Tag Archives: Bible study

Book Review:: So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore

27 Apr

Beloved women’s speaker and author Beth Moore’s latest book, So Long, Insecurity (Tyndale), is her most personal book to date.  Moore, who has helped countless ladies break free, get out of pits, and dive deep into Scripture with studies on Jesus, Paul, David, and Esther, is now combating a stronghold in the lives of many women—insecurity.

Moore describes So Long, Insecurity as “one woman’s quest for a real, lasting, soul-changing security” in God, instead of finding that security in self or others.  The first part of the book identifies insecurity by its roots stemming from instability in the home, a significant loss, rejection, dramatic change, personal limitations, personal disposition, our culture, and pride.  Moore further explains these “roots of insecurity” and like always uses a ton of Scripture to build her case.

While the book magnifies a woman’s vulnerabilities, particularly involving image, Moore urges women to “press through the discomfort” so that the reader no longer has to “live in denial and bondage.” Being a woman who battles a ton of insecurity, I didn’t just read So Long, Insecurity objectively; I took Moore’s advice to heart.  I saw myself in so many of her illustrations; I knew my heart was ready for a revolution.

Fortunately, Moore doesn’t just identify and define all areas of insecurity she’s also givse us a look at a man’s insecurities.  She also offers practical advice saturated in Scripture that allows women to immediately begin their journeys toward freedom.  I cannot more highly recommend this book for every woman out there who hates her reflection in the mirror, who is exhausted from the illusion of perfectionism, who thinks she is unworthy of love, who was born on planet Earth.

So Long, Insecurity has tremendously impacted my life, the way I think about myself, and the way I know that God relates to me.  Because of the life-changing content and prayer exercises, the book can take a while to read.  But, remember, insecurity took years to take hold, so it won’t just magically disappear overnight.  Reading this book changed my life and had emboldened me to live a life secure in the love of God.  If you are a captive in the prison of insecurity, then So Long, Insecurity is your key to freedom.

[FTC Disclosure:: Thank you to my fine friends at Tyndale House Publishers for hooking me up with a review copy of this marvelous book!]

The Women of the Resurrection

7 Apr

In this pic, Jesus looks like He’s playing hide-and-seek with the women.

I wanted to prepare this blog post sooner, but time is not on my side lately.  My family could definitely use your prayer.  Gosh, I could use your prayers.  However, better late than never, here’s the follow up to “The Women of the Cross“.

But I thought both my male and female readers might like a peek at the lesson, which I’m adapting into a post. If you would like a copy of the short study for personal or group use, just hit me up at amy@backseatwriter.com

The Women of the Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a crucial cornerstone of the Christian faith, and also what separates Christianity from other major religions that follow His teachings.  Jesus’ resurrection proves that He was not only the Son of God, but the victor over death.  And who were the first to encounter the Risen Lord?  The women who followed Jesus!

The accounts of Jesus’ resurrection can be found in Matthew 28: 1-10; Mark 16: 1-11; Luke 24: 1-12; and John 20: 1-18.

Who are the women of the resurrection?

Interestingly, many of the women present at Jesus’ crucifixion were also the women who awoke early Sunday morning after Sabbath had passed to care for Jesus’ body.  According to Old Testament law, if someone touched a dead body, then he or she was considered unclean, so care of bodies was considered a woman’s work (of course).

However, these women did not care about clean or unclean.  They simply wanted to show their love for this man, who had treated them with respect and kindness, who had allowed them to sit at His feet—they had never met a man like Jesus.

Each Gospel has a different account of what women were present, what happened, and what was said.  It is important to note that ancient scribes were not obsessed with details like we are today.  They were more concerned with telling the story, so we definitely have to approach Scripture with our eyes on the culture.   Here’s a rundown of each Gospel.

Matthew: Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” find empty tomb and angel, also Jesus appears to these women.

Mark: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome encounter an angel and Mary Magdalene first sees Jesus.

Luke: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and others see angels and report to disciples.

John: Mary Magdalene (and possibly other women because she says “we”).  But in this gospel, Mary Magdalene is the first to encounter the risen Jesus.

If you read The Women of the Cross, then you’ve already “met” most of these women.  But just in case you haven’t had the chance to read that incredibly compelling post, let me introduce you to the women of the resurrection.  Meet Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ most devoted followers after He drove seven demons from her body.  And, no, they were not married or sexually involved.  That’s just gross.

Curiously, Mary mother of Jesus isn’t mention in any of these accounts…or is she?  Out of respect, Mary was probably referred to as “Mary mother of James” (Note:  It was this James, Jesus’ half-brother, who went on to write the book of James in the New Testament).  It was a cultural practice not to indicate Mary as Jesus’ mother due to His crucifixion.  Remember that at the cross, she is called “Mary Mother of James and Joses” and only directly addressed in John.  Also, since the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention Mary mother of James or “the other Mary,” it is assumed that both refer to Mary mother of Jesus.  She was His earthly mother—how could she stay away?

