Posted in bible study, encouragement, exhortation

Shallow vs deep Bible study: do you want to really see?

By Elizabeth Prata

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, You have seen well: for I am ready to perform My word.” (Jeremiah 1:11, 12.)

Charles Spurgeon said in sermon #2678, “Lesson of the Almond Tree”,

OBSERVE, first, dear Friends, that before Jeremiah becomes a speaker for God, he must be a seer . The name for a Prophet, in the olden time, was a “seer”—a man who could see—one who could see with his mind’s eye, one who could also see with spiritual insight, so as vividly to realize the Truth of God which he had to deliver in the name of the Lord.

Learn that simple lesson well, O you who try to speak for God! You must be seers before you can be speakers. The question with which God usually begins His conversation with each of His true servants is the one He addressed to Jeremiah, “What do you see?” I am afraid that there are so me ministers, nowadays, who do not see much. Judging by what they preach, their vision must be all in cloudland, where all they see is smoke, mist and fog. I often meet with persons who have attended the same ministry for years—and when I have asked them even very simple questions about the things of God, I have found that they do not know anything.

It was not because they were not able to comprehend quickly when the Truth was set forth plainly before them, but I fear that it was, in most cases, because there was nothing that they could learn from the minister to whom they had been accustomed to listen. The preacher had seen nothing and, therefore, when he described what he saw, of course it all amounted to nothing.

No, my Brother, before you can make an impression upon another person’s heart , you must have an impression made upon your own soul. You must be able to say, concerning the Truth of God, “I see it,” before you can speak it so that your hearers shall also see it. It must be clear to your own mind, by the spiritual perception which accompanies true faith, or else you will not be able to say with the Psalmist, “I believed, therefore have I spoken.” Let me say again that sentence which I uttered a minute ago—the speaker for God must first be a seer in the Light of God.

I often cry out to the Lord that I want to see. I want to plumb the depths of His word and learn more about Him all the time. I want to go deeper, see more, understand Him. I know I see through a glass darkly now, and it will only be later that I fully know, but still, can I know You more today than yesterday, please? (1 Corinthians 13:12).

It’s a double edged sword though. Knowing Him better through His word means I get to know myself better, also. In reading Who He is, we get to know ourselves better to, positionally. I get convicted, repentant, and sorrowful over my own sin and the sin of the world.

This is the analogy.

If you know the size of RI, the ocean is never very far, since RI is so small. Moreover, my grandparents had a house on the bayfront, and we kids and all the cousins would visit constantly. Weekly, just about daily in summer. And we always had a boat.

Lubec Harbor, ME. Murky Atlantic waters hide rocks & great hazards.
EPrata photo

In the book The Wind in the Willows, Water Rat is extolling the virtues of being on the water to Mole, who has never been in a boat. Mole wants to know if it’s nice.

“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

The bay or the ocean has many charms, and all of them are interesting to a child. We splashed on the water, swam, messed around on the boat, played at the water’s edge. We collected shells and we dove off the dock and we raced to the mooring buoy and we lazed on the grass. We loved the water.

Snorkeling is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually fins. Use of this equipment allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort.

As we grew older, we became fascinated with what was under the water. We’d fight for the masks and snorkel gear and paddle along, looking in fascination below the surface at the pretty pebbles the small waves were rolling along the sand. Or a hermit crab curling into his house shell as we swam over him, darkening his shallow water sky. Sometimes we’d forget we were in such shallow water and scrape our knees as we kicked along the beach’s edge, heeding our grandmother’s warning to stay close to shore.

As we grew even older, we wanted to see what was under the surface, really deep. Could we see horseshoe crabs? Fish? The anchor of the boat as it bobbed in the calm waves under a sunny sky? What was under there!? It was frustrating, the waters were not clear and even with a mask and flippers, we couldn’t get down far enough to see the bottom. Under the surface was still a mystery to us.

Then I sailed in The Bahamas. The waters are clear there. It was both fascinating and disconcerting to say the least! Suddenly I could see all the way down, but what the clear water revealed was another world, and one fraught with dangers, toils, and snares. Our keel passing over a coral head, we didn’t know if the coral was inches below the surface and ready to open the underside of our boat like a sardine can, or was in fact as deep below as the charts said. Predator barracudas were everywhere. And actually seeing the bottom was sometimes not a blessing, because it gave us an aquatic vertigo, always unsteady in thinking the boat as about to run aground in what looked like mere inches of water but was in fact fathoms.

In this photo, it was so clear that we could see our own anchor,
in 30 feet of water. In the moonlight. EPrata photo

Being able to see the depths under the surface of the waters revealed another world. It was as if the surface of the ocean was simply a thin veil, covering a vast and mysterious and beautiful world, hidden until now. It was a world that existed with ours, was immediately adjacent, and in this bit of Bahamian clarity, was in equal parts scary, dangerous, and destabilizing.

Do you want to go deeper? Do you want to see? Really see, as Spurgeon described? I hope you do. As we grow in sanctification we do not stay in the shallow water for long. We should desire to peer into the depths of the ocean of truth and see what the Lord will reveal.

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…” (1 Peter 2:2)

The milk here is the spiritual food good for building up. When we’re born-again as babes we begin feeding on the pure spiritual milk. We crave it with intensity like a baby cries for his bottle! We need it every few hours! When we have capacity to understand more, we still thirst, and we go deeper into the Living Waters.

But we must be ready to withstand its glories. We remember who we are and in taking in all truth, we see our depravity compared to His holiness. We cry out, as Isaiah did,

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

Reading the bible deeply, coming so close to His glory as revealed in the bible, some days I might as well say something similar, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a woman of unclean lips, and unholy heart, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have read the words of the King that the Spirit has delivered to us and revealed in His word!”

And yet we desire more, deeper, to see. Or we should.

The word is to be desired with appetite as the cause of life, to be swallowed in the hearing, to be chewed as cud is by rumination with the understanding, and to be digested by faith” [Tertullian].

Or…stay in the shallow end. It’s up to you.

Posted in bible study, theology

“Zero Fluff Ladies’ Bible Studies”

by Elizabeth Prata

Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries published a post with the title “Zero Fluff Bible Studies.” I like that title. Sadly, so much of what passes for Bible Studies these days are either an ego-driven study of the author herself, a treatise on hearing from God, or emotionalism galore and not a proper exposition of the word of God in sight.

Thankfully there are smaller gems among the touted studies we see at the bigwig stores. Here are a few ladies I enjoy and who treat the word of God for what it is, a precious jewel given to us to handle carefully and directly- with zero fluff.

–Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries

Introduction to A Zero Fluff Bible Study on the Deity of Christ

This will be a Zero Fluff study. It’s the only way I know how to offer it. This means it will not be like the many studies, books, and teachings that are geared towards women today that are heavy on fluff and light on sound doctrine. We will dig deeply! The focus will be God and His word, not us. We will not be reading ourselves into the story, looking for personal words from God, stroking our egos, or relying on our feelings. I will not be talking about tea or coffee. We are women, but we don’t have to be stirred up by emotionalism or lean on clichés. We have the Holy Spirit, and we can (must) do real Bible study, not shallow book studies with fill in the blank questions. Real Bible study is necessary for our spiritual-wellbeing!

