Taking God at His Word — A Book Review

Have you ever wondered why it is important that we read the Bible?

Or why we spend so much time at church studying the Bible?

Or why we believe that the Bible is superior to any other book that has ever been written?

Or does the Bible really address all the needs and questions that we may encounter in life?

If you’ve found yourself asking these kinds of questions or have had someone ask you these kinds of questions, Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung would be a great book to read. Having a total of 124 pages, this little book is a powerful reminder of the importance of Scripture in the believer’s life.

To lay the groundwork for the rest of the book, DeYoung starts the first chapter by pointing us to Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is filled with statement after statement about what God’s Word does in the life of the one who reads and treasures it. DeYoung then directs us toward specific attitudes a person should have towards God’s Word: we should delight in it, desire it, and depend on it.

To summarize the objective of Taking God at His Word, DeYoung says that “the goal of this book is to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and to get us doing what we ought to do with the Bible” (pg. 22).

It is with these points in mind then–what we should believe, feel, and do about the Bible–that DeYoung proceeds to walk us through what could be described as a layman’s study of Bibliology. The majority of the book then discusses why the Bible is enough, why it is clear, why it is final, and why it is necessary for life. Or, if you want the more theological terms, DeYoung discusses the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of Scripture.

While the style of this book lends itself to being an easy read, DeYoung does not shy away from digging into passages and explaining words from the original Biblical languages in order to show from Scripture why the Bible is so vital for the believer’s life! For this reason, I would suggest reading this book slowly and devotionally, for ultimately, Taking God at His Word is more about learning to love and treasure God’s Word than turning the last page and having a bunch of facts to rattle off about the Bible.

After my husband finished reading this book, he made the comment that “it would be hypocritical to say ‘that was a good book’ and not proceed to then immerse oneself in the Bible.” And it is true: This little book elevates the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of the Bible to such an extent that we cannot miss the point that the Bible is the Word of God and as such, we would do well to make reading it and studying it an intentional priority in our lives!

As each of us go about life in whatever role God has called us to, may we remember that the Bible is a divine book that God has given for us to love, treasure, and study so that might grow in our walk with the Lord. God’s Word is indeed clear, final, necessary and enough, for our every-day life!

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Learning to Number Our Days

A few weeks ago, we took down the 2019 calendar and hung up the 2020 calendar. We began a new year and a new decade.

Shortly after the New Year, I began to do what many of us often do at the beginning of a new year: my mind’s eye saw a brand new calendar, open for new goals and opportunities. However, my heart was simultaneously weighed down with question marks about what these new goals and opportunities should look like. The uncertainties of the upcoming months caused me to feel like I was literally carrying around a physical burden on my shoulders.

Perhaps some of you can identify with such emotions as you look at 2020, and you, like me, have wondered how to deal with them. Do we just try harder to “make our goals happen”? Do we give up before even trying because it is just too overwhelming?

Soon after the New Year, as I was pondering these things and feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty, I read Psalm 90. As my eyes read the divinely-inspired words of Scripture, my heart was encouraged by the chapter’s reminders of how we should approach our day-to-day life; consequently, these reminders also serve as timely instruction for how we should view our goals for this year.

God is everlasting
Verses 1-2 depicts God as everlasting: from being our “dwelling place in all generations” (90:1), to being God “before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world” (90:2), God always has been and always will be. He is everlasting.

Man is but dust
Verses 3-11 then remind us of who we are: we are but dust. God is in control of man and has power to return man to dust (90:3); thousands of years are but a short while in God’s eyes (90:4). In comparison, our years are limited–seventy, or maybe eighty–and filled with toil and trouble (90:9-10). Compared to God, we are but a vapor, an early-morning mist that vanishes when the sun’s warmth wraps around it.

But that’s not the end of the story…
It is easy to follow the tension in the Psalmist’s line of reason. The first part of the chapter outlines who God is. He is great and powerful, outside of creation for He is Creator, from everlasting to everlasting, He is God. In contrast then, the Psalmist portrays who man is: man is a vapor, subject to God’s wrath and anger; our iniquities are exposed to the light of His presence. A fearful thing indeed.

After reading these verses then, one could easily succumb to a fatalistic mentality: “Well then, what’s the point in life? What are we even doing here on earth? Our lives are just a blip on the radar of time, only to be soon forgotten. What does God even care about what we do from day to day?”

The Psalmist seems to anticipate such a response, for the final section of Psalm 90 gives us the answer to these very questions. In response to who God is and who man is, the Psalmist makes several requests of the Lord:

“So teach us to number our days” (90:12).

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love” (90:14).

“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” (90:15).

“Let your work be shown to your servants and your glorious power to their children” (90:16).

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us” (90:17a).

“Establish the word of our hands upon us” (90:17b).

