Summer Reading Goal: 10 Least Popular Books of the Bible

In a recent info-graphic, The Overview Bible Project produced a flow-chart of the 10 least popular books of the Bible {HT: Challies}.

I have never considered before that there are pieces of the Bible that are rarely read, but I suppose it makes sense that sadly, popularity extends even to Scripture.

 

Infographic: least popular books of the Bible

 

In a quick overview of this chart, I was interested {but not surprised} to note that 6 of the 10 books are prophetic.  The Old Testament prophets were not well-received even in their day, so it is not a great shock that in modern-times they are still not our favorites.

God’s prophets were no cowards.  Tasked with speaking out against ungodliness and God’s judgment if hearts remained hard, these men lived taxing, lonely lives.

Prophets have never been popular.  In fact, did you know that nearly all of the Old Testament prophets were martyred as a result of their stand for Truth?

This Summer, I plan to familiarize myself better with these bold men and their teachings.  To spend a little more time refreshing my memory on the lives of these courageous heroes.

Photo:{www.meggielynne.tumblr.com}

Photo:{www.meggielynne.tumblr.com}

And I plan to walk through the other “un-popular” books too : 2 John, 3 John, Philemon and Jude.

I would love for some of you to take on this challenge with me, and compare notes at the end of the Summer.  These books are all short and will require mere minutes of your day to read, so they are a perfect Summer-day length.

Would you like to explore the 10 Least Popular Books of the Bible this Summer?

Click here for more information on the context of the books.  And let me know if you plan to get reading.  {My husband is going to read along beside me, as a means of accountability}.

I would love to compare notes with you in 8 weeks. I read Jonah this morning, and already my pencil has been busy noting themes I have not focused enough attention on in the past.

And maybe if enough of us read, we can bump the 10 least popular books of the Bible out of the running, and into a better-respected category.


5 Excellent Summer Bible Studies For You and a Friend

let the word

Summer is fast approaching, and with it a change in scheduling.  Kids will be out of school, families will be traveling.  And in all of the fun disruption, devotional time will require its own flexibility.

The long and free weeks of Summer are a great opportunity to re-group and gain new direction. 

Why not consider a new personal Bible study or organize a book study for a group of friends?

Here are 5 books for personal and group study, that are appropriate in length and level of study for a Summer focus.

 

 1.  Disciplines of a Godly Woman

Don’t we assume a negative connotation of the word discipline?  Oh no, we think.  Legalism.

disciplines

Yet, Disciplines of a Godly Woman could not be further from rules-based approach.  Barbara Hughes has produced an excellent resource in her book.   Disciplines approaches various angles of Christian growth – church, Bible study,  marriage, contentment.  And she provides encouragement and guidance as to how to become more disciplined and committed within each of these realms.

I would easily recommend Disciplines of a Godly Woman for both personal and group study.

2.  Calm My Anxious Heart

 Though the title is a little misleading, Linda Dillow’s excellent book is more a study on contentment, than anxiety.   Having spent many years  raising a family as overseas missionaries, Dillow has a wealth of experience in learning contentment.

calm heart

 Within Calm My Anxious Heart, she asks questions such as:

Why are women prone to discontent?

What does God say about contentment?

How can we develop a renewed sense of contentment in our lives?

Linda Dillow has wrestled and attained a wisdom and beauty that comes from learning that Christ is enough.

 Calm My Anxious Heart is another book I would recommend as an excellent personal and group study.

 

 3.  The Friendships of Women

Dee Brestin’s book The Friendships of Women, is a book which is both useful and broad in scope.  After all, which woman does not relate to issues of friendship – the desires, the pain, the tensions, the inevitable conflicts?

 

friendships of women

Woven throughout Brestin’s book are personal accounts, helping to make the book identifiable.  And within each chapter are thoughtful questions, which allow for personal evaluation and reflection.

And it is especially helpful within a context of varying church backgrounds.  Because the book is topical in nature, it can be easily appreciated by anyone.  But as a leader, there is wide opportunity to insert extra biblical content, if desired.

The Friendships of Women is a book I would highly recommend for group study.

 

4.  Desperate

Who does not fell desperate sometimes?  Like life is full to the brim with tensions and burdens?  Desperate is a book which meets women in the feelings that can propel us into shame, and gives credence to why we feel overwhelmed.  Why we feel burned out.  Why we struggle at times to love our families.

desperate

Far from being a to-do-list book, Desperate is a walk through Sally Clarkson’s own experiences as a young Mom.  And with the amazing grace that is characteristic of Sally, Desperate guides and motivates.  Sally is a question-asker.  And she expects her reader to consider her questions and to do something with the resulting answers.

Desperate is a wonderful personal study.  However, I think it would also be valuable in a group setting, in which friends want to support and keep one another accountable.

 

 5.  Treasuring God in Our Traditions

Why are family traditions important? 

