Free Bible Study Bundle Giveaway

More free Bible study resources!

This giveaway is open through Thursday, April 26.

Enter here to win.

If you could use some new resources as you seek God through studying, here’s an easy giveaway. Enter to win one of these bundles of Bible study resources.

Check out the list of resources in the digital bundle package as well as the bundle that will ship to your home.

If you refer a friend and your friend wins, both of you will get prizes.

This giveaway is in celebration of the new 2018 Enjoy the Word Online Bible Conference hosted by Jami Balmet & Katie Orr.


5 Books I Recommend – April 2018

Here are five books I recommend from what I read in April. Once a month we share our current reading lists at Jennifer’s.

Books I Recommend

1. Still Evangelical?
Ten Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning
edited by Mark Labberton

My review here of Still Evangelical?

How do you define “evangelical”? Do you consider yourself one? Listen to ten varying voices in this new book. Some I agree with; some I don’t. But they are all good for thought and discussion.

2. Tears We Cannot Stop
A Sermon to White America
by Michael Eric Dyson

I don’t know where to begin with this book. Just read it. It’s hard, it’s meaningful, it’s important. Michael Eric Dyson has words of wisdom to white America that we need to hear. It is one of my favorite books of the year so far.

“And without white America wrestling with these truths and confronting these realities, we may not survive. To paraphrase the Bible, to whom much is given, much is required. And you, my friends, have been given so much.”

3. Why Evangelicals Need the Wilderness
(Evangelicals After the Shipwreck Book 2)
by Ed Cyzewski

In Book 1 of this series, The Great Evangelical Retreat, Ed Cyzewski suggested evangelicals need to take a retreat and get it together. In this Book 2, he suggests where to go: the “wilderness.” The wilderness can mean different things to different people, but being a people of faith requires us to occasionally step aside from our routines and find our roots again of trusting in God.

“The wilderness could be a place of daily solitude, a resolution to avoid public recognition for a season, or a more extreme desire to make solitude and time away from the daily challenges of life a priority.”

4. The Life You Can Save
Acting Now to End World Poverty
by Peter Singer

I’m not a Peter Singer fan on everything; we differ wildly on what constitutes a life. But I do appreciate his approach in this book. Can we do better at taking care of the poor in our world? Most definitely. He touches on why we do, why we don’t, and how to make a more positive difference. I learned a lot here.

5. Thanks, Obama
My Hopey, Changey White House Years
by David Litt

I enjoy reading insider books. Regardless of whose administration it is, it’s fun to get the backstories from the White House. And especially when they’re told by a speechwriter who knows how to write. David Litt’s memoir about his years as one of the youngest speechwriters is funny and insightful.

“I don’t blame those who came to believe their jobs made them more than human. A demigod complex is the malaria of the D.C. swamp.”

Reading Now

  • Natural Causes
    An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
    by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • The Excellence Dividend
    Meeting the Tech Tide with Work that wows and Jobs that Last
    by Tom Peters
  • Leaving Time
    by Jodi Picoult
  • The Way of Abundance
    A 60-Day Journey into a Deeply Meaningful Life
    by Ann Voskamp
  • Girl, Wash Your Face
    Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be
    by Rachel Hollis
  • 42 Seconds
    The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions
    by Carl Medearis

* * *

What good book have you read this month? Please share in the comments.

Whats-on-Your-Nightstand-at-_5-minut

My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

sharing with Jaime, Holley, Emily, Kristin, Christy,
JenniferCharBookdate, Kelly,
MaryAnita, Terri


Do You Call Yourself “Still Evangelical”?

“We seem to have forgotten who we are and why we are who we are.”
– Mark Young

Still Evangelical?

If you once considered yourself an evangelical, do you now?

It’s a question many of us wrestle with. Within ourselves. With the outside world. Even at times with God.

This is also the question asked over and again in this new book, Still Evangelical?: Ten Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning.

The question “Still evangelical?” is answered by ten different voices from the Christian community, and edited by Mark Labberton, including these:

  • Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Christians
  • Jim Daly, Focus on the Family
  • Mark Galli, Christianity Today
  • Lisa Sharon Harper, FreedomRoad.us
  • Tom Lin, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
  • Karen Swallow Prior, Liberty University
  • Soong-Chan Rah, North Park University
  • Allen Yeh, Biola University
  • Mark Young, Denver Seminary

Nobody gives a perfect answer. There are none. We want to get this right. But we can’t, not exactly. We’re flawed. We’re limited. We’re human.

In the book, some ask more questions. Some propose suggestions. Some agree; some disagree.

But nobody is just lying down and giving up.

Excerpts

These voices are interesting to listen to. Here are a few snippets I heard in this book.

~ * ~

The efforts spent on defending our turf in the culture wars could be better served in loving our neighbor as ourselves.

