Meet Some of Our Bible Study Partners!
These are actual quotes from team members in conversation with each other.
The following comments were not made as “promo-statements.” These are a small sampling of actual comments that various team members of the CWP Inner Circle are making to each other in our online discussion group. There are many others besides these!
I see Jesus so much in the way you pray for us, engage with us and encourage us to handle hardship with wisdom, grace and love. I see it in my brothers and sisters in CWP. I read every email and I learn from, relate to, and am encouraged by all of you. Some of them make me laugh out loud (remember John’s ‘narrough minded’ email). That made me laugh and I learned that John is a bit of an ornery character (good ornery). . . . The point I am trying to make is that several months ago we didn’t even know each other. We could have gone on our way without ever knowing what we were missing in each other. But now, we know and we want more. That is a work of God! The body of Christ just got a little bigger for each of us. 🙂 I relate so much to Dan’s email because I would much rather have all of you over for pie and coffee/Dr. Pepper/tea so we could talk face to face. We would accomplish in one afternoon what it takes months to accomplish on email. We all long for a little more of each other (not emails). — Twila
I too am reading all the emails and am variously touched, challenged, encouraged, reminded, etc. And, just as important, I’m getting to know a new band of fellow sojourners—many whose backgrounds, faith traditions, and perspectives differ significantly from my own. I feel tremendously blessed and better equipped just in this. While time constraints have kept me from interacting as much as I’d like to, I’ve at least been able to listen and learn with an unshakable sense that something very special is afoot. What was written about Mary comes to mind, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Several of us have been sojourning with CWP a little longer than others, and I have an abiding conviction that there are great possibilities for the glory of God in all this. The getting to know one another, and other desired fruit, may seem a little slow in developing, but, from a farmer’s heart, this is the usual way of the bountiful harvest. —Patrick
For the last 15 years or so my husband and I have been able to attend lectures, conferences, whatever you want to call them, that stressed context, context, context in reading the scriptures. I love that. Saturday’s hour was loaded with information so meaningful to me beyond what I’ve heard in the past. Confirmation that I must be listening (reading) as a 1st Century Thessalonian whose background in listening and reading texts was much beyond what I’ve ever exposed myself to. Looking forward to the next assignment which I have not seen as yet. —Ann
I LOVED DAY 3, LEVEL 3! Thank you, thank you, Gary! What a delightful approach. I was able to completely finish everything at all 3 levels this past week! (Yea, me!) Some very personal stuff. I hope everyone is doing this. . . . Just because I have done this type of thing a few times doesn’t mean it wasn’t powerful. And Gary made it unique by bringing Paul into my introspective conversations with myself and God. ……how often do we spend some time thinking about what kind of life Paul lived day in and day out, the violence, poverty, disease, etc. How often do we think about Paul being someone who maybe had allergies or some kind of annoying habit like pulling at the sleeve on his robe when he was making an important point? Gary has been doing a good job bringing us into Paul’s world. —Oscar
This offering is one of the finest opportunities I’ve found in years. It’s far more than just a class. —Bill
I want to reiterate how powerful yesterday’s message was; especially the last 20 minutes or so. I think my response to you then was “WOW!” . . . I could not help but think about that same problem for us and with us. In our case, we are competing for peoples’ minds and attention in the midst of TV, radio, movies, and 100’s of other distractions. It reminded me of how often we ‘numb out’ in front of the TV for hours at a time, not letting in anything else. . . . Then you went on to point out seven things that come out of 1Thess. 2:1-3 and how they also relate to us……..the message was powerfully presented and I am thankful for your insights. Again I say, “WOW!” I am blessed increasingly with every lesson and I thank God for you and for Coffee With Paul, but also for each of my brothers and sisters who are on this journey with me. —Portia
Like Lacey, I was surprised at the length of the scroll. I dressed up in my biblical outfit (have used it many times for VBS) and read it to my secretary and friend and her two daughters, they were amused at first, found it interesting by the end. Thanks for the suggestion to do this, I would never have even considered reading the whole letter at one time. It was powerful, getting the overall message that Paul wanted to give. —Rick
