Tag Archives: process

How We Prepare a Bible Study: The Process of LOVING God’s Word

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I want to let you in on a process that happens when writing a bible study (and sometimes even a blog post).

First, you determine your text. In my case I teach with two other ladies, so our women’s minister suggests the direction she wants to go, including some passages that would fit into that category, and then we prayerfully choose where we sense God is leading the bible study. This semester we are studying Titus, and I was not immediately excited like I would have been if we had chosen Hebrews. This is important. I was not as excited as I could have been.

Second, we break down the text according to natural breaks in the text (I know that sentence is ridiculous, but it’s what we do! seriously!). In our case we also divvy out the sections for each of us to teach, and it just so happened to work that each of us would teach three times (making a total of nine lessons for those less math savvy). We also pair a main idea with each section of the text to keep us focused. Because we are studying a smaller book, each section is obviously smaller with only a few verses to elaborate on at times. When this happens, I always think that it will be next to impossible to fill up an entire week of study (after all, you may only have four verses to work with). I am always pleasantly surprised (and somewhat stressed) that I find more than enough to fill up a 45 minute teaching time slot (let it be noted that my last talk was over 7,000 words!).

Third, I go home and POUR over the text. {Notice my picture above? This is an Orthodox Jew copying the Scripture. Do you see how close he is to the paper?! This is how carefully I want to handle the Scriptures.} I read the whole book several times (since it is short, it’s an easier task than if it were a longer book), and then I begin to look at my own sections through a microscope. I look up cross references, the original Greek words, other helpful Scripture references that God brings to mind that might relate to my text. I jump on Ebscohost, and I find articles and books about my passage. If I’m lucky, I’ll even go to the library (Lanier Theological Library here in Houston is a teacher’s heaven) and find commentaries for the book I’m studying. As I’m studying, I’m also praying. In one moment, I’m erasing and in the next I’m rewriting. I’m crying and laughing. I’m staring at the screen blankly, and I’m typing furiously when a deluge of inspiration hits me. I’m nervous about what I’m finding and second guessing myself, and then I’m fully confident and about to explode because I want to share everything I’m learning with SOMEONE. Just anyone!

Then all of the sudden, Titus has become the most exciting book I’ve ever studied. My thoughts are consumed with the ideas from Titus that God has sent bouncing around in my head. Everything that happens every day somehow relates to Titus. All answers lead back to Titus. Everything I read has a tinge of Titus, or some connection to Titus. I’m wearing Titus-colored glasses. And this doesn’t just happen with Titus – oh no, it happens with everything I study. What is more, I want EVERYONE to know what I know, because I want them to be excited just like I’m excited! Because every word that is brought to illumination by the working of the Holy Spirit becomes my water and my food. They become my direct line to my Father who continually desires to reveal more of Himself to you and to me.

THIS is why I hunger and thirst for more of His Word. THIS is why I have a love and passion for teaching what I’ve learned. The knowledge of His Word means a knowledge of who God is and who I am in relation to Him. His Word quickens my heart and spirit for a deeper love for Him. The knowledge of His Word breaks down ignorance and excuse so that when I’m confronted with how to respond to sin or to a person who has hurt me or whatever, I am equipped with the right answer and through His Spirit that can be rightly applied in my life. His Word divides me up, carves away at those things that don’t belong in this child of the King, and it transforms this new creation to conform to the image of His Son.

Don’t be afraid of knowledge. Neither let it be your goal. Knowledge can be the vehicle that drives you straight to the Father.

