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Lamp & Quill Devotional Studies Review by Kate Kessler

Lamp and Quill International
29064 St. Tropez Place
Castaic, CA USA
1 (877) 295-9786

I don't know about you, but when I am looking for a quality bible curriculum I become extra picky. It has to be thorough. It has to be interesting. It has to teach us how to think, not necessarily what to think, but how to evaluate and learn from what we read. It has to equip us to study the scriptures. It needs to be biblical! Lamp and Quill Devotional Studies fits this profile for us.

So what is it Lamp and Quill? From their website:

"Lamp and Quill develops and publishes Devotional Bible Study material for all ages. We were blessed to have someone teach us how to look into God's Word, find answers to life and develop our own personal walk with the God of the Bible. Our goal is to pass on a method of helping others grow in their walk with God through the Scriptures and help them train up a godly generation which is devoted to knowing God and helping others know Him."

"Lamp & Quill is not a substitute for Scripture, but rather acts like a shoehorn, guiding individuals into the Bible. These studies cover most books of the Bible in six years on a chapter-by-chapter basis, and include the threads and themes throughout. The focus is on learning to think about Scripture and getting to know the God of the Bible in a personal way as our Savior, our joy, our daily hope and our hope for the future. Lamp and Quill curriculum is not merely a remembrance of historical highlights and heroes of the past. Each of us is individually important to Almighty God and our lives are lived daily in His holy presence."

This is a good beginning, no? Let me tell you how this program works. As stated above, the program is a six-year plan that is divided into four quarters: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Also they add: "Each December there are lessons about the birth of Jesus Christ. Each Spring, there are lessons about His death, burial, resurrection and ascension." These are the books studied and the year in which they are covered:

  • Year 1: Genesis and Job
  • Year 2: Exodus, Matthew
  • Year 3: Deuteronomy 1-7, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-11, Proverbs 2, 8, Ecclesiastes 1-12
  • Year 4: Selected Psalms, John, 1, 2, 3 John
  • Year 5: 1 Kings 12-2 Kings 25, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, some Isaiah/Jeremiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Malachi, Revelation Overview
  • Year 6: Acts, Galatians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1-2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon

Why these books? This is what they shared with me and I really think it makes a great deal of sense:

"Our choices have more to do with what we could cover in the way we believed the Scriptures should be handled. We did not set out to do a comprehensive study of the whole Bible. Many Bible studies and Sunday Schools seem to focus on educating students about the Bible. Instead of focusing on filling heads with facts, our goal has been to help individuals interact with the Scriptures personally and develop a relationship with God. We have pursued one study at a time without trying to give it a particular mold from the beginning. Its present status is where we have been led over the years."

"Understanding the Scriptures involves knowing and understanding its historical context. So the lessons are arranged chronologically, with a balance between the Old and New Testaments, even though the studies were not developed in that order. Whole passages help the students get a complete picture of the people and God. Many studies focus on "Heroes and Highlights," or the mighty men of the Bible rather than the mighty God of the Bible. We want individuals to understand that the "real" men and women in the Bible had flaws, weaknesses and sin just like us. They were not unreachable "super heroes" or some type of fairy land characters. They were ordinary people whom God prepared for daily living, just like He does for all His children."

There are study books for every age group in the family from Toddler all the way up through adult. The breakdown of the books looks like this:

  • Toddler - Toddler, Preschool (ages 1-3)
  • Preschool - Prekindergarten, Kindergarten (ages 4-5)
  • Primary - Early Primary, Primary, Middler (grades 1-3)
  • Junior - Junior (grades 4-6)
  • Jr. Hi./Sr. Hi. - Jr. Hi./Sr. Hi. (middle to high school)
  • College/Adult - College/Adult
  • Parent Study - All Ages
  • Family Leader - All Ages

This looks a little complicated, but once you see the samples on their website it will not be difficult to find the book(s) your children will work best with. I seriously encourage you to view the samples on their website to decide for yourself which level(s) are best suited for your children. I did not do this. I chose based upon the age/grade level labels without seeing the inside and that was my mistake. Some of my children are strong early readers and some are not. The ones that are not had a difficult time with the books assigned to their age level and this presented a problem for us in-use.

I am a firm believer that children, even young children, can learn theological concepts and latch on to God's word in its rich depth. I believe that God's word does not come back void when we teach it to our children and that they are often more capable than we give them credit for. They can understand well beyond "God loves you!" That being said, pay attention to the questions in the samples and make sure the books you choose will not be too difficult for them. Some of the questions were beyond my young ones and some of them were not. These are meaty studies and it would be a shame to miss the richness in them due to a miss-purchased level. Their website is loaded with information to help you choose the right study.