I just listened to the recording. It was a great class! The part that really stood out to me (and these are from my notes – not word for word Gary) is this: It is as if Paul is saying, “Look at who you are and live like it.” . . . He is not putting puzzle pieces together for them so they can understand election. He is trying to help them live like the chosen (elected) people of God. Wow! That is so helpful! That is the lens really opens up 1 Thessalonians for me. . . . Gary, I was convicted by your declaration, “You’re the chosen people of God, live like it!” That doesn’t leave a lot of room for being dogmatic. And considering that Beloved and Election are talking about the same thing in this letter, it seems that getting the love right – both God’s love for us and how to share that with each other is a good way to live like the chosen people of God. That was a very beneficial hour! —Twila
What a great conversation! Just finished day 2 of encounter 4! What an excellent exercise. Placing experience in light of Paul’s writing. I have given thought to this before, not as in-depth or in such a way. The spirit does work in our lives, we must be open and grounded in the Word to His voice. Recent events in my life have brought much together, CWP is shedding new light. —Dan
We just finished watching the English class from Saturday as a family, and though the kids were a little restless, it was an excellent dive into the text. We are incorporating this program into our home-school and looking forward to having the depth that this will bring. God bless you in your ministry, —Jim
I was amazed at how quickly I felt drawn to this approach. I set up my study area with my rocking chair and a chair for “Paul” and I pretended he was sitting across from me. I even made myself a cup of hot tea (which later changed to Diet Coke….ha) and began the assignment. I remembered to verbally “ask Paul” what he meant by the text I was reading. Having done Day 1 Level 2 (PROBE) of Lesson 4 (a quite involved but strongly recommended assignment) I am already feeling the Spirit work within me as I reflect upon what I have learned from the top four most important turning point events of my life. And now that my study area is “set up” I am even more drawn to go back to it and study. I am reserving that area only for studying so that I equate sitting there with a strong presence of the Lord–which draws me to it even more. —Portia
Reading this translation straight through and out loud was very rewarding. I do confess, I liked the feel of rolling out the scroll as my kids chuckled seeing more and more of the paper laying on the floor. I also saw the benefit of reading without facing my own mental barrier of the chapters and verses. This translation helped me sense the heart and urgency of the letter Paul writes to his beloved brothers and sisters in Thessalonica. —Jeff
Just finished day 4 — If you haven’t already done Day 4, you might ask Paul to bring along some cake to go with the coffee. It’s a tough lesson — ouch. At least it was for me. Needed — good — but he didn’t mince words. —Lacey
Paul has never been my favorite NT character. I find him to be a bit too abrupt for me and I often have imagined that I would find him too tedious to be around. Looking at this letter as a letter, and not in typical chapter and verse, has made me appreciate Paul more. Paul warns against extremists as if Saul was never one. I would feel too hypocritical to do so, if I were in his shoes. I am, of course, in his shoes. . . . I was struck by how Paul lifts and encourages Christians. Saul was focused on putting them down, literally. Paul is now full of compassion, when earlier Saul was simply full of passion. The transformation is astounding and complete. Paul obviously has completely bought in to the idea that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. The old man is dead. Paul looks ahead with a new heart. I hope that I can encourage others to do the same thing. Too many are dragging the old Saul around with them. —Joe
Paul came by this week! What a pleasure it was to have my dear friend near. We have been able to spend quite a bit of time together this week, coffee in hand discussing some very important things. We talked about the concept of prayer in the text and how it wasn’t just Paul praying but the others as well. The unity they had in love for the Christ community in Thessalonica and how thankfulness was a part of their prayers and that they mentioned folks by their names. Prayer certainly is a regular occurring part of my friend Paul’s life. We spoke about some key concepts. How faith produces work, love brings about labor, and how hope, that favorable confident expectation that future events will take place, causes us to endure. How they never stop praying because- they desire an outcome, because they are thankful, because of the acceptance of Gods word, and how God wants continual prayer. Paul has assured me that he is going to come by regularly for more conversation and coffee. —Tim
