Bible Study Tips

bible-1149924_1280After searching the internet for 30 or 40 minutes, I finally gave up trying to find the perfect Bible study tip sheet for my Sunday School class. There were a lot of good ideas out there, but nothing that fit our needs perfectly. We generally choose a book and go through it one chapter at a time, so I needed something that would fit that format. Anyway, here’s what I came up with. If you have similar needs, perhaps it will be useful to you!

Here is a link to download the pdf, along with the complete text below.

BibleStudyIdeas

Who: Look at the beginning and ending of the book. Is it apparent who is speaking and who is being spoken to? If not, see if you can find out by looking in a reference book or getting online.

 

What: Read the whole first chapter. Is it easy to tell what’s going on? If not, you may have to read the entire book first or look up a summary of the book.

 

Where & When: Can you tell when and where the book was written?

 

Why: Why is the writer of the book speaking to his audience? Again, you may have to do a little digging for the answers.

 

You may want to spend the entire first week finding out the answers to these first few questions, before beginning with chapter one. If you decide to use outside sources for your information, and by that I mean anything other than the Bible, be sure you don’t just accept the first thing you read as truth. Check to see if the facts are widely agreed upon by Christians and if they can be supported. (Even then, be wary. Satan has his own agenda, and it is sometimes hard to discern.)

 

Chapter by Chapter:

 

After satisfying your curiosity about the previous five questions, you will have a good foundation for understanding the individual chapters of your chosen book. Beginning with the first chapter, follow the simple steps found on the next page. Commence each step with prayer. Genuinely seek the face of God and His will for your life. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7:7

 

  1. Read the chapter, noting any questions you may have along the way. For instance, what does _____ mean? Do the Jews still carry on this tradition today? Why would he have said that specifically? Etc.
  2. Spend some time searching out a few more scriptures that address common topics or themes. Scripture is best understood in the light of other Scripture. The Bible is a uniform whole, communicating to us the story of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.
  3. Pray. This time, ask for help staying focused and finding helpful information. Look up the answers to your questions, and write down the results.
  4. Cultivate a desire for God’s truth, and ask for eyes to see the big picture. Read the chapter a second time, and write down any of your own thoughts and opinions. If another scripture comes to your mind while reading, look up the reference and make note of it.
  5. Pray again. This time pray for discernment before you read the opinions of others. Find out what other Christians believe about this chapter. This is where you need the most discernment, and if you aren’t sure, you may want to skip this step until you become more grounded in the Scriptures.
  6. Ask for strength to apply the Word of God in your daily life. Read the chapter one last time, writing down any personal applications you can find.
  7. Find your favorite verse from the chapter and memorize it. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2

In the instance of preparation for a weekly group Bible study, these steps can be accomplished one day at a time throughout the week, spending 10-20 minutes in study each day. If you split the steps like this, be sure to begin each daily session with prayer.

That Sweet, Sweet Spirit

I first shared these thoughts in 2011. Today, I needed that gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. How do we come to Him? With a humble and contrite spirit. With praise and worship for everything He Is, and for everything He has done for us. I thought these words might encourage someone today, so I am re-sharing it (slightly altered from the original).

 

Lacking:

I have often wondered what I am missing in my personal Bible study and prayer time. Why do I seldom feel that sweet Spirit at home that I often feel in church while surrounded by people, as I struggle to resist the overwhelming desire to weep aloud and praise God with my whole being? The answer came to me quite unexpectedly yesterday morning as I researched and meditated over the life of Matthew Henry.

I was reading that Mr. Henry used to invite his friends over after God answered a special prayer. They would then proceed to worship God together as a group, thanking Him for His recent blessings. Now, I’ve heard of prayer meetings where people get together and petition God for something, but never just to thank Him. The verse was quoted:

O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3

After reading about this, my mind wandered to several places that I’m having trouble tracking, but a few minutes later, I found myself trying to remember several praise and worship songs that I learned as a teenager.

When I look into your loveliness, when I gaze into your righteousness, when all things that surround become shadows in the Light of You.

I worship you, Lord; I worship you, Lord. The reason I live is to worship you.

You are awesome in this place, mighty God. You are awesome in this place, Abba Father. You are worthy of our praise; to you our hearts we raise.

I worship you, Almighty God; there is none like you. I worship you, Almighty God; that is what I long to do. I give you praise, for you are my righteousness.

I couldn’t remember all of the words to the songs, but you should be thankful, because I would probably sit here typing them out and singing them in my head all day long if I could.

As I sang bits and pieces of songs from my youth, I was impacted by the presence of God in my life. By His incredible love for me, His mercy toward me. I reached a point where I could sing no longer, but merely sit and weep, and try to take it all in.