There are separate study books for mom and dad. Mom uses the "Parent Study" book and dad uses the "Family Leader" book. There are some differences between the two leader books, but either one can lead the study. Some of you will not have your husbands around to lead the family devotional during the day as he might leave for work early and work long hours so you will, of course, want to choose the book that best suits your needs. The "Family Leader" book differs from the "Parent Study" in that it offers discussion questions in the "Summary Worksheet" such as: 1. What lesson focus will you communicate? (Consider truths about God and current applications.) 2. How will you present the lesson? (Read passage summary for ideas.) Outline, dialogue, action, sounds, illustrations, etc. 3. What questions will you ask? (Use: who, what, when, where, and how; write answers.) Then they list "Potential Discussion Questions" to use with your family. Samples of these are:

  1. What did God create on Day 4 of creation?
  2. What does Job 26:13 tell us about the heavens?
  3. What does God know about the stars, and what does this tell you about God? (Isa. 40:25-26)
  4. Who wrote Psalm 19, and what does it tell us about the heavens? How was the writer familiar with the heavens?

And the list of discussion questions goes on from there.

The "Parent Study" book offers "Activity Suggestions" in lieu of a "Summary Worksheet." This will give you more hands-on activities to do with your children from coloring page suggestions (often found in the children's books or available for purchase separately as support materials), locating verses, songs and hymns, guided action activities, counting objects, making a mural, calendar, discussion of seasons and making a "Seasons Bulletin Board," toddler activities, snack suggestions, quiet thinking time suggestions, and review time. This is a thorough page filled with activities and ideas that is given for every week of the study. This was well thought out!

In both of the parent/leader books you will find scriptures to read for each day, study/discussion questions to use together with your family and space to answer in the workbooks, "Passage Thoughts," "Prepare to Share" sections with extra questions for thought and discussion, and the "Passage Summary." These are in the same format for every week and using them regularly results in a nice rhythm of family study for each week. Depending on which book you are using, you will also have the "Activity Suggestions" to choose from and/or the "Summary Worksheet" as well.

They also offer many support materials: Activity Book, Coloring Book, Craft Book, Dominoes, Memory Card Game, Song Book, Verse Cards, and Word Cards. The Activity Book offers puzzles, word searches, decoding puzzles, coloring pages, and much more. The Coloring Book is exactly what it says it is. The Craft Book offers cut-out crafts that coordinate with the lessons. For example in the Year 1 Craft Book, one of the crafts your children will make is a roll-up wall-mounted scroll of the days of creation. There are a lot of neat crafts and activities here. They really have thought of everything.

We discovered several things about this program in its use within our family. The more people you have using the same book, the easier it is to have a significant study. This program was initially made as a Sunday school program and I can see how well it would work there as everyone would have the same questions! We have found that my older children, ages 10 and 13 using the Jr. Hi./Sr. Hi. books, match up with my own questions and that it makes for a really meaningful study. These books all have the same daily questions so we are all on the same concept. My son, age 8 and using the Middler book, also works well with us as his questions are also similar and sometimes they are the same. The little one's books though, ages 5 and 6, don't match up as easily or as smoothly. So what we did for our homeschool was we decided to use the older books and ask those questions and they jump in when they can. They also sit and listen to the scripture we read out loud. This works for our family. If our family was younger, it would be just as easy to buy several of the younger books and go about it the same way, but with the younger level books. If I had the time to do two separate studies with the two different age groups it would likely work just as well at our home, but I didn't find it particularly successful trying to do all the ages with each of their books all at once. In my opinion, this does not diminish the quality of the program, but it helps to understand that the more family members using the same books the better off your study is likely to be.

The kinds of questions my children are thinking about are excellent. The Lamp and Quill folks have put so much time - years and years of work and effort, love and care - into the questions they ask. They really have a heart to bring families into the saving knowledge of Christ and His word. His word is powerful and they understand this! Here is a sampling of the kinds of things your children will be learning:

  1. Read Genesis 2 and make a list of 10-20 subjects in this chapter.
  2. What does Job point his friends to in Job 12:7-10?
  3. What do verses 5-6 of Genesis 2 say about rain and a mist?
  4. What do you think "keep" means in Genesis 2:15?
  5. Read Genesis 2:15 in your Bible several times. Each time emphasize a different word. What is something new you understand from this verse?
  6. What does Matthew 11:28-30 say?
  7. How do you think it relates to work today?
  8. What do you think Adam and Eve learned from God?
  9. What would you have liked to talk with God about?
  10. How do you talk with God as compared to how you talk with your friends?
  11. What will and will not pass away according to Matthew 24:35 and Mark
  12. 13:31?

All these questions are found in the study of Genesis. What I really appreciated was that it was not necessarily limited to Genesis - though of course that would have been alright too! I loved that they pulled in other scriptures that applied to the current study to make it come alive. Genesis is relevant to what Christ was teaching in Matthew. As any good Bible teacher will tell you, scripture is all connected and should not be taken out of context. It should be studied as a whole. Lamp and Quill really works at this and it shows.

As I have stated already, this is a quality study. It is in-depth, interesting, draws you in and keeps you wanting more of God's word. It truly glorifies God. I cannot recommend this enough. We look forward to using it for the next five years and I look forward to growing in God's word with my children.

-Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2008