Chronicling 40: Day 89 of 365

awakenReally excited to start off a new devotion, and to do this along with some other local ladies.

It’s been a while since I’ve led or participated this kind of a group, as I’ve been busy leading other projects.

We must feed our soul, nourish ourselves with the Word and in fellowship with other believers.

If you are a leader, you can sometimes forget to feed yourself.  Sometimes, as a leader, we need to be a part of a group instead of leading it.  It helps us remember what it is like to be a participate and gives us a glimpse of a perspective we may have lost over all the years of leading.  Sometimes it feels good to be just “one of the girls” instead of the lady in charge.

So, instead of leading an official study group, we’ve come together for “Conversations and Coffee” where we are going to share how the devotion is impacting us, how these words each day are driving us to a deeper relationship with the God who speaks.

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A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit – STUDY

Just last week I posted about the book 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit, today I want to talk about the Study Workbook that goes with it.

Some of us can pick up book like 5 Habits, read it, and glean everything possible from it.  Others of us, need to dig a bit deeper.  We need to flesh out the ideas and concepts on paper.  We need to work through it, taking our time to digest the content and determine how to best use it to affect our lives.  And, there are occasions where we need to even hear the words coming from the author, peppered in with their personal accounts and feelings to make it more real.

If you click on the books above, you’ll be taken to the Lifeway.com page that lists not only the book for sale, but the black Study Workbook and even downloadable video links for individuals and groups.

The Pro’s of “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study workbook:

  • The study is 6 weeks long, which makes this a perfect length for a summer study.  It can be a lot harder to gather your small group during the summer vacation months, and I generally find a 6 week study is the perfect solution.
  • The structure of the study is easy to follow along with, if you choose to facilitate the study for a group of friends (or if you decided to tackle this one solo).
  • The study workbook can be used independently of the original book, and videos!

The Con’s of “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study workbook:

  • Even though the study is a 6 week session, there is daily homework.  I’ve often found this tends to be the area that hangs up women the most, in a small group setting.  This is particularly difficult for moms with young children or working women.

SOLUTION:  Take your time working through it, don’t rush to be done in six weeks.

  • There are some areas of the book that provide ample writing space, but others I fine to be lacking.

SOLUTION:  Consider a small notebook, or use the larger post it notes for added space.

Other than that, it is very solid study that explores the book of Ruth and what we can learn from her on how to be a woman who doesn’t quit.   The study walks us through scripture, explores our own past habits, and then encourages us to build new ones.

Have You Been Summoned?

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I just finished reading the book Summoned, by Daniel Allen Jr,  and it was really quite an unexpected read.  First and foremost, I didn’t realize that the book was intended for men.  I saw the title, and the description and thought:  THAT’S FOR ME!  Had I taken a few moments to look a bit further, like the second sentence on the back cover, it would have been blatantly obvious.

While the central theme of the book is recognizing the call of God to step into a greater role in life, and some of the practical steps in heeding the call; the author also shares very real difficulties and obstacles that come along the way.    I have to admit, I was able to get a perspective shift on how I see some of the men I have worked with in ministry.  Issues and difficulties that I thought were more common for women (like relationships), it turned out were also a problem for men.   I found we had more common ground that I expected, even though we also have very unique experiences as well.

People want to have an idea on how to recognize God’s calling, but they are not always certain of what action that is going to require on their part.  Nor, are they prepared for the things in their life they may have to change, or the challenges they are going to face in the process.  Something that really stood out to me, on a personal level, was the chapter on Baggage.  We sometimes carry a lot of baggage around, and we may not even realize how it is affecting us.  We can become blind to our own character faults, and they can wreak havoc in our lives and in our ministry work.

The chapter on Porn, was one that was clearly addressing a larger issue but in a more specified instance… but is part of what makes this book bent toward men.  This isn’t to say women can’t suffer from this same addiction.  But, as a woman, I skimmed this chapter.  He wasn’t vulgar, please understand that, but just in relation to my own sensibilities on the subject… it wasn’t for me.  I do recognize though the importance, particularly in relation to recent news headlines, that it couldn’t be more timely of an opportunity to address this problem within in leadership.

I’m not sure if I would recommend this to other women to read, but I would certainly recommend it to men in leadership in my own church.  I am also of the opinion that it would make a great book for a men’s small group.

#FCBlogger

*I was given the book Summoned by #FamilyChristian for the purpose of reviewing the title.   The opinions on this book are entirely my own.

