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Observing Observation with Ruth

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

Here we are back at inductive Bible study using Ruth as our book in helping us learn the basics of this helpful and purposeful method of reading biblical text slowly.

But first, a few words about the object of studying the Bible. I posted this note on Instagram last week and wanted to share the text with you here:

“O B S E R V A T I ON is the first step in inductive study. It’s where you’ll spend the bulk of your time in studying Scripture. 
Most want to rush through or forego this part yearning to find the application for self as their main purpose in studying. Well…that makes little of God and much of self. Another fallacy in studying the Bible is the attempt to find passages of scripture to fit one’s own needs, a snatch and patch approach, so to speak. This causes the reader to ignore context and again makes little of God and much of self. Lastly, we are part of a world that yearns for quick everything, even quick Bible study among the body of Christ. So please take your time to invest in slowly and methodically reading Ruth with me as I share the basics of inductive Bible study at Gracious Goodness.” 

Observation takes time and effort. But it is time well spent. I encourage you to make the reading of Scripture a priority as you set out to better understand the Word, but more importantly, as you nurture the need to worship God.

As we once again open Ruth for this week’s assignments, I encourage you to pray that God would open the eyes of your understanding even in a small historical narrative that doesn’t seem to have much to say about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I hope that you went through the weekend opening Ruth and finding answers to the observation questions from Friday’s post.

You should have the key people, places, and happenings firmly in your mind. But not so firmly that you don’t see God at work.

Know that we are not done with this first part of inductive study. Now, we set out to further observe each chapter more closely paying better attention to the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY. We’ll pick up on the HOW later.

Grab your text, your pencils, a pen, and notepaper. Participate in the following prompts answering as directed:

  • Who are the main people in this chapter? (Hint, they remain through all 4 chapters.) Mark these in different ways (underlining or circling each in different colors is fine, or at least be aware of them and don’t worry about marking them). Make a list of things you learn about them on that notebook paper or in the margins of the text.
  • Is God mentioned at all in this chapter? If so, in what capacity? If you learn anything about him, jot it down.
  • What are the highlights and low points in the lives of the main people in this chapter?
  • What situations do they face/confront?
  • Write down in a bullet list the sequence of events in this chapter.
  • Underline in green the names of  geographical locations.
  • Jot down some details about the historical context of Ruth as found in chapter 1 (the general time when this is occurring) and in finding out more about the history during the days of the judges using a commentary or watching the video below.

In the midst of cycling days of obedience, disobedience, God’s judgment, appointing judges, and repentance, then a repeat of it all over and over, is a story tucked into the timeline of the days of the judges telling of a family in the days of famine looking over the fence at greener grass far away.

Get busy on chapter 1 of Ruth. As we read chapter by chapter,  observation is more specific. Read that chapter and pay special attention to the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

These are the basics of observation in a nutshell, especially when reading historical narrative.

You now have in your hands (or on this screen, at least) how to complete the other 3 chapters of Ruth from the standpoint of observation. So go ahead and do that with each of those remaining chapters.

In addition, note any other words that are key to the storyline of Ruth. I’ll give you one:redeemer“. When you come across that word, mark it with a circle or underline it in a specific color consistently. Do the same with any other words you believe to key. In Ruth, there shouldn’t be too many so as to not clutter up your text with too much color and to help you succeed at practicing this method.

I’ll be back Friday with the next component of inductive study – Interpretation which asks the question, “What does this mean?”

Shoot me a question if you have one in the comment section below.

PS – Pray for my Daddy (Mr. Dickson) as he continues to recuperate in hospital from surgery June 26. My family and I covet your prayers for his appetite to improve and strength to return via various therapies. Thank you.




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Observing Ruth

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

Welcome back to Ruth. It has been a week since your first assignment to listen to and read the little jewel in its entirety. Hopefully, you have all your supplies, too. By the way, in case you missed it, I wrote about my favorite tools and resources Monday.

Let’s dive in…

As you think about this small book, here are some questions I want you to answer right off the bat (grab your paper and pen and make a few notes). Work through these over the weekend and then Monday, we’ll move into our next assignment.

Read all of Ruth. What type of biblical genre is Ruth? Right now, watch the video below and make a note on your page about the primary literary style of Ruth.

