My Review of the Modern Life Study Bible

MLSB
About the Bible:

As members of the modern age, we sometimes feel disconnected from the world of the Bible. But if we look closely, we can see that although cultures change, our basic challenges stay the same. We still struggle with issues like community, justice, economic stress, political tensions, and cultural and ethnic differences. We still wonder who God is, how to discern His will, and how we fit into His plan.

Using historical context and fresh insights backed by biblical scholars, The Modern Life Study Bibleexplores the timeless truths that connect the people and stories of the Bible to the opportunities and demands we face today. God is at work in our world, inviting us to experience His presence.

With innovative, full-color illustrations, maps, and diagrams, along with special information on occupations of the Bible, profiles of people and places, theme indexes, and inspirational biographies of believers who put their faith to work, The Modern Life Study Bible will draw you in, helping you to know and embrace what it means to follow Christ in today’s world.

Features include:

  • More than 2,400 concise articles and book introductions
  • More than 220 full-color maps
  • Hundreds of  diagrams, tables, and illustrations
  • 66 inspirational biographies
  • Indexes to aid navigation and study
My Thoughts on the Modern Life Study Bible:

I liked the colorful format and font size of the Modern Life Study Bible. It made the text very easy to read. There are many sidebars peppered throughout the actual text which expanded on different topics. I personally prefer to read Bibles which have the text alone (no footnotes or sidebars) because I find the extra commentary distracting, but since this is a study Bible, sidebars are expected. Overall, this format was very visually appealing and I plan to use it whenever I want to research specific topics in the Bible.

Disclaimer: I received the Modern Life Study Bible from Shelton Interactive in exchange for an honest review.

On How I Was Almost Too Chicken To Graduate from College

The pool opened early Monday morning for my nine o’clock Beginner’s Swimming class. I spent the weekend biting my nails in angst over what I knew I had to do that Monday—jump into the deep end of the pool in order to pass swimming.

But I was a wimp.

I watched as my classmates ahead of me flew off the diving board, plunged hundreds of feet deep (okay, not hundreds, but it looked like hundreds of feet) and floated up to the surface. They didn’t flinch.

This wasn’t the case for me. I trailed the end of the line and mentally concocted ways to shirk this mandatory (and, in my 21 year old opinion, crazy) graduation requirement. To graduate from the college I had poured years of labor into, I had to not only read the Great Books…but swim?

My fearless best friend passed the swim test our first week in freshman year. As a freshman, I didn’t know how to swim, and I didn’t want to learn. Give me a fifty page paper to write in Spanish and I could do it. Drown me in a sea of books to read, and I could fly through them and give you a point by point analysis of each. But swim? Never.

So I avoided this requirement until the last possible moment: spring semester my senior year.

The line shortened. I bent my knees and pretended to rev up for the big plunge.

Bend, straighten. Bend, straighten.

After a couple of bends, I was shot.

“Edwards. You’re up.” (Edwards is my maiden name.)

My swim teacher, five feet four and super athletic, reminded me of the Catholic school nuns from my high school. He didn’t hesitate to penalize me for my flinches, hesitations and missteps.

But I couldn’t do it. I stepped away from the diving board.

“Edwards. If you don’t jump, I’ll flunk you.”

Flunk. The word dangled in front of me as anathema, pure heresy. Don’t know why. I had flunked many classes during my prodigal daughter years. But when I had flunked  in the past, it was due to jadedness. Jaded people were numb people, didn’t care either way.

If I flunked now, it would be due to fear. Fearful people absorbed the full brunt of life’s bee stings and beneath that fatty layer of fear, they cared.

My heart crumbled. I wanted to jump. I really, really did.

“Edwards. You’re not going to drown. If you drown, I’ll catch you.”

You’re not going to drown…If you drown…

Sounded like an oxymoron to me.

Moments later, I stepped onto the board. My heart stuttered but I was more determined this time. I bent my knees and straightened.

Bend.

Straighten.

Bend.

Straighten.

Bend!

“Edwards!!”

With one blind motion, I flung my one hundred and fifteen pound body from the board. As I fell, cold air sliced through me. Then a shock of water swaddled me. I stiffened and inhaled the H2O.

Hold your breath.

I listened to that Voice and my body relaxed. Soon after, the water which I had feared would kill me, carried me.

Carried me back to the surface.

“Nice job, Edwards.”

My Spartan swim teacher paid me a compliment? I smiled.

Weeks later I received my shiny new Bachelor’s degree written in fancy Latin.

Here’s the thing: people jump off of diving boards every day and no one cares.

