Fresh Start Bible Review

As a Small Group, Bible Study leader I was (and am) very excited about this new resource, the Fresh Start Bible.

There are many kinds of study Bibles. Some are historical and archeological. Some are topical. Some are word referenced, giving the reader specific guidance as to meaning usage. Some are paraphrased into modern language usage for better understanding. All are intended to point the Believer to a better understanding of His Word and how it applies to daily life. The Fresh Start Bible is no exception. Using the New Living Translation it has hundreds of articles written by various people that enhance and provide understanding. Several short ‘side-bars’ provoke deeper thought about known concepts and stories. It includes many articles about questions that both the new and seasoned believers might have. Personal comments, historical facts, and suggestions for personal, everyday use abound.

I decided to use this Bible as my main resource in preparing and teaching a series of lessons on how the Tabernacle of the Old Testament applies to contemporary worship. It was helpful and informative, leading not only me but also my fellow learners to new insights and thoughts about the subject.

In a future upgrade to this work, I would suggest more ‘side-bars’, commentary and articles for the Old Testament portion.

I highly recommend this resource for both Bible study leaders as well as learners.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy free from Gateway Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Simeon and Anna

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story is that of two people who waited patiently for the Messiah.  Simeon and Anna were both New Testament witnesses to the Christ Child. Their stories are as follows (from the NIV, Luke 2):

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…

     

Anna by Rembrandt

Anna by Rembrandt

Luke 2:36–38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Simeon and Anna were the first to see Him in a public place.  They were the first witnesses to who He really was.  More importantly, they were not afraid to say, to other worshippers in the Temple, who He was.

Simeon and Anna were the last of the Old Testament prophets.  Their entire life purpose was to listen for and to God.  Also, they shared with the other worshippers what they had heard God say in the temple.  They did not sugar-coat the words but spoke clearly and with conviction.

Both of their names point to a strong, long-lasting faith.  Simeon means obedient and listening.  Anna means gracious, one who gives.

Dr. William Smith in Smith’s Bible Dictionary suggests that she was probably more than a hundred years old when she spoke over Jesus.  (If she was married at approximately 14, lived with her husband for 7 years, and had spent 84 years after that in the temple, then she was at least  105 years old.)  It is possible that Simeon was also quite old.  Tradition has it that he was one of the 72 translators of the Septuagint.  If that is truly the case he was over 200 years old at the time of this incident.

So, what is in this story for us.  First, Isaiah 40:31 pops into my mind when I think of the words ‘they that wait upon the Lord…’.  In all the years they waiting for the Birth neither one gave up on God’s promise and they were rewarded with seeing Him personally. We often wonder when God will finally act on one of His promises or our requests.  Simeon and Anna are a great example of waiting and waiting and waiting…  Second, a life of prayer is important in seeing God’s work.  Although the scripture says Anna had lived, prayed, and fasted in the temple since her husband’s death, it does not mean that we have to live in our churches to experience God.  He is everywhere!  And finally, we can trust that God will follow through on His promises.  God will and can do what He says He will.  Our trust and obedience in matters of faith always lead to God’s blessings.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear — Book Review

Sometimes laughter, sometimes tears, sometimes a fervent prayer for forgiveness. Sometimes affirmation, sometimes kind remonstrances, sometimes silence.  Relationships are forged within these behaviors and so much more.

Affirmation comes from considering, really thinking about, what your spouse needs and even wants to hear.  Have you taken the time to think about those areas of everyday life that we so often take for granted? Perhaps it’s time to do so.

Such things as saying yes, being careful of the other’s feelings, pulling back when you really want to argue (and win), and letting them know you really like and care about them, make all the difference in any relationship.  Although this book focuses on wives affirming and supporting their husbands there is much that applies to all good and growing relationships.

I found 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear thought-provoking and inspiring.  Lisa Jacobson‘s life experiences and words of wisdom are timely and much needed in this season of negativity and put-downs.