You see now why I enjoy Mrs Lareau! Here is Zero Fluff Deity of Christ lesson 1.

Here are some other ladies I enjoy-

–Betty J. Newman of Newman Farm at Hand to the Plow and Prayerlogue teaches unvarnished. She also has many videos on cooking which are useful and so fun! Here is her blog which has tabs for audio lessons, video lessons, and writings. Here is her Youtube channel.

Naomi’s Table a discipleship table for women also has many Bible studies which I consider solid and zero fluff. Founded by the talented and wise Amy Spreeman, you will find a lot of straight talk and study.

Michelle Lesley Discipleship for Christian Women offers Bible studies on a regular basis. She also has started a podcast with Amy Spreeman called A Word Fitly Spoken. Michelle says that one questions she receives almost more than any other is Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids? Her answer us a surprising no. While the question brings her joy,

That’s the central reason my ministry even exists- I want Christian women to be grounded in the Bible and sound doctrine, and it brings me unbelievable joy and encouragement when I see women seek that out.

It also makes her sad, because

the prevailing line of thought in evangelicalism that has led them to ask the question. Namely, that the people in the pew aren’t capable of studying and understanding the Bible for themselves- they need some Christian celebrity to tell them what it means.

Ladies, I know you may feel inadequate, but don’t give in to those feelings. Try. Pick a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and read it through to the end, taking as much time as you need. You might just be pleasantly surprised at how well you grasp it. That’s because, if you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit resides within you and will help you to understand the Word He authored.

Michelle always steers women back to the straight Bible, encourages women to read and prayerfully ascertain its meanings for themselves, and offers some outlines and guides with studies at her blog, here.

DebbieLynne Kespert has a blog called The Outspoken Tulip and writes frequently about Bible study. She offers exposition in a plain, straightforward way. No fluff 🙂

It may seem like there is only a glut of squishy, emotional studies out there but there are lots of good solid places online for you to turn for zero fluff studies, commenting in community, and ladies of like mind to study along with. Though a lot of what we see on social media is false, the true Bride is beautiful, sterling, bright, solid, and thriving. Jesus is raising up His church and He will not fail in perfecting it.

good morning studying girl1a

Posted in bible study, Uncategorized

“What does this verse mean to you?” Not manifold meanings, but one

bible“What does this verse mean to you?” is a phrase oft-heard at Bible Study groups and the like. It suggests that Bible verses and passages can be interpreted variably, or that there can be multiple meanings to one text.

This is not so. The question should be “What does this verse mean?” Period.

The Author intended one meaning to any verse, any passage, and to all of scripture. There might be many applications the Spirit puts in our mind as He illuminates it, but there is one meaning and one meaning only.

As RC Sproul says in his course Knowing God, a 12-part lecture series on interpreting the Bible:

There is only one correct meaning of any biblical text.

The Westminster Confession states,

IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

The implications of this understanding about how to interpret the Bible are as follows:

Some say there is a rapture. Some say there is no rapture. Only one interpretation is right. It’s not both. It can’t be.

Some say the rapture will happen prior to the Tribulation. Some say it will happen afterward. Only one interpretation is right.

Some say that the Church is the new Israel. Others say that the Church and Israel’s destinies are separate and distinct. Only one interpretation is right.

Some say that any person can, on their own initiative, ignite an internal faith in Jesus and be saved. Others say that faith is ignited by the Sovereign alone, and it only comes upon those whom He has chosen since before the foundation of the world. Only one interpretation is right.

Some say that there will be a 1000-year Kingdom on earth after the Tribulation. Others say there will not be any such literal Kingdom. Only one interpretation is right.

Some hold to believer’s baptism (credobaptism) and state that only those who make a credible profession of faith ought to be baptized. Others hold to infant baptism (paedobaptism) and believe that the children of believers ought to be baptized. (Challies). Only one interpretation is right.

The doctrines noted above from eschatology or covenant theology or ecclesiology are diametrically opposed. One cannot believe both at the same time. It is unwise to believe the Bible projects both as true. Therefore, if a person believes one interpretation is true, by necessity, one must reject the other as false.

Here is a booklet you can order if you never contacted Grace To You before, or purchase for $1.50, or just read for free online to help get you started on interpreting the Bible correctly.

How to Study Your Bible

Learn specifically how to read, interpret, meditate on, and teach the Bible in this life-changing study!

Posted in bible study, Uncategorized

Biblical Doctrine Study week 1 thoughts

Are you desiring to try a thorough study in Systematic Theology but don’t know where to start? Have you excitedly bought or were given the John MacArthur/Richard Mayhue tome Biblical Doctrine but are too intimidated to start?

Jessica Pickowicz of Beautiful Thing has written a Study Guide to go along with the book. She has also created a Facebook group of women to gather and discuss it. The Study will take about two years. It just began this week and it is certainly not too late to join!!! I blogged about it earlier.

This is the first essay with thoughts from what I’ve studied.

I love theology. I love knowledge, and I love wisdom. The word “theology” comes from two Greek words that combined mean “the study of God.” Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information. Wisdom is the synthesis of knowledge with appropriate applications to life. If you study God through His Bible and speak about Him in ways where people can find application of His precepts to their life, you are a theologian speaking knowledgeably with wisdom.

The first lesson was to read the preface. I found this passage to be worthwhile:

The ultimate goal of writing such a systematic theology and to study such a systematic theology is

“to elevate one’s holy worship. The posture of theology is on one’s knees. The model of theology is repentance.”

The quote is from Sinclair Ferguson who was quoted in James Boice and Philip Ryken’s book “The Doctrines of Grace.”

I think that quote cuts to the chase. If I have any inclinations of accumulating knowledge for knowledge’s sake, this cuts me off at the knees. More importantly, it brings me to my knees. The only purpose of such study is to better know God and to offer him increasingly elevated holy worship. This is His due. This is the chief end of man and the reason for our existence: relationship though worship and giving Him glory.

beach sandcastle
EPrata photo

Posted in bible study, commentaries, discernment

Commentary author recommendation: Roy Gingrich

Dr Roy Gingrich, source Faithlife

We study the Bible because we love Jesus and want to know more about Him. The only place where we can reliably learn more about our Savior is in His word, which is THE authoritative word. We ladies like to learn theology, so we read God’s word.

