Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jacob – Being Transformed by Amazing Grace – The Bible Teacher’s Guide – by Gregory Brown – Comprehensive, Insightful & Interesting Bible Study About Jacob



One of my favorite books of the Bible, both to read and study, is the book of Genesis.  One of the characters I’ve struggled to understand is Jacob.  That’s why I was excited when Pastor, Teacher and Author Gregory Brown asked if I would like to read his newest Bible study, Jacob – Being Transformed by Amazing Grace. 

This Bible study on Jacob is comprehensive.  Pastor Brown does not shy away from taking a closer look at some Jacob’s uglier character flaws, sin patterns and the sinful choices he made.  He also shows us areas of growth and faith in Jacob’s walk with God.  Additionally, he looks at the people in Jacob’s life, like his parents, brother, wives and children and we see how Jacob’s life impacted and influenced them.  Lest we think we are far superior to Jacob, there are some very convicting application questions and insightful commentary that will help us learn from Scripture and apply what we learn to our own lives. 

Pastor Brown uses Scripture to interpret Scripture.  He studies the Scripture in context, line by line, verse by verse.

A few areas that Pastor Brown focuses on are:  Signs of Not Trusting God, Equipped in God’s Boot Camp, Protecting our Families from Sin and Dysfunctionality, Faithfully Following God, Living Out Our New Identity in Christ and the Consequences of Neglecting God. 

Even though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived over 4,000 years ago, their lives and what God did in their individual lives and families is very relevant to us today.  We can learn about who God is and who He has revealed Himself to be and how that should impact our lives. 

This Bible study would be good for a small group study, an individual Bible study or to help someone prepare to teach from the book of Genesis about the life of Jacob.

I would like to thank Pastor Gregory Brown for the opportunity to read his latest Bible Teacher’s Guide on Jacob – Being Transformed by Amazing Grace.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin – A Real Gem and Lovely Read


One of my favorite things is when I find a book that I love by an author whose work is new to me.  I found a gem in Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin.  I absolutely loved this book, from the moment I first started reading it.  I haven’t read a lot of Amish themed novels, but there was something about storyline that caught my attention. 

Mary Katherine Ropp is a sixty-year-old widow and her last daughter is getting married.  Most in the community would have her living with one of her married children and helping to raise her grandchildren.  But Mary Katherine isn’t like most Amish women.  She’s little bit spunky, independent, she likes to read, write stories and even dares to dream about opening a book store with her English friend Dottie.  Also, part of the community is Ezekiel Miller who has been widowed for many years.  In spite of grief, he kept family going through his business the Purpose Martin CafĂ©.  Both Mary Katherine and Ezekiel can’t imagine getting married again so late in life, especially since they had wonderful marriages.  But Ezekiel can imagine hiring another cook to help at the restaurant.  In to the storyline steps the not so skilled, but very hungry burglar, Burke McMillan, who has a late-night encounter with Mary Katherine. 

What I loved best about this book were the characters.  They were very likable people that I would enjoy knowing.  Mary Katherine was my favorite and I loved her ongoing conversations with her husband Moses.  I loved Ezekiel’s tender caring heart, tender for Mary Katherine, open to help and give a new start to a stranger, loving to his grandchildren, especially Kenneth.  Burke is a man of mystery.  Is he just a down on his luck kind of guy, is he the thief that’s been plaguing the Amish community or is something more going on with him?

Kelly Irvin is a wonderful writer.  She knows how to make characters interesting and very likeable, even in plain every day ordinary life.  She gives insight into the characters and what they are going through at this stage in their lives.  The Amish community setting is interesting but doesn’t overwhelm the story, instead it’s the background and reveals how these characters live their lives.  I could identify with many of the feelings that Mary Katherine was expressing. 

The one person, I wasn’t too keen on was her son Thomas because he was so disrespectful to his mother.  I would think as a Christian, he would have tried to honor his mother, but instead he treated her more like a child who has misbehaved.

