Monday, September 9, 2013

Blog Tour: The Sword Study {Book Review}

Sword Study: II Timothy by Tammy McMahan; illustrated by Doug McGuire
A Family-Centered Bible Study for Each Age Level

GoodReads Pages:
Level One (ages four-seven)
Level Two (ages seven-ten)
Level Three (tweens and teens)
Level Four (high school through adult)
Level Five (level four + instructor's book)

National Bible Bee Store

(Only Level One is available on Amazon at present; none are currently listed on LibraryThing.)

Website Summary:
Sword Studies are in-depth and creative Bible studies designed for family discipleship.  They are customized to fit all of the age levels in your family, while learning the same book of the Bible.  The daily studies are supplemented by inspiring stories, A.C.T.S. prayer time, Greek/Hebrew word studies, and much more!  You can use this as a church study, homeschool curriculum, at family Bible times, or use for your personal study.  The Sword Studies are an excellent tool to grow in knowledge and understanding of God's Word!
My Thoughts:

As homeschoolers, my family often does devotionals in 'assembly' before starting the school day, and there's been many times we've shared devotion books.  The Sword Study fit into our schedule nicely, especially since everyone except Eddie and I had our own books.  (Nicholas, the youngest in the family and almost twelve years old, used the Level Two book instead of Level Three.)  So far, we've completed Week One.  We did the study as our individual devotions throughout the week, and did a review together on Wednesday and then the weekend.  There were some rough patches - it's hard to review together when each book has slightly different material, and getting used to the process takes patience and good listening skills in each member, which our family is sometimes lacking in if we're being completely honest.  However, I think as we settle into a routine with these books we'll find our rhythm and the remaining nine weeks will run rather smoothly.


My personal thoughts on this study were mixed.  (Note that I'm talking about the Level Four book here, the one I used.)  I love that the books get you to dig deeper than most devotionals that just skim over the surface or talk about the same words/passages I've heard half a dozen sermons over.  I also that it was great that several questions were ones of opinion or personal thoughts - every individual could have a different answer, but there would be no wrong answers.  Those questions applied to how the passages read affected you, not what they're teaching or the history behind them.  You do learn a bit about history and the context of the passages, though.  That was another cool thing - there's a lot of cross-referencing that helps you grasp the concepts and the context so much better than a lot of studies I've used.

The only thing I didn't like about the Sword Study was how involved it is.  It's not a bad thing; this book just takes a lot more time to complete each day's work than I had planned for.  I'd advise someone starting out on the study to allote at least ten more minutes than you think you'll need, and be prepared to adjust your schedule as the study progresses and you figure out your rhythm.

Now I'll share a snippet from each of the other family members doing this study with me - after all, it's a Bible study for the whole family!

Mom:  (Level Five)  I think it's well-designed.  It allows everyone in the family to contribute.  However, I don't always know if I'm leading correctly because it's all based on my interpretation.  There's very minimal direction given or answers given in the teacher's book.  If I'm not confident in my understanding of the day's study, it's difficult to lead the rest of the family in their study.

Eddie:  (Level Four)  I like it.  It's very thorough and it provides a good overall light of the entire material covered.  I like how it refers to other passages, but not how it uses non-KJV passages.  (Note from Emily: I was planning to mention that... it would be helpful to have the KJV instead of the couple different translations used.)  I think it works as a better personal devotion than as a family study.

Jon:  (Level Three)  It's good.  It's engaging.  It's a little too easy for me, since I'm at the top of the age group for my level.  I think fourteen-year-olds would do better at Level Four.  It's pretty easy, but it makes you read through the book all the way for the first couple of days, which is good.  It makes you dig deep every day.  The ACTS prayer model is good.  It helps you focus on the actual aspects of prayer.  I think there should be a little bit more than memorization or reading - actual studying.  (Note from Emily: That's found in Level Four.)  It doesn't take too long, which is nice, and it can be done at any time of day.  It gets you thinking about God and His Word.

Nick:  (Level Two)  There's a lot of writing involved.  Sometimes you have to read the whole chapter or the whole book.  As for learning anything, some days I feel like I am and sometimes I feel like I'm not.  It works well as a family devotion.

My Conclusion:  Honestly, I think we covered everything.  Four stars :)

I was provided a free copy of each level in this study in exchange for this review through Glass Road Public Relations.  All opinions expressed are entirely mine and my family's, and ours alone.

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