Category: Bible Study

Book Review: “Habits of the Heart” by Katherine J. Butler

Habits of the Heart by Katherine J. Butler is a collection of short, daily devotions. The idea behind this book is that we should be training and building Bible study habits with daily discipline that will help us to grow in our Christian walk. As someone who has trained for a physical race, I can easily relate to the idea of training to walk a better spiritual walk. Each week concentrates on a particular aspect of training our heart to better follow Jesus. Each day within that week features a Bible verse, a short devotion, and some sort of action item where the reader is prompted to consider the lesson for that day. Although the book doesn’t use the Bible version that I use, it does contain the Bible reference so that I can easily look it up. The book itself is compact and would easily fit in a purse. The pretty woodgrain look of the book, with it’s shiny copper lettering and gorgeous artwork inside the covers, is simply stunning. Each day is not only labeled with the month and day, but also is numerically labeled by week and day in case you were to get behind on the daily devotions. It also contains handy ribbon bookmark. I enjoyed this book. The short devotions can help even the busiest among us to focus on training our hearts to follow Jesus closer each day.

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers, I’d like to share the first chapter of Habits of the Heart with you here.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Fear and Faith” by Trillia J. Newbell

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Fear and Faith is an encouraging book that takes a look at fear as covered in the Bible. Mrs. Newbell separates her discussion into chapters focusing on a specific fear that women might face. She spends time defining the fear and how it may manifest itself in the reader’s life. This book urges the reader to recognize the presence of fear in their lives, but then to replace those feelings of fear with faith. I love that the author uses lots of specific Bible references to support her position. I also appreciate that she doesn’t use a condemning tone for those who struggle with fear as seen in the introduction where she compares a baby learning to walk to a Christian learning to walk in faith. Those first steps are often wobbly, but yet the triumph in both situations is that they took the step in the first place. The book also uses the basket of leftovers in the passage from John 6 (that details the feeding of the five thousand) to illustrate an important truth about Jesus:

“Jesus is the bread. He is the eternal sustenance for the hungry soul. In Him our should no longer go hungry or thirsty. The leftovers in the story are a picture for us, reminding us every time we read it that He is more than enough for you and more than enough for every need in my life.”

This reminds the reader that He is enough to conquer every fear and that they should trust Him in faith. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is prone to struggle with fear, especially women.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Redeemed – Grace to Live Every Day Better Than Before” by Angela Thomas-Pharr

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Redeemed is a Bible study by Angela Thomas-Pharr divided into seven sessions. Each session consists of Bible study material (discussion and interactive questions), a read and meditate section, and a place to write a response in prayer for all seven days of the week. A 40 day prayer challenge and plan to read through Psalms are also a part of this book.

After an introductory section, each session is broken into the following topics:
Redeemed for a Life with God
Redeemed for the Praise of His Glory
Redeemed for Grace
Redeemed for Freedom
Redeemed for Joy
Redeemed for Love

Quotes and Bible verse references are visually separated by the use of bold red type, and the study has associated videos that are sold separately, but their purchase isn’t necessary to the book. Finally, a concise leader’s guide is included in the back of the book that list discussion questions.

As you can see here’s a lot packed into this study. A study on redemption is good for new Christians and seasoned Christians alike. I think this study is especially good for one with an overwhelmed heart. In fact, the author starts off by challenging us to stick with this study and make the time to do it, even if it seems impractical at this stage in their life. The author challenges the reader to continue to let God’s power change them.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “What Does God Really Promise?” by Carolyn Larsen

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What Does God Really Promise? is similar to another title I’ve recently read by Ms. Larsen, but this one covers 101 questions regarding the promises of God. This hardback book is beautifully illustrated with cheery colors and drawings. It provides a high level overview of questions that a new believer or skeptic might have regarding God’s promises, the church, and the future. It is also written to generalize many different denominations of the Christian faith instead of just one. So, you might often see a range of answers in this book based upon those varying beliefs.

Each question is supported by a Bible verse (usually NLT, but can be easily cross-referenced to another version). It is written in a manner that is easy to read and generally avoids the use of complicated theological terms. The sewn-in bookmark also lends itself to reading on the go. Overall, this is a good overview book for new believers.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Can I Really Know Jesus?” by Carolyn Larsen

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Can I Really Know Jesus? 101 Questions and Answers About Jesus, Salvation, and Prayer by Carolyn Larsen is an easy to read hardcover book with beautiful illustrations that covers a lot of topics regarding questions one might have about Jesus, salvation, and prayer. It is written in a format that allows for quick reading and is devoid of hard to understand theological terms.