 

BIBLE STUDY CONUNDRUM

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I follow a few blogs, most are Christian authors who are wives and mothers.  I was reading one recently, where the author talked about why she stopped going to bible studies.  The title definitely caught my attention, and the content definitely was relate-able.  Whether you are a working woman or stay at home mom, you understand the time constraints we are under in modern times.  Long passed are the days of bridge club and weekly hair appointments being our time consumers.  We are working.  We are volunteering.  We are in school.  We are raising kids.  We are tending to our husbands.  We are managing our homes.  We are shuttling our kids from activity to activity.  We have an endless to-do list.

We know what it is like to finally get ALL OF THE KIDS ready to leave for church, when the baby has a blow out diaper… you know the kind, the ones that require a full decontamination of the baby, you, the car seat.  We know what it is like to hunt through the house trying to find your car keys.  We know what it is like to just make it to bible study, let alone get the homework done between weeks.  We know what it is like to look at our schedules and not see space for a single additional activity.
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So, it is easy to think that we should just NOT attend a bible study.  Let that be the thing we cut out of our life, to make room for everyone and everything else.  It makes sense logically.  But does it make sense spiritually?

Perhaps, if you were attending church every Sunday, without fail… you could justify it.  After all what is the difference?  Once a week at church, or once a week at a bible study?

Perhaps, if you were diligent in carving out time in your schedule every day for personal study, you could justify it.  After all, you are getting your daily dose of The Word.

However, I wonder, how true are those statements?  Are we really attending each Sunday, without fail?  Are we really carving out time for daily personal study?

And then, I’d have to follow up that thought with…. is anything else in our life worth more of our time than God?

Here is what it comes down to:

I think you SHOULD participate in a study. God wants us there, and the Devil doesn’t. And he will remind you 100 times over why it’s too hard to get there.   Your schedule will be full of things that you will be easily convinced are more important than a bible study.

I also think you SHOULD step into leading a study.  Leading makes you accountable to show up, get the prep/homework done between sessions, and puts you in the position to accommodate your schedule.

Because, the truth is you are NOT alone. There are many women , just like you … who WANT to be a part of a study… but struggle to do so.

I am sure by this point you are either arguing with me, that I don’t understand your life & commitments…. or you are nodding your head in agreement.  Keep reading.

Being a part of a study should not replace attending sabbath services.  It shouldn’t replace your personal study.  It should supplement it.  It should add to it.  Being a part of a study keeps you connected to your church, sisters in Christ, and The Word during those times when life keeps you away from corporate worship or personal study.  It helps fill those voids.  Being a part of a study is more intimate than Sunday worship with the body, but not as isolated as personal study.  Being a part of a group brings investment in each other, accountability, and authenticity.

However, all of that said, perhaps the traditional bible study is NOT the right fit for you.  Fact is there is a pretty standard definition to what a bible study is.  You meet every week, week after week.  Sometimes for a session of 8-16 weeks as you work through a book, or over the course of a year or more as part of a small group.  It’s long term commitment.   You attend the meeting, where you spend 15-30 minutes of snacking and fellowship, 10 minutes of prayer time, dig into the study/watch a video, get an assignment, leave, spend time throughout the rest of the week trying to read the assigned scripture, and then complete the homework in the book.  Repeat cycle.

Something in that regime doesn’t work for you.  Maybe, you can’t meet weekly.  Or, the homework is too overwhelming.  With your work schedule or kids’ schedules you can’t commit to long term studies that cross seasons and even into years.It may be time to break away from the mold of “what a bible study looks like”.  When you do, I truly believe you will be able to find a way to fill that desire for a study without inviting chaos & stress in your life.  Here are some suggestions:

Lead a study allows you to work it around your schedule, allotting for vacations and kids schedules.Lead a topical study. This means no book, no homework, etc. The topic changes meeting to meeting. If you have to miss a meeting because a kid is sick… you are not behind.  Topical studies can come from the internet, study bibles or devotion books.  You don’t have to come up with it all on your own, just be ready to share it.  Topical studies will have 1 person presenting the information, and then move into discussion with the group.  Alternate who leads the discussion, alternate host homes.  Take the pressure off.Lead a study that meets less frequently. Every week is great, but it can’t be too much. Every other week, or once a month even.

