Community, James, and Doubts

For the last six weeks I have spent Monday nights with a group of women, talking and getting to really know one another. Let’s just end any similarities to the Bachelor/ette viewing parties right there. Because I was in fact, not at one of those, but spending much needed time in community with women in the Word of God.

Y’all. Can I confess here? I was apprehensive about going. It was a study of James (I had just finished studying it on my own with SheReadsTruth) and it meant adjusting my calendar on Mondays. This is coming from a woman who used to lead a small group, reads multiple faith-based books a month, and writes a devotion for her church. CMON. This should have been right up my basic, white Christian girl alley.

I have been hurt in female groups before and will be again, especially within the church because we. are. human. We are post-fall, culture living, sin-struggling humans. Every single one of us. Including me. But that lie that community will only harm was what had me questioning stepping into the room full of women. Who love Jesus. Who want to study God’s Word.

Just like me.

Little did any of those women know that for the prior eight to ten months my heart and prayer had been for women who yearned for the word of God. To study and be present with one another digging into what God was speaking in His Word to them and through them. The reminders that He still works and moves. He is active among those who seek Him.

19732017_10154738616990963_1382455788602163614_nSo last Monday night, as we wrapped up five weeks of gut-checking study, of sharing and being open with women I held in deep respect and those I never met before, I stood and shared that exact thing. I pointed back to the very first chapter of James where he urges us beyond just hearing the Word, but doing the Word. Doing means stepping out when it might cost me something, when it will cost me something. My self. That pride. That ego. That self that tends to lead me in the opposite way of His Word and into doubt and fear. That leads me into less community and more separation.

It was community right there in that room that showed me exactly what the prayers answered can look like. Prayers of months, of a heart desiring women to gather and dig in to His Word, for them to desire it and step into it, when I was skeptical myself. When I doubted He’d be able to do a thing. It was Him at work, when I felt it wasn’t possible. It wasn’t wanted.

Sometimes your answer to prayer means you are the doer…facing the doubt and lies on something so insignificant in many ways, but something so eternally impactful when stepped into. Because when we are only hearing the word for ourselves, we live in that deception of our own voice, our ego, our sin-soaked selves telling us no one else wants it so why desire it, pursue it, mention it? Why choose to change your schedule and pick a bit of discomfort in order to gain so much more?

Because He is so much more.

A Beautifully Designed Review

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“What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman?”

These words greet you as you open Matt Chandler’s A Beautiful Design. These questions linger in our lives, in our culture, and have been very present over the centuries regardless of location or religion.

I found myself throughout this study, coming back to Chandler’s initial question through the lens of God’s Word and who He says we are and the definition presented in Scripture.

Chandler’s study allows you to wade into fairly deep waters over a 9 week study, where you look at the Creation story of man and woman, how we are in His image created, and then diving into the separate examinations and study of both men and women. While I was a bit leery of being a single woman doing this study, after having completed it, I would recommend every single and married do this study in the church. Chandler has also adapted this study for teens and I do encourage that as well.

There are parts of the weekly sessions, where you are to be in a group setting watching the accompanying videos (not included in review) and completing the fill in the blank guide. The three part studies following that session are deep in their content and supplement the sessions topics from the larger setting. It allows for conversational insights between couples as well as family applications within the home each week. As a single, that can be adapted, and one I found myself doing with friends as I worked through this study.

As a woman, I appreciated the insight on the design for manhood, and the look into womanhood deeper than the go-to many dwell on in teaching of “submissiveness.” As a believer, it challenged me in some meaningful ways to look at who God created me to be, how the fall has marred that, and how redemption has brought my story back to His crafting.

I have recommended this study over and over again even while I was in the midst of reviewing it to so many. It’s timely, it’s relevant and it is much needed within the dynamics of the church for us to understand what womanhood and manhood truly are in relation to God’s design.

Interested in more from the Chandler’s? Read my review of Lauren Chandler’s book A Steadfast Love.


Reviewer’s Note: This study was provided for free in exchange for a review.

Book Review: 1 Peter Study

I took a different book to review this month, as I sought to broaden my depth in reviewing. I selected Jen Wilkin’s in-depth look at 1 Peter.

When I say her study is in depth, I mean this smaller book in the New Testament is a nine-week study. Each day you re-read the entire chapter and then focus in on specific verses, often just one or two over the course of five days. You have an additional wrap-up day, followed by a group discussion guide.

This study also has a video portion, however that was not part of the review. I did work through parts of the study as a supplement to my own devotional time and found it rather grueling work. To be honest I felt the pace of the study drug a bit too slow for my own preference. Wilkin is very thorough and Biblically sound in her teaching. She gives contextual insight and derivations of phrases, seeking to have you as the student dig into what you are studying.

Having done studies by other authors on books of the Bible I found this one to be biting off more than I wanted to chew, with such a detailed pace it was advancing. I don’t believe we should rush through the study of Scripture, but for my preference this isn’t one I would choose to lead or study moving forward.

If you are looking for an in-depth, Biblical foundation study this is an excellent choice by Wilkin as she provides such focused questions to get you to look at Scripture intently and intensely. She provides an overarching basis for you to carry into other studies of Scripture on your own. If you or your church are seeking to walk through 1 Peter together over the course of a semester, I would recommend this be the study of choice as Wilkin does a spectacular job of digging into the root of the Scripture.


The Bible study was provided to the reviewer in exchange for this review.

Do you ever look around when you are reading something really good, something that speaks to you and you just want to tell everyone? You want to run up to them and say “Did you know this already? Think about this! This is soooo good! You have to read it!!”

Just me? Oh okay then.

If you are one of the Bible study girls I have been with in the last few years, you would know my penchant for Paul. He’s my main squeeze and we roll well together. So it’s no surprise that when I revisit his letter to the Philippians, as I talked about a little yesterday, I find something anew, words that speak to where I am now in this moment.

I find I want to camp out there, sit awhile in words of truth that make my heart beat a bit faster, my mouth fall agape, and wonder if Paul is sitting in my life right now. Then I remember that God is the one who is in my life, seeing and guiding me to where I need to be in Him and leading me to these words from Paul that were given by God.

When we camp out, when we take time to truly sit in His Words it becomes alive and breathing to us. It breathes in hope, joy, peace, patience, love…and sometimes conviction. Okay probably more conviction than I am comfortable with, but here we are. Words written in a prison that I now sit on my couch rejoicing over, crying over because they are the words meant for this time in my life.

They mark a season in Paul’s life, of encouragement as he lives out daily endurances in prison. They mark a season in my life of wrestling, of encouragement and hope and not quitting. They are markers of remembrance, gifted to us if we but take time to be still and sit. It could be a book of the Bible, a chapter, or like me presently, two verses in Philippians that I just keep digging into again and again.

Whatever season you find yourself in, joy, heartache, suffering, hurt, love or peace, choose time to be in tune with what God has for you in His Word. Don’t miss the very goodness He gave through it as a means of speaking to your life in this very present way, in this very present moment.