The missing element:

Singing! When I sing, I glorify only – I’m not busy asking for things or being otherwise selfish. I am bearing my soul to testify of His worth. For the purpose of this post, I am changing the meaning of this old expression by slightly altering the spelling of the first word.

Baring. My. Soul.

When I think of baring something, I think of revealing it, making it naked, exposing it for what it truly is. When I come to Him in humility, worshipping Him for His wonderfulness, nothing stands between me and God. He sees me and understands me fully at all times, but when I sing, I am aware of Him looking back at me. And I don’t quite know how to deal with that.

Something about singing reveals our human qualities; the imperfections of the voice mirror the imperfections of the soul. Singing takes away the façade, stripping us down from how we want to be seen to the nakedness of who and what we really are. To the transparency of our utter dependence on Him.

It is difficult to pretend to be something that you’re not when you are singing, unless one has been highly trained to do so. Even then, if the trained singer once breaks focus and contemplates the message he is yielding forth, he is in danger of losing his composition, becoming that shattered and hopeful spirit once again as he struggles to physically cope with the majesty that is God’s love and grace.

More Cursive Writing Worksheets

CursiveSo I just noticed that people are still landing on my blog looking for creative writing worksheets. Back when I wrote my first one, my son was in second grade; now he is in sixth!! Anyway, I just created some of the worksheets I promised you, so here they are. (I don’t know what happened to the old ones I made, or why I never uploaded them.) If you want to create your own worksheets, there’s a link to the website on the post I linked to above.

Books of the Old Testament

Books of the New Testament

Months of the Year

Days of the Week

Names Alphabetical

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31124313@N02/3921162736″>cursive-letters from the Karen Whimsey in the public domain</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Quick and Easy Budget Cooking Tips

I typed up some tips for a friend today, and figured I should share them with you all as well! Here they are:

I don’t always keep fresh veggies and a couple of other odd ingredients on-hand (because they go bad so quickly), but I still use several recipes that call for them; I just have to make a quick trip to the store first.

I always use the cheap version of everything. If a recipe calls for chicken wings, I use thighs, etc.

Also, I never use a whole pound of meat. I will buy a 3-lb. frozen roll of hamburger, cook it all, drain the fat, and divide it into 5 baggies. I refreeze those, and use one portion when it calls for a pound of beef. With chicken, I always just buy a big bag of thighs. When the recipe calls for a pound of chicken, I just take one piece out of the bag and boil it. (I do everything the easy way, lol.) Then I tear it in pieces and toss it in with the rest of the recipe.

Also, a lot of times, I’ll just use whatever type of cheese, veggie, meat, or filler (beans, rice, pasta, potatoes) that I have on-hand or that I need to use up. I don’t always follow the recipe. (Except for spices – I am terrible at guessing at those! Lol.) I also like to stretch recipes by adding extra filler.

I always use lemon juice instead of lime because it’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time in the fridge.

You can get enchilada sauce in the Mexican aisle at Wal-Mart. I think it’s cheaper than making it at home or from the mix that ALDI carries sometimes.

You can substitute refried beans for hummus. It’s good both ways.

FreeImages.com/Gabriel Bulla

FreeImages.com/Gabriel Bulla

When you make homemade pizza, you can cook Italian bread slices for 10 minutes or so, then add the toppings (tomato sauce, pizza spices, and any combination of veggies and meat). You can add the toppings before baking, but the bread might be a little moist when it is finished. I like it either way. Also, I always just allow my family to pick and choose from the veggies I have on-hand, and each family member makes their own unique mini-pizzas. This idea also works with tortillas, if you don’t have any bread on-hand.

I hope you find a few of these ideas helpful! Let me know if you have any more to share!

Ever Changing

Christie Thomas

FreeImages.com/Christie Thomas

I have been reading back through some of my old posts this week, and there are a few points in which I no longer agree with myself. I have changed my mind about several things over the course of the last year or so. As I compile some of my popular articles into a book and expound on the ideas presented, I am finding that I am leaving a lot of remarks out, and even changing a few things altogether. It is my hope that I understand things a little better than I did when I first penned these blog entries. It is my prayer and fervent desire that the Lord bring me into a fuller knowledge of the truth. I know that I hunger and thirst after His righteousness, and that I have been marveling at how perfect His law is. I am considering re-posting some of my well-read topics with comments about how my perspective has changed. Would that be weird? Providing commentary on my own writings? Ha, if I have time, I think I am going to do it. If for no other reason than to provide clarity for anyone I may have confused along the way.

Music-Themed Ideas for Core Subjects

In my last post, I mentioned a few ideas of how to work music into your homeschool day. However, all of those examples were only good for non-core homeschool hours. What should you do if you really need more core hours, but you want to work music in somehow? Here are a couple of  ideas.

