Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: What if Jesus Meant What He Said by Nate Bramsen

This book review is from a book that I bought!  It was published Dec. 7, 2017.  I have the kindle version, and a print book, it's that inspiring!

Published by Emmaus International, you can purchase there or from amazon.  The kindle version is only $3.99.

This book was very well done!  But I warn you, this book will as Nate Bramsen says in the intro, make you uncomfortable.  He is correct, but he has a great way with his words, questions, and scripture connections of instilling a plan that with the Holy Spirit leading, it can be done, but not if I stay in control of me. 

One of my favorite features was at the end of the book, a bonus feature.   Diving Into Scripture
Nate Bramsen shares how he studies and meditates on scripture with a LOT of higher level thinking involved.   His concepts are not new to me, but how he approaches his study is, and he gives a formula to follow as you study any verse or passage.  I can't wait to try it. 

Here are other aspects I loved:

  • Written for any age person.   Children would do best going through this with their family, as there is so much meat and good content in the book.  If you look at the amazon reviews, two reviewers already comment on how the book was for them. One is a 70 year old man (it might be my Dad!)  and another is a stay at home Mom who wondered if the book would be for those younger than her, she enjoyed it.  
  • Reflect and Respond Chapter Endings.  Every chapter has questions about the concept to help you apply the thinking to your life, and help you move ahead and grow in the challenges presented. 
  • Easy to Read, Lifetime Applications. The books format is appealing to almost any reader. (Sorry no pictures, but a whole portion of the book is connected to the image that we frame our lives with the Word of God!).  But it is complete with a lot of scripture, personal stories, balanced with life connections in hymns, poems, reading, culture, etc.  It has 27 chapters, with the reflections at the end of each chapter.  They are not very long, so it's an easy book to pick up when you have a few minutes.  The book is divided into four themes as well, making it easier to comprehend and connect the ideas.  As well as every few paragraphs have a heading or bold quote to keep the reader focused and on task.  
  • Simple concept but complex application. The book is based on Matthew 16:24 "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."  (Berean Study Bible).  The book is about the pursuit of following Jesus completely.  
  • Challenges for Life.  Bramsen shares the uncomfortable, he warns you, he reminds you that even people who are written about in the Bible didn't always measure up, they may even have failed, but with a mindset focuses on scripture, he teaches, shares, and challenges the reader to grow in applying the concept of dying to self.  
  • Teaching Bramsen is a gifted teacher.  I've heard him speak several times.  He's so easy to relate to, youthful, exuberant, yet direct, grounded in scripture, highly intelligent and well read, and committed.  I really was curious to see if he could continue that charisma on the printed page, and I was not disappointed.  
  • Questions The book is full of 'probing' questions that help the reader determine, can I really take Christ as His Word?  Bramsen gives scripture as answers, and then makes compelling statements with convicting concepts to help be sure that the reader knows what it means to pursue an intimate, loving relationship with our Great God.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

When God Made Light Content Area Connections

When God made you, God made light.... 
Lessons ideas or connections drawn from the book: 

Matthew Paul Turner shares 5 ways to encourage your children to be the light on Ann Voskamp's blog. 

  • Introductions/Launches of a written work are important to set the tone, setting, and characters. This book's launch is: "LET THERE BE LIGHT! That's what God said. And the light began shining and started to spread." The teacher would read this aloud twice, and then the students can use it as the inspiration to change the concept, tone, character and would write their own launch idea in their notebook."  So I might be inspired to write: "Let there be snow! That's what the weatherman said. And the snow began to fall, faster and faster until it spread as far as I could see."  Kids love mirroring the work of published authors, but changing it up to fit their own topics, narrative, persuasive, or expository pieces.  
  • Style/Description: This book has amazing style, lots of great word choices to describe light. The style has a rhyming pattern.  Uses great active verbs to describe light. Examples of Alliteration.  A teacher could do a bunch of mini-lessons on style (number, colors, names, places, faces, that describe and bring the story to life.) 
  • Guided Discovery/Inferences or Connections- have the students read and re-read the book searching for all the science concepts the author brought into the book. I'd call the lesson- Unveiling hidden gems, perhaps.  I'd have them make a T chart and on one side put the words from the text and the other side what is.  So the first note I'd make is: Planets (this is tricky it's only in the images) and on the right side: Science: Planets, Universe, Galaxy

Here is my draft or notes if I were leading this T chart...

Other Content:
  • Science Concepts: Light, Light rays, Dark, Night/Day, Space, Galaxy, Planets, Sun/moon/stars, Weather, Plant growth: photosynthesis, farming, seeds, fire 
  • Math Connections: Shapes: bolt, star, Calendar: Day/Night, Counting (all the ways He made light)
  • Social Studies: Camping (culture, experience)- smores 
  • Character Education: Family, Gratitude/Thanks, Light in You: Self Esteem, Worth, Self Efficacy, Value, Kindness, Helping Others, Love, Shining bright (forgiveness).  

