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Book Review: The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn

Posted by Julie on July 23, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Finally, a Bible study that goes deep…

The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn

Frustrated with the watered-down, “light” Bible studies that are all too common, Erica Wiggenhorn wanted to write a study that went deep. She wanted to take readers verse-by-verse through a whole book of the Bible, offering theological and historical comments in each lesson while remaining practical and relational.

The Unexplainable Church is the result, and it offers readers two great takeaways. It will teach them by example how to study the Bible deeply, and it will challenge them toward critical life-change: submitting their will to the mission of Jesus, who gives life its fullest meaning.

The message of The Unexplainable Church is that the early church didn’t grow because Peter and Paul were so amazing, but because average people were transformed by God and brought together in His work. This 10-week inductive study of Acts 13–28 will sweep readers into the great drama of the Kingdom, inspiring them to live together in the power of the Spirit and accomplish what could never be done alone.

I’ve been looking for a Bible study that takes Scripture I’m familiar with but challenges me to dig deeper and learn more. Something that gives me a glimpse of history but also forces me to take those amazing experiences and apply it to my life.

 

That Bible study is The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn. This is a 10 week study of Acts 13-28 and focuses on “Reigniting the mission of the early believers.” This is a meaty study that has 50 lessons over 10 weeks, going through the Acts chapters verse-by-verse. There are a lot of questions to answer and invitations to learn even more at the author’s website.

 

It’s obvious Erica Wiggenhorn knows the Bible, and she’s very good at engaging readers and making sure they don’t just grow in the Lord, but that they know His-Story. Although I am not finished with the study, I find it deep, intensive, and thought-provoking. No one can read Acts without being captivated, even if someone has no desire to know Christ, the mere history of it is amazing. I believe all participants are going to finish this study with a deeper perspective and appreciation of the early church.

I received this study from the publisher in exchange for a review. The thoughts expressed are my own.

PURCHASE THE UNEXPLAINABLE CHURCH HERE

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Book Review: Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

Posted by Julie on July 21, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

A new kind of Bible study…

After the success of her first two booksHeather Holleman received many requests to write a Bible study. And as a college English instructor, she wanted to make sure it really taught and didn’t simply inform. So she surveyed several women about what their dream study would look like, then got to work.

The result is Included with Christ, a narrative-driven study where you can bring your life before Scripture in the context of community. Together women will discern their personal shadow narratives—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth.

This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians will equip women with six “signature stories” of God’s work in their lives—helping them combat exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.

Designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth, Included in Christ will provide community and connectedness as well as spiritual nourishment. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

Heather Holleman is a new author to me, and I didn’t know she wrote books before being asked to create a Bible study. Included in Christ is an 8 week Bible study that explores the truths from Ephesians without being overwhelming. It is written as if the author were sitting down with us. She includes her own story that makes her very relatable. Yet, Scripture is explained and explored as she takes us through Ephesians. Ephesians isn’t new to me, yet Heather pointed out things I never thought about or saw the way she explained. I truly have learned a lot, and for review purposes, I am not all the way done, but I wanted to be timely in getting this out. I am really impressed in what I’ve read so far.

The topic is one all women can relate to. We all want to belong and be included. There are lies we have believed, and this study takes those lies and exposes them, giving us the truth in Scripture that has been there for us all along.

I highly recommend this study to any woman who struggles to belong, no matter what their level with the Bible is. It’s a down-to-Earth study that includes places to journal thoughts and answer questions.

Honestly, it’s everything I’m looking for in a Bible study. I really think you will learn and be inspired just as I am.

I received INCLUDED IN CHRIST from the publisher for review purposes, and all thoughts expressed here are my own.

Purchase Included in Christ HERE

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Katheryn Maddox Haddad: Joseph: The Other Father

Posted by Julie on December 20, 2016 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Joseph

Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father who raised him, had to be a lot of things: Spiritual, quick minded, strong physically, fearless.

