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Fight Back with Joy: A Powerful New Study from Margaret Feinberg

fight back with joyI had the opportunity to preview a new study from Margaret Feinberg this week.  Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More, Regret Less, Stare Down Your Greatest Fears is a new 6 session study and it is one you are going to want to add to your recommended list.

Margaret Feinberg was recently named one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today by Christianity Today, one of the 30 Voices who will help lead the church in the next decade by Charisma magazine and one of the ’40 Under 40’ who will shape Christian publishing by Christian Retailing magazine.

In Fight Back with Joy Feinberg asks the question, “What if joy is better than you imagined?”  She points out that although “this virtue has been stamped on coffee mugs, sewn on decorative pillows–even displayed on dish soap…joy is more than whimsey; it’s the weaponry you can use to fight life’s greatest battles.”

DVD-driven, the session videos feature the captivating teaching of Margaret Feinberg.  At an average length of 23 to 25 minutes, there are some speakers that would lose their audience.  That doesn’t happen here.  Truly a creative writer, Feinberg’s language is as imagination-provoking as humanly possible.  Your group members will stay engaged as she explores these important biblical truths.

The Bible study book is a very creative experience as well.  Far more than a set of discussion questions, each session includes a variety of experiences that will help unpack a number of profound ideas and life-changing truths.  Every group session begins with an experiential activity “designed to be a trigger for group engagement and help move people toward the ideas explored in the teaching.”

Included in the Bible study book is a set of daily studies to be done in preparation for the upcoming session (except for the first session).  A manageable length, most participants will find them to be a satisfying experience and just the right length to pull them along in the journey without overwhelming.

The Bible study book also includes a simple video notes section with many of the main statements and quotes, allowing members to capture other ideas that grab their attention.  The study book concludes with a “joy bomb journal” designed to be a place to capture those amazing daily moments when God explodes on the scene with a sunset or a warm hug or an unexpected note from a friend.

While reading the book Fight Back with Joy is not required, it will help some participants get the most out of the experience.  Margaret points out that “this is especially true for those facing a crisis of their own, whether a diagnosis similar to Margaret’s or something completely different.”

Fight Back with Joy is a powerful study that will be life-changing for many.  I’m adding this study to my recommended list and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Freefall to Fly: A Powerful New Women’s Study from Rebekah Lyons

freefall to flyFinally had the opportunity to preview a new study from Rebekah Lyons.  Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning is a six session study based on Lyon’s 2013 book by the same title.  If you’re unfamiliar with Rebekah Lyons, she serves alongside her husband, Gabe, as cofounder of QIdeas, an organization that helps leaders winsomely engage culture.

In her bio Rebekah Lyons is described as “an old soul with a contemporary, honest voice who puts a new face on the struggles women face in living a life of meaning. Through emotive writing and speaking, Rebekah reveals her own battles to overcome anxiety, depression, and consumer impulses-challenging women to discover and boldly pursue the calling God has for them. Rebekah wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike.”  After spending some time with Freefall to Fly, I can tell you her bio is an accurate reflection!

Freefall to Fly is a powerful study that will resonate with many, even while it may intimidate a few.  With excerpts from Lyons’ book, participants will have a 15 to 20 page reading assignment each week in preparation for their meeting.  Interspersed in the reading is a set of questions that are designed to help prompt personal reflection.

This is a well-written and deeply engaging study.  I really like the way Lyons weaves scripture into her writing.  Some participants will be tempted to skim chapters, but they would be wise to slow down, wrestle with the ideas here, and savor the rich experience.

Although not DVD-driven, there is a set of short introductory videos are available free of charge at Lifeway.com/freefall.  A very complete leader’s guide is included in the member’s book, making this a study that can be done with a newer or less experienced leader.

I like this study!  Freefall to Fly will not be for every group, but for those groups ready for a study that will take them deep into the mystery of how God can turn our greatest struggles into our greatest strength…Freefall to Fly makes my recommended list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative

emotionally healthy spiritualityFinally had a chance to finish previewing a new church-wide initiative from Peter Scazzero and Zondervan.  Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an 8 session campaign based on Scazzero’s best-seller by the same title.  You probably remember Scazzero’s previous book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, a groundbreaking best-seller that was awarded a Gold Medallion by the ECPA.