I cut my teeth on the Old Testament, loving it from the beginning even as a babe in Christ. I spent the first years of my salvation reading all the Old Testament Prophets. They’re hard, though, complicated at times and filled with symbolism, idioms, and long history which requires understanding for context. The Holy Spirit is the main help to us, because scripture teaches scripture. He illuminates the word to us as we study and pray. Psalm 119:18 says,

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Ephesians 1:17-18 says

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you …

However, for information regarding the histories or interpretations of other difficult passages, we also use commentaries. God has raised up men before us who wrote down explanations and comments regarding the books of the Bible. In researching the book of Jeremiah, for example, I found few sermons, and fewer commentaries (which were available to me or reasonably priced enough to access).

Some people look down their noses at using commentaries, saying “I just use scripture.” Really? you don’t also listen to your pastor who stands there week after week explaining the scriptures to you? In his essay 20 Tips on How to Use Bible Commentaries, Professor and Pastor David Murray quotes Spurgeon,

It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries…A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences” (C H Spurgeon).

The essay linked above with HOW to use commentaries, because there is a right way and a wrong way. Just as you study alone, you learn from your pastor, and listen to online sermons, definitely read commentaries also. Do use them.

On my Logos 6 software, I learned of a theologian called Roy Gingrich. I had not heard of him before and yet I was intrigued. He has commented on all the Bible and some Bible topics besides. He lived relatively recently and most of his writing was finished in the latter part of his life, in the 1970s to the ’90s and even into the 2000s.

The bio at the Faithlife (Logos) wiki states,

Roy Gingrich was an American pastor and author best known for his comprehensive commentary series. He was born to Arthur and Arista Gingrich on February 3, 1920 in Ozark, Illinois, the youngest of four children. Roy received God’s call to enter the Christian ministry in 1941. After intensive preparation and pastoral stints in Illinois and Indiana, he became pastor of Faith Bible Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where he remained for over 40 years.

In 1963, Gingrich graduated cum laude from Victory University (formally Mid-South Bible College) and soon thereafter joined the teaching staff. Gingrich began writing conservative Bible commentaries in 1964. Roy Gingrich’s Commentaries in Outline Form (100 vols.) includes 60 different commentaries on the books of the Bible, and 40 additional commentaries on major Bible themes.

In 2001, Dr. Gingrich retired from a long and fruitful ministry, but continued to revise his commentaries and lecture at colleges and churches in the US. In 2003, he was inducted into the Crichton College Hall of Fame.

Here is one revoew of one of the commentaries. Of Dr Gingrich’s Commentary on Isaiah, fellow Professor of Theology Paul M. Davidson at Mid-South Bible College wrote in 1977 in the preface to Gingrich’s Commentary on Isaiah,

The book of Isaiah is named for its author, the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Salvation is of Jehovah.” He is rightly called “the Evangelical Prophet of the Old Testament.” By common consent, he ranks among the great literary geniuses of all time and his book is recognized as a part of the world’s great literature. 

According to tradition, Isaiah was martyred, sawn asunder, Hebrews 11:37. Just so, in the hands of destructive modern critics his book has suffered, being cut up into many parts. Consequently, liberal Biblical scholars today deny the unity as well as the Isaiah an authorship of this great work. They affirm that it is the product of various authors, writing at different times, long after Isaiah’s death. Then an unknown redactor combined the various elements into the book that we know today as Isaiah. 

In view of the above errors, it is refreshing to read Mr. Gingrich’s thoroughly orthodox, expanded, analytical outline of Isaiah. His exposition comes from a balanced and responsible conservatism which gives the work an abiding value. Like his other books, this one begins with a full general introduction, treating such topics as authorship, unity, historical background, importance, etc. This is followed by a succinct exegesis and explanation of the text. Both the layman and the busy preacher can use this commentary and quickly come to the heart of a passage and receive much help. For the greatest profit, this outline should be both read and studied with an open Bible. It is designed for both personal and group use.

For many years, Mr. Roy Gingrich has been pastor of Faith Bible Church, Memphis, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Mid-South Bible College, where he is presently a much loved and respected professor. He is truly a humble man of God and a diligent, tireless student of the Word. The reader of these pages has before him the fruit of many hours of prayerful research and the insights of six or seven of the most outstanding and scholarly commentaries on Isaiah.

Heartily and without reservation, I encourage pastors, teachers, and lay persons desiring a thorough grasp of Isaiah to study carefully this analytical outline, this outline being an interesting and effective aid to an understanding of this portion of the Scriptures.

The really interesting thing about Dr Gingrich’s approach to writing commentaries, is that they are all outlines. I love me some Matthew Henry but in accessing his Whole Commentary on the Bible through Logos, sometimes it takes me a long time of reading before I get to the single nugget I want. Mr Gingrich wrote all his commentaries, including the Prophets, as an outline, with a one or two clear, concise sentences for each verse. It’s very helpful. Here is an example of a page from his commentary on Zechariah.

I have not read all of his commentaries, obviously. Just last night I completed downloading the final commentary on the major and minor prophets, to that end, my set is now complete. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far of Dr Gingrich’s work and I especially love he outline form. They are great for small group, too. If you are looking for an alternative to long, complicated commentaries which seem to be orthodox and best of all, affordable, please consider Dr Gingrich’s outlines. They have proved invaluable.

Most of his outlines are available as a download through Logos 6 or Kindle or other method. There are paperback copies available through Amazon also.

Available from

Available at Amazon


Further Reading

20 Tips on How To Use Bible Commentaries

Posted in beth moore, bible study, discernment, hermenutics

When teachers rely on word studies to create lessons

The Master’s Seminary published an essay titled “Exegetical Fallacies: The Word Study Fallacy” by William Barrick.

I found it interesting because much of women’s ministry teaching comes from this kind of study. The Grandmother of word studies is Beth Moore. Her proteges are following suit and her proteges’ proteges, third generation Bible teachers for women, are following suit also.

I attended a BM Living Proof “study” in North Carolina five years ago. I had begun going to church regularly 4 years prior. So I was a newbie to church and only I was 6 years in the faith to begin with. I was totally new to discernment. Most of my early blogging had to do more with prophecy than discernment or encouragement.

I re-read the discernment essays I had written back then regarding Moore’s teaching and I am proud of the Holy Spirit because I think they hold up over time. I believe I was on the money with my concerns to a degree that only the Holy Spirit can take credit because, as I said, I was new and fairly unlearned. I had written a review about my concern with how Moore approaches a teaching she said she constructs for delivery at Living Proof:

She explained how she arrives at the lessons she teaches on her tour. She said that when she prays the Holy Spirit will deliver a word to her. [I now know this to be an extrabiblical, Mystical practice] In the case for the teaching in Charlotte, it had been “Hold Fast.” In the case of her next tour in Columbia, it will be “Prepare.” She then creates an acrostic of teaching points that begin with each letter in the main word. Ours was – 

His affection is set upon us
Only He is your praise
Loving Him awakens your true heart
Doing His will does us good
Fleeing to Him means fleeing with Him
Any tighter embrace will also replace
Satan wants what we have
The Lord is your life 

Looks kind of OK, doesn’t it? I won’t explain each of the eight mantras point by point, but share with you some of what troubled me most. I think word studies are good, and I like when teachers look into the Greek or the Hebrew meaning. I am not sure if this manner of exegetical study, finding all the words that relate to a subject and building a lesson out of it is outrageous or wonderful, but I do know that such an approach can be fraught with danger. You lose the context of each passage you are extracting the word from. If you cross OT to NT that context gets more complicated because you have to research whether the word used in a context was meant only for the Jews in the Old Covenant or can be extrapolated into the New Covenant for the Gentiles.

