2 simple & transforming Bible study techniques

So let’s admit that sometimes we open up scripture and are like, “ummmm what did I just read?” We go away confused or bored.

Been there done that.

I learned something from John Piper that has helped me and I want to share it with you. Every morning he gets out of bed and gets on his knees and prays these three verses. He calls them the I.O.U’s.

Instruct – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

Open – “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18

Understand – “Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 119:27

Before you read scripture consider praying through the I.O.U’s and ask God for help in understanding his word. And then trust he will give it to you.

Then ask the 2Q’s. 

As you read scripture have these two questions rumbling around in the back of your head.

Q1: What does this verse say about God or what does God say in this verse?

All scripture points us back to God so we can come away with a truth about God or about something He is saying.

Q2: How does this truth about God or what he is saying make a difference at the end of my day?

This is the so what. We’ve learned _____________ about God now how does this flesh itself out in my day. In the office. At home. Neighboring. Etc, etc.

Try this out and see what the Holy Spirit reveals to you.

Do you have some thoughts on how to engage in your Bible reading? Let’s help each other out – sometimes a simple new tool in Bible Study and prayer helps us move forward in our walk with Jesus. Share it in the comments. 

Live Full Walk Free Bible Study – a word from the Author & a giveaway!

I am so excited to introduce you to Cindy Bultema, a sweet friend and Bible teacher that I have grown to love over the years. I’m still not even sure how our paths first crossed but it had to do with Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds. I’ve read all of Cindy’s Bible Studies and I love her because she’s so very much like you and me and has an ability to teach God’s word and connect with women of all ages and seasons of life. Even hard seasons that include rock bottom. Not everyone is willing to talk about their “rock bottom” with the grace and balance that Cindy does. This is why I keep coming back to her studies. Her blog. Her resources. In fact I’ve just started her brand new study Live Full Walk Free! More on that later. First I want you to get a glimpse of Cindy’s heart by hearing her words in this post. 

Meet Cindy:

High school was not kind to me.

Although there are a few fun memories – cheering for the freshmen basketball team, attending a zany psychology class, passing drivers training – I’m glad I never have to return to those four agonizing years again. Ever.

Mostly my adolescent days were filled with intense loneliness, rejection, and a bottomless longing for acceptance and love.

I’ll never forget the day I thought I finally was on my way to high school recognition. A fellow classmate shared she saw something written about me in the girls’ bathroom. Really? Me?!

I ran to the south side of the building as quickly as my clog-wearing feet would take me. I couldn’t wait to examine what someone had taken the time to reveal publicly about me!

I pulled open the heavy wooden door and scanned the chipped bathroom stall’s exterior. Then I spotted the six words that would shape my life for the next two decades…

“Cindy is a fat red cow.”

And on that dreadful day those six words attached to me like a sticky, descriptive name tag.

As the years went on, I may have appeared happy and self-confident. But beneath the cheery smile and bubbly personality, remained an injured and insecure young woman meticulously attempting to cover up the pain, and striving to protect herself from ever being hurt or teased…again.

I wonder if you can relate, sweet friend? What labels have attached to you over the years?

  • Not good enough
  • Stupid
  • Ugly
  • Fat
  • Not wanted.

Thankfully my story has a joyful ending. In 1996, in the midst of a drug and alcohol addiction, I was introduced to Jesus, and surrendered my life to Him. As I began to study the Bible, I quickly discovered God says I am….

  • Accepted (Romans 15:7).
  • Beautiful (Ephesians 1:3).
  • Chosen (1 Peter 2:9).
  • Dearly Loved (1 John 3:1).
  • Enough (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9).

My dear sister, you are too!

In Christ, we have been given new, Truth-filled, life-giving labels to wear. We all have.

Regardless of where we have been. Regardless of what we have done.

And in Christ, not only are the old labels erased, they have been replaced with power-filled words of Truth. Only God can do that!

What label are you wearing today? Did you put on “loved,” “significant,” “courageous” – or are your old labels trying to impact your new days?

