his rabbinic style of verbally punching with honesty rather than beating around the bush with his words. James, unlike Beth, does not hail from a culture steeped in Southern manners! He comes right at you like a brother, bluntly and accurately articulating Torah for Christians.

This book is the bridge between the law and the law-free gospel. The man who was deeply loved by Jesus and penned the epitome of counter-cultural wisdom that has transcended generations was (and still is) dangerous to false teachers. He penned hard-hitting truth that is potentially life-changing.

James cared for the poor. Even Paul knew this was part of who James was (Galatians 2:9-10). His example and his teaching has given me a desire to make caring for the poor party of my Christianity. I want to look into their eyes, as Melissa did in Calcutta, to see what is truly important. Although part of me is sadly skeptical about giving sacrificially to those who may not be truly poor, a discussion that emerged in my study group after watching this interview put this “fear” in its place! It’s up to God to deal with those who are dishonest about their poverty. It’s not that I shouldn’t use the discernment that the Holy Spirit gives me, but that I should give out of obedience to God. Amen! That is the way of health and wholeness in Christ – obedience.

I pray that I will be more vulnerable to the truth of God’s Word now that I’ve completed this study. May the memorization make it even more of a part of me. May it change me from the inside out.

Watching Beth recite the book of James was mesmerizing. I kind of followed along until she reached the point where I’d completed my memorization. Then, the words seemed to tumble out of her in a convicting rapid fire. It will be interesting to watch again after I’ve completed my own memorization.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Praying God's Word For Your Husband by Kathi Lipp

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Kathi Lipp and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Praying God's Word For Your Husband" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Kathi Lipp’s “Praying God’s Word for Your Husband” is a terrific book that I plan to use in conjunction with other books that I already use daily to flesh out deeper, more meaningful prayers for my man. I was most touched by the comments penned by the author’s husband about what her prayers mean to him.

I did come away from this book with some real suggestions for how to improve my prayer life for my husband in specific areas. Many of these techniques and suggestions will be helpful when I am interceding for others, as well. This book encourages boldness and expectation regarding prayer. Those passages truly uplifted me and gave me incentive to persevere in this area of my life because the end result – time with the Lord – is absolutely worth it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Memorizing and Reciting the book of James - Chapter 5

A challenge from Beth Moore to memorize the book of James in her latest study "James: Mercy Triumphs" is continuing to teach me long after the last session video has played.


Treasures of Healthy Living by Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Treasures of Healthy Living" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“Treasures of Healthy Living” by Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey is a Bible study unlike any other and it has reached my hands at the absolute perfect time, as God’s appointments do in my experience. Sadly, the review for the book is due in only nine days, so I will barely get the study started before I must critique it. So I skimmed the workbook. I like the format. The idea of the Bible containing a treasure map for how to eat well excites me. I noticed a website (designedhealthyliving.com) listed in the introduction to the study, and visited it. There are great recipes and health resources, evaluations and videos. I immediately downloaded my “Daily Bread Handout” and printed it. I’ve been wanting to make healthier bread than what I’m buying in the store.

My desire to make these changes stems from being overweight for several years and finally getting the push I needed to do something after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. I immediately made changes to my diet to include more fruits and vegetables. After completing treatment in 2011, I needed to do something to get my energy back so I started doing Zumba at home with DVDs and joined a class at the local YMCA once I had learned the basic steps. Four months later, I began counting calories and losing weight, and here I am 10 weeks later, having established good exercise habits and watching what I eat, so I now want to change the foods I’m currently consuming for even better choices. And I suspect that knowing what God’s Word says on the subject is key to making those changes.

Bible Study: How NOT To Treat A Brother - A Study of Obadiah (Part II)


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Obadiah, although they are a bit better formatted than some former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the Old Testament book of Obadiah for the second time. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

6 – But even Edom’s hidden treasures will be taken. The Edomites hid their wealth in the rocks. Why mention Esau here? To give a clue about Edom’s origin?