  • Now, having read and listened to Ruth so much this past week, jot down some notes about when this book takes place? Although you may not have specifics of the year, at least mark the general time of this book.
  • Go back and list the key people in this book.
  • Summarize in one sentence the gist of this book. What’s it about?
  • What are the geographical spots on the map where this is occurring?
  • Make a list of some of the key words and/or phrases that you have seen. Key words and phrases are most often repeated and important words. No need to think of a ton of words here, but what are some important words that have grabbed your attention?
  • Why would this book have made it into the canon of Scripture? If you’ve ever ventured through Matthew, you may have scorned the first 17 verses, but oh my, these are really neat verses in Scripture. Go there and read them and note who you see.
  • Remember the metanarrative of Scripture? That the Bible reveals that promise about the offspring he made to Adam and Eve and reveals the fulfillment a morsel at a time over the course of 66 books? See Genesis 3 and read about the promised offspring. Who is this offspring? Well, each book of Scripture begins to enlighten us as to the one who is THE offspring. It’s not Cain and Abel, nor any of Eve’s other children. And so we read about Noah, then Abraham, and then the next book in the Bible and find out it’s not Moses, Aaron, nor Miriam nor any of their children, and so the books go…until God reveals more things about this offspring (aka Messiah). It’s fascinating and it’s life altering and I’m all excited! So, how does Ruth fit into the meta narrative of Scripture?
  • Lastly, what are some questions you have about this book? If you have some, list them. Also, are there any words you don’t quite understand? Jot them down and look up their meaning in a Bible or English dictionary.

Make sure you have the rest of your supplies ready for Monday at which point I’ll return for further observation into Ruth.

And after all this reading about gleaning in the fields and harvesting of grain, I’m craving a nice warm fibrous loaf of homemade bread and a smidgen of honey butter…






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Bible Study Resources

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

The fountain wall at Rosemary Hill.

There are lots of you journeying through the Bible based on the feedback I’ve received.

Welcome to you all! I’m posting today from our patio area here in Georgia on a rare cool and low humidity summer morning! Praise God. Seriously, praise him because this is fab! I wish you were here with me sipping a nice cup of coffee, tea, or iced beverage from Chick-Fil-A  right now or better yet, that you were here for a one day retreat of learning (with breakfast, lunch, and supper included)! But alas, we are apart looking at screens and clicking links to get a better grasp on  studying our Bibles. So, in this moment, I thank God for the means to communicate with you.

Out of consideration for some of you asking me via the contact form exactly what my supplies are and where to get them, I decided it’s easiest to share links. But please know that you do not need these exact supplies nor am I advocating you blow your splurge money. There is no benefit to using identical supplies. Trust me. Just because I may use a certain pencil, pen, or Bible is no magic formula for inductive study success.

Others of you who have contacted me need encouragement and a reboot in your Bible study habits to get motivated! Hopefully, those will be interspersed in the series, BUT, do not ever hesitate to ask questions via the comments below or privately in an email via the contact form.Either is fine and I will respond to you. Without further ado, here are my favorite resources for inductive study:

  1. New Inductive Study Bible – ESV – It has wide margins for notes and lists, the print is readable and large enough for my more wise eyes (aka eyes that need readers). With this, I don’t have to print the text unless I absolutely want to do that. I feel free to mark up the text within this Bible. I enjoy my ESV Study Bible, too, but I find the print is lighter and font size smaller. Plus it has limited margin space and has commentary. I have to guard against the tendency to read the commentary rather than the actual scriptures, though. If I had to choose between the two of these I would choose the ESV Study Bible because of its extra features. The ESV Study Bible also comes with access to a free ESV account.
  2. Colored pencils – I prefer using colored pencils as opposed to micron pens (that don’t bleed through Bible pages). And of all the colored pencils I have used, I like erasable twistable Crayola ones because of the fact my perfectionistic tendencies can relax and I don’t need to sharpen them either. I sometimes use my old automatic Pentel that has 8 colors in one clickable clear miracle. HOWEVER, it is prone to be contrary at times and it makes me want to hurt it as a result of its stubborn streak. BUT, it can be refilled. It is not erasable.
  3. Pen for making notes on paper – Frixion – Love this pen! I put them in my family’s Christmas stockings because I love them (my fam and the pens) so much! It is erasable and smooth in writing. I use it for my bullet journal and for sermon notes. They come in colors, too, but I like black. But you might like the colored marker set for marking. I have not tried that. Hmmmm. There’s a thought!

In the rest of today’s post are items you may want to have some time down the road. These are not necessary for us going through Ruth together, so know that I am not asking you to get any of these. Okay?

Commentaries:  Sometimes, you may run into questions that your own Bible’s commentary doesn’t answer as thoroughly as you hoped or you need more historical context for that particular book in the Bible. This is when an extra commentary that is far more thorough will be helpful. John Piper at desiring has a list of valuable resources so I direct you there for this part. I have also used Warren Weirsbe’s commentary (the BE series) in the past because his writing is very layperson friendly.