~ * ~

Christians in America in general have an image problem. When the Barna Group polled the country and asked young non-Christians what their perceptions of Christians were, the top responses were (1) anti-gay, (2) judgmental, and (3) hypocritical.

~ * ~

The very thing that Jesus said the world would know we are Christians by—love—didn’t even register on the chart.

~ * ~

So how much do you have to “know” to be a Christian? And how “right” does it have to be? I’m wondering if, several centuries from now, people will look back at American Protestant evangelicalism and say, “Wow, they sure got such-and-such wrong.” How do we know that we have everything 100 percent correct? Don’t you think that God will give us some grace for the things we believed wrongly but sincerely? I sure hope so.

~ * ~

I realize Christians don’t always have the best reputation in the world, but I see that as a challenge to sing a better harmony rather than give up on the choir.

~ * ~

Every human being is made in the image of God, and any time a life is lost, we lose a little glimpse of God in the world.

~ * ~

I believe we should have two questions on the tip of our tongue as we engage with those around us: 1. Help me understand what you believe. 2. What brought you to those conclusions?

* * *

My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book


What Dates You? Let People Define the Times

So much has changed.

I was looking through old photos for a #ThrowbackThursday Instagram post. (Check out this #SpringPhotoADayChallenge; it’s not too late to join in. My posts are here.)

I came across this picture from 2010.

I do still wear the shirt.

  • But the laptop has since died and been replaced.
  • The glasses became too weak and had to become stronger.
  • The Kindle beside me stopped working and got upgraded to a Paperwhite.

And the house? It was where I grew up until I got married and left home in the 1980s.

But in March 2010, we were back spending lots of time sitting on that couch across from Mama. Daddy had just died a month earlier on Valentine’s Day 2010.

Mama’s Alzheimer’s was picking up speed after Daddy’s death. We siblings and spouses and grandkids were taking turns staying with her.

It was a hard season. But one I don’t want to forget.

Some seasons seem to move so slowly. Yet looking back, they rushed by.

While we don’t want to get stuck in time, sometimes we also don’t want to move forward.

  • We don’t want to forget the people we once lived with.
  • The experiences we shared.
  • The graces God brought us.

But it is safe to release the past. Because the past has done its work. We won’t forget it.

Who we once were has become part of who we are now.

Maybe our hairstyles change and our clothing modernizes and our technologies update. But the people we once knew? They stick.

Who we were with then? They’re also part of who we are now. They’re embedded in us.

Today is my dad’s birthday. If cancer hadn’t overtaken his body (or something else by now), he would have been 81 years old. We likely would have sat across from him today on that same couch in the same living room. I miss him and my mom.

But because I’m still here, a piece of them is still here, too.

God wove our paths together when I was conceived. And our paths stay forever braided together, whether here or there, even while I live attentive in the present, and grow forward into the future.

Our dates and times remain preserved in God’s hands.

* * *

Who are you missing? Do you still feel their presence with you? Please share in the comments.

sharing with Lyli, Maree, Deb, Susan,
Lori, Crystal, Brenda, Debbie,
Jaime, HolleyKristin, BethanyJennifer


Does Your Mourning Feel Blessed?

When We Cry

“I’ll give you something to cry about!”

I hope you’ve never heard those words said to you in an outburst of anger.

When we’re sad and in pain, we don’t want more sadness or more pain.

When Jesus sat down on a mountain two thousand years ago, crowds of people gathered around Him. People who knew sadness, people who knew pain. They’d been living under foreign Roman tyranny for years. Their religion was under ridicule. Their health care options were unspeakably bad.

Yet within the first five minutes of His talk, Jesus tells them this:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

What did He mean? How would they interpret that? How do we interpret it?

Read it all – “How Is Your Mourning Blessed?

* * *

We’re looking at the Beatitudes all month at Do Not Depart. Will you join me there to discuss mourning and comfort?

sharing with Lyli, Maree, Deb,
DawnLori, Crystal, Brenda, Debbie


Your Enneagram Type and Mine – Book Review of “The Path Between Us”

“You can’t change how you see—you can only change what you do with how you see.”
– Suzanne Stabile, The Path Between Us

Know Yourself, Know Others

While relationships can bring us great pleasure, they also can bring us challenges. Especially when our differences seem greater than our similarities.

One way to bridge the gap is to learn more about ourselves. The Enneagram is a helpful personality tool not only for understanding ourselves better, but also as a roadmap for improving ourselves.

But the Enneagram also helps us understand other people better, too. While we can’t necessarily type another person in the Enneagram system, we often can know enough to recognize patterns.

Along with Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile wrote a primer on the Enneagram, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. It’s an excellent introduction to learn your own number and how to grow within it.

But now she’s back with a new book of her own, The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships. This one is unique among Enneagram books. As you can tell by the title, it’s not about gaining just self-knowledge; it’s more about interacting between Types.

And how to improve those interactions.