This approach also means that you wind up using a LOT of verses in one study and that tends to feel cobbled together and superficial. You can’t really explain to full depth each verse so you simply refer to them, and there winds up being a lot of different points. It gets unfocused, really fast.

Moore had said that she found every ‘hold fast’ in the Bible and she put together a lesson from that. A lot of people in the audience were so impressed with her mention of the Greek word for this or the Hebrew word for that. Even at my naive state five years ago, ripping out a word from its context and matching it to other words that may seem the same didn’t fell like a good approach. Context is everything.

The Master’s Seminary article explains in detail just why students should not absorb lessons from teachers who crafted lessons based on these kinds of word studies, nor should teachers create lessons based on studies of these kinds. Below are two short excerpts from the short version of their article. If you want to go deeper into the whys and wherefores, there is a fuller, lengthier version of the same article, here.

When it comes to studying Scripture, word studies are popular, easily obtained from available resources and an easy way to procure sermon content. However, word studies are also subject to radical extrapolations and erroneous applications. It is not always possible to strike exegetical gold by extracting a word from the text for close examination. Word studies alone will not suffice. Indeed, over-occupation with word studies can be a sign of laziness and ignorance involved in much of what passes for biblical exposition in our times. 

Study of the words alone will not present us with a consistent interpretation or theology. This is one of the misleading aspects of theological dictionaries/wordbooks. One learns far more about obedience/disobedience or sacrifice and sin from the full statement of a passage like 1 Sam 15:22–23 than he will from word studies of key terms like “sacrifice,” “obey,” or “sin” in the text.

The most important thing about studying the Bible is actually reading the Bible. Too many people spend too much time warming up first. Getting the right chair, the cup of coffee, the notebook, the pen, the devotional, the book about how to read the Bible … all fussing over the preparations and never getting to the main event.

It reminds me of this classic skit. Ralph Kramden was so focused on proving what he knew and Norton’s warm up being in the way, that Ralph never did learn what that song was that was right in front of him, and Norton, well, if you know the Honeymooners, you know Norton always took a looooong time to warm up doing anything. Don’t be Ralph Kramden. Don’t be Ed Norton. Be a good Bible student. And watch out for shallow word study teachers. Just because they mention “Greek” or “Hebrew” doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve delved deeply. Many times it means the opposite.

Recommended resources:

her·me·neu·tics- ˌhərməˈn(y)o͞odiks/
noun. the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.

Grace To You/John MacArthur-
Essay: How to Study Your Bible
Essay: Simple Steps to Solid Study
Book: How To Study the Bible

Article by Tim Challies: How To Study the Bible

Book by Richard Mayhue How To Interpret The Bible By Yourself
Challies Review of Mayhue’s Book

Article by Focus on the Family: How to Study the Bible

Posted in bible study, concordia, discernment, encouragement, jesus, small group

How do I lead a home bible study?

Some readers have asked how to start or lead a home group Bible study. This is a great question. There are many reasons why you might want to start a small group study in your home or at work. In these days of rising apostasy, some people are finding they are not receiving good instruction at their church from the pulpit or their Sunday School class. Others have left their church and have not found another one yet, but do not want to leave off fellowship with like-minded believers. Some are in a megachurch and this is the best way to connect with fellow believers for study and prayer. (Acts 2:42). Still others are born leaders with the gift and heart for teaching.

First before starting a group at your home, if you are members of a church, be sure to discuss this with your pastor. You don’t need his permission to start one, but if you want the credibility of your church and his endorsement, you will need to submit to him for pastoral oversight- especially if you’re a woman intending to minister to other women this way. More on that from 9Marks of a Healthy Church folks.

Another note I’d like to stress is that if you’re a woman wanting to start a home group study, you do NOT need to remain in the women’s aisle at the book store when perusing curricula. There is no biblical command to study only from guides written by women, and there are many good reasons not to. Here is one prime example of how or why it might be better to study from a curriculum written by a man.

The IF:gathering is the biggest phenomenon you may never have heard of. That is because it is an organization founded by women who do their work mainly online. Though there are small group gatherings in real life, of course, called IF:table, these come about because of their organizational and promotional work in the largely hidden realm of social media. In other words, if you’re not clued in, you would never know that this is going on:

Every pin on that map, screen shot from last week, is a gathering under the auspices and curriculum of the IF:gathering, called IF:table. IF:table is women meeting up in homes and back yards to discuss the Bible in a fellowship atmosphere with an outlined curriculum. When I first looked at the IF:ladies and their local gatherings a few years ago, there were white spaces on the map where there were still no gatherings being held. You can see how they have gathered steam over the last two years. Now there are no white spaces east of the Mississippi.

The problem is, the IF:curriculum is less than solid. After all, the name IF comes from the women’s foundational premise; “IF God is real, then what?” These women promote a social gospel in lieu of the true Gospel among other issues with their hermeneutic. I’ll link to the biblical reasons why I’ve come to this conclusion below. IF is a liberal, questioning, soft ‘Bible’ study designed exactly for women who are always striving to learn but never able to come to knowledge of the truth. It’s a curriculum designed to feed into women’s vulnerabilities and capture them in a snare. We are the weaker vessel, and sadly, the success of IF:table proves it. (1 Peter 3:7).

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6-7).

So aside from the biblical vulnerability we have to following the false, how do the IF: ladies successfully get so many women to gather in back yards? By making it easy. Here is their curriculum explanation outline-

IF:table- A place to gather women and share a simple meal and dive deep with people over real stories and Christ centered conversations. A time for a whole lot of laughter – and maybe a few tears – but time spent that leaves us with glad hearts. Full hearts. Grateful hearts. 

We’re inviting you to join us by hosting a dinner with us. Once a month in your local communities 

The vision is-
     6 women
     4 questions
     2 hours
     (Acts 2:46) 

Invite your people, prepare a simple meal, and we will provide the conversation cards 2 weeks before each IF:Table.


Therefore the question I was asked, what solid alternatives are there? becomes important. Where can women and/or their husbands turn to find materials that will aid the leader in setting up a consistent, biblical fellowship study in your home?

First let’s look at the reasons to have a small gathering in the first place, and what they are and what they are not.

From the 9Marks men, Using Small Study Groups to Cultivate Fellowship defined,

They are not support or counseling groups, and they are not pure study groups. Rather, they are used to cultivate spiritual fellowship together, a fellowship informed by Scripture and pursued through prayer, study, and interpersonal reflection.

