Product Review: Self-Guided Tour of the Bible

When we desire to have a closer relationship with God, the best way to do so is through the practice of spiritual disciplines.  The practice of spiritual disciplines helps us grow in the knowledge of God, his teachings, and how to live life, pleasing in His sight.  It is through studying God’s Word that we receive instructions in righteousness that allows us to be transformed by the renewing of minds. (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12:2)  There is a multitude of resources and tools available to assist us with the understanding of the Scriptures.  Sorting through the numerous resources and tools to obtain the basic knowledge of Bible can be a daunting task and disheartening to some who are new to Bible Study.

Christopher D. Hudson has written a plain, user-friendly companion resource book entitled, “Self-Guided Tour of the Bible.” This book is designed to be used with the Bible.  As the name implies, it allows one to study at his/her own pace. It is written using real-world scenarios and modern day examples to illustrate different concepts in the Bible.  It features maps, timelines, overviews, and charts all full-colored and reproducible for classrooms or small group studies.  There are 242 pages. Hudson cleverly uses a museum analogy to feature and highlight the various components of this companion guide.  Each chapter acts as an “Exhibit Hall.” Each “Exhibit Hall” provides a description of content featured.

This book serves well as a quick reference guide with multiple maps, charts, overviews, and timelines at your fingertips.  It would be great for new theologians beginning the journey of discovery of God’s Word. It is ideal for teaching biblical foundation training and teaching in a small group setting and for individual study.  I would definitely recommend this as a resource that should be a part of your arsenal.

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Greenleaf: Season 2 Episode 2 – Strange Bedfellows

This episode is not as salacious as the previous episode. Nevertheless, there are some powerful topics addressed, strong zingers, and it helps support the framework for the season. Most of what is learned is this episode comes from conversations. It is not something that we necessarily witness at every turn.

Lady Mae has been providing Charity with support in caring for Baby Nathan who is suffering from a diaper rash that keeps him irritable and up most of the night. When Baby Nathan’s crying interferes with an intimate moment with his wife, Bishop asks the question, “Where is that baby’s father?” We learn that Kevin is now staying in a hotel and attending Fortify Family Meetings alone. At the church, Darlene give Kevin a belated Baby Shower gift and causally mentions Baby Nathan’s rash. Kevin is forced to pretend that he know about the baby’s condition and suppress his anger behind not being informed. He confronts Charity at the mansion regarding being informed about his son. What started as an intense conversation leads to a trip down memory lane and Charity asking Kevin to spend the night.

As Bishop and Lady Mae are reviewing church finances, they discuss the opposition from the Deacon Board and Bishop’s Round Table member, Betty Wilcox. They share the mindset that Carlton Pierce needs to go. Lady Mae delegates the task to Grace. Grace solicits Charity in hopes of saving Carlton’s job. When Charity’s pleas with her mother are dashed, Grace decides to contact Darius Nash, the news reporter who invited her out for a post scandal date. During the outing, Grace has a change of heart and offers the information off the record. When she learns that Lady Mae fired Carlton, she pays Carlton a visit to extend the olive branch encouraging Carlton to continue attending Calvary.

Henry McCready (a.k.a. Seedy McCready) is dying and Robert has texted Lady Mae several times to tell her. Bishop Greenleaf visits Henry and prays for him. Bishop attempted to find out about Daryl James’ offspring from the expiring Henry when Robert enters the room. Robert attempts to have a conversation with Bishop. Bishop informs Robert that he knows that he will need to forgive him one day until then he will leave him with his father until you have to deal with our Father. Robert has a tender moment with his father who has expressed that he is not ready to die.

Sophia tells Zora about her crush on Isaiah Hambrick. Zora suggest that Sophia attends one of his rehearsals. While Sophia contemplate whether she should let Isaiah know that she is interested, Isaiah invites her to his rehearsal at Triumph. Both Zora and Sophia attend. After he completes his rehearsal he greet them both but show that he is definitely attracted to Zora. Zora enjoys the attention until she sees Sophia’s face the attempts to keep Sophia in Isaiah’s line of vision.