Dictionaries, concordances, and interlinear Bibles, on my!:  A good dictionary is a great thing to have and there are Bible dictionaries, English dictionaries, Hebrew dictionaries, and Greek ones. Which one will you use? Although you don’t need this right away, you may want to build up your resource library over a period of time. So, when I need to use the various dictionaries, a concordance, and (rarely) an online interlinear Bible, these are what I use:

Websites: A smidgen of similar helpful information cited above is online and available at no cost, but because it is free and due to copyright laws, the information is limited. Still, I think the sites below are worth exploring:

That’s it for today and that was way too much for one post, but I pray something in here was helpful. Feel free to share you favorite resources in the comments below that I may not have mentioned.

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In the Beginning was the Word…

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

I am fulfilling my promise to launch a how-to series on inductive Bible study today, but first, let’s take just a minute to orient ourselves to the main purpose of Bible study of any kind, any method.

Our focus is to be on God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s not about what we can find for ourselves as the main goal. So often, our approach can be to find comfort and help in time of need but if that is our main objective in approaching Bible study, the focus is on self instead of our triune God.

With that said, I want next to remind us that the Word of God has been around since the beginning of time. See John 1?  Not the pages, but Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate. If you’ll keep that in mind as you read all of Scripture, you’ll have a strong headway in understanding the entirety of the written Word of God because within the 66 books that were canonized, are things that point all of God’s people to the promised Messiah. We clearly see God at work in fulfilling his promises in and through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. And we see the Holy Spirit active in the midst of it all.  This is what we call the meta narrative of Scripture – the overarching picture of Christ in all the Bible. Keep the Trinity at the center of your reading as you see Christ the hope of glory revealed book by book.

Now that you have a better idea of the direction from which I and other Christians approach Bible study, let’s get busy!

ASSIGNMENT 1 –  Over the course of this week collect your supplies listed below: 

  • colored pencil set of 8-12
  • a pen or pencil (I like the erasable Frixion pen from Target or an office supply store)
  • blank notebook paper or notepad
  • a Bible
  • a printed copy of Ruth, either in your Bible or printed on 8.5 x 11 paper leaving wide margins- I will be using the ESV translation and highly recommend it to you as a more literal translation of the Bible. It will be easier for you to hang in there with me if we are literally on the same page, too. Due to copyright laws, I am not at liberty to distribute the text in a downloadable and printable format, but you can set up a free ESV account at this link and from there, you have their instructions on how to copy and paste text into your own document. You can do this as we go through each chapter. You can determine your preference for margin width, too. Good margin space leaves room for notes.
  • an audible copy of Ruth – again at is the ability to hear the audible text for your own listening purposes via the esv app, you can play it through your smart phone while accessing specific text.
  • a dedicated spot for studying. Clean up a study spot in your home by getting your supplies ready and arranged on a desk or putting them in a tote and placing it beside that chair that holds your clean or dirty laundry. Wash and/or put the laundry away.

ASSIGNMENT 2 – Pray. Thank God for his Word, ask him to still your heart as you devote attention to this particular book.

ASSIGNMENT 3 – Listen to Ruth via the app at one sitting, at least three days. So instead of scrolling mindlessly through Facebook or Instagram, listen to Ruth instead while doing nothing else. You could listen in the morning.

ASSIGNMENT 4 – Read the text of Ruth in its entirety the other four days when you weren’t listening to it. Instead of going down rabbit trails of links on Facebook, set aside the time to read Ruth. And if so inclined, read it aloud. Read it at the end of the day if you need a more specific plan.

Come back next Friday for the next assignment. If you have any questions feel free to contact me using the form below and I will be happy to get back with you.


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Bible Study, Anyone?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

So, you want to study the Bible, I hear.

My friend Hunter Beless has told me that she’s getting feedback from her audience regarding the specifics of inductive Bible study following our recent conversation over at Journeywomen podcast, and that is great!

Although I am far from an expert, perhaps my years of experience in studying the Bible with a method that I have found beneficial will be encouraging to someone reading today who needs a mentor to come alongside her and guide her through the process step by step, even if the mentor is online.

Recently others have also shared their expertise in the area of Bible study and I want to steer you to them, but I will do so at the conclusion of our time together here at Gracious Goodness.

This may take a few weeks because I want to give you time to practice. So my plan is to post on the next few Fridays so you have time to jumpstart on the weekends. I’ll guide you and give you homework, how-tos, and encouragement along the way.

BUT FIRST, I’d like to hear from you if you have specific questions, expectations, and suggestions. So, your first assignment is to send me those via the contact form at the conclusion of this post.

I’m looking forward to jumping in the Word with you and look forward to starting this Friday!


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