Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Study Bible for Women

One of my favorite book reviews to do is of Bible translations and ones that include study guides! It used to be that we’d have to buy all sorts of other resources to study scripture deeper and to get historical information or commentary.

Inside this new CSB Women’s Study Bible, so many wonderful articles on doctrine and biblical womanhood, historical information, and 101 character profiles on women of the bible are included. As a matter of fact, every woman in Scripture is listed in the concordance.

As a woman, I appreciate that the publishers had women theologians, authors, teachers and lay ministers as the primary contributors in the articles written and study materials provided.  It encourages me to continue in my own study and pursuit of biblical knowledge.

Many of the articles highlight biblical womanhood, a trait not promoted enough, but very God honoring. Many necessary topics identified and addressed within the realm of “what does God say”, such as female identity, motherhood, spiritual mothering, women’s worth and identity in Christ, and her mission as daughter of the King.

The CSB translation, (stands for Christian Standard Bible) has used the Optimal Equivalence translation philosophy. This is a marrying of the more traditional Formal equivalence and the Dynamic or Functional equivalence. This means that is has taken both the word for word literal translations and the “thought for thought” style of communicating the meaning and impact of a passage to translate. This has produced a very readable, but historically faithful style of bible translation.

This compilation opens with an introduction on how to study the bible. Dorothy Kelley Patterson highlights how to inductively observe, ask questions, view passages as a whole and then how to apply and meditate on Scripture. 

This Bible closes with an extensive explanation section for all of its teaching helps as seen here and an expansive concordance.

You can find this bible at Lifeway Christian bookstores, on their website, and on Amazon

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Why do we Sing? ~ A book review

What causes you to burst out in song?

Do you have a swell of school pride and belt out your 
Alma Mater?

At our favorite sporting events, do we whoop and holler along 
with the rest in celebration?

What is this within us that causes us to have a rise of emotion that bubbles up and out of our mouths in a joyous melody?

Ever consider that it's a part of your very essence, part of the basic foundation of who you are as a human?

In their book, SING!, Keith and Kristyn Getty delve into why we sing, how singing changes our lives and where it comes from in our souls. In their second chapter, they identify that there are more than 400 scripture verses that say we are not only created to sing by a creative God, but also commanded to sing, that it is an act of obedience and worship.

More so than just singing in general, they focus in on the Church and how we sing together. They share that "It is hard- impossible, in fact - to sing what you are excited about in your spirit and grateful for in your heart in a way that is tepid, tentative, and withdrawn. Deeply felt thankfulness produces a sound from our voices that is robust and enthusiastic."

In many places in our world including our churches, somehow we've completely misplaced our robust  enthusiasm for singing, or singing with deep conviction with quiet apathy. Not one of us feels awkward or embarrassed when we cheer loudly for our kids or at a sporting event. As a matter of fact, we feel the air of camaraderie or belonging when we join the throng of voices. However, in many churches it's being discussed that we've lost our vigor for worshiping God Almighty.

The Getty’s have written a compelling and inspiring call to action! This book kicks off with an impressive 10 pages of rave reviews from many Christian leaders and singers from all walks of life. They’ve designed the format to even be a group discussion or small group study book with a few focus questions at the end of each chapter. At the back, they've written a section for pastors, worship leaders, song writers and creatives as well.

In the chapter “The Radical Witness When the Congregation...Sings!”, the authors talk about how “the sight and sound of a congregation singing praise to God together is a radical witness in a culture that rejects God and embraces individualism. Our songs are the public manifesto of what we believe.”

Contrasting that with the opposite type of witness that a visitor noted at one church saying “that what they were singing was either not true, or not wonderful or both. She questioned whether the people really took seriously what they believed or even believed it at all.

The charge given to us first by God in the Bible and echoed in this book is that we are a witness to the world and our singing is one way the world detects that we are different. The conviction that ought to be in our hearts over what Christ has done for us should be something that can’t help but to bubble up out of us when we worship Him in song. I cannot imagine passively sitting to sing the words “This the power of the Cross..Christ became sin for us..took the blame, bore the wrath...we stand forgiven at the cross!” or “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”

It ought to be more like- He is Worthy of all my praise and all my expression, how can I not? If it pleases the Lord that I act a fool in my worship of Him, then I hope I can be counted among bible characters such as David who danced in the streets!

I highly recommend this book for everyone, especially worship leaders at churches. 
This book can be found on Amazon 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Forcing the appointing of your anointing

Do you feel anointed but that somehow you’ve missed the appointing?