Jacob confides in his wife as he is dressing. He has decided that he will speak with Pastor Skanks about Skanks blindsided everyone with the news that Jacob will pastor Triumph II. Jacob asks Pastor Skanks for some warning before making such a big announcement. Pastor Skanks indicates that he would have had he known and suggested that Jacob does not bite the hand the feeds him. He gives Jacob an assignment to go door-to-door in the South Winds (composed of mostly Calvary congregants) and promote Triumph II. Jacob meet a faithful Calvary congregant who he attempt to promote Triumph II and offer a tote bag and mug. The woman responded, “I don’t care if it came from the winding clothe that they wrapped my Lord in when He died. I am dedicated to Calvary.” Meanwhile, Kerrisa meets with Tasha Skanks to survey the parsonage. Kerrisa face expressed displeasure as Tasha tries to promote the finer points of the property.

Lady Mae has pleaded with her husband to speak to Jacob and tell him about Basie Skanks’ true identity. Bishop agreed to do so but when Lady Mae ask again he decides to have a frank discussion with his wife about the matter. Two of the best quotes from this scene come from Bishop Greenleaf. “May I be frank with you Mae? Ever since Gigi started preaching, you force that boy into my field of vision out of nothing, but I believe but jealousy for your own daughter. Ascribing him a call and a variety of talents that he never showed any evidence of having.” “He seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid you brewed and between the two of you I am about to lose my mind.”

After the discussion, Bishop does make the attempt to tell Jacob. Jacob expresses his contempt for his father’s conspiracy theories, refuses to listen, and rebuffs his father. Jacob told his father, “Basie, may not be perfect. He may be Boo Boo the Fool, but at least he is not a false prophet.” Jacob retires to his bedroom where Kerissa is waiting in the bed. He unburdened himself to her about wanting to be accepted by his father. This episode ends with Jacob, Kerrisa, and the children leaving the mansion.

Greenleaf: Season 2 Episode 1 – A House Divided

This was a great season premiere. This episode cleverly reveals varying levels of complexity for each character. We begin to learn the source of long-standing resentments. We bear witness to the aftermath of every explosive revelations. Our suspicions are confirmed as more secrets are unraveled. Each member of the Greenleaf family is forced to process hard truths and alliances are truly tested.

The numerous scandalous events has severely impacted Calvary indicated by drop in attendance, lack of growth, and decrease in pledges. The measures implemented to stop the church from hemorrhaging have not proven to be fruitful. Lady Mae blames Grace and Grace blames the multiple scandalous events. As Grace speaks with Deacon Sykes to pinpointing a viable solution to stop the church from hemorrhaging, the task becomes combatting the negative and opposing mindset of parishioners.

The stress of it all is taking its toll. Charity has loss one of the twins and is induced to keep her and her unborn child safe. Bishop Greenleaf’s symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are becoming more prevalent. Grace has grown intolerant of unrealistic expectations place upon her with no regard to her personal sacrifices. Tensions build between Jacob and Bishop Greenleaf resulting in Jacob losing respect for his father. Kevin desperately seeks a magic bullet for his same-sex attraction in hopes of saving his marriage with Charity.

After losing the Beale Street Blues Bar, Mavis is spiraling out of control. She has regressed into a depressed, pill-popping alcoholic. Her involvement with Alonzo Ashbury, who is significantly younger than Mavis is a pill popper wannabe legendary blues guitarist, further complicates matters. When Mavis’s role as Alonzo’s business manager and lover collide mixed with alcohol is the perfect recipe of toxicity. Her pipe dreams of Alonzo being discovered with Mavis at his side as they travel the world together are burst when Alonzo decides to heed Bishop Greenleaf’s advice. Robert strongly desires the connection to family and community. When it is not willingly given, Robert resorts to strong armed tactics.

