Monday, August 26, 2019

Overcomer Movie Review

Overcomer Movie Review

I have waited for Overcomer to hit the theaters for a LONG time.  I am a huge fan of all the Kendrick Brothers' films; in association with Affirm Films, Sherwood Pictures, and Provident Films.  All of the films by the Kendrick Brothers are truly good, quality films.  The first ones were made on a lower budget but the story lines are real.  Each movie deals with real life situations that we all face from time to time.  Each one doesn't hold back the consequences of living a life without Jesus as Lord over it.  I was a fan from the first movie, from day 1, and I'm so happy that these guys and gals have continued to hone in on their gifts and talents as actors, screenwriters, producers, and all things movies, especially faith based films.  I believe God is using them in mighty ways.  Getting these movies in front of audiences takes a huge amount of work and dedication, not just from those directly involved in the movies, but also their families.  I am thankful for their obedience to this calling.  

Introducing Overcomer

John Harrison is the coach of a highschool basketball team with a dream of making it to next season's championship game.  Then, the town's largest manufacturing plant decides to move.  Hundreds of families move away, taking a huge chunk of the basketball team's players with them.  The school not only loses many of its students, but also several teachers including a few coaches.  Coach Harrison is asked to coach the school's Cross Country team.  This "team" only has one player, a girl with asthma.  Her name is Hannah Scott and she has a lot more to overcome than just asthma.

Hannah's parents have both passed away.  She's being raised by her grandmother who is away from home most of the time because she works two jobs to make ends meet.  Hannah must deal with some of her own life choices.  She could continue down the path she is going, continuing to make choices that lead to destruction or she could allow herself to be positively influenced by her high school cross country coach and her principal who is an old friend of her mother's.

Cross Country proves to be a vessel of life lessons for both Hannah and Coach John Harrison. 

Overcomer is about finding our identity in Christ.  While watching the movie, one particular scene struck me as particularly powerful.  While Coach Harrison and his pastor are visiting a church member in the hospital, Harrison stumbles into the room of another patient, Thomas.  The meeting is a bit awkward at first, but Harrison tells Thomas he will pray for him and then goes on his way with his pastor.  Later on, Harrison revisits Thomas.  The two form an unlikely bond.  During one of Harrison's visits, Thomas asked Harrision, "Who are you?"

Harrison's first response is, "I'm a coach."

Thomas then asked, "If you take that away, who are you?"

Harrison's next response is, "I'm a history teacher."

Thomas presses on, "If you take that away, who are you?"

Harrison continues to respond as he narrows down his identity, "I'm a husband and father."

Finally, when there seems to be nothing left, he says, "Well . . . I'm a Christian."

Thomas' next question is the gut-puncher, "Why was that so far down your list?"

If I had been watching this movie at home, I would have clicked the pause button because that question forced me to ask myself, "If someone asks me, out of the blue and without warning, 'Who are you?' what would I have said?"

How far down the list would I have gone before saying, "I'm a Christian?"

Then, I asked myself another question, "Is my identity in Christ evident to others without them having to ask?"

Thomas wisely tells Coach Harrison and it's a statement we should all take to heart, "Your identity will be whatever you tie your heart to."

Overcomer Movie Review

What do you tie your heart to?  In whom or in what do you find your identity?

Do you find your identity in Christ?  If you are a born-again Christian, you should find your identity in Jesus.  If you are not a born-again Christian, here is how you can become one.

Overcomer Movie Review

Back to the movie, as Coach Harrison is discovering who he is in Christ, so is Hannah.  In order to avoid any spoilers, you'll have to watch the movie to see how her life is transformed, but I can assure you that you will enjoy watching the lives of Hannah and Coach Harrison transform from the beginning to the end of this movie.  There are several other things I wish I could write about here but I don't want to spoil it for you.

If you are a Cross Country runner, don't shy away from this film.  You'll love it.  My daughter is a former Cross Country runner and she said this movie is her favorite Kendrick Brothers' film yet.

Overcomer is now showing in select theaters.  Watch the Overcomer official movie trailer below.  Then, go see it at the theater!  We need to support films like this one so we can show filmmakers that we want more good stuff with wholesome real life content as opposed to the trash they keep spitting out of Hollywood.

OK, watch the trailer, buy your ticket, and go see it!


Want to know what others are saying?  Find out what ministry leaders are saying here.

