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A Testimony from Rachel Coward about The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book
I spent most of my quiet time in the summer of 2015 asking God for real connections with other believers. We had found a church home at Gateway’s Southlake campus, but I still felt like a random face in a sea of faces. I had been saved for many years but after having my daughter, I started pursing God with a new passion. I wanted more than church on Sundays, and I wanted friendships that were centered around God. Week after week, I made my requests to God – Lord please send me friends who desire to know you more…who will be real…who will accept me.
Each week at church, I would hear the senior pastor say – get plugged in – find a small group… so in a big leap of faith and discomfort, I decided to flip the switch, turn off my pride, and go where I felt like God was leading me.
On a Tuesday morning in September 2015, I walked the sidewalk to a complete stranger’s door and pulled up a chair. I sat in a room full of people I didn’t know, and God happened. I knew instantly that while I might not “know” these ladies it was clear that I was in the right place. I can tell you with complete clarity that I didn’t see myself doing a full study of the Bible. In fact, once I found out it was a 3-year study, I quickly felt overwhelmed and a little out of my element. Some days I would show up and it felt like I knew nothing, but I kept reading and pressing in to God’s word. Each week I learned something about God, myself, and how I saw God.
During the first year of TAC, I wrote these words in my Bible – Return from Exile. As I studied more of God’s word, I knew he was speaking to me specifically about my mother and the pain and rejection I felt surrounding her illness and death. God was changing things in my heart and part of me wanted to run. Instead, I kept reading…
In the final year of the study, as we read 2 Timothy and Paul’s instructions on endurance these words from one of the daily lessons stood out to me: Both community and solitude are used by God in our lives to fashion us into the kind of people he wants us to be (Workbook 10 at page 61). And there it was…the thing that had caused me to separate and isolate myself from people was the thing that God used to heal me. Book by book, word by word, He put the pieces back together. Those 3 years played out differently for everyone, but many of the women from The Amazing Collection study have become close and dear friends – truly answered prayer.
It is hard to put in to words what reading the Bible and working through The Amazing Collection study has done for my life, my walk with God, and my desire to be n God’s word. It is a true study of the Bible, but it’s so much more. From the workbooks, to the personal testimonies shared on the videos each week, the curriculum leads you through God’s word in a way that connects the dots.
I am currently leading year one of The Amazing Collection, and I am excited about the Bible in a way I never dreamed possible. The Bible is so much more than an interesting collection of stories. It’s my prayer that more women can experience a revival in their love for God’s word. The Amazing Collection facilitated that for me and I am thankful that I can do the same for others.
For information about Gateway Church, visit their website at gatewaypeople.com

For information about The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book visit our preview page at https://www.bigdreamministries.org/preview-materials/the-amazing-collection/

Written by Traci Martin

The need for discipleship

Jesus is amazing, but when I moved to the south, He was not on my mind. In fact, I don’t really think Jesus was on my mind even when I was in my childhood church. But that quickly changed when my husband and I transferred to Georgia. We were surrounded by Christians! They were everywhere, or at least it seemed so. As I observed them doing life, they seemed different to me. There was a positive outlook at the way they approached issues; they called it joy. There was an assurance that everything would work out for the best even when they were in crisis; they called it peace. And they talked about Jesus and to Jesus as if He was sitting right there with them. How they lived was attractive to me and I wanted what they had.

One night as I was home alone, I told Jesus that my life was His and it was a sweet time with the Holy Spirit. But then what? The only thing I knew to do was observe the other Christians in my life – and mimic their behavior. I fell right into the trap of legalism. Just tell me the rules and I will do or not do accordingly as a Christian. However, I did not need rules; I needed to be discipled.

Decades later, as I mentor young women who desire to grow spiritually, I recognize that discipling others is to teach them how to walk with the Lord.

But what does discipleship look like if it is not about adjusting behavior?

Jesus modeled how to disciple when He said to Simon Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He was not inviting them to learn the “Christian rules” but to join Him in what He was doing. He started with the invitation to follow Him with the purpose of being redefined from “fishers of fish,” to “fishers of men.” Did they really understand what that meant? I don’t think so. We don’t read about Jesus implementing a rigorous training program; instead Jesus took them to a wedding where they witnessed His miraculous power of turning water into wine (John 2:1–11). They watched Jesus respond with godly authority when He cleared the Temple of money changers (John 2:13 – 25). And in amazement, the disciples observed Jesus offering hope to an outcast woman in an outcast city with the simple gesture of stopping at a well for a drink of water (John 4:126).  