Jacob acts a emcee or worship leader for Triumph’s grand breaking service. Deputy Mayor Arnold Lenard and the Greenleaf family with the exception of Lady Mae were amongst the attendees. Jacob’s charismatic, enthusiastic, and almost pastoral stage presence gets the attention of all especially First Lady of Triumph, Tasha Skanks. Tasha who remarks about Jacob’s presence captures the attention of Kerissa setting next to her. After introducing Pastor Skanks, Pastor Skanks sings Jacob’s praise then announces him as the pastor over Triumph II. The news stunned each Greenleaf family member including Jacob and Kerissa. It is evident that these turn of events have pitted Jacob and Bishop Greenleaf against one another. At Charity’s baby shower, Jacob attempts to converse with his father, but Bishop intentionally ignore his son.

Mavis crashes Charity’s baby shower and gives an exposé of family secrets in a drunken outburst. She suggest a romantic involvement with Bishop Greenleaf. She accuses Bishop Greenleaf of having ulterior motives for sending Alonzo Ashbury away. She gives us insight to the abuse she suffered as a child. She was forced to live in shed while Lady Mae receive gifts, clothing, and trips to Nashville with their father. She exposes Lady Mae for habitually turning a blind eye to abusive conditions and accuses Lady Mae of failing to intervene on Faith’s behalf. Unbeknown to Mavis, Lady Mae was being molested by their father. Mavis leaves the Greenleaf mansion in a drunken rage seeking to locate Alonzo and talk sense into him.

Finally, Bishop Greenleaf’s return to the pulpit is well received by congregants and as he raises his hand to greet well-wishers his hand is shaking. After services, Bishop is in his office when the double doors open. Through a brilliant ray of light emerges Pastor Skanks who has come to deliver a portentous message to Bishop Greenleaf personally. Bishop Greenleaf demands to know why Pastor Skanks seeks his demise. Pastor Skanks reveals that he is the son of Daryl James.

Product Review: Rose Guide to Discipleship

The Rose Guide to Discipleship offers a clear and narrow direction on building upon one’s life as a Christian. It present an honest representation of how to pursue God and living as a one of His followers. Within the 286 pages (not including the appendix), author Lee Woods touches upon 30 topics ranging from faith to spiritual disciplines. This resource does provide guidance by introducing thought-provoking questions and encouraging the examination of Scriptures.

Woods does not try to sugar-coat the challenges that one might experience as a disciple; however, he highlights the encouraging passages found in the Bible. He also addresses legalism and why being a part of a church community is vital to a Believer. This is a good read and can be implemented as one-on-one or group study. It would definitely be beneficial for those who may need a refresher. It provides practical instruction on how to build a personal and corporate relationship with God and the Body of Christ.

I have performed a lot of reviews relating to discipleship. I would have to say that I believed I have identified a new favorite. It provides the building blocks for growth as a disciple. I would highly recommend this any teachers seeking to educate people in discipleship.

Product Review: Self-Guided Tour of the Bible by Christopher D. Hudson

When we desire to have a closer relationship with God, the best way to do so is through the practice of spiritual disciplines.  The practice of spiritual disciplines helps us grow in the knowledge of God, his teachings, and how to live life, pleasing in His sight.  It is through studying God’s Word that we receive instructions in righteousness that allows us to be transformed by the renewing of minds. (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12:2)  There is a multitude of resources and tools available to assist us with the understanding of the Scriptures.  Sorting through the numerous resources and tools to obtain the basic knowledge of Bible can be a daunting task and disheartening to some who are new to Bible Study.

Christopher D. Hudson has written a plain, user-friendly companion resource book entitled, “Self-Guided Tour of the Bible.” This book is designed to be used with the Bible.  As the name implies, it allows one to study at his/her own pace. It is written using real-world scenarios and modern day examples to illustrate different concepts in the Bible.  It features maps, timelines, overviews, and charts all full-colored and reproducible for classrooms or small group studies.  There are 242 pages. Hudson cleverly uses a museum analogy to feature and highlight the various components of this companion guide.  Each chapter acts as an “Exhibit Hall.” Each “Exhibit Hall” provides a description of content featured.  For example:

Exhibit Hall Description
1 Diving In: Quick Reference of the Bible
2 Getting Your Bearings: Basic Bible Geography
3 Grasping the Story: A Time Line in Bible History
4 Meeting the Characters: A Who’s Who of Bible People (When & Where, Scriptural References, Key facts & Events)
5 Exploring the Content: A Breakdown of Bible Books (Who, What, When, Where, and Famous Verses)
6 Getting to the Heart of the Bible: Jesus’ Life and Teachings
7 Connecting the Dots: Jesus throughout the Bible
8 Peeking into the Future: Heaven, Hell, and Eternity
9 Summarizing the Message:  Major Themes in the Bible

 

This book serves well as a quick reference guide with multiple maps, charts, overviews, and timelines at your fingertips.  It would be great for new theologians beginning the journey of discovery of God’s Word. It is ideal for teaching biblical foundation training and teaching in a small group setting and for individual study.  I would definitely recommend this as a resource that should be a part of your arsenal.

Greenleaf: S1 E13 – What Are You Doing Here? Review

Sophia, Grace, and Kevin find themselves contemplating the future in their separate scenes. Sophia takes in the picturesque scene looking at the mansion from afar.  Grace sits on her bed in deep thought.  Kevin considers Charity’s conversation with Carlton and Wanda as she explains her trauma away as he ease drops. Charity and Kevin try to navigate through their marriage in lieu of what Kevin revealed.  Charity has concluded that Kevin cannot explain it away and has to face his true identity.   Disregarding doctor’s orders, Charity performs her solo in church.  Later, she asks Kevin to give her space and time for the sake of the twins.

Bishop Greenleaf visits Robert in jail. Robert is requesting that Bishop Greenleaf acts as a character witness in his upcoming sentencing hearing. Robert warns Bishop Greenleaf that with his incarceration and assets frozen Henry McCready will not keep quiet for long.  Bishop Greenleaf refuses to mock the memory of Faith by making Robert shine and damns him to hell.  When Robert is unable to get Bishop Greenleaf to comply and Danielle Turner still expecting to testify, Robert’s lawyer makes a suggestion to make a deal with the District Attorney.

Grace discusses her options with Michael Carpenter.  She tries to determine if she returns to Phoenix with Sophia would that help or hurt her chances to bring Sophia back to Memphis. She is interrupted by Noah who informs her that Henry McCready is in the church conference room.  Henry McCready tells Grace that she must assume the responsibilities of taking care of him now that Robert is incarcerated. Grace learns that Henry is terminally ill and needs hospice care.  Grace works with Kevin to ensure Henry is placed in a convalescent home and is comfortable.

Grace returns to Mavis’ Beale Street Blues Bar notifying Mavis that the McCready patriarch is dying.  Mavis realizes that is why she has been receiving calls from him. Mavis inquired about how Grace learned Henry’s illness. Grace explained that Henry came by the church.  Mavis asked Grace if this meant that she was remaining in Memphis and Grace responded, “Yes.” Grace endeavors to reassure Mavis that she will be fine.  Sadden by Grace’s decision to stay, Mavis recounts a time when Bishop Greenleaf was simply James Greenleaf.  Mavis expresses her sorrow for leading Grace down this path that leads her back to the pulpit.  Grace tries to get Mavis to visit with Henry McCready, but Mavis declines.

Henry expresses his dying wish to see both of his girls. Grace responds honestly that it probably was not going to happen.  Henry reveals that no one truly cared for him.  What appeared to be Robert’s benevolence towards his father was actually Robert’s buying Henry’s silence. Grace presses her grandfather to divulge what he knows.  Henry gives an account about the fire at the First Baptist Church with the caretaker in the basement was not an accident.  This implies that Bishop Greenleaf was potentially involved in an arson and possibly a murder.  Robert used this information to blackmail Bishop Greenleaf.

Pastor Basie Skanks has plans to build a $40 million Christian Community Center directly across from Calvary Fellowship World Ministries. This is the same property that Bishop Greenleaf had a prior interest in purchasing for a pool and community center. Pastor Skanks uses “God’s will” argument with Jacob to persuade him to run the facility. As Kerissa weighs in on the opportunity, she tries to identify a place for herself in this Christian Community Center.  Kerissa asks Jacob to make and inquiry to see if Pastor Skanks would be interested in having a school a part of the Christian Community Center. Jacob leery of Kerissa’s intentions asks if she was concerned about Alexa. Kerissa response that she thinks it would be fun for them to work together.  Apprehensive about how this may impact his father and Calvary, Jacob has a conversation with his father about it.  A unconcerned Bishop Greenleaf, tells Jacob to following Pastor Skanks plans and be his eyes and ears.