May we say “no more” to not-nice nametags, lying labels, and sassy self-talk. Instead, may God infuse us with a fresh faith to “put on” Truth each day. His Words are always a perfect fit!

Be reminded of God’s power-filled words of truth with these free A-Z Scripture Cards available for download at http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/.


With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss.

Cindy’s latest Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/ was released in December 2016. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school. Visit Cindy at www.cindybultema.com.

You guys – the Bible Study is really really good and the A-Z Scripture Cards are Awesome. Do you even know how many packs I’ve given away to people? Even danger stranger giveaways. I’m serious. Get you some! 

Cindy is donating a copy of Live Full Walk Free and a pack of A-Z Scripture Cards to a reader today. Just leave a comment on my blog and I’ll have the kids draw a name out of the hat. Umm yes, I did say drawing out of a hat. Sometimes I defy the high tech way of doing things and go old school. Actually I just don’t know how to do it. Ha! Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you in the case YOU are the winner. 


Small bites of powerful Truth

I have loved my YouVersion Bible App the last two weeks. Because I’m an all or nothing chick still longing to be somewhere in the middle I either read my Bible in large consumptions like an in depth Bible study or I don’t do it at all. I’ve never been one to read a single verse and call it time in God’s word.

But the last two week’s that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been relying on my  YouVersion Bible App and the verse of the day to give me my daily portion of God’s word. I have a hard time reading on pain meds so when I do it has to be small quantities. This app has been perfect for me and I’m coming away with a renewed outlook on spending small portions of time in God’s word. I’m also still using my May Book prayer and gratitude journal to record what God is putting on my heart. I have loved this practice so much that at the end of the 40 days I just might get another one!

I’m also wanting to help Sophie and Mitchell get used to their You Version Bible App so they can navigate it well enough in a moments notice when they need to pull from scripture. Let’s face it – our kids are most likely going to be using their digital devices to read God’s word. We might as well help them get into a habit of using it daily. There are some great devotional plans through YouVersion for teens, families, etc. All kinds of reading plans. And it’s all free! A great resource.


Great reads & Bible Studies

Thought I’d post about a few great reads that have been helpful in my life lately…..

Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson

Sophie Hudson is absolutely hilarious and yet deeply profound. You will simply love her. I love this book that reminds us God designed us for relationships – with Him and with others.

The Armor of God Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer is A+mazing. I’ve had the chance to join an existing women’s group the last few weeks doing this study. And I’ve loved it so much. The study. The ladies. The discussion. Everything about it has been so wonderful. This is a 7 week Bible  study with 45 minute teaching sessions. Homework is 5 days and takes about 20-30 minutes give or take. I love how LifeWay is mostly producing 6-7 week studies now and this seems to be a good fit for many people. The study I’m in is not bound by the weeks and takes more time to discuss the homework before moving on to the videos. So you can do it however you’d like.

Tough Guys and Drama Queens – how not to get blindsided by your child’s teen years. by Mark Gregston.

A few of the chapters: Overexposure to everything; Overresponsible Parents, Irresponsible Kids; Loss of Gender Differences; Authority Cannot Be Forced; Relating is More Important that Winning; Pick your Battles Wisely; Offer Freedom to Make Mistakes.

And what I want to order soon is this……

Because I love Fern Nichols and these dvd’s are her teaching a 6 week prayer curriculum which includes time for discussion and prayer. You can order this brand new curriculum at the link below

Igniting A Passion To Pray DVD Set – Moms In Prayer

What about you? What are you reading right now that’s having an impact on your life? 





Summer is almost here – don’t ditch your Bible!

For some of us Summer IS here already – like for our kids. Graduation was Friday night and we’re saying Goodbye to the school year. But I know some of you still have a few more weeks of school. And I solemnly pray for your soul as you enter the insane zone or as Jenn Hatmaker affectionally calls it: “The end of the year screw-its.”