Rhythm worksheets: You can replace number values with notes and rests and create math worksheets for all levels. Addition and subtraction are the simplest, but there’s no reason why you can’t do multiplication, fractions, and even algebra! (Tie notes together for larger values). Be really creative, and try to make the worksheet fun. These exercises will help your child learn to instantly recognize note and rest values.

Research paper (history, social studies, or language arts): Teach your child how to conduct research, take notes, and write a paper. They could choose a composer, a musical genre, the invention of an instrument, etc. If you look up music appreciation topics, you’ll see many good ideas to choose from.

If you need help teaching your middle- or high-schooler how to get from square one to finished paper, I teach classes for that in my hometown, and would be willing to teach it via email. If you would like more information, just email me, and I will get back with you. (My email address is included on the syllabus below.)

Write an Outstanding Paper Syllabus

Writing: Write the first half of a story using notes instead of letters as often as possible. Have your child finish the story on his own. Provide him with staff paper that you can print for free online. Try to create a good mix of treble and bass clef notes.

Spelling: Have your student choose the correct spelling of a word (from among 2 or more misspelled ones). Use notes instead of letters anywhere you can.

I am sure there are tons of activities like this floating around. Can you think of any more?

FreeImages.com/St. Mattox

FreeImages.com/St. Mattox

Non-Core Hour Ideas: Music

Okay, so we Missouri homeschoolers all know we need 600 hours of core subjects per year, but how do we fill the 400 non-core hours? Sure, you could just have your child reinforce core skills – we aren’t required that the remaining hours be something other than math, language arts, social studies, and science. But why do that to your children? Give them a much-needed break and allow them to enrich their lives by offering some creative topics for study. Some areas are rich with classes for homeschoolers. In our immediate area, we have gymnastics, archery, art, choirs, and bands. These are just the non-core offerings, and there may be even more that I am not aware of. Whether or not you have access to homeschool classes, almost every area will have a music teacher of some sort.

Putting your children into music lessons is a sure-fire way to fill some of that time. Here’s what I recommend: a 30 minute lesson once a week and 30 minutes of daily practice time. (Including lesson day, and here’s why: the sooner the student gets to the piano after his lesson, the better his retention will be – thus making it easier on him in the long run and improving his progress overall.) That totals an hour of music on lesson days, and 30 minutes on subsequent days.

If you would like to stretch those daily half hour sessions to an hour, I have come up with a few ideas for you. (If an hour or 30 minutes is too long for your child’s attention span, you can easily break the practice and extras down into 15-minute increments.)

Piano Play: Allow your child to sit in front of the piano and just make things up. Show him how to make simple chords (you can YouTube it or ask your music teacher) and improvise a melody. Or just let him experiment and see what kinds of sounds and rhythm he can come up with on his own. Children often enjoy this unstructured play time, and it can be a great stress reliever (especially if you allow them to express their emotions through the volume and tempo).

Flashcards/Theory: If you really want to get your children’s music lessons off to a flying start, flashcards are a great way to reinforce primary concepts. You can help your child make some (look for tutorials online), you can download them for free, or you can find an app that quizzes your music-learner. You could even go all-out and buy a pack.😉 Spending time with flashcards each week will greatly increase a beginner’s sight-reading capability.

Listening: Choose some classical music (or any other genre they are interested in) and allow your child to soak it up as they eat, play, or do homework (best if there are no lyrics). I would even count contemporary music listening as non-core hours if I were making it a point to analyze it in some way after listening: what makes country music different from pop? What instruments, rhythms, or techniques does this specific genre use that gives the listener a clue to what kind of music he is hearing? If the student is advanced, you could even discuss chord progressions and voicing.

Singing: Find some songs on YouTube or a sing-a-long, and have your children learn the words and melody. This reinforces their memory skills and can be quite enjoyable. Also, you could look for songs that would benefit other subject areas, such as math, science, history, etc. (If you have several kids, they can play musical chairs while learning by rote. I use this technique with my choir kids, and it’s a great way to get them to sing the same words over and over and over again without showing the slightest sign of boredom!)

Make Instruments: Help your kids make a cigar-box guitar or a bean shaker. You can find tutorials online. Percussion instruments can be made from almost anything. Next, model rhythms for your child, and have them mimic you on their very own hand-crafted instrument. (You can play the same game with melodies instead of beats if you feel like singing, lol.)

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

These are just a few non-core activities off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that I am missing. Subscribe to my blog, and be on the lookout for ways to get music-themed CORE hours.

 

Can you think of any more non-core ideas? Leave them in the comments below.