If I'm asked to pick a favorite of all the Kendrick Brothers' films, it would be next to impossible.  The later films are better quality due to higher budgets, but every single film has its own appeal.  I love them all.

If you are just learning about these films, you'll want to check out all the Kendrick Brothers' previous movies.  Notice the theme of each film.

Flywheel - living a life of integrity.
Facing the Giants - trusting God through life's hardest trials.
Fireproof - building your marriage on a foundation of faith, staying married, - never leave your partner in a "fire."
Courageous - fatherhood the way God intended it.
War Room - the power of prayer.
Overcomer - finding your identity in Christ.

Watch the Flywheel official movie trailer here.

Watch the Facing the Giants official movie trailer here.

Watch the Fireproof official movie trailer here.

Watch the Courageous official movie trailer here.

Watch the War Room official movie trailer here.

and now, Overcomer!

Overcomer Movie Review

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A God Centered Worldview Based on the Scriptures

A God centered worldview is centered in the person of Jesus Christ and through the scriptures.

A God Centered Worldview Based on the Scriptures

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled A God Centered Worldview.  You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

A God Centered Worldview

We must be confident in the scriptures for our worldview to be right.  Scripture is self authenticating by history, geography, and the spiritual fruit in life when scriptural truths are applied.

Scripture is self testifying.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. - 2 Timothy 3:16
The scriptures are breathed out by God.
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. - 2 Peter 1:19-21
  The Scripture is God's Word to us.  It must meet certain criteria.  It must be:

*divinely inspired.
*foundational to right belief.

Did Jesus believe all Scripture was divinely inspired?  Jesus quoted scripture Matthew 22.
He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, 
The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at My right hand,
Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet”’? - Matthew 22:43-44
Did Jesus believe Scripture was infallible?
Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? - John 10:34
Did Jesus believe Scripture was authoritative?
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4
A God Centered Worldview Based on the Scriptures
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Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” - Matthew 4:7

Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” - Matthew 4:10
Did Jesus believe Scripture was truthful?
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. - John 17:17
Did Jesus believe Scripture was foundational? 
And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. - John 5:40
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. - John 14:26
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. - John 16:13-15
Why do we have the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit:

*reminds us of the things God tells us.
*teaches us.
*tells us what is yet to come.

A God Centered Worldview Based on the Scriptures

When we can see how the Old Testament and the New Testament compliment each other, we see the credibility of Scripture and we begin to see the world through the Master's view.

For our worldview to be right, we must stay in Scripture. 

Don't let a personal situation be the foundation for your worldview.  For example, don't let the fact that you have a homosexual loved one be the foundation for what you believe about homosexuality.  Our worldview must be rooted and grounded in the truth of Scripture, not our personal circumstances.

We must not compromise.

What we are exposed to affects our worldview.  As a people, we are addicted to the media.  We tend to blame young teens for spending too much time on their electronic devices.  However, people between the ages of 25-60 are the most frequent checkers of media devices. 

Our pastor notes John Piper's 6 Reasons We Check Media More Than Scripture:

1.  Novel candy.  We love to see what's new.
2.  Ego candy.  We like to know what people are saying about us (likes, shares, etc.)
3.  Entertainment.  We like cute quotes, etc.
4.  Boredom.
5.  Responsibility avoidance.  Spending more time on our phones means we spend less time in our real world circumstances.
6.  Hardship avoidance.

We get into mega-trouble when we seek to avoid our responsibilities and hardships.  This is one reason so many believers are caving.

People who are not reading Scripture are reading YOU.

Be confident in your Bible.

Regarding Scripture, be careful saying it if you are not staying in it.

Read all posts in this View-master Series here.

A God Centered Worldview Based on the Scriptures

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

*The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids was sent to me by Bible Gateway in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The following is my own personal opinion of this Bible which was not influenced by Bible Gateway in any way.

The first thing I noticed was the appeal.  The outer cover of this Bible is super cute.  This one is a hardcover version with colorful representations of Bible stories all over the outside cover:  baby Moses in a basket, the parting waters, the burning bush, the ten commandments, a big fish (a whale actually in this illustration), a little carpenter boy helping his father build something (assumed to be Jesus and and his earthly father, Joseph), just to name a few.  On the back cover, children will probably notice a big boat sitting on top of a mountain with a rainbow over it.  

