Treasure For Spiritually Investing In Children!

To know me is to know I love books!  Especially old books!

It’s not the yellowed pages or musty smell that thrills me – but the ideas often contained.  Now that’s not true for every old book, but I love to pray as I head into a used bookstore, “Lord, would you lead me to treasure?”  And it seems He often does in the midst of faded volumes.

This past Saturday I was just about to leave the antiquated book room at a nearby Goodwill when I saw the book Kenneth Forbes lying on the religion shelf.

An author’s name where the title goes? On the religion shelf?!

In truth, that’s what first caught my attention.  But then, when I opened the cover and read the subtitle, my curiosity was really piqued, “Fourteen ways of studying the Bible.”

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Each chapter in this book lets you sit in while a mother is teaching her children about the Bible using a different inductive Bible study technique.  So it’s written like a story, but wow!  Can that mother teach!  As she ties each lesson in with circumstances transpiring in her children’s lives, we are privileged to observe a master teacher in action.  And this was written back in 1854!!!

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I have been studying the Bible for 34 years and have read it through each year for the past twenty.  Still I found myself gleaning all sorts of new treasures from this mother’s teaching!  You better believe as I’m reading this I am being spurred on to dive even deeper in my own Bible Study!  I only wish I’d found this book when my son was younger and still at home.

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But even if you don’t have children to teach, this book is pure gold for learning new ways to study the Scriptures ~ and for motivating you to do so even more!

And here’s the best news of all – you can read this treasure online at the Internet Archive:

Just click on the pages at the top to turn them.

Or you can buy a facsimile at

Truly there is no greater gift a mom can give her children (and herself!) than to invest time helping them not only read the Scriptures but teaching them how to dig deep, to understand, ponder and worship The One revealed through them, then practically live them out for life!

And can reading this book ever help equip moms to do this in a number of enlightening and engaging ways!  I highly recommend it!



The Pressure’s off!

Ever been to a Bible study where you watch a video or listen to a speaker talk and then break into small groups and your facilitator presents a second message?  It can be a heady thing to speak and have a group listening to what you share.  But is that really what’s needed for life change to occur?

We live in a society that is information rich.  At any moment of the day you can pull up a sermon online or read a book or listen to a radio broadcast.  We’ve never had more access to the Word being taught – and struggled as much to live it out.

Consider what the Scriptures say:

“But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher and you are all brothers.”  Matthew 23:8

“Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor – the Christ.” Matthew 23:10

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in Him.”              1 John 2:27

Once someone is a believer their greatest need usually isn’t for advice, but for someone to come along and help them learn how to listen to what the Lord is teaching them and help them process what they are hearing so they know how to respond and to encourage them to respond by living out what He is laying on their hearts. There are three key ways you can do this:

1.  Modeling

Until the day we die we are all very much in process, in need of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  As you share your weaknesses, where you struggle, and what helps you, there is a tremendous opportunity for people to learn how to process and apply as they see you doing this.  The quote, “More is caught than taught” is so true!  Whenever I’m asked to speak at a women’s retreat or to a group I find it so helpful to keep this in mind.  My goal isn’t to teach but to share my journey, yes, even the ugly parts when it will be of help for them to hear, and what’s been helping me.

2.  Listening & Asking Questions, Then Listening More

In James 1:19 we are instructed, “Everyone should be quick to listen…”  Is this ever vitally important to remember when you are facilitating a group discussion.  There is nothing like listening to someone share their heart or their thoughts to make them feel loved and cared for.  This creates a wonderful environment where growth can happen.

And is the second part of that verse, “slow to speak…” ever key for facilitators to remember.  When I’m speaking I’m in control.  So if I’m scared it’s so easy for that to be my default.  Even if someone in the group asks a question, well, the natural response is to answer right away.  But what a difference it can make if you first ask if anyone else in the group would like to respond.  Creating a learning community, where you are all sharing your journeys together is so much more powerful and life changing than a quick correct answer being given.  You want to be able to engage with each other as well as the material.  Can that ever do wonders to help people grow as this takes place.

Now it can really help to identify whether the women in your group are internal or external processors.  Those who process externally will usually be the first to share and sometimes the internal processors can get left out, so it takes extra intention to listen to them.  I’ve found it can be so helpful to provide an opportunity for them to first process on their own and then listen and ask questions.

