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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Women of the Word by Jen Wilken

It's Ladies Bible Study time again at my church.  I always love these studies.  It seems like it has been near an eternity since out last one which ended back in the Spring - so not really that long ago.  I enjoy getting to know the other ladies who attend our church and I enjoy the insight they all offer as we study together.  Our fall study will be different from the ones we have done in the past.  We will begin with the book Women of the Word by Jen Wilken.  Then, our Bible study leader will take us through 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus.  These study sessions will take us all the way to Christmas.

Women of the Word by Jen Wilken

The first chapter of Women of the Word has already made me rethink the way I read and study scripture.  Like most people, I read the Bible to listen for God's voice through His Word.  I'm usually searching for answers to life's many questions such as "What should I do?" or "Why is this happening?"  Sometimes I'm reading to find answers to questions in a Bible study that someone else has already written.  Jen points out that although these are good reasons to read the Bible, we should also read the Bible to learn the character of God.  In fact, the most important reason we should study the Bible is to learn the character of God - to know God more deeply.

The main theme of Jen's first chapter is that the Bible is not a book about us.  It is a book about God.  When we study the Bible to learn more about God, we will learn more about who we are through the lens of knowing who God is.

Something else I learned in the early chapters of Women of the Word is that we should study with our hearts AND our minds.  We live in a culture when there is so much emphasis on the heart that perhaps we forget that it is important to study with our minds as well.  Jen believes we should study first with our minds, then our hearts.  Jen tells us that "the heart cannot love what the mind does not know."

The heart cannot love what the mind does not know. - Jen Wilken
Image Credit:  StockSnap - CCO Public Domain Image via Pixabay

We need to study the Bible with our minds and our hearts.
We come to understand who God is and we are changed - our affections detach from lesser things and attach to Him.  If we want to feel a deeper love for God, we must learn to see Him more clearly for who He is.  If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about God. - Jen Wilken
Jen summarizes several approaches to spending time in the Word.  Some of the approaches she mentioned are probably common to most of us.  Although some of these approaches are not all bad all the time, they are not approaches to Bible study that will necessarily result in Bible literacy.  She teaches her readers that a well rounded Bible study:

*challenges us to navigate all areas of Bible study.
*takes into account how any given passage fits into the bigger picture of what the Bible has to say.
*addresses a topic as it arises in scripture rather than attaching scripture to a topic.
*recognizes that books about the Bible are supplements to it, not a substitute for it.
*challenges us to learn the full counsel of God's Word.
Bible literacy matters because it protects us from falling into error.  Both the false teacher and the secular humanist rely on Biblical ignorance for their messages to take root. - Jen Wilken
As we get deeper into the content of Women of the Word, we are told, and truthfully so, that every "little story" in the Bible is part of the "big story."  Although each little story in the Bible teacheres valuable life lessons, we understand the little stories better if we know the meta-narrative of the big story.  Jen continues to reinforce what we already know - that the Bible is a book about God and every little story within it's pages from Genesis from Revelation points to the big story meta-narrative:  creation, fall, redemption, restoration.
Knowing how a particular book of the Bible relates to the big story is important, but the individual elements of the creation-fall-redemption-restoration theme can also occur in the smaller stories of the Bible, in various combinations.  Our task is to search for these themes as we study. - Jen Wilken
We are encouraged to dig deeper into Biblical texts as if we are archaeologists excavating ancient cultures.  Jen tells us to consider the original text written by its original author in its original culture as it was heard by its original audience.  She tells us to find the answers to five questions before reading any given book in the Bible.

1.  Who wrote it?
2.  When was it written?
3.  To whom was it written?
4.  In what style was it written?
5.  Why was it written?

Studying the Bible for Bible literacy takes time.  Jen encourages women to study with purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer.  In the first seven chapters, Jen goes into great detail about the 5 Ps of Bible study.
The sovereign God of the universe once dwelt with us in a perfectly ordered Garden of His own creation.  He will one day dwell with us again in a perfectly ordered city of His own creation.  But in the space between these two bookends, we are granted unique opportunities to be involved in the orderly work of creating spaces where the divine and the human can share fellowship together.  Studying the Bible with process is a means to do just that. - Jen Wilken
Prayer is a very important part of Bible study, perhaps the most important part.  We are encouraged to pray before, during, and after we study the Bible.
If the Word of God is truly living and active, it is so because of the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, through the finished work of Christ, by the loving decree of the Father.  Prayer invokes the fellowship of the Trinity in your study time, a sweet and necessary fellowship for any student of the Word. - Jen Wilken
By the way, God's Word IS, in fact, living and active.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12
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We are rightfully encouraged to study the Bible on our own, to dig deep, and deeper, and deeper still.  She says it is important for us to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our study first.  We should note things we don't understand.  We should read the same book several times and in different trustworthy translations (not a paraphrase like the Message just yet).  After our own efforts, then we should consult trustworthy commentaries and other sources.  If you aren't sure what Bible study supplements are trustworthy and true to scripture, as someone you trust to give you a list.  Your pastor and other Bible study leaders at your church is a good place to start.  Studying the Bible on our own first, in prayer and under the authority of the Holy Spirit, will help us determine whether or not others are leading us astray into a false teaching.  Also, when someone is teaching a text we have already studied, we gain a deeper understanding of the passage.
Preaching and teaching take on greater dimension and accomplish far more when we come to them already saturated in the text they expound. - Jen Wilken
This book is an easy read.  Jen's language and matter of speaking, or in this case, writing guided my eyes smoothly across the lines and pages as her words made their way just as smoothly to my mind and heart.  As I read, it was almost as if she was sitting beside me, talking to me.