I would go to that link above and read that essay from 9Marks and read any others they have at the site. 9Marks is a website dedicated to helping Christians find resources and answers in today’s practical church life.

From Grace To You here are some short essays on the mechanics of the small group study fellowship:

Elements of Productive Bible Study: Believe
Elements of Productive Bible Study: Meditate
Elements of Productive Bible Study: Teach

LifeWay has a series of free articles that outline the elements of leading a good Bible discussion at home,

How to Lead a Successful Discussion-Driven Bible Study (Introduction)

  1. Prepare Yourself Mentally and Spiritually to Lead
  2. Develop a Discussion Plan that Works
  3. Handle Conversation Hogs and Rabbit Chasers
  4. Connect Between Group Sessions
  5. Start a Group Strong by Answering Why? Who? and What? First

This is a leader recommended book though Westminster Bookstore:
Iron Sharpens Iron! Leading Bible-Oriented Small Groups that Thrive

Small Bible-study groups are great places for Christians both to interact with God’s Word and to share their lives with others. They provide relaxed and informal settings which facilitate growth in grace and understanding. Orlando Saer provides a realistic and practical guide for anyone leading or wanting to lead such a group. This book will give you the tools you need as a leader to see your group thrive.

Now that I have done my duty grounding you and offering resources as to the reasons for and how-tos of leading a small group study in your home, here are a few curricula you may find useful.

The first thing to do is browse for materials at a trusted store. If you’ve decided to go under the auspices of your pastor/church, he/they can direct you. If you are on your own, then you find that the materials offered at various brick and mortar bookstores or online can be wild and woolly. LifeWay offers much, but much of what they offer is heretical. Picking through their offerings would be fraught with time-consuming danger, even for the most discerning. I like Westminster Bookstore which has a Reformed bent to it. Shopping at their online store one would be less likely to come across heretical materials.

Concordia University is a Lutheran University in Portland OR and branches elsewhere which has a pretty good online bookstore attached to it. You can try for materials there. I have not done a ton of business through Concordia so as always, think, pray, and discern for yourselves.

Also, Amazon is helpful for their reviews as well as their recommendations. One thing that is sometimes useful is that as you browse and buy books at Amazon, the logarithm behind the search function begins to “know” what you like and pairs your search with like-books from your browsing history, your purchases, and others’ as well. ‘It’ makes recommendations for you. If all you do is buy Beth Moore and Lisa TerKeurst books then that is the kind of book that will be recommended to you. After a while of browsing and buying solid books you can then begin to trust the recommendations a bit more and explore them. This is a screen shot from my recommended section:

Here are a few leader friendly, seemingly doctrinally solid, and engaging to the participant materials that yielded up when I searched for “small group Bible study curricula” at Westminster Books and elsewhere. I say seemingly not to cast aspersion but to let you know I have not read these books nor done any studies through them. As always, choose wisely.

The Practice of Godliness Small-Group Curriculum: Godliness Has Value for All Things 1 Timothy 4:8. Jerry Bridges

I have read the Jerry Bridges book The Joy of the Fear of God and it’s good.

TULIP: The Pursuit of God’s Glory in Salvation (John Piper Small Group, 2009)

For women, by women, there are Bible Studies with Lydia Brownback, a recommended writer from both Challies and Leslie Wiggins at Discerning Reader. This synopsis of Brownback was written in 2008

Lydia Brownback is the author of several books. She served as writer-in-residence for Rev. Alistair Begg and as the broadcast media manager for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. A regular speaker at women’s conferences, Brownback also blogs at The Purple Cellar. She holds degrees from Syracuse University and Westminster Theological Seminary.

There is Todd Friel’s Drive By series. The Drive By Theology series has a study guide to accompany it. The Drive By title indicates that the theme is developed in numerous short audio lessons one can listen to on a short drive to work, say, no longer than 10-20 minutes. In the case of DB Theology, Steven J. Lawson is the main lecturer. The study guide accompanies the audio series. It is good for small groups because each lecture is short, leaving time for group discussion, and the .pdf curriculum helps the leader facilitate. There are various uses for the curriculum, as mentioned here in the introduction

How much you learn from this curriculum will depend on how much you put into it. You can go all out and turn this into a year-long project or simply use it as a way to look into a few of the things that catch your interest. If you want to understand more about how different denominations within the Church view the ordo salutis, spend some time looking at their teachings. Whether you are using this as a family study at the dinner table, a self-improvement project, a summer project for your kids to study, or a Bible curriculum for your homeschooler, you will find exciting things as you learn about how God has revealed Himself to us in the pages of Scripture

I also recommend Chris Powers, an artist who makes animations and creates doctrinally solid study guides to go with them. His materials are free. You can download The Word of the Cross study guide here. It is also available in Spanish. The Supremacy of Christ is available too, and it also has a Spanish translation.

John MacArthur’s new book Parables is a wonderful read, and a new study guide/workbook will be available on March 1, 2016. The Publisher’s synopsis says,

This workbook has been designed to enhance readers’ experience of reading the book and is intended both for individual use and for study in a small-group setting.

So now that you know of some of the organizations, people and teachers that come recommended with study guides for small groups, and can continue to search on your own, I hope the Lord leads you to a good one and that your small groups thrive. Fellowship is important and I admire anyone with the gift of hospitality and teaching who bring people together under their roof to exalt Jesus and learn more about Him.

Though the IF:ladies make hosting a groups study look inviting and easy, with their softly photographed flower-laden tables and their 4 easy question cards, but hosting a group is not easy nor should it be taken casually. Also, the ladies make hosting a Bible study look at once inviting and impossible-to-achieve.

Sure. My backyard looks like that.

It’s the Lord’s own word you’re gathering to learn more of, after all. So it shouldn’t be casual or easy. But the Holy Spirit gives aid and comfort, leads and directs. HE is in charge of our souls pointing us to Christ, and anyone who wants to lead people to that end will find help from Him. That is a guarantee, because He promised to do so, and His promises never fail.


The End Time: IF:gathering review part 1

TruthKeepers: IF:gathering…is it a movement of God?

Sola Sisters: Strong warning about the IF:gathering

Posted in back to basics, bible, bible study

Back to Basics: How to Study Your Bible

EPrata photo

The Bible is one book but it is actually a library of 66 books. These books are written in a variety of genres. Your own bookcase at home contains fiction with sub-genres such as novels, science fiction, romance, or poetry. Alongside those might be books on your shelves of non-fiction with sub-genres such as biographies, history, textbooks, cookbooks, or how-to. You see how many genres of literature there are!

Your library of the books of the Bible is just the same. Inside the one book are 66 books containing different genres. You would not read a history book from David McCullough in the same way as you would a romance novel from LaVyrle Spencer. You would not read a cookbook written by Rachael Ray in the same way as you would a book of poetry Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

My life’s work as both profession and hobby has been to involve myself in literacy. Professionally, I help teach children how to read. When five-year-olds begin to learn how to read, we start with books that contain predictable language. They hear “Once upon a time…” and it finishes with “They lived happily ever after. The end.” If I begin reading aloud to them “Once upon a…” and stop, the children will know what comes next. When they see two words on the last page, “The end” they know what those words say. This is because narrative stories have a familiar story arc and a predictable schema that remains the same from book to book.