If you think you are meant for the platform, writing the next best seller, or speaking life giving words to thousands but can’t handle taking your turn in the church nursery, you might have a problem.

If you are in the throes of motherhood and know you possess gifts that you sense God is going to use publicly one day, but can’t teach your children of Christ, you might have a problem.

If you are waiting for God to place you in front of the multitudes to teach but aren’t giving your best to leading a small bible study, you might have a problem...

In our Christian-ese, we use words like “anointed” and “appointed” to speak of the moment when God chooses us for some special calling and sets us into that place.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” This is applicable to all Christians. We are all called to do something or be something in the body of Christ.

Scripture has several characters that provide a glimpse into that picture and provide some good understanding to the concept of being anointed and then being appointed.

David is a famous example in scripture of being chosen (anointed) by God. He was just a boy out in the fields with the sheep. He wasn’t significant enough in his father’s eyes to call him home when the priest Samuel came. Once Samuel passed by 7 of the 8 sons and God clearly told him that none of these young men were God’s chosen...Samuel had to ask if there was any other sons.... enter the boy David...

David did not walk into the kingdom and take the throne the day of his anointing. He went back to the field. He lived with his father longer, as a child (who had just been chosen as the next King)

He was willing to obey, to follow the Lord and do menial tasks and later, great big tasks. 

He obeyed his father and brought food to his brothers on the front line of the war with the philistines.  His huge entry into spotlight was of course Goliath. 

What happened before that though?

He learned to lead by having herds of sheep to shepherd. Not glamorous, not an impressive place on a platform.

He watched over sheep, normally a dull time until he killed bears and lions... with no gun.... with his bare hands... (1 Samuel 17:34-36)

His character and strength were built in obscurity, alone with the Lord and quietly in the field. He was being prepared for one of his many momentous occasions, forever captured on the pages of scripture.

David didn’t become a full-fledged King until he was 30 years old (2 Samuel 5). Some scholars believe it was a 15 year wait.

His appointing came years after his anointing.

Do we feel that God has chosen us for something, anointed us for a special calling?

How patient are we? How much faith in the Lord do we have? Do we expect to be whisked away to the height of that calling immediately? Do we get impatient with God’s timing, wondering when He’s going to “make it happen”?

How about this.... do we force the outcome? Do we push and make things happen? Go out and find the way and commandingly step out into the calling we are certain God has for us right this very minute?

Ever hear the saying “God helps those who help themselves”?

This is not scriptural. We certainly have  to participate in the kingdom work, but it gets abused by telling us to pull up our bootstraps, to go out and make it happen!

Our example of what to do is in the Word of God. He gave us all these biblical characters and their stories to show us how to do it. Just because we aren’t herding sheep doesn’t mean we aren’t cleaning the house, or changing diapers or driving kids all over. None are glamorous, but they are a perfect breeding ground for character building.

God may have told you that one day you are meant for something... chosen, anointed. However, you have some time before that appointing happens. You typically do not appoint yourself, someone higher up appoints you.

What was David doing in the in between time? 
Still serving the Lord, it just looked different.

Sometimes it’s not a refusal to do the behind-the scenes work, but it’s just losing heart and being impatient.

Friend, God did not forget you. He didn’t forget that He chose you. He’s got you exactly where you are for a reason, your job is to listen to Him, surrender your will and find out what He’s got for you right in this moment. Don’t miss the blessing of right now because your dreaming about the appointing.

Each day has a set allotment of mercy, grace and blessings, scripture says it’s new every morning. When that day is done, its gone.  You get a fresh new crop the next day, but you won’t get yesterdays.

Use this time you are in to grow your faith in the Lord, believe He will do what He says, and trust Him for the outcome! His timing is always far better than anything we can fabricate or force. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Detours by Tony Evans ~ A Book Review

I am so grateful for getting the opportunity to read Detours by Tony Evans. This book grabs your attention and shouts “HEY! This is for you right now!”

Detours is a book about how God ordains the pathways of our life, leading us to exactly what He has for us. Detours in life don’t appear to be good or desirable, they annoy us and make us want to give up.

Tony Evans makes an excellent case for staying the course and trusting God amidst your detours. He tells us the story of Joseph from the Old Testament. Joseph had many things go seemingly wrong for him. His life was a story of several trips through hardship from being in a literal pit having been rejected and sold by his own family into slavery, to later being in a jail cell for years because he was wrongfully accused.

However- God had a greater plan.

