Real Marriage: Winter Storm Jonas Edition

With Winter Storm Jonas quickly approaching, South Ridge Church is officially cancelling our Real Marriage Event scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2016.

However, we HAVE put together a date night for couples to go through on their own.

FIRST, take the opportunity to watch this video (click here).

THEN, take the opportunity to download this Real Marriage Event – Winter Storm Jonas Edition that gives you all the material you need for a great date night.

We hope you find this material helpful. Thanks, everybody!

hcsb journaling bible review:

We live in a technologically driven age. As such, anybody can, at any point in time, pick up their phone or tablet and read God’s Word. There are many apps that give quick and easy access to Scripture Reading Plans, Devotionals, Study Tools, and so much more. YouVersion, Oliver Tree, Logos…the list goes on. God’s Word. Right there. Just a few clicks away.

Personally, I find reading the scriptures in this way simple. I can have notifications pop-up on my iphone every morning, reminding me what passage to read for the day. I can have my daily reading sent directly to my email inbox. And I can quickly and easily keep track of where I am in a reading plan.

However, in my own personal reading times, I’ve began to notice a disturbing trend by reading or studying in this manner. I’ll come across a scripture passage that I previously highlighted, and have no real idea why I highlighted it in the first place. Sometimes I’ll recognize a note that I wrote (or typed) for a specific passage, but the study note makes no sense to me. “That’s fascinating,” I’ll think to myself. “But I have no idea why or how that information is useful for me right now.” It becomes quite clear that I didn’t include enough detail as to why I wrote it to begin with!

Due to this, I’ve been re-working how I’ve chosen to read and study God’s Word. I will often read a passage, sometimes on my phone or iPad, or sometimes I’ll grab my HCSB or NLT Study Bible, and then I’ll take the opportunity to journal out some thoughts on what I’ve read. I often use a real notebook. Actual pen and paper. Crazy, right?

Well this week I received something that may help in this regard. The HCSB Journaling Bible.

The HCSB has been one of my go-to Bible translations since it was first released. I won’t say it’s the best translation on the market. I will simply say that the best Bible translation is the one you’re reading. But the HCSB is a very good translation. If you’re unfamiliar with it’s origins, you can read more about it here. But what I really want to focus on today isn’t the translation, but the Journaling Bible as a whole.

Size:

FullSizeRender-2This image here shows some of the go-to Bibles I have on my shelf. From bottom to top, it includes the NLT Study Bible, HCSB Study Bible, Disciple’s Study Bible, HCSB Ultrathin Large Print Bible, and the HCSB Journaling Bible. By comparison, the HCSB Journaling Bible is about as thick as the Disciple’s Study Bible, but not as tall.

(Note: The Disciple’s Study Bible is no longer in print. If anybody at Broadman and Holman would happen to be reading this, please consider the possibility of updating this excellent Study Bible and re-releasing it.)

Font:

IMG_2073The Font of the HCSB Study Bible is 8 pt. It feels a little smaller than what I’m used to. I used the HCSB Ultrathin Large Print Bible for many years, and became very accustomed to the 10 pt. font it uses. However, I haven’t yet felt any strain on my eyes when reading through the Journaling Bible.

Cover:

FullSizeRender-1The cover of the Journaling Bible is technically considered Bonded Leather. In my opinion, the cover looks and feels like the cover a journal. It’s not overly feminine (something important for men when considering a Bible), and it’s sturdy enough to stand on a shelf without needing additional support on either side. Personally, I would prefer a softer cover like my leather-bound Study Bibles, but that’s really just a matter of preference.

Features:

FullSizeRender2The primary feature of the HCSB Journaling Bible is the ability to take notes or write “journal” entries on the side of each page. There are no cross references. No Greek/Hebrew word studies. No study notes. And no introductions for each book. It’s God’s Word, and your notes on what He has to say.

The back of the Bible has a few extra features as well. It includes HCSB Bullet Notes, a 52-week Scripture Reading plan, a concordance, and a few maps of ancient Israel.