When children reach around third grade they begin reading in the content areas. Gone are the familiar, predictable stories where they can use the context to help fill in an unknown word. Gone are the story arcs where their comprehension of the text is supported by familiarity and predictability. New to them are passages that contain a lot of facts about Magellan, the planets, or magnets. There is no predictability in these passages, nothing to hang their mental hook on to help support the brain’s search for meaning of that unknown word or concept. We teach children different reading strategies for comprehension of non-fiction passages.

When a child reaches 6th grade or so, we hope that the years of reading have instilled in them a wealth of strategies for comprehension of both fictional works and non-fiction that are so familiar to them that they aren’t even aware of the fact that they are using strategies, nor hopefully are they aware that they are switching strategies based on which type of literature they are reading.

Photo from Unsplash, free to use

We adults are no different. When I approach a historical passage like Ezra I read differently than I do when I read a Psalm or a narrative like Mark. Even within the different genres of books of the Bible, I read differently than if I have set a goal. During the summer when I’m off work I read the New Testament straight through at least once. I want a bird’s eye view, a skim and a scan, I do not stop and I do not study. I just read.

When I read a densely historical book like Ezra, I read slowly and I use maps and pictures. I am a visual person and I need maps to show me where these people are, have been, and are going. When lots of animals are named I stop and I look at pictures of them so I can picture in my head what is going on. If you are not visual you might not need to do that.

Reading Ezra with all the kings in their respective countries for me is like a third grader suddenly having to remember all the Explorer’s names and their different travels. The difficult Hebrew names sometimes trip me up so I either decide to read relieve myself of the task of reading them perfectly, or I go to an audio reading (Max McLean) and let him pronounce it for me. So my goals and strategies differ, depending on the level of difficulty and the type of text that is before me.

Here are the different kinds of literature in the Bible. Not everybody classifies them the same way. Some classify Esther as History, others classify the book as Narrative. Some lists do not contain the genre of Narrative at all, others do. Some place the Gospel under their own category and others put them under Narrative along with Acts. Some split the genre of Prophecy and Apocalyptic literature, others put them together. Just as long as you begin to see each book of the Bible as its own kind of literature, and approach reading it from that perspective, you will be on your way to a solid beginning interpretation.

Here are a couple of visuals to help you see the Bible in the way it needs to be seen, as a bookshelf of various genres. You can view several different arrangements here at this blog.


Please note that the arrangement of the Prophetic books into “Major Prophets” and “Minor Prophets” is not a statement of the worth of the book’s content. We know from 2 Timothy 3:16 that ALL scripture is valuable. It simply means that the minor prophets’ books are shorter.

Another visual arrangement of the books of the Bible is like a periodic table, in a visual theology developed by Tim Challies. You can obtain a free, large-scale, high-resolution image of this chart at Challies’ site.

The Bible is one, unified book testifying all about Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:27). It cannot be broken. (John 10:35). And yet, we can segment the books of the Bible into their proper genres and approach reading and studying them in the ways they need to be studied or read, without harm. The Bible is astonishing in its breadth and depth and insight. Of course it is! It is the word of God. We are blessed to be living in a time where there is NOT a famine of the Word, but have access to it day and night, written and audio, large text or small, Old Testament or New.

However you decide to approach your study and your reading (they are two separate things), the point is, make an orderly approach. Make decisions ahead of time. Understand the text you’re absorbing and its different literature genre requirements.

The most important thing of all is to pray. The Holy Spirit indwells you for the purpose of illuminating the scriptures to you. When you’ve made some orderly decisions ahead of time you have prepared your brain, and then as you pray for illumination, the Spirit will impress what He wants on your mind and heart. Not that you have to do it this way, but being an orderly, praying disciple of Jesus as you read about Him can’t hurt, right?


Further reading:

GotQuestions: Genres of the Bible

Institute for Creation Research: Scripture Cannot Be Broken

Bible Gateway: Tour of the Bible, part 1

Grace To You: How to Study Your Bible

Posted in bible study, discernment, titus, women

What about a woman who blogs? Is she violating scripture by teaching men?

My ministry is to women. I exhort for women to achieve a higher standard of biblical literacy and knowledge of the Lord. I exhort for women in their lives to walk in submission to the Word. I also use my blog as a personal platform to teach women the scriptures and HOW to think about the scriptures. Finally, I use my blog to proclaim Jesus and to praise Him. I’m unashamed and unafraid and I love using the blog to perform these ministrations within the body of Christ. This is because the Spirit groomed me lifelong as a writer then upon salvation dispensed the gifts of teaching and exhortation.

It gives me the greatest joy possible to hear back from a woman who has sought His word and gained insight through submitting her mind to the Holy Spirit. I cry tears of joy when a woman contacts me and says she had followed through with listening to a recommended sermon from John MacArthur or Phil Johnson and is now frequently listening to them or the other men I’d recommended … or has read the essay by Lloyd Jones, or followed the link from Challies. Connecting women with solid and credible male teachings is sweet. When a woman says she has ignited her prayer life, or has learned to trust her husband more, or has established a pattern of consistently reading the Word, I praise the Holy God for raising up women and for using me in the gifts He has dispensed in that task.

Sometimes I receive the question, but what about if a man reads your blog, aren’t you violating scripture by teaching men? This essay is my response.

I consistently advise 4 things: for women who read my stuff to be faithful in personal prayer, persistent in asking for wisdom from the Spirit as James 1:5 says, constant personal bible reading and checking what I say against scripture, and to discuss these matters with their husband, or pastor or elder if they are single. I do a lot of referring back to the husband, Some women are looking for an excuse to rebel and use female bloggers as their loophole by asking leading questions and overly-relying on my answer. I’m not having it. LOL, once I pointedly asked a woman “What does your husband say about this?” and she wrote back in perplexed confusion, ‘I honestly never thought to ask him about it or discuss these kind of things with him.’ And therein lay the problem.

I remind often that the husband (or pastor or other family member if single) is the spiritual authority. I’m just the Sister with some thoughts and elder advice as per Titus 2:4. I do the same in real life at my local church.

But that isn’t the real question. Isn’t a Christian woman who writes about theological issues on her blog actually teaching men if a man reads her blog, in violation of the scriptures? (1 Timothy 2:12). The scriptures say women cannot usurp authority over men in the church, taking their God-ordained positions of preaching, teaching or leading (as in deacon) for themselves. This is what I believe because this is what God has said explicitly and implicitly through His Word.

