• Last year, I started a series called Ministry Monday to share practical ways to be on mission as mothers, disciples, and women and sisters in Christ. Most of the posts I shared came from real-life ministry and service projects in our now 3-yr-old Pittsburgh church plant as well as ministry ideas from our own home.… [Continue Reading]

    Ministry Monday: The Big list of ministry ideas
  • If someone asked you to summarize the Bible in 30 seconds, could you? Try it. Pretend a friend asked you, “So, what’s the Bible really all about? Just give me the cliff notes version.” What would you say? Because if we believe the Bible is authoritative and the basis for everyday life, shouldn’t we be able to tell… [Continue Reading]

    Training our eyes to see the story of the Scriptures
  • Exciting stuff has been happening around here, yet I’ve hardly had time to post about it. This summer, I turned my eBook, Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story, into a paperback! Although I love using the Kindle app on my iPhone, you just can’t beat the feel of real pages… [Continue Reading]

    Daughters of the King paperback launch & giveaway
  • When we train disciples to fulfill the Great Commission, we train them to say yes. Yes to serving. Yes to going. Yes to doing. But sometimes being missional also means saying no. No to too many good projects. No to serving in worthy areas that you aren’t gifted for. No to keeping your same service… [Continue Reading]

    3 ways to live on mission and still say ‘no’

Ministry Monday: The Big list of ministry ideas

The Very Big list of ministry ideas {Hive Resources}

Last year, I started a series called Ministry Monday to share practical ways to be on mission as mothers, disciples, and women and sisters in Christ.

Most of the posts I shared came from real-life ministry and service projects in our now 3-yr-old Pittsburgh church plant as well as ministry ideas from our own home.

Because Ministry Monday continues to place among my popular posts, I thought I’d list them all here:

The 1 thing that always kills the Great Commission

3 ways to balance family & ministry

22 ideas for calling a family time-out

Why I don’t wear high heels to church

A app that shares the gospel in 40 languages

When Bible lessons fail

Easter devotional for families

How to teach your kids about new life with a new life tree

How to get to church without fighting

Teaching your kids about the resurrection

How to mold missions-minded children

Living and leading from grace

How to teach your child to be a dinner-table missionary

How to host your own home Bible study

 

Ministry Monday Making Better Disciples {Hive Resources}

Making Better Disciples

Grace vs. Knowledge (the motive of disciple)

Investment vs. Sacrifice (how we view discipleship)

Feeding vs. Feasting (the strategy of discipleship)

Ministry Monday MISSIONAL MOTHERHOOD {Hive Resources} #missionalmotherhood

Missional Motherhood

3 ways to live on mission and still say ‘no’

How to connect the gospel with social ministries

When you’re tempted to throw in the towel on quiet times

My favorite missional motherhood tools

simple service challenge - ideas for taking care of your church family {Hive Resources}

Simple Service

Real chicken soup for the soul

1 easy way to stir up love in your church family

The best way to encourage the mother of a challenging child

A missional meal for new moms or new move-ins

Ministry Monday Summer Edition! {Hive Resources}

Summer Edition

When You’re struggling to each your child to serve

How to transform playdates into service opportunities

How to host the BEST grandparents camp ever

Banish summer boredom with ministry ideas for kids

7 resources for a summer of faith & fun

Passport to summer missions

Have a ministry idea you’d like to share or see featured?! Leave your ideas in the comments!

Training our eyes to see the story of the Scriptures

If someone asked you to summarize the Bible in 30 seconds, could you?

Try it. Pretend a friend asked you, “So, what’s the Bible really all about? Just give me the cliff notes version.”

What would you say?

Because if we believe the Bible is authoritative and the basis for everyday life, shouldn’t we be able to tell someone what it’s about?

The Bible in less than 30 seconds {Hive Resources}

The Bible is one story

It’s hard, right? Boiling down 66 books written by 40 authors spanning thousands of years of history into just a few sentences!?