For example, when I’m facilitating a group discussion after a speaker has shared, I will often start our time encouraging them to first write down on a notecard what stood out to them in the message or draw a quick picture representing this.  Even extroverts benefit from this opportunity to collect their thoughts (because writing is also a form of external processing) so when they share it tends to be more focused. But this is so key to being able to “listen” to internal processors.  I can’t tell you how many times this makes it possible to listen to what’s going on inside them.  Women who ordinarily would never share in a group will often open up when the group is conducted this way.

And it really is amazing how much more people are helped when we listen and ask questions, than when we just give answers!

3.  Introducing different ways to process


As mentioned above, this can be as simple as having your group draw a picture or write a word or short paragraph that summarizes the key thing that stood out to them either from the message they just heard or from their Bible study that week.  Or if you’re reading the scriptures together and then discussing, it can be giving colored pencils and having them underline what stands out to them or circle key words.  Or it can be as involved as having the group art journal a page reflecting what they learned and then sharing it afterwards with the group (more information on this and examples are available at

All of these means help people focus in on the key thing that stood out to them, narrowing down what they heard so they can more easily come up with an application.  That really is where the rubber meets the road.  It can be so powerful when people have time to process together for helping them come up with an application and then for the group to provide an opportunity for accountability – it doesn’t even have to be like drill sergeants checking up on you ~ just knowing someone is going to ask “how did it go this week?”  or “What did you experience as you sought to live out what you learned last week?” can be a powerful motivator for actually doing what’s on your heart to do.

Remember the difference between the wise and foolish builder isn’t a matter of hearing the Word!  The difference is what they do in response to it.  And it wasn’t that the wise builder got more gold stars – no!  By responding to what he heard, by actively seeking to do it, to live it out, he was laying a solid foundation for when the storms of life came.  And note it’s not “If” they come but “when!”

Yes, there can be times when it is appropriate to give advice, but I like to filter that through Ephesians 4:29 speaking “only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Be sure to ask yourself – is this really helping them become wise?  Helping them process what they’ve already heard and move towards application?  Or am I just providing opportunity for them to “hear” more?

Whether you’re meeting one on one with someone or facilitating a group it can be so wise to keep asking yourself how much time am I talking?  And what is happening as a result?

Best part of this?  Does it ever take the pressure off you as a facilitator, discipler or mentor!  You don’t have to have all the answers!  And since no one does (according to I Corinthians 13:12 in this life we only know in part) what a relief!  All you have to do is join in with what Jesus is doing, helping them learn to listen to him – not just hear him, but respond to him and yield to him as He guides them.  And in the process, instead of remaining babes dependent on you they are learning how to walk with him and abide with him for life!

What’s Your Concept of God?

In Luke 19:11-27 Jesus tells a fascinating parable.  In this story, the master calls ten of his servants and gives each of them ten minas – a mina was about three months wages – and the master tells them, “Engage in business until I come!”  After the master becomes King he returns to find the first servant doubled what he gave him, ending up with 20 minas, the next servant earned five minas more, but the third servant did nothing.

Why didn’t this guy do anything with what he was given?  What reason did he give?

“I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man…”  Do you see how his concept of his master influenced what he did (and didn’t!) do?!

A.W. Tozer stated, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Why?  Because it’s not just a matter of thinking!  What we think about God greatly impacts what we do and don’t do!

What is your concept of God?

That can be a fascinating question to ask others.  Once when my husband asked a group of college students, one replied, “He’s like a proctor.  Always looking to see if you’re behaving right and every once in a while coming along, giving you hints to help you not make mistakes.”

Who wants to spend time with a proctor?!  Do you see how key it is to find out what people’s concept of God is? Especially if we are inviting them into a personal relationship with Him.

But this is also true for believers – though we may have more difficulty articulating it.  Thoughts of what our concept should be can often muddy us  recognizing what it is – but much can be discerned from how we live and the choices we do or don’t make.

Whenever  I start meeting one on one with someone this is always a key thing I’m seeking to determine – not necessarily by asking outright, but through observation.  Can this ever give great insight into how to make the best use of our time.

Is she struggling with anger?  bitterness?  or anxiety?  Struggling with wanting to control her life?  Struggling feeling like she needs to be protective of her time, her energy, her resources, herself?

To just say, “stop it!”  doesn’t help!  There is far more going on than the behavior.  In fact, if you focus on the behavior you may very well miss truly being of help discipling her.  Remember the goal in discipling is to help someone learn how to do what she’s said “yes” to!  To help someone learn how to follow Jesus and keep learning from Him in a life-changing, transformational way.