The Main Idea

“The main idea is that emotional health (defined as our ability to be self-aware and love well) and contemplative spirituality (that is slowing down to cultivate our relationship with Jesus), offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution in our lives.”

The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) Church-Wide Initiative has a number of elements:

  • EHS Church-Wide Initiative Resource DVD: This includes the preaching series and promotional pieces as well as a How to Run the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative.
  • EHS book (the workbook guides participants to read the chapters that correspond to the upcoming session)
  • EHS Day by Day book (includes devotional reading to be completed in the week following the session).
  • EHS Course DVD includes a short DVD segment to be watched by the group as the study session begins.
  • EHS Course Workbook will guide the group through their session together.

Small groups participate using The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course, an 8 session DVD-driven small group study. The video segments are short (11 to 15 minutes) and feature Pete Scazzero.  Scazzero’s content provides a good setup for the session and is delivered in a straightforward and easy-to-follow manner.

The EHS Course workbook is well designed and easy to use.  It includes an icebreaker question and a thought-provoking set of discussion questions.  Each session also includes a Bible study that will help the group make the connection between scripture and emotionally healthy spirituality.  The workbook also includes material for between sessions personal study (enhanced by readings in the EHS Day to Day book) and a simple leader’s guide.

The EHS Day to Day book is a kind of daily devotional with a very basic premise: “We need to intentionally stop to be with God more than once a day so that practicing the presence of God becomes real in our lives.”  As such, it includes a morning segment and a midday/evening segment.

The EHS book is not an especially difficult read, but it will be challenging from the standpoint of time commitment for the average group member.  The combination of readings from the Day to Day book and readings from the book itself will force many to choose between the two.  Although the group member experience will be enhanced by the reading, members can easily grasp the concepts without the book.

Emotionally healthy spirituality is not a topic that will easily capture the imagination or peak the interest of every member.  Pastors and group leaders will need to encourage members to wade into these waters.  At the same time, The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course will provide a powerful life-changing experience for groups and group members that roll up their sleeves and do the work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like Jesus Does

Jesus PromHad the opportunity to preview a new study from Jon Weece and Thomas Nelson.  Weece is the Lead Follower at Southland Christian Church–a community of fourteen thousand Jesus followers in Central Kentucky.

Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like Jesus Does is a powerful study that might have slipped under your radar.  The unusual name comes from an party “that Southland throws every year for the disabled, handicapped, and mentally ill.”  At the essence of Jesus Prom is the the powerful idea that the church is not a place you go but “a kind of community we are.”  Further, six different verbs are explored (love, be, see, dance, give, and remember), “not ideas but invitations.”

DVD-driven, each session features the dynamic teaching of Jon Weece reinforced by a powerful testimony from someone from Southland whose life has been changed.  At a average length of 19 minutes, the video segments will hold attention spans very well.

The study guide is easy to use.  Each session begins with a checking-in opportunity; a set of questions that prime the pump of discussion.  Every session also includes a substantial  reading from a passage of scripture.  A simple viewing guide is followed by a set of well-written discussion questions that will help members wrestle with the key ideas in the teaching.

The study guide also includes a “be the church” section in every session that takes the teaching another step toward application.  Very creatively designed, there is a hands-on feel to the design of these activities.  You’ll also find between sessions content that will help every member move principles from head to heart.  Included in the between sessions content is a reading guide that will guide members through Weece’s book by the same name.

I like what Jesus Prom does!  Focusing on the actions of a kind of community, this study might be just the ticket for many of our groups.  Coupled with intentionality, this study could be a game changer for many.  I like this study and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Top 10 Small Group Curriculum Reviews of 2014

Looking for great studies to add to your approved list?  Here are my top 10 small group curriculum reviews from 2014:

  1. Transformed: How God Changes Us by Rick Warren
  2. Children of the Day: 1st & 2nd Thessalonians by Beth Moore
  3. [7] Seven Questions that Rattle in the Minds of Most Men from John Woodall and North Point
  4. Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler
  5. Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most by Craig Groeschel:
  6. Manhood Restored by Eric Mason
  7. A Man and His Work
  8. Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry by Perry Noble
  9. Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus by Lisa Harper
  10. Jesus Is _____” by Judah Smith

Don’t Miss Philip Yancey’s New Study: Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News?

vanishing graceHad some time this week to take a look at Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News, a new study from Philip Yancey.  You probably recognize that name.  With over 14 million books sold and as the author of two ECPA Christian books of the year (The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing about Grace), Philip Yancey is one of the best-selling Christian authors.

Based on Yancey’s latest book by the same title, Vanishing Grace explores an important topic.  “What kind of news is good to a culture that thinks it has rejected the Christian version?”  The study also examines “illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics.”

DVD-driven, Vanishing Grace features the teaching of Philip Yancey as well as a compelling guest list that includes Gabe Lyons, Rosaria Butterfield, Holly BurkhalterMakoto Fujimura, Ron Nikkel and Cliff and Wilma Derksen.  With an average length of about 20 minutes, the mix of Yancey’s intelligent presentation and the stories of the others captures and holds attention very well.

The study guide includes a video viewing guide and a well written set of discussion questions that will help participants absorb and wrestle with the video content.  Each session also includes an exploration of a set of Bible passages.  The study guide also includes a set of personal studies to be completed between sessions.  Participants are also encouraged to read the Vanishing Grace book, which will provide “even deeper insights that will make the journey richer and more meaningful.”

Vanishing Grace is a very timely study that will help your members understand the cultural shifts in an increasingly post-Christian America.  Although the study covers a topic that may not be right at the top of what your members would seek to study, with the right recommendation it will be both enlightening and challenging.  I highly recommend Vanishing Grace.  I came away with a number of new understandings and I know you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

New from Max Lucado | Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

before amenSpent some time with a new study from Max Lucado this week.  Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer is Lucado’s newest study.  Dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Reader’s Digest and  named one of the most influential leaders in social media by The New York Times, Lucado is the Preaching Minister at San Antonio’s Oak Hills Church, and no stranger to most.  In almost 25 years of writing, more than 100 million products—80 million books—filled with his words have been sold.

Designed for anyone desiring an improved prayer life, Lucado reveals his struggles with prayer and his discovery that having a conversation with God is for everyone, not just for the pious few. Through the use of a simple, easy-to-remember, pocket-sized prayer that he distilled from the prayers in the Bible, he shows us how everyone can build a prayer life that is stronger, better and deeper.  “Father, you are good.  I need help.  They need help.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.”

DVD-driven, Before Amen is a four session study featuring the teaching of Max Lucado.  At 16 to 20 minutes in length, the video component will hold your members’ attention with Lucado’s inimitable style.

The study guide is well written and easy to use.  Developed by Kevin and Sherry Harney the study guide includes leader helps, discussion questions, conversation starters, and between-session activities to enhance your understanding and application of Max’s teaching.  Many groups will want to read Lucado’s book by the same title along with the study.

Prayer and how to pray is such a basic and common interest of nearly everyone (Christians and non-Christians alike), Before Amen will appeal to many groups.  I like it and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Power of God’s Names by Dr. Tony Evans

power of gods namesFinally had an opportunity this week to spend some time with a new study from Dr. Tony Evans.  The Power of God’s Names was published earlier this year (2014) and is another great offering from one of America’s most dynamic preachers.  Evans has been the Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for close to four decades and is a popular conference speaker.

“In biblical times, names communicated a person’s essence–their history, nature, or character.  That’s why God revealed Himself by dozens of different names in Scripture.  No single name could convey the fullness of His character and works.  Learn the meanings of God’s names to know Him more fully and experience Him more deeply.” (from the cover)

A six session study, The Power of God’s Names examines 11 names of God.  Filmed live, the DVD segments capture Dr. Evans’ signature energy and style.  At an average length of 25 to 30 minutes, Dr. Evans intensity and the strength of his content will hold your members’ attention.

The member book includes a well-written set of opening questions designed to help members engage in the discussion.  A viewer guide makes it easy to follow the Dr. Evans’ teaching.  Each of the sessions conclude with a carefully designed set of discussion questions that will help members respond to what they have learned and experienced.

Each session in the member book also includes a set of five daily devotional studies that will help deepen your members’ understanding and expand application.

The leader kit also includes a copy of Dr. Evans’ book by the same title.  Members that desire a deeper understanding of the names of God may decide to read the book in addition to completing the weekly devotionals.

The Names of God is a powerful study that will be just the thing for groups searching for deeper knowledge of God’s character.  If you’re looking for a study that will show your members more of who God is, The Name of God ought to be on your radar.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

The Best Yes: Lysa TerKeurst’s Newest DVD-Driven Study

the best yesSpent some time this week with the newest study by Lysa TerKeurst: The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.  TerKeurst is New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey.

In this six-session video-based Bible study Lysa TerKeurst shares how to make better use of the two most powerful words, yes and no.  Using Biblical teaching and practical insights this study will help you be more equipped to discern the best yes answers for your life.

The six topics covered in the study include:

  • Set Your Heart to Wisdom examines the beginning of wisdom.
  • Establish a Pattern of Wisdom studies a woman that established a pattern of wisdom that saved her city.
  • Practice Wisdom covers how wisdom must be practiced in daily life.
  • Predetermine Your Best Yes teaches the power of the small “no”.
  • Avoid the Traps of People Pleasing studies how we must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.
  • Build a Best Yes Legacy teaches how to become more confident in making good decisions.

DVD-driven, The Best Yes is a six session study based on TerKeurst’s book by the same title.  A dynamic speaker, the sessions are just the right length.  At an average length of 13 to 18 minutes, they capture and hold attention as well as set up discussion very well.  Filmed on location in England, each session is set in a visually interesting location.

The study guide is very creatively designed.  With additional instructions for groups that meet for two hours, the study can be completed in 60 minutes.  Each session includes a video viewing guide and a simple set of discussion questions.  The sessions also include elements that engage every participant.  Providing a daily experience, each session also includes a Between Sessions Personal Bible Study.  Keeping today’s busy schedules in mind, these personal studies can be completed with a commitment of about 8 to 10 minutes a day.  The study guide also includes a optional plan to read through the Book of Proverbs during the six session study.

I am always looking for studies that will interest a broad cross section of adults.  When I can find a topic that appeals to new Christians and seasoned veterans, and will even appeal to friends and neighbors, I know I’ve found a winner; what I call a cross-cultural study.  The Best Yes is that kind of study!   If you’re looking for a study that will capture the attention of the women in your church (and their friends), you need to take a look at The Best Yes.  I loved it and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

New from Bill Hybels and John Ortberg: Life Lessons from Jesus

life lessons from JesusI spent some time this week with a new collection of Bible studies you’re going to want to know about.  Life Lessons from Jesus is actually a collection of 5 studies (with a total of 36 lessons), all of which will appeal to your small group leaders and members.

While Life Lessons from Jesus is not a DVD-driven study and it doesn’t include a leader’s guide, it’s written in a way that will be relatively easy for all but the least experienced leaders to facilitate.

Originally published as 5 individual studies in a series called New Community Bible Studies, this is a great collection of the studies that feature the teaching of Jesus.  The 5 studies that are included in the collection are:

  • The Sermon on the Mount by Bill Hybels (12 sessions)
  • The Lord’s Prayer by John Ortberg (6 sessions)
  • The Parables by John Ortberg (6 sessions)
  • The Passion by Bill Hybels (6 sessions)
  • Luke by Bill Hybels (6 sessions)

Life Lessons from Jesus is designed to expose group members to Jesus, the Great Teacher.  Every session includes a well-written ice-breaker question or two that will pull members into the truth of the lesson.  A thought-provoking set of discussion questions will help explore the truths taught by Jesus the Rabbi.  Each session also includes an emphasis on reflection and application.  Far more than a study that will help members learn about Jesus, these sessions are designed to help members become like Jesus.

This is a very good collection of studies.  If your group is looking for a study that digs deeply into the teachings of Jesus, you’re going to want to take a look at Life Lessons from Jesus.  I like this study and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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