I think there are two reasons we struggle with being able to summarize the whole Bible – besides the fact that the Bible is a really big book:

(1)   We don’t know the overarching story of the Bible

and

(2)  We know how the pieces of the story go together

When we study one of the books of the Bible, we read it in the strangest ways – one chapter, one page, one paragraph at a time.

We would never go to a library just to check out one page from a book.  What good is one page?!?

The Story of the Scriptures {Hive Resources}

From just one page, we wouldn’t get the plot, be able to describe the main conflict, or even the climactic event.

In order to understand a book, we would need more than one page; we need to read the whole story.

But, very often, this is how we read the biblical story. No wonder we have trouble understanding God’s Word. No wonder we have trouble figuring out where our story fits into God’s story!

The Bible is intended to be one, unified story. Yes, we often read the books of the Bible separately, but each book plays an important part in God’s story for the world.

The Bible has one message

Not only is the Bible one story, but it has one messageone unified theme:

The Bible is the story of a good King who created a good world, and although it was corrupted by sin, he is at work to redeem and restore it through his Son, Jesus Christ.

That’s the Bible in less than 30 seconds.

The Bible is one story written by one Author with one message; the Bible is the story of a good King.

So, why is so difficult to see this story on the pages of Scripture?  Very likely, our worldview gets in the way – those filtered lenses through which we read God’s Word. And because filtered lenses often do not align with the reality of Scripture, it is very likely we’ll miss the story God has tucked into its pages.

Our eyes will be directed inward instead of where they should be directed – upward and outward. We will take center stage in our life story, instead of the King.

So, we must train our eyes to see the story of Scripture – the grand biblical narrative that stretches from Genesis to Revelation, the story of the King.

The Biblical Story

Need some help seeing the biblical story? Here’s a little longer version:

OLD TESTAMENT

Genesis 1-2: God reveals his intention for his kingdom & his servants.

Genesis 3: The King’s subjects rebel against the throne.

Genesis 4-49: The King promises to rescue his kingdom from the consequences of their rebellion.

Exodus – Deuteronomy: While the King’s subjects wait for rescue, the King extends grace in three ways (the sacrificial system, the Law, & the tabernacle) so they can dwell in his court and fulfill their role as servants to the throne in a temporary measure.

Joshua – Esther: The King’s subjects demand to be led by earthly kings & often fail to rule in the way that honors the King.

• Job – Malachi: The King’s prophets give the King’s subjects a two-pronged message of judgment and hope.

NEW TESTAMENT

Matthew – John: The promised King of Kings finally arrives & begins to set his kingdom right.

Acts: A previously-quiet character (the Holy Spirit)enters the biblical story as the King’s Helper.

1 Corinthians – Jude: The King’s Helper equips the King’s subjects to serve priests to those living outside the his kingdom.

Revelation: The King’s original goal for his kingdom is realized. His kingdom is remade & his rule is eternally fulfilled.

Is your small group reading Daughters of the King this fall? Enter to win a complete set for all your members!

Enter to win a set of Daughters of the King for your small group {Hive Resources}

Daughters of the King paperback launch & giveaway

Enter to win a set of the paperback study Daughters of the King for your small group {Hive Resoruces}

Exciting stuff has been happening around here, yet I’ve hardly had time to post about it. This summer, I turned my eBook, Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story, into a paperback!

Although I love using the Kindle app on my iPhone, you just can’t beat the feel of real pages under your fingers. I suspect I’m not the only one who holds this opinion, so my book is now available as a paperback.  I hope this will make things easier for your fall small group as you consider your next Bible study or book club.

Daughters of the King now available in paperback {Hive Resources}

To that end, I made a few improvements in the paperback – like a freshly-designed cover and discussion questions at the close of each chapter. (Pssst- at the end of this post you’ll have a chance to enter to win a set of my books for your small group!)

To help me celebrate the paperback launch of Daughters of the King, my friend Kristen from Celebrate Every Day with Me, threw a big bash at my house a few weeks ago.

