Category Archives: Blogs

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 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 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.

Greenleaf: S1 E11 – “Men Like Trees Walking” Synopsis

It is one month later after the second shooting.  Calvary Fellowship World Ministries is hemorrhaging parishioners and money profusely. Bishop Greenleaf is uncharacteristically delivering an underwhelming sermon as people leave in the midst of it. After the service, Bishop looks frail as he sits in his chair on the pulpit laboring to breath and hands trembling. Deacon Connie Sykes approaches Bishop Greenleaf while he sits. She asks Bishop Greenleaf to consider reinstating Jacob.  When Bishop Greenleaf refuses Deacon Sykes suggests utilizing Grace citing Grace brought more money in one service than any other Sunday of the year.

Bishop Greenleaf has an unexpected visit by Alexa Campbell accompanied by her lawyer, Pat Phillips.  Alexa’s intent is to sue for unlawful termination for a “jaguar-sized” amount of cash. Bishop Greenleaf is caught off guard when the charges reference a transcendent sexual relationship with Jacob.  By the body language of both Alexa and Bishop Greenleaf, it would appear that they had also at some point have a sexual relationship.  However, this was not noted in the suggested lawsuit. Phillips indicates that they would rather not add to the bad press in lieu of recent event but will if necessary.  As this meeting ends, Jacob approaches his father’s office as Alexa and her lawyer are leaving.  This is how Jacob learns of the impending lawsuit.

Jacob offers to come to his father’s aid acknowledging that the Calvary is struggling.  Bishop Greenleaf encourages Jacob to find out what he is passionate about and pursue.  Bishop Greenleaf informs Jacob that pastoring is not his forte and he will not be reinstating him.  Jacob seeking to maintain his lifestyle discusses the matter with his wife, Kerissa. Kerissa produces arguments for why moving away is not a viable option leading Jacob to pursue a pastoral position at Triumph Church.  Pastor Skanks and Jacob play basketball as they discuss what role Jacob would play at Triumph.  Pastor Skanks insist on having a conference between Bishop Greenleaf, Jacob, and himself before making a decision. Jacob informs his father who halfheartedly agrees to the conference.

It is the 44th Wedding Anniversary for Bishop and Lady Mae Greenleaf.  During a time when they should be celebrating such an incredible milestone as a couple, they are at odds with one another.  Lady Mae is demanding to know what her brother is holding over her husband.  Bishop Greenleaf refuses to share this with his wife.  Bishop Greenleaf’s token in the form of flowers to acknowledge their anniversary does not win back Lady Mae’s affection.  Lady Mae throws the flowers in the trash hurting Bishop Greenleaf deeply.

During a meeting with the Annual Women’s Day committee, Kerissa suggested due to financial strain and cancellation with less than half of the attendees expected that the venue to be moved from the Peabody Ballroom to the church.  Not willing to part with a 35-year tradition, Lady Mae writes a personal check in the amount of $4,500 to cover the expenses of a venue.  After the meeting, Lady Mae calls Kerissa out on her actions during the meeting.  Later, Lady Mae offers Molise a scholarship for nursing along with her severance pay letting Molise know about her disloyal behavior.

Grace and Darlene noticed that they are obviously being excluded to internal church communications. Grace attempts to apology to her father, but he rejects it.  Grace failing to understand how she wrong her father inquires. Bishop Greenleaf explains that because of Grace’s refusal to comply with his request, what was scandalous are now calamities. Bishop Greenleaf is clear that the bond that they have shared from her birth is badly frayed. Hurt by her father’s words, Grace concludes that he was right there is nothing more for them to say.

Grace is served with custody papers filed by Ray. Grace speaks to Michael Carpenter (Dawan Owens), a lawyer that Darlene found, to discuss her options for custody.  Grace explains to Michael that Ray was a chef when they first met. Their relationship ended because Ray cheated on Grace with his ex.  It wasn’t until after they broke up Grace discovered she was pregnant.  Once Ray learned about the pregnancy he apologized and proposed.  Grace did not desire to marry Ray and they agreed on a custody agreement. Michael explained that Grace violated terms of the agreement by relocating to another state without notifying the court.

Grace discusses the impending custody battle with Sophia.  Although Sophia desires to stay with her mother, she doesn’t want to her father by saying it out loud in a courtroom.  Sophia feels trapped in the middle indicating that Memphis is the first place that has felt like home.  She is conflicted feeling like she is being forced to choose. Sophia blames Grace for how she handled things.