Why does it matter that we cultivate and honor traditions within our homes? These are the questions Noel Piper asks in her inspiring book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.  If you are seeking to establish traditions within your own home, and wonder how to make a rich memory-life possible, this is a helpful read.

traditions

Because Treasuring God is a book that inspires creative thought and interaction, I think it would be a fun book for group study.  There is much scope for comparing notes and sharing ideas.  And room for propelling one another along in establishing rich home-lives.

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Finally, if you are a note-taker or journaler.  If you feel like notepads might be helpful for your personal or group study, Dayspring sells 3-pack mini-notebooks for $2.47.  I have bought several of these- they are inexpensive and fun to look at.  These notebooks would be ideal hand-outs at the beginning of a study, so that participants have a place to jot down thoughts as you go.

dayspring journals

Enjoy growing in your walk with God.

And this Summer, consider asking others to join you!


Recommended Reading: {Desperate}, by Sally Clarkson

pray image Congratulations to Sarah Jordan, winner of The Ministry of Motherhood and $5 Starbucks card!  Sarah wrote that she is a homeschooling mom of 9 children, so I am thrilled that a very busy Mom is receiving these little gifts of encouragement.  Sarah, please message me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com with your mailing address.

Though I had a post planned for today, I am going to stick with the theme of Sally Clarkson for one more day.

Why?  Because Sally is writing what I believe to be some of the most encouraging mothering books in the Christian market today.  And I want every Mom I know to spend some time absorbing her encouragement and wisdom.

Having dropped by Barnes and Noble to pick up the Giveaway prize last week, I casually dropped Sally’s book Desperate into my cart as well.  It has been some time since I have read a book specifically addressed to mothers, but the past few weeks have made me feel the need.  I have felt weary and dull lately, certainly not encompassing the passion for parenting that I desire my children to see in me.

 

desperate

I brought Desperate home and flipped through it for a few moments, while the kids were asleep.  And instantly knew it was what my desperate heart was needing.

In the honest fashion I have come to appreciate about Sally Clarkson, the book begins with this phrase:

“I just can’t be a mother today”.

And so begins a raw, but inspiring conversation about the struggles we face as mothers.  As we battle our ideals, comparing them to our sinful reality.  As we struggle with perspective – feeling sunk beneath hopelessness.  As we fight for JOY in our day-to-day, exhausting ministry to our families.  Desperate addresses fatigue and the depression that results.  It speaks of the role that friendship and support plays in our mothering.  It relates the need to draw close to other women, so that Satan does not find us easy targets, due to our loneliness.

desperate book tea

It is truly God’s gift to me that Desperate found its way into my shopping bag last week.  It has begun already, to unveil some of the reasons I have been wrestling with discouragement.  I am tired.  I am lonely.  I am facing the darkness, without honestly confiding in anyone.  And I am just one woman experiencing these emotions.  I have a feeling that many of you are struggling, too.

But, isn’t this what we do?  We put on our Facebook personas, and ride through the days as though they are endlessly sunny, with only charming quotes from our children.

And then we lie in our beds at night, washed over with a loneliness and anxiety.  We are sad.  We are fearful of our inadequacies.  We are needy for support.

We are desperate.

If you need encouragement, or if you could use a Mother’s Day treat for yourself, please order Desperate today.

It will refresh you.  It will motivate you.  And it will encourage you that far from being alone, you are one of many women who simply needs to hear a message of HOPE.


Mother’s Day Giveaway: { The Ministry of Motherhood and a $5 Starbucks Giftcard}

messy hands

 Nancy Leigh De Moss asked the question best:

Have you ever considered that in becoming a mother, you have been called to a ministry?

Have you though about motherhood like that- as a ministry?  Or is ministry something you are waiting to do when the kids are a little older and you can leave the house?

These were questions entrenched in my mind as my youngest was little and I was contemplating a new life of serving, and yes, a life of ministry.  And so it was no accident when I happened upon Sally Clarkson’s The Ministry of Motherhood, while at Barnes and Noble one day.

ministry of motherhood final

I could sense that in reading The Ministry of Motherhood, I was going to be led.  But what I did not expect was to be mentored and inspired, through the gentle grace of the woman behind the pages.  Sally Clarkson has a tremendous gift.  Not only is she an engaging writer, but she is wise and she is kind.  Do I know her personally?  I do not.  But there are writers who convey their sensitivity with every word, and Sally Clarkson is one of them.

In reading The Ministry of Motherhood, it was as if layers of discouragement were lifted from me.  Rather than feeling stuck in the monotony of so many same days, I was inspired, renewed and compelled to embrace this sameness- to recognize it as ministry life. 

Last week, I emailed Sally in the hope that she might respond to 2 questions I wished to ask her.  I was eager to give her book away, but I wanted her two cents’ worth on the passion behind her writing.   So, imagine my delight when she not only responded quickly, but was open to sharing her thoughts on the mission behind The Ministry of Motherhood.

sally clarkson

I asked Sally:

What inspired you to write The Ministry of Motherhood?

