Last night, my wonderful bride of 18 years and I began watching and discussing Tara Barthel's study, The Peacemaking Church Women's Study: Living the Gospel in Relationships. I first mentioned this study here. And I've been looking forward to extending the number of gospel-centered resource materials available to the church.
The study includes eight sessions and draws upon the book Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict, co-authored by Tara Barthel and Judy Dabler.
Session 1: What It Means to Live the Gospel
Session 2: The Gap between What I Believe and How I Live
Session 3: My Real Problem Is...
Session 4: Real Hope for Lasting Change
Session 5: A Biblical Response to Conflict
Session 6: Repenting and Confronting
Session 7: Forgiveness and Mercy
Session 8: Relationships that Show the World Jesus
The hope for the study is expressed well on the back cover of one of the study booklets for the study. It's a resource aimed at all Christian women, but especially those who "are tired of women's studies that are either so shallow that they never dig deep into Scripture... or studies that give you so many rules and to-do's that you leave feeling weighed down...." The study aims to help women "see how the Gospel is your hope in all of life, particularly in your relationships."
True to the aim of the study, the first three sessions are all looks at the Gospel from various perspectives. Session 1 begins by thinking of the gospel as "the entire redemptive finished work of God" from eternity past to eternity future.
Barthel helpfully avoids diving into "practical applications" in order to focus on God's work in Christ. I loved this line: "Any false religion could give you a list of ten things to do." Instead, she calls us to "let our minds rest on the gospel." The first session includes rather transparent personal testimony from Tara which helpfully illustrates how wrong thinking about God's character and work leads to imprisoning legalistic attitudes. Understanding the doctrines of sin and grace in Christ set us free to enjoy meaningful relationships. "In general, we give grace to others to the extent we are daily experiencing grace ourselves."
The workbook for the study is a helpful combination of main teaching points from the video session, a paragraph summary of the session, three questions for group discussion, several questions for personal study and reflection, and a list of recommended resources for in-depth study.
My wife and I enjoyed the group discussion questions. It was a fruitful time of recalling God's work of grace in our lives and of thinking about the assumptions at work in our relationship with the Lord. All in all, a great start to what we trust will be a great study.
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