This identical image appears in Jeremiah 49:10.

LESSON – EDOM WAS GREEDY.

7 – Edom will run away, not defend their land.

Edom will be attacked and defeated by allies, those they have honored and cared for. Edom will be entrapped by these people, oblivious to the trap.

See Psalm 41:9 – those with whom you eat bread are close friends. This speaks of betrayal.

LESSON – EDOM WAS COWARDLY.

8-14 – Prophecy? Or after the fact? Edom betrayed Israel when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC.

8 – In that day, the Lord will destroy Edom’s wise men. God will destroy them by astounding them with wonder upon wonder (Isaiah 29:14). The Lord thwarts the plans of the crafty (Job 5:12). Wise men? Esau was known for brute strength and a hot temper, not wisdom.

LESSON – EDOM WAS HOT-HEADED.

9 – Teman? Esau’s grandson by his son, Eliphaz (Genesis 36:11,34). Eliphaz was firstborn, the first sign of Esau’s strength.

Edom’s warriors from the line of Teman will be terrified. Genesis 36:10-43 shows Esau’s descendants. This is saying something significant. Esau was a big brute of a guy, so his sons were probably “men’s men”.

Everyone in the mountains would be slaughtered. Teman’s land refers to the south. Teman was an important Edomite city. Did Esau’s family split up their land the way Israel did?

LESSON – EDOM WAS A WARRIOR PEOPLE.

10 – Because of Edom’s violence against Jacob, Edom would be utterly shamed and destroyed. Edom’s behavior is so deplorable because he is Jacob’s brother!

Joel 3:19 confirms Edom’s demise because of her violence against Judah. See Psalm 137:7 – Edom calls for Jerusalem to be torn down. Edom cries out for this.

Amos 1:11-12 speaks of the three sins of Edom against his brother: he pursued his brother with a sword, he had no compassion, and his anger raged and fury flamed.

God will send fire against Teman. Seems a fitting punishment for flaming fury. Bozrah is in the mountains of Edom. These two cities were critical to Edom being able to wage war continually.

Ezekiel 25:12-14 is a prophecy against Edom for its treatment of Judah. 35:9 explains that God does this so Edom will know He is the Lord! ALL CONSEQUENCES FROM GOD ARE FOR RECONCILIATION!!!!!

Micah 7:8 says that Israel will rise again.

LESSON – EDOM WAS VIOLENT. EDOM CHASED HIS OWN BROTHER WITH A SWORD. EDOM HAD NO COMPASSION. EDOM WAS FILLED WITH ANGER.




• The book of Obadiah teaches much about how NOT to treat our brothers and sisters. What have you learned about how you SHOULD treat others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

REVIEW: Heart of Glass by Jill Marie Landis

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Jill Marie Landis and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Heart of Glass" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“Heart of Glass” by Jill Marie Landis is a romantic epic of the old south. Kate Keene loves her childhood best friend’s plantation home – where she grew up. She also had the biggest crush on her best friend’s brother, Colin. But things are different now that the Civil War has ended. Belle Fleuve is in shambles, the Keenes and Delanys are all gone, and when Kate arrives at Belle Fleuve, she encounters a very broken Colin Delany. Because of her love for the Delanys and Belle Fleuve, Kate wants to honor their memory by restoring the house using her architectural gift. But that will be difficult since Colin doesn’t want her around.

This beautifully crafted story brings the post-Civil War South to life and wonderfully depicts the spirit to persevere in the face of trials. The characters are thick with dimension and depth. The plot lends itself to wonderful conflict and opportunity to craft a sigh-inducing romance. The historical setting whets the appetite to know more about the Civil War and its aftereffects. I have already managed to intrigue a couple of people into reading this novel. What a wonderful weekend escape it has been!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

James: Mercy Triumphs – Week Seven – On the Way Home

Chairein! (Ky Rain)

Homework: What a way to end a study! This week’s homework gave us our final glimpse of James in Scripture and spoke about the dilemma of the Jerusalem church in accepting the offering that Paul collected from the Gentile churches in Asia. We learned about James’ death and the aftermath of his murder. And I was completely moved by Day Five after studying all of what I mentioned earlier in the week. Mercy Triumphs is definitely one of my favorite Bible studies.