Can you imagine taking on that assignment? I wonder if God chose Mary partly because of who she was betrothed to.

Jesus was born into a violent world. When He was probably about a year and a half old, the king of the land sent his soldiers out to kill him. Because I do not like to write the predictable, but to stretch the reader’s mind, I had them escape the shortest route, that being the Mediterranean Sea. Joseph leads Mary and the toddler across the desert in a run, and he does not stop until they arrive.

Of course, Herod’s soldiers are smart and would have spread out in all directions to find them. Just as Joseph gets them to the harbor and finds a ship bound for Egypt, here come Herod’s soldiers. He shoves payment into the ship officer’s hand, lifts his wife and child on board and personally pulls up the anchor so they can make a quick getaway.

The captain is dumbfounded at his brashness until they see Herod’s soldiers climb off their horses and lunge at the ship, trying to board it, just as it gets a hand-breadth too far for them to reach. Some fall into the water while others get out their bows and shoot arrows at the ship.

Once they are out of range, the ship captain just smiles and says, “Looks like that King Herod is after you. Well, any enemy of ole Herod is a friend of mine.”

Another surprise in my book is that I do not have them settle in Alexandria where everyone speculates they went because of the large Jewish population there. For crying out loud! There were large Jewish populations all over Egypt!

Joseph cashes in one of the gifts the magi had given them back in Bethlehem and they get on board a river boat to head down the Nile to find a place to settle. They go through many adventures, but eventually end up in southern Egypt at Thebes, the reason of which you will have to discover by reading the book. Thebes in the first century is almost a ghost town, but the palace and main temples still stand. That’s where Joseph settles them. They move into the old crumbling palace and more adventures follow.

Time passes and they eventually end up in Nazareth. Joseph could hardly have made a living there since archaeologists tell us it was a village of only about five hundred people. But never fear: Sepphoris is only three miles away—the capital city of the Galilee Province where one of Herod’s sons—Antipas—has his palace.

Young Antipas manages to get the Syrians and Arabians so mad at him (according to Josephus), they arrive with one hundred thousand soldiers to attack and burn the city. Remember, little Nazareth is only three miles away. These guys need a place to sleep at night while the trenches are dug and mounds of dirt piled up at the walls for their attack.

Joseph knows he has to protect his family against the soldiers who will put up tents in the valley between Nazareth and Sepphoris, but some will not bother with tents and crash into unwalled Nazareth, kill home owners, and move in. Mary runs to the market to get as much food as she can. Joseph uses his stockpile of wood to create a high wall on their roof so the soldiers cannot get to then that way. Once Mary is back, he nails their gate closed and puts his cart and other heavy things there so it cannot be crashed through.

These are just two situations of many in my book on what Joseph must have gone through in protecting the child Jesus as he grew up. I promise you many more tense moments throughout the book as now and then when things sometimes look hopeless, Joseph calls out, “Father God! Help me protect our Son!”

Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.

Website: http://inspirationsbykatheryn.com

Purchase JOSEPH: THE OTHER FATHER HERE

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You’re Invited: Praise & Coffee Online Study of Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited

Posted by Julie on August 29, 2016 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

The biggest battle I’ve faced in any role I’ve taken on is rejection and isolation. I’ve joked that I’m the misfit toy, the one left in the corner while everyone has fun. I’ve watched even as an adult that I’ve been forgotten, passed over, added on when others said no, and all the other things that crush.

In the encouragement I give to others, I know I’m not alone. That’s why I am stepping out in faith to start a group on Facebook where we can meet weekly to discuss Lysa TerKeurst’s latest release, UNINVITED.

I am doing this under the umbrella of Praise and Coffee, a ministry that simply loves to have women connect so they can encourage and inspire. Groups can be as few as two people and can meet anywhere. Kitchens. Church rooms. Living rooms. Cafes.

Even online.