Lady Mae presents her sermon on the “Virtuous Women” at the Annual Women’s Day Conference.  Her sermon was designed to buy the acceptance and support of the women in Calvary to be the interim pastor.  Instead, as she is preaching about the strength of the “Virtuous Women” the crowd begins to cheer Grace and not her. She attempts to look supportive by joining the others in clapping for Grace.  Isabel does attend the conference. After the conference, Isabel is greeted by Noah with flowers in his hands.  She informs him that she has a hotel room and they go to get re-acquainted.

Lady Mae urges Bishop Greenleaf to speak with Grace after how the conference attendees responded to Grace receiving her as the “Virtuous Woman” that will deliver Calvary.  As Grace quibbles about remaining in Memphis or moving back to Phoenix to be close to Sophia, Bishop Greenleaf informs Grace that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  He attempts to reassure Grace telling her not to worry as his treatment plan is effective. He acknowledges the inevitability of having to retire from the pulpit making his plea for Grace to carry the torch.  Grace appeals to her father about having Jacob return.  Bishop Greenleaf refuses stating that Jacob has to find his own way and it is about her. Bishop Greenleaf believes that if Grace returns to her post that the war between her and her mother will end.  Grace decides to stay to honor her father’s request.

Grace ascends the pulpit once again.  The church is relatively full compared to previous services.  Before she begins to preach, Grace is very openly and honestly addresses the sexual molestation scandal to the dismay of her parents.  She initiates a moment of silence for Robert’s victims including Faith and for those who know about abuse but refuse to speak out.  Lady Mae reached across to Bishop Greenleaf for comfort as the congregation reacts to hearing that Faith was a victim. Grace continues by encouraging people to break their silence when others are suffering. Grace emotionally admits that there is nothing that anyone can say to explain, honor, or grieve it adequately but God. After the moment of silence, Grace asked the congregation are they ready for a new thing. They respond by cheering and clapping.

Lady Mae enters the Beale Street Blues Bar to confront Mavis about her role in her ruin. A heated exchange between the sisters ensues.  Lady Mae blames Mavis and Grace for executing their righteous indignation upon the Greenleaf household.  Mavis refusing to be Lady Mae’s scapegoat fires backs at Lady Mae regarding her refusal to accept accountability, her failure to protect Faith, and her unwillingness to see Robert as a sexual predator.  Mavis orders Lady Mae out of the bar instructing her only to come back when she is willing to face the truth.  Lady Mae leaves.

Ray returns for Sophia and the family says their goodbyes.  The other family members had filed back into the mansion except for Grace.  Grace spots an unmarked car and a police car approaching the mansion.  Robert exits out of the unmarked car and begins his ascension to the mansion doors.  Grace looks directly at Robert and asks, “What are you doing here?” Robert glares at her with a smirk on his face and continues to climb the stairs.  Lady Mae meets Robert at the top of the stairs attempting to block entry.  Robert kisses her on the cheek and nudged her to the side as he enters the mansion with the police.