It wasn’t until someone hesitated, someone like me, that others got involved. Those others may laugh at you, cheer for you, or threaten academic failure.

Approaching this new year, I feel like I am standing on the edge of the diving board again. Closing out a year whose pages have already been written and staring at a blank journal waiting to be filled with…

I won’t know until I take the proverbial plunge.

Oh sure, I can hold on to the highs and lows of past years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 201o, etc. But that would be chicken. And it’s the dawning of a new day.

A time to push through insecurities and face my fears.

Fears about being a good enough mom.

Fears about being a good enough writer.

Fears about being a good enough me.

Bend, straighten.

Bend, straighten.

Bend, jump!

In 2014, I hope you push through your insecurity and fully face your fear. Because there’s a still small Voice waiting to guide you, and comforting waters ready to carry you…

If you jump.

Day 12: 12 Pearls of Christmas | A Teenage Pregnancy | Robin Jones Gunn

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
 
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
 
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A Teenage Pregnancy
by Robin Jones Gunn

It was early, early morning, that delicate time of day just before sunrise when it seems as if all of creation is still asleep.

In the cold, gray light she gazed at the infant in her arms. He was less than an hour old and so, so small. Instinct prompted her to draw her newborn close that he might feel the rhythm of her heart. He curled his tiny hand around her finger and she smiled. His eyes closed, and with feathered breath he gave way to the blessed sleep that follows such a long journey.

In weary awe she studied his face, his ears, his nose. He was here. He had come at last.

A single tear fell from her eye and rolled across his cheek. She kissed the tear away but could not kiss away the memories that came with the tears; memories of the day she found out she was pregnant. How exhilarated she felt and yet how terrified. She was young, and there was much she didn’t understand.

Trying to justify her condition to her parents proved more difficult than she’d hoped. But the most excruciating memory was the moment she stood guileless before the man she hoped to one day marry. She had no words to make him understand the awful truth—the child she carried was not his.

Leaving seemed to be her only option. A gracious aunt took her in and welcomed her with open arms. From the moment she arrived she was showered with motherly words of hope and sisterly touches of love. Week by week, month by month, the child inside her grew.

Was it a miracle when she returned home, her belly round, her face flushed, and found him there?

What prompted this man to take her back and make her his bride? Did he now believe what she had tried to explain all along, that none of this was her own doing?

When the time was right they left their small town together, as husband and wife, with her due date rapidly approaching. The labor began—tightening her abdomen with a force she had never before imagined. Perspiration streamed from her forehead. The contractions multiplied with a frenzied urgency until the need to push overwhelmed her young body, and the baby was born.

Nothing of the past mattered anymore. He was here. Naked, perfect, quivering in her arms. With a thrill of hope, she believed that her life, her world, would never be the same.

Now as the first silver streaks of dawn pierced through the cracks in the stable, she tenderly wrapped her sleeping babe in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

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Robin Promo Photo Close Up 2013Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of the much-loved Christy Miller Series and the award-winning Sisterchicks® series, has had more than 4.5 million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her frequent speaking engagements have taken her around the globe. Robin and her husband live in Hawaii and have a grown son and daughter. You can learn more at Robin’s website.
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Day 11: 12 Pearls of Christmas | Do You Hear What I Hear? | Cynthia Ruchti

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
 
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
 
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below! The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Do You Hear What I Hear?
by Cynthia Ruchti

To shepherds? Really, God? You crafted a birth announcement that was delivered first to shepherds? The story’s become so familiar to us, so easy for us to visualize because of all the Christmas pageants we’ve witnessed over the years—all the fourth-grade boys in plaid robes with a homemade shepherd staff, carrying a cloth lamb from the toy department that plays “Jesus Loves Me” if you pull the ring where an umbilical cord should be.

Theologians speculate the reason for shepherds as the audience for the holy pronouncement could be as intricate as a genetic retracing of the Baby’s heritage back through history to King David, who started his career as a shepherd.

Or it could have been simpler than that. Maybe shepherds were the only ones listening that night.

“Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night,” Luke 2:8, CEB. The biblical story tells us that the shepherds weren’t sleeping but were on guard, watching, when the news about Jesus came to them.

Distractions were few. Hills, sheep, other shepherds, a low fire, and a wide expanse of sky overhead—a dark sky that held the same stars night after night, until this one.

I wonder if any of the shepherds brought their families to the fields. I wonder if in the tent was a hardworking woman nearing the end of an exhausting day. She’d barely gotten the evening meal cleaned up when she had to start thinking about what her family and the other shepherds would need for breakfast. Soak the grains. Check the progress on the sheep’s milk cheese. And try to get those kids to settle down.