I loved Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin and I look forward to reading more of her books.  I highly recommend this story, it was lovely!  I read this book during a very difficult time in my life and I found it to be a very comforting place to escape to for a while. 

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read Through the Autumn Air in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Just Thinking About Scripture


This afternoon, I’ve been working on my Bible studies.  Even though, I’ve studied books Genesis and 1 Samuel before I continue to see things I’ve missed or overlooked before.  Today I was just wondering.

Is it significant that the Lord God’s curse on the serpent included that he would eat dust all the days of his life?  Specifically, the eating dust.  Interesting because the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground. 

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being – Genesis 2:7

I just love that…God breathed in to his nostrils the breath of life.  First God formed Adam and then He breathed life into Adam.  Everything else that God created…He spoke it into existence.  But man…He form and breathed the breath of life into him.  That is up close and personal and paying attention to the fine details of His creation. 

The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:14-15

My favorite translation of Genesis 3:15 is from the NIV.  I love the truth that on the cross Jesus crushed the serpent’s head.  It was a death blow.  Fatal and he is in the death throws right now.  But it is done!  Instead of bruising Jesus heal…it’s a strike.  Something quick…once.  A strike…but not something fatal.

    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.”


What is the significance in the Lord God’s curse on the woman that her desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you?  Is it looking on that fateful choice when Adam did not overrule his wife’s choice to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?  But now post fall, he will rule over you with a heart and mind tainted by sin. 

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16

What is the significance that God’s curse on Adam included that the ground is cursed because of Adam’s sinful choice?  The ground where God took the dust to make or fashion Adam.  Before sin, Adam was commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  Post sin, the earth would not be as fruitful and require much effort to bring for the food.  Do the thorns and thistles reflect the barbs of sin that will impact all of creation? 

God created Adam, formed and fashioned him starting with dust from the ground.  Now the curse of sin is death.  Adam, if he had not chosen to sin he would not have died.  But now he and all human beings, because of our sin, will die.  We will return to the dust from which the Lord started with to create man. 

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.

“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;

By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:17-19


In 1 Samuel, we were studying a dark time in Israel’s history when the Jewish priesthood was corrupt and the Lord allowed their defeat at the hands of their enemy the Philistines.  He allowed the Ark of the Lord God of Israel to fall into their hands.  But despite that…God’s sovereignty shines through.  There’s a question on how that encourages you.  This is what I recorded:

God is firmly, absolutely and completely in control, even when it seems like everything is out of control. 

He is able to accomplish what He wants, when He wants and by whomever He chooses.

Get out of His way, obey God and trust Him fully. 

I’m so very grateful to be part of some wonderful in-depth Bible studies.  Lord…keep me close and help me to understand Your Word and obey You. 



Thursday, September 13, 2018

In All things by Melissa B Kruger – An Excellent Bible Study!


When breaking for summer, my Bible study teacher recommended Melissa Kruger’s Bible study, In All Things, a study in the book of Philippians. 

Because of that recommendation I was interested in reading In All Things and I’m so glad that I did.  I love finding solid Bible teachers so that I can use their books to stay in God’s Word when my regular Bible study breaks for summer. 

In All Things, is an excellent Bible study.  Melissa teaches readers to learn a book of the Bible.  Each chapter is broken down in to five days and it includes studying the text to determine: Observation – What does the text say, Interpretation – What does the text mean, and Application – How does the text transform me.  Each chapter concludes with a devotional based on the text that was studied. 

Melissa goes through the book of Philippians verse by verse.  She encourages people to read through the complete text multiple times so that you get very familiar with it.  Each day you will be reading the specific text you are studying.  The questions that are asked help the reader to pull out the facts of what the Apostle Paul wrote and help you unpack the text.  What does it say, what does it mean and how should I apply it to my life? 

To help better understand the passage, Melissa may have the reader look up other Scripture verses that may correspond to what’s studied.  She uses Scripture to help interpret Scripture.  You learn to study Scripture within context. 

This study is mature, Christ centered and helps the student to develop godly wisdom and discernment.  Melissa asks some hard, but true and necessary questions.  She is open, transparent and has a godly humility. 

