Over the years, I have used literally countless Bible studies, and Faith,Courage, and Victory: The Stories, Struggles, and Triumphs of 24 Characters of the Bible by Katy Kauffman ranks as one of the top three or four of all.
Within a few days of beginning this 40-day study, it was apparent why it is the Selah award winner for Bible studies in 2016. Faith, Courage, and Victory stands out -- and above -- the rest of the crowd of Bible studies for several reasons.
First, the format of each day's lesson is different than the vast majority of Bible studies.. Most, if not all, studies I've done in the past open with a Bible verse or passage, followed by the discussion of that passage (which takes up the bulk of the lesson), a shorter explanation of application, and possibly study questions to complete,
Kauffman instead opens all but a few of the readings with a real-life or true contemporary narrative before introducing the Biblical character and discussing them and the relevance of their story to life today. She brings each of the 40 lessons to a close with several questions and a short prayer.
The real-life narratives Kauffman opens with are imminently relevant and, therefore, captured my attention; in turn, I was eager each morning to see how God addresses the issues encountered by so many of us today.
Kauffman also includes in each chapter the Bible passages that tell the story of the Biblical character (some chapters also have 1 or a few references to related Scriptures that are not included).
While this may seem like a minor benefit, it allows the reader to carry the book in his/her briefcase or purse and, when faced with a block of quiet time in their day, read one of the chapters wherever they might be. In a world in which it is simply assumed that everyone has access to an online Bible or wifi at all times, it's wonderful to find an author who realizes that some people do not.
Another strength of "Faith, Courage, and Victory" is that while each day's lesson is clear and easily digested, it does not lack depth. For the past 20 days, I have completed the Bible study each morning, gained valuable insight, and then gone about my day.
Each of those 20 days, at least one nugget from the lesson has come to mind as I've gone about my daily routine; those nuggets remind me of the lesson of that day's chapter, cause me to contemplate them more fully and to realize yet another way the chapter and its message -- and God's Word -- is relevant to life today.
Kauffman's writing style is particularly impressive.. She uses language extremely well; she writes clearly and concisely yet still creates a flow that draws the reader from sentence to sentence smoothly, even lyrically. And in a day when ebooks and even hard-copy books with obvious grammatical and mechanical errors are commonplace, Faith, Courage, and Victory is a welcome rarity -- an extremely well edited book.
At the end of the book, Kauffman provides a "Scrapbooked Bible Study" that explains (with illustrations!) how to create take-away cards. These take-away cards are a wonderful resource for memorizing Scripture and Biblical principles and for posting throughout the house, etc. to remind the reader of key points from the book.
Of course, the very-clear instructions for creating these cards have numerous applications. A great resource that I haven't found anywhere else!
In short, if you are looking for a enlightening, engaging Bible study for either personal or group (a leader's guide is provided in the back of the book), this is an excellent choice!
Faith, Courage, and Victory is published by Lighthouse Bible Studies (2015).
(I mentioned in a discussion group that I was planning to use this study and review it here; the author saw my post and offered me a free copy; she explained that she wanted nothing but an honest review in return, and that is what I have provided here.)