Mark mentions Salome, who was the mother of disciples James and John while Luke also adds Joanna, a woman who worked to financially support and care for Jesus and the gang while they traveled.  Since it was early the day after Sabbath and Jews were not permitted to work or travel on Sabbath, we can assume that Joanna was in town for the crucifixion, and I’m fairly certain she was one of the “other women” who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion.   If so, then all the women of the resurrection were also all women who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion.  They were a devoted lot.

Mary Magdalene Sees Him First

Each Gospel says that Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Savior.  Why, out of all the people who followed Jesus, did she see Him first?  Really, we can only guess.  Perhaps she was the one who needed Him most.  When she learned Jesus’ body was missing, she was ready to go to the ends of the earth to retrieve it.  She was distraught and crying when she encounters Jesus, who she mistakes for the gardener.

“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put Him,” she weeps.  But when that “gardener” says her name, she immediately knows it is Jesus (John 20:16).

“Rabboni!” Mary exclaims, which is a very personal greeting meaning “my teacher.”  Most people would have nothing to do with a former demoniac, much less teach one.  But Jesus changed Mary’s life, and now He had changed her eternity.

Why did Jesus appear to women first?

The simple and obvious explanation is this—because they were there. But didn’t Peter and John also run out to the empty tomb?  Why didn’t Jesus appear to them?  Hmm…interesting.

My theory (and this is my theory) is that Jesus is making good on God’s promise all the way back in Genesis 3:15.  After Adam and Eve do the Big No-No, God pronounces judgment on them.  Yet in His judgment, there’s a promise of salvation.  In Genesis 3:15 God says to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  On Calvary, the ancient serpent that is Satan struck Christ’s heel, but in the resurrection (and the yet-to-come Battle of Armageddon), Jesus will crush that serpent’s head.

So, with that information, it would seem that Jesus is “redeeming Eve.”  It’s as if He is saying, “Remember that promise in Genesis?  Well, here I am!  You are redeemed, daughter of Eve, you are redeemed because of Me.”  Since Eve was the first to partake of the apple, perhaps in a subtle way, her daughters are first to know of the redemption.

Then again, there’s the small problem that the disciples who say the empty tomb didn’t believe…but the women did.  Before you go off and tell me it’s because they saw Jesus, let me point you to Mark 24:7-8.  The women remembered His words and believe!  However, the disciples don’t believe their stories (Mark 16:11, Luke 24:11).

Still, in the end, everyone believes and the Gospel message goes forward.  And those women, well, as first witnesses their testimony wouldn’t really matter in a court of law.  Unless there were three women, which is interesting, because the Mark and Luke mention at least three women in their Gospels, making the women viable first witnesses to the resurrection.

These women never met a man like Jesus, who tore the veil, so their shame would be lifted.  Finally, Eve’s sin no longer held them captive, though they still faced the consequences of her choice.  But now they could find wholeness and redemption through God’s promise of Jesus Christ.

I love comments, so here are some questions you can answer–why do you think Jesus first appeared to women?  Why didn’t the men believe but the women did?

The Women of the Cross

1 Apr

Since early last summer, I’ve been leading a ladies’ Bible study. This week, since it is Holy Week, I prepared a lesson called “The Women of the Cross” to be followed next week by “The Women of the Resurrection.” I know, I know. They could use snappier titles.

But I thought both my male and female readers might like a peek at the lesson, which I’m adapting into a post. If you would like a copy of the short study for personal or group use, just hit me up at amy@backseatwriter.com.

The Women of the Cross

British writer Dorothy L. Sayers said: “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized: who never made arch jokes about them…who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension: who took their questions and arguments seriously” (Are Women Human?, page 47).

It is imperative to read about Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, arrest, appearances before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, the road to Golgotha, and the crucifixion itself. Read Mark 14: 32-65, 15: 1-41.

When almost all the disciples, except John, ran away, there were a few women who remained at the cross with Jesus. It is significant that each Gospel mentions the presence of the women at the cross as women were often overlooked in this culture. I invite you to read the passages on the women of the cross yourself. Passages: Matthew 27: 55-56, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:27-31, 49, 55, John 19: 25-27)

By book, I broke down each woman mentioned.

Matthew: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons

Mark: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome, & many other women.

Luke: Women

John: His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene

Who were these women? How might each woman have been uniquely affected by Jesus’ life?

While Luke the physician only mentions “women,” the other three gospels mention Mary Magdalene, two mention Salome (she is also the mother of Zebedee’s sons), and curiously, only John mentions Mary, mother of Jesus. Obviously, bearing the Holy One and rearing Him must have made a huge impact on Mary’s life. In my preparation for the Bible study, I discovered that Mary’s sister, also named “Mary” who is the wife of Clopas is only mentioned once in all of the gospels.