How to Use It:

Everybody reads and studies God’s Word differently. For example, years ago I was encouraged to color a Bible in order to see specific themes throughout the text. (Note: Some of the colors didn’t translate correctly in the included photo.)FullSizeRender-3

  • Yellow = Glory of God, His Person / Character / Attributes
  • Green = Grace of God and Gospel verses
  • Red = Blood, Death, Suffering
  • Blue = Direct Statement or Command from God
  • Light Blue = Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
  • Brown = Judgment, Punishment, Sin, Temptation
  • Purple = Prayer, Promises
  • Orange = Word of God

Using this system, I colored a good bit of the New Testament. However, I found this system to not keep me engaged long-term. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable reading/study method. I know people who have used this method every year for over 20 years! But it wasn’t how I best study.

With the HCSB Jouraling Bible, I took time to think through how to best use it. I concluded that I wanted to keep my notes broken down into just 4-5 categories:

  1. Study Note – Summary of the passage, or other useful info.
  2. Journal Note – How to apply the passage, or a note on the character of God.
  3. Personal Prayer
  4. Question & Answer – Question about a passage or a term in the passage, and then a brief answer included after doing a bit of research.

Page Thickness:

IMG_2078Having been journaling in a notebook for quite some time, I wanted to test the durability of my writing on the pages. While the pages of the journaling Bible are thin (you can see the bleed-through of my writing on the back-side of the page), it wasn’t unbearable. Choosing a good pen that maintains a light touch on the page will prove beneficial to those using it long term.

Who is it for?

The HCSB Journaling Bible is for anyone who is looking for a Bible they can use to read as well as write their own journal notes in. I believe it would be useful for both men and women who are not looking for detailed study notes, but who simply want to read God’s Word and answer questions such as, “What is God inviting me to do?” or “What is the key principle God is communicating in this passage?”

While a number of apps are available today to read the Scriptures, the HCSB Journaling Bible does not give you the option to quickly transition to your email or other apps. In other words, you’re not going to be distracted by receiving a text message, but will instead stay focused on the Scriptures until you’re finished reading and writing. In today’s busy world, that’s enough of a selling point for me.

Final Verdict:

I would rate the HCSB Journaling Bible a solid 8.5/10. The cover is sturdy and durable, and as noted above, the HCSB is a very good translation of the Scriptures. The look and feel should be attractive to both men and women, which I see as a plus.

In full disclosure, I received a free review copy of the HCSB Journaling Bible from Broadman & Holman Publishers. Nevertheless, I intend to use it regularly and will update this review if any of my opinions change in due time. Those interested in purchasing an HCSB Journaling Bible can do so here.

.  .  .  .  .

Have a question about the HCSB Journaling Bible? Feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to reply soon!

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 5 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 5 of 5

Throughout the Bible, we read several examples of parents who did an extraordinary job of teaching and training their children, and a number of examples of those who did not. A couple of examples of parents who did teach and train their children well include:

Timothy was trained well by his mother and grandmother, and Paul continued to teach Timothy throughout his ministry (2 Timothy 1:5).

Zacharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist, were righteous in God’s eyes (Luke 1:6).

A couple of examples of parents who did not teach or train their children well include:

King Solomon, who wrote the Proverbs and had more wisdom than anybody else, did not himself always make wise choices, and even did evil in the eyes of God, not modeling Godly actions to his children (1 Kings 11:4-13).

Eli, Samuel’s greatest influence, did not train up his own children well. God revealed to Eli that neither he nor his children would be forgiven for his wrongdoing (1 Samuel 3:11-14).

These passages all affirm that parents have an extraordinary role in the teaching/training of their children. Not only that, but they also affirm that God has disciplined parents for not following His commands to do so.

Read: Proverbs 1:7

Questions to Consider:

  • Can you think of any other examples in the Scriptures that show a parent (or parents) who did an extraordinary job of training up their children?
  • Can you think of any other examples in the Scriptures that show a parent (or parents) who did a poor job of training up their children?
  • Read Proverbs 1:7. What does it mean that the fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge? Does fear mean to be afraid of God, or does it mean something different?
  • How can you best teach your children to fear God?

Prayer:

Father, I pray that You will continue to instill Your wisdom in me as to how I can best train up my children to follow You. I realize this isn’t a process that will not happen right away, but is more of a continual investment I need to make in the lives of my kids. Help me to stay the course and remain encouraged that I am building a faith foundation that my children will build on the rest of their lives. I pray for You to teach and lead me in the way I should go. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 4 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 4 of 5

Father: “You always do stuff like this. He’s going to continue to do these kinds of things and get away with it if we never correct him, you know.”