That’s the application for us. Our lives are not nice, neat, straight lines from point A to point B. We have trips down alleys, two tracking it down unpaved roads, pothole-filled roads under construction and once and a while getting to experience that perfectly paved road without detours. The key is HOW you walk through the detours in life.

On page 91, Tony says “One of the reasons some of us haven’t gotten off our detour is we are still too self-sufficient. We still feel like we can handle it ourselves. We think we know the right people, or have the right money, or even work the right job. We think that because of our own hookups, human abilities, talent, contacts, or even our own resources- that if we just toss a prayer on top- we can get to where we want to go.”
It doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way.”

This book came at such a great time for me personally. It was confirming to where God had been leading me in my own life and encouraged me to stay the course and trust the Lord to continue to lead me one step at a time.

I loved the alliteration Evans used in his chapter titles. There are 16 small, easy to read chapters beginning with “The Purpose of Detours” and ending with “The Path of Detours”.

He does such a good job explaining how sometimes our detours have the appearance of evil. That God takes what was intended for evil purposes and turns it into something good that glorifies Him and puts you further on the path to your purpose in life. “Evil. God. Good.” is the pattern of many detours. You can’t get to the good without it starting bad and God intervening. If we constantly try to be in the way, manipulating things and try to work it out ourselves, we will stay on that detour for a longer time than if we had surrendered our will to God’s perfect will.

Tony Evans will give readers the answers to several crucial questions that many of us have in life.

  • “How do you find the destiny God has designed for your life?”
  • “How can you make the most of the detours God has planned for you?”
  • “Is there a way to shorten a detour and speed up your progression in life?”
  • “What is the purpose of a detour?”

I am so grateful to Dr. Evans for writing this book, it was so timely for me. I also want to thank B&H Publishing for the opportunity to review this great book.

You can get your own copy by visiting or Amazon

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When we expect God to choose from our multiple choice options

How often when we pray do we give God multiple choice or ask Him to give us an answer on “either this or that”? It’s like playing a card game with God asking Him to choose from only the options you’ve presented Him with. 

We forget that God exists outside of time and knows the exact perfect will and plan for our lives.

Romans 8:26 says “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too 
deep for words;”

So often we use prayer as a second choice or even last resort after we’ve come to end of ourselves and what we can do. By the time we take it to prayer, we are desperate, especially desperate for the exact outcome we desire.

By the time we pray about something, 
we are so desperate for it to
have the exact outcome we desire that 
we forget that God’s will
might be different than what we want.

We are flawed, imperfect human beings. That also means that our prayers are flawed. We ask selfishly, or incorrectly without knowing the whole story like God does. That is why He tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, praying spiritual groanings too deep for words.

Have you ever felt so deeply for something you were praying about that all you could do was cry, lay in silence or just repeat the same words over and over? The Holy Spirit takes our heart cry and delivers it to the throne room of heaven.

The amazing thing about God and prayer, is even when we don’t quite ask right, or our motives are wrong, He answers in the best, most perfect way because He knows our hearts and also knows what is best for us in His perfect will. Matthew 7:11 says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” and also Psalm 145:9 “God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace.”

My husband and I had an experience with this. We were praying about my employment. We had several factors contributing and not the least of which was making sure we could afford our 4 teenagers and that we felt called to give to our church’s building project. I was working and the current life circumstances were pushing me towards leaving that job for another. However, through prayer we had no peace. We kept praying and asking God for an answer regarding the two options. We only prayed about those two though. God did not give clear direction on either option.

After a couple of months, we sought some counsel and on the way there asked God to speak through the Pastor we were meeting with to provide us with an answer. Well…answer He did! Just not the way we expected at all!

I am now a stay at home mom and have been able to obey and follow God’s leading on several things that would’ve never happened if I was working all day every day. We also had to learn a fuller dependence on God and He has been faithful to open the heavens and shower us with blessings! It is clear as day that He gets all the glory for what has happened!

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

We have no idea what the future holds and what God’s perfect plan is. We can pray to the best of our ability, but we have to keep our hearts open to the possibility that He might answer off our multiple choice plan. I am so grateful that He answers the way He sees fit and not the way I see fit!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Message of the Twelve ~ A Book Review

I had the privilege of reading The Message of the Twelve- hearing the voice of the minor prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. and Gary E. Yates.

This book will educate and intrigue you! It is a rich, in-depth look into the minor prophets of the old testament.

It reads much like a textbook that you might find in a theology class, but it is easy enough reading that anyone interested in digging deeper into the Old Testament will enjoy also.