I encourage anyone looking for a good solid Bible study to read and work through In All Things by Melissa Kruger.  You will come away with a good understanding of Philippians.  You will have developed some good Bible study techniques and know how to study the Bible, verse by verse and in context. 

This Bible study would be good resource for a personal or group study or even a formal women’s Bible study at church. 

I would like to thank Edelweiss and Multnomah Publishing for the opportunity to read In All Things by Melissa Kruger in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.  I am looking forward to going through this study in future.   



Saturday, September 08, 2018

Five Minute Friday – Always Grateful for Rain


Today, I’m participating in this week’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration and encouragement be sure to check it out. 

Today word prompt:  Rain

After living in Southern California, that has experienced drought for many years, I’m always grateful for rain.  

We moved to Texas in 2014 I was excited, in part, because Texas wasn’t in a drought.  I remember the first time we got rain after moving here.  I was shopping at Hobby Lobby up in Flower Mound and when I came out to my car there were huge dark storm clouds on the horizon.  I made a B-line for home, which at the time was temporary housing in Irving.  I made it home before the rain started...then it proceeded to pour down rain.  I felt like a little kid excited over the storm.

I would be hard pressed to tell you the last time we had rain in California in the years before we left.  I’m sure there was some…but it was very little and nothing like the thunderstorms that kick up here in Texas.

There is nothing quite like driving as a storm rolls in and watching the huge bolts of lightning light up the sky one right after another.

Or laying in bed and hearing a loud clap of rolling thunder that makes me jump.

Or driving down the road and sheets of rain blanket the car and I can hardly see five feet in front of me.

Today, as I sit here and write about rain, it’s raining and I give God thanks and praise for the rain.  Rain that refreshes our garden…waters the dry cracked ground.  Rain that will cool down the hot temps.  I’m ever so grateful for rain.


Monday, September 03, 2018

Farewell Little Friends



Though some may tell me different
I know my hummingbird friends have departed

They arrived in the cool of springtime
Spent the long, hot summer days with us

Zipping to and fro throughout the yard
Feisty and quarreling over who will have time at the feeders

Don’t worry little friends, there’s enough for all
Another fresh batch of nectar will be made

Just this week, I couldn’t help but notice
There weren’t as many around

Oh, there was the occasional hum of wings
Little jewels getting their nourishment from flowers

Some resting on feeders
Drinking deeply without interruption from others

But the clicking and territorial fights have ceased
Now I delight to see the stranger passing through

Their fine-tuned flying skills and delicate beauty
A testimony to their Creator

I will miss you my little friends
I wish you a safe journey as you head south

Come spring, your feeders will be filled and ready
Already looking forward to your return


By Susan Wachtel
September 1, 2018


Friday, August 31, 2018

Five Minute Friday – Rush to the Lord



Today, I’m participating in this week’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration and encouragement be sure to check it out. 

Today word prompt:  Rush

Start

Lord, I confess to You
So much of the time I feel rushed

I rush from morning to night
I rush to take care of the urgent

How much of what man considers urgent is truly important?
How much of it has eternal consequences?

When I read about Jesus, He didn’t rush
Though He had people coming to Him night and day

Desperate with crippling sickness and disease
A pressing needs that only the Savior could meet

Yet Jesus, the Son of God
Took time to pray to His Father in heaven

Jesus was driven to do His Father’s will, not man’s
He responded with grace, mercy and compassion

May I rush to spend time with Christ Jesus
May I focus my mind on Your life changing Word

May I rush before the Father’s throne of grace
May I bring Him my prayers and wait upon the Lord

Help me to make a priority
That which is important to You

May I rush to come before the Lord
May I be quick to listen and obey


by Susan Wachtel
August 31, 2018

End…Times Up

I’m so looking forward to fall.  While I’m not in school, I will be back in Bible study classes.  I desperately need the disciple and focus of in-depth Bible study.  More than I know, I the community of believers.

