My Go-To Bible Study Resources: John

Gospel of John, Bible study, resources, tools

This year as I study the Bible, I want to share the main resources that I use so that you can benefit from these resources too. I study the Bible in a process of Book-by-Book, Chapter-by-Chapter, and Verse-by-Verse. You can read up on the process in this post: How I Study the Bible.

When I study the Bible, I like to do my own study work first. Then, I compare my findings with other commentaries from pastors, authors, and theologians. Because God’s Word never changes, we should not expect to find anything new that someone else has not already found in the Bible.

Be very wary if in your study you find something that no one else has ever seen before. God probably would not blind godly men to the truth for almost 2,000 years and suddenly reveal it to you. – How to Study Your Bible (pg. 65) by Kay Arthur

It is extremely important to study and read the Bible because it is God’s Word and is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is God’s way of revealing Himself to us. Jesus even said in John 15 that it is important to abide in His words and that His words abide in us (believers in Christ):

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” – John 15:1-17 (emphasis mine)

Therefore, since it is very important to read and study God’s Word, I am going to share the resources that I use when studying the Gospel of John. I have not placed these in any order except in which they come to mind. I hope this list will bless you and your Bible study.

Comment Below

What are resources that you use when studying the Bible? What tips and tricks do you have for studying the Bible? Who are your favorite pastors, theologians, and authors do you like to follow when studying the Bible? Have you read through the whole Bible before? Do you study the Bible on your own or in a group? Have you read through the Gospel of John before?

signature: love, sarah

The First Novel I Remember Reading

children's book, novel, Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls, fourth grade, memory

I am big into reading, so I have read a lot of novels in my life. The first novel I remember reading is Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls in 4th grade. I know I read other books before that point; however, that is the one longer novel that I remember reading first. Fourth grade was a great year of reading too; Mrs. Livingston read Island of the Blue Dolphins to us, which I enjoyed. I believe we also read a few books by Roald Dahl that year.

When we read Where the Red Fern Grows, we drew pictures and wrote a summary of the book to show what we learned. We also watched the movie, which has a sad ending. I think teachers pick that book to read because they think that boys will like reading it too. I however believe that the book is harder for today’s generations to relate to because today’s children would not be allowed to have a hatchet or a gun. They also would not be able to walk through the woods with a flame-burning lantern, especially without adult supervision.

However, because I grew up in rural, southern Indiana, we could probably relate to the events in the book a little more than someone who grew up in the city. Most children in our area have a dog and would also be able to relate to the pain of loss when the dog or other pet died.

One lesson that a reader could learn from the book is to work hard, save your money, and go after a dream of yours – even if your dream is to own two coon dogs, like Billy. This lesson would be very important for today’s children to learn as well as the lesson of responsibility – to take care of a pet.

If you want to know more about what I have read before, follow me on GoodReads.com.

Comment Below

Have you ever read Where the Red Fern Grows or watched the movie adaptation? What books would you recommend for children in fourth grade to read?

signature: love, sarah

Book Review: Slave by John MacArthur

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Over a Tennessee vacation that I took with my parents over the summer, my Mom and I listened to RefNet, in an episode where John MacArthur explains the relationship we have with Christ. MacArthur described how when we become believers, we really become Christ’s slaves. He then went on to share a book that he had written called Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. The way that MacArthur described the book was intriguing, and it inspired my Mom to buy the book. When the book was delivered, Mom was already reading something else, and therefore I got to read it first.

book, slave, john macarthur, author

Slave by John MacArthur is just as to be expected, a great book that has been written well and explicates the truth about our relationship with God. When we say that we are Christians or believers in Christ, we are saying that we are Christ’s slaves and that Christ is our Master, Lord, and King. A lot of people do not like the idea or image of slavery or being a slave, especially because of world history. However, the type of slavery that John MacArthur discusses in his book is not one of a vicious master nor of forced slavery. In this relationship, believers in Christ have been bought by Christ’s sacrifice and have been saved from the insidious slavery of sin. They are now new creations and therefore live in such a way that pleases their new Master, Jesus Christ.

However, many people that profess to be Christians today live as if they were not; what they do does not line up with what they have said about themselves. This is called hypocrisy, and it is a sin. It is also serving a different Master other than Christ. MacArthur shares this message in order to remind believers who they claim to be – Christ’s slaves.