Sophia may feel inadequate causing her to shy away from participating in her Bible Study classes but demonstrate a natural ability to comprehend Scripture. Sophia was questioned by her instructor about her lack of participation. When Sophia attempts to respond, Quentin, another student in the group, suggest that Sophia is too busy making sure that her uncle did not reach up her dress.  After the instructor rebukes Quentin for his behavior, Sophia answers that she lacked knowledge. The instructor encourages her try and Sophia provides teachable points.

Grace seeks comfort from Noah and shares her current legal problems.  Grace apologizes for only being able to offer him her brokenness.  Noah tells Grace that he is satisfied with what she is offering him.  After a kiss, Grace tells Noah that she needs to go.  Noah and Isabel agreed to a temporary separation agreeing to work on their relationship when she returns from school break. So, the question is why is Noah spending time with Grace?

Charity is showing a huge baby bump.  Charity and Kevin remain estranged.  Kevin is still sleeping on the couch. Charity barely acknowledges his presence.  With Calvary in a financial crisis, they can no longer offer Calvary resources freely.  Kevin gives Adrian Miller, the homeless coordinator, a week notice to relocate their homeless program. An understanding Adrian expresses his desire to continue their friendship.  Later, Kevin confides in Adrian about his marital problems.  Kevin is fighting mimicking his father’s behavior and desires to best husband and father he can be.  Overwhelmed by his feelings, Kevin abruptly leaves.

Robert calls from prison questioning Bishop Greenleaf about the existence of hell and seeking additional options.  Bishop Greenleaf tells Robert, to tell the truth.

 

Greenleaf: S1 E6 – “Good Morning, Calvary!” Synopsis

Grace started a support group for victims of sexual abuse called Sisters of Tamar.  One group participant, Stacy, shares her testimony but Grace will soon learn that Stacy is still in a cycle of abuse with her husband.  Grace attempts to help Stacy and her two daughters by identifying available shelter and encouraging Stacy.  Stacy unwilling to allow her daughters to grow up without their father returns to her husband. 

Bishop Greenleaf has a standing preaching engagement in Birmingham.  With Jacob under disciplinary action, Bishop Greenleaf asks Grace to preach.  Lady Mae and Grace agree on two things: Bishop should reinstate Jacob and Grace should not preach.  Despite their objections, Bishop Greenleaf puts his foot down and assigns Grace the task. Lady Mae believes her husband is punishing her for Faith’s death.  Lady Mae offers Grace her support warning Grace to utilize the pulpit for institutional purposes and not a forum to attack the family.  Grace questions whether Lady Mae loves her or not.  As Bishop Greenleaf ponders Grace’s objection to preaching he decides to reach out to Mavis to learn about Grace’s true intentions for her return.  

Meanwhile, Jacob is desperate to be reinstated and regain favor in his father’s eyes.  Jacob has been cultivating a relationship with Greg, Head of Voice of Life in Birdsong who he met at Dion’s Bachelor’s Party, through fantasy football.  Jacob invites Greg and is wife over for dinner at the Greenleaf Mansion.  During dinner, Greg alludes to the fact that he and his wife are swingers interested in swinging with Jacob and Kerissa.  When Kerissa doesn’t reject Greg’s indecent proposal, Jacob gets in touch with his true feelings for Kerissa and their marriage.  

Charity’s constant complaining about Nigel leads Kevin to give Charity a flippant response suggesting that Charity fires Nigel and hire a new choir director.  Later, when Charity and Nigel have a dispute over a soloist Nigel threatens to accept an offer from Pastor Basie Skanks at Triumph Church.  To Nigel’s chagrin, Charity tells Nigel to accept the offer and begins looking for a candidate to fulfill the position.  Charity identifies her perfect match in Carlton C. Cruise, an openly gay choir director.  Kevin disagrees with her choice because if forces him to deal with his own sexuality.  

Grace struggles to develop a sermon. Pastor Thomas Sneed offers Grace encouragement informing her that the Holy Spirit will move but usually does so in the eleventh hour.  Zora tells Grace about the website that her father utilizes offering sermons for fifty dollars.   Desperate Grace utilizes the site and prints the sermon.  However, when she ascends the pulpit the Holy Spirit moves through her and she preaches off the cuff.