Paperback launch event of #DaughtersoftheKing {Hive Resources}

I am such a fan of her site, that I knew I needed her eye for detail and fun! She’ll be posting about some of her ideas in the coming days, but I thought you might like a sneak peak at our tea-themed soirée.

Many of these ideas can be replicated for your own women’s ministry tea or kick-off event to your Daughters of the King fall Bible study. Here’s a little inspiration to get you started.

Ideas for planning your next womens ministry tea {HiveResources}

On our menu we offered a variety of cakes and a fruit tart that disappeared in seconds – all made by my amazing culinary friends (thank you notes are forthcoming!) I made scones with fresh clotted cream and strawberry jam. (The day after my party, I had the best breakfast! You can’t beat cake with morning coffee).

I served one of my favorite hot teas, Ginger Peach Tea, and coffee for all my addict friends.  We set up the food as a buffet and everyone was able to serve themselves, picking and choosing what made their heart sing.

Hosting a womens ministry tea - ideas and printables {Hive Resources}

Kristen oversaw every detail, like this amazing wreath made out of vintage book pages. (Yes, she is planning on offering a tutorial on her site very soon!) Imagine how cute it would be for a back-to-school party!

Her best idea, however, was the Daughters of the King photo booth, complete with glittered crown and scepter props. She even included white gloves and paper tea cups!

Daughters of the King photobooth {Hive Resources}

We had a lot of fun playing with our crowns, but if you’ve read my book, you know that our spiritual heritage in Christ is not fully represented by such symbols of royalty. As I write in my book: “A Daughter of the King is known not by the crown she wears but the message she bears.” 

So, as a part of the launch, I asked a friend who works with a local rescue ministry in Pittsburgh – Living in Liberty – to come to the launch and share about the hope they provide to victims of trafficking. During the party, we were able to raise over $300 in book sales for this crucial ministry. So, thank you to everyone who purchased a book at my party!

Daughters of the King paperback launch party {Hive Resources}

Host your own tea

The launch party was a special night for me, but it can easily be tweaked as a tea or book club event for any women’s group. Here’s how:

(1) Purchase your copies of the Daughters of the King or enter to win a set below.

(2) Gather your tea cups. I found most of mine at auctions and thrift stores. While I loved visiting antique shops, they tended to be a little pricey. Estate sales are also a gold mine for adding complete sets of tea cups to your collection. If your group is large, then ask each lady to bring 3 things to the party – two tea cups and a friend.

Kick off your next fall Bible study with a tea {Hive Resources}

(3) Select a local ministry in your area or within your church and suggest a donation to be collected at the party. If possible, invite a representative from the ministry to share at the event. For easy donation collection, coordinate withe the ministry to use the paypal app and free reader for participants to donate via paypal, check, or credit card.

Download your own Daughters of the King Printable Pack {Hive Resources}

(4) Print out some of these free printables  to decorate your tables or to set up your own photo booth. This above printable pack (click image to download) includes book quotes, menu cards, and more! You can download an invitationready to be customizedHERE.

Now, for the giveaway! Enter below to win a set of books for your small group (up to 10). Contest HAS ENDED. Winner announced below! Thank you to everyone who entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here.

3 ways to live on mission and still say ‘no’

Ministry Monday MISSIONAL MOTHERHOOD {Hive Resources} #missionalmotherhood

When we train disciples to fulfill the Great Commission, we train them to say yes.

Yes to serving.

Yes to going.

Yes to doing.

But sometimes being missional also means saying no.

When saying no can be missional (Melissa Deming for @MissionalWomen)

No to too many good projects.

No to serving in worthy areas that you aren’t gifted for.

No to keeping your same service schedule during a difficult season.

In my own life, I’ve discovered three ways that I can live on mission and still say no:

Click over to the full post to learn what they are!

The Stacks: A stellar commentary on the Psalms

The Stacks - Summer Reading List to keep you grounded in God's Word {Hive Resources}

This year I’ve been reading through the Psalms in my personal devotions. Along the way, I’ve discovered some invaluable resources that have deepened my love for what is one of the longest books in the Bible.