MacArthur uses much of Scripture and church history to explain that slaves to Christ is a privileged position. He describes on pages 96 – 97 that in Roman Empire times that slaves, especially of Caesar, would be put in higher ranks especially if their master was someone important. Therefore, how much more are we as slaves to Christ in such a high position! We are to humbly rejoice that we belong to God.

John MacArthur explains in his book, the Parable of the Talents reminds us that one day our Master will return. Will we be ready when He arrives? What will He find when He returns? Will He find anyone that has been faithful to Him?

“The implications are hard to miss – especially in light of the first century slave / master imagery on which the story is built. The Master is currently away, but He will be returning soon. Opportunity abounds, but time is running out.” – Page 183

Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation? Have you been bought for a price out of the slavery of sin? Have you become a slave to Christ? Now is the time to repent and believe.

Have you been a believer that has not been living as God intended? Now is the time to repent and believe. He welcomes you with open arms.

In this book, MacArthur shares the Gospel using slave imagery:

“Our study of slavery has reminded us that we were once the wretched slaves of the cruelest master imaginable – sin. … It was in the midst of our helplessness and hopelessness that God intervened. Being rich in mercy, He chose us, set His love on us, and rescued us from the clutches of our former owner. Through Christ’s sacrificial death, we were redeemed from the slave market of sin. God cleansed us from our iniquity, clothed us in His righteousness, and welcomed us into His household forever. But our gracious God did not stop there. He made us not only slaves to righteousness but also citizens in His kingdom, friends around His table, and even adopted children in His family.” – Page 199

How glorious is our God!How merciful and gracious is He!

I recommend this book to anyone who would like to have a better understanding of the relationship with have to God when we believe in Christ. I give Slave by John MacArthur five out of five stars. I pray that this book encourages you in your walk with Christ.

Comment Below

Have you read Slave by John MacArthur? Would you agree or disagree with him? What are other books that you would recommend to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?

signature: love, sarah

Apps & Tools I Use: Photo and Video Editing

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I took a photography class in high school, where we used film and a dark room to develop photos. This class was around 2006, and they were just starting to obtain digital cameras for the classroom. In order to edit the photos that we developed in the dark room, we had to scan the photos to the computer and then use Adobe Photoshop. What a long process it was! Of course, it makes us doubly grateful for the technology advances that we have now because they can save a lot of time.

barn, black and white photo, high school photography

Today, we can use the camera on our phones much to the chagrin of professional photographers. However, the things I learned in that class are helpful to knowing how to create and edit pictures even in the digital age. For example, knowing the rule of thirds and other composition rules makes photos even better. Having tools at your fingertips to edit photos is helpful too.

Sarah B. Deringer

There are so many photo editing apps out there, and of course, they all work differently. I use a few different apps on my iPhone and iPad to edit my photos, and I use one program on my computer to edit photos. These apps are free and most are available on the App Store unless otherwise noted.

  • Instagram: Not only can you edit photos and videos but you can share them with your friends and family. This is one of my favorite apps because I can see all the pictures that my friends share. If you would like to follow me on Instagram, my username is @sarahderinger88, and I am also run a women’s ministry account (@thewomenswell18). Please follow me on both of those accounts if you would like. Instagram is available for free on the App Store.
  • Snapseed: This app has filters as well as different tools to edit photos, such as grainy film, vignette, and other tools. It then allows you to export the photo to other places, such as social media. Snapseed is available on the App Store.
  • Afterlight: This photo-editing app allows you to type words on the pictures as well as choose the colors and lighting of the photo. Afterlight is available on the App Store.
  • Retouch: This app provides tutorials for editing photos to make them look professional and artsy. My favorite feature is the object removal tool because it can remove items you do not want in the picture by covering them up with things around it. For example, it can smudge the sky in a picture to cover up an object. Retouch is available on the App Store.
  • PhotoFiltre: This is a computer program for editing photos. PhotoFiltre is free to download, and it has similar features to Adobe Photoshop.
  • Canva: I use this app to design Instagram posts, Facebook pictures, and blog photos. Canva is one of my favorite tools ever because of all the things you can design with it.

