I haven’t done a book review for Friday Favorites since last fall, and I’ve got a GOOD one!   I’ve been writing the review up in my head since the first few pages, and I devoured the rest of the book in just a few sittings.  I like it so much that I’m giving away a copy!  (Details at the bottom of the post.)  Now, before I tell you about it, I need to give a disclaimer that I realize this is not going to be in everyone’s wheelhouse.  I’ve been having so much fun writing for The Portland Moms Blog (check out one of my articles here), where my job is to write about things that matter to a majority of mamas, especially in the Portland area.  But it’s not the place where I can write about my faith, which is what matters most to ME!   This new book I love is definitely aimed at women who have a relationship with Jesus and want to study the Bible better.  If that is not you, and this post is not for you, I love you anyway!  And if you are at all curious about Jesus or the Bible or this book, I would LOVE to talk to you!  Email, comment or message me anytime.

Now, on to the juice.  Recently my friend Chris posted a pic on Instagram of a new book called Women of the Word: How to study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds by Jen Wilkin.   I was intrigued, especially by the second part, so I ordered a copy.  I have been a Christian for 30-ish years, but only in the last seven or eight have I begun to pursue true study of God’s Word.  I’m horrified when I think back at my college years at a Christian university, attending multiple semesters of Bible classes with incredibly wise professors, and I couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could go lay out by the pool and flirt with boys.  [face palm]

But as I have (hopefully) matured in life and in faith, and now that I’m out of the baby and toddler years of parenting, I’ve found my desire to 51LColNJw-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_be in the Word increases with the amount of time I spend in the Word.  Make sense?  The more I learn, the more I realize how very little I actually know, and I crave to know more.  Having had the occasional opportunity to teach from Scripture has excited me even more! And I can honestly say that Jen Wilkin’s book has challenged me as a lover of Jesus and student of the Gospel more than I have been in years.

I want you all to go buy this book and read it, so I won’t give away all the awesome nuggets of wisdom and encouragement. First, this book is not a “Bible Study.”  It is a resource. I want to paraphrase in my own words one of the concepts that resonated with me.  The subtitle of the book is “How to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds.”  Jen points out that, especially as women, the emotional part of faith and Scripture often comes naturally to us.   We love to find a Scripture that just speaks to our hearts and brings tears to our eyes.  We enjoy singing worship songs that express our hearts and our love for the Lord.  We willingly pray and weep with others over their sorrow and joy.  And Jen asserts many times in the book that there is nothing wrong with experiencing faith with our hearts.  God created us to be emotional beings with FEELINGS, and we would be robots if we were not to acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives!

But sometimes we allow the “heart” part of our faith to stand alone, especially when it comes to studying Scripture.   Wilkin challenges us to take our Bible study to the next level–to do some research, answer a few questions and be a little more thorough.  For instance, many of us have a favorite verse or two, and we use it to encourage and comfort.  But do we know who wrote the book this verse comes from?  Do we know the context of the situation and who the author is writing to?  What did the author mean?  Are there other verses in Scripture that can help me understand this verse better?  Very often we are quick to take a verse out of context and just ask, what does this mean to ME?  Jen’s challenge is to remember that the Bible is a book about GOD.  It is not a book about ME.  The more I study this God book, the more I learn about the nature and character of God.  And as I grow in that knowledge, then I can ask: how should this change me?  How should I respond to this understanding of WHO God is? Her proposition is that the more we study the Bible with our minds, the more it enhances the faith of our hearts.

I am often the first to get defensive when an author is challenging my status quo, but I felt that Jen handled her “arguments” graciously and without insulting me.  I may not have completely seen eye to eye on every little detail, but what I took away from the book was an inspiration to pull her concepts into any Bible study I’m doing, whether it is a pre-packaged topical study, or a verse by verse inductive study I do on my own.   I was actually so fired up about the book that I went to Jen’s website (http://www.jenwilkin.net) and found out that she has taught several Bible studies that are free on podcast, and include a PDF study guide that can be downloaded.  I’m working my way through the Abide 123 John study this summer and I’m loving it.

Whether a newish Christian or an oldish Christian, I think we can all learn and improve on our study of the Bible.   His Word is powerful and will never return void, and the more we invest in our understanding of it, the more we stand to gain.  Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, this relatively short resource (152 pages) will kindle your love for Scripture and help you become a better student of it.

If you would like to be entered to WIN A COPY of Jen Wilkin’s book, leave a comment on the blog or on facebook answering the question: what book have you read recently that you would recommend?  (It can be fiction or non-fiction.)  I’ll do a drawing on Sunday night!