While each of these requests remind us of the reality that God is eternal and man is dust, they also point towards the reality that man has a purpose here on earth!

As I read these verses, my heart that had been weighed down with question marks about this coming year was encouraged by this reminder to live life purposefully and intentionally for God’s glory. No, I may not have all the details figured out, but I can have my heart focused on glorifying God’s with each new day, come what may.

So as we head into 2020, may we keep these verses in mind as we go throughout the year.

As we begin each day, may we number our days and be mindful that our time here on earth is, indeed, short.

When life feels like it is filled with toil and trouble, may our hearts turn to His love for our satisfaction. May we then rejoice and be glad in Him, praising Him even in the midst of affliction.

As we go about each day, may our lives reflect His works and His power so that all may see.

When we consider the responsibilities that lie ahead of us and our dreams and goals for the year, may we desire that the work of our hands be established by Him.

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Resources for Kids

Pointing children to Christ should be part of our normal routines. However, we can easily lose sight of the fact that parenting is so much more than just keeping these kids alive and eventually launching them into adulthood. God wants us to be teaching our children of Him and encouraging them to know Him more deeply on a regular basis. In order to help us in the pursuit of intentional discipleship we’re sharing a list of some kid-friendly resources that we’ve enjoyed and found helpful for starting conversations that ultimately point us all to Christ.

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  • Tiny Theologians 

Young children are able to learn a lot more than we realize and Tiny Theologians capitalizes on this reality. With beautiful flashcards that have brief definitions and a verse or passage on the back, Tiny Theologians provides some excellent tools for teaching theology to children. Their flashcard sets include A-Z Attributes of God, the ABCs of Theology, and the ABCs of the Names of God. 

http://tinytheologians.com/

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  • Getty Kids Hymnal (CDs or Youtube)

Kids engage in song on a whole new level when they hear other children singing! The Gettys have put out a great collection of hymns (new and old) featuring children, for children! You can buy these CDs on Amazon or just listen through YouTube.

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  • Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God is an old one but still a good one as it works through basic Bible Doctrines on a child’s level. Both my husband and I grew up with this book in our homes and are now using it with our girls! 

Find it new or used on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Little-Ones-God-Teachings/dp/0802851207/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2QPWQ2TUXB6HA&keywords=leading+little+ones+to+god&qid=1579122551&sprefix=leading+little+ones%2Caps%2C479&sr=8-1

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  • Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible 

This story Bible has become a favorite around our house. With bright and bold illustrations and simple narratives, it is geared towards toddlers. We especially appreciate how closely it sticks to the Bible narrative and doesn’t add lots of extra details to make the story more exciting. There is also a brief application section at the end of each chapter that touches on a broad range of topics to help drive home gospel truths in the hearts of our little ones.. 

https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Gospel-Story-Bible/dp/1945270047/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=MSLPJK3UFFG9&keywords=beginners+gospel+story+bible&qid=1579120965&sprefix=beginners+gospel+st%2Caps%2C509&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSDU4WVlLRkRLMzUyJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMzI5NDU2MzVaTThGNU4wTTU5SyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMDEzOTMwMzhIMlAyUTk5TFRGJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

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  • The New City Catechism Mobile App 

While this app is aimed at adults, this free app also has a children’s mode that provides songs to go with each question and answer. These songs are short and fun and help young children learn important doctrines without even trying! Every night before going to bed, our 2-year-old insists on singing the song for question 3 that asks “How many persons are there in God?” Even though she doesn’t fully understand now the concept of the trinity, the song will undoubtedly stick with her for years to come and remind her heart of the reality of the Triune God!  

http://newcitycatechism.com/mobile-apps/

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  • The Big Picture Story Bible

I’ve really enjoyed sharing this story Bible with young children. The vivid illustrations help to hold their attention as they listen to foundational truths about man and God. And I love that this book shares both the bad and good stories, showing both the depravity of man and in turn, the loving-kindness of our God.

https://www.amazon.com/Big-Picture-Story-Bible-Book/dp/1433523914

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  • The Big Picture Bible Crafts 

This is a new resource for us, but it looks promising! For parents with children always wanting to make crafts, this book has 101 crafts to correspond a wide range of Bible stories (and also correspond with The Big Picture Story Bible.) With reproducible pages and multiple levels of difficulty for each craft, this craft book is ideal for multiple age groups! 