Belonging

As Jesus was expressing His power, His authority, and His hope, he was giving the disciples a sense of belonging. They wanted to be with Him, but more impressively is that Jesus wanted them! These fishermen and tax collectors and other seemingly undesirable members of society were given an elevated status of belonging to this rising leader. As Jesus taught about the kingdom of God, they inferred that Jesus would be the one who would squelch the Roman occupation of Jerusalem; He would be the one to set them free. They did not understand the full picture of what Jesus was teaching until He explained the deeper meaning of the parables – only to His followers and disciples (Mark 4:10–12).

Believing

Jesus provided opportunities for His disciples to apply the lessons He had been teaching them. He healed the leper and then sent him to the priest to be declared clean (Matthew 8:1–4). He healed the centurion’s servant from afar with just a word (Matthew 8:5–13). And He healed Peter’s motherinlaw, and then she got up and served Him (Matthew 8:14–15). Think of the faith progression in these healings: the Hebrew disciples were not going to get close to a leper to examine his disease; they would leave that for the priests. They didn’t actually see the centurion’s servant, so they could not verify the healing for themselves. But Peter’s mother-in-law was a different story. She got up without any residual symptoms of the fever, and tended to Jesus’ needs. Even though Peter was an eyewitness to the healing power, he and the other disciples still had to grow in their own belief. When they thought they were perishing on a boat in a storm, Jesus rebuked them for their “little faith” (Matthew 8:23–27).

Fast-forward toward the end of Jesus’ discipleship training; the disciples are once again in a boat with choppy waters and high winds. This time Jesus was not in the boat with them.  Peter’s belief had grown tremendously as he climbed out of the boat to walk on the water towards Christ. While it was a short walk before Peter’s fear took over, it prompted the disciples’ declaration that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 14:22–33).

Behaving

Believing Jesus as the Son of God changes how we respond to the authority of the Bible and the teachings it contains. Jesus gave many sermons on how to live, how to interact with fellow mankind, and how to interact with God. He regularly chastised the Pharisees for their outward appearance of piety; in other words, their behavior was only religion (Matthew 23:27). But He offered grace and forgiveness for the sinner (John 8:1–11).

Believing in Jesus and knowing we belong to Him changes everything about us, including how we respond to people and situations in our lives. It is the difference between the Peter who denied Christ three times (Luke 22:54–62) and the Peter who was arrested for boldly preaching about Jesus (Acts 4:1– 20). Peter started as a Christ-follower and became a Christ-proclaimer; that is discipleship.  

Walk this Way

As we come alongside of new or emerging believers to disciple them, we are, in essence, teaching them to walk with Jesus. They may want a list of dos and don’ts to know “what would Jesus do,” like I did. Or perhaps the exact opposite is true and their life does not resemble anything godly. Our temptation is to try a “fix” their behaviors first.

Behavior is not the starting point for walking with Christ. Discipleship begins with understanding who Jesus is and who we are in Him. It must start with belonging – knowing they are loved unconditionally and there is nothing that can separate them from His love (Romans 8:35-39). For some, depending on their background, it could take a while for them to have assurance of this fact. However, once the love of Christ penetrates people’s belief systems, it changes them through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is then that the Bible becomes amazing for them and it is then that they want to obey the Word as an overflow of what has been done inside of them. Discipleship that works helps believers feel a sense of belonging, increases their belief, and thus, affects their behavior.

For more information about our engaging Bible Studies and teaching resources, visit us at www.BigDreamMinistries.org or email us at CustomerCare@TheAmazingCollection.com

 

 

 

 

Almost daily we receive questions about our newest study, The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ. It is exciting to hear how many people are looking forward to learning more about Jesus.  We are making the study available to you as soon as it is ready.

Status by Product

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Workbook – Part 1

  • Status: Currently in stock with thousands more being delivered the first week of August

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ DVD Set – Part 1

  • Status: Currently in stock

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Digital Streaming – Part 1

  • Status: Currently available on bigdreamministries.org/product-category/digital-streaming

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Workbook – Part 2

  • Status: Limited quantities of the first edition are currently in stock.
  • The final round of copyediting is completed and will be delivered to the printer by the end of July.

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ DVD Set – Part 2

  • Status: The filming is complete and post-production edits are anticipated in autumn.

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Digital Streaming – Part 2

  • Status: The videos will be uploaded for streaming following the post-production edits.

Pricing for the Study

  • Workbooks

o   $24.50 direct from Big Dream Ministries

o   $25.99 online from Amazon

  • DVD Sets – 12 video lessons and 1 workbook

o   159.99

  • Digital Streaming

o   $7.50 each lesson

You are going to be blessed by participating in this study. Reach out to us if you have any further questions about The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ.

Bible study “season” is upon us and soon, women from every stage in life will walk through the doors of our churches and homes for an encounter with the living God. We will experience so many needs and personalities; it could almost be overwhelming – a lot like a puzzle when you first dump it out on a card table.

It takes patience and time for those pieces to start to make sense. Some frame the scene, others bring color, still others make up the background you don’t always notice right away. Wherever the specific piece fits, it’s undeniable each one is needed, or the picture is not complete.

As leaders of women and ministry, we already know the “big picture” – that God’s Word is the key to our relationship with Jesus. But we may not realize how important each little “puzzle piece” is to our growth in Christ.

The body of Christ is about more than just getting together on Sundays and drinking coffee, singing songs, hearing a sermon, and going home. We have deep, eternal, significant work to do when we are together – any time we are together. It is mysterious and at the same time, completely tangible.

We need Truth. And we need to know and love God more. But we also need each other. Did you know that? No one likes to be needy. And sometimes, we don’t want to be needed! But, we need each other because of what – and Who – is inside us. We have a gift to give and that gift can only be given and received when we are together. (Facebook and FaceTime don’t count. This means face to face!)

Peter explained this truth for us in 1 Peter 1:3-7:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This is a beautiful reminder of who we are and where we are bound. But let’s focus on the word “various” in verse 6 … in “various trials.” Various in the Greek is poikilos and means “existence in various kinds or modes, diversified, manifold, variegated, many colored.” Even “woven or embroidered.”

 We see this word often in the Gospels, when Jesus healed the sick with various diseases. His grace and power were sufficient for every single one. The word is also used secularly, as a descriptive in nature. The spots on a leopard. The plumage of a peacock. The glint of granite. It can also describe the character of something or someone that’s complex, clever, or resourceful. This is a beautiful concept layered with meaning.

We are promised trials many times in Scripture. We aren’t told how often or what kind, but we do get to know something of the greater purpose. Verse 7 tells us we are grieved by these various trials, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Greater future glory for Him and for us!

Peter leads us onward in 4:10, where we receive our “horizontal” high calling:

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

There’s that word again. Varied, various … poikilos. So, our trials are various –multicolored, diverse, complex. Could it be that Peter is saying God’s grace is as well? Yes. That is exactly what he is saying.

Here’s William Barclay’s thoughts on this:

“To speak of the grace of God as poikilos means that there is no color in the human situation which the grace of God cannot match. And no possible problem can arise to which the grace of God cannot supply the solution. There is no possible set of circumstances, no possible crisis, emergency or demand through which the grace of God cannot find a way, and which the grace of God cannot triumphantly deal with and overcome. There is nothing in life with which the grace of God cannot cope. There is a grace to match every trial, and there is no trial without its grace.”

But wait – there’s more! Note the context of “varied” in verse 10. Could this mean that we are somehow involved in dispensing the very grace of God to one another? Scripture could not be more clear.

You have a treasure inside you – a gift given at the moment of your salvation. But unlike presents under the tree, this isn’t a gift for you. It is a gift for everyone else. Someone needs the grace that has been entrusted to you. And each gathering is a joyful opportunity to give it away.

So when you come to Bible study each week, you are so much more than a participant or a leader. As a believer, you are a steward. An ambassador. An overseer. A custodian.

As stewards of God’s grace, we should show up anytime we meet as believers – or anytime we meet with anyone – and instead of thinking, as we are all prone to do, “Here I am! Who’s going to say hi to me? Who’s going to ask how I am? Who’s going to notice me?” our spirit-led attitude and renewed mind must think instead, “There you are! I’m going to reach out first; I’m not only going ask how she is, I’m going to listen to what she says. Humble me, Lord. Use me and the grace you have deposited inside me to love and encourage and point someone to Your Son today.”

His Spirit is dwelling in and among us even now. And each of us possesses a supernatural gift, provided by our heavenly Father, intended to strengthen other believers with His sovereign grace. I need you. You need me. We need each other. We can choose each day to participate in His beautiful plan of restoration and blessing. What a privilege to be a vessel through which God’s infinite, abundant grace is poured out unceasingly on His people!

 

 

 

 

 

Pat Harley with Jennifer McClish, Fay Runnion, and Kellye Rickman.