I felt that the vision for motherhood had been lost and diminished in our culture and even in our churches. I wanted to write a book that would inspire and equip mothers to have confidence and empowerment to truly love, inspire and build the souls of their children with godliness and faith. I wanted them to have a book that would give them handles on how to approach this great task each day.

What do you hope women will gain through reading your book?

When women have a vision for how powerful an influence they can have on their children, and even on generations to come, by training, loving and discipling them, they will have energy to make each day meaningful in light of eternity.

ministry

Are you in need of encouragement?  Do you feel the need to be mentored?

If so, this book is for you.  Sally Clarkson will motivate you.   She will draw you to a deeper walk with God.  She will leave you feeling more directed in your mothering, more purposeful and refreshed.

And she will remind you continually, that ministry to your family is the highest calling.  As she states so honestly:

“I always wanted to be a hero–to sacrifice my life in a big way one time–and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.”

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If you are thick in the middle of the ministry years to your family, or if you are a few stages beyond and would like to give this book to a younger friend who needs encouragement, please enter the Giveaway for The Ministry of Motherhood.

Oh, and because books are lonely without drinks, I am also including a $5 Starbucks gift-card with this book.

You may enter the giveaway in one of 2 ways:  1.  Click over to the Facebook page.  “Like” the page and share the link on your FB page.  2.  Comment at the end of this blog post, stating why you would enjoy this book.  3.  Email me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com, and state why you would enjoy winning this book.

Sadly, due to high international postage rates, the hard copy of this Giveaway and the enclosed Starbucks gift-card is open to US residents only.  However, if you are Canadian, please enter and if you win, I will send you the Kindle or Nook copy of the book, instead.

I will announce the winner on Monday morning.

Happy Friday, all!


Hospitality: A Life that Says Welcome

hospitality quote

Welcome to Hospitality Week, here on the blog!  I hope over the next few days to discuss varying styles of hospitality, with the goal of illustrating that we are all called to hospitality, and that we can all be good at some form of it.

Karen Ehman has writtten an excellent book, called Life That Says Welcome.  In it, she discusses the Biblical call to hospitality.  The why, the how, the precedent behind God’s design that we open our homes for one another, and share our tables.  Scripture is clear on the important call to hospitality.  Acts 2 describes the response to the Gospel, as one which should prompt our hearts to open toward others.  In Acts, we see the formation of a brand-New Testament church, with believers seeking to honor God in their relationships with one another.  And interestingly, one of the first fruits to be borne, is that of hospitality:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Do you find this kind of Acts 2 hospitality strenuous?

Admittedly, I do.  I am challenged with a definition of hospitality that has long haunted me.  One that demands formal invitations and prepared meals and a plan.  I have never been good at long-range planning, so formalities are not my strength.  I am easily stressed by the chaos of crowds, so how do I exert a welcoming spirit despite my less-than-perfect wiring?

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In reading Acts 2 however, and seeing it fleshed out in Ehman’s book, it struck me that I may not have assessed the call to hospitality with enough breadth, with enough grace, and have been wrestling with feelings of failure, due to a too-narrow definition of what hospitality looks like fleshed out in my life.

Ehman expounds on the very concerns I have, giving space for the definition of hospitality to grow and to evolve.  Hospitality she states, can be of two kinds: in-home and out-of-home.  And both functioning together with intention, are what provide communities with an optimal sense of welcome.

In-Home: In-home hospitality involves opening our doors, setting out extra dishes,and preparing for additional mouths to feed.   It is the invitation to life in the home, lending itself to an intimacy that is easiest found by breaking down barriers of space and physical boundaries.  It is the cup of cold water (or coffee or tea) prepared to provide rest for the soul of another.

table set

Out-of-Home: Out-of-Home hospitality Ehman maintains, is every bit as necessary and personal as in-home hospitality, but involves work beyond the front door.  Out-of-home hospitality looks like welcoming new neighbors, visiting those who are lonely, preparing meals for friends, and looking out for the physical and emotional needs of others and seeking to meet those “felt” needs.

All of us Ehman, maintains, are called to hospitality, but this definition can be as broad as our individuality allows it to be.  And it can change with the seasons of our experience.

For example, for nearly 9 years we have lived in our neighborhood.  And in the course of that time, we have had a revolving door of small children in and out of our home, nearly daily.  Perhaps because of this, we have not exerted as much formal hospitality as those might who live in a more isolated setting.   Keeping our home occupied has never been difficult.  However, the last few months have seen several of our closest neighbors move out of state, and so we have been filling the void with more formal invitations to our home.  Our season has changed and with it, our expression of hospitality.

But isn’t this life?  God’s commands are firm and resolute.  But with His desire for our obedience to His will, also comes His hand of sovereignty.   And as His plans shift our circumstances, grace is there to meet the interpretation.  So while His call to hospitality does not shift, the expression might vary, depending on our season.

Application

Do you find Ehman’s in-home/out-home definition of hospitality encouraging?

Can you define your area of strength in hospitality? 

Can you think of one thing you can do this week to demonstrate a hospitable spirit to others?