Monday, February 12, 2018

When God Made Light Connections for Bible lessons

The best children's books are to be enjoyed, repeated over and over, and used to bridge a child's interest, motivate learning, hook kids into listening, and then build a connection to new knowledge.  This book has SO much potential to do just that!  The educator in me loves this.  
I would use this book in a public school for story time, lesson intros or hooks, and lessons that are focused on character.  I would use this book in a kids club, Sunday School, bible teaching lesson hook.  I could see it connecting to science lessons, self esteem/character lessons, as a model for writing lessons, and a discussion of how a concept, in this case light, has multiple meanings.  I think with a little bit of thought this book could turn into a VBS curriculum alone or with Matthew Paul Turner's first book, When God Made You.  

My full review I shared last week here.  

Bible Concepts:  Light, walking in the light, the glory of the Lord, Creation, Jesus is the Light, gospel message

I asked Matthew Paul Turner, the author, what verses he thought of or connected to the story as he wrote it.  Here's what he shared. 

Let your light shine before others...Matthew 5:16 

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you...Isaiah 60:1 

But now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.  Ephesians 5:8 

He also shares at Ann Voskamp today! 5 ways to encourage your child's light to shine!
Lessons from the Word of God that involve light:

Ministry to Children has a Fruit of the Spirit Series.  Lessons Two and Three are on Shining as Light
I searched for "light" and there are lots of lessons, object lessons on this page. Here are some direct connections I found: 

  • New Year, Let Your Light Shine, complete with a Mandy Grace printable coloring page.  To download and use. Pictured to your left.  
  • Lesson for older kids on Ephesians 5.  Walking in the Light, teaching on living a life that focuses on Jesus, the Word, and Prayer, and touches on the role of the Holy Spirit in the believers life as we strive to live in the light, not darkness.  
  • Bible Puzzle the Light of the World.  A printable page with images of lamps, and a lesson on Matthew 5:14-16.  

Bible Fun for Kids has some lessons as well.  
  • Teen Lesson on Let Your Light Shine with a printable bible verse page Matthew 5:16 
  • Lighthouse Themed Lessons focused on Ephesians 5.  Thinking about characteristics that are the ways our lights shine.  Compassion, Responsibility, Fairness, Perseverance, Respect, Trustworthiness,....there are ten, and each uses a different Bible Story to share how that person modeled a characteristic.  
  • Here is a search for light.  There are lessons on creation, Paul, Saul, ... shares teaching for adults: 

You could add light verse coloring pages. 

Ministry to Children has coloring pages.  You can print as a pdf and they make an editable download as well.

Let your light shine, cute free coloring page

Super Coloring has several here.  Mathew 5:14, John 1:4 

Sweet To The Soul Ministries did a 31 day study on Letting Your Light Shine and here are printables that include 31 verses to study, bible journal images, and journaling pages for your own study. 

Let your light shine Valentines, how cute is this!  with glow sticks! 

And I've only scratched the surface of a two of my favorite children' s ministry resources, my favorite adult teaching resource, and then a few from a Pinterest search.  Up next connections to content areas!  

Monday, February 5, 2018

New Book: When God Made Light by Matthew Turner, illustrated by David Catrow

I'll be posting a full review of teacher ideas of this lovely book later this week. My kids all got out early today, but I wanted to post this to give you the most chance to get this great book!  

Here's my short elevator review:  
  • Warm, endearing pictures, with a rhythmic, joyous verse of a story about God making light. 
  • The light isn't just the light of creation, the sun, moon, and starts it's much more than that, it speaks of the light that lives inside you with God in you. 
  • It celebrates living in the light (God) and outdoor living with family as the light brings different adventures, and teaches not to fear, as God is here when the light is night.  
  • The book is empowering, melodic, and brings a smile to the readers face (showing YOUR light!).  
  • The illustrations are detailed, lifelike, family friendly, fun/silly, and child friendly.  The children are children of color likely siblings, with the best facial expressions that show true light and joy.  And they are beautiful girls and the pets look animated. So appealing. 
  • There are so many natural connections and educational opportunities to expand on this book, I can't wait to share more details, but here is my list: As an educator, you could use this book to hook kids into learning about shadows, seasons, universe, sun/moon/stars/constellations, and showing love to others by being the light.  
  • The hardcover book is well made, has heavy, thick shiny pages that won't tear easily when little hands explore alone. 
The book itself is rooted in scriptures from Genesis 1 creation of light, to the light in you, because God is in you- which opens you up to the gospel story, and the New Testament light comparisons.  Jesus is the light, being a light to the world, being bold as you are--as you bring the light even in a dark world, how God made you with purpose/intent (Psalm 139). 