A Commentary on the Psalms: 42-89 by Allen P. Ross, released last year by Kregel Academic, is a stellar tool for navigating the difficult themes that pepper the Psalms.

In the commentary, each psalm is treated individually and includes three parts: an introduction with historical setting; a detailed exegetical analysis; and an application with a single-sentence summary or “expository idea” that encapsulates the message of the psalm.

 

What I liked about this book

Ross offers a straight-forward, clean exegesis. A reader can take questions concerning difficult texts straight to this book and easily find clear answers and interpretative helps.

The author gives the full context for specific words and how they are used across the Psalter. For example, his commentary on Ps. 43 outlines 3 categories of the term “injustice,” Ps. 48 offers an entire page  on the meaning of “be glad.”

I appreciated that the treatment of textual variants is separated from the commentary and exegesis. The result? The commentary, although not intended for a novice student, is made a little more reader friendly.

The commentary is very pastoral. Ross often takes a pastoral tone in the application section, including notes to students on how to rightly organize the text. For example, he urges the reader to view John 4 (the woman at the well) through the interpretative lens of Ps. 50 which speaks of true, spirit-filled worship.

What I didn’t like about this book

For the novice student, the inclusion of several items would have made the series more helpfula bibliography and a summary of introductory material on the Psalter.

Understandably, both of these items are included in other volumes of this series. As is, the commentary can only treat each psalm individually (as in the pairing of Ps. 42-43) instead of how the psalms function together or how their arrangement impacts the meaning of the entire book.

For example, Ps. 42 opens the second of 5 books that comprise the Psalter. Its placement as an introductory song to Book II would impact its exposition (or our interpretation of its meaning) in some measure – a point Ross concedes but doesn’t discuss in his commentary on Ps. 42. Without understanding the structure of the Psalter, the reader unfortunately misses the full sense of the original author’s meaning or the full context of the psalm.  

Lastly, I wish the author had given the prophetic or Messianic element of the Psalter a more prominent place in his exegesis. In psalms traditionally considered to speak of the Messiah, Ross dedicates greater space to the immediate historical context of the song, leaving Messianic or eschatological elements to the application area (see Ps. 43, 65, 66, 67).

Why does this matter?

The reader is left to fill in the blank as to the author’s original intent in writing his psalm. Was the author intentionally referring to the Promised Messiah (Ps. 45) when he wrote his song or did New Testament writers layer a Messianic meaning over the original hymn?

Who should buy this book

Despite this small criticism, I’m adding Volume 1 and Volume 3 to my Amazon wish list for its robust technical and pastoral treatment of the Psalms.

Here are a few other groups who would benefit from this commentary:

This series (all 3 volumes) would make an excellent gift for any believer or lover of the Psalms.

A student seeking to understand the Psalms, particularly a commentary with word study helps and clear applications.

Individuals who love to pray the Psalms but struggle to appropriate their meaning in a current context. The application section at the close of each psalm is particularly geared toward cultivating a vibrant prayer life.

Did you miss a post in my Summer Reading Series? Check out my other books here.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for providing a copy of this book to review. This post contains affiliate links. To find out more, click here.

How the story of the Scriptures keeps our spiritual eyesight in check

How the story of the Scriptures keeps our spiritual eyesight in check

You don’t have to travel very far from home to discover someone with a different “worldview” than yours. While traveling in Asia, I learned quickly that we all “see” life differently.

As cities in the United States become increasingly global, your chances of being surrounded by those who share your worldview becomes increasingly slim. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So, what is a worldview? Apologist Norman Geisler says you can think of your worldview like a pair of lenses through which you view and interpret life.* Your past experiences, cultural values, and personal beliefs all form your worldview.

Just like a regular pair of glasses, our cultural lenses impact what we “see” and how we see it.

That means when we open the Scriptures, we read it with a certain perspective – a pair of lenses – based on our worldview. Our worldview impacts the way we “see” Scripture – the way we read, interpret, and apply it to our lives.

