Posted on

Following Jesus in the New Testament

Janice and I have been meeting in a weekly SKYPE-enabled bible study for almost two years. Our first meeting was in July, 2019. By the end of 2021 we hope to be near the halfway point of the 27 books of the New Testament. As we approach the two year anniversary of our virtual bible study, we wanted to review the studies we have done.

We decided in the beginning to work through the books of the New Testament so we could look back and know we had covered some ground in getting to know Jesus. When we approach the end of a study, we do ask God to guide us to the next one and pray over the one to do next. We sought studies that had us in the Word of God at least three to five days a week. This required that they have study guides that had us engaging with verses and asking ourselves personal faith maturing questions, as well as offering us ideas for application in daily living. The Apostle Paul wrote many of the books of the New Testament. We learned, after doing a couple of them in a row, to put space between each bible study that involved a book written by him, because he repeats many of his points and we wanted to come at them fresh each time we read them.

We studied (in New Testament book order, not the order we went through them, with links to video introductions):
· The Book of Mark with Francis Chan
· Determined: The Book of Luke with Heather Dixon
· The Book of 1 Corinthians with Jennie Allen
· Galatians: Accepted and Free with Jada Edwards
· The Book of Ephesians with J.D. Greear
· The Book of Philippians with Jo Saxton
· The Book of Colossians with Louie Giglio
· The Book of James with Francis Chan
· The Books of 1, 2 & 3 John with Tony Evans
· Jude with Jackie Perry Hill
· The Book of Titus with Chip Ingram (current study)

Our top five favorites from the studies we’ve done so far (and why) are:

#1) Jude by Jackie Hill Perry

We learned the most from this study. We remain amazed at how much content she gleaned from this smallest of the Gospel books. She does not hold back in her sermons, but puts sharing His truth over our comfort. Painful though this felt sometimes, it was also gratifying to know it meant our personal growth. More than that, she taught us to break down our bible reading to look for similar patterns in other books of the bible. Great discussions came out of this study. A study excels for us when it sends us searching for answers between weeks and this study did that for us weekly.

#2) Galatians: Accepted and Free by Jada Edwards

This study was a close second for us. The study guide was simple, but the questions made us look closely at our walk with God. And every week, Jada emphasized how much we are loved by God and how much that should direct our steps and our attitude. The videos are very engaging because they are filmed to make it feel as though we were sitting at home with her talking about Jesus. Jada emotes a sense of walking alongside her study companions with empathy and love, which comes across in the study guide, too.

#3) The Book of 1 Corinthians by Jennie Allen

This was our first study. Jennie Allen is a very engaging teacher, committed to helping her listeners see how much better life is in the face of difficulty, if we live for God. We loved that the filming of the videos had Jennie walking in the footsteps of Paul in southern Greece. She did a great job of applying biblical principles to everyday life. The study guide was a great mix of historical context and biblical wisdom. This is the first we did of the studies written especially for and we highly recommend the format as a great way to do bible study.

#4) The Books of 123 John by Tony Evans

We loved this study so much, we can not wait for Pastor Evans to finish writing and recording the studies for the book of John. He does an amazing job of helping his listeners remember his teaching through analogies and word pictures. The study guide is similar to all guides with homework that can be spread out over five days, ending with ways to apply what you learn. This study does not shy from asking convicting questions to help us grow in our walk with God, which is another reason it is memorable and impactful. This study is taught with the conviction of a wise, caring, but determined elder that offers a lot of grace, but doesn’t accept excuses when he knows that God offers us better than we can offer ourselves. Please note that the videos and study guide are available only through Right Now Media.

#5) The Book of James by Francis Chan

Be prepared to see your attitude and behavior change as you do this study. That is the way it was for us. Francis Chan is a passionate teacher of God’s word as it was spoken and written, not as we wish to hear it. This study is about true Christian living – not seeking only to be happy, but to be holy. The study guide questions walk the reader through plenty of context, but also ask meaningful questions like, “If you made this the “goal of your life,” to grow in holiness even if it meant suffering, how would that change your life?” We finished this study feeling like we had been with a true spiritual mentor teaching us truth about faith. Please note that the videos and study guide are available only through Right Now Media.

The two studies we felt we learned the least from were “Determined” ( based on the Gospel of Luke) by Heather Dixon and The Book of Philippians by Jo Saxton. These were obviously well-researched bible studies. So why didn’t they work for us? We did not feel as though we connected with either of the teachers. There did not seem to us to be a cohesion to the lessons or an overarching theme we could identify. We also agreed that the videos seemed to be more fluff than helpful teaching.

We can’t know how a study will go until we get into it. And when they are less than engaging we go to God and ask Him to help us learn anyway, when it is a struggle to do so from the teaching style or content. Even though each study did not bring us joy and may not have been stellar in presentation, teaching ability or content, we are excited to be walking on the path that Jesus walked.

Posted on

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 ?!?!