Community Day: Meet R.J. Faulkner from Canberra, Australia

I’d like to welcome R.J. Faulkner to our blog today. R.J.’s group is from Canberra, Australia and has 13 group members.

Narelle: Please share with us something unique about your group.

R.J.: This is a difficult question to answer, as it’s the only such group I’ve been involved in, but if I had to think of something unique it could be that at one point, when the group consisted of just six members, half of the group were from the same family. I quite liked that!

Narelle: Where does your group meet?

R.J.: Usually in the family home of a member, but we try and keep things interesting by changing locations every year.

Narelle: What is your group currently studying?

R.J.: Our Bible studies are usually a “follow-up” look at the sermon that was preached the previous Sunday. They can focus on a particular book of the Bible, or perhaps a Bible character and their life lessons and how we can apply them to our own lives.

Narelle: What do you like about your group?

Dave: A large range of ages in the group.

Hannah M: That we’re really supportive and encouraging of each other. I like that we pray for each other, and that we’re able to tell each other what’s going on in our lives.

Narelle: Does your group have a favourite food or activity?

Gee: Cheezels.

R.J.: I love the socializing and meal-sharing in general, and I’m always keen for the loungeroom karaoke that we sometimes partake in before a holiday break.

Narelle: Why do you think it is important to belong to a Bible Study group?

Dee: The different atmosphere outside church.

Emma: Having mid-week time with other Christians, as well as Sunday.

Hannah D: It’s about caring for each other.

Thank you R.J. for visiting with us today and giving us an insight into your group.

R.J. FAULKNER was born in Canberra, Australia. Health reasons saw him resign from the retail and hospitality enterprises in 2004. It was around this time that he began studying self development, leading him to the conclusion that the best self-help material was often biblically inspired. He then began studying the Bible more seriously and gleaned much wisdom and strategy from it, as he continued to face significant health challenges. He now wishes to share his life experience with others in his ebook 31 Ways You Can Fight and Beat Back Pain. This is the first title in his “31 Ways” series of books, aimed at those who wish to enjoy an improved quality of life, particularly in the area of health. Now combining his retail experience and passion for music, Rodwell is also the owner of RJ Music and Collectables, selling new and pre-loved CDs, books, toys, and music memorabilia.

For more information about the ebook 31 Ways You Can Fight and Beat Back Pain visit http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=1341650

We hope you’ve been encouraged by hearing about R.J.’s group. If you’d like your group to be featured in a Community Day post, please contact us at: community [at] 30minutebiblestudies [dot] com

Luis Palau is visiting Australia

by Narelle Atkins

CityFest with Luis Palau will be held in Newcastle (Hunter Region) on November 17-18, 2012. The festival will feature a number of free events including live concerts by top artists, a Kids Fun Zone and extreme sports demonstrations. http://luispalaucityfest.com/

​Luis Palau has preached the Gospel for over 50 years to more than one billion people around the world. In September he preached the Gospel in Albania and you can follow his ministry on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/LuisPalauLive

Check out this video on You Tube to learn more about the vision for CityFest in Newcastle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=BAwhLWqwHt8&feature=endscreen

If you live in or near the Hunter Region, mark the date on your calendar now. And let your family and friends know about this great event that will transform lives.

Aussie Christian writing resources

by Narelle Atkins

In recent months I’ve been thinking about the resources that are currently available in Australia for Christian writers. The US Christian book market for fiction and non-fiction has been booming for many years, and organisations eg. American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)  http://www.acfw.com have expanded accordingly to meet the needs of authors in this growing market.

I write fiction in the Christian/inspirational romance genre and I value my memberships with Romance Writers of Australia, Faith, Hope and Love Inspirational Chapter of Romance Writers of America and ACFW. ACFW has a Beyond the Borders Zone Group for international writers. I blog with International Christian Fiction Writers (ICFW), a group that was started by ACFW Beyond the Borders members who wanted to promote Christian Fiction with international themes. A number of Aussie and NZ writers are ICFW members. http://www.internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com

I recently joined Omega Writers Inc., an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia that was established in 1991 to support and encourage Christian writers. They have members in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2010, Omega Writers Inc. established the CALEB Prize for Faith-Inspired Writing. This award promotes Christian writing in the specific areas of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and was expanded in 2011 to include an award for unpublished manuscripts. http://www.omegawriters.com

The Word Writers Fair Getaway will be held at the Sunshine Coast on 12-14 October, 2012. Last year in November I attended The Word Writers Fair and CALEB Awards Dinner in Brisbane. http://www.thewordwriters.com/

I have also blogged with Christian Writers Downunder, a writing group for Australian and New Zealand Christian writers that was set up in 2011. http://www.christianwritersdownunder.blogspot.com

There are a growing number of opportunities for Aussie Christian writers to publish in Australia and  overseas. The growth of eBook publishing is opening up a whole new world of possibilities for authors. Advances in technology and social media have allowed writers from around the world to connect in various ways.