Melissa’s Articles: In the first of this week’s articles, “Theology of the Collection”, Melissa discusses the dilemma of James and the Jerusalem Church in receiving the gifts collected for the poor by Paul from the Gentile churches. Gentiles sharing the spiritual blessings of Jews have a responsibility to minister to them. Paul believed that the Gentiles “owed” the Jews for their spiritual heritage.

“So, Who Took the Reins?” is a fascinating article about who succeeded James as the bishop of the Jerusalem Church after his murder. This article also taught me that historian Hegesippus’ information is not always reliable because of his tendency to sensationalize, which reminds me to be like the Bereans and check my sources and their information.

The title, “The Legacy of James,” says it all. This final, emotional writing declares that James left a legacy of righteousness that touches hearts, souls and minds even today. He left a legacy of Christianity blended with Judaism in harmonious beauty. Like Melissa, I too want to so absorb Jesus’ teaching and live it out that I remind people of Christ even when I’m not talking about the Bible. That’s the gift that James has given to me. And it has changed my life.

Writing James: We already completed this assignment last week. What has been accomplished in my life as a result of writing the book of James? First, let me explain that I am using writing as a memorization tool as well. I’ve been typing what I’ve memorized so far each day to help solidify it in my mind. This exercise has helped me know the book a bit better. It also put me in the position of James, who wrote the letter, himself. I was able to sit and reflect on his thought processes as he wrote by writing it, myself. This has been an incredibly rewarding way to spend my time. I will definitely use this technique to study other letters.

Memorizing James: The memorization process continues. Currently, I have memorized James 1:1-3:4. At this rate, I should complete the project about a month sooner than the 5-month time frame that Beth suggested. My plan was to film my recitation and post it on this blog. By the time you read this, I hope at least pieces of it are already available for your viewing pleasure.

Now that all is said and done, where do we go from here? I so loved the experience of getting to know James and I relish a new perspective on Jesus through James’ eyes. So, I believe I will now study the words of another of Jesus’ half-brothers, Jude. I’ve studied it before, but I believe that this freshened viewpoint will only open his words up even wider to add another dimension to the portrait that has been painted of my wonderful Savior!

Video Segment: A powerful lecture ends this life-changing study as Beth discusses the end of James’ letter to the scattered tribes. Painting a potent picture of James at the time of his Big Brother’s death, the student can almost feel the restoration that took place in his life when Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection. Personally, I cannot wait for my Heavenly Father to queue up that video! As always, it’s sad to see a study end, but I will definitely take many lessons away from this one.

God bless you, Beth and Melissa!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Honor Redeemed by Loree Lough

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Loree Lough and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Honor Redeemed" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Loree Lough’s “Honor Redeemed” is Book 2 in the First Responders Series. Although I have not read Book 1 “From Ashes to Honor,” this novel reads well as a standalone. Honor Mackenzie is a dedicated Search and Rescue team leader in Baltimore. Matt Phillips is an equally dedicated father of twin boys. He is also a widower and a reporter who gets under Honor’s skin. Each has their own reasons for not wanting to become involved in a romantic relationship. But those reasons disintegrate a bit at a time as their admiration for each other grows.

This novel is full of action, adventure, friendship and romance. The adrenaline junkie that lives in my brain would have liked a bit more in the action and suspense departments, and I would’ve liked a different ending, but this novel has the formula down pat for conflict to build an entertaining romantic plot. Those moments of conflict were frustrating at times, but the touching moments made up for much of it. I still look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Bible Study: How NOT To Treat A Brother - A Study of Obadiah (Part I)


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Obadiah, although they are a bit better formatted than some former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the Old Testament book of Obadiah. It’s only one chapter. (We will spend 4 weeks here, and read the book through each time. You will get to know Obadiah really well.) Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

What does this Old Testament book of prophecy have to teach us today? We can certainly learn from history and the behavior of others. The judgment of God against Edom teaches us how not to treat a brother. We should look upon Edom’s behavior as specific lessons of how we, as followers of Christ, should not act.

