The church where I am a member and a Sunday School Teacher, Cotile Baptist Chruch, has been such a blessing to me, because we study, really study God’s Holy Word. A small group of women, to include some from the community just concluded Beth Moore’s Study on David: Seeking a Heart Like His and are about to embark on her study of Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman; I am just so excited. As I mentioned in my last blog, I am also doing online Bible Studies through the Women’s Bible Café (www.womensbiblecafe.com), separate from my church group, I have completed two and about to start my third one. I love the wisdom of the women in our private online group. Here is what I do know, one is never too old to learn new truths … from the truths one has known for years. Life helps us to interpret scripture differently based on the growing done between deep studies. On Wednesday night we are studying 1 & 2 Samuel and on Sunday night we are delving into Revelation. Last night was a look at Chapter 6 of 2 Samuel, but because of discussion we only made it halfway through this very short chapter. Verse 3 explains how carefully David had the Ark placed on a “new” cart, with new hay, and with “pure” oxen pulling it that would later be used for worship and sacrifice. Skipping ahead to verse 6, we find that Uzzah put his hand on the Ark to keep it steady (preventing it from falling) and for this action was struck down by God. David once again became angry (I know I am related to him), and the rest of the story can be told separately. Why was Uzzah struck dead – because he touched the ark, and that was forbidden! Harsh, yes, but it is a lesson for us. In Exodus 25:13-15, God gave very specific instructions which in summary were that the poles were to be put in the four rings, “… that the Ark may be carried by them…” Here is what was not done … “…the poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.” (v.15). It was hurriedly carried out of Egypt by those poles, and it is what was commanded. But Uzzah prevented it from falling, and to that I pose this: if they had been following God’s instructions, it would not have been in the position to fall. When I do not heed God’s instructions, I fall,or like David, I become angry when consequences are set into motion as the outcome of my “let me do it this way” ideas. The challenge of being a Christian in today’s world is that we are faced with the tendency to conform, let’s do it this way, it is more up to date. Knowing that someone is watching my life, and I am putting my testimony on a new cart, with new straw and pure oxen, why am I surprised when I fall, and therefore risk becoming a stumbling block to anyone who is watching the Bible of my life. As a woman I struggle with wanting to help God accomplish the answer to my prayer, very often. For all of us, the challenge is to carry our testimonies in such a manner that it is true to God’s word and His will for our lives. Let’s face it, if I become angry, the poles will be broken … and frequently in anger, my life is broken. Was David trying to do the right thing, yes, but the rules were written to guide his efforts to do the right thing. Do I try to do the right thing, yes, but if you have read my book [Asking What: No More Whys] which is available through Westbow Press as well as Amazon, you already know that I have a degree in “Anger”. After studying this last night, today I am keenly aware of the instructions to “…study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth …” (2 Timothy 2:15). Success in allowing God to live in my life can only come from reading the rules enough that my life choices are in keeping with something as direct as “leave the poles in it”! God has to remain in us, in our actions as we follow the directions, with the outcome being as straight forward as those “poles”.