This encounter with Paul did several things for me. It caused me to once again appreciate the twists and turns of the path that God has chosen to place me on. Some of them have been hard and heart breaking. And, in the moment they happened, they were beyond my understanding and comprehension. Yet, as Gary challenged me to do, I looked at each one anew. . . . I am grateful that the basis for this study is responsibility, context and conversation. I am already growing and looking forward to walking this path to a deeper, fuller comprehension of the Saving Message. —Jim
Wow! the learning curve is so steep here at the beginning. I began a week late but feel that I am several weeks behind. Thanks Gary for your encouraging words but I’m still trying to get the hang or it. —Howard
With prayer shawl draped across my shoulders, I stood reading the “ancient” scroll to my two Corgis (very short, but highly intelligent dogs) with suitable inflection and appropriate deliberation, taking pause every little bit to make eye contact, ensuring that my audience was still engaged. It was an altogether delightful experience! Having read this short letter many times before, I found that this experiment invigorated the text, breathing fresh life into the words. I received them differently than in past readings… I applaud your innovation, Teacher! —Debb
I was going to write you a personal letter asking for a word of encouragement from you. Ministry has been very difficult for me as of late. Despair visits frequently. Betrayal I have known more than once. Fear and failure keep knocking at my door. Just this past Sunday someone I thought was trustworthy proved otherwise and our thoughts shared in confidence hit the public sphere. I was going to write you a letter but you beat me to it. You answered my questions and gave me hope in ways you do not know. Thank you for allowing God to work through your own trials to bring blessings my way. Thank you for this week’s Conversation. Paul’s Power Sharing point #1 spoke directly to me. Thank you for hope. I needed someone to spell it out in my life. Celebrate, Gary, for God is at work. —Anonymous
About 15 years ago I was in a class with a former Mormon. She had an amazing testimony. One of the things that really stuck with me was that she said she starting praying consistently (when she was still attending an LDS church): “God, I want to know the truth. I don’t want to be proved right. I just want to be your child and your servant and right with you. Please show me yourself.” At that moment I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that was the same prayer I should be praying… that all of Christendom should be praying. Grateful to be a part of this study…. —Lacey
May I be effusive? Well, I will anyway. This is Tuesday afternoon, and I have just now been able to watch the video. I thank God for His gifts to us that make this technology possible so that I will be able to now leave the computer to go to my reading place and know that my fellow classmates have been hearing and reading the same thing. Lord willing that I may be with you Saturday the 23rd. I appreciate so much the details of the guidance from Gary because I actually read instruction books and am more comfortable knowing what to expect at each stage —Ann
I’m making my way through everyone’s comments and must admit that, at this moment, I’m more amazed with the devotion of all of you than with anything in the 1Thess text. I have not seen any 1Thess for more than a week, due to work and life things. Hoping to be more a fellow converser in the future, but until then, thank you all for your inspiring commitment to the study of this ancient text. —Brian
We all ought to trust the Spirit to bless us in our reading… but we all ought NOT to end up blaming the Holy Spirit for our own delusions of asserting things onto texts that don’t belong there. And there’s a difference in being open to the Spirit of God in the manner in which we read texts and reading our own hallucinations into texts and making them say what we want. —Gary
Not everybody takes Greek, but we have a thriving Greek program on several levels.
Here are comments from a couple of our Greek students:
I am very happy and thrilled to say that I just finished reading verse 1 of Thessalonians in Greek without the Lexicon helps. Small step for some, but huge jump for me! —Ross
Yesterday I crammed the extras of 1Thess 1 in and what a joy it was to read (at least stumble along through) the entire 1st chapter with some sense of comprehension I really enjoy reading it aloud (and alone 🙂 with great emphasis and passion pretending I’m preaching it, or Paul is preaching it. (Even though I can’t understand much of it at the rate I can read it). I would challenge everyone to read the Greek text with all the passion you can muster –even if it’s only the first line. Looking forward to Saturday —Lee