Online Bible study

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Greater in 2013

Published January 22, 2013 by joypatton

Toward the end of 2012, I was asking God all sorts of questions about where we had been.  I thought that I had listened to him.  I thought that I had been following him.  But at the end of the year, nothing looked the way I thought it should.  Is this really going to be worth it?  Have I missed You?  Did I take a wrong turn?  Have I ruined it?  Maybe I should have… I was so discouraged and began to believe that everything I had been doing was foolish and that nothing was going to change.  One dark day I consider stopping everything, including taking down this blog.

In late November I signed up for Melissa Taylor’s online Bible study of Greater by Steven Furtick.  In this book, God gave me sign posts to show where I had been.  He reminded me that I was not on a fool’s errand, but that everything that had happened had been intentional. The book used the story of Elisha to illustrate John 14:12 where Jesus that that anyone who has faith in me will do even greater things.  I wanted to share some of those signposts…mainly so that I won’t forget.

Burning the plows – Elisha was doing life behind a bunch of cows when Elijah chose him to be his apprentice.  Before Elisha left, he used his plows to build an alter on which he sacrificed the cows who had been pulling the plow.  Furtick talks about how this made it impossible for Elisha to go back to the former, lesser life he had been used to.

For the last six years I had been serving in women’s ministry at our church.  But this year I have stepped back.  I’m not teaching a study; I’m not leading a ministry.  This is a very strange place for me and doesn’t make sense for someone who feels called to minister to women and is trying to publish a Bible study for women.  As I have stepped back, I realized that far too much of my identity was wrapped up in what I was doing as a women’s Bible study teacher.  I have also felt a lot of freedom to just go where He asks me to go, to love and serve the women that he has put in front of me.  It has made me much more dependent on his plan than trying to forge my own.

Digging Ditches – An enemy army was pressing in on Israel and the king goes to Elisha for advice.  Elisha tells them to dig ditches because it is going to rain.  Even though there had been a famine in the land and no rain for a very long time, the army did what they were told.  Digging ditches didn’t seem like a good battle plan, but it was exactly the plan they needed.  The next day it rained and the battle was won.

Last year I had to dig some ditches.  I took a break from teaching a women’s Bible study at church.  I realized that I didn’t have time to write when I was teaching.  So I took a year off to write a Bible study of the book of Galatians.  God was asking me to write instead of speak.  It didn’t make sense on paper at all.  But by faith, I did what God was asking me to do.  In that year, I finished the book, took a pilot group and two other groups through the study and offered it online last fall.  None of that was possible without a finished book.  I dug the ditches, and God sent the rain…another signpost.

A Little Oil – Furtick recounts the story of the widow who had nothing left but a little oil.  God used that little bit of oil to save her family from starvation.  But the widow had to use what she already had in her house.

Last year finding the time to write a book was an overwhelming task with four children ranging from middle school down to preschool.  But God reminded me that I had all the time I needed.  Instead of using my kid-free time for grocery shopping and house keeping, I used the time to write.  I could take kids to the grocery store and pick up the house when they were home, but I needed my kid-free time to write without being interrupted.  I also realized that I could get my book to people in an electronic form without a big publishing deal or spending money on self-publishing.  God could use the material in any form.   It didn’t have to look the way I thought it should.  Last year I started using what I had in my house to do what God was calling me to do…another signpost for me.

Wasted Faith – The Shunammite women was miraculously blessed with a son.  When Elisha told her she was to have a son, she said, “No, my lord, do not mislead your servant!”  It’s a strange response to good news.  Years later when her young son dies, she falls at the feet of Elisha and says, “Did I ask for a son?  Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”  Elisha comes to her house and raises the son from the dead.

I have felt like that this year.  I thought we were going in a certain direction in women’s ministry and now I’m nowhere.  I remember telling a friend this summer that every dream I had was dead.  I was going to put my book on the shelf and go crawl in a hole and never teach again.  I felt like God had raised my hopes in meetings with publishers and agents only to have every door closed.  Not only were doors closed, but difficult things were happening for me personally.  A close friendship fell apart, I was not parenting my teenage well, and I felt rejected and misunderstood in other relationships.  This made for a difficult year with counseling sessions, many sobbing tears and gut-wrenching introspection.