The questions appear to be targeted to new believers or perhaps even skeptics. Each question also has a Bible verse presented with it to support the author’s answer. I wish that the verse were presented in the King James Version, but the New Living Translation is mostly used. Overall, I think it’s a good overview of questions that a new believer might have.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Looking for Lovely – Collecting the Moments That Matter – Bible Study” by Annie Downs

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Along with reading Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs (find my review here, I was interested in looking at this accompaning Bible study. It was easy to read, had lots of open-ended questions that caused internal reflection, and had some great relatable stories that I enjoyed reading. Being from the South, I loved knowing about certain areas she referenced. The study had a laid back tone and was visually interesting. Each week contains 5 days worth of material which helps if you get behind during the week. There are low-cost accompanying videos, but they aren’t necessary to complete the study. The scripture that is printed is mostly NIV, but I simply cross-referenced it to my King James Version Bible.

Woven throughout the study was the themes of perseverance and the idea of simply looking for the good in all situations. It is so easy to get wrapped up in negativity or only focus on the big picture. It was refreshing to be encouraged to notice the small things in life and the glimmers of “lovely” in my life. I found it interesting that she used people from the Bible, but organized them into groups that I could relate to, such as musicians, fishermen, farmers, and women.

There are 7 sessions:
Introduction
Farmers
Musicians
Fishing
Women of Influence
Jesus
Now What?

I enjoyed this Bible study, and I think others would too.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Review: “You’re Already Amazing – Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be – LifeGrowth Guide and DVD Set” by Holley Gerth

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It’s been quite some time since I have enjoyed a Bible study book as much as I enjoyed this one. Mrs. Gerth was very personable and had a relaxed, encouraging tone on the DVDs. I felt like it was really like sitting down with a friend for coffee to discuss these issues. The study guide has six sessions and has tons of free online content on the author’s website. The guide is filled with lots of open-ended questions that cause the reader to explore and examine many parts of their life that they might not typically sit down and ponder. I found all of the exercises to be insightful and interesting. I especially enjoyed the section at the end of each session where you are given a creative prompt related to that session. As someone who enjoys exploring my creative side, it was fun to get to combine creativity with Bible study.

I found it to be such an encouragement to explore Bible verses regarding trying to live my life the way God intended me to live it. Mrs. Gerth is very careful to explain the title You’re Already Amazing by distinguishing between humanistic pride and simply recognizing yourself as being the amazing person God created you to be. I’ll admit that it is hard for me to accept that I’m amazing. I usually have a hard time with positive thoughts of myself and generally am very critical of myself and my efforts. However, this passage struck me as early as page 18 of the guide:

“What I’ve discovered through connecting with thousands of women is that we’re great at encouraging everyone else, but we’re hesitant to do the same for ourselves. But God loves us all the same, and it hurts him just as much when you talk negatively to yourself as it would if you were saying those unkind words about someone else.” – Holley Gerth

As I read that, I thought of how I feel when my child is struggling with negative thoughts about themselves. It deeply saddens me to know that they think such thoughts, and I desperately want them to see just how wonderful they really are. For the first time, I thought about how that talking negatively about myself is doing the same thing to God when I’m overly critical of myself. The book is full of Bible verses, encouraging ideas, and word art that were so inspiring. My copy is full of notes and highlights which is an indication of a book that I love. I recommend this guide and accompanying DVD set to anyone who would like to “embrace who you are and become all God created you to be.”

I was given a copy of this guide for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Bible Journaling Book

Drawn using tutorial at timewarpwife.com
Learned from tutorial at timewarpwife.com

Recently, I became introduced to the world of Bible journaling, also known as documented faith or illustrated faith, via an Instagram post by Rachel Wojo. I loved the combination of Bible verses, art, and creative lettering. It was as if two things that make me happy, scrapbooking and Bible study, had collided. I quickly searched Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and found lots of inspiring examples and tutorials. I have started with picking some of my favorites and trying to replicate them in my inspiration notebook. I also use that notebook to practice alphabets in different fonts that I find.