And here’s the important part: very often, our lenses don’t line up with reality. If I’m wearing a pair of colored lenses, they will color or tint everything I see, and that may or may not actually represent the truth.

Have you ever been driving down the road and had your breath taken away by the colors of a sunset, only to realize that you had polarizing lenses on? The tint of your lenses colored what you saw.

Spiritually speaking, we need to check our eyesight to ensure the way we’re viewing Scripture aligns with what’s really there.

Because in our culture today, there are some common lenses we wear to read God’s Word. And increasingly, our worldviews – right here in America – are becoming devoid of God.

Here are three common perspectives used to view the Scriptures in our culture today:

WORLDVIEW #1: I WANT TO BE BLESSED

If I believe that money and material gain are the ultimate forms of success, then I will only view the Bible as helpful or relevant unless it gives me what I want. Those parts of Scripture that ask me to be selfless or sacrificial will not apply to my life.

Worldview 1 - I want to be blessed {Hive Resources}

With the “I-want-to-blessed” lenses, the God of the Bible becomes my concierge, and his job is to bless me. And when things don’t go my way and my future seems uncertain, my faith is rocked to the core. I believe God to be untrustworthy or unloving.

WORLDVIEW #2: I WANT TO BE HAPPY

If I believe that it’s my inalienable right to be happy, then I’m going to view everything in the Bible according to that filter.

Worldview 2 - I want to be happy {Hive Resources}

I won’t be concerned with being holy, as much as I will be focused on getting my way. I will pick through the Scriptures for passages that affirm my lifestyle and choices, and I’ll throw out the parts that make me squeamish like suffering, or worse, God’s Wrath!

With the “I-want-to-be-happy” lenses, the God of the Bible becomes my cheerleader, and his job is to make me feel better about myself, to inspire me, to lift me up when I’m down. When I’m faced with struggles, I move onto a religious system that assuages my conscience.

WORLDVIEW #3: I WANT RELIEF

If I believe that my internal hurts and pains are the most important thing in my life, then I’ll view the Bible as a way to get relief.

Worldview 3 - I want relief {Hive Resources}

With these lenses on, I am not sinner in need of redemption, I am a broken individual in need therapy. So, I will gravitate to those parts of Scripture that center on love and exclude those parts that speak of sin.

With the “I-want-relief” lenses, God becomes my therapist, and his job is to heal my internal pains and conflict.

According to author and scholar David Wells, this is the most prevalent cultural context with which we approach Scripture today. In his book, God in the Whirlwind, Wells refers to this lens as “Therapeutic Deism” – it’s a filter that focuses on God’s nearness (his immanence) to the exclusion of his otherness or holiness (his transcendence).

But the problem with these “God-is-my-therapist glasses” is not only is it a partial view of God, it’s dangerous! Because when we wear these lenses we become worshipers of our own comfort, our own well-being.

Each of these lenses share two common elements. First, none of them do justice to the purpose and beauty of the Scriptures.

Second, they all share the same problem: the wearer becomes the center of the universe. When we wear these lenses to view life, Scripture, reality, our eyes are pointed in the wrong direction. Our eyes are trained inward instead of upward and outward.

That’s why we must continually check our spiritual eyesight and take off any “lenses” or worldviews we might be wearing that misrepresent that truth.

Unless we get our eyesight checked out and train our eyes to adjust, we will never learn the Word, understand it, apply it, and reap its benefits and blessings from knowing its Author (transformation, peace, love, joy, fulfillment, and more!).

So, we must train our eyes to see the Scriptures clearly, but how do we do that?

We must train our eyes to see the whole story of the Scriptures – not just parts of it. Next week, I’ll tell you just how to do that!

In the meantime, check out the first post in this series: 3 ways viewing the Scriptures as a story overcomes worldviews.

How are you viewing Scripture? In times of trouble, which of these three worldviews is the most tempting to wear?

*For more info about worldviews, see Norman Geisler and Peter Bocchino’s book, Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith.