We have been blessed in so many ways this year and want to share our recent experiences and thoughts with you. First, we are grateful for the thanks, queries, and comments regarding the studies we wrote about in a 2013 Renewal News article. We only recently learned that while most churches do Bible studies, these "theme" studies are still very much in the minority. This is partly because the concept is fairly new and the books and DVDs are not readily available in local stores. But we go online to see what new studies are available and which themes would be of help to our church.
Our studies are held in our church, and we start off with a social time. This relaxes the group and they are then more likely to participate in the discussion time. In addition, some of the group are friends of our members, and so it is important to strive to help them to feel comfortable. We play the DVD section prior to the discussion time. (If it is not convenient or possible to play the DVD, you can still gain much from the study because the spoken content is usually part of the book.)
When our Pastor Duncan Cameron quotes in a sermon from one of these books, we make note of the author and explore the book to see if it would be a study of interest for our congregation.
So why are we doing these discipleship groups when we have regular Bible studies? It is because we find that they help us to understand our Scripture readings and our theme studies. In turn, they guide us as we deal with our everyday lives and the challenges we face in our modern world. Since we all have people in our lives who are not believers, these studies also help us to find opportunities to open their hearts and minds to the joys of being a Christian. Do we always succeed? Of course not –- but we keep on trying and praying that some day, they will realize how blessed we are in how we handle difficult times in our lives and that our Lord will guide us if we give Him the opportunity.
In our discussion times, we frequently hear about a painful situation that one of our group is experiencing, and amazingly, often someone else in that same group has been through a similar time and can be of help and comfort to that person. This is an incredible affirmation of how our Lord guides us in setting up the groups and reminds us anew that He is always there for us. And it comforts others as they realize that when they need our Lord to help them, He will find the right person to be there for them.
The last study we did was Grace by Max Lucado. So often, we take the word "grace" for granted and use it in so many ways, i.e. grace period, grace note, graceful dancer, pre-meal grace, etc. We all learned that we had much to learn about grace, and we hope we will never take that word for granted again.
The decision in selecting our next study to start in September is a wonderful lesson in itself. I had been researching what book and author to do next. Pastor Duncan had quoted from John Ortberg on occasion, so I decided to check out his books. Six were of definite interest, but one title just would not leave my mind: "If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of The Boat". So early in January, I met with Duncan about the next study and said that this title really appealed to me. Duncan gave me a big smile and said, "I'm starting a new series this Sunday on l Peter". It was a wonderful example of how our Lord guides and leads us. Have no doubt that something special will come from this study. How could it be otherwise?