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids is a full Bible for children.  It's not a merely a children's book containing a few summaries of a few popular Bible stories.  According to Zondervan, it is written at the 3rd grade level but is recommended for children between 4 and 8 years old.  It is written in the new NIrV version which is a variation of the NIV version for adults.  The text is simplified from the NIV version to make it easier for children to read and understand on their own.  You can learn more about the NIrV version of the Bible for children here at Bible Gateway.

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids
The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids - Table of Contents
Whenever I come across a new translation or paraphrase of the Bible, I'm concerned about the accuracy of the content.  I want a Bible that is translated as close to the original manuscripts as possible but written in a language I can understand.  I want no less for my children.

I only have a small window of time to post a review of a book once it is sent to me so there is no way I can read an entire Bible before I post a review.  I certainly don't have the time to compare it verse by verse from Genesis to Revelation with other translations.  However, I did look up several verses that relate to current cultural trends to make sure that those verses remained in line with translations I use and trust such as my adult NASB, NIV, and my ESV Bibles.  As far as I can tell, the NIrV translation is a good translation for the age group for which it is intended.  

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids is written so that chapters and verses are written like sub-headings to sections of the passages.  Children won't be distracted by numbers and footnotes within the text of the stories.  It is written in a single column format which is more natural for children to read.  The font is a child friendly font which is both easy and fun to read. The illustrations are colorful and appealing and there are over 750 full color images. You can see all these points in the two page spread above.  I love that many pages in this Bible have enough white space available for children to write their own notes.

There's a bonus.  As I was typing up this review, I discovered a treat tucked into the back cover sleeve.  I found a poster.

On one side of the poster is a map.  Children can use the map to trace journeys and find the places they read about in the Bible.

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

On the other side of the poster is a Bible Family Tree.  Children can trace a summarized genealogy family line from Adam and Eve to Jesus.  I loved this because I've recently been tracing genealogies as I read through the Bible in chronological order in my Coloring Through the Bible Series using my Beautiful Word Coloring Bible.

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

I found a short video about this Bible for you to enjoy.  :)

If my own kids were still young, this is a Bible I would love for them to read.  It's a great addition to your child's library even if he or she already has a Bible at home.

Get it here!

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids
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Don't forget to pin this post so other families can learn about The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids too!

The Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids

From Shem to Abram and God's Promises to Abraham and Sarah

God's Promises to Abraham and Sarah
Image Credit:  Free Bible Images

Since I've been digging deeper into Genesis and all the Bible stories I've read since childhood, genealogy records have been particularly interesting.  In the past, I've always skipped over those passages.  We are now in Genesis 11-12.  Genesis 11 traces the genealogy from Shem (one of Noah's three sons) to Abram (who will later be called Abraham).

Genealogy Chart from Shem to Abram

Geneses 11:27-32 tells us more about Terah's family line.  

Genealogy Chart of Terah's Family Line

Family lines can get a bit confusing.  No wonder I've always skipped over these parts in the past.  However, it has been particularly interesting to me as I have traced the genealogy from Adam all the way to Abram.

Chapter 11 is all about the family lines as they are represented in the two charts above.  Now we are ready to move on to God's promises to Abram in Genesis 12.

God's Promises to Abraham and Sarah

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him. - Genesis 12:1-4

Have you noticed a particular repeated phrase regarding Noah's response to God's instructions and Abram's response?  They both did as the Lord told them.  This should be a good example for us.  How many times have we chosen to not do as God has told us?  Perhaps we deliberately disobeyed God's instructions or perhaps we ignored them.  Then later on, we look back and realize that we should have followed the examples of Noah and Abram.  We should have done exactly as the Lord told us.

The story goes on to tell us that Abram took his wife Sarai (later to be called Sarah), his nephew Lot, all their possessions and people they had acquired, and set out from Herran to travel to the land of Canaan.  Then God gave Abram another promise.
To your offspring, I will give this Land. - Genesis 12:7 
After God's promise to give to Noah's offspring the land of Canaan, Abram built an alter to the Lord and called on His name.

Then Abram continued on toward Negev.

According to, the Negev (referred to as Negeb on their website), was a dry, desert area.  It was not a good place for food or other resources.