Mother: “All he did was push his brother. He didn’t even do it hard. There is such a thing as rough and tumble play.”

Father: “Yes, I do know. Now ask the one that was pushed if he thought it was play or not.”

Mother: “You’re being ridiculous. They’re boys. Boys will be boys.”

Father: “Yes, boys will be boys. But they have to be taught how to behave properly. If I did that I’d get fired. If he did that with another child at school, he’d get kicked out of school.”

Mother: “You’re blowing this way out of proportion. He didn’t do it at school. He did it here at home, and it really wasn’t a big deal.”

Father: “Again, ask his brother if he thought it was a big deal.”

Mother: “Maybe he just needs to learn to sometimes bad things happen. You’re really taking this too seriously.”

Father: “Look. I really think we need to be on the same page on how to discipline the boys. And I really think it would be a bad idea to just let them get away with things like this.”

Mother: “I want to be on the same page, too. But you’re too rough on them.”

Father: “So do you think we can find a middle ground somewhere?”

Mother: “We’ve been down this road before. I’m not sure we can.”

Father: “Well we can’t just keep giving them a free pass like this. We just can’t.”

Mother: “It’s not a free pass!”

Father: “Then what’s your suggestion? How should he be punished?”

Mother: “He shouldn’t.”

Father: “Not giving him a free pass, indeed.”

. . . . .

The Scriptures make it clear that children are to be disciplined. Hebrews 12:11 says, 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (NLT).

Verses such as these, and others throughout the Proverbs, encourage the use of discipline in the training up of children. These verses were not written as a way to justify harming a child in any way, and must be understood in the manner they were written – that children must be disciplined when doing wrong.

Most importantly, it’s necessary that both parents be on the same page when it comes to how to discipline their children. For one child, one form of discipline may work well. For another, it may take something more creative. Nevertheless, parents need to work together and regularly be on the same page.

Read: Hebrews 12:5-11; Proverbs 13:24; 23:13-15; 3:11-12; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:21;

Questions to consider:

  • Read Hebrews 12:5-11. In what ways has God disciplined His children (i.e. the people of Israel, or others)?
  • In what ways has God disciplined you as one of His children?
  • Read Proverbs 3:11-12; 13:24; 23:13-15. What is the main principle being taught in these passages?
  • In what ways were you disciplined as a child that worked? In what ways were you disciplined as a child that only caused anger and bitterness, and not godliness?
  • Are you and your spouse currently on the same page when it comes to how to discipline each of your children? (In what ways are you on the same page? In what ways are you not?)
  • We should never discipline out of anger, but out of love. Do you find it difficult sometimes to not let your anger direct your discipline?

Prayer:

Father, I know that Your Word teaches the importance of disciplining children. I pray today that You will reveal to my spouse and I the ways we can best discipline our children – not to bring them to anger, but to bring them to understand Your ways and Your love. It is our sincere desire that our children will know You, trust You, and fear You, and we commit today our willingness to do whatever Your Word asks us to do for our children to follow You. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 3 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 3 of 5

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Jesus had spent nearly three years traveling from city to city, teaching others the ways of God. And without warning, a number of parents in one town began bringing their children to Jesus, asking Him to bless them. He could have easily sent them away. In fact, the disciples scolded the parents, believing that Jesus had many more important things to do than to spend his time with a bunch of children. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children (Matt. 19:14).”

It was a simple statement. The disciples had heard a number of one-liners over the years. But this one stuck. “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children.”

Read: Matthew 19:13-15; Psalm 127:3-5; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13

Questions to Consider:

  • What do you think it means that, “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children?”
  • Read 1 Timothy 5:8. Do you think this passage is only talking about providing physical needs (food, clothing, shelter), or do you think it means something more?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13. This is the most well-known passage about what it means to love others. Read it carefully, and write down at least 5 things you will do this week to love your child.

