Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book Review :: InScribed Collection

The InScribed Collection is currently a collection of 4 studies (by women and for women). The 4 current books in the collection are: Leaving Ordinary by Donna Gaines, Living "So That" by Wendy Blight, Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel, and Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan.

Each of the books in this collection are just beautiful books (judging by the cover, here) - they each have a textured textured cover (almost like watercolor paper) and the pages have deckle edges (aka - uncut or featheredged). Both the front and back covers have attached flaps (not a book jacket or dust cover) - the front flaps have Proverbs 3:3 and a note from the author (in their handwriting) and the back flaps have information about the author (including a picture). This collection uses The Voice as the primary source for Scripture quotations. (This may be why there are unexplained italicized words in some of the quotations - I do not have The Voice so I do not know for sure.)

I started by reading Leaving Ordinary by Donna Gaines. I feel like this book would be easy to use as a devotional. Each chapter is between 6-15 pages and takes approximately 10-30 minutes to read. Each chapter ends with 'Questions to Consider' and has a space for writing notes. The book is divided into 3 parts. The subtitle Leaving Ordinary ("Encounter God through Extraordinary Prayer") may be a bit misleading as the topic of prayer is not really introduced until halfway though the book (in Chapter 10). I feel that this book addressed concepts that can/will be helpful in coming to God in prayer, but doesn't often directly address prayer. A better subtitle may have been something like "Encounter God through the Tabernacle". The information in this book was interesting and definitely gave me some new things to think about regarding the tabernacle and it's relevance to us today.

Next up was Living "So That" by Wendy Blight. This book seems to be well tailored to use with a small group. It would also be useful for individual study. This book has a lot of questions and room to write your answers right there in the book, so when you sit down with this one you will want to have a pen and Bible handy. The book is divided into five chapters, with each chapter being divided into five parts. Through the five chapters (Jesus Came So That..., God Spoke So That..., Pray So That..., Trials Come So That..., Let Your Light Shine So That...") the author leads you to study, reflect, and think. It does seem as though the author intended Living "So That" to be read in 5 weeks (one chapter per week, one part per weekday) because she uses the phrases "this week's lesson", "yesterday's lesson", and "today's lesson". I think that would be a good pace for this book, but you can definitely take it at your own pace.

After that, I looked into Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan. This study will take you through the book of Ephesians - the 6 chapters in the book of Ephesians are divided into 6 sections in the book. Each of the 6 sections in the book has 3 lessons. The book uses the author's "d.i.v.e." method (define, investigate, visualize, embrace) to work through the passages from Ephesians. Dive Deeper truly has a Bible study feel to it - there are fill in the blanks and questions with lined space for you to write your answer. In the margins, there are icons to point out which portion of the "d.i.v.e." method you will be using at that point in the text. At the end of the book (starting on page 271), there are 5 appendices with further Bible study helps. Aside from the obvious benefit of using this book to study Ephesians, I think this would also be useful for anyone who is learning how to study the Bible. The author provides a simple explanation of her study process and uses it throughout the book, and that process can be taken and used in further studies.

The final book in the collection that I looked at is Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel. This book uses an approach similar to Leaving Ordinary. (What I mean by this is the books have the main text in a chapter with bonus thought questions and room for notes at the end of each chapter. This is different from the approach of Living "So That" and Dive Deeper that use a more "study" approach with in-chapter questions with spaces for your response.) Amazed and Confused is broken up into 10 chapters (and an introduction) and each chapter ends with questions to think about and a full, lined page for notes. The author has a very easy to read style, with many relatable anecdotes. Amazed and Confused will take you through the book of Habakkuk and show how although the writings of the prophets may not directly concern our future, they can be relevant and beneficial for us.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

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