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  • Regrammer is a great tool for re-posting or re-sharing what others have shared. This app is free and available on the App Store. It is similar to a “re-tweet” on Twitter but for Instagram.

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Comment Below

What photo editing tools do you use? What are your tips and tricks for making photos look professional? Do you use stock photos on your blogs?

signature: love, sarah

My Favorite Winter Skincare Products

favorite winter skincare products

Skincare in winter is important, especially because of the dry air that makes your lips and hands chapped. It is also painful and discouraging when your fingernails crack due to the dry air as well. Therefore, I would like to share some of my tips and favorite skincare products to use during the winter.

For dry hands and body

  • Hand and body lotion – I am currently using “Sparkling Sugared Plum” Shimmer hand lotion from Victoria’s Secret. It was a gift to my mom from a coworker a few years ago, and she did not want to use it, so I am putting it to good use. I typically put it on at nighttime right before I go to bed so it will moisturize my hands overnight.
  • When washing and drying your hands, pat your hands dry with the towel rather than rubbing, which makes your hands dry out faster.
  • Drink lots of water which quenches your skin.

For chapped lips

  • Chapstick – I am currently using Blistex, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands of chapstick. Chapstick is great to use anytime that lips are getting dry.

For cracking fingernails (i.e. a split in the fingernail down the middle):

  • Coconut oil or other essential oils – This will rehydrate your nails and cuticles helping them not crack as badly. However, you will need to repeatedly use this because it does not heal over night. I am currently using My Beauty Spot: Soothing Coconut Oil, a Luxury Face Oil that can double as an essential oil for nails. It is rich in Vitamins E and K.
  • When you have a cracked nail, cut the nail down as far as you can so that it will not get caught on anything and cause further splitting.

For haircare

  • Many haircare sites share that washing hair in hot water will dry out hair faster, but in winter, hot showers are the favorite. So start with hot water but end in cooler water to seal in the moisture and nutrients found in your shampoos and conditioners.
  • Use a conditioner that is made for your hair type.
  • Use a frizz ease solution if your hair has static.
  • Air dry or pat dry with a towel rather than rubbing the towel in your hair to dry it; rubbing dry will cause more tangles.

Comment Below

What tips and tricks do you have for winter skincare? What products would you recommend for winter skincare?

signature: love, sarah

Book Review: Becoming a Welcoming Church

becoming a welcoming church

A lot of church members think they are friendly and welcoming to guests, but in reality, their perception is off. That is why Thom S. Rainer wrote Becoming a Welcoming Church, to reveal what is really standing in the way of returning guests.

becoming a welcoming church

In the book, Rainer offers tips on upgrading your signage both outside and inside the church. He also discusses the church website’s value in being up to date and easy to find information. Visitors want to know where they should park and which entrance they should use. Just because your church has been in the neighborhood for 100 years does not mean that visitors know about your church. Therefore, Rainer says that signs are a must.

Rainer also covers the top two concerns that visitors have when checking out their next church: Is it safe? Is it clean? It really boils down to not becoming too lax in safety and cleanliness because if your church does not meet the guest’s expectations in these two areas, they are most likely not returning.

Another topic that Rainer covers in the book is the welcoming committee. Do your greeters actually welcome people into the church, or are they just handing out bulletins? Do they care about their role in the church? Do you have a welcome center where people can gather to learn more about the church? How do your church members greet new people into the church? Rainer also includes a Church Facility Audit and a Secret Guest Survey so that churches can find out whether they are truly a welcoming church.

Rainer’s book is very practical, and his ideas are affordable. While becoming a welcoming church is not all about catering to newcomers, there are plenty of small things that churches can do that will encourage visitors to return time and again. I recommend this book because it is a fast, easy read, and the ideas are very important to incorporate into considerations for church improvements. I give this book five out of five stars.

Comment Below

Have you read this book? What are other books and resources that you would recommend for looking at becoming a welcoming church?

signature: love, sarah

My One Word for 2020: the Great Commission

one word for 2020

Many people like to find a focus word for the beginning of the year, one that will help them in accomplishing their new year’s resolutions and that will help them focus on a mission. The thing I have been focused on in the latter half of 2019 up until now has been missions, or the Great Commission that Christ gave the Church. The Great Commission is not optional, but it is a mandatory mission for the Church. Together as a church, believers are to go and make disciples.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) – Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus told the disciples that they were to: (1) go and (2) make disciples (3) of all nations, (4) baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (5) teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them.