Some will agree 100% with everything she says about the Bible and how to study it.  Others will agree with most of what she says.  Everyone who reads Women of the Word will find sound advice about how to more effectively study the Bible.  She notes several times that not every woman will have time to implement every tool or method she suggests, but every woman who desires to study for Bible literacy can do at least something differently to move in the direction of Bible literacy, rather than just reading words on a page to check off the fact that she "spent time in the Word today."

For women who are called to teach other women, this book is a must-read for you.  In fact, her ninth chapter is devoted to you.  She offers you a lot of sound advice.  I don't see how you can read this book, especially the ninth chapter without taking several things away to guide your studies and methods of teaching what you learn.

The purpose of this book, whether the reader is called to teach the Word or not, is to teach us all how to study the Bible for the purpose of Biblical literacy.  Jen reminds us of several points throughout this book.  We become what we behold.  Our hearts cannot love what our minds do not know.  We cannot be transformed into the likeness of Christ if we do not know Him.  The Bible is not a book about us.  It is a book about God.  We cannot love a God we do not know.  We cannot know God if we do not study His Word.

I'll end with one last quote from Women of the Word.
The Word is living and active.  It will conform you by dividing you.  And in the dividing, miracle of miracles, it will render you whole.  We become what we behold.  I don't know about you, but I have much "becoming" to do.  There is a vastness between what I am and what I ought to be, but it is a vastness able to be spanned by the mercy and grace of Him whose face it is most needful for me to behold.  In beholding God, we become like Him. - Jen Wilken

Monday, August 12, 2019

Back to School Activities and Tips for Teachers and Parents

It's back to school time again!  When I was in school, we didn't start back until after Labor Day, but these days, some kids go back by the end of August.  In fact, some school systems are already back in session.  With so many kids going back to school so early, the time can creep up on us before we're ready.  I mean . . . it's still summer!  Oh well, whether we like it or not, when it's time to go back to school, it's time to go back to school.  Here's a list of back to school activities and tips for parents, teachers, and students.  I hope this makes your transition into a new school year a little easier.

Back to School Activities and Tips for Teachers and Parents

 Back to School Activities and Tips for Teachers and Parents

Let's start out with The Ultimate Back to School To-Do List for Busy Moms.  Here, you'll find shopping tips for new clothes and school supplies.  You'll find advice for updating health and personal care records, important paperwork, preparing for before and after school care for your kids, and getting ready for that very first day.  There's lots of good stuff in this post so head over to Productive Pete now to read the full article.

Use this free back to school printable from Paper Trail Design at home to get into the mindset of going back to school.  If you're a teacher, you can use this as an in-class activity for the first day of school.  Go grab your I Spy Back to School free printable here.

Handprint and footprint keepsakes were always some of my favorite activities when my kids were growing up.  This handprint apple and footprint school bus are perfect to mark the back to school occasion.  I personally LOVE the footprint school bus.  Check them out here at i heart arts n crafts.

OK Teachers, this one is specifically geared toward you.  Kacie Travis over at Managing and Motivating Math Minds has compiled an important list for your new school year.  She lists 8 important things that should be at the top of teachers's to-do list for the beginning of the year.  I read them all and they are good tips.  Head over there now and make sure you're doing these 8 things.

Here's a cute little free printable for preschoolers.  This can be done at home with a parent or at school on the first day with a preschool teacher.  I would do this on the first day and then again on the last day.  It's always fun to see how children progress from day one to the last day.  This printable is courtesy of No Time for Flash Cards.  Go get it here.

Here's another one geared toward school teachers, but I think this is good for homeschool settings as well.  Here's a list of what NOT to do on the first day of school.  Head over to Teach for the Heart to find out what not to do.

Under Pressure - Groovy Lab in a Box

(I would like to take a moment to insert my own piece of advice here.  I was a public school teacher and also a homeschool teacher/parent.  I often hear my homeschool parent peers talk about having class in their pajamas or staying in their pjs all day long.  Please don't do this.  I made my daughter get up early, dress appropriately, make her bed, and be ready to start class by 8am every day.  It's just my personal opinion, but I believe allowing too much flexibility fails to adequately prepare our kids for adult responsibilities later on.  Don't wait until they are teenagers to start preparing them.  Start early.  Train them up for a lifestyle of responsibility.  Get up early yourself.  Teach your kids to set an alarm and get themselves up.  Train them to get dressed for the day.  By having them make their beds, you are setting them up for a more successful day.  I know it might sound like a little crazy but it works.  If you do this, then they will have already accomplished several tasks successfully by 8am.  They are set up for success.  When they sleep late, fall out of bed, and stumble to the table only half awake, they are not ready to start a school day.  Trust me on this.  OK, I'm done.  Now, on with more back to school activities and tips.)