I’ve mentioned a few groups that have been established to support Aussie writers. Is there a particular writing organisation that has helped you in your writing journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Community Day: Narelle’s group in Australia

Narelle here. Today I’m going to share some thoughts from members of my Bible study group. We all attend the same church service and meet weekly in one of our homes. We have been following the sermon series at church and studying the relevant Bible passages in our group discussions.

We bring along our Bibles (in various forms) and embrace technology to read the Bible.

I asked my group members a few questions and they have very kindly provided their answers below. One thing I like about my group is we’re not afraid to ask the tough questions and discuss difficult issues. It’s a safe environment to express our opinions and learn from others in the group.

Here’s what the other group members like about our group:

“I like the way that in our group we can share our opinions and thoughts openly, even if they are different from others and still grow in fellowship with each other and God.”

“Supper :P, no, the genuine the discussions we have about Christ and the fellowship that results from this.”

“I love to see how Christ works through friendships created in a group for His purpose.”

“I like how everyone can share and have fun together. Its great to have a group of Christian friends to grow in Christ with.”

“I like that we can ask questions openly and learn from those older than us.”

“Yea I also like the openness and also how easy it is to have discussions within the group.”

“The people, I love seeing people grow in their knowledge and love of Christ. So awesome.”

I asked my group if they have a favourite food or activity. The food is always good, and I’ve included below a photo from the Passover meal we shared before Easter.

“We do like to break out a guitar or piano and play a few songs at the end of our study occasionally.”

“We always have creative ice breakers, or ‘ice makers’ as well call them.”

“We recently had a Passover meal together which was a wonderful time of fellowship, remembering Gods promises, songs and delicious roast lamb all squished around a coffee table :)”

“Bible study introduced me to tea and now I love it!!!! I like how we can all enjoy tea together and chat.”

“Consistently eating more chips and lollies then what is healthy.”

“Warm Turkish bread and dips :)”

“Singing and playing instruments after the study! So good!!!”

And I asked my group why they thought it was important to belong to a Bible study group.

“It’s important because you build stronger relationships with a small group of people and those relationships help keep you looking at and reading the Bible, as well as allow you to ask questions you might not ask otherwise, get answers and grow in your relationship with God.”

“To fellowship and bond with other Christians, to discuss the Bible and challenge one another about how to live for Jesus. :)”

“To encourage and build one another up in Christ and to find true friends that will walk with you, pray with you, fast with you and feast with you :)”

“It is important to have fellowship with other Christians to encourage each other in faith and to praise God together for his amazing gifts to us and also to ask him for help with the struggles in our lives and pray for each other and build each other up in Christ.”

“To have a group you see weekly where you can focus more on discussions and develop your faith at a relational level. A place where you can pray and be prayed for.”

“It is good for the encouragement and support so not to get distracted through out the week. The personal side is also good.”

“I believe it is important to be part of a small group so we can practice what is preached on Sundays by loving, encouraging and serving each other.”

I’d like to thank my group for their thoughtful answers and providing some insights into our group. I hope you’ve been encouraged by hearing about our group and if you’d like your group to be featured in a Community Day post, please contact us at: community [at] 30minutebiblestudies [dot] com

Community Day: The group that inspired 30 Minute Bible Studies

by Narelle Atkins

For our first Community Day post I thought it would be appropriate to feature the group that was the inspiration behind the 30 Minute Bible Studies concept. The group started out as a church mother’s group meeting fortnightly on a Tuesday morning. A Bible study was added on the alternate fortnight and before long the group evolved into a weekly Bible study group.

We had many challenges to overcome, including numerous babies, toddlers and preschoolers to look after as we tried to study the Bible. We worked out that, over a two hour time period, we’d have about 30 minutes in total for Bible study. And that was on a good day!

There were many stops and starts during Bible study as we met our children’s needs. We searched for suitable Bible study material but found the vast majority of studies were designed to run for much longer than 30 minutes.

Deb and I decided to write our own Bible studies, and we started with the Gospel of Mark. It took our group more than a year to work through the 45 Bible studies on Mark. During this time our group grew and we ended up splitting into two groups. One group looked after the children while the other group did Bible study, and then we’d swap.  The 30 Minute Bible Studies worked really well using this time schedule. And I must confess, it was a relief when the older children eventually started school and we had fewer little ones to care for during Bible study.