Greenleaf: S1 E12 – Veni, Vidi, Vici Synopsis

Kevin desires to return to their marital bed; however, Charity’s request has not been satisfied.  Lady Mae confronts Kevin about his failure to correct matters between Charity and himself.  A dinner invite from Adrian Miller goes in an unexpected direction for Kevin.  When Adrian challenges Kevin about his same-sex attraction, Kevin is adamant about being a heterosexual, married man expecting twins with his wife. Adrian abruptly leaves the dinner. Kevin decides to break his silence and confesses his same-sex attraction to Charity.  Charity disturbed by the news begins to assault Kevin then falls. She is rushed to the hospital. At the hospital, Charity is diagnosed with preeclampsia and placed on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Deacon Connie Sykes meets with Lady Mae regarding the Annual Women’s Day Conference.  Due to Calvary’s current state, Deacon Sykes makes recommendations for cuts and how to improve the image, membership, and finances of the church. Lady Mae protests the change of venue from the Peabody Ballroom to the newly renovated River Bluff arguing that she paid half of the deposit out of her own pocket.  Utilizing River Bluff would be a third of the cost and will provide an event room to accommodate the dwindling number of attendees. Deacon Sykes informs Lady Mae that Deacon Misty Williams has been outspoken about the Lady Mae’s unwillingness to compromise.  Deacon Sykes offers to silence Deacon Misty Williams’s objections in exchange for Grace preaching for the summer.  Lady Mae objects but informs Deacon Sykes that she will discuss it with her husband.

Later, Lady Mae speaks with her husband about Deacon Sykes’ recommendations and their current state of affairs.  Lady Mae wants to present a united front because the jackals are circling.  Lady Mae is adamant that only a member of the Greenleaf family needs to standing in the pulpit.  Yet, Deacon Connie Sykes suggestion to have Grace to preach for the summer is an unpalatability that Lady Mae cannot measure.  With Jacob taking a position with Triumph, Bishop Greenleaf’s health deteriorating, and things falling through the cracks since Robert’s imprisonment; Lady Mae has concluded that she will be the one standing in the pulpit. Bishop Greenleaf objects to the notion of Lady Mae being able to preach every Sunday.  When Lady Mae demands to know what information Robert is using to blackmail him, Bishop Greenleaf relents and tells Lady Mae that he will notify Deacon Sykes that she will be preaching.

Grace and Ray have their custody hearing.  The judge rules in favor of Ray because Grace broke the law.  At the end of the school year, Sophia will be remanded to Ray for a period of 90 days.  After the 90 days, the original custody agreement will stand.  Grace and Sophia do not desire to return back to Phoenix leading Grace to seek an appeal and amend the current custody agreement.  Sophia wants to remain with Grace and informs Ray, but Ray insists that he will return in two weeks.

Jacob, Pastor Basie Skanks, and Bishop Greenleaf have their conference.  Bishop Greenleaf begrudgingly gives his blessing to Jacob. After Jacob informs Charity of his decision, Charity checks in with her father to ensure he accepts Jacob’s choice.  During their conversation, Bishop Greenleaf offers Charity Jacob’s old office and Charity becomes aware that her father may be ill. Charity expresses her concerns to her mother and seeks Lady Mae to confirm it.  Lady Mae defers her to Bishop Greenleaf.  Later, Jacob informs his mother of his decision and his intention to move out of the mansion.  Lady Mae was supportive and told him moving was not necessary.

Meanwhile, Kerissa expresses concerns about receiving her accreditation with Mr. Dorsey, a younger male colleague who is obviously attracted to her. After hearing the news that Jacob accepted the position at Triumph with Bishop Greenleaf’s blessings, Kerissa informs Mr. Dorsey to keep a respectable distance as her husband will be visiting frequently.

Noah sends Grace an email to inform her of Isabel’s return.  Grace confronts Noah about the email and the status of his relationship with Isabel. Noah indicates that Isabel and he are considering resume their relationship and Grace leaves. Later, Noah seeks to clear the air with Grace and her response by asking him to send her an email.  Noah attempts to offer an explanation to Grace relating to the love triangle that he finds himself in. As Noah is speaking, the sounds of siren grow closer to the mansion interrupting his conversation with Grace.  This was the ambulance for Charity.

Grace visits Mavis’ Beale Street Blue Bar to find Mavis packing up the bar.  Robert made good on his promise to have the site consider a historical landmark.  Mavis attempted to fight the injunction to no avail but was compensated well for the bar.  Grace expresses feeling guilty about the Greenleaf Dynasty disintegrating and not wanting to leave because of it. Mavis blast Calvary for its hypocrisy.   She blames the church for changing Bishop Greenleaf to a two-bit hustle and her sister into a preening swan. Mavis accuses Bishop and Lady Mae of only having a form of godliness with their real agenda being money.