The authors begin with explaining the historical context in which the prophets ministered and to which Kings. Sometimes when we read scripture we can forget that many of the authors were contemporaries and their recording of events each bare a different perspective.

The time period that this part of scripture spans is 770-430 B.C. During this time, God’s chosen people, Israel, spent most of their time in disobedience and rebellion to the Lord. God calls 12 men to prophesy His word of rebuke and promised judgement if they do not return to the Lord their God. He also communicates clearly the benefit and blessings they will receive for their repentance.

Without a little background, education and the discernment of the Holy Spirit, the minor prophets can be difficult to understand. Fuhr and Yates fill in the education part thoroughly. There is poetry, narrative, rich imagery, hyperbole, and metaphors held within these 12 book of the bible. The authors dive deep into each of the 12 books and discuss influences of the times and culture of people. They highlight the Lord’s heart of love, but furious jealousy for His people.

The authors conclude chapter one stating that the “historical period to which the Book of the Twelve belonged concluded without Israel ever experiencing the full restoration the Lord promised through His prophets.....despite the disappointing history of the prophets, their promises of salvation and restoration for Israel and the nations would not fail. The Lord would overcome even the unbelief of His own people to bring those promises to pass."

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” If we are to understand what God has for us in the rich history of the Old Testament, we need to get in the Word and read it. The bible is God’s breath on a page, His words to us. The Message of the Twelve is a wonderful companion when navigating Hosea through Malachi. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fear Fighting: When Rejection Tears Your Heart Apart

I am so pleased to introduce you to Kelly Balarie, author of the new book Fear Fighting. She has graciously written this as a guest blog. I hope you love her just as much as I do!

I remember it like yesterday: he was the handsome 13 year old. I was the girl who looked like she put her finger in the electrical socket. My hair never was something I could easily tame.

I had my eye on him for a while.
He was so handsome.
He was so funny.
He was so confident.

Now, as I looked at him, he was just standing there on the other side of the room. He looked alone. Sad even? No one was with him. Everyone else was dancing.

I really could ask him to dance.
I could, for once, try to be brave.
There's always a chance.
My dress is pretty.

I mustered my inner beauty and asked him. He looked at me like I was a martian from an alternate universe. 

"Uhh...well, we can't dance because there are parents watching."

I stared. There were parents watching the other 50 dancing children too. It didn't stop them.

His head turned left and right; he was trying to see who was watching. He wanted to make sure no one saw him talking - to me. 

I got the message. Head down, shoulders slumped and mind sure I'd never allow myself to get hurt like this again, I shuffled back to my spot. The seat at the table where no one else was. 

I made a silent agreement, a firm handshake deal, with myself: I'll leave man before man ever hurts me again like this!

This deal still lives. Even, today, I leave man. At first sign of injury, I turn my back on him.

If he has a word of advice, I take it as a sign of criticism and freeze over my heart. If he speaks too loudly, I take it as he's ready to abandon me and I shut my mind down.  If he does something wrong, I figure it is personal; I raise the security walls around my heart. 

I run from man so man can't run me over.

I'm not proud of it. I certainly don't speak aloud of it. But, it's true.

What about you?

Has man so injured you, that injustice plagues you? Nips at your skin? Pulls out the worst of you?

God's pinged my heart with many arrows of rejection lately. Yet, like the loving cupid he is, I think he's allowed me to get struck, so I can read the message of love attached to me.

It reads like this: He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Is. 53:3)

You see, God hit me with the truth: Jesus was rejected. Badly rejected.

But, what did Jesus do, in the face of his rejection?

Did he grab all his favorite robes and go hide out in a cave until man could pull his act together? No. Did he stop healing, loving and moving on earth because man was mean and insensitive? No. Did he turn away from loving, remembering the list of dirty laundry we flaunt nearly every day - in his face? No.

He trudged down a road with a back-breaking cross, digging deep into his skin - on account of me. He rode a lowly donkey that made him look like the village-idiot - on account of me. He made his heart available and accessible - on account of me.

Jesus didn't let man's rejection, give him license to reject man. 

And, thank God this is the case. Look at what his alternate approach to rejection accomplished: it saved mankind.

What might we accomplish by responding to rejection - in a different way? In a loving way? In a mercy-giving way? In a grace-building way?

And, most of all, what might we save? Could it be our own heart? Our marriage? Our relationships? Our feelings? Or, most importantly, a special dance with God. 

About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day. 

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at