It has been months since my last blog because of so many things. Part of my growth as a Christian is that I have to study, really study the Bible. What I learned first was that I was clinging to my “old” understanding of the Hall of Heroes of the Bible: Moses, Saul, David, Solomon … just so many who I thought I knew. Time allowed me to set my understanding in stone, but studying with new eyes and an open heart and mind has absolutely excited me for even more studying. I had tried doing my own Bible study from devotional books, but that is not studying, that is reading for me. The last time I “really” blogged, I talked about the five stones David went into battle with against the Philistine Giant, Goliath. To learn that he did not kill the giant with his stone, just rendered him down on his level, and the death blow came from the use of Goliath’s sword to defeat him for his king, Saul (1 Samuel 17) taught me that I needed to visit the stories of my youth. Since that time, I have completed directed studies through The Women’s Bible Cafe'(that is a trademark) and can be joined by women interested in truly learning the meat of God’s Word (www.womensbiblecafe.com). My heart has been so blessed by the women in these online studies. A brief overview is that these groups are only an hour long with the individual using a study book/guide to read and study five daily lessons prior to the meeting time one chooses. They have groups every day, several time options to choose from and the participants are from everywhere, different ages, different life experiences and we learn together by answering five questions about the studies of that week. There have been times I have felt God talking to me through the keyboard. The two studies I have done online were: “Jeremiah, Daring to Hope in an Unstable World” by Melissa Spoelstra, and the most recent, “What Love Is” by Kelly Minter, a study of the Love Letters, 1,2,3 John. Although I am considered “mature” at the age of 64, I found myself a baby compared to the depth of some of the women who shared online. I encourage you to consider the option of online Bible study with this group. Having said that, the next study begins March 23, and you have a choice from two studies. I have already signed up for that study and have ordered my book, but books can be purchased from Lifeway Christian Book Store. I encourage you to visit The Women’s Bible Cafe’ at: http://www.womensbiblecafe.com and follow the studies and choose the one you want as there are usually two from which to choose, and do it today so that you can find your own group and your study topic and join a group of women on March 23. The leader of this site is Christine Abraham and joining her world has been the greatest experience for my soul.
While doing these studies, the first for 10 weeks and the second for 6 weeks, I was also participating in a study with a small group of ladies at my church, but we had women from other churches who participated. This group was initiated by two young mothers who attend my church, they were responding to God calling them to study. What a joy to see the devotion of those who take our places as we age and transition out of leadership ourselves. We studied “Seeking a Heart Like His” which was the study of David’s heart, the heart that God loved so very much. This was an awesome experience and I did this at the same time of my online studies. And I am going to do this yet again as we have decided to do a study of Esther, also beginning in March after we do the last video study with David, as led by Beth Moore. I have learned so much, I fell in love with the two young ladies leading the study and came away hungry for the fellowship with these young ladies, the ladies who sat at the table and ready for more. I miss the weekly time together. I have such a respect now for the young ladies, for Beth Moore and for all the women who have studied and put together this group. Cotile Baptist Church may not be on your life’s map, but it is on mine.
What I have learned is that we never stop growing if we listen to God. I also learned a different approach to praying (from the Women’s Bible Cafe’) through the use of a Prayer Journal or a Prayer Box (this one is my preference). I can now see God’s hand in my prayer life, I get to touch the card on which my request is written, and I have learned to pray and leave it with God. This is huge for me because I tended to want to help God answer my prayers, on my timeline and in the way I am sure is what HE will be doing. Yes, I have a control issue that now I am trying to change. I pray for women whom I have never met, except through the responses they type in the 60 precious minutes we are connected through the internet. I am thankful there are no cameras because I am sure I looked utterly dumbfounded when women from Hawaii, California, Maine, New Mexico were talking and sharing with me. My world is so big yet so small now. And although technology is one of my “idols” that steal my time, I am so blessed to have this gateway that provides me with what my heart and soul needed.
Doing two studies at the same time is not good for everyone, and it would be easier for me to do one or the other, but I have never approached anything I do with a mindset of it being easy. I advise that you do one, and really commit to doing the kind of studying that is beneficial. I use the book, write all over the book in the format of the study book, but I also have a notebook where I capture my thoughts and sometimes even more references as God leads my time with HIM. The 20 or 30 minutes of study each day for me becomes much more because of what I need from God and what HE needs from me.
When I started typing this morning, I had my own agenda. After two lines, God led me to HIS topic for today’s blog. Yet another reminder to “let go and let God …”, it is HIS message that HE wants me to share, a reminder to be willing to study, to learn and grow. Yes I am sharing with you because God directed me to write my book of “growing my faith”, but that growth did not stop just because I did what was started in 1985. My journey of growth in understanding and faith continues, and I am grateful for that.