Mary the mother of James and Joses (or Joseph) is a little trickier to identify. Since Jesus’ mother was definitely present at the crucifixion, she may be mentioned here as “Mary the mother of James and Joses.” We do know that Mary had other children, and that James (writer of the book of James) was a half-brother of Jesus and it would make sense to have Joseph, since Mary’s husband was named Joseph. (Note: It has been widely accepted that Joseph was deceased at this time.) Again, there are a lot Mary’s and James’, so we can only guess at the identity of this woman

Salome, also called the mother of Zebedee’s sons, the apostles James and John. (Yes, this James is a completely different James. Argh!) She asked Jesus to promote her sons to places of honor, and is present at both the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ.

Mary Magdalene, often incorrectly referred to as a prostitute, was the women from who Jesus drove out seven demons (Luke 8:3). An intimate friend of Jesus (not his wife or lover), Mary Magdalene’s life was changed profoundly by the Son of God.

How do you think each woman reacted to the trial and crucifixion of Jesus?

Mary, mother of Jesus: The baby boy who she cradled in her arms was now beaten and humiliated in front of all his followers. Maybe some of Mary’s friends were the ones shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” She was told that a sword would pierce her own heart, but who knew it could hurt so bad? How could she stand as they whipped the flesh off her son’s back, as they spit upon Him, ripped out his beard, and mocked him? It was nothing compared to the bullies on the playground. It was her own son.

Mary Magdalene: Here is the man the restored her mind and her life. She was once confused, wandering lost in a strange world as strange voices told her lies. But with His healing touch, she was free. Oh, how she loved Him, her teacher! He was wise, kind, and looked at her with love while others looked at her with disgust. Now they were looking at Jesus the way they used to look at her. She could not imagine how or why anyone would want to kill such a wonderful man—the Son of God no less.

Salome: While John was with her, she probably wondered about the safety of her other son, James. Where was he now that Jesus was being crucified? Hadn’t her sons told her about Jesus and all His wonderful miracles? Where was her son, who so boldly followed Jesus now? Was he safe? Were they doing the same things to him? O, Yahweh, protect him. And, Jesus, how she loved and followed Him! Maybe she glanced over at Mary, mother of Jesus and her heart ached. Salome knew all too well her son might be next.

Several of the Gospels mention there were other women present as well. Who were these women?

The “other women” could include Joanna and Susanna, who provided for the needs of Jesus and his ministry (Luke 8:1-3). Joanna is also one of the women who reports about Jesus’ resurrection.

Perhaps Jesus’ friends from Bethany, Mary and Martha, were present or the Samaritan woman or the woman who was once bleeding. There were so many women whose lives were touched by Jesus and His kindness towards women in a culture that saw them as little more than property (see quote on top.)

Where were all the men? His disciples?

John was present at the crucifixion while Peter denied Christ and hid away in shame. Mark mentions a young man who was following Jesus at His arrest, but then runs off without his outer garment (many believe this man to be Mark). Judas the Betrayer kills himself. Joseph of Arimathea manages to wrangle Jesus’ body from the authorities to have it buried in his tomb. As for the other men, we just don’t know. We can assume that the disciples may have been scattered and hiding or even hiding together because they could very well be next. Also, they thought he was the one who was to deliver the people, and here He was being killed like a common criminal among common criminals.

Stay tuned for the next installment, “The Women of the Resurrection.”

Here are a few questions for all you readers out there::

*So, what do you think about these women? What do you think their responses might have been to Jesus’ crucifixion?

*Do you think women and men react differently to the story of Christ’s crucifixion?

WANTED:: Reformed Bad Girls

3 Jun

If you’re in the Allentown, PA area and female, you can come to a new Bible study starting on July 6 and led by yours truly.  We’ll be meeting at my mom’s pad on the West End.  E-mail me if you’d like to join us!  Here’s my nifty flyer.  Feel free to pass it around to all your female pals.

The One-Up Disease

26 Mar

The One-Up Disease, though lacking true diagnostic criteria approved by a board of highly educated individuals, is one that is running rampant through society.  Symptoms include bragging, name dropping, swelling heads, and of course, one-upping all your friends and family.  One-upping is prevalent in social and economic situations; for example, a friend buys a new computer, someone suffering from the One-Up Disease will immediately go out and buy a better computer and then flash it in front of the friend.  Or the One-Upper has an opportunity someone he or she knows would really enjoy, and decides to flaunt it.

The causes of One-Up Disease are numerous but include low self-esteem, poor self-image, pride issues, and most notably, lack of understanding of identity in God.  By placing trust in strokes from others and positive feedback, one-uppers find satisfaction and meaning in feeling they are better than others.