I'm an optimist.  I choose to see things with an open mind and easily put a spin on things that is positive.  I think some people might be disappointed that this book doesn't include scripture references or more direct teaching on the connections to God.  This book is simple. It's written as a fun read aloud that will be read over and over.  And as a parent who memorized many board books, several of which had very little merit in their recitation, this book is a much better option.  But perhaps some may be put off by the intent that this is a "God-positive" book instead of a more direct connection to the Word of God.  I see it as a great connection to the Word of God, and a great conversation starter, to bring in the Word of God to those you read it to or with.  And because it is God-positive, and open ended, it could be used in a public school setting, as you aren't specifying who God is, but you would have children in your classrooms who will then make that connection.  So it could open some doors for conversation and the gospel among-st those children who know God. 

Pre-order the book before it releases February 13, and get his first book for free! Amazon has the book for 8.37 and if it gets cheaper, between now and then, they give you the lowest price from the date you pre-order til it's released and it arrives ON release day!   You submit your order # and what retailer you ordered from here at the Waterbrook/Multnomah website.  It takes 1 minute or less. 

Here's a blogger that tells you how to submit your receipt.  If you want more step by step.   I just did it- I'm launching the book and have a copy, but when can you get a baby gift for $4? not often.  And since I'm ordering it as a gift, I chose the $1 credit for ebooks at amazon.  

Don't forget that Goodreads is also hosting a giveaway, between now and March 30, 2018, so you might also win one!  I've done well when I enter a giveaway on goodreads- two books in one month!  and I only entered on two days a handful! 

One Word Restore update

It's amazing how when you choose to ponder and intentionally learn about something, all of a sudden, you see it everywhere.  When I was a classroom teacher, I'd work on a science or social studies unit, and all of a sudden, I'd see concepts that I would be teaching in the real world all around me.

It's even more amazing to me, when I choose to focus on Who God is, this year- the One who Restores, it's all around me.

It's in my book launches...

Life without Lack by Dallas Willard
Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23

Rest creates the ability to restore energy, restore your mind to look at who God is.  

Restore-- I'm restored knowing that God is sufficient, not just barely- BOUNTIFULLY capable-- He will restores my soul-- by who He is.... think about that-- it's pretty incredible!

I'm working on two different studies this month, the book of James and Lifeway Women's online study by Priscilla Shirer, Hearing the Voice of God.  Both are reminding me that on my own, I'm fallible, I'm hopeless, I'm broken, I sin.... but as I learn to hear the Holy Spirit, trust in God's plan, I am able to have, to be so much more because God restores my soul not only at the moment of salvation, but also for the present age as I live in intimate communion and relationship with Him.  I'm restored to all that He has called me to do and it is not I who will accomplish anything but the restoration of Holy Spirit who seals me, sanctifies me, all that lead to my life being restored for His glory.  Amazing!  

Seeking to see who God is, all throughout my day, really has a huge impact on my soul- and I'm soaking in that He restores my mind continually... with my soul. Oh the power, presence, and joy that brings to my soul amnesia and heart!  

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Launch Intro: Life without Lack by Dallas Willard

As you can tell from my blog, I value books that whisper the Word to my heart, soul, and mind, and I love getting to read the books before they are officially published and sharing my reviews.   As an educator, reading is a joy for me, and it's even better when I can share about what I've read.

As I'm blogging more, I've determined that I will be sharing reading skills that help make you better readers, while also sharing about the books I'm blessed to help launch. 

Today's mini-lesson: Text Connections for comprehension

 If we read, and gain meaning, or comprehension, one of the best ways to be successful is to have connections to the text.  Teachers know and train their readers to gain meaning from a text you should connect: text to self, text to the world and text to text.  This book is a great fit of this strategy that you can use with anything you read.  Let me give some examples:

Text to Self--

  •  I memorized Psalm 23 as an 8 year old.  My kids have all memorized Psalm 23 around age 6.  So I have many memories of this passage and many translations that I have learned in my lifetime.  
  • It's a psalm that I have prayed and shared with my children, my campers, and friends, when life might be overwhelming, as the image of the Shepherd caring for His Sheep is comforting and easy to identify with at any age.  