Obadiah means “servant of the Lord” or “worshiper of the Lord”. This Old Testament prophet was believed to be a contemporary of Jeremiah which would place the writing of this book around the time of the Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem and Israel’s captivity (605-586 BC). This book is a prophecy to Edom, reprimanding the nation for its pride and its role in Israel’s fall and its attitude of gloating over it.

See Ezekiel 35 for another prophetic judgment against Edom.

1 – God gave this prophecy to Obadiah in a vision.

Do you remember who Edom is? If you recall stories of Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Rebekah’s twin sons, in the book of Genesis, you may remember that Esau was also called Edom. These people are Esau’s descendants. According to Genesis 25:14, Edom is equated with Ishmael’s 6th son, Dumah.

God tells Edom that her allies will betray her.

This identical message about the envoy and going into battle appears in Jeremiah 49:14.

The envoy was encouraging the nations to join in battle against Edom.

LESSON – EDOM ARROGANTLY THOUGHT THEY WERE IMMUNE TO BETRAYAL, THAT THEY WOULD BE VICTORIOUS ON ANY BATTLEFIELD. THE ONLY CERTAIN VICTORY IS A GOD-LED ONE!

2 – Edom would be small and hated. God would cut Edom down to size.

This identical imagery appears in Jeremiah 49:15.

LESSON – EDOM WAS PRIDEFUL.

3 – Edom was arrogant and prideful. They thought they were invincible.

Who lives in clefts of rocks? Eagles. See v. 4. The clefts of the rocks of Sela, the capital of Edom.

This identical image appears in Jeremiah 49:16.

LESSON – EDOM WAS ARROGANT AND PRIDEFUL. THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE INVINCIBLE. NO ONE IS INVINCIBLE BUT THE LORD!

4 – Edom soars like an eagle – powerful, majestic, strong, acute vision (although they were pretty blind to their faults).

Nest among the stars – inaccessible places, except for God’s reach… God will bring Edom down from her lofty place.

This identical image appears in Jeremiah 49:16.

LESSON – EDOM THOUGHT THEY COULD GO HIGH ENOUGH THAT EVEN GOD COULDN’T REACH THEM. CAN YOU RECALL ANOTHER DISPLAY OF SUCH ARROGANCE IN THE BIBLE? YOU ARE NEVER OUT OF GOD’S REACH!

5 – Thieves and grape-pickers would only take so much. They would leave something behind. The implication is that a thief is more honorable than Edom.

This identical image appears in Jeremiah 49:9.

LESSON – EDOM WAS LESS HONORABLE THAN THIEVES. EDOM WAS GLUTTONOUS AND COVETOUS.




• The book of Obadiah teaches much about how NOT to treat our brothers and sisters. What have you learned about how you SHOULD treat others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

James: Mercy Triumphs – Week Six – Powerful Effects

Chairein! (Ky Rain)

Homework: This week’s homework is a life-changer from word one! At least it was for me. Beth’s guidance led me through some soul searching and realizations that changes need to be made in my life in the areas of greed and patience. It also led me to ask myself questions like: What would I do if God took away all I had? Would I curse Him? Does what I’ve seen and heard about God keep me faithful to Him when I have no current physical evidence of His wonderful character? The homework also led me to recognize God’s lavish blessings and taught me about letting my “yes” be yes.

