Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: Loving God and Others

book cover

Loving God and Others
by Kay Arthur, David Lawson and BJ Lawson

Trade Paperback: 90 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
First Released: 2009

Source: Won in a Twitter contest from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
What Does God Really Want from You?

It’s easy to get confused about how to please God. One Bible teacher details a long list of the commands you should be keeping. The next teacher says only grace matters. Who is right?

Centuries ago, in answer to this question, Jesus simplified all the rules and regulations of the Law into just two great commands: love God and love people.

Loving God and Others looks at how these two commands define the heart of Christian faith. As you rest in the certain knowledge of what God calls you to, you will be challenged to live these commands out—and discover how obeying Jesus’ simple commands will transform not only your life but also the lives of those around you.

Loving God and Others is a no homework, 6-week-long Bible study. It's designed for small groups to do in a short period of time, like over a lunch break. The Bible study pretty much let Scripture speak for itself and explored what the whole Bible taught on the subject.

The study had people read several verses (which were included in the book along with information about the context of the verses), mark/highlight certain words, then answer several questions about what was just read. A few lessons had "insights," brief bits of historical information that helped make a verse more understandable. At the end of each week, there's a page summary of what was learned that week.

Some lessons were shorter than others--either because there were fewer verses to read or fewer questions to answer--but all were pretty quick to get through and the questions were helpful to focus attention on all the points that needed to be looked at. Each lesson in week one through week five built upon each other, going from the basics to more advanced ideas. However, to me, the lessons from week six felt tacked on at the end, though they were vital. I think they would have flowed better if put between week one and week two.

Overall, I'd recommend this Bible study to Christian believers, especially new believers or those who feel confused on the subject of "what does God want from us."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Week One, Lesson One
The religious leaders of the day had one goal: to get rid of Jesus. To that end, they had been challenging Jesus' authority. The scene we're about to look at opens just after the Sadducees tried unsuccessfully to trap Him into saying something that would get Him in trouble with the people and the Roman rulers. Now the Pharisees were trying to do the same. They sent a lawyer to Jesus with a question hotly debated among the religious leaders of the time.

Leader: Read Matthew 22:34-40 aloud. Have the group say aloud and...

* mark every reference to Jesus, including synonyms and pronouns, with a cross
* draw a heart over each occurrence of the word love

Mathew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.
35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
37 And He said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38 "This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

* What did the Pharisee ask Jesus?

* What was Jesus' response?

* What did Jesus identify as the second most important commandment?

* What do we learn about these two commandments in verse 40?

The phrase the Law and the Prophets was the standard way of referring to the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament). When Jesus said, "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets," He meant that all other commands are summed up or contained in these two.

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