Book Review: Transformed by Truth by Katherine Forster

Do your kids have a hard time reading the Bible? Do they find it boring? As parents, how can we help them? First and foremost, I’d say be a faithful student of God’s word yourself, and let them catch your passion. Another way to help them is to pick up a new book, Transformed by Truth by Katherine Forster. It’s a book written by a teen for teens that, as the subtitle says, helps them to study the Bible for themselves.

This book breaks Bible study down into two main sections—the why and the how. In the first section, Forster talks about how the Bible is one big, unified story. This isn’t the way most church kids understand the Bible. It’s easy for us to think of the Scriptures as a collection of fragmented stories. But Forster reminds her readers that the God’s Word, the whole Bible—both Old and New Testaments—is God’s revelation of himself to us. We can truly know him as we read. And as we do, we learn that he loves us enough to save us. He doesn’t leave us stuck in our sin. No! He sent his Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. God wants a relationship with us so that we can grow in what it means to be his children.

In the second half of the book, Forster moves to the question of how. Forster presents the inductive Bible study method method—something I didn’t encounter until Bible college. I really appreciated the way she breaks down inductive study in a way teens will understand, and I love the practical examples. Forster takes something that is easy to talk about yet harder to master, and brings it to the realm of doable.

This book would make a great gift for any middle or high school student. It would be good for youth ministries to study in discipleship groups, and it would even be good for family devotions with teens. This is also a great resource for anyone who works with teens. If you know a teen who is struggling with studying the Bible, consider picking it up.

I received a free copy of this book for the purposes of this review.

Family Friday Links 9.6.19

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Here’s what we’ve been benefitting from online recently:

J. Warner Wallace had a post for parents that helps them help their kids to be passionate about their faith. This is an encouragement to parents find this to be a daunting task. He offers 7 principles that parents should be thinking through in order to instill this kind of passion of God in their kids.

Our friend Sam Luce had a post on teens and dating. In it he writes, “I am convinced that our kids need to learn the art of friend-making and friend-keeping. They need to learn to have a conversation, with someone of the opposite sex, because should they get married they will need to be talking to their spouse daily.” As a parent in the midst of teenage and dating years, I found this post helpful in navigating those waters.

The KidCheck blog had a post on security and the need to review the plan annually. It lists 4 tools to help you think through and execute a security plan. This is something every church and every children’s and youth ministry needs to think through and plan for, especially before something happens.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

Family Friday Links 08.30.19

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Here’s what we’ve been reading online lately:

Jon Bloom had a post for parents that helps them not give up praying for their kids. He says, “
Yes, I’ve learned that God is trustworthy, but my perceptions regularly are not. I’ve learned — or more accurately, I’m learning — not to assume too much.” Parents this is a lesson that is easy to say and harder to apply … yet that not a good enough reason to quit.

Shelia Dougal had a post on marriage. She says, “…faithfulness in marriage is radical obedience to the call of God.” She goes on to describe what this looks like everyday. This is an encouraging read for any married couple.

Ministry Spark had a post on communicating to volunteers. It reads, “… the “what” is not enough. Volunteers also need the “why.” It is essential that they hear the vision of the ministry and understand the great value of what they do.” While the what is important, the way is essential.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

He Reads Truth (Judges): Conflict with Ephraim

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I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.

What follows is one of the pieces I wrote for the Judges reading plan. You can find the full plan HERE.

 

Day 15: Judges 12:1-151 Samuel 8:19-22Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

My friends, Ross and Jay, like to tell a story about the day that forged their friendship. It was the day of Jay's “intervention.” No, Jay was not a drug user or an alcoholic, but he did have a persistent issue that threatened to damage all of his friendships. You see, Jay had a frustrating tendency to break off plans at the last minute.

On this particular occasion, Ross, Jay, their wives, and a few other friends had planned a Saturday afternoon cookout. Ross’s wife had bought the burgers, brats, and all the fixings. They’d set up the patio furniture and the corn hole boards. They were less than an hour away from the party when the phone rang. A college buddy had offered Jay two tickets to the game that afternoon. He’d gotten a better offer, so he ditched the cookout and headed to the game instead.

Now, this was hardly the first time that had happened, so Ross was angry. Later that night, he drove over to Jay's place to confront him. When Jay tells the story now, he changes his voice to show just how gruff Ross was: “We can NOT be friends if you keep doing this. I want your friendship. I need your friendship, but your word has to MEAN something.”

Friendship is built on fidelity. Broken commitments, on the other hand, can kill. Jephthah was a man who, on the surface, seemed to care a lot about keeping his vows. In fulfillment of a rash promise, he sinfully sacrificed his own daughter (Judges 11:30-40). And when the Ephraimites broke their covenant obligation to fight with him against the Ammonites (Psalm 78:9-1167-72), he turned his sword against their entire tribe, wiping out 42,000 men (Judges 12:4-6).

But while Jephthah seemed to care about vows, his rashness shows us the instability and infidelity of his heart. He was faithful to himself but lacked fidelity to God’s ways. In his heart, Jephthah only did what was right in his own eyes. His mouth spoke too quickly, and his words brought futility and destruction —both to his own household and to the Israelite tribes he was supposed to lead. Jephthah had a short judgeship—just six years compared to an entire generation for the judges who’d preceded him (Judges 3:11,305:318:28)—and it marked the beginning of a downward spiral for the nation.

Perhaps you’ve never been as rash as Jephthah, but we’ve all been enamored with the “better offer.” It’s tempting to let our eyes wander to the next best thing, rather than being faithful to the friendships, spouse, family, or church community where we’ve been called.

Where do we find the strength to be faithful? Where do we find the power to keep our vows? We can only find this strength in remembering that God has been faithful to us. He is a loyal God who kept His promises by sending Jesus Christ to save us. Our God is faithful and true (Revelation 19:11), and in Christ, all of His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).