How about you?  Are you in a good Bible study?  If not…now is a good time to jump in.  A lot of studies begin in early September.  There a are a number of in-depth, verse by verse studies available, like Community Bible Study, Bible Study Fellowship, Precepts or perhaps a study at a local church near you. 

I cannot adequately explain how important it is for you know God’s Word for yourself.  God will use it to grow you and change you.  He will enable you to be discerning and wise and read, understand and obey His Word. 


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Five Minute Friday – God is Loyal



I’m participating in this week’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration and encouragement be sure to check it out. 

Today word prompt:  Loyal.

When I think of loyalty, its something that we all desire in relationships.  We want our spouse, family and friends to be loyal to us.

Some examples from the Bible that come to mind…Ruth and Naomi.  Ruth remained devoted and loyal to her mother-in-law during a time when Naomi wasn’t too pleasant.  She was grieving the loss of her husband and two sons while in a far-away pagan land.  Ruth is a reminder to me that we are to be loyal through good times and bad.

How about Joseph in the Old Testament?  Now that is someone who by God’s supernatural grace remains loyal to his family, including his brothers, despite the fact they hated him out jealousy and wanted him dead.  Because of his relationship with God, he saw God’s hand in all his circumstances and knew God was doing a good work in and through him.  He was able to trust God and return good for the evil done to him. 

Jonathan and David…both were loyal to each other and their respective families.  Jonathan loved his friend and knew that David was God’s chosen anointed man to be the next king.  He even risked his own life and his father’s wrath to warn David so he could get to safety.  David showed his loyalty to Jonathan and later to his son Mephibosheth.

Times Up

I have to ask myself, am I a loyal person, both the God and people?  If I’m honest, I recognize fall woefully short!  My hope is in God, not me and what I can do. 

As believers in Jesus Christ we can know the absolutely loyalty of God.  When we have genuinely repented of our sin and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior…then we are saved.  He paid our sin debt in full on the cross and clothed us with His righteousness.  In Christ we are eternally secure.

How wonderful it is to meditate on what God has done for us when we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble – Implausible


The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble is the second book I’ve read by this author.  What drew me to the book was the setting along the coastline of Washington, the mystery of what happened to the missing sister, a little romance with some home renovation mixed in.  I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.

The story is about two sisters Ellie and Mackenzie Blackmore, one of whom is missing and presumed dead.  She leaves behind a mystery of a life that wasn’t what it seemed.  Thrown into the mix is Grayson Bradshaw, an investigator for the US Coast Guard, who is looking into a missing shipment of illegal drugs that has ties to a terrorist.  One of the prime suspects is Mackenzie and that news doesn’t sit too well with Ellie who just wants to find her sister.

What I liked about The House at Saltwater Point:
·       Grayson was very honest, forthright, nice and likeable. 
·       I kind of liked his relationship with Ellie, but they went from an adversarial relationship to romance and I wasn’t quite sure how they crossed that bridge.
·       I liked the subplot of Grayson finding out that he was adopted and had biological sister and family whom he knew nothing about. 
·       I enjoyed the setting of Lavender Tides, the description of the town, the townspeople and friends, waterfront, beaches and scenery.
·       I liked the home renovation career of Ellie.

What I wasn’t too keen on:
·       The storyline was rather convoluted and had too many subplots going on.
·       The story and characters weren’t very realistic.  Especially, the two small town sisters trying thwart a terrorist attack.  There were times that the sisters did a better job than the FBI and Coast Guard in trying to stop the terrorists.  There sure didn’t seem to much of a police presence considering the seriousness of what was going on. 
·       Early on in the book Ellie takes in a helpless small kitten.  Periodically, the kitten would be mentioned but for the most part it wasn’t part of the story.  I found it distracting.  That part of the story was unnecessary and didn’t contribute to the storyline. 
·       At times the story seemed the drag.
·       The characters weren’t very realistic.  My favorite was Grayson, a very nice man…but he was a little too perfect.

