Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: John: Get to Know the Living Savior

David C. Cook; New edition (July 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, for The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and the author of more than 150 books. For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. Dubbed by many as the “pastor’s pastor,” Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.

Dr. Warren Wiersbe’s commentaries and his world-renowned knowledge of God’s Word can now be enjoyed in a format that allows everyone to enjoy spending time getting to know the Savior. David C Cook plans to release additional volumes in the Wiersbe Bible Study Series over the next few years.

Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765075
ISBN-13: 978-1434765079

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Lesson 1

God in the Flesh

(JOHN 1—2)

Before you begin …

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read John 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1–2 in Be Alive. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.


Getting Started


From the Commentary


Much as our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s “Word” to reveal His heart and mind to us. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). A word is composed of letters, and Jesus Christ is “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:11), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. According to Hebrews 1:1–3, Jesus Christ is God’s last Word to mankind, for He is the climax of divine revelation.

—Be Alive, page 20


1. As you read John 1:1–2, what stands out to you about the description of

“the Word”? What does it mean that the Word was “with” God? That the

Word “was” God? How does this opening contrast with that of the other

three gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)? What does this tell us

about John, the writer of this gospel?


More to Consider: Why do you think John refers to Jesus as “the Son

of God” so many times in his gospel? (See John 1:34, 49; 3:18; 5:25;

10:36; 11:4, 27; 19:7; 20:31.)


2. Choose one verse or phrase from John 1—2 that stands out to you.

This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you

uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with

you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.


Going Deeper


From the Commentary


Life is a key theme in John’s gospel; it is used thirty-six times. What are the essentials for human life? There are at least four: light (if the sun went out, everything would die), air, water, and food. Jesus is all of these! He is the Light of Life and the Light of the World (John 8:12). He is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). By His Holy Spirit, He gives us the “breath of life” (John 3:8; 20:22), as well as the Water of Life (John 4:10, 13–14; 7:37–39). Finally, Jesus is the Living Bread of Life that came down from heaven (John 6:35ff.). He not only has life and gives life, but He is life (John 14:6).

—Be Alive, page 22


3. As you go through the gospel of John, underline the references to “life.” Why do you think John’s gospel touches on this theme so frequently? How do the themes of “light” and “life” relate to one another in John 1?


From the Commentary


John the Baptist is one of the most important persons in the New Testament. He is mentioned at least eighty-nine times. John had the special privilege of introducing Jesus to the nation of Israel. He also had the difficult task of preparing the nation to receive its Messiah. He called them to repent of their sins and to prove that repentance by being baptized and then living changed lives. John summarized what John the Baptist had to say about Jesus Christ (John 1:15–18).

—Be Alive, page 24


4. What is significant about the gospel writer’s mention of John the Baptist (John 1:6–28)? Why would this have been important to the early believers?


From Today’s World


Although the skepticism of the modern age has diminished their impact, self-proclaimed modern “prophets” continue to speak about the end of the world (or other events) as if they have exclusive insight into “insider information” from a source they often claim is God Himself. Some gain a following as people clamor for wisdom about why the world is in its current state. Whether out of fear or frustration, they look to the so-called prophets for answers.


5. Why are people so fascinated (whether they agree or disagree) with modern prophets? Do you agree that people today are more skeptical about prophets and their reliability? Why or why not? How does today’s culture compare to the culture in which John the Baptist appeared? What does this suggest about the role of prophecy in modern Christianity?


From the Commentary


The people of Israel were familiar with lambs for the sacrifices. At Passover, each family had to have a lamb, and during the year, two lambs a day were sacrificed at the temple altar, plus all the other lambs brought for personal sacrifices. Those lambs were brought by people to people, but here is God’s Lamb, given by God to humankind! Those lambs could not take away sin, but the Lamb of God can take away sin. Those lambs were for Israel alone, but this Lamb would shed His blood for the whole world!

—Be Alive, pages 27–28


6. How might John’s Jewish followers have responded when he announced Jesus as the “Lamb of God”? Why is John the Baptist’s testimony important? How does John’s description of the “Spirit” compare to the coming of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the book of Acts? What does this teach us about the Holy Spirit?


From the Commentary


“We have found the Messiah!” was the witness Andrew gave to Simon. Messiah is a Hebrew word that means “anointed,” and the Greek equivalent is “Christ.” To the Jews, it was the same as “Son of God” (see Matt. 26:63–64; Mark 14:61–62; Luke 22:67–70). In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed and thereby set apart for special service. Kings were especially called “God’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:11; Ps. 89:20); so, when the Jews spoke about their Messiah, they were thinking of the king who would come to deliver them and establish the kingdom. There was some confusion among the Jewish teachers as to what the Messiah would do. Some saw Him as a suffering sacrifice (as in Isa. 53), while others saw a splendid king (as in Isa. 9 and 11). Jesus had to explain even to His own followers that the cross had to come before the crown, that He must suffer before He could enter into His glory (Luke 24:13–35).

