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Right Now Media – Book of Mark & 1st Corinthians

My women’s group decided earlier this fall that we are going to study each one of the Books in the New Testament. And the first two studies we chose were part of the new Books of the Bible series that Right Now Media is producing. These two studies are some of the best I’ve ever done and all of the participant’s have experienced significant personal and spiritual growth BECAUSE of these studies.

These Book of the Bible series videos are shot on location in Israel, Greece, and areas that relate to the topics being covered. It gave us a chance to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to walk along with Paul on his journey. But the thing we loved most about this series is that the study guides include 5 daily devotionals each week with probing questions that really make you think about how to apply the principles in practical ways to your own day-to-day life. The bad thing about the study guides is that the print is too tiny so for us 50 year olds. It can be difficult to read. In addition, they are physically big so they are not very transportable on vacation or alternate locations.

First up, The Gospel of Mark with Francis Chan. We feel like Francis is a modern day prophet like Jeremiah of the old testament. He made us feel inspired and convicted with his style of delivery that pulls no punches. At the end of the study, you’ll be asked whether you are really ready to follow Jesus? Get more information about this Gospel of Mark study here.

Then we did The Book of 1st Corinthians with Jennie Allen. I had never done a Jennie Allen study before, but we loved following along with her in Greece. She felt genuine so it was easy for all of us women to connect with her and she delivered biblically-based teaching with passion. I walked away from this study feeling like a had a good grasp of the message and of the topics that God and Paul were trying to convey in this book. This study guide also included small group discussion questions to go with the videos so we liked the format a bit better than the one for Mark, but it still had print that was too small. But in any case, I’d highly recommend both of these studies and look forward to seeing what book will be released next. For more details about this study, visit BooksoftheBible.org

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Couple’s Group Closing

Today I have a conflicted heart as I announce that our couple’s group is concluding our time together. We have been meeting together for over 3 years and it has become clear that while we have thoroughly enjoyed our time together (and created lifelong friendships), our group has run its course.

Couples had come and gone over the years, but in the past few months, we’ve had several couples move out of state, others dealing with issues that have left little time for them to participate in group meetings, and general life changes/shifted priorities.

When God closes a door like this, I always feel like he opens us up to other opportunities so I’m looking forward to what heads our way next. We are now going to look for a woman’s bible study and a men’s bible study where we can get some fellowship time with others of our own gender.

So with mixed emotions of both sadness and excitement, I bid our couple’s group farewell for now….

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Summer Study Wrap-Up: Play With Fire

I just wrapped up an amazing summer spent with 20 incredible women! This is what happens when God is in the mix. My friend Allison decided to start a small group for women and put out the word that she’d be hosting a study on Tuesday mornings at her house. We thought she’d get a small group of women that wanted fellowship and discipleship, but nearly twenty women showed up that first day. We ended up watching the videos together and then splitting into two smaller groups for the discussion questions. It worked out perfectly.

Best of all, Allison chose a study that we all loved called Play With Fire with Bianca Juárez Olthoff. Bianca is a down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is woman that conveyed her messages in a relatable way. She gave us a unique and interesting perspective on the Holy Spirit. The discussion questions were probing and led to great interactions within the groups. I’d highly recommend this one!

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2019 Lent Campaign – 40 Day Prayer Challenge

Every Spring we like to do a church-wide campaign where all of the small groups at our local church do the same study together. We have found that by offering these campaigns, we can promote the small group concept and usually end up adding at least a handful of new small groups to the mix.

This year we have decided to focus on prayer and found the 40 Day Prayer Challenge from Mark Batterson. The 40 day time frame aligns perfectly with the Lenten Season and the marketing materials for this campaign are included with the curriculum kit.

Our group will be joining in the fun and kicking off the series in our group on 3/10/19. The goal will be to take a moment each day to focus on God. We loved Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson and this is simply a way to apply the principles covered in that series.

Do you pray as often and as boldly as you want to? There is a way to experience a deeper, more passionate, persistent, and intimate prayer life.

Drawing from forty days of true stories, Mark Batterson applies the principles of his New York Times bestselling book The Circle Maker to teach us a new way to pray. As thousands of readers quickly became many tens of thousands, true stories of miraculous and inspiring answers to prayer began to pour in, and as those stories were shared, others were bolstered in their faith to pray with even more boldness.

In Draw the Circle, through forty true, faith-building stories of God’s answers to prayer, daily scriptures and prayer prompts, Batterson inspires you to pray and keep praying like never before. Begin a lifetime of watching God work. Believe in the God who can do all things. Experience the power of bold prayer and even bolder faith in Draw the Circle.

Mark Batterson
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Fall Study – Vanishing Grace

These days our country seems more politically divided than ever and grace appears to be in short supply so we thought it would be the perfect time to do a study about extending grace and mercy to others this fall with our couple’s group.

It is always so difficult to choose a study because there are so many to choose from even when the topic is narrowed down. We’ve heard good things about Philip Yancey and I loved his book called Disappointment with God No One Asks Aloud so we decided to give this one a try.