(1) Go: To go has been described to me as “while you are going through life,” and that not everyone is called to go overseas to make disciples. However, we are all as believers called to tell others the Gospel (not optional). So whether you and I end up in Haiti, Kenya, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, in our home towns, or wherever God sends us, we are to be sharing the Gospel and making disciples. It is to be noted that in sharing the Gospel with others that we will be going outside of our comfort zones, even if it is in the town in which we grew up.

(2) Make disciples: Disciple means to learn, and before you can teach anyone else about Jesus, you must first have learned who He is for yourself. In order to do that, if you have not already, join a local church that faithfully preaches God’s Word. Be discipled, so that you can eventually disciple others. You will also need to be reading God’s Word and praying about whom He will call us to reach out to when sharing the Gospel.

(3) Of all nations: Jesus is not just for a certain sect or nation of the world. He is for all tongues, tribes, and nations. So do not be afraid to share Jesus and the Gospel with everyone! There will be people from all nations in heaven, and that will be a wonderful sight.

(4) Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Baptism in and of itself will not save a person, but it is a physical sign that there has been inward change. It is a sign that you are no longer the “lord” over your life, and that you understand that Jesus is now your Lord and Savior. You follow His lead now.

(5) Teaching them to observe all that He has commanded: This one sometimes gets overlooked, but it is important to remember that when you become a believer, there is a change in your life. Jesus is your Commander / Lord / King, so that means you do as He says. Will you and I sin? Yes! But we get back up, repent, ask for forgiveness, and look to Christ.

For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. – Robert Murray McCheyne

Therefore, the Great Commission is my focus this year, and I want to help my local church expand and grow in our missions area. My pastor has asked me to be on the missions board at church, and I am prayerfully and excitedly awaiting for the time that we have our first missions board meeting.

I also am praying about taking a Compassion International trip to meet at least one of my sponsored children this year. I have wanted to meet them for awhile, but this year, I would like to start taking the first steps towards going. While there meeting them, my goal is to pray with them and share the Gospel with them, encouraging them. However, may God’s will be done. If He is not ready for me to go on the trip yet, that is okay. The particular trip that I would like to take is in December 2020, and the “agenda” of the trip does not become available until February.

Sponsor a Child

Please sponsor a child through Compassion International. Here in the United States, we are so blessed that we can probably just turn on a light when it gets dark or get our water from the kitchen sink. We do not have to worry about whether our water is clean enough to drink; in most cases, we take for granted that we have clean water right where we are. Sponsoring a child through Compassion International is $38 per month. By sponsoring a child through Compassion International, you can impact a child and their family by giving them access to an education, food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, abuse intervention, and most importantly the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Comment Below

Do you have a focus for 2020? Do you have any goals and dreams that you want to begin this year?

signature: love, sarah

What’s in the Mail: Berekyah

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Letter’s in the mail! I received a letter and a Haiti Christmas ornament from Haiti Outreach Ministries. The letter and ornament is not directly from Berekyah because of the protests and violence in Haiti this year.

sponsored child, Berekyah, Haiti

The schools have not been in session in much of Haiti to protect the children. The ornament is beautiful, and we hung it on our Christmas tree. However, I love receiving the handmade items from my Berekyah, and it is sad that we could not get a letter from him this Christmas.

Berekyah letter and ornament

My prayer for Haiti in 2020 is that they will have peace. I pray that the children will be able to go back to school so that they can learn and receive more food, health check ups, and everything else that Haiti Outreach Ministries does for them. I pray that God will bless Berekyah’s family and help them through the difficult times in Haiti. I also pray that one day I will be able to go on a mission trip to Haiti and meet them.

Berekyah Haiti ornament

Comment Below

What do you normally take for granted? Do you think often about the children around the world who do not have access to the resources that you do? If you do sponsor a child, have they told you about their living conditions? Does knowing about your sponsored child’s life make you grateful for what you do have?