Text to the World

  • Psalm 23 is often posted on signs that people hold up at sporting events or rallies.  I might even guess that John 3:16 is the only reference used more than Psalm 23?  
  • It's read by Jewish people as well as Christians, and it's the most well known chapter in Hebrew and the Old Testament.  
  • Psalm 23 is often referred to in movies or television series by characters in a struggle, especially death or funerals. 
  • Even in our Biblically illiterate culture, if asked, what's Psalm 23 about? Most people would say sheep or the shepherd.  It's well known.  
Text to Text
  • The book connects the concepts and themes of Psalm 23 from the Word of God to the author's life, habits, mindset, and spiritual growth with the goal of recognizing, that your life can be one without lack.  
When you read a text (be it fiction or nonfiction), making these kinds of connections helps the reader build their comprehension of the new text, and begin to think about higher level concepts, and ultimately leads to us creating something new.  So this is a great skill to practice with anyone who you want to help remember the Word of God, and if you think about it, our preachers, pastor's and Bible teachers often evoke this kind of imagery for the learners they are leading.  

Life without Lack has all those connections, many before I even opened the book and read it.  But as I read the book, there were many more examples, Dr. Willard is an excellent teacher and he helps the reader make text connections throughout the book. But while it was easy to comprehend, it was a sophisticated, well written book that motivated the reader to think critically about how to live in the fullness of Psalm 23.  Here's a little commercial to watch, to introduce the book: 

The first part of the book, was the most sophisticated for me, and I did a lot of re-reading (another great literacy skill) and lots of note taking.  It was so much content to absorb, but it was rich and insightful, I kept coming back to the book to gain more insight about Who God is, and God is incomprehensible to the human mind, yet Willard influenced my brain to know Him more and more. 

Here is a quote that you can ponder today from the book: 

I'll be adding more to my book review as we move into February.  

Comment if you have a specific reading strategy or skill that you'd like some ideas for your Bible whispering and I'll see if I can help you!  Feel free to ask a question about the book.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fiction Book Review: Across the Blue, a novel, by Carrie Turansky

When I think about Whispering the Word to others, one of the best ways to impact others, is by sharing the mindset of a believer who walks by faith, trusting in the Lord God throughout their regular daily lives.  And that is my absolute favorite part of this new novel, Across the Blue, a Historical Fiction (1909 in England/France) tale of the birth of flight and aviators attempting to cross the English Channel for the first time, releasing from Waterbrook/Multnomah February 20th, 2018.  

You can enter here for a chance to win a whole set of new books from the publisher.

The two main characters that shared their intimate faith by the prayers they silently prayed as life happened are: Belle a debutante, daughter of a wealthy self made man who owns several newspapers, and James, an illegitimate child who knows very little of his parents, whose life has not reflected that struggle, as a Professor of aviation took him in, after his Mother dies tragically, and then the Professors sister, passes when he is 6, and raised him as his own son with a solid education, and as business partners in aviation, and in the attempt to cross the English Channel in their self made airplane, funded by the generosity of others.   

Do you want to check it out for yourself?  You can read a sneak peak here.  It hooked me!

The plot is driven by Belle, a young woman who is entering her third season, seeking a spouse that she finds true love with, something her parents are not nearly as concerned about, as they want her to marry another well to do family of equal stature.  Her family has just moved into a large estate called the Broadlands, and meets James and the Professor on the first day, when his plan crashes on their land.  She also desires to follow in her father's footsteps as a journalist, something her parents consider a stumbling block in courting her well to do suitors, but they agree she may write with a pseudonym, if she agrees to accept a proposal by the end of the year.  

The author, Carrie Turanksy, does a lovely job developing the plot while sharing knowledge of how challenging learning to fly, creating your own plan, and preparing to cross the English Channel would have been, and her details were fascinating and helped pull you into the lives of the characters.  Belle ends up being courted by more than one aviator, and that creates some awkward, yet believable situations. There are vivid images of the homes, gardens, and various locations in London and near the channel, making the reader compelled to continue reading.   

I found the book to be a great page turner, and I read on several times, when I had planned to stop to see how all the different avenues created in the characters' lives would turn out.  There is of course romance, history and a feel of the setting in this modern new world at the turn of the century in Europe, but also the characters have their own problems, struggles, and secrets.  

The Word of God is whispered on occasion with a comment about the message shared at the church, but is not overly done or preachy, just threaded in on occasion as it fit with the lives of the characters.  As both James and Bella mature, their from their head silent prayers are short, sweet, yet honest and reflect their spiritual and young adult maturity develop, but also model for the reader a life lead by someone trusting God in the big and little things of life.  I really enjoyed this element and the way it was so naturally woven into the book.  I don't believe a person who is not faith oriented would be offended by any of it, but would recognize and respect the way God influenced the lives of these young people. 

I was blessed to be given an ARC by the publisher to review, all opinions are my own, and I was asked to share an honest review of my reading, and I've happily done that.