There was a famine in the area of the Negev so Abram traveled to Egypt.  It was so severe that Abram had to live in Egypt for a while.  I took a photo of the bottom half of a map in the back of my NASB large print Bible so you can see the area we are reading about. (Genesis 12:10)

Map of the Negev Area and Egypt

As Abram traveled from the Negev into Egypt, we come to another familiar Old Testament story.  The Bible tells us that Abram knew the Egyptians would notice that Sarai was a beautiful woman.  The Egyptians were sure to realize that Sarai was Abram's wife.  Abram believed that the Egyptians would kill him, but let Sarai live so he convinced Sarai to pretend to be Abram's sister.

When Abram and Sarai arrived in Egypt, the Pharaoh's officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh.  Sarai was taken to Pharaoh's palace.  Because Sarai was beautiful and thought to be Abram's sister, Abram was treated well.  He acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

However, God inflicted Pharaoh and his household with serious diseases.  Pharoah knew something was wrong so he sent for Abram to ask him what he had done.  When Pharaoh learned that Sarai was actually Abram's wife, he knew why he and his household had been inflicted with disease for he had taken Sarai as his own wife (Genesis 12:19).  Pharaoh ordered Abram to take Sarai and go.  Pharaoh's men were ordered to see that Abram, Sarai, and all that they had went away. (Genesis 12:10-20)

Lies always get someone in trouble don't they?  It seems on the surface that Abram had a good reason for asking Sarai to lie about her relationship with him.  Under similar circumstances, we might do the same thing.  However, one lie can lead to disaster.  Because of Abram and Sarai's lie, Pharaoh took Sarai as his own wife.  He took the wife of another man as his own.  Here is where the seemingly "innocent fib" resulted in disaster.

We should remember this story as an example about how a lie, even a seemingly innocent little fib, can and probably will result in disaster either for us or for someone else.

Do you wonder if the diseases inflicted upon Pharaoh and his family were unfair?  I did at first because Pharaoh didn't know that Sarai was Abram's wife.  Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell has written an article about this over at Answers in Genesis.  She brings up a few  points that had not crossed my mind.  Also, I must have missed this point somewhere in my reading, but I didn't realize that Sarai was Abram's half sister.  Abram didn't exactly lie, but he didn't tell the whole truth either.  Another point she raises in her article is that as Abram's wife and also the mother of the nation God promised to Abram and Sarai, Abram failed to protect Sarai as he should have.  Therefore, God stepped in to intervene in their circumstances. 
Abraham was married to his half-sister, Sarai, who, at age sixty-five, was still apparently beautiful. To protect himself, Abraham persuaded Sarah to lie about her marriage to him and pretend to be his sister. Unprotected by her husband, Sarah was whisked off to Pharaoh’s harem. In exchange, Pharaoh showered Abraham with riches.  Since Abraham didn’t properly protect Sarah, who was the promised mother of a new nation that would bless the whole world, God had to step in to keep her away from Pharaoh’s bed.

God protected Sarah by sending “great plagues” on Pharaoh and his house. The Hebrew words translated as “plagues” can refer to sores or wounds and does not require them to be deadly. Sarah was kept safe and it seems Pharaoh eventually put two and two together and figured out that the timing and scope of this disease was somehow associated with Abraham’s arrival and that Sarah was Abraham’s wife. Pharaoh graciously let Abraham keep all the stuff he had acquired in Egypt and summarily sent him away. - Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, Answers in Genesis.

Head over there here to read her full explanation.  It's quiet an interesting read.

Beautiful Work Coloring Bible Completed Page - Sample Pages

This post is part of my Coloring Through Genesis Series.  I'm using my Beautiful Word Coloring Bible.  I have enjoyed coloring the pages.  I've always been a tactile learner so coloring the pages help me engage with the scriptures and I spend more time in the passages.  If you think this is something you would like to do, grab a set of colored pencils and a Beautiful Word Coloring Bible. There are a few different variations of the Beautiful Word Coloring Bible.

This is the one I have.
The Beautiful Word Coloring Bible
This item is available here.

Teach the Children

As I was searching for credible online resources for you to teach the story of Abram and Sarai to your children, I came across Free Bible Images.  It's a website that allows you to download their images for teaching Bible stories.  It's awesome.  Their images fall under the Creative Commons license.  If you use them on a website or blog, you must give credit and link back to their site.