—Be Alive, page 29


7. Why were the Jews expecting the Messiah to appear as a king? What does this tell us about the culture and circumstance of the Jews at the time? How might the Jewish leaders have received the pronouncement of Jesus as the Messiah? There had been others who claimed messiahship prior to Jesus’ arrival. What argument does John make in chapter 1 to support the fact that Jesus is the One they’ve been waiting for?


From the Commentary


“The third day” means three days after the call of Nathanael (John 1:45–51). Since that was the fourth day

of the week recorded in John (John 1:19, 29, 35, 43), the wedding took place on “the seventh day” of this “new creation week.” Throughout his gospel, John makes it clear that Jesus was on a divine schedule, obeying the will of the Father. Jewish tradition required that virgins be married on a Wednesday, while widows were married on a Thursday. Being the “seventh day” of John’s special week, Jesus would be expected to rest, just as God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:1–3). But sin had interrupted God’s Sabbath rest, and it was necessary for both the Father and the Son to work (John 5:17; 9:4). In fact, John recorded two specific miracles that Jesus deliberately performed on Sabbath days (John 5; 9). At this wedding, we see Jesus in three different roles: the Guest, the Son, and the Host.

—Be Alive, pages 35–36


8. Read John 2:1–11. Why do you think the Scriptures record this as Jesus’ first miracle? What is the significance of turning water into wine? Of the timing of the miracle?


More to Consider: Moses’ first miracle was a plague—turning water into blood (Ex. 7:19ff.), which speaks of judgment. How does Jesus’ first miracle speak of grace?


From the Commentary


Jesus revealed His zeal for God first of all by cleansing the temple (John 2:13–17). The priests had established a lucrative business of exchanging foreign money for Jewish currency and also selling the animals needed for the sacrifices. No doubt, this “religious market” began as a convenience for the Jews who came long distances to worship in the temple, but in due time the “convenience” became a business, not a ministry. The tragedy is that this business was carried on in the court of the Gentiles in the temple, the place where the Jews should have been meeting the Gentiles and telling them about the one true God. Any Gentile searching for truth would not likely find it among the religious merchants in the temple.

—Be Alive, page 41


9. Why was Jesus so upset about the money changers? (See John 2:12–16.) What is significant about Jesus’ comment in verse 19? How does this foreshadowing help us to see God’s divine timetable for Jesus’ earthly work?


From the Commentary


While in Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus performed miracles that are not given in detail in any of the Gospels. It must have been these signs that especially attracted Nicodemus (John 3:2). Because of the miracles, many people professed to believe in Him, but Jesus did not accept their profession. No matter what the people themselves said or others said about them. He did not accept human testimony.

—Be Alive, page 44


10. Why didn’t Jesus accept human testimony? What does John mean when he writes, “He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (2:25)? What does this say about Jesus’ feelings toward those who followed Him because of His miracles?


Looking Inward


Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of John 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.


Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press for people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.


11. How do you respond to the different descriptions of Jesus in John 1 (the Word, the Lamb, the Son of God)? In what ways does the father/son imagery connect with you? Why is it important for you to know Jesus was God’s Son and not just a prophet sent to preach good news?


12. In what ways do you see your own life as a “light” to those around you? How have others been light to you? What are some ways you’ve struggled to be a light to others? How can the picture of Jesus as the light inspire you to be a light to others?


13. What sort of “Messiah” do you think you’d be hoping for if you were among the Jewish people before and during Jesus’ time? In what ways might you have been pleasantly surprised by the way the Messiah arrived? In what ways might you have been disappointed? How do you see the Messiah’s role in your life today? In what ways is Jesus’ role like that of a king? Of a servant?


Going Forward


14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try). Do you want to know more about John’s description of Jesus as “the Word”? Do you want to better understand the Jews’ expectation about the Messiah? Be specific. Go back through John 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.


Real-Life Application Ideas: John the Baptist contrasts his method of baptism with Jesus’ in 1:26–34. How well do you know your church’s stance on water baptism? Learn what your church teaches on this

important topic. Consider what baptism has meant to you. Or, if you haven’t yet been baptized, consider talking with your pastor about being baptized.


Seeking Help


15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.


Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read John 3—4. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters

3–4, “A Matter of Life and Death” and “The Bad Samaritan,” in Be Alive.



John is my favorite book in the Bible and I found this book to be a great study for the book of John. While I love all of Wiersbe's study's this is a definite must have!

~In A Heartbeat: The Power of Cheerful Giving~ Reviewed




Q & A with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy Authors of

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving



Q: Besides dominating the New York Times bestseller list, The Blind Side has also broken Hollywood records. Why do you think your family’s story has captivated so many people?



A: We think people love the story because they recognize some aspect of themselves there. We want to be the kind of people who really make a difference in the world, but so many people are convinced they don’t have the resources to be that kind of giver. We wrote In a Heartbeat to share our story in our own words precisely so that people will begin to realize that they can be the kind of people who help change someone’s life.



Q: Let’s talk about the problem of homeless and needy children in America. How do you believe this problem can be solved?



A: There are a lot of intractable problems in the U.S., from terrorism to health care. But the problem of children in need is curable; we can all do something about it today, individually, through the smallest acts. If every church in the U.S. sponsored one child, we could wipe out the problem of homeless children in this country. There are a million Michaels. Not every kid has the potential to become a star player in the NFL, but he or she may be the person who grows up to cure cancer, or becomes a great husband or wife to someone.