She was a prayer warrior. As a Bible study teacher, she prayed for all of her students. She kept her heart open for God to show her who to invest into their lives in order to raise them up to walk in the same spiritual footsteps. Eleanor Lewis, one of our founding teachers, recognized three women in particular who had a love for the Word, an eagerness to learn to more, and a willingness to share what God was doing in their hearts. These three women, Jennifer McClish, Kellye Rickman, and Fay Runnion did not see themselves as Bible study teachers, yet because of the investment Eleanor made in their lives, all of them are now teachers for Big Dream Ministries.

Throughout Paul’s letters in the New Testament, we can see how he understood and taught this principle of duplicating yourself for the sake of the gospel.  Jesus called Paul to take the message into the nations, yet he was only one person. Paul intentionally invested time training and encouraging teachers of God’s Word as a way to multiply his effectiveness. He did this by sharing what he has gone through for the sake of the gospel and how to live in light of eternal salvation by the grace of Christ. Paul goes so far to say, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Paul was a teacher of the Scriptures who expected the hearers to grow in their own knowledge of the Word. The author of Hebrews expects knowledge to progress from being a student to becoming a teacher (5:12-14). Yet, the book of James warns that not all should become teachers because of the high standard which must be held (3:1). As a Bible study teacher, God calls you to lead others to a deeper understanding of who He is by teaching His Word. It is an honor and an incredible responsibility!

Whether teaching 1 person or 1000, teachers are accountable for how they handle the Scriptures. We need to keep the Writings within their original context while being able to provide current applications. Additionally, we want to help our students mature from a basic knowledge to a deep love and understanding of the Bible – perhaps so they will also desire to share what they have learned with others. Is there someone in your sphere of influence that you recognize as having the potential to grow into the role of teacher? Think of the impact in their life and your ministry!

At Big Dream Ministries we are dedicated to providing materials and training to equip your Bible study teaching and discipleship of others. Our studies have been used for over 15 years to help teach every book of the Bible and our training conference provides the skills and confidence teachers need to accurately present the Word in any environment the Lord has called them to lead. Consider us your partner in your efforts to educate others in the Word of God.

For information about our studies or the upcoming conference in April 2018, visit us online at www.BigDreamMinistries.org.

The start of a new year is a popular time to set goals and make plans for the future. Perhaps because we are made in the image of a creator God, we are wired to look beyond the circumstances of today and look ahead with hope. Scripture tells us that the plan for Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was made “…before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20). God’s plan for our future is presented in the prophecies contained in many of the Biblical books. The most intriguing prophetic book in the New Testament is Revelation, which is a book filled with vivid symbolism representing the literal second return of Christ that is yet to take place. Analysts have been trying to determine the exact time, place, and circumstances of Christ’s return since He ascended into heaven.

Every word of Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and the prophecies are intentionally mysterious. Jesus himself said that no one but the Father knows the time of His return (Matthew 24:26). So what is the point of studying the prophecies?  In an interesting book by Mark Hitchcock, entitled The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days, he gives ten reasons to study biblical prophecies that go beyond trying to unravel the plans of Christ’s return:

  1. “Prophecy is a major part of divine revelation.”
  2. “Special blessing is promised on those who study prophecy and pay attention to what it says.”
  3. “Jesus Christ is the subject of the prophecy.”
  4. “Prophecy gives us a proper perspective in life.”
  5. “Prophecy helps us understand the whole Bible.”
  6. “Prophecy is a tool for evangelism.”
  7. “Prophecy helps protect people from heresy.”
  8. “Prophecy motivates us to live godly lives in light of eternity.”
  9. “Prophecy reveals the sovereignty of God over time and history.”
  10. “Prophecy proves the truth of God’s Word.”[1]

Prophetic messages point to our Hope for all of eternity – Jesus. With an entire section of the Old Testament dedicated to the prophets and major New Testament discourses contained in Matthew 24 and Second Thessalonians in addition to the book of Revelation, it would be easy to overlook the prophecy that is woven into much of the Scriptures. In order to get a glimpse of God’s future plans, you must know the entire Biblical story, to recognize the prophecies that have already been fulfilled and which we are still awaiting. Every book of the Bible points to Jesus; shouldn’t we know them all?

The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book is an excellent tool for learning the contiguous story of God and understanding the times we live in now in relation to the second coming of Christ.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42).

For more information about The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book or any other Big Dream Ministries’ study, visit us at www.BigDreamMinistries.org or email us at CustomerCare@TheAmazingCollection.com

 

[1]              Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Tyndale House Publishers; Carol Stream, IL: 2007), pages 4-15.