And that’s what I’m doing. You purchase the book and read the assigned chapters for the week, and once a week for an hour we’ll discuss it. No membership, no commitment, just know that you are invited.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

All discussions will be through this closed group page. The group can be found by anyone, but only members can read the posts. Our discussions will be confidential.

To request the group, click HERE.

To purchase UNINVITED: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely, click HERE.

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Book Review: Grin with Grace by Kathy Carlton Willis

Posted by Julie on August 11, 2015 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

616nFR72npLBook Description:

Have you ever felt the need to bite your tongue or grit your teeth? Grin with Grace explores ways to genuinely smile in the face of adversity and challenging circumstances. Sometimes, we just need to grin with grace! God blesses us with His grace, and it impacts our relationship with Him and with others.
Each chapter features five sections:
• Grin with Grace contains real-life stories and observations. You’ll laugh at the humorous confessions and wacky insights, and relate to Kathy’s transparent honesty. Be inspired to see grace in your everyday life.
• Grow with Grace features a grace word study. Kathy examines Bible verses and personalizes the meaning to your situation. Workbook prompts allows you to write down your thoughts as you read along.
• Go with Grace offers life application. Pick one action step and make it work for you, or pick all of them—but do something to live out your grace-walk.
• Give with Grace advances life application further, equipping you to become an instrument of God’s grace to others. You’ll be inspired to take what you’ve learned and give it away to others. This is when faith becomes ministry—when your focus expands to see the needs of others.
• Your Grin with Grace Challenge describes a grace-challenging scenario to give you an opportunity to exercise your newfound grace. It allows for speculation and judgment calls, to prepare you for the what-ifs that happen in life.

I love an authentic Bible study. I don’t want to read someone who has life all together because I know it’s a lie. Kathy Carlton Willis is transparent and downright funny as she shares her own stories as well as Biblical and word accounts that all are about grace. From corn abundance in the bathroom to having grace in your speech when the other person isn’t giving the same—Kathy covers it all and does it well.

This is easy-to-read with things to think about and work on when it comes to grace. I think it’s a great study for any level of faith—from the beginner just learning the Bible to someone who has been walking in faith but needing a refresher in grace.

I highly recommend.

I received Grin with Grace in exchange for an honest review.

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Julie Arduini’s Favorite Reviewed Non Fiction Book 2014

Posted by Julie on December 30, 2014 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Each year I enjoy looking back at the books I’ve reviewed and choosing my favorites. I choose a fiction and non fiction book that I’ve reviewed plus a Kindle or paperback read I enjoyed as a reader that I was under no obligation to review.

Today is non fiction.

The book I chose took a contemporary look at God’s Word and I was mesmerized the entire time. I’m always looking for fresh ways to be challenged without watering down God’s Word and this book not only delivered, the entire series this year has.

What book?

What series?

Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel.51XKiJ0A8CL._UY250_

The inScribed series.

Book Description:

Most people have prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God’s will, only to be left confused by God’s response. Sometimes we ask, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In Amazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles this question head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.

When the prophet Habakkuk prayed that God would bring change to the backsliding nation of Israel, this issue came to the forefront. Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.

God’s answer to Habakkuk was, “Take a look at the nations and watch what happens! You will be shocked and amazed” (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile. How do you respond when God answers your prayers in a way that seems out of line with his character and promises?

Amazed and Confused proceeds systematically through the book of Habakkuk, exploring the prophet’s prayer, God’s response, and the prophet’s journey from confusion to worship. This interactive Bible study is the perfect choice for those who are hurting and confused about God’s responses to their prayers.

Features include:

  • Helpful guidance on a question without an easy answer

  • Practical tools for studying the Minor Prophets

  • Easy-to-understand, accessible language

This is just one of many Bible studies in the series. I’ve also enjoyed Living So That and Dive Deeper.

To purchase Amazed and Confused, click here.

To learn more about inScribed Bible studies, click here.



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