Thursday, June 29, 2017

Coffee for Your Heart by Holley Gerth

book cover
Coffee for Your Heart
by Holley Gerth

ISBN-13: 9780736970945
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Released: July 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Discover more joy, peace, and purpose every morning as you listen to the voice of the One who delights in you! In Coffee for Your Heart, bestselling author Holley Gerth shares 40 encouraging and powerful reminders of how God sees you as His beloved daughter. You are...wonderfully made, chosen, irreplaceable, strong, never alone, ...and so much more!

This noisy world can make it hard to hear the assurances of God. Let His voice be the loudest one in your life as He stirs up your hope and confidence each new day. Previously published as God's Heart for You.

My Review:
Previously published as "God's Heart for You." Coffee for Your Heart is a 40-day devotional that encourages women using Scripture. The author looked at how we are accepted, forgiven, loved, chosen, free, secure, known, strong, beautiful, heard, His friend, His child, defended, guided, understood, valuable, victorious, pursued, comforted, supported, never alone, desired, and more.

Each day's devotional started with a verse, then the author talked about the verse and how it's come up in her life. For example, how we might struggle with feeling accepted and acceptable, but God accepts us. Or how we delight in our children (even though they aren't perfect), which helps us understand how God can delight in us. She included several reflection questions relating to the Bible verse and her commentary and a short, open-ended prayer (so you can personalize the prayer). She ended with a free-form poem reminding the reader of what you just learned.

Overall, this devotional left me feeling encouraged and closer to God. She made some excellent points. I intend to read this devotional again, and I'd highly recommend it.

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: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jonah by Priscilla Shirer

book cover
Navigating a Life Interrupted
by Priscilla Shirer

ISBN-13: 9781415868492
Paperback: 157 pages
Publisher: Lifeway Church Resources
Released: July 1, 2010

Source: Bought a copy for group ladies Bible study.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted provides a personal study experience five days a week, leader helps, and viewer guides for the group video sessions of this in-depth women's Bible study.

What do we do when God interrupts our lives? Many times, like Jonah, we run! In this 7-session Bible study, Priscilla redefines interruption and shows that interruption is actually God's invitation to do something beyond our wildest dreams. When Jonah was willing to allow God to interrupt his life, the result was revival in an entire city.

My Review:
Jonah is a 7-session group Bible study inspired by the events in the book of Jonah. It's a group study where the women meet together once a week for 60-90 minutes. During this group study, you watch a video that is 32-48 minutes long and discuss things from the workbook. The workbook had sentences that you fill in as you watch the video, then it had 5 days worth of work to do at home during the week. Each day has 4-5 pages worth of reading in the workbook. The main theme was about divine interruptions (or interventions).

Basically, if Jonah was given a second chance, we then looked at places in the Bible where people were given a second chance and then were encouraged to discuss times in our lives when God gave you a second chance. We were also encouraged to find a "Nineveh" to reach out to as a group. Our church tends to attract people who are involved in various outreaches. Our problem wasn't that we didn't want to do this but that we're already so busy.

Our group of women knew each other but were not close, and our leader was new to leading Bible studies. I would have liked to discuss some things brought up during the week that were never brought up for group discussion in the Leader's Guide. By the end, we were skipping most of the suggested questions and spent more time discussing the parts that we had questions about.

Also, it seemed like each week we were supposed to open up about ourselves. For example, we're suppose to talk about a time God gave us a second chance. We all agreed God had done so, but either due to "which one to talk about?" or "I'm not telling about that!", only the leader actually answered in front of the group. I think many group Bible studies try to get people to open up more than their level of acquaintance makes comfortable.

While I enjoyed getting to know the women who attended, I didn't feel like I really learned anything about Jonah that I couldn't learn from study Bible. The focus seemed more on looking at how something in the story might (somehow) be related to our lives and how to apply that. So it's more of a "Christian Living" study than a true "book of the Bible" study.

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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Insights on Galatians, Ephesians by Charles R. Swindoll

book cover
Insights on Galatians, Ephesians
by Charles R. Swindoll

ISBN-13: 9781414393766
Hardback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: December 1, 2015

Source: Bought.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The Living Insights New Testament Commentary series draws on Chuck Swindoll's 50 years of experience with studying and preaching God's Word. His deep insight, signature easygoing style, and humor bring a warmth and practical accessibility not often found in commentaries. Each volume combines verse-by-verse commentary, charts, maps, photos, key terms, and background articles with practical application. The newly updated volumes now include parallel presentations of the NLT and NASB before each section. This series is a must-have for pastors, teachers, and anyone else who is seeking a deeply practical resource for exploring God's Word.

My Review:
Insights on Galatians, Ephesians is a Bible commentary. The author explained the meaning of various key Greek words and provided information on the cultural and historical background. The author gave a paragraph or two of Scripture and then studied through that verse-by-verse. At the end of each section, he discussed how we can apply the writer's message to our own lives. He also included occasional "journal" pages were he talked about how those verses had been applied or worked out in his life.

Though you can look up information on just a single verse, this is more a Bible study book where it's assumed you'll read the whole book. Some sections focused on clarifying what the verses mean so the reader can better understand them. Others were more of a sermon where he tells the reader what to understand from it.

Overall, this book was easy to follow and understand. I use these commentaries for my daily devotional reading, and overall, I'd recommend them.

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: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

book cover
Included in Christ
by Heather Holleman

ISBN-13: 9780802415912
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Included with Christ is a narrative-driven study where you can write Scripture into your life. Women will learn to spot their "shadow narratives"—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth. This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians will help women combat feelings of exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.

Included in Christ is designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

My Review:
Included in Christ is an 8-week Bible study of Ephesians (with 5 days of study per week). Each week focused on one of seven verbs found in Ephesians: included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, proclaiming. For example, "proclaiming" talked about the words you use and about evangelism.

The overall theme is that we believe Shadow Narratives containing lies that make use feel excluded, weak, empty, etc. When we learn the truth and live like someone who is Chosen, Included, etc., then we start to live our Savior Stories. She shared Savior Stories that were written by people she knows, and she asked questions to help you identify your Shadow Narratives and rewrite them into Savior Stories. The last week focused on how to write out and share your Savior Story.

The author suggested visualizing meaningful symbols to help remember these verbs and how they affect our lives. This study can be done on your own or as a group study were you share your answers. Some answers involve revealing your fears and feelings, so it might work best for groups that are comfortable with each other. Overall, I'd recommend this Bible study.

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: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.