Calling all Women’s Bible Studies

As it’s about this time of year that many small-group Bible studies begin thinking about new curricula for the Fall and Winter sessions, I’d like to heartily recommend Nancy Guthrie’s Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series. Nancy has now written two of these 10-week Bible studies, the lastest of which is The Wisdom of God – Seeing Jesus in the Psalms & Wisdom Books. Let me give you seven reasons to consider these wonderful resources:

  • These are Gospel-centered Old Testament studies. Yes, there are lots of practical lessons, but there’s also much of Christ.
  • You’ll not just learn about the passage you are studying, but also about how it fits into the big picture of Scripture, a huge help when studying other parts of the Bible.
  • A good mix and balance of personal stories. You’ll probably feel that you’ve met Nancy by the time you finish the book!
  • The books have been written specifically with Women’s Bible studies in mind. I’m pretty sure that Nancy has sat in many of these, and has used her experience to tailor the content and structure of the books to perfectly fit this audience and context.
  • The books are also suitable for personal study.
  • A big plus for those who feel a bit intimidated by the Old Testament is that Crossway have also produced teaching DVDs to accompany the books.
  • The Psalms and Wisdom book ventures into rarely explored parts of Scripture, and you’ll be amazed at the treasures you’ll come back with.

Although I take a different tack to Nancy on the Song of Solomon, both approaches end up at Christ. I hope many will experience the blessings of spiritual heartburn through these books (Luke 24:32).

Check out

Gospel-Centered Bible Study
Here’s a two part interview (Part 1 and Part 2) with Dave Moser, who has recently written a free eBook on Gospel-centered Bible Study. Great testimony about how a Catholic Mass and the Gospel Coalition Conference on Christ in the Old Testament changed Dave’s life and ministry.

Multi-ethnic Worship
Juan Sanchez writes a fascinating piece about his church’s wonderful attempts to unite different cultures in one worship service.

The Masculine Mandate for 99¢
This is perhaps the best book I’ve read on male leadership. Get it today for 99¢!

A quiet place, a quiet hour, a quiet heart
Tim takes us back to the basics of prayer. This will definitely help your spiritual life.

In praise of inefficiency
This is a hugely encouraging article on the neglected role of Christian parents as divinely-designated amateur disciple-makers.

Job the Film
This looks like a powerful presentation of the Gospel through a dramatic animation of the book of Job.

Pop music getting sadder and sadder

Feeling sad? Don’t reach for your radio – unless it’s a “Golden Oldies” channel – because over the last 50 years pop hots have become longer, slower and sadder (summary here).

Researchers who listened to a sampling of 1000 Top 40 songs from the last 50 years and found that:

Over the years, popular recordings became longer in duration and the proportion of female artists increased…There was also an increase in the use of minor mode [which most associate with gloom and despair] and a decrease in average tempo, confirming that popular music became more sad-sounding over time. Decreases in tempo were also more pronounced for songs in major than in minor mode, highlighting a progressive increase of mixed emotional cues in popular music.

Notice the tentative connection of more sad songs with more female singers! Brave researchers (or foolish!). On a more “positive” note, the study says that Lady Gaga’s fast-tempo, major-mode recordings has risen above (below?) these trends.

Lady Gaga apart, I wonder how much this downward emotional trajectory is connected with another trend, reported last year, of popular music lyrics becoming more self-focused and negative?

The researchers found the use of first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) declined over the years, while the use of first-person singular pronouns (I, me, mine) increased. Words reflecting anger or antisocial behavior (hate, kill, etc.) became more prevalent over the 28-year period.

Conversely, terms depicting social interactions (talking, sharing) became less common, as did the use of words conveying positive emotions (love, nice, sweet). These findings mirror “recent evidence showing increases in U.S. loneliness and psychopathology over time.”

We probably didn’t need psychologists to tell us that an increasingly self-focused and negative society is an increasingly sad society. But the data source is intriguing and surprisingly revealing.

But let’s turn the spotlight on ourselves. What about the lyrics and music of Christian praise? Is it counter-cultural or simply following modern trends? If someone was to research the lyrics and music of Christian songs over the last 50 years, what conclusions would they draw? On the rare occasions that I listen to CCM on the car radio, there seems to be a generalized ”whine” in most of the songs. How much of our message is being obscured or denied by our medium?

And fellow Psalm-singers, the inspired words that we sing are balanced towards the God-focused and the positive; but do our tunes and the way we sing them match our words? Or by getting sadder, slower, and longer does our medium confuse our message?

Check out

What makes a great Tweet
Only 36% of Tweets are worth reading! This might help up your percentage.

Ten reasons to attend Seminary
Great list but #7 would need to be carefully qualified.

Love, Dad
Amazing letter from President Ronald Reagan to his son Michael just days before he got married. An excerpt: “Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. The truth is, somehow, way down inside, without her ever finding lipstick on the collar or catching a man in the flimsy excuse of where he was till three A.M., a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of this relationship disappears.” (HT: Zach Nielsen)

Get ahead with a Mentor who scares you
“Go out and find the most qualified or talented mentor, coach, or manager you can, and subject yourself to everything they can throw at you.”

Facebook boring? 1 in 3 users tuning out
34 percent of Facebook users spend less time on Facebook than they did six months ago (HT: Nathan Bingham)

Face to Face
Jeremy Walker, a technophile, reminds us of the invaluable benefits of face-to-face ministry.

A black book or a black phone?

What captures the attention of toddlers and infants most at Disneyworld? The costumes? The animations? The rides? The toys?

Nope, none of these things. According to a recent study, it’s their parents cellphones! Kare Anderson, one of the researchers, comments:

Those kids clearly understood what held their parents’ attention — and they wanted it too. Cell phones were enticing action centers of their world as they observed it. When parents were using their phones, they were not paying complete attention to their children.

Among Anderson’s conclusions are:

  1. Giving undivided attention is the first and most basic ingredient in any relationship.
  2. Whatever we pay attention to has a huge effect on how we see the world and feel about it.
  3. Others know what’s the center of our attention and thus what controls our life.

I have very little memory of my grandmother on my Dad’s side, but the one thing I do remember from my vacation visits to her home in the Scottish Highlands, and from her year of staying with us in the lowlands, is that a large black book had her full attention.

When my kids look back on my life I hope they see that what had my attention and controlled my life was a black book. Not a black phone.