One final word on the process. I spend all summer prepping for the fall bible study. That means I’m completely stoked about the study, fairly bursting at the seams all summer, and then have to WAIT to talk about it with the bible study group. This is quite possibly the hardest part for me in the bible study process. I don’t ever want the fervor I have felt during the studying process to melt away when I’m giving my talk to the group. I also don’t want it to become too familiar and lose its flavor. I spend hours rehearsing what I’m going to say for each talk. No joke. My husband makes fun of me because of how anal I can be about it! Almost every time God reveals multiple, important points that need to be added or else nudges me to take something out that isn’t going in the right direction. Inevitably I get crazy nervous about sharing my work even though I have diligently prepared for every moment. But in the end, I walk up to the podium to pour myself out like a drink offering, and all the nerves calm down, and God speaks. Somehow I get to be His mouthpiece, and there’s nothing more humbling and yet terrifying at the same time.

At the end of my talk, I’m a zombie. The walking dead. The offering has been licked up by the fire. I have left everything up there with no regrets. And all I want to do is go home and sleep so that I can reset for the next time I get to open up His Word and speak His truth to His Church. And thus the cycle continues…

How to Walk 101

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Have you ever had a struggle that you felt like you would never get past? You would never be over? Maybe something wears you down and you feel like you’ll never learn how to get through it or triumph over it?

We are definitely creatures of short-sightedness.

If only we could have God’s perspective on our life! Shoulda woulda coulda.

I will never forget the wise words from one of my youth minister’s growing up. I was going through a struggle (one which I honestly can’t even recall! ha!), and he told me “This too shall pass.” Why I had never heard that before, I don’t know. I hear it all the time now! Or maybe you’ve heard people tell you, “It’s only a season.” And for goodness’ sake, you feel like the “season” is lasting all of your life!

Either way, we have such a hard time seeing past our current circumstances into the future where we experience the triumph or the character building from the struggle. Tunnel vision. The problem is that the tunnel seems so dark and the light so far away.

If you’ve ever had children, you remember those milestones through their infancy and into the toddler phase. First, you think they’ll NEVER sleep (or at least that’s what I thought with all three of my boys…I’m pretty sure I thought I was going to die several times through that “season”). And then one day, you wake up for the first time at 7 a.m. (instead of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and…) and you do the victory dance (and then quickly peak at the monitor to make sure baby is alive). Secondly, you think they’ll NEVER get those teeth in that seem to bother them for months (seriously?! what is up with that? I could collect drool and sell it for a small fortune). Then one day, you see two little teeth pop through their gums! Next, you think they’ll NEVER crawl. Then one day, you watch the movement from belly to hands and knees, see the rocking and they take off! Then you think they’ll NEVER walk. And then one day, they’re cruising around the coffee table and all of a sudden they let go and take a couple of steps to your open arms (and then for the next 2 years you wish they had never learned to walk because then they get into everything!). And so it goes year after year, milestone after milestone. You think they are never going to learn something, but then they do. And of course they do! Have you seen many adults who don’t sleep through the night and require multiple feedings at night? Any adults with no teeth? Any adults who only crawl everywhere? How absurd! Of course not! It’s all a part of our development as humans.

So why is our spiritual life any different? We drink the milk and move on to the meat. But we grow over time. We can’t start off with the meat anymore than a baby can start off walking and talking.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

These struggles can be to us “light momentary affliction” with the right perspective. These things that we deal with everyday are the “seen” and are transient.

tran·sient adjective 1. lasting only for a short time; impermanent. Synonyms: transitory, temporary, short-lived, short-term, impermanent, brief, short, momentary, fleeting, passing, here today and gone tomorrow.
So we look to the unseen! How strange to look to something we can’t see. It’s almost laughable! But it’s exactly and ironically what we must do. We look to our Father who knows our frame, He knows our struggles, He’s well acquainted with our griefs, and we cast those cares on Him. We put one foot in front of the other, and we do well some days to stay focused on Him and other days we fall flat. But the next day we get up and put one foot in front of the other, and we seek the unseen. We develop spiritual muscles, we depend on Him who alone makes us holy. And then one day, we start to sleep through the night. We start to get teeth. We start to crawl. And then we walk. Walk in step with the Spirit. Ever seeking, ever depending on Him. One foot in front of the other.