This is not the actual question, though. When someone asks “is a woman Christian blogger violating scripture by possibly teaching men on her blog’ it isn’t the real question. The real question is, “Should women speak of or teach theological/spiritual/discipling issues in the public square?” Blogs are the public square. The public square is also the break room at work, the living room of a home where a women’s ministry is being conducted, the cafe at Borders Books, a blog, Facebook wall or messaging, bible study in a living room with other women, or any other place where women of faith may congregate apart from church and men might be present and spiritually impacted by what they hear or read from a woman’s insight.

So we ask the same question but place it in different situations and venues.

Is a woman violating scripture by having a female bible study during lunch in the work cafeteria where men are also at nearby tables? If two women are engaged in a discipling relationship and working out a theological issue at a café, and Christian men happen to be at the next table, are the women violating scripture if the men listen to their conversation? If a woman writes of theological issues on her blog and a man happens to read it, is she violating scripture? What if a woman authors a theological book, and a man buys it and reads it? Did she violate scripture? Did he? The question can be taken to silly extremes.

Not that the issue of women teaching men is silly. We have far too much of that inside the structure of the congregational church these days. Just yesterday I ran across a youngish female “pastor” of a strangely named “church” called “Guts Church” and I commented on her rebellion against the 1 Timothy verse, but she deleted my comment. My friend Jeff Isaiah on Twitter writes,

If your church’s pastor is a woman—you don’t have a pastor, and you don’t have a church. Leave. (See 1 Timothy, chapter 2)

However, the real question as I noted is, can a woman speak theologically, disciple or teach other women in the public square – and to what extent? In the Bible we read of Dorcas, who led a ministry of women and discipled them through her sewing/clothing works. If male workers or house residents were about and heard their discussion, then did Dorcas violate scripture? Did Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, violate scripture by teaching Timothy of the good news at home? Did Lydia who contended in public at Paul’s side in public? Did Philips’ daughters who preached/prophesied in public with their father?

I simply don’t worry about it. I aim to reach women and I say so. I take my role seriously as an elder women coaching the younger in being strong in the word and submissive to male domestic and church authority. If a man wants to read my blog, that could also be a good thing. Why? What of the women I’m engaged in a discussion with in the comments section or via email, and I urge her to discuss further with her husband? What if the husband then comes to my blog to investigate me. It is GOOD that he reads it, first so he can protect his wife against heresy I may be spouting. (We all know there are plenty of those kind of blogs online these days). Pastor and noted blogger Tim Challies often reviews books on his site that are aimed at women. He wrote in his essay Book Recommendations: Books for Women

Because I am a husband, I try to read at least the occasional book that is meant to encourage or equip my wife. Here are some of the best of the books I’ve read for women.

Now THAT makes me feel great and I can only imagine how good it makes his wife feel to know he is looking out for her.

Husbands, love your wives, AND protect themfrom the monstrous
regiment of women spouting heresy online. Rev 2:20

Therefore, what if a man reads my blog a few times and likes it and decides that he will pass it on to his wife? That also is a good thing. Did he violate scripture in reading my work enough times to get a feel for whether I’m genuine? What if he learned something in the process, or gained an insight? I do not believe these are violations.

Remember, the question is not that women bloggers are usurping male authority in the church in violation of 1 Tim 2:12, the question is can women teach and speak of theological things in the public square, (like blogs) especially if they intend to teach a female audience. John MacArthur has some stances on that.

By the way, if females teach scripture online and/or exposit it, then his own website would be in violation. Many, many women are listed on the site with .pdfs and other resources, even sermons- and they are so labeled. Judy Luenebrink’s sermon and bible study expositing Genesis 3 is online. Is she violating scripture by teaching the Bible if a man reads her work? No in my opinion, and obviously not in the good pastor’s, because it is clear she is teaching to women! I assume that a man in the church provided oversight before Mrs Luenebrink’s sermon was even posted.

While Dr MacArthur does not mention blogs specifically, here are his thoughts on women teaching outside of the authoritative structure of the church proper. Inside the church, too many women are filling male roles “because the men won’t.” This is not an excuse, as MacArthur begins his essay. Here are the excerpts from his essayActive Submission:

But God has established the proper order and relationship of male and female roles in the church, and they are not to be violated for any reason. For a woman to assume a man’s role because he has neglected it merely compounds the problem. God has led women to do work that men have refused to do, but He does not lead them to accomplish that work through roles He has restricted to men.

That doesn’t mean, however, that God never permits women to speak His truth in public:

“Paul spoke with various churches and synagogues during his missionary journeys, answering questions from women as well as men (cf. Acts 17:2–4). I see nothing wrong with a woman asking questions or sharing what the Spirit of God has taught her out of the Word during informal Bible study and fellowship.

Women can proclaim the Word of God except when the church meets for corporate worship. The Old Testament says, “The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host” (Psalm 68:11). The New Testament gives examples of Mary, Anna, and Priscilla declaring God’s truth to men and women (Luke 1:46–55; 2:36–38; Acts 18:24–26).

Women can pray in public. Acts 1:13–14 describes a prayer meeting where women and men, including Jesus’ apostles, were present. But leading in prayer during an official meeting of the church is, as we’ve already seen, a role ordained for men (1 Timothy 2:8).”—end JMac

For another take on the question, here is Tony Miano on the question. Miano attends Grace Community Church (John MacArthur’s church) and is in submission to Phil Johnson in small group. He says things I agree with.Christian Women Bloggers: Maintaining God-Intended Femininity

Here is Phil Johnson on women discernment bloggers. He notes that many female bloggers who specialize in discernment wind up simply having a sharp tongue and use it negatively. I agree with this also. Johnson said there are some personalities which are predisposed to snark and bitterness and they USE blogging as the excuse to let the flesh run rampant. I look to Pastor Justin Peters as my positive role model here. I have listened to his discernment seminars and sermons for many years and I admire the way he continually submits to the Spirit and thus maintains his gentle composure, even when saying the harshest of biblical things.

The Johnson comments come from a Youtube video event hosted by Todd Friel. Start at 25:00 go to about 30:00. I also agree with Johnson that many women discernment bloggers presume to teach but do not display a rational understanding of doctrine. Oftentimes this is why their unfeminine harridan side kicks in. The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Discernment Divas

Sewing circle, 1952. Wikimedia commons

So that’s it. As for me personally regarding the blog, several men whom I trust read it and occasionally touch base with me privately to ask me a clarification question to check for my understanding, they encourage me, or they reprove me. Sometimes they comment openly and I always appreciate the male perspective. I also appreciate the fact that they are ‘out there’, but we’re ‘together in the Body’, jointly performing our gifts and roles. I personally believe that they are taking their leadership seriously by monitoring me and nurturing me. And I’m grateful for it.

I am fully submitted to the concept of women not teaching in the church- unless it is to children or other women only. And no female pastors or deacons. And no women interrupting male-led bible studies or co-opting lessons held in the church with their own insights etc. Submissive and orderly is the command and I am firm on that!