Here's a sample of what Free Bible Images offers.
God's Promises to Abraham and Sarah
Images from
 They give you a snippet of the story with the slides.
As they entered Egypt Abram became worried. His wife Sarai was very beautiful. He feared that Pharaoh might kill him so he could take Sarai as his wife. So, he told Sarai to pretend she was not his wife but his sister. – Slide 14

Pharaoh’s officials told Pharaoh how beautiful Abram’s ‘sister’ was and he took her into his palace. He gave Abram cattle, donkeys servants and gifts. – Slide 15
Follow my new Abraham and Sarah Pinterest Board here for more resources for teaching the story of Abraham and Sarah to children.

If you would like to follow along with me as I journey through Biblical history in chronological order, subscribe here.  I promise to not spam your inbox.  :)

God told Abram, "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing."  Learn about the story of Abraham and Sarah.
Image by Free Bible Images

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Who or What Influences Your Worldview? (View-Master Series)

Who or What Influences Your World View?

Our pastor began a new sermon series this morning.  He is calling it the View-Master Series.  Some of you might have had a View-Master toy when you were a child.  Mine was red.  I loved it.  I had a shoe box full of reels.  Many of them contained lenses representing popular television shows and children's shows of the day.  I must have liked my Snoopy reel the best because it's the only one I remember using out of that big shoe box full of View-Master reels.  I remember buying one of my daughters a View-Master toy when she was a child.  Her favorite reel was the Barbie one.

If you are not familiar with a View-Master toy, here is an image of an older one.  It was a popular toy in its day.  In fact, the View-Master was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Image Credit:  Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons
You might be wondering what a View-Master toy has to do with a sermon about the Bible or Christianity.  Think back to your View-Master toy if you had one.  When you inserted the reel into the toy, you would look through the lenses.  As you viewed each lens, you saw something different or perhaps learned something new about the content of the reel.  Each lens gave you a perspective or an overall opinion about the subject of the reel.
In the same way, we look at the world around us through different lenses.  Each of these lenses work together to help us form a worldview.

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

We Need A Starting Point. | August 18, 2019 | Pastor Jeff Crook from Christ Place Church on Vimeo.

Who or what influences your worldview?

A worldview is how we see the world.  The way we view the world will dictate the decisions we make.  Many people or things can influence our worldview:  parents, media, social media, Youtube, education, the law of the land, etc.  Our worldview is comprehensive.  It influences everything we do, every decision we make, including decisions regarding our relationships.

Do you have a faulty worldview?  A faulty worldview might look something like this:

*The one with the most toys wins.  (Now we are talking about adults.  We might be tempted to compare ourselves with the person who has the most coveted car, boat, or home.)

*I must think of me first. (Be careful about the memes you share on social media.  Many of them seem good at first glance, but their "feel good" theme might not line up with scripture.  Many of them actually display selfish motives.)

*Do what feels good.  Just like the point just above this one, just because it feels good doesn't mean it lines up with scripture.  Look at ideas such as these through the lens of truth which can only be found in Scripture.

*Do whatever works for you.  This attitude is popular whether it is right or wrong.  Just because it works for you doesn't mean it falls under the umbrella of God's Word.  

*God doesn't exist.  

*You are your own god.

None of these worldviews line up with Scripture.  If you look at each one through the lens of God's Word, you'll find that they are all wrong.
We need to come to a God-centered worldview.

1.  We must believe by faith that God does exist.  
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. - Hebrews 11:6
2.  We must believe by faith that God created all things.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. - Hebrews 11:3
3.  We must believe by faith that Jesus Christ is God made visible.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. - Colossians 1:15-17
My God-centered view must be focused on Jesus.  

4.  God's existence is expressed in Jesus.

5.  Everything was created though Jesus.

6.  Everything is held together by Jesus.

If we are to have a Christian worldview, we must think like Jesus.  If we think like Jesus, we will see the world like Jesus sees the world.  When we realize that Jesus was the smartest person who ever lived on this earth, we will want to think like Jesus thinks. 
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. - Colossians 2:2-4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1-5

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12
Faith Worldview
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When our minds become dull, we can lose our way and fall into a sinful lifestyle.
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. - 2 Corinthians 3:14
Our minds can become blind.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
Our minds can stray.
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. - 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:5
Do you have a Jesus-centered worldview?

When we see the world as Jesus sees it, we see it through the lens of God.

Read all posts in this View-master Series here.


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 our 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

 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 where 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
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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 teaches 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.  Jen reminds us that 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, ask 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
Jen's language and matter of speaking - or in this case, writing  - made this book an easy read.  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
Women of the Word by Jen Wilken

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