We lived in the same local area and met in various group member’s homes. Canberra is known as the ‘bush capital’ and below is a photo of  two water cranes.

I have fond memories of this group and I contacted the girls to see if they were interested in sharing their thoughts and memories.

One of the girls remembered how we always had time for a chat and a cup of tea. “It was a chance to talk about parenting and the Bible. I liked having the opportunity to meet with people that I didn’t normally see at church, because they went to a different service. I also liked the contrast from my regular evening Bible study group. Occasionally we studied the same sections of the Bible and it was interesting to see the varying applications to people’s lives because of their contexts.”

A couple of the girls remembered some funny incidents.

“You thinking that the rest of us were married to the same husband because they had the same name!”  (Narelle: Who would have thought there would be 4 girls with husbands sharing the same name? I was new to the group and mystified by all these women talking about my friend’s husband in such a familiar way, lol).

Deb: I remember the digressions best. Like 10 minutes wondering what kind of fish the boy had in his lunchbox when Jesus fed the 5,000. Presumably they didn’t have tinned tuna back then. Or when we got ourselves tied into knots trying to work out how free will and redemption fit together when we considered being on a shelf at Cash Converters, owned by God and waiting to be redeemed. Then sorting out the confusion of one member thinking we were in a ‘porn’ shop rather than a ‘pawn’ shop. Or realising for the 100th time we had all been giggling and making faces at the new baby again and forgotten the question we were supposed to be considering. (Narelle: The pawn shop incident was very funny, lol).

And the group was a blessing to us in many ways.

“The group blessed me with straight-thinking friends at a time in my life when parenting and work was difficult for me.”

Deb: I sent a text message to all the girls with a quick health update, because I knew everyone had been praying and within minutes I had received a phone call or message from everyone wishing me well and offering assistance. We’ve talked a lot about how we express our love in actions over the years, and I often just encourage them not to lose heart and keep doing what they do so well. Offers of lifts, groceries, casseroles and babysitting are all gifts of love from the heart and I have cherished them all.

On the question of why do we think it’s important to belong to a Bible Study group?

“If you only go to church and meet your church friends socially, you’re really only part of another social club. Being part of a group that purposefully meets to study the Bible gives you opportunity to grow as a Christian.”

And one of the girls summarised her thoughts on the group below.

“I don’t really have funny memories of the group but can say that I have always enjoyed the fellowship belonging to the group has provided to me, and have felt privileged to have become quite close to members of the group over the years. It can be very helpful and reassuring to belong to a group of people facing similar life challenges to myself, as we are all raising children and living in the same district.

Members are able to laugh and, occasionally, cry together and provide one another with a sounding board and advice at times. Belonging to the group has helped me not take myself too seriously and keep the challenges of life in perspective, too.”

I hope you’ve been encouraged by hearing about our group. If you’d like your group to be featured in a Community Day post, please contact us at: community [at] 30minutebiblestudies [dot] com

Book Recommendation: Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins

Back cover blurb:

Over the years Emily Parker’s actions as a teenager have impacted not only her own life, but the lives of many different people.

Now, six years later, she returns reluctantly to her home town of Baragula only to discover the man at the heart of those actions, Matthew Davidson, is the community’s respected doctor.

While Emily’s faith is now severely weakened by all that has happened, Matthew’s life has completely turned around since he committed his life to Christ. His personal relationship with God is tested when he discovers how his behaviour when a non-believer hurt so many, especially Emily, and feels responsible for her hardness of heart towards the Lord.

Disease attacks the community while danger from another source threatens Emily and her family. Through it all, will Matthew and Emily’s faith be strong enough to forgive each other and put the past behind them?

Narelle: I really enjoyed all three books in Mary’s Baragula series. Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins (Ark House Press, 2008) is the first book in the series.  Set in the picturesque Hunter Valley, Australia, I highly recommend this book to those looking for an engaging contemporary romance with an underlying spiritual theme of forgiveness.

To learn more about Mary Hawkins and her books, please visit her website http://www.mary-hawkins.com

Australia Day

Narelle here. We’re calling Thursday our ‘Australia Day’ on the blog because our Thursday posts will usually feature a downunder theme.

I live in Canberra, the nation’s capital, and each year we celebrate Australia Day on January 26. The First Fleet from England landed at Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour on January 26, 1788. The view from Circular Quay, in the heart of Sydney, certainly looks different more than two hundred years later.

We hope you’ll join us on Thursdays when our posts will feature people, places and all things Aussie!