Lead a study that meets via skype.  Pack your lunch one day a week, meet up with your friends on skype to fellowship and break bread together.  Or, start a study with co-workers in the break room.

Lead a study that is at your home, local coffee shop, or local playground (especially if you have an indoor one). The kids can play, while you study. Since you will all me like minded moms, no one will get upset if you have to step away to deal with your child’s needs… or the 100th time the toddlers interrupt mom for a snack, potty trip, drink, or general kisses and hugs.   And, if you know someone who homeschools, that has a teenager… I’d bet you they are looking for some volunteer hours, you may be able to get a babysitter/mother’s helper to wrangle the kids for you, for free.  Make them work for you & the kids, so the kids want to come & don’t fight you about leaving. At a park… great. Pajama Party day at friends’ house… YES! Then you don’t have to worry about getting them dressed.

Look to your group of friends to make up the study, less pressure. And ultimately in the group there is always a person who would happily open their home, but won’t want to lead… and a person who would happily lead, but won’t want to open up their home.  These are people you are meeting with already for coffee and lunch dates, now do it with a purpose.

Are you part of a walking group?  Suggest adding in meditating on scripture during the walks, or start your own walking group (biking, kayaking, etc).  What are the activities you are already doing where you can incorporate study?

You may also find success in a weekly study, if you instead begin looking for women who have a schedule just like your own.  Sitting at the ball field while your son practices?  I bet there are other moms too, who would be happy to do a study under the pavilion. Not worth driving back home during that Girl Scout meeting?  I bet you are not the only mom.

And remember a study group doesn’t have to be huge.  Where two or more are gathered, Jesus is there.

BOOK REVIEW: Gospel Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax

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I was given this book at a writers workshop at The Gospel Coalition’s Womens Conference.  I couldn’t think of better time to pick up a book like this, since our fall small groups are getting ready to start up at my home church.  The book’s first pages have  a lot of great accolades, from prominent teachers, that point toward this being a must read for anyone who is in a teaching position over other believers.   Pastors.  Small Group Leaders.  Ministry Leaders.  This book was written for you.  Not just for those who are currently teaching alone, but also for those who are considering answering the call to teach for the first time.

Regarding the Author:  Trevin Wax

When preparing a book that could be used by scholared teachers of the Word AND your every day small group lay leader, it is important to provide content that is easy to follow.  Trevin Wax has written a book that stays on track, moves from point to point with ease, utilizes famailiar verbiage, and condenses the information into a format that is not intimidating.  This book, if given to a small group leader, could easily be read within a short period.    The book is a comfortable read, and it is evident that Trevin Wax understands the audience that will be reading this book.

Regarding the Book:  Gospel Centered Teaching

When one steps up to teach a small group, for the first time, it can be a bit scary.  What do I teach?  How do I teach?  Will I be a good teacher?  When one has been teaching small groups, speaking in front of groups, or even presenting sermons for a long season; there are times where we can lose focus on what the point of it all is.  Perhaps we have gotten caught up in the bible stories themselves, over whom they point to.    It may even be a possibility that our every day lives have brought us to a place where we have a world view of things vs. a gospel view.   This can taint the perceptions of even the most seasoned teacher.  In some cases we may find ourselves teaching a great moral lesson and tacking a quick snippet about the gospel at the end, for good measure or because we feel the need to.  It becomes an after thought.

Gospel Centered Teaching is a great book for small group leaders and teachers of all seasons* because it helps bring us back into the heart of the scriptures.  We need to know the basics of the Gospel ourselves, we need to make sure that we can present the Gospel accurately, we need to understand WHY we need to keep our teaching Gospel centered, and finally we need to continually remind ourselves to keep the Gospel center to our teaching and presentations.  Trevin Wax’s practical explanations & easy to read format, make this a great book to give to your small group leaders and staff members.

From the Text:

“If we are not careful , the pursuit of knowledge is merely a sham to make ourselves feel intellectually superior to those around us. We start to view spiritual maturity in terms of knowledge rather than obedience.” (Trevin Wax, Gospel Centered Teaching)

“If we learn individual bible stories and never connect them to the big story; We put ourselves in the scene as if we are the main character.”  (Trevin Wax, Gospel Centered Teaching)

“Just because you know the Bible, doesn’t mean the Word will bear fruit in your life.”

 

Gospel Centered Teaching

Author: Trevin Wax

Publisher:  BH Publishing Group

ISBN:  978-1-4336-8172-1