I don’t know about you but Summer scheduling is just so totally different than the school year schedule and sometimes personal Bible reading can slip pretty quickly. I want to challenge us to stay in God’s Word this Summer.

A great place to start is to look at Psalm 119. It’s that really really super long chapter in the Bible. So maybe you don’t have time to sit down and read the entire thing in one sitting but work your way through Psalm 119 and ask yourself this one question with pen and paper nearby. What impact does reading and loving God’s word have on a person? And jot down what you see. It’s astounding. The benefits and the power of God’s word (law, precepts, statutes, words, commands – all words you can substitute for God’s word in Ps. 119) has a profound effect on our lives. Why would we ever stop reading it? Well, I can answer that. It’s because we have an enemy who roams this earth and wants nothing more than for us to be unaware of the power of God’s word in our lives. Let’s fight back with God’s word in our hearts.

Below I’ve linked to LifeWay’s all access online studies – most of them are 7 week studies and great for an individual study over the Summer or grab a few girlfriends and study together – while the kids drool popsicle juice down their mouths and hang from chandeliers in the house. Okay so maybe after bedtime is the perfect time for you?

Online Bible Studies

Lord – help us to believe you and when you tell us that your words give us life and health and understanding that we would want those things from you. We can strive for these things on our own accord but we will never achieve them without coming to you. Help us to long for your word and to engage in it every single day. Amen.



When the healing doesn’t come

I’m in a small group Bible Study and we’re working through Jennifer Rothschild’s study called “Missing Pieces” and it’s so very good.


Jennifer is blind and she shares openly of her years of praying for God to heal her. I love the ladies in my study and last night after hearing Jennifer’s session on being thankful FOR and not just IN her blindness we were all in awe. And we had some really good discussion. Like is it pie in the sky thinking to be able to be thankful for the very things we ask God to remove or change?

I’ve had a lot of discussions with people and read a lot about the topic of healing and honestly I think Jennifer’s teaching segment in session 3 of this study is the very best teaching on healing. I love her position and her spirit while talking about these things. She’s Biblically grounded and open to the fact that God can and does heal today. But we aren’t “entitled” to his healing. We don’t “deserve” God’s healing. Sometimes he heals and other times he gives grace in the situation instead of healing.

The Apostle Paul being a perfect example of this with his “thorn in the flesh” whatever it was. I think he was bald and wanted more hair. Just Kidding. I don’t think that was his thorn but whatever it was God didn’t remove it. You guys! What if he really had like a REAL THORN in his flesh?! Ha! I’ve never thought about that before until this very second. Like people forever have been offering attempts to guess what the “thorn” was: blindness, stomach problems, etc. what if that time he got shipwrecked and he had to live off the bush country and thorns and thistles – what if he really got a thorn stuck in his side? And we’ve just been overthinking it all these years. Okay, that’s just insane. Sorry about that. But God never healed Paul. He gave him grace instead and God’s power was resting on him because of his weakness. (II Cor. 12:6-10)

Jennifer helps us see that God can do what he wants when he wants to. Sometimes he heals and sometimes he doesn’t. He has a right to not heal. What we actually deserve is hell (because everyone is born in sin and that penalty is eternity in hell) but the good news is that we don’t have to get what we deserve because Jesus died to take our place. We didn’t deserve that. Jennifer calls it the divine unfairness of God. It wasn’t fair that he died for us and became poor and cursed so we could be rich and not have to be cursed if we choose to accept Jesus through a relationship with him. It’s not what we deserve but it’s what we can have.

Jennifer makes this statement that I’m still processing: “My friend, if what we really deserve is hell, then anything else God gives us or spares us from on this side of eternity is a privilege – even suffering.”

This is where she talks about not just being thankful IN all things but being thankful FOR all things. I’m still chewing on this honestly. I understand this in light of her blindness. My infertility. Things we can’t change. And even then it’s hard. She talks about that as well. She doesn’t claim it’s easy to be thankful for suffering. And she still prays for healing but she’s thankful for her blindness in the meantime. How incredible. But where I’m struggling with this is when it applies to abuse, rape, murder, etc –  things where someone has been willfully wronged through sheer wickedness. I’m just struggling with how you can be thankful for any of that. To me recognizing that God is always in control and he is still good even when horrible things happen is different than being thankful for them.?