Furtick said, “The faith of all the saints through the ages is not enough to eliminate the reality of suffering.  Because suffering is not a detour on the road to greater.  It’s a landmark.  Discouragement is often a marker, not of being on the wrong path but of being on the right one.”  This reminded me that all the closed doors, the death of dreams, the tears and the pain were part of the plan, not a detour from the plan.

Trust Fund Baby – Furtick argues that God doesn’t waste our faith.  We may not see the outcome we hoped for in a situation, but that doesn’t mean that believing for a job, for healing, for reconciliation is wasted.  It means that God is storing it up in a “trust fund.”  He’s teaching me how to trust him more.

Saving Captain Awesomesauce –  Naman came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy.  Elisha told him to go wash in the river Jordan seven times.  Naman didn’t want to humiliate himself by washing in that dirty river.  He wanted to go back home where the rivers were much cleaner.  But his servant said to him, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?”  Furtick says, “Pride is the most difficult part of the lesser life to leave behind.  It’s the most intrinsic to us.  We have a curious habit of posturing ourselves higher than the people around us.”

Guilty as charged.  This past year has been very humbling as I have had to take a hard look at my own pride and see my own sin.  I look back and see how my Orphan and Ice Queen patterns tripped me up once again.  Furtick talked about the importance of immediate obedience in learning humility.  God reminded me of small obedient steps I had made.  This fall I offered my study online, even though I was doubtful about whether or not it would work.  I saw God bless it and multiply it in ways I could not foresee.  I also signed up and started attending a study on Ezkiel, one of my favorite books of the Bible, but I had to drop out because God told me he wanted me to study John instead.  I hate backing out of things, but I had to obey.

Furtick also recommends keeping yourself small through your daily interactions with people around you.  This one is really hard for me and I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like in my life.  Jesus was so secure in his identity as the Son of God that taking the lowest position in the room took nothing from him.  His status, his value, his identity remained secure.  As a Princess, I long for that kind of security.

Where did it fall? – In this chapter he talks about the story of Elisha making an ax head float in the river.  A young prophet lost it and cried out to Elisha for help.  Elisha asked the simple question, “Where did it fall?”  Furtick talks about losing your edge and going back to the place you lost it.  He reminded me that when I get to that place, it’s not up to me to fix it or try harder.  I simply cry out to God and ask for help.  With God’s help, I traced the seed of some of the struggles of this year back to a meeting where I did not honor my heart.  I was not in a good place going into the meeting and in the process hurt those around me.  People missed me because I missed myself.  I was not careful with my heart.  God has been teaching me this year how to honor my heart and how to be true.

Open My Eyes – Elisha stands with a young prophet on the wall of the city looking out at an approaching army.  The army was much greater than the army of the Israelites and the young man was afraid.  Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes and the young man saw chariots of fire from God’s army that far outnumbered the enemy.  Furtick challenges us to open our eyes and see who is sitting at our table.  Sometimes we let people in who hold us back from the greater things God is calling us to.

My circle of friends has been small this year and that is strange for me.  I haven’t been in a community group or a small group study.  I really don’t like it, but I know this is exactly where he has me.  My close friends have been there with me and have not let me put my book on the shelf or crawl in a hole and never come out.  They have kept me going when I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.  My friend prayed the perfect prayer for me last night.  She asked that God would open my eyes and that I would see the places and the people that I am teaching.  When I get discouraged, my eyes are closed to all the things that God has done this past year.  My husband especially won’t let me lie to myself and deny that any progress has been made on this journey.  This book was full of sign posts for me that I’m right where I need to be.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I would highly recommend this book.  I’m sneaking it into my husband’s reading pile tonight!

ONLINE Bible study for the New Year

Published January 6, 2013 by joypatton

Last fall over 40 women attended From Ice Queen to Princess ONLINE.  We had a great time getting to know each other and sharing what God was teaching us.  So we are going to try this great experiment again!  We start next Sunday, January 13 and will end March 17.  That’s 10 weeks to becoming God’s Princess for only $10!

The book From Ice Queen to Princess is a Bible study based on the book of Galatians.  As we study the book chapter by chapter, we look at how three different “characters,” the Ice Queen, the Orphan and the Princess, relate to God.  As modern women, we often understand how God’s Princess is supposed to act and think.  However we get stuck in old behavior patterns, like the Ice Queen who works to be perfect or the Orphan who works to please other people, that hinder our relationship with God.  As I studied the book of Galatians, I saw both extremes in Paul’s audience.  He offers the transforming power of the gospel to show us how to become a Princess, a beloved daughter of the King.

