What Really Matters?

Struggle is the dry wood for a firestorm of faith!
(For individuals, groups, and whole church study)

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Down to Earth, Engaging Bible Study

A unique series, imaginatively envisioned, responsibly written
An exercise in the Art of Biblical Conversation

Designed For . . .

  • Individual/Private Devotional Study
  • One-on-one studies with friends
  • Small groups
  • Whole Church Studies
  • Church Classes


Make sense out of struggle. 

Struggles are common to everyone.  Known by many names—troubles, roadblocks, hurdles, obstructions, conflicts, oppositions, hardships, losses, difficulties, frustrations, failures, distresses, calamities, disasters (and the list goes on!)—struggles are real and are of an infinite variety, whether they come from within or without. Like enemies of the deep, they routinely surface to take us under, or hold us back, or stop us dead in our tracks, or challenge our right to continue.

Many people succumb. They feel overwhelmed. Trapped. Hindered. Incapable. Trampled. Beaten. Damaged.  They accede to living lesser lives: weak, aimless, pointless. Or maybe they give in and give up entirely, becoming shackled by epidemic stress, or despair. They abandon hope.

Everyone struggles, and for many reasons. But a question lingers:

What purpose do you make of struggle?   

In this powerful new study (from the apostle Paul), “struggle” is put under the bright light cast by hope. For if struggle seeks to chip away at hope, hope has a different idea in mind for struggle. Hope, in fact, redefines struggle—re-shapes it, transforms its very conceptual nature. For the light that hope shines on struggle is a light of faith; a faith not only that its hope is real and will come to pass, but that every struggle is a means used by God for getting there.

In this light, struggle can no longer rob us; it is the dry wood for a firestorm of faith!  An unrelenting faith!


Volumes 1 and 2 can be read straight through, like any books.  However, they are best read as “Monday Readings”—as if every Monday you sit down with Paul for a conversation.  So then, each Monday Reading” is written as if Paul is doing the talking. The PROBE Journals (Volumes 3 and 4), then, pick up the rest of the week, day by day  (see the Journals below for description).  

This is a thought-provoking and highly effective approach.  In twenty conversations, you sit across the table from Paul talking intimately (over coffee, of course) about the topics listed below.  This is a focused study of 1Thessalonians (possibly Paul’s earliest letter), but not like you have ever seen it before:  

What Really Matters?

Conversation 1: Prayer (1:2-3)
Conversation 2: Possibilities (1:3-4)
Conversation 3: Passion (1:5)
Conversation 4: Pathways (1:5-7)
Conversation 5: Power (1:8-10)

Conversation 6: The Message (2:1-3)
Conversation 7: Know Thyself (2:4)
Conversation 8: Conflict & Struggle (2:5-12)

Rising above Struggle, Walking in Hope

Conversation 9: Finding Direction (2:13-16)
Conversation 10: Longing & Hope (2:17-20)
Conversation 11: Struggle & Destiny (3:1-5)
Conversation 12: Comfort & Consolation (3:6-8)

Conversation 13: Praying with Elation (3:9-13)

Conversation 14: Pleasing God (4:1-2)
Conversation 15: Holiness (4:3-8)
Conversation 16: The Quiet Life (4:9-12)

Conversation 17: Meeting the LORD (4:13-18)
Conversation 18: Facing the Day (5:1-11)
Conversation 19: Standing with Power (5:12-28)

Conversation 20: Here’s Looking at Me, Kid!

The PROBE Journals for volume 1 and 2

Since volumes 1 and 2  provide the “Monday Readings” (where Paul is talking), the two PROBE Journals help you to respond to Paul every day, Tuesday through Friday.  It is a daily hands-on study guide.  Experience shows that most people do not have a daily discipline of Bible reading and study.  With the proper encouragement from a devoted leader, these guides can help establish that. 

Of course, it is possible to use Volumes 1 and 2 without using the PROBE Journals at all;  but that will not engage readers at the same daily level.  In the end, that is up to the individual readers and group leaders.  The Journals encourage readers to become participating members! 

Growing Groups in Biblical Texts

Here is a short-and-to-the-point leaders guide (only 58 pages) for those who want to use this series in groups.  It is especially good for those new to leading groups.  The guide shows leaders how to develop questions for all twenty sessions.  Full questions are provided for conversations 1-12; templates are provided for the final 8. The goal is to encourage group leaders to become more self-sufficient in leading groups.

All of the conversations were developed in actual, live sessions, including groups small and large, and many private interchanges.   

Staying sane while we deal with the constant flow of struggle is not only God’s longing for us, it turns out to be a choice we can make!  This series can help us have the kinds of deeply personal inner conversations we need to keep on facing each day. 

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