While treatment for the One-Up Disease is possible and recovery is practical, it is often difficult because the sufferer can be ignored by friend due to the annoyingness of one-upping.  Also, recovery is largely due to the individual’s willingness to end his or her one-upping ways and heeding his or her heart to God’s power of transformation.  Besides a humiliating fall (citing the proverb “pride comes before a fall”), other treatments include Bible reading, prayer, and honest discussion with friends.  Some alternative remedies include serving others, getting over oneself, and finding meaning in life other than self.

At any time, 65% of the population can be suffering from this disease; however, close to 100% of the population has suffered at any given time.  In fact, most people suffer mild to moderate symptoms of One-Up Disease 100% of the time.  Therefore, a daily regimen of spiritual encouragement via prayer, self-examination, and Bible study is encouraged.

Review: The Secret Things of God with Dr. Henry Cloud

9 Mar

Released 3.11.08

By Amy Sondova With the best-selling book under his belt, Dr. Henry Cloud reintroduces the basic concepts of The Secret Things of God in this teaching DVD. Cloud, who co-authored the Boundaries books series, brings his skills as a psychologist and theologian together to address the inner longing of humans from both a biblical and psychological perspective.

Cloud lays the framework with four universal principles which compose the human psyche–happiness, relationships, purpose, and spirituality. These composites are built on a foundation of trust, which Cloud defines as the “key that opens the door” to relationships. He also says that “trust is the vehicle by which we open ourselves up to God and others.” Yet he asserts that a human’s trust must be strategic and purposeful, that not all individuals are worthy of trust.

However, trusting God, which Cloud calls “vertical” trust is always worthwhile, and as one learns to trust God, he or she also learns to trust others (“horizontal” trust). Citing the Old Testament book of Exodus, Cloud shares how the Israelites called out to God in the misery of their enslavement to Egypt (vertical trust). God heard their cry and called Moses to deliver his people, meaning the people had to trust Moses as they trusted God (horizontal trust). Moses was only worthy of the people’s trust because God was working in him—he was the horizontal answer to their vertical trust.

Building on the foundation of trust, one can experience happiness, which is the result of feeling connected to others and to God and dealing with negative emotions. Cloud also explores the other universal principles of relationships, purpose, and God (spirituality) in depth citing both Bible verses as well as drawing on the expertise of interfaith and secular figures such as Dr. Drew Pinsky of Loveline, extreme interventionalist Warren Boyd, Cristina Ferrare, Rabbi Jonathan Aaron, and others.

The Secret Things of God DVD has a lot of information to absorb in its running time of 87 minutes. Therefore, it is advisable to break up the viewing into segments, which is also conducive for small group study and discussion. It tickles the intellectual, but also offers incentive to make lasting life changes, not dependent on circumstances that are out of human control, but the reactions and attitudes of humans to these situations and reliance on God, who is very much in control.

This DVD is an excellent resource for any pastor, small group, church staff, or individual who wants to deeply seek out purpose from a Godly, biblical perspective without the indulgences promised by the popular “prosperity” gospel. Cloud is honest about life’s hardships and makes a point to address the fact that sometimes God seems distant, yet he instructs his audience how to keep trusting God and others despite the rocky road that is life. The secret to life according to Cloud is a personal relationship with God who offers us a set of keys to unlock the secrets of life so that humans can live to the unlimited potential for which they are called by God.

Print copy of review.

Flavor Your Youth Ministry With Ginger

12 Jan

Ginger Sinsabaugh MacDonald is one of my favorite people in the world. Smart, sassy, motivated, and creative, Ginger has chosen to use her marketing, writing, and public relations super powers for good, not evil. When she’s not coming up with massive advertising campaigns for billion dollar junk food empires (like Mccy D’s), Ginger spends her time reaching out to teenagers on the streets in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods.

Instead of keeping her experiences and talents to herself, Ginger has created an amazing website called TastyFaith which offers a ton of resources developed by Ginger for youth workers. Her resources are geared to those who work in urban ministry, but are valuable for a variety of situations that fly in the face of culture, race, and class.

For example, Life After Birth is a Bible study that Ginger created specifically for teen moms (download a sample of the study here). She outlines various women of the Bible who have been moms, most in highly unlikely or unfortunate circumstances. She may even be sending a copy of the book to Jamie Lynn Spears (Just kidding! But it’s not a bad idea).

Tasty Faith is one of the best resource sites out there. Plus, Ginger run the whole operation making corporate America’s involvement in her work obsolete. By calling the shots, Ginger can ensure that her material is fresh, straight-talking, and soul rocking. If you have not clicked on the Tasty Faith link yet, do it now.

If you have any questions for Ginger about Tasty Faith or want to bring her in to do one of her dynamite seminars, shoot her an e-mail at info@tastyfaith.com. You will be just as enchanted by Ginger as I am.

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