After previewing the videos, I’m slightly concerned about the delivery of the messages as he seems to be a bit boring at times, but the overall theme seems to be exactly what we are looking for:

Yancey explores what may have contributed to hostility toward Evangelicals, especially in their mixing of faith and politics instead of embracing more grace-filled ways of presenting the gospel.  He offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics.  Then he explores what is Good News and what is worth preserving in a culture that thinks it has rejected Christian faith.

We are starting this one at the end of September so that we can be wrapped up by Thanksgiving so we’ll let you know how it goes!

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Church-Wide Spring Campaign: Unshakable

For our 2018 Spring Campaign, our church will be doing the Unshakable: How To Thrive No Matter What Hits You study from Pastor Rick Warren.

During the 8 week series, our local pastor will do sermons on topics that align with the theme of the series and then during the week, all of the small groups will meet to watch the Rick Warren sessions and to discuss the questions presented in the study guide.

We are super excited for this series that will examine the life of Daniel so that we can learn valuable and practical lessons to help us stand firm in our faith. Here is a short preview video from Pastor Rick so that you can see what I mean:

If you are interested in this series, you can buy it online at the pastors.com store here.

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Winter Study: 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith

As we head south for the winter, our small group is getting ready for Andy Stanley’s 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith.  We’ll be doing Ninety each week live with Andy Stanley and Clay Scroggins.  We hope the new series is a good one for the two of us and our southern friends…

It’s the start of a new year. But believe it or not, we’ll be celebrating Easter in just 90 days. Between now and then, join us on a journey through the life of Jesus.
In the meantime, we are so happy that the couples in our group stepped up to host in their homes, facilitate discussions and rotate bringing dessert.  We will miss seeing everyone, but are hoping to stay in touch via Facebook.  I’ve personally already watched the  5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith series several times so I know it will be a good one for all of the participants.  Here is what they can expect:

Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith by Andy Stanley is an exciting small group bible study that establishes the biblical case for five things God uses to grow an unshakable faith in you.

Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you. Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good.

In other words, imagine what it would be like to have PERFECT faith. In this new small group bible study, Andy Stanley builds a biblical case for five things God uses to grow BIG faith.

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Fall Study: The Book of James with Francis Chan

Well we recently wrapped up our Christian study with Andy Stanley and are moving on to the Book of James.  But I wanted to take a moment to tell you all how much our group loved Christian!  It is hands-down THE best study that we’ve done in our couple’s small group.  Even the men were fully-engaged in the discussions and many of the lessons were shared by us on social media platforms like Facebook.  The information was just too good not to share with family and friends.  If you are looking for a study for your small group, I highly recommend Christian…it would work for new thru spiritually mature believers.

And now we kick-off our Book of James study with Francis Chan.  We haven’t really done a specific book of the Bible study in our group up to this point so we are looking forward to digging in.  The Book of James is literally my favorite book of the bible so I’m super excited to get started.  Francis Chan is usually pretty good and he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to teaching what God expects of us.  Here’s a preview of what we are expecting to see and hear….

Francis Chan unpacks the dense truth contained in the book of James in front of the iconic backdrop of San Francisco, the city where he lives and ministers. Through 12 sessions, Francis works through James verse-by-verse, challenging followers of Christ to move beyond a private, intellectual knowledge of God and His Word, to a vibrant faith that impacts every square inch of life.

Please note that this study is only available through Right Now Media so if your church or group leader doesn’t have a login to this site, you won’t be able to do this study.

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Summer Study: Christian with Andy Stanley

Tomorrow we will be meeting for week 4 of our summer small group study.  So far, we’ve all been loving this one.  Andy Stanley is funny and relatable and best of all, the material being covered in Christian: It’s Not What You Think has been thought-provoking.

What I personally like about this study is that it is a good choice for people that are at any point on their faith journey from newbies to mature Christians (I mean disciples….watch this series and you’ll know what I’m referring too).   I’m really looking forward to the next 5 weeks as we finish up this interesting series.  The group discussions have been wonderful and I feel like we are getting to know each other so much better since doing this series.  Did I mention how much we’ve enjoyed it ?!?!

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Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that 2017 is already upon us, but we are excited to start our next small group study called Life on Mission by Dr. Tim Harlow.   The six week study won narrowly by popular vote (over Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey which we’ll likely do in the future) so we are super excited to see how God works in our lives as we move forward.

Here is a summary of what we are supposed to be learning….

Life on Mission offers clear Bible teaching and provocative discussion questions designed to empower small groups to share their faith with people right in their own neighborhood. This six-week study looks at topics like how to connect with unbelievers, how serving others can open their hearts to the gospel, and how paying attention to our own spiritual growth can strengthen our witness.

People who really matter to God are right around you, and God has given you the incredible assignment of inviting them to come home. Life on Mission will inspire and equip you to do that.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m optimistic that this is going to be a good one!