Green Kid Crafts STEM

Do you need a bulletin board idea?  This one is a cute one for grades 1, 2, and 3.  The theme is "We've Got a Bright Year Ahead."  This is a digital download from Stephanie Trapp's Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I'm placing another list on this list.  Here's a list of 25 Amazingly Fun STEM Activities for Back to School.  Hop over to Steamsational to check out this great list.

I love this idea from i heart CRAFTY things.  Put together a Back to School Time Capsule.  It's a mason jar craft and it's so cute.  If you don't want to use a mason jar, you can use a box.  Head over there now and get complete instructions for putting one together for your child.

Young children love to trace and color things.  Tracing and coloring is important because these activities help develop those small motor skills.  Hop over to Totschooling to download a Back to School Tracing and Coloring Activity.

Do you teach 2nd grade?  Here are several ideas for the first week of second grade.  Kristin over at School and the City is a second grade teacher who shares her ideas.  Hop over there and see what she's doing.

Britni over at Play.Party.Plan has compiled a list of 17 Back to School Games.  Who doesn't love a beach ball game on the first day of school?  She has a scavenger hunt, a relay race, a bingo game, and many other fun ways to start the school year whether your child is in public school, private school, or homeschool.  Hop over to Play.Party.Plan to check out the entire list.

The Answers Book for Kids Complete Set

Here's another list of back to school activities.  I found this article because I liked the Bingo game, but there are so many other fun things on this list.  There's a Scattergories game!  I haven't played that game in years.  There is a cootie catchers game.  The list of 20 activities is compiled by My Life and Kids.  Head over there and check it out.

Here's another cute one from i heart CRAFTY things.  It's a school bus photo frame.  It's just simply adorable.   Hop over there now to check out this cute school bus photo frame idea.

Do your kids love jokes?  Here's a cute paper joke teller activity.  We used to make these when we were kids a long time ago . . . a very long time ago . . . but kids still love to make these fun paper activities.  Hop over to BrenDid to learn how to make the joke teller.  I think you get it for free if you subscribe to her site.

Preschool Teachers!  You will not want to miss this one.  Jackie over at Pocket of Preschool offers you lesson plans for the first ten days of school.  You'll get center lessons, all about me lessons, routines, class rules, fire drill routine, playground rules, blocks, discovery, and more.  This looks like a treasure for preschool teachers.  Hop over to Pocket of Preschool to get your lessons.

Many teachers like for their students to wear name tags on the first few days of school.  Why not let this be a STEM challenge activity for the kids?  For the Love of Teachers Shop at Teachers Pay Teachers has a free download for a Name Tag STEM challenge.  Students must create their own name tags by following the instructions in the STEM challenge.  Get it here!

All About Me theme activities are popular during the first few weeks of school across many grade levels.  Here's a different spin on this popular theme.  Hayley over at Activity After Math with Haley uses a Math All About Me activity.  Go see her here to get yours.

Our last back to school activity is a great one by Pink Oatmeal Shop.  It's a back to school fine motor package. There are lots of other fine motor activities and various packages in this shop.  I believe there is an option to buy a lifetime membership for all your motor planning resources.   Head over there here to check it out.

Well, if you check out all the back to school activities on this list and then you check out all the back activities on the lists that are on this list, you have a LOT of ideas to start off your school year.  I hope this helps.

If you are a teacher or homeschool parent who has an activity idea or special tip to share, let us know in the comments.  Feel free to add to the list!

Have a great school year everyone!

Back to School Activities and Tips for Teachers and Parents

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

From Where Do You Receive Affirmation?

All of us enjoy and need affirmation but we need to be careful from where we receive it.

You will either live for affirmation or you will live from affirmation.

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon on the topic of "Affirmation."  You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.


Jesus was fully God but He was also fully man.  He was fully human so even though He never sinned, He received affirmation from His Father, God.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” - Luke 3:21-22
*God gave Jesus His acceptance and His affirmation.

Jesus was well loved and He loved well.

*God gave Jesus His approval.

God was pleased with Jesus and He was pleased IN Jesus.
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” - Matthew 17:5
 *God affirmed Jesus again just before He went to the cross.

From where do you get your affirmation?  If you are getting it or trying to get your affirmation from the world, you'll go crazy.

God says to you:

1.  I accept you.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. - John 1:12

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. - 1 John 3:1

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. - Galatians 3:26
2.  I love you.

3.  I approve of you.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.  - Isaiah 43:4
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Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway