For the past 3mos. my Women’s Bible Study group at my church has been studying Beth Moore’s, “A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place”. It’s super-hard...moreFor the past 3mos. my Women’s Bible Study group at my church has been studying Beth Moore’s, “A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place”. It’s super-hard to do an actual “book report” over this because it’s a study-guide (like a text-book) & very personal, full of devotion’s & questions for you to answer about your own life & where you are on your walk with Christ. I wasn’t sure how to review this study, but in the end the only way I know how to review it is by (trying) to put into words how this study has changed my own personal view on specific things. Enter video caption here
Beth Moore opens the study by letting you know that she prayed for you! Y.O.U. (and me) she prays that God pours His Spirit onto those going through this study & that He meets us where we need him too. I’ve done devotionals before, but this is the first time I’ve ever read that the author PRAYED for its readers, right away I knew this was going to be a rough study to get through. It consists of 10 sessions with 5 Days in each session; every night you’re supposed to read a “day” & answer the accompanying questions. Then at the end of the sessions, there is an hour long video viewer guide where Beth Moore wraps up all 5 sessions into a lecture (sermon-style). Its certainly a lot of work! Upon completion I felt the same accomplished feeling I got when I finished an intense semester of college!
She takes you through the story of Moses (post-freeing the Israelites) into the building of God’s Tabernacle & why that is the foundation of God dwelling inside all of us. Based in the study of Bible Scripture (mostly in the chapters of Exodus) she guides you step-by-step through the idea (the Garden of Eden), Moses’ building the Tabernacle, the hierarchy of leaders appointed, the fallout, the birth of Jesus-his life & death, the tabernacle in present times & ends the study by how the book of Revelation views the future of the Tabernacle. In case you’re unfamiliar with what the “Tabernacle” is, in a nutshell: its’ God’s Dwelling Place! His “home” on Earth.
Like I said earlier, I can’t break the study down because its very individualized. What stood out to me is going to be different than what stood out to another person doing the study. What was apparent throughout this study, however, was that God met us where we needed to be met.
For me, there was two very big chapters that stood out to me. The first one was Session 6, The Heart of a Servant; the outside structure of the Tabernacle had been built & now the decorating of the inside has begun (of course a chapter on “decorating” would naturally be one of my favorites! ). The Altar of Incense is introduced in this session. I’m going to try to explain this in the easiest way that I’ve come to know what it means: the altar of incense signifies intercession. It signifies Christ (who hasn’t been born yet) interceding our prayers to God on our behalf! It’s about offering up prayers, fragrant worship, unto God. It’s about getting past “issues” & asking for help. It’s about knowing & fully believing that God hears our prayers, that’s what the Altar of Incense is, it symbolizes prayer. One of the biggest lessons I learned in the viewer’s guide session was when Beth Moore said, “Don’t think your prayers are unanswered, they are never unanswered. Your prayer is answered the second you pray for it, but the time for the answer to be revealed to you will be in God’s timing when you’re ready to see it.” It hit me hard because the night before I watched this session I had wrote down in my journal that I was “giving up”on a prayer that had been on my heart for awhile. And just that morning the word, “Obedience” kept ringing through my head when I was dragging ass about going to Bible Study because I felt so defeated & was racking my brain to come up with an excuse why I couldn’t make it to class. That message was for me that day, that message was what God wanted me to hear to let me know my answer will be revealed (probably when I quit whining about it!).
The second session that really hit me hard was (coincidentally) the following week (I guess God was really telling me to pay attention those weeks!). It was Session 7: A Heart that Intercedes.This chapter was about the leaders, the priesthood, that God appointed for His Tabernacle & how Jesus Christ is the ultimate intercessor, the ultimate great-high priest. I had never thought about Jesus as an “intercessor” on my behalf before, how he actually talks to his father (God) about me! How awesome is that! To think that my silly little prayers are being discussed about & a plan is being shaped to answer prayers that I’ve prayed. I can just picture me in my bedroom praying for something that’s weighing on my heart, Jesus is hanging out at the sports bar with God, drinking some Guinness (because you know they’re dark-beer drinkers) watching some Ohio State football & says, “Dad, Carey’s bugging me about this…again! How do you want handle it? Seriously, she’s getting on my nerves. Let’s make this happen…soon!” I just love that! LOVE THAT! To think that God puts thought into EVERYTHING concerning my life & nothing is made in haste, no decision, is ever made in haste when it comes to the fulfillment of God’s plan for my life. That even the times I’ve screwed up, that I expressed free-will on my own life, God still allowed that mistake to happen if it fit into his greater plan for my life. I don’t know about you, but that makes me look at some of my past mistakes & think, “yeah, that sucked. It was painful, it was a tough lesson, but it really will get me to a greater destiny.”
So there ya go! That’s my review on Beth Moore: A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place. It was a little jumbled, a little all over the place, at times painful to get through…but so worth it. I learned a lot through this Bible Study on God’s relationship with those he holds in high esteem & to think that I’m one of them, that’s kind of a cool thought. It would be a tough Bible Study to get through if you wanted to do it on your own because so much is geared towards discussion points & getting insight from others, but you could do it. I definitely recommend getting this Bible Study going in your own home church (or even if you want to start a Bible Study with friends…try this one out!). It’s so worth it!