My first "journaled" verse.
My first “journaled” verse.

Using my inspiration notebook, I write verses and my thoughts about verses in a separate Bible study notebook. I’m far from being good at this, but it makes me intensely happy to be able to learn to draw and letter while learning Bible verses. The act of determining the design of the artwork causes me to take time to ponder the verse and how I want to convey its’ meaning. I also love that even the notebook and pencils were a gift from my children and the container for my pencils came from a ladies’ meeting at church. It is my hope that my children will someday take these journals and enjoy knowing which verses I chose to copy.

Banner drawn using tutorial from timewarpwife.com
Banner drawn using tutorial from timewarpwife.com

Like any crafting thing, there is a plethora of supplies that you can use. Since I just got started, I don’t have a lot of different items. Here is what I do have:

My supplies
My supplies

-Pretty notebooks, spiral or composition (a lot of people journal directly in special journaling Bibles, I prefer to have a separate notebook)
-Colored Pencils
-Pencil for Sketching
-Zig Ball Pen, .5mm
-Marvy Calligraphy Pen, 2.0mm and 3.5mm
-Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, B
-Washi Tape

I hope to buy a Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Brush Pen soon. From what I can understand, these pens are great for the contrast of thin and thick lines of modern calligraphy that is so prominent today. Later, I’d like to also try some watercolor brush pens. I’m trying to resist the urge to run out and buy a lot of new supplies. One website suggested mastering one art medium before moving on to the next. I think that’s wise advice.

A page from my Bible journal
A page from my Bible journal

I’m still learning. Here are some resources to get you started if you are interested:

Time-Warp Wife
Rachel Wojo
Creativlei
One Artsy Mama

Flowers drawn from technique learned at oneartsymama.com
Flowers drawn from technique learned at oneartsymama.com

Flip Book Review: “The Bible is my Best Friend – 365 Days – Connecting Your Family to God’s Word and to Each Other” by Sheila Walsh

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My family has loved this flip book. It’s similar in format to a page-a-day calendar, but doesn’t have specific dates printed on each page. Instead, it is divided into numbered weeks and then is numbered by day within each week. It is spiral bound, sturdy, and self-standing. We have put ours on our table and use it as a good conversation starter at dinner. My youngest, in particular, enjoys getting to read the new page each day. The book uses bold, colorful hues that are visually stimulating for kids. I also love the whimsical illustrations. Each page is quick to read and is geared well to young families. I think any family with children between the toddler stage and tween stage would be a great target audience. Each day has something different, including thought-provoking questions, interesting trivia, challenges, prayer prompts, Bible trivia, riddles, games, and more. The week starts and ends with the Bible verse for that week. Most of the verses are presented from the HCSB, but each verse has the reference also listed so that you can use your preferred translation which is also great for helping children to learn where to find a reference in the Bible. My kids give it a thumbs up, and I’d recommend this fun product to anyone with children.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer

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After seeing the movie War Room, I wanted to read this book by Priscilla Shirer. I wanted to explore the subject of prayer further. I was met with a well-developed guide that warns the reader of ten specific areas where Satan tries to attack and therefore where we should be careful to pray for. The areas that Mrs. Shirer point out are:

Your Passion
Your Focus
Your Identity
Your Family
Your Past
Your Fears
Your Purity
Your Pressures
Your Hurts
Your Relationships

I could easily relate to the illustrations in this book, particularly in the chapter on pressures. Those relatable experiences were bolstered by Scripture references at the end of each chapter. Shirer points out repeatedly how the devil tries to break down the heart and mind of women. I so appreciated her directness in pointing out just how he uses things against me. For example, on page 57, she says, “He’d rather conspire to keep you in a constant state of mourning, grieving over who you wish you were, instead of relishing who you really are, exacerbated by insecurity and crippled by self-doubt.” My notebook is now filled with beautiful Bible verses referenced by Shirer as well as her ideas to help to combat attempts by Satan to defeat me.

I’d whole-heartedly recommend this book to people who would like to be further enlightened about the devil’s strategies to derail our lives and how to be strategic in prayer to combat him. It was spot-on in her descriptions of how the devil can use certain arguments and ideas to discourage the heart of women. After reading this book, I’m further inspired to improve my prayer life more each day.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.