Now it may not always be possible to identify exactly where her concept of God is off – in truth, I’m not sure if this side of heaven anyone ever has a totally accurate concept of God.  But just realizing there’s something amiss that’s hindering her from running in the path of His commands can really help get you going in the right direction – focusing on who the Lord truly is.

One of my favorite ways to do this (because it doesn’t just benefit those I’m meeting with but so fortifies my soul each time I do it!) is to take her to the first chapter of Genesis with colored pencils in hand.  So many times when people think about this chapter either the creation-evolution debate comes to mind or the focus is on what was created.

But if you read through Genesis 1 together highlighting with a colored pencil each time God’s name is mentioned (or a pronoun referring to Him) does it ever become evident this chapter is primarily about Him!  As one friend exclaimed, “He’s mentioned in nearly every verse!”

And I share how God is the main character  in the Bible.  Take any Bible story, for example, David and Goliath – that story isn’t primarily about David or Goliath but about the Lord.  If it wasn’t for Him there would’ve been no story!  Same thing regarding Jonah and the Big Fish!  Without God, Jonah would’ve ended up a tasty meal!

So Genesis really is the Lord introducing Himself.  If you never knew anything about Him but just had Genesis 1 and 2, it’s amazing what you can learn!  Rather than giving a list of attributes, in these opening chapters God lets us see Him in action!  First in all His power and majesty and wisdom creating everything, then through a smaller snapshot revealing how personal and relational He truly is.

So next we read back through Genesis 1 with a different colored pencil in hand, underlining all the verbs that tells us what God does.  Afterwards we take a sheet of paper and make three columns on it.  As we start sharing what we learn about God from Genesis 1, we write each observation down in the first column.  Then we consider what are the implications for our life that He is this way?

Oh how I love doing this with people!!!  It is so beautiful to camp out considering who the Lord has revealed Himself to be and why He’s chosen to reveal this!

Once we’re done I encourage my friend to take time on her own to go back through the list and consider how she has personally experienced the Lord being each of these things and to write out the stories, her stories that come to mind!  What a powerful way to spend extended time alone with the Lord!

Then we close our time praying back and forth through our list of observations,  praising God for who we’ve seen Him to be in Genesis 1 and in that context sharing whatever is on our hearts with Him.

It’s like the old story about counterfeit money – the best way to learn how to identify it is to become familiar with the real thing!  The best way to identify counterfeit ways we think about God isn’t to focus on where we’re off, but to focus, meditate and reflect on who He has revealed Himself to be – both in His Word as well as personally to us through our experiences of Him.

Discipling Like Jesus… part 1

One of the best ways to learn what to do with someone when you are discipling them is to look at Jesus’ life and note what he taught his disciples.  There is so much to learn from His example – not only about content but also how to pass treasure on.

For example, consider Luke 11:1-13…

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

             “Father, hallowed be your name.

             Your kingdom come.

3              Give us each day our daily bread,

4              and forgive us our sins,

                        for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

             And lead us not into temptation.”

 5   And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In a recent one on one I read this passage with a friend, then asked her to take a few moments and answer the following questions (it’s helpful if you create a chart with three columns, with one question from below heading each column):

  1. What can you learn about discipling from this interaction between Jesus and His disciples?
  2. For each observation, consider:  Why do you think Jesus did this?
  3. How could you apply this when you are discipling the women you meet with?

It’s pretty fascinating if you take the time to do this!  Why not take a few moments right now and dive in?!  ;0)

Leading A Bible Study for the First Time? Beware!!!

The first time I led a Bible study did the enemy ever have a heyday!  Honest!  After each meeting the accuser would rip me up one side and down the other, reminding me of every word misspoken, every uncomfortable silence, pointing out what I could’ve done better, making me feel like the biggest loser ever!

Thankfully, one of the girls I was meeting with one on one was in the study and I asked her for feedback – and was she ever faithful!  After I got home she’d call and talk through the study with me.  When I shared how I thought I’d blown it she’d be like, “Oh no, I think it was good you said that.  Didn’t you notice how that helped to draw the girls into the discussion?”

She helped bring perspective.  And even when I really had blown it she encouraged me to learn from it and keep pressing on.

And this was one of the freshmen I was meeting with!!!  Gracious feedback from anyone can be a huge help!

A key time when the enemy loves to attack is right when someone first starts leading a Bible study.  I cannot stress enough how vital it is that there be someone giving feedback, helping to bring perspective and process what transpired.