Colleen is really good at setting a scene and describing the place and helping the reader see it in their mind.  However, the storyline was not plausible and the characters weren’t deep or realistic…much of it was very surface level.  I think that’s where it lost me, I didn’t connect with the characters. 

If you just want to read a mystery to escape for a while you may enjoy The House at Saltwater Point.

Colleen Coble is a Christian author, but there nothing much about faith included in this book.  It’s clean, no profanity and or sexual immorality, and I appreciate that.  But nothing much regarding faith and characters talking about God or praying or faith being lived out in their everyday lives. 

I wanted to like The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble.  There were parts I did enjoy, but I think the implausible storyline and lack of depth the characters were too much to overcome. 

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity to read The House at Saltwater Point for free in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Friday, August 17, 2018

Five Minute Friday – Loved Even When I Don’t Feel Like It



I’m participating in today’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration be sure to check it out. 

Today word prompt:  Loved

Goodness…when I first read today’s Five Minute Friday prompt of loved…I thought oh no, what can I write about love.

Let me tell you a secret…I don’t think there’s been too many times in my life when I can honestly say I’ve felt loved.  Why…not sure entirely.  Not sure if it’s part of the baggage that some adoptees feel?  Maybe, maybe not.

When you don’t feel loved…you start thinking you are unworthy of love and something is wrong with you.  Is there something wrong with me?  Absolutely and with the world too.

First and foremost, I’m a sinner and I live in a broken sinful world. 

But the thing that helped change me is when I was saved…when I recognized my sin, repented and believed in Jesus Christ and His perfect and complete atoning sacrifice on the cross paying the penalty for my sin.

That was done out of love.  Love of God the Father who came up with an outrageous plan to save sinners.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1 John 1:10

Love of the Son, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up for me and all who would repent and believe. 

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. – John 15:9

My Five Minutes Ended

Sometimes…I may not feel God’s love or feel loved or deserving of love…but now I can go by what I know…what recorded in Scripture. 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). - Ephesians 2:4-5

Because of God’s love for me…may I now walk in love.  Love of God first and love for others.  I have a long way to go…but praise God…He has given me the Holy Spirit and the Bible to help me grow, learn and change.  Forgiveness for times I fail and fall short.  Abundant grace and mercy daily.  Assurance that my sin debt…all of it…was paid in full. 

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. – John 15:9

We love, because He first loved us. – 1 John 1:19

How about you?  Do you feel loved?  Do you know that God loves you?  Do you know that He made a way for you to be saved from your sins?  It’s through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.  To know that truth…pick up your Bible or read it online.  Where to start…how about the Gospel of John in the New Testament.  Don’t wait one more day.  For today is the day of salvation. 


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Discipline from the Father’s Hand



From the heart of the Father
Through the work of the Son
A call to the church to be holy and sanctified

Commanded by the Savior
Authority given to the church
Discipline one caught up in sin

The honor and glory of the Lord to be upheld
Protect the flock and keep her pure
A healthy reverence and fear of sin

Do not neglect
Nor turn a blind eye
To the one going astray

Serious measures must be taken
With the aim to restore
A repentant sinner to the Lord

Proper sense of shame
A tool in the hands of the Lord
To bring one to repentance

The one who knows
Go in private to the brother gone astray
Confront, admonish with the aim to reprove

With ongoing rebellion
Bring two or three witnesses
Rebuke and correct

When faced with open defiance
Hand them over
Remove them from your midst

Be warned dear church
First examine yourself according to the Word
Ensure your heart and mind are right before the Lord

Be filled with genuine love for the sinner
With gentleness and humility
Desire to forgive

From the heart of the Father - Love
Through the work of the Son - Forgiveness
A broken and contrite heart He will not despise


By Susan Wachtel
August 12, 2018

Jacob – Being Transformed by Amazing Grace – The Bible Teacher’s Guide – by Gregory Brown – Comprehensive, Insightful & Interesting Bible Study About Jacob

One of my favorite books of the Bible, both to read and study, is the book of Genesis.   One of the characters I’ve struggled to unde...