“Stop annoying your brother. Caleb! Last warning. Josh, get your fingers out of your sister’s ears. Turn down that video game. You can’t listen to the radio and watch TV at the same time. Turn one of them off. Better yet, both of them! Who’s singing? What’s that sound? Do you hear what I hear?”

What noise do I need to turn off in my life in order to hear the first notes of the angel’s song?

Another noisy Christmas party. Another trip to the department store for stocking stuffers. Another round of Christmas CDs. Another Christmas special on TV. Another Facebook post to share—the true meaning of Christmas. A text about the practice time for the Christmas program at church. Another phone call about travel plans. Brain waves clanking into each other, making a cacophony of noise.

Shutting down one layer at a time. Unplugging. Keeping even “Silent Night” low so I can silence my night and hear the downbeat of “Glory to God in the highest.”

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Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Of seven books on the shelves currently, her latest releases are the novel When the Morning Glory Blooms (Abingdon Press Fiction), the nonfiction Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices (Abingdon Press Christian Living), and several dozen of the devotions in Mornings With Jesus 2014 (Guideposts). Spring of 2014 will see the release of another novel—All My Belongings, also from Abingdon Press Fiction. You can connect with her at www.cynthiaruchti.com or on Facebook.
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Day 10: 12 Pearls of Christmas | Wrapping Paper and Fancy Bows Not Required | Jodi Murphy

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
 
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
 
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below! The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Wrapping Paper and Fancy Bows Not Required
by Jodi Murphy

For more than a decade I worked in the luxury design field, and every year around Christmas time there were holiday show houses and charity events where the designers would hold nothing back to create the most beautiful displays for the Christmas season—trees with baubles and sparkles, swags of fresh greenery festooned with handmade bows, every room dressed to the nines, dining and breakfast tables set for imaginary entertaining, and hundreds of perfectly wrapped packages that would make Santa’s elves go green with envy.

The sights, sounds and smells were magical! And though I enjoyed the “eye candy” and appreciated all of the creativity, I often left these events on a “sugar high” of the season’s pufferies and feeling disconnected to the spiritual significance of Christmas.

As we begin to count down the days toward December 25th, I will do my share of simplified decorating as a way to mark such an important day, and I will be celebrating Christ’s birth with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the gifts God has given to me . . .

My Parents
I was blessed with parents who loved and respected me. I was always important, seen and heard. They gave me the confidence and strength to go out into the world because I knew they were standing right behind me in case I stumbled. They modeled generosity, loyalty and commitment.

My Sister
Tenacious, strong-willed, and determined balanced by a friendly, supportive, “I’m there for you” spirit—that’s my amazing younger sister. She’ll step out on the front line to stand up and defend you or throw on some work clothes and volunteer to help with whatever dirty work needs to be done. No questions asked . . . you need her, she’s there.

My Husband
My husband is so comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t compare himself to others or secretly long for what they have. He doesn’t get embroiled in other’s gossip or petty arguments. His loving influence has made me happier and more at peace. Every day I wake up to the joyful realization that I am his friend, wife, and life partner.

My Son
My firstborn. My son with Aspergers Syndrome. Raising him is the most extraordinary journey. He has made me more accepting, patient, and understanding. He has helped me find my passion to support and advocate for him and those just like him. He doesn’t filter or concern himself with being anything but who he is. I admire his strength to put himself out into a world he doesn’t fully understand.

My Daughter
She was born with grace and an “old” soul. From a very young age, she had an understanding and compassion for others well beyond her years. And when she was excluded for not following the crowd, she never compromised her values in order to fit in. She personifies all that is good and right in our world.

So I’m taking a pause from the hustle and bustle of the designers’ holiday season. This Christmas, and every Christmas henceforth, you’ll find me singing praises of “Gloria!” to God for the walking, breathing beautiful gifts of my family.

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jodi_murphy-Headshot 1Jodi Murphy has been a freelance marketing specialist for the last 25+ years working for clients in a variety of industries, a journalist in the design/luxury lifestyle industry, and co-founder of Nesting Newbies, one of the first independent lifestyle digital magazines. But her most important role and her life’s passion is being a mom! She founded Geek Club Books to share her son’s life on the spectrum in a positive and entertaining way. Her focus is on building a community of spectrum and neurotypicals who are engaged with and inspired by the Geek Club Books’ message of self-acceptance—“I’m unique. I’m a geek.” Jodi writes original content on the blog, and, with the help of her talented kids and top-notch creative team, she produces audio stories, e-books, and interactive storybook APPs.

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