It’s hard to review a devotional objectively. It’s something very personal & what speaks to you is going to be different than what speaks to anoth...moreIt’s hard to review a devotional objectively. It’s something very personal & what speaks to you is going to be different than what speaks to another reader. But here goes
I had read, “Heaven is for Real” a few years ago. I remember the exact moment I found it at the store. I had never heard of the book & was actually shopping for a Joyce Meyer book that was on my reading list. I picked up Heaven is for Real, read the description on the back; thought it sounded interesting & then shelved it. Throughout the rest of my shopping trip my mind kept going back to that book that eventually (mainly to silence the nags) I put it in my shopping cart & cashed out. I started it almost immediately & it was instrumental in changing (and confirming) my view on heaven. At the time I read it, my Grandma was battling stage-4 cancer & upon her death the chapters & words in that book were such a comfort to me. She was a strong woman of faith & I know the riches of heaven fell upon her & that we will be reunited again and that fills me with healing. I’ve since passed the book on to others & have recommended it to countless people.
It took me awhile to get through Heaven Changes Everything (over 6months) not because it was bad, but because of LIFE. I had read other devotionals in between, read other novels, but every time I picked up this specific book the messages were very tailored to what I was currently going through; questions on my mind, troubles that were heavy on my shoulders. So I feel like God was telling me to take this devotional very, very, slowly to let it sink in (on average, I’m a speedy reader). Usually I’d find myself crying over the words I was reading & sighing over how “spot on” it felt to read what I was feeling. And I’ll be honest, it led to some frustration because I didn’t want to change my thinking or behavior about some subjects the author suggested needed changed (hey, God made me stubborn so “technically” its His fault, right? Haha!)
Heaven Changes Everything is obviously set up a little differently since it is a devotional & not a narrative. For starters, its written by Todd & Sonja Burpo (Colton’s parents) who alternate chapters (which I liked) each giving their own viewpoint & spin on the subject of the chapter. You definitely would be able to use this book for a Bible Study since it does pose group discussion questions & has countless passages of scripture to study, memorize & discuss. Like I do with all devotionals, I went after it with a “college” mentality. You wouldn’t want to borrow my copy because its highlighted, underlined in pen, things are starred & my personal thoughts are wrote in the margins. You’d finish my copy more confused than when you started! Flipping through the book even now, there’s so many good chapters that I don’t even know where to start! Todd & Sonja (obviously) center the book around their take on Colton’s (their middle-son) near-death experience; visit to heaven & then return to earth. They give their viewpoints on what happened “behind the scenes” & how their lives have changed post-publishing of his novel, “Heaven is for Real”. What I also like was they touched on a little bit of everything; their marriage, their struggles, parenting, balancing careers & of course, their personal views on God & faith.
Since I can’t go chapter by chapter (its not a big book, but it would take awhile & the weather’s to nice to be indoors all day typing on the computer *wink wink*) I’ve picked a couple chapters that really spoke to me:
Chapter 9: “A Mixture of Faith & Doubt” told from the viewpoint of Todd. It’s about how you can be a person of Faith & still Doubt. I know I can relate to that. I don’t know how many countless times I’ve prayed for something & then took matters into my own hands because God was moving to slow (you’d think by now I would have learned my lesson & realize I do more damage than good!). Todd writes, “So you’re struggling. God understands. He knows you can’t see what’s waiting for you around the corner-not to mention next week or next year. But God is good at working with strugglers. Pray, “help me believe”. Even though he’s a Pastor; a man people look up to for spiritual guidance, he still struggled with doubt when doctor’s reported his son would not survive.
Chapter 23: “Imagine Being Held by Jesus”. This chapter really got to be. In this chapter, Todd remembers the moment when he was in the hospital chapel; alone, spewing forth hateful & angry words to God, so fearful that he may lose his son-didn’t understand why & God seemed to be silent. Upon Colton’s “return to earth” he tells Todd that he saw him in the chapel, crying & angry. “yeah, Jesus was there too.”…..”well, where was Jesus?”….Colton looked me right in the eye. ‘I was sitting in Jesus’ lap.’”….I was hiding out in the empty hospital room, raging at God for bringing my son so close to death-furious at the very One who at that moment, unknown to me, was holding my son in his arms. Quite the contrast, isn’t it?”. For me personally, I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten angry at God for his silence (what I view as silence) when he’s got something so much bigger intended for me. “But at the same time I try to remember that God has a plan for my life-a plan that ends in heaven-and whatever is happening to me right now is part of that plan.”
Countless other thoughts jump out at me throughout this devotional, “There are things God allows to happen because he knows the outcome is going to be greater than anything we could ever do on our own.”,”Children’s simple prayers fall as sweetly on God’s ears as they do on ours.”, “there is blessedness in brokenness. God uses broken people.” & “stand without wavering. Stand without apology. Stand confidently & say, ‘I know who Jesus is, and this is what he has done for me.’”
This is not a hard devotional at all & I recommend it for any beginner who is new in their walk with the Lord. It’ll get your feet wet as far as getting in the Word & reading the Bible, its full of personal opinion & testimonials rather than a lot of Bible-scripture-reading. However, even if you’re dedicated & like those in-depth devotionals this works as well, you can back up the author’s points & key-notes with Bible scriptures that reference it. Any way you look at it, the fact is; it’s just a good clean read & I highly recommend adding it to any reading list.
The closing paragraph of the book just warms me: “I love thinking about being so glad, and so grateful, to see Jesus that I spontaneously fall down on my knees before him. And I know he’ll be glad to see me. In fact, he’s been praying that I would join him there. He’s praying you’ll join him there too. Please don’t disappoint him. He’s waiting for you in heaven. And that changes everything.” What a great feeling to think that the Lord is praying to spend time with you! That’s something to hold onto when you’re feeling challenged, stressed, & overwhelmed. The Lord is praying that you’ll talk to him & spend time with him.