“First, please don’t use your Enneagram number as an excuse for your behavior. Second, don’t use what you’ve learned about the other numbers to make fun of, criticize, stereotype, or in any way disrespect them. Ever. Third, it would be great if you would spend your energy observing and working on yourself as opposed to observing and working on others.”

How Fives Interact

I am a type Five (I’m fairly sure anyway) on the Enneagram, the Observer. I learn from Suzanne that Fives are often misunderstood. As a result, I need to spend more time verbalizing my way of seeing and sharing my needs, to reduce misunderstandings.

“Fives want adequate resources so they never have to depend on someone else. They manage fear by gathering information and knowledge.

Fives have a limited, measured amount of energy for every day so they are careful what they offer to others and when. It is extremely brave of them to show up for relationships because it costs them more than any other number.”

But how do Fives interact with other numbers?

  • Ones can benefit from the objectivity of Fives.
  • Fives can learn more about social relationships from Twos.
  • Fives can help Threes remember that image isn’t everything.
  • Fives and Fours can be opposite in many ways but Fives with a Four wing (which I think I am) can easily connect to each other between head and heart.
  • Fives are most comfortable with other Fives.
  • Social anxiety in Fives can be exacerbated by a Six in unfamiliar territory, but a Five can be rational about a Six’s unwarranted fears.
  • Sevens offer Fives a lightheartedness that can keep them from taking themselves too seriously.
  • Eights learn from Fives the value of pulling back, observing, thinking, and then reconnecting.
  • Nines are a challenge when they don’t just go along with what Fives say or think. But that’s good for Fives.

Relationships Require Translation

One by one, Suzanne goes through each Type, assessing how they relate to each other Type and ways they can improve those relationships.

While none of this is exact science, it does give positive starting points for how to grow our relationships.

“All relationships—those that truly matter and even those that don’t—require translation. And if our interest in relational growth and transformation is sincere, then the Enneagram is one of the most helpful translation tools available.”

All Nine Types

Here are some specific suggestions from Suzanne about each Type and how we might best relate to them.

Ones, the Perfectionists – Things could always be better

“In a relationship with a One, honesty is essential, but telling them that they are good in ways that they can hear it is the greater gift. Do it as often as you can in all the ways you can. Ones appreciate equity—they work hard and they expect the same from you.”

Twos, the Helpers – Your feelings or mine?

“In an intimate relationship, Twos need to hear you say ‘I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. There’s nothing you need to do, there’s nothing you need to be, and there’s nothing you need to help me with. I love you for you.’ Don’t trust their answer when they say they’re fine or good. Press a little deeper.”

Threes, the Performers – Being everyone but myself

“Since their orientation to time is to the future, Threes are often distracted during conversations. Don’t take the distraction personally. They won’t be interested in rehashing things from the past. Know that Threes want your approval and praise, and they really like it when you verbalize it.”

Fours, the Romantics – Go away but don’t leave

Fours long for what they don’t have and they are comfortable with longing. It’s not something for you to fix. Don’t tell Fours to ‘cheer up.’ They are usually neither sad nor depressed. Fours are comfortable with melancholy.”

Fives, the Observers – Fences have gates

“Be forthright and direct with Fives, but don’t use too many words. If you have a problem with a Five, agree on a time to discuss it. Give the Five time to think about your concern and then limit the length of the conversation.”

Sixes, the Loyalists – Question everything

“Worst-case scenario planning is comforting to Sixes, so take them seriously when they talk to you about the possibility of what could go wrong. Telling them they don’t need to worry and that everything is going to be fine they will feel patronizing, disrespectful, and dismissive. Sixes like friends who are emotionally mature, honest, and not too needy.”

Sevens, the Enthusiasts – It’s all good

“Don’t try to get Sevens to commit to specific routines and schedules. They need spontaneity and flexilibity. If you want to share your feelings with a Seven, by all means do that. But do not process your feelings with a Seven. You will need to do that with someone else. Be attentive to their stories. The telling of their stories is often the way they express and share their feelings.”

Eights, the Challengers – Vulnerability is not weakness

“Don’t beat around the bush with Eights: they want communication to be brief, straightforward, and truthful. Be aware that Eights are controlling in relationships simply because they don’t want to be controlled. Even though Eights are strong and assertive, don’t forget that they still need care.”

Nines, the Peacemakers – Risking conflict for connection

“Don’t interrupt Nines when they are talking. Make room for them to meander a bit—they will get to the point.  Nines don’t like confrontation, but that doesn’t mean you should never confront them. Encourage Nines to share their grievances with you.”

While this book isn’t necessarily a Christian book, it is definitely a spiritual book, and one that you can apply to your Christian faith. Suzanne Stabile is cofounder (with her husband, Rev. Joseph Stabile) of Life in the Trinity Ministry, a nondenominational ministry for spiritual growth and formation.

* * *

My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book

Do you recognize yourself in a Type? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Read more on the Enneagram