Here’s how it works:  I will send an email each Sunday with a PDF file of the chapter attached.  You can read it on your computer, print it out or download it into an eReader.  Then each day of the week I post one discussion question from the chapter on a closed group Facebook page.  Only the women currently going through the study will see what is posted.  Each Wednesday I post a brief video on YouTube, and just for fun you can follow me on my Pinterest page or Twitter.

I learned a lot from doing it last fall.  This time I’m going to load all of the files onto the Facebook page so that you can read ahead or catch up as needed.  I also want to have some extra incentive for doing the “Royal Fun” section of each chapter.  In “Royal Fun,” I challenge you to go through the right side of your brain and be creative.  Most importantly I learned that I want to be more purposeful in praying for each woman in the study.  I am planning to drop you a Facebook message or email throughout the study, just to touch base and let you know I’m praying for you.

I’ve been praying for months that God would begin to call the women he has for this 2013 study.   I’ve been studying the Gospel of John and Jesus repeatedly talks about how he can only do the work that the Father has given him to do.  As His Princess, I can only reach the women he gives me to reach.  I know women out there desire a different life, a transformed life, but have no idea how to get there.  I’ve seen the power of His Word in my life as He has changed me from an Ice Queen into a Princess.  If the idea of this book has peaked your interest or if you know you need to get into God’s Word in the New Year, will you consider joining us in this ONLINE study of From Ice Queen to Princess?

If you have more questions, feel free to contact me at joy@joypatton.com.  For a video introduction to the study, click here.

Below are some comments from women who went through the study last fall:

“One of my favorite things about the  IQ2P study is the interaction with Joy and the way we were able to engage in conversation about the chapters. Talking with others about scripture and realizing that ‘I’m not the only one’ was amazing. I enjoyed the illustrations that were used in each chapter, and often found myself re-watching the videos from previous weeks. I appreciated what God showed me through this study, and am thankful for the honesty and real-life stories in the material!!” – Kathleen Murphy

“Even when I didn’t have the time to read the chapters, I got a lot out of the Facebook postings.  Even if I didn’t answer, I enjoyed the discussion.” – Karin Siccardi

“The King not only adorns me with my crown, but he picks it up and puts it back on my head whenever it falls off, I take it off and somebody tries to steal it. He keeps adorning me with it to remind me who I am…because of whose I am. I am so grateful because I desparately need HIS reminding of how HE sees me.  So grateful for this study of the Word that blesses so many woman and reminds them they were MADE to be a daughter of the KING of KINGs….a princess!” – Michele Hazelip

I see you

Published September 4, 2012 by joypatton

I see you standing in the doorway.  I know you are thinking about coming in, but for many reasons, you have not.  You see a room full of women sitting at tables and laughing and having fun, but you doubt whether you could ever be one of them.  Once they found out who you really are and what you have really done, they would reject you, just like before.  There was that one time when you thought you had a friend and she turned on you, betrayed you and broke your heart. Now the thought of walking in and sitting at one of those tables brings back painful memories.  You stand frozen in the doorway.

I see you standing there.  I know you want to come in and be a part of the group again.  I know that you are sad because the worries of life outside this room are pressing in.  You would come in and sit, but you just don’t have the time.  You’ve had to take on more work, and you just can’t afford to be one of those women who spends two hours every week in Bible study.  You used to be that woman, but now you aren’t.  Now you wonder if anyone even remembers that you exist.

I see you holding your newborn baby.  You’re excited and scared all at the same time.  You wonder how this little life will change your world.  You wonder what you will have to give up so that you can be a mother.  Will your spiritual growth have to sit on the shelf?  You look at the women in the room longing to hear their wisdom, but not sure you could even get yourself and the kids out the door on time.  The thought of being late every week and disorganized and not having homework done keeps your feet planted firmly outside.

I see you standing in a new place full of strangers.  You look into the room, and your heart aches because no one knows you.  No one has seen you, at least not like the friends you left behind.  You liked the person you used to be, but these last few months she has been hard to find.  No one here knows she even exists.  You begin to doubt she ever did exist.  You have tried to get back, but every path is blocked, every effort lost.