Otherwise it’s so easy to conclude – “See, I can’t do this!” and stop and never attempt again!  Which is exactly what the enemy wants!!!  It is so much easier to stop someone at the beginning, when it’s all new and she is struggling with insecurities anyway.

This is such a vital time when support is needed as well as feedback!

Learning to lead a Bible study is a key part of helping someone grow spiritually – you always learn something better when you’re helping others learn!  In addition, this is a key way we can help advance God’s kingdom – there is such a need for women who are willing to take initiative and get Bible studies started!

Honest!  It is amazing to me how few women in the church ever think of leading a Bible study.  So many women who’ve done Bible study for years and have so much to offer just don’t step up to the plate.  Sometimes it’s because they believe the lie they don’t have what it takes to do this so they’ve never even tried.  Other times it’s because the enemy gained a victory when they were younger and first tried…

If you are starting to lead a Bible study for the first time or if you are meeting with someone who is starting to do this, please be sure to make provision for feedback.  I cannot stress how vitally important this is!

Never forget, there is a battle raging and the enemy is a devious and deadly accuser.  Warning people in advance, giving them a heads up that he’s most likely to attack here can really help fortify their souls in advance!

You see, the enemy loves to take a little bit of truth and twist it to suit his purposes!

The truth is no one starts out as an amazing Bible study leader.  There is a lot you can learn and it’s something even after thirty years of leading Bible studies I’m still growing in!!!  If I’d waited until I could do this well to start I’d never have begun!

And in truth the best Bible studies I’ve ever been in have been facilitated, not taught.  You don’t have to be Beth Moore or Kay Arthur to lead a life changing Bible study!

Give me a Bible study leader who gives time for people to share what they are learning from the Word and asks questions to help them further process and provides an environment where people are actively seeking to apply God’s Word to their lives – that’s infinitely better than listening to the best Bible teacher and never doing anything with it!

And yes, you’re going to make mistakes.  But thankfully God doesn’t only use those who get it perfect.  As G.K. Chesterton says, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” Please note, this is not a justification to keep doing something poorly,** remember, a disciple is a learner – so if you have a heart of a learner you are going to want to keep growing in your ability to do this and the more experience you get, the more opportunity you have to grow.

But here’s the kicker… to grow, to improve, you need feedback!  Experience alone doesn’t automatically grow you – but evaluated experience sure can!  Do you see how critical getting feedback is?

But until you get this, as you are starting out, remember what the Lord says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  And Paul writes in response, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

So here’s the irony – Satan is determined to pull out the stops to get people to never start or quickly stop leading Bible studies by attacking and making you think you can’t do this because you don’t have what it takes, but the truth is your weakness creates opportunity for God’s power to rest on you!

And with the power of God resting on you ~ is that ever an awesome way to lead a Bible study!!!


** For further thoughts on what Chesterton meant by this quote check this out:  (and I must say I absolutely LOVE the definition given of an amateur!  This so applies to raising spiritual babies too!!!)

Learning to Learn

The original goal of a liberal arts education was to equip people so that by the time they graduated from college they would know how to study any topic on their own.  That’s why it’s called “Liberal Arts” – because the goal was to liberate people from needing someone to teach them!

Ever wonder why in college you have to take so many courses “you’re never going to use?”  It stems from this educational philosophy.  The goal wasn’t to cram content in, but to equip you with as many different learning tools possible since there are different ways of learning different topics.  Studying biology requires different tools than learning physics!

I was blessed to be discipled by Barb Choate for two years when I was in college.  But you know, Barb didn’t teach me all I needed to know for walking with Jesus these past 30 years.  What she did was lay a foundation, helping me learn how to learn from Jesus so I could keep following Him.

All those spiritual disciplines – they are not ends in themselves, but ways of learning to learn – of helping you show up for Jesus to teach you.

Having a quiet time? That’s learning to listen – a foundational part of the learning process – it all starts here!

Scripture memory?  That’s learning to remember – another key part of learning!

Fasting?  That’s learning to focus!

Praying? That’s learning to ask questions and interact with your teacher! :0)

Bible study?  That’s learning how to observe, interpret and apply!!!  Especially when you teach how to inductively study God’s Word.

So don’t feel like it all depends on you to teach someone everything they need to know when you are meeting with them. And be careful you don’t disciple in a way that promotes the person you meet with becoming dependent on you!  (btw that’s a quote from my husband!  :0) Instead, equip her with tools, helping her learn to learn from Jesus and you will be laying a foundation for a lifetime of learning!