As for women writing books, blogging, discipling, or speaking of theological things in the public square, I follow Philip’s daughters, (Acts 21:9), Eunice and Lois, (2 Timothy 1:5), Lydia, (Acts 16:14),  Dorcas (Acts 9:36) and other women who restrict their ministry to women, submit to the men in their lives, but unashamedly proclaim the glories of this wonderful Jesus whom we share and whom the dying world needs to know.



Woman to Woman: Answering the Call of Titus 2

Biblical vision for Pastors discipling men and women

The Titus 2 Challenge

Going Beyond Titus 2: Gospel-Centered Whole Bible Discipleship

Posted in bible study, life, summer

Switching to summer mode

I am a 54-year-old kindergarten special education teacher’s aide. School with the kids let out a week ago, and teachers and staff finished Friday. That means this is the first official summer day for me, being the first week-day I am not headed to school for a 7:15am starting bell.

I don’t like to write a lot about myself, but occasionally I believe it’s warranted. People need to get a context of who I am and what I am about so they can assess credibility. There are many Christian bloggers who aren’t members of a local congregation, or who don’t believe in real life ministries, don’t perform a service, don’t submit to oversight of pastors or elders, or who don’t read the Bible. I am not one of those.

The Lord made it clear to me that I am not to be married. It is also clear that He gave me a delight in and a talent for teaching children. I was formerly a certified teacher but stopped some years ago to do other things like travel and become editor of a weekly newspaper. When I moved from Maine to Georgia, I returned to education once again but as a vastly different person. This time I came to education as a single, born-again, elder woman whom the Lord wants to use for His glory both at school and out of school. He designed my life so that I can be fulfilled in working with children in a not-too-stressful job, use it as a ministry both to kids and colleagues, but also to have lots of time off to write blog essays, based on the available time He has blessed me with.

So when the school vacations and summer rolls around, I am aware that I have a duty to redeem the time He has afforded me and to use the talents He has given me as a spiritual retreat and opportunity to dig into His word in a way I would not if I had a more stressful job, or a husband & family.

So I do. I’m filled with gratitude at the life He has given me and want all the more to glorify His name in all I think, say, and do.

However I am fleshly and given large quantities of time I can easily sink into laziness and simply end up watching endless episodes of “Sea Patrol” and reading easy novels in between naps.

In order to stay diligent and productive, I make a schedule. This is my day.

When I awake I am pretty refreshed and I after making coffee I sit down and begin study immediately. I pray through my prayer list. I then study.

I begin with reading the Bible. I recently finished 1 Corinthians so I sought advice from my teaching-pastor as to next steps. The past two summers he has given me a project to do and these have proved helpful in giving me summer structure. He suggested I read Galatians-Ephesians-Philippians-Colossians. He suggested I compare and contrast, and also look for the similarities in each books’ use of presenting the indicative before the imperatives.

I love my Logos 6 software so I plugged in the four books into the software and generated a reading plan that would take 50 days to complete.

I am blessed with having lots of study aids, which I’ll get to in a minute, but I believe that the best approach is two-fold: first prayer, then study the actual Bible. I read it directly.

After I read the designated chapters and have prayed in thanks, then I move to some study aids. Whatever the Spirit has pricked in me is what I go forward with next. Was I interested in looking at a map or atlas to see where Galatia is? Is there an archaeological dig with recent discoveries I can learn from? Did I get hung up on a word and need to do a Greek or Hebrew word study? Was there an animal or plant mentioned I’d like to follow upon? Is there a doctrine I would benefit by comparing to others in the NT? Is there a person mentioned I can learn more about by studying their biography? What does the Commentary say?

After the discipline of reading with prayerful attention, then I let loose my mind and see where the Spirit will take me. In the past, this combination has worked well for me. I believe this is one of the ways, with me anyway, He knits together a wider perspective and a greater understanding. I first put in the work to read His word, and it’s not always easy, then He takes a seed and blows it and I follow. He directs my steps. Almost always, after reading the Bible I will look at my MacArthur commentary and usually the Matthew Henry Commentary to flesh out ideas.

Quite often this is when I receive an idea for a blog essay. Not always, but usually something from my morning reading will spark me into a direction, or will dock with another idea I’d had previously and I’ll follow up on it and write. I put the idea down in draft and then I make breakfast and get dressed.

I don’t like to hang around in my PJs all day. I think it’s important to be dressed early just as if I was headed for work, albeit a few hours later 😉

I’ll write. This takes me hours. For the better part of the next four or five hours I’ll write a blog essay on and off, combined with study, cleaning up the kitchen, looking at Twitter or other people’s blogs and listening to sermons or other Christian-oriented audio while I putter.

For the record, I can heartily recommend the following Bible teachers as trustworthy expositors:

John MacArthur
Phil Johnson
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
S. Lewis Johnson

and also
Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, Adrian Rogers. I also enjoy Voddie Baucham and RC Sproul but not on the eschatological texts.

Yes here’s the ubiquitous study photo. Bible, commentary, notebook, theological book
I’m currently reading, coffee, laptop with Logos 6,
and tissues because studying the Word is so moving

In the afternoon I slow down and around 3:30 or 4:00, about the time I’d be coming home from school, I’ll switch to personal stuff. Then and only then do I watch Netflix or Hulu. I might read a novel. I listen to sermons while I craft at the kitchen table. I play with my photographs in post-processing software, I’ll cook, go outside and take photos in the softening light. I answer emails.

Mixed in with these usual days are real-life discipling opportunities I do with people once per week, and church twice per week. It’s important to stay connected with a local congregation. Virtual ministry doesn’t substitute for real life ministry. I also go out once per week to get groceries. I try not to use the car much because summer is a time I can save on fuel consumption as one of the only discretionary utility bills I have control over. The less I browse and shop the less I crave and covet, so I restrict my shopping to groceries and try to stay away from Amazon, too, lol, though I LOVE to buy books. Pay for a teacher aide in Georgia is not too high but the Lord provides me with all I need to survive and thrive. I value time more than money. I really do have everything I need here in this little apartment that during the summer I call The Hermitage.

So that’s it. I am a writer/blogger who studies the Word and I really am a member of a Baptist church and I really do serve in real life ministries, as well as all the stuff I do online.

I thank each and every one of you. So many of you have written to me to encourage me or provide oversight or offer sympathy or ask great questions. I love you my brethren, and I’m grateful not just for the time here to write and study but I’m humbled by and grateful to you, real people who bless me with your comments and questions. You keep me continually realizing that our faith constitutes a kingdom of people from all over the world! Because of you I don’t get myopic or depressed at the state of things. I’m encouraged by you and energized by you, the thriving Kingdom of people whom Jesus loves and the Spirit indwells and God in His timing will glorify. Just imagine the Day when we all meet each other in the air!

Let me not forget to mention Study Aid #1: Bert

Study Aid #2: Luke. He’s saying, “Hey it’s my turn!”

Not to be outdone, Murray is on scene below, Study Aid #3