Joy Patton, I see you.  I have let you see these women standing in the door.  I know you have been trying to get them to come in.  I see how you have been friendly and welcoming.  Yet you have stood on the stage beckoning them to come in.  You have wanted to be seen.  Now I’m asking you to step off the stage and go meet them in the back of the room.  They can’t come in right now, but you can go to them.  Go meet them where they are.

I am the God who sees, El Roi.  I am the God who cares for you.  I see your anxious hearts.  I see the burdens you bring.  I have come to bring good news, to bind broken hearts, to proclaim freedom, and to comfort those who mourn.  I have come so that they might have life, abundant, overflowing life.  Will you take me to the back of the room?

If you have been standing at the back of the room and you want a seat at the table, we are doing an Online Bible Study of the book of Galatians.  Find out more by clicking here.  I hope to “see” you there!

Online Bible Study

Published August 27, 2012 by joypatton

I’m so excited to offer From Ice Queen to Princess as an online Bible study this fall! For the past two years I have been writing a study of the book of Galatians that looks at how the gospel transforms us from Ice Queens and Orphans into Princesses. I’ve found that as women we often know that we are God’s Princesses, his beloved adopted daughters. However this knowledge doesn’t seem to affect our everyday lives. We are stuck relating to God and to each other as Ice Queens, powerful, perfectionist women who love to be in control, and Orphans, poor wandering souls who don’t feel worthy and try to please others. These personas are two sides of the same coin, two extremes focused on self. Sometimes the church and our society reinforce the strong, powerful woman or the Christian nice girl that makes everyone happy. However neither one is pleasing to God. In this study we look at what God’s Princess looks like in contrast to Ice Queens and Orphans. It’s a study that reads more like a nonfiction book than a textbook. It’s a study that goes through the right side of your brain to get to the heart. It’s a study that will help you get “unstuck.”

How It Works
You register for the class online using the link below. We will use a variety of online tools. Use whatever you are comfortable with.
Email – Each Sunday I will send you a PDF file of the chapters. These can be uploaded into most eReaders or printed off.
Facebook– When you register, you will be invited to join a private Facebook group only for women currently in the study. Each day I will post one of the discussion questions. You can share your answer by commenting on the post.
Blog – I will be using this blog each week. Mondays will be the usual post about where God has me each week. Wednesdays will be a video blog about current thoughts or stories about the chapter for the week. “Free Advice Fridays” are when you can ask me anything about anything. Make sure you “follow” to this blog via email so you don’t miss the good stuff. Click the button under my picture to get started.
Pinterest – I have a board on my account (JoyPatton) that is called “Ice Queens, Orphans and Princesses.” When you find something that reminds you of the three personas, you can send me pictures to post on this board. Each chapter also has a “Royal Fun” activity. You may want to post those on Pinterest or on the private Facebook page.
Twitter – It’s a great place to talk about the study using the hash tag #IQ2P. Post quotes or share a “Princess moment.” I may Tweet a verse for the day…maybe.

The Details
The study starts the week of September 9 and will end the week of November 11. Ten weeks to become a Princess…or at least get started!
The cost is $10 plus Paypal fees. You can register by clicking here.

I’m giving away THREE tote bags with goodies, including a copy of my book The Myth of Enuff. Register for the study before September 1st, and you will be entered in a drawing to win. I hope to see you online and don’t forget to invite a friend! You can read below what women who have gone through the study have said.

From Ice Queen to Princess has helped me understand God more than any other Bible study. Being reminded that He sees perfection in me, because He sees Jesus in me is like a weight lifted!” – Amanda Juillard

“I have been through a lot of studies before, but this one is different! Joy Patton takes the book of Galatians and speaks directly to the hearts of her readers. Many times my relationship with the Lord was based on a set of rules, and other times I never felt good enough for Him. The book, From Ice Queen to Princess, has shown me, God views me as His Princess even in my mess. I really enjoyed how Joy used everyday situations and asked her readers how they respond to those situations. Speaking directly to women’s hearts, this study will forever change them from being Ice Queens to His Princesses.” – Jennifer Thieman

“I loved the personal stories infused in the Biblical application. It was an intimate study that could be experienced by one person on their own or large groups of women. The references to various characters in films help you visualize the Orphan, Ice Queen and Princess. The chapter challenges that incorporate art, nature and self reflection allow the reader to truly become part of Joy’s work.” – Amy Bryan

“This study was wonderful. It taught me to really look at how I can act like a Princess with our amazing Father to help me through.” – Michelle A.

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