Melissa’s Articles: In this week’s first article, “The Elephant in the Room”, Melissa talks about how James 5:1-6 could be speaking about any of three groups of people: ANY rich people who abuse wealth and live self-indulgent lives; rich Christians who abuse wealth and live self-indulgent lives; or rich non-Christians who live that way. What this article taught me – in a timely way that only God can accomplish – is that I need to crack down on greed in my own life. Thank you, Melissa. Thank you, Jesus!

“The Old Testament & James 5:11b” sparked several ideas in my mind. God is unchanging. From before the dawn of time to the exodus to Job to Jonah to James, He is, was and ever shall be compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love, and maintaining that love for 1000 generations. He forgives, but won’t let the guilty go unpunished. No wonder we can never fully “get” God. He is so complex. And this article of Melissa’s was sheer worship!

In Melissa’s article “James 5 & 2009,” her wonderful sense of humor shines as she tells a personal tale of triumph through prayer. But this is not necessarily a testimony of positive results or complete healing. In fact, the triumph begins when we approach the elders of the church to pray over and anoint us as James says in God’s Word. This is by far my favorite of Melissa’s articles because her beautiful personality was so evident on the page.

Writing James: This week, we wrote James 4:18-5:20, completing the assignment.

Memorizing James: As of the class meeting for week six of study, I have memorized James 1:1-2:23.

Video Segment: WOW! What a video! Have you ever had doubts about ministry? You don’t feel that the ministry you’re doing is quite where God wants you? This is a must watch session for you. Beth was in ministry 16 years before she found where God wanted her to be! She loved the ministries that God planted her in, and wouldn’t trade a single moment. Hearing this testimony was absolutely freeing for me, as I have also bounced from ministry to ministry and still haven’t hit the position that I feel is “golden”. I have only been in ministry for 12 years, though, so I suppose I have time. Actually, as long as the sun continues to rise, I have time. Thank you, Beth, for being one of the flames of testimony that has ignited my faith. I will be sad to see this study end.

Monday, June 04, 2012

After All by Deborah Raney

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Deborah Raney and her publisher for sending me a copy of "After All" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Deborah Raney’s “After All” is an emotional life-after-tragedy novel that is more thought-provoking than entertaining. Complex characters stand strong in the foreground of this story of love, betrayal and forgiveness that culminates in second chances for some and denial for others. The multi-dimensional plot keeps the reader engaged with the story on many levels as tough issues are confronted. The poignant story poses difficult circumstances that beg for the readers’ reflection.

Susan Marlowe is a recent widow: her firefighter husband losing his life on the job with four other heroes. But what Susan discovers after the funeral casts a shadow upon the hero she buried. She is not the only one affected by the loss. Her son, Davy, is acting out. Fire Chief, Pete Brennan, feels responsible for the deaths of his men. Andrea Morley, the “other woman”, is the cause of the turmoil.

Deborah Raney brilliantly fits these pieces together to create a rich and deep picture and teach valuable lessons. This is one novel I would not recommend as your next fun weekend at the beach read. But if you’re looking for a poignant, thought-provoking and emotionally confrontational novel, “After All” is for you.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Bible Study: Welcome to the Family - A Study of the book of Ephesians - Chapter 6


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Ephesians. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Grow in your faith in Christ. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians. Read it with the thought in mind that this is Paul’s instruction to new Gentile converts in Ephesus. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

Chapter 6 – May 31, 2005

I see chapter 6 as a progression…

Child → Parent → Bondservant → Warrior

We are preparing for battle here on earth.

6:1 – children are under the protective umbrella of their parents. (See 1:20; 5:22-25) (Creative Correction – Lisa Whelchel)

6:10-18 – to prepare for battle.

6:13 – we are God’s armor-bearers! See 1 Samuel 14.

6:17 – sword – machiara.

Word of God – 1st offensive weapon.

6:18 – pray in the Spirit – 2nd offensive weapon.




• The book of Ephesians contains much teaching about what life in Christ is all about. What have you learned about how He wants you to live for Him from today’s study? Whether seasoned Christian or new convert, how will you accomplish what the Holy Spirit is teaching you about how you should live?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?