Much is written in this volume about affirmation and support. Which of course is what the title implies. I would love to see, from the same author(s) what they, as individuals, want to be affirmed, supported, and thanked for. Would there be a difference?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may contain affiliate links.  When you use them I may receive a small commission that helps support the costs of maintaining this blog.

Last

“Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Luke 13:30

Jesus first! Others next. Yourself last.  Pure JOY!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Forever, Lately – – Book Review

How hard it is to find good fiction that isn’t full of steamy romance and unnecessary violence but this delightful book certainly fits the bill. It’s the perfect solution to a stormy, snowy, can’t get out of the house afternoon.  Once you get into it you’re not going to want to put it down.

It’s a love story that transcends the boundaries of time as it moves between the 1800’s and the 21st century. In a storyline that doesn’t always go where you expect it to you’ll find horse drawn carriages and cars of the modern era playing a very important role that helps tie the two eras together.
Such delightful characters fill the pages.  The protagonist is portrayed as a modern writer with no personal style whatever, but when transported back in time becomes a beautiful young woman who fits in well, except for the fact she looks like another woman. There’s even a villain or two.
Of course, in time travel, there always has to be a catalyst.  In this story, it’s a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl. At one point it gets torn in half and… I guess you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens then.
I hope you’ll thoroughly enjoy, Forever, Lately by Lenore Rose Burkhard.  I have!

Letters To My Students – – Book Review

Teaching and preaching are much the same and at the same time different.  Preaching must always point to Jesus.  Always! Preachers are always teachers but teachers are not always preachers.

I decided to review Letters To My Students because I wanted to see how close the two are.  Interestingly, and I already knew this, they are very close.  The main difference is the audience.  Preachers to the church body, teachers to the church body, classrooms, small groups, and individuals.

To be an effective teacher there are three commonalities:

  • Knowing your audience includes building trust and relationships.
  • Knowing yourself is about the constant awareness of your spiritual, mental, and physical health.  All of who you are shows in your teaching.
  • Knowing what’s going on in the world your students are living in helps apply your lesson to their lives.

This book is packed with the wisdom of seasoned pastor/teacher Jason K. Allen.  It is valuable to the one in the pulpit and the one in the Sunday School classroom, Bible study leader, mentor, and yes, even the public/private school teacher can gain much from reading it.

Powerful quotes:

A text cannot mean something now that it never meant. (pg. 67)

Aim to inform the mind, impact the heart, and challenge the will. (pg. 85)

Great preaching (teaching) is usually passionate preaching. For every ounce of passion in the preacher’s (teacher’s) voice, there should be a pound of compassion in the soul. (pg. 136-147)

Blessings to you and your’s!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman & Holman Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thoughts on the Book of James

I have been honored with the privilege of reviewing a new Study Bible. Each time I agree to do one of these I read my favorite books first and note anything new. The Fresh Start Bible is jam-packed with great side notes throughout.  Here’s what I’ve gleaned from the Book of James. (Yes, my absolute favorite book of the entire Bible.)

Robert Morris referring to James 1:17-18:

Understanding God’s goodness makes a huge difference in our relationship with Him. (pg. 1094)

The only reason why we aren’t immediately destroyed the first (or hundredth) time we sin is because God is good. (pg. 1094)

Robert Morris referring to James 3:1-12

The default setting of the tongue is to destroy, and unless we change this setting, we will always do more damage than good. (pg.1095)

The good news is that our tongue can produce good fruit. You can use it to bless your job, your finances, and your family. (pg. 1095)

Robert Morris referring to James 4:3

God gives to us so we can have the joy of imitating Him and giving to others. (pg. 1095)

Next, we’ll look at what is interesting in the book of Esther.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Amazon Affiliate Commission Earned

Pre-ordering is happening right now at http://gatewaypublishing.com/bibles and if you pre-order it from the publisher you will receive it in mid-November rather than Amazon’s release date of Dec. 1st.