So yeah – I’m still praying for God to teach me what He wants me to see. I want to have the kind of heart that is so tender towards God that I can be thankful for all things. I really do want that kind of trust and faith. In the meantime I’m continuing to be in awe of the divine unfairness of God in his taking my place on the cross. That is simply amazing.

Bible Journaling Workshop

So the last few weeks I’ve been preparing for a large Bible Journaling Workshop at our church. The process took over our dining room but how fun it was!

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There was a sweet Spirit among the group and ladies left feeling like they too could linger longer in God’s word through journaling. Therefore I feel it was highly effective and I know it was FUN!

Two ladies in particular have inspired me in Bible Journaling and I shared their stories with the ladies on Saturday. Lisa Ritter’s daughter Emma has Cystic Fibrosis and Bible Journaling has been a huge source of comfort to her during their hospital stays. Lisa’s faith is astounding. Find her on Facebook and Periscope because you will LOVE her. I’ve been praying for Emma and had to share a tiny bit of her story with the ladies.


Erika Kosterlitzky is actually the first person that introduced me to Bible Journaling about 7 months ago. Her sweet little Libby went home to be with Jesus in a drowning accident and this woman’s faith will also encourage you and bless you. Their story was shared as well on Saturday. You can also find Erika at her blog Life After Libby

And then we sat around these cute round tables and watched live tutorials, talked about what Bible Journaling can look like and how really the point is just to spend time reading and responding to God’s word.

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One of our planning team members made these art pieces for everyone. She made four originals and we made color copies and laminated them for everyone. Such a gift! She is so talented.

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Work stations allowed us to try our hand at some of the new art techniques we learned thanks to Heather, Suzanne and Allison – the tutorial chicks. They were so awesome! They used a ladybug camera to do live tutorials. Stamping, lettering and prepping/painting a page.

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The tutorial trio – love them!

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Several Mother daughter duo’s came and I loved that so much.

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A friend of mine working on her first page. Her boyfriend gave her a journaling Bible for Valentine’s Day and she was waiting until the workshop to learn a few basics. Her page turned out so neat.

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Sophie attended the workshop with a few friends so that was fun for her.


The planning team in all our maturity and godliness.

My man opened up our time and I was so glad he did. I asked him to share with us a few words because I wanted the Spiritual leadership of our church to speak and pray over our group. He reminded us that being women of the word can change everything. Spending time in Gods word is important and being creative in the margins of our Bibles can be a neat tool when our heart and desire is to respond to God.

It took many hands to make this day so productive and special and I just thank God I got to be a part of it.


Bible Journaling – where we are with it.

I shared a few weeks ago that I was just starting to get into Bible Journaling – where you create in the margins of your Bible based on what you have read and the direction the Holy Spirit leads you. Sophie has now caught the vision for it as well and together we have prayed, read and created. How I love this time with her.

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Supplies are simple: A journaling Bible, colored pencils (any kind will do), a good black micron pen, some paints if you dare and maybe some cute washi tape.

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I love this practice of creating in my Bible. I see it as a response to God’s word but sometimes I get caught up in being afraid I will “mess up”. I have to guard myself against getting caught up in comparison or the beauty or lack of beauty in the art. It’s not about me. It’s about God and what He has to say about himself in his word. My response is worship. And worship in the margins is a new practice for me. I am loving it. It’s helping Gods word marinate a bit longer in my soul and mind.


About peed in my pants over a Bible study misunderstanding last night

Spoiler Alert: Baptist Humor. I’m not making fun of other religions but if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness you might not like this post very much. Sorry in advance.