Sponsor a Child

Haiti Outreach Ministries logo

Please sponsor a child through Haiti Outreach Ministries. By sponsoring a child through Haiti Outreach Ministries, you can help a child receive an education, meals, and even Christmas gifts. You are allowed to write the children letters, and you will receive a picture, a gift every once in awhile, report cards, and updates on your child. Most importantly, you can help a child and their family have an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can change their lives for $35 per month. What a legacy you could leave by sponsoring a child through Haiti Outreach Ministries!

signature: love, sarah

What’s In the Mail: Edith

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Letter’s in the mail! Mom and I recently received a letter from Edith in Ecuador. This letter is dated October 31, 2019. Edith is preparing to celebrate a birthday on January 24, and she will be 17 years old. My goodness, she is growing up so fast! We began sponsoring her in September 2014, so she has grown a lot since then.

Edith, Ecuador, Compassion International

Edith

In this letter, she writes about her best friend. She says her best friend is David, who is 17 years old. She, David, and her other friends like to sing, play, and talk together. David and Edith are both focused on glorifying God together, which makes them best friends. She also says that she is learning how to be a leader in the church, which is great! The church can always use more people passionate about serving Christ.

Edith letter

It is true that the closest fellowship a believer will ever have is with other believers. While other friends may have a lot in common with you, they will never have as much in common with you as someone who believes in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Believers in China, Kenya, or Ecuador will have more in common with you than your non-believing neighbors. I am so thankful that she has friends who also believe in Christ, and I pray that her family and friends all come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Edith letter

Her favorite subject in school is physical education. There are no sports in the college that she hopes to attend one day, but she likes watching sports because she thinks that people playing sports is funny.

Sponsor a Child

Please sponsor a child through Compassion International. Here in the United States, we are so blessed that we can probably just turn on a light when it gets dark or get our water from the kitchen sink. We do not have to worry about whether our water is clean enough to drink; in most cases, we take for granted that we have clean water right where we are. Sponsoring a child through Compassion International is $38 per month. By sponsoring a child through Compassion International, you can impact a child and their family by giving them access to an education, food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, abuse intervention, and most importantly the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Comment Below

What do you normally take for granted? Do you think often about the children around the world who do not have access to the resources that you do? If you do sponsor a child, have they told you about their living conditions? Does knowing about your sponsored child’s life make you grateful for what you do have?

signature: love, sarah

What’s In the Mail: Joseph

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Letter’s in the mail! I received three letters recently from Joseph in Kenya. In these letters, he writes about Christmas and holidays, his house, and his mother’s business. One of the holidays that they celebrate in Kenya is Mashujaa Day, which is on October 20th. According to Officeholidays.com, Mashujaa Day is “Heroes Day” in English. Mashujaa means Hero in Swahili. The day used to be known as Kenyatta Day named after Jomo Kenyatta, and the name changed in 2010 to reflect and honor all heroes that work towards Kenya’s Independence.

Joseph

Joseph

Joseph’s favorite holiday is Christmas, and his family celebrates by sharing and visiting family. They eat Chapatis with peas and stew for Christmas. They celebrate the New Year by going to church and visiting family. They also share snacks and have a cake.

Joseph letter

Joseph writes that he lives in a village. At his house, he sleeps in a bed. He gets water from the tap and food from the market. His house is made of iron sheet with a cement floor and an iron sheet roof. He does have electricity in his house. He washes his clothes in a basin. He lives with his mother, father, two sisters, and two brothers. He has been memorizing Galatians 5:16-24.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:16-24 (ESV)

Joseph letter

With a family gift, his mother bought a trolley for a family business. She sells smokies and boiled eggs in her business. I am so happy that his mother, Grace, can benefit from the gift and that she can have her own business. This will help their whole family for years to come.

Joseph's mother Grace and her new trolley for her business

Sponsor a Child

Please sponsor a child through Compassion International. Here in the United States, we are so blessed that we can probably just turn on a light when it gets dark or get our water from the kitchen sink. We do not have to worry about whether our water is clean enough to drink; in most cases, we take for granted that we have clean water right where we are. Sponsoring a child through Compassion International is $38 per month. By sponsoring a child through Compassion International, you can impact a child and their family by giving them access to an education, food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, abuse intervention, and most importantly the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Comment Below

What do you normally take for granted? Do you think often about the children around the world who do not have access to the resources that you do? If you do sponsor a child, have they told you about their living conditions? Does knowing about your sponsored child’s life make you grateful for what you do have?

signature: love, sarah