Q: How do you respond when people marvel at the risks you took as you brought Michael Oher into your family?



A: You know, you take a risk every day of your life. When you get in your car and drive across a bridge you take a risk. You don’t know if your tires are good, or if the pilings are going to hold, or if the bridge will fall in. But you don’t really stop and think about it, do you? You don’t get up every morning and kick all four of your tires. You don’t stare at the bridge and say, ‘Yeah, I think it’ll hold me.’ How did you know that bridge wasn’t going to fall? Yet you went right ahead and crossed it. Everybody takes risks, every day. You just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing.



Q: How do you define “cheerful giving”?



A: This is not giving to impress someone who may be watching, and it’s not giving because you feel guilty. The Bible says it best: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”-- II Corinthians 9:7



Q: In the book, you sum up your philosophy of giving in “The Popcorn Theory.” Tell us more about that.



A: The Popcorn Theory is about noticing others. It’s about seeing, not turning away from the immediacy of someone in need. It starts with recognizing a fellow soul by the roadside—even if he doesn’t seem to belong in your lovely red brick neighborhood and he is the biggest damn piece of popcorn you ever saw and his problems seem too immense to take on. It’s about assigning that person value, and potential. Like popcorn, you don’t know which kernel’s gonna pop. They just show up. It’s not hard to spot ‘em. The Popcorn Theory goes like this: “You can’t help everyone, but you can try to help the hot ones who pop right up in front of your face.”



Q: What if I don’t have many resources? How can I be a cheerful giver without a bunch of extra money?



A: Too often we think we lack the means to improve someone’s lot. We’re wrong. The Popcorn Theory doesn’t require you to write a large-scale check, or to take a hungry boy with eyes like leaping flames into your household. But it does require that you perceive the person standing right in front of you, and extend a hand in kindness. Consider this story we heard from a U.S. Senator during a trip to Washington for an Adoption Coalition convention:



There is a little-known Congressional initiative to give internships to young people who were so unwanted they have aged out of the foster care system. This Senator employs one such young man. One day the Senator passed by the mailroom, and paused and turned around. He noticed that his intern, fresh out of foster care, had reorganized all the old files. “This room has never looked so clean,” the Senator said. “You did a great job.” A few minutes later the Senator decided to get a cup of coffee. He returned to mailroom and found that his intern had tears streaming down his face. “Son, did I offend you?” he asked. “No,” the young man said. “That’s the first time anyone has ever told me that I did something good.” This gift had nothing to do with money. What this kid needed most was encouragement and self-worth, and that’s what he was given.



Q: As you share your story, one of the points you stress is that generosity is not just your personal value. It’s a core value for the entire family. What specific things have you done as parents to help your kids become cheerful givers?



A: One of our practices is something we call “Get one, give one,” which means when you receive something, give part of it away. To impress the lesson on our daughter Collins, we sent her to camp with underprivileged kids and on a searing mission trip to the Guatemala City Dumps, where she saw families living in lean-tos amid the garbage, yet with pictures of Christ hung amid the wreckage. Collins came to understand how fortunate she was: “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17) She also learned how important it was to share some of what she’d been given. Long before Michael came into our lives, Collins and Sean Jr. learned to accept the presence of kids sleeping on the sofa or lounging around the house. Friends at the Briarcrest School whose parents worked two jobs. One afternoon 7-year-old Sean Jr. came home to find them playing with his X-box. He sought out Leigh Anne and said, “What gives?” She replied, “We’re just helping them out. Be generous.” Sean Jr. went back downstairs and watched the brothers play a video game. “I’ve got the winner,” he said.



Q: In the book, you point out that the most important gifts your children gave each other had nothing to do with money. Tell us about those gifts.



A: As Michael became a member of the family, he and our other kids gave each other two small but crucial mutual gifts—loyalty and protection. At Ole Miss, Collins and Michael went everywhere together, and they and their friends achieved a new level of racial integration at that old southern school. Even now, when our family attends Michael’s games, he remains extremely protective of his sister, insisting on one occasion that his teammate walk her to the car to keep her away from unruly male fans. And for Sean Jr. having Michael in his family means they do more as a family—he gets much more of each of them.



This is one of the blessings of cheerful giving. We have always felt that Michael gave us far more than he received. All we did was put a roof over his head. He has given us back a stronger sense of home and family.

My Review: While the Blindside was a very touching and moving movie, this book is so as well as it is written in Sean and Leigh Anne's own words. What is so beautiful about this book is that Sean and Leigh Anne are the kind of people that you would meet in every day life and you'd never know that they were wealthy by the world's standards. In meeting Michael they did what was right and the blessings that they received were so far beyond anything that Michael ever got from them. As they provided a home and family for Michael, in return they received a bigger sense of family that they hadn't had in a long time in their own home, and now they have a even bigger family because they took a chance and put a roof over Michael's head. This book really sets forth the challenge to look for ways we all can be cheerful givers in some way. I highly recommend this book!

 
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