Posted by: richard | 22 October, 2009

Eight sessions ’til Christmas

With LifeShapes complete it’s time to quit the cake, break open the chocolate again, put the soup on, settle into a sofa and resume our typical session format.  We also need a new topic to cover.  I have some great material for the new year but I think we need to get back into the Bible and study a book again right now.  Robbie suggested we do a shorter course than the Interpretation Bible Study 10 weeks format.  I think we also agreed to look at the Old Testament to balance the series on Mark we did earlier in the year.

I have a couple of proposals. The study guides seem practical and application-oriented:

Zechariah (see an excerpt of the study guide here and get more details and reviews here)

Christians struggle. We struggle with ridicule and being ignored in a ‘day of small things’; with opposition to the message that Jesus is the only way to God; with our own failures and the devil’s accusations that make us question whether God accepts us. False teachers, false religion, and false priorities plague and distract us.  In Zechariah’s day, Israel had returned from exile, but home was certainly not all they had hoped for. Zechariah’s task was to bring comforting words to the struggling people of God.

These six Bible-studies open up Zechariah’s reassuring and revitalising message for God’s discouraged people, including God’s great international building project; His solution to sin; His promised Shepherd-King; His great Day of judgement and salvation. Constantly focusing on what these things mean practically for Christians today, this course aims to help Christians live a life shaped, not by ‘these days’, but by ‘that day’ when God’s big plan comes to glorious fruition.

Ezekiel (see an excerpt of the study guide here and get more details and reviews here)

Few books of the Bible seem scarier than Ezekiel — 48 chapters of weird and wonderful visions, bizarre street performances and blood-curdling judgements. Perhaps you’ve wondered what it’s all about. But, will you ever have the time to study such a large book? Does this stuff really have anything to say to you?

Here is a Bible-study course that will take you through the whole of Ezekiel in SIX sessions! This whistle-stop tour gives a clear overview of all the main themes of Ezekiel’s prophecy — God’s glory, judgement, and hope — focusing on key passages that explain the surrounding chapters. But more than that, you’ll discover how God’s Word to His exiled people is truly fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus and the experience of Christians.

‘Then they will know that I am the Lord’ is the repeated message of Ezekiel. In a world of false hopes that will ultimately fail, this is a message for everyone.

Are people happy with one or other of these?  Hopefully we can get it done (or nearly done) before Christmas.  Please blog your comments below – we need to decide fast so I can order the guides.



  1. Hi there,

    Actually they both sound interesting to me, so I’m game for which ever the majority vote for, or indeed to do both if we have time.
    I agree, it will be great to look at a book in the Old Testament now to balance out Mark, and also a slightly shorter study of 6 sessions will probably help us to follow the story a bit easier.
    And once again, and I’m speaking for both James and myself here, we just love coming along to Passion fruit and being part of the group, and getting deeper into the Word of God – we don’t really get that anywhere else apart from our own personal study, but there’s such a strength, a joy and a greater challenge that comes from sharing it with others! Thanks again for embracing our little family in Passion fruit! Be blessed and see you all next week 🙂

  2. Thanks Rachel for the comment and the words of encouragement. You guys have been a blessing to us all too so we’re really pleased you didn’t disappear off to Switzerland 🙂

    P.S. you actually posted this comment as a ‘guest’ – as you are Passion Fruit member it’s better to log in first rather than filling your name and email on the comment form. Click on the “log in” link in the control panel section in the right hand bar to do this.

  3. I have a slight preference for the Zechariah one, but both seem great!

  4. Ok, this time on the blog (ahem)
    I think that they both sound interesting and I’m sure that I would learn from either of them.

  5. Ezekiel sounds wicked! I mean great! Dont really mind, but Ezekiel sounds more me, whacky, out there, off the charts, over the edge…. just call me Zeke… if I was choosing a DVD based on those descriptions, Ezekiel sounds more like a blockbuster and Zechariah a tired B movie or sad love tale chick flick. Just giving an off the hoof reaction from way out left field… 8-B

  6. Same as Jenni for me – slight preference for Zechariah, but Ezekiel sounds good as well. (Since Zechariah is a shorter book, I’m thinking maybe we have more chance to do it justice since we’re limiting ourselves to 6 sessions.)

  7. At the risk of sounding boring, I also think that both of them would be really useful to follow; Zechariah seems more comfortable, but maye I need a dose of weirdness to shake me up. I take Robbie’s point about length; it would be a shame to rush through a book and miss some of the message.

  8. they both do sound good but i too have a slight preference for Zechariah, also i wont be around much in December so i’m easy with whatever.

  9. So… Nobody dislikes either; for 3 of us it’s too close to call; for 4 (including Isaline) there is a slight preference for Zechariah; James has made a compelling plea for the “blockbuster” Ezekiel rather than the “chick flick” Zechariah!

    I must admit I was leaning ever-so-slightly to Zechariah too but James’s post has enthused me to tackle what is a blockbuster OT book! It also strikes me that “God of Glory” is a great theme for Advent and I like the fact that each study looks at a different aspect of God.

    So… Ezekiel it is! I hope that’s OK for everyone – hard to weigh a few slight preferences in one direction against a couple of more enthusiastic responses in the other. Ah, the loneliness of leadership!

    Blockbuster it is though! Check out: (shorter)
    or even (better, but 6 minutes!)

    I’ll order the books.

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