Okay, so I’m in a wonderful small group bible study on Wednesday nights. There are a few women in the study that just moved or are new to our church so we’re all still getting to know each other. I’ve been bringing coffee each week but wondered if people really wanted it so I sent out this text message  asking if everyone wanted coffee. The thread gets interesting when a newer lady makes a comment about HATING coffee. See for yourself….. (I blurred out names and numbers)


It’s like she was acting like she didn’t even know us but I knew it was the right person because she had just given me her number last week. So now I’m totally confused.

And what was up with the Kingdom Hall comment?

I could’ve sworn this lady said her church background was Baptist but maybe she was an undercover Jehovah’s Witness and just wasn’t telling us. I hear they don’t drink caffeine.

All this takes place about 2 hours prior to Bible Study.

I decide not to text anyone else and ask if they were confused. Better to keep those thoughts to oneself instead of stirring up stuff.

I did however share it with Randy. He was equally puzzled.

So it’s Bible Study time and a few ladies trickle in and sit down. One lady did say something like, “What was up with the mystery texter?” I said, “I’m not sure.”

About that time the newer lady walks in. Suddenly I’m viewing her differently. Wondering if her husband is out knocking on doors in a white shirt and black tie.

What startles me is when she immediately grabs a cup and gets some coffee.

I’m baffled.

She sits down and I say, “Did you get my text earlier today?”

“Nope. When did you send it?”

I grill her a few more times to be sure she wasn’t the one who sent the text.

I pull out my phone and read the number I have for her in my contacts and sure enough – it was the wrong number!!

So I read the entire text thread to her – you know, the part where she says she HATES coffee and doesn’t know us and wondered if this was Kingdom Hall. That one.

Our entire group is about in tears we are laughing so hard.

Then another newer lady brings the house down when she said, “Well, I was confused by the manna comment until I did day four of our homework right before I came and that’s when I learned what it meant.”

More laughter.

So much that we had several people stop by and tell us we were having too much fun and to settle down.


So, yeah, that’s my Bible Study story for the week.

Linking up with some of my favorite writers……JenniferKristin and Holley




Bible Study in 2016 – some ideas

I’m starting out 2016 in a study called “Open Your Bible” by Rachel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. Yep, you read that right. Maiden name Bible and I’m pretty sure she has a Bible degree. Cool, huh.

I like these two young women (I sound old) who are committed to studying God’s word and taking others along with them.

In their 7 week Bible Study we look at the power of God’s word and how to interact with scripture. I love this study personally and am excited to be going through it with a few other ladies in a small group. This study comes with a download (optional) of ten minute talks from both Amanda and Raechel that you watch as a small group or large group study. Then there is some discussion and actual reading the Bible together time and doing some work together. Four days of homework follows up the lesson. I like the format a lot. It’s deep yet not overly time consuming.


Maybe you can’t go to a Bible Study group right now. This would still be a great option for personal Bible study on your own.

Other resources for considering would be:

Unlocking the Bible – great deep devotional. Hard to think a devotional could actually be deep but this really is a deep, solid devotional you could totally use as your daily time in God’s word.

The Message: SOLO Women’s Devotional – I really like Eugene Peterson and he has put out a series of devotionals for college age, men, women, singles, etc. He has certainly mastered the art of asking good questions. And answering questions honestly is a huge part of personal growth I believe.

Armor of God  – I’m looking so forward to doing this study in the Spring Lord willing. Priscilla Shirer will never disappoint in her teaching. Love the fire in her bones. This is definitely a deeper study requiring more daily time but I believe we need this in our lives. We need to take the time to dig deeper.

Are you having a hard time starting out 2016 in God’s word? It’s not too late to start. Grab you a devotional if you need the structure (I do) or open your bible to read God’s word on your own. Don’t start in Genesis though and read through the whole Bible if you’re just starting out. Sounds like a great idea but it’s really not. How about the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John? Ask yourself these questions as you read: What kind of person is Jesus? How does he respond to people? Is it what I expected?

So what’s your plan to stay connected to God this year? What does your Bible reading look like?  I’d love to hear.