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-Bible-Crafts-Reproducible-pages/dp/1433558696/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3993CV43A5RP0&keywords=big+picture+bible+crafts&qid=1579122675&sprefix=big+picture+craf%2Caps%2C220&sr=8-1

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  • Bible Visuals International Family Format Series

Bible Visuals International has recently taken some of their short missionary visual stories and turned them into a book format for the whole family to enjoy together. They have ones on John Newton, George Mueller, etc. Our family has really enjoyed the one on the life of Martin Luther and have found it to lead to great engagement and conversation. 

https://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Martin-Luther-Family-5760-CS/dp/1933206934/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=bible+visual+martin+luther&qid=1579054470&s=books&sr=1-2

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Bible Study Resources

While there is no replacement for simply getting into the Word and reading it, sometimes it is nice to have some resources to help us along the way. Here are some resources that we love and want to share with you!

ESV Scripture Journals
These journals have the passage on the left page and a blank page on the right. You can use these journals in a variety of ways: Use them for taking notes when your pastor is preaching through a book of the Bible or when you’re doing a group study of the Bible. You could also use these during your own personal study through a book of the Bible. There is also plenty of room within the passage for marking it up.

You can buy the entire Old Testament or New Testament. Or you can buy the books individually!  

Video Series on How to Study the Bible 
If you are unsure of where to start with studying the Bible for yourself, watch this 5-day video series by Jen Wilkin on how to study the Bible for some helpful instruction! Essentially, she just steps you through the process of studying a book of the Bible.  This series goes along with Wilkin’s excellent book Women of the Word. 

Pilot Erasable Pens
Believe it or not, these Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens actually do erase! If you enjoy Bible journalling or using Journibles, you will enjoy these pens!

Daily Grace Podcast on “Highlighting” 
Highlighting is an easy, but intentional way to think inductively as you read the Bible. Listen to this podcast from the Daily Grace Co. on ways to intentionally incorporate highlighting as part of your study of the Word!

Bible Highlighters
Here are some highlighters that are special for using in your Bible, as they won’t bleed through the thin pages. (Note: The Daily Grace Co. is constantly having sales on these highlighters, so don’t buy them full-price!)

Make-Your-Own Bible Plan Generator
If you are wanting to keep on schedule with your Bible reading, but also wish you could have more flexibility with the schedule, here is a tool you may find useful!  With this Bible Reading Plan Generator, you can adjust what books you read, as well as the length of time alloted for reading.  Here’s an article by the author on how it works. 

We hope you find some of these resources to be helpful as you read and study God’s Word this year!

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Bible Reading Plans for 2020

With a brand new year upon us, we have the opportunity to start fresh with our Bible reading goals.

Because reading the Bible on a regular basis is crucial for a growing walk with the Lord, it is often helpful to have a particular goal in mind. For example, one could have the goal to read through the Bible in a year. Or to read a chapter a day. Or to read the New Testament over the next six months. There really is no right or wrong Bible reading goal–the important thing is to be in the Word!

One practical way to help us stay on track in working towards our goal is to have a Bible reading plan. There are many, many different kinds of Bible reading plans–all one has to do is google “Bible Reading Plans” and there will be a multitude of options!

However, to help narrow down the options, we’d like to share some of the plans or approaches to reading the Bible that we’ve used in the past or would like to use this year.  

Infographic on How Long It Takes to Read the Bible
If you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of trying to read through the Bible (or a portion of the Bible), you will be encouraged by this infographic from Crossway on how long it actually takes to read through the Bible!  

Audio Bible 
While not a specific Bible reading plan, this is one way to immerse  yourself in the Word while you work on dishes or fold laundry!

Many Bible apps include a Bible audio feature.  However, if you don’t already have a favorite Bible app, check out Bible Gateway to download their free Bible Audio App.

The Chronological Reading Plan
Because the Bible isn’t organized in a chronological manner, this chronological reading plan helps makes better sense of the overall flow of the historical events of Scripture!

The Five-Day Psuedo-Chronological Plan
This is a plan that we haven’t actually used, but it has been highly recommended! This five-day plan is a slight variation to a chronological reading plan. One significant aspect of this plan is that it is based on a five-day week, which then gives you two days every week to catch (or get ahead)! Having two “free” days allows for some flexibility to do other reading or studying (such as homework for a weekly ladies’ Bible study).

Systematic Theology Reading Plan
This is a 30-day reading plan from Crossway that focuses on short passages that address specific doctrines, including the doctrine of Scripture, God the Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, mankind, salvation, the church, and end times. Or, as Crossway describes it, it is a crash-course in systematic theology.

Knowable Word’s 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge
Reading through the entire Bible at a fast pace highlights the advantages of reading the entire Bible. Knowable Word has presented this challenge to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. If you finish reading the Bible within 90 days and by March 31, 2020, you can enter their giveaway of a ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set and a one-volume Reader’s Bible (translation of choice).

5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan 
The 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan focuses on reading through the New Testament, five minutes a day, five days a week. It also presents five ways to dig deeper as you read.

We hope this has given you some ideas of how to be more immersed in the Word during 2020! If you already have a favorite Bible reading plan that you use, we would love to hear about it!

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