 

Each New Day Is A Gift — Wordsmith’s Desk

Quote

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) _______ Each new day is a gift. The tomorrow talked about…is the yesterday to be. There are new opportunities and challenges with each sunrise. Maybe choices you made yesterday could have been better. Today gives you another chance […]

via Each New Day Is A Gift — Wordsmith’s Desk

Always We Begin Again – – Book Review

I’ve been enjoying reading through a devotional that really isn’t a devotional.  Does that make sense? Not really, but yes, it does.  Always We Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley is a series of short essays on the many ways we start over every day of our lives. They’re not only relatable short stories but they include a guided writing prompt that can help each reader deal with their own beginnings.

Here’s what I’ve learned, am learning or have found to be true:

  • The profound yet simple concept that we are constantly starting over is part of daily life.
  • God speaks to us in many ways during our stressful, busy days. Focusing on the issue of the moment, with God as our partner, until we discover the way through, will help calm our minds and lead to a solution.
  • We are held securely in God’s arms. No matter the circumstances He keeps holding on.
  • There are multiple opportunities in our days and lives to begin again, to start over. Just as the sun rises new each day it also sets and gives us the opportunity to rest and reflect.
  • We are all addicts of some sort. Here’s the thing, we can’t pretend to have conquered the problem. Whether we eat, drink, spend, talk, criticize, complain… too much or too little, it can be controlled through God’s grace and our willingness to take each day as it is.

One of the things I really liked about this book is each short essay/story is simply numbered but not dated.  That way if I don’t read it each day I don’t have the pressure of being behind or having to catch up.

This collection is relatable and encouraging. It is reassuring and supportive. There is hope woven throughout its pages. Thank you, Leeana Tankersley, for writing and sharing.

Best quote from the book: “Growth and healing start by giving ourselves the permission to pursue them. If we aren’t willing to show up and participate, then chances are, our souls will be lost on some level. And chances are, it will affect the people who want to share life with us.” (pg. 210)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

back roads to Belonging – Book Review

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review simply because I needed to give myself a break from the bazillion thoughts that were roaring around in my head from all that I had been reading. However, here we go again. I have just completed a powerful book that has had and will have an impact on my choices in the days ahead.

My thoughts as I read through Back Roads to Belonging, Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People by Kristen Strong

Have you come to the end of yourself, realizing you simply can’t do it alone? Do you know you are loved even when you’re left out or determine a different path? Knowing God’s unending love is more a winding road than a straight line. Sometimes little ‘bunny trails’ are necessary to find the purpose He intends. There will be many sharp corners in our lives but only our Savior can smooth them, and straighten the road to home.

Sometimes I get myself into the comparison trap. Yes, everyone does it but there’s a big catch in doing it. Comparing myself to others takes me further away from actually belonging. My heart needs to be centered on connecting with others not becoming just like them.

Finding a quiet place, to hear God’s voice, as I travel my own unique back road is of the utmost necessity for my growth as a Christian. Especially so as God has called me to a new place and people. Let me be honest with you, I kicked and scratched (not physically) and fought and dragged my feet through the whole route. He did not give up and I finally gave in. I had to deal with the truth that there are some people in our lives who are simply not for us. Just because they’re church members does not make them safe or beneficial. I needed to learn, the hard way I might add, that my comfort in a certain group was keeping me from walking the road He intended. This book has been a huge help in dealing with these issues and deciding the way forward. (Thank you, Kristen!)

One of the exercises in this book is to make a list of belonging (pg. 107), In working through this list I was amazed and delighted at the boost to my sense of belonging. So here’s mine:

I am a much-loved Daughter of the KING, wife of Ray, sister to Stella, Ruth, Rick & Joyce, loving and crazy aunt to 29 nieces and nephews, Bible teacher, and friend to/of Spirit Sisters, part of the church fellowship at Living Hope, sister-in-law to the Bungard Family, part of the Hallock Community …

One last thought from the book that will have a profound effect on my forward journey.  We all find ourselves alone from time to time (Yes, Jesus is ALWAYS there!) on our personal back road. (Yes, Jesus is ALWAYS there!)  There is something we can do about it. We can use what we know and combine it with what we enjoy (paraphrased from pg. 191) to encourage others on their own back road journey.

Blessings to you and yours on the way!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”