Additional Question for those without children:

  • Read 1 Corinthians 13. This is the most well-known passage about what it means to love others. Read it carefully, and write down at least 5 things you will do this week to love children you may come into contact with over the next few weeks.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, when I think about what it means that, “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children,” I’m amazed at the love that You show to children, and to me as one of Your children. I simply pray today that You will continue to reveal to me the love You have for me, so that I may better show that same love to my children. And I ask that they will come to see how much I truly do love them. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 2 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 2 of 5

As children continue to grow, they pay close attention to how their parents interact with one another, and with others. They’ll gladly receive instruction on how to control their anger or how to get along with one another, but if they see their parents not applying these same principles, they’ll be more likely to follow their parent’s behavior. Think about it – are your children following what you’re teaching them, or are they modeling the same behaviors they see you doing? That’s a challenging question, isn’t it?!

One of the key principles children need to see is their parents following the leading of the Holy Spirit. If your children hear you say, “It’s important to trust God in everything,” and see you trust God in everything; they’ll grow up with a firm foundation.

Read: Galatians 5:16-26; Psalm 19:7-8

Questions to Consider:

  • What have you said today to teach your children the importance of trusting God?
  • What have you done today to show your children the importance of trusting God?
  • In your own words, summarize the key principles of Galatians 5:16-26 in just one sentence.
  • If you were sitting down with your children to teach them the key principles of Galatians 5:16-26, what would you say to them?

Additional Question for those without children:

  • How would you teach children you know the key principles of Galatians 5:16-26?

Prayer:

Father, I pray today that You will lead me to better see any fruits of the flesh that are evident in my life, and in the lives of my children, and that You will lead and guide me to remove these things from my life so that I may live a fruitful life for You, and guide my children to do the same. I also pray for my spouse, that we will work together as a team to help our children better trust You. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 1 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 1 of 5

Father: “My kids have been looking forward to this all week long. I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate all you do.”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Oh, well thanks. We love having them here.”

Father: “No, really. They love it here. I’m not sure if you all put something in the water, but our kids just love it here!”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Thanks. That’s what we like to hear.”

Father: “I did have a question though. They keep bringing home these Parent Cue and God Time cards, and my preschooler even brought home a placemat. Are we actually supposed to do something with these at home?”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Oh, those. Yes, those are the ways we let parents know what their children are learning about, tips on ways to disciple their kids at home, and we hope parents are practicing the monthly memory verse with their child, too. We teach all of the kids core truths from the Bible every week, and so these are really important tools we send home to you each week.”

Father: “And…just so I understand correctly. It’s your hope that we’ll help them in this process at home?”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Yes. Our goal is to engage the whole family. Not just the children.”

Father: “Well, don’t take this the wrong way or anything. But we’ve got plenty of homework to do already. Throw in soccer practice for two different kids in two different age groups, and we’re already swamped. This just isn’t something we have a whole lot of time for in our family.”

Family Ministry Teacher: “These are designed to be very simple. It’s something you can go over in the car, during dinner, or you could even pull them out right at…”

Father: “Like I said, it just isn’t something we have much time for. That’s why we bring them here, isn’t it?”

. . . . .

The Book of Proverbs was written as a textbook for young men entering adulthood. It was helpful in teaching them principles of wisdom in regards to many areas of life – from knowing God, to finances, to anger, to friendship, to marriage, to parenting, and much more. And even though the Proverbs were initially written for men, they’re just as applicable to women.

One often-recited Proverb is 22:6 – Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it (NLT). It was encouragement for men to lead their children onto the path of wisdom. For fathers to take the initiative to instill all of the principles within the Proverbs (including knowing God, finances, anger management, friendship, marriage, and more) and to teach those principles to their children.

In other words, the Bible says that it is the primary responsibility of the parents to instill Godly wisdom into their children. The church is available as a resource for guidance and direction, but the parents need to be the primary teachers and trainers of their children in the ways of God.

Read: Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 22:6

Questions to Consider:

  • Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Why do you think God commanded parents to read His commands again and again to their children?
  • Do you think God had any specific commands in mind for this passage?
  • In your own words, what does it mean to train up a child in the way they should go?
  • What are you currently doing well to train up your children in the ways they should go?
  • What could you be doing better to train up your children in the ways they should go?

Additional Question for those without children:

  • What, specifically, can you be doing to help parents put these passages into action? Write down at least three.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I ask today that You would provide me with tremendous wisdom and insight as to how to be train up my children in the way they should go. My desire is to be an example for my children, providing my children opportunities to see how to trust You in all things. Help me to partner with my church so that together we can do some amazing things in the hearts of my children. Amen.