Reading (the Bible) is fundamental…

Over the years I have been a voracious Bible study student. I used to love to pour over a study guide; I suppose my Type-A love for filling in blanks had something to do with it. This has been the case since first becoming a Christian, when I would swing by the Family Christian Bookstore, buy a few study guides, go home and spend the evening looking up Scriptures, filling in all those wonderful blank spaces and praying. My hunger for the Bible was fierce; and although it has ebbed and flowed through the years since I was a baby believer, my love for God’s Word still burns in my soul.

Lately I have been less inclined to study the Bible, at least as I had traditionally done. I am not so enamored with study guides and video teachings. I am more enamored with just an open Bible, a journal, and Jesus. I’m not trying sound super spiritual or anything; but sometimes I wonder if the mediating presence of the Bible study author or the video teacher keeps us from fully engaging with the text. At least in my case, there have been times when I let the teacher do the thinking for me, versus engaging my mind as I interact with Scripture.

Right now, I am trying to make heads or tails of what I believe about women in ministry. I’ve started this adventure by delving into the nature of Scripture. I know – strange place to start, right? But I have this suspicion that a lot of the differences in interpretation have a lot to do with how one views Scripture. There are technical terms like inerrancy and inspiration, perspicuity and infallibility.  I might consider defining those words at some point; but what I’ve really wanted to do is just read. Soak in the Word and let it soak into me. I cannot tell you how nourishing this has been to my soul.

As much as I want to dig into the theology of the different views of women in ministry, this slow soak in the pages of Scripture is exactly where I need to be right now. To be perfectly honest, I’d like to just forget the entire enterprise altogether. To give up on the idea of thinking deeply of theological ideas and concepts. Perhaps the reason this is so hard is because I’m trying to fit my hopes, my wants, my desires into a space to which God has said no.

This is why reading the Bible is my fundamental need right now. I need to be grounded in His Word, and shaped and reshaped by it. Then I can go about the task of figuring out the rest with my feet planted firmly in soil of His Truth. We may not be able to know truth exhaustively, but I want to know as far as I am able. That is my life pursuit.

All of this started for me back in 2003 when I began co-leading a Singles Sunday School class at my church. I wanted to teach the Bible well. I recognized the significance of the task. I wasn’t teaching English grammar – I was teaching the Word of God! Even as a layperson, it was important to me to do it right. My love for the Scripture compelled me to go to seminary. And that’s when it all went sideways for me. How it all became so complicated and confusing is beyond me. I wish I didn’t know the “backstory” of most things that happen in the church. At times blissful ignorance sounds so appealing. But I’m too nosey for that sort of bliss…bless my heart…

So, as think about the myriad theological questions that I would want to explore, not the least of which is this issue of women in the church, I feel a tinge of nostalgia for those “innocent” years when it was all new and exciting to me. When my hunger for God’s Word was insatiable, and I let nothing get in the way of pursuing understanding and communion with God. When the light from the flame in my soul blinded me to any lesser pursuit than fellowship with Him.

I can’t reclaim that innocence of those early years of faith. But I do want to reclaim a simple love for Jesus and for the Word that points me to Him and that single-minded pursuit of understanding and fellowship with my heavenly Father.

More later…until then, grace and peace…

m.

 

Quick thoughts: A note to self…

Instruction

Oh the myriad ways I toil as I seek to master the Word of God. How incredibly foolish to consider that I can even think I can “master” it.

It should be mastering me. Shaping me. Molding me. Changing me. So I say to myself…

Slow down.
Drink Deep.
Linger long.

Pay attention to the taste of it, the small, the texture.
Listen to its melody and note its cadence.
Sit and absorb like a sponge.
Attend to your thoughts, initial reactions,
confusion, delight, sorrow, joy, anger, fear.
Be present in them. Let yourself feel them.
You have permission to feel.
You have permission to emote.
You have permission to laugh. To cry. To yell.
You have permission to be silent.
You have permission to speak.

But you do not have permission to change what He has said.

Wrestle. Confess. Challenge.

But bow.

His Word is the final word.
Let it stand firm in Your heart.

Selah.

This year I resolve to…

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…And you can fill in that blank any way you wish.

I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions. They feel like a set up to me – when the year is fresh, I can feel like anything is possible. A brand new year brings a new beginning with all the possibilities I can imagine. But soon the excitement and newness of the year gives way to the drudgery of the common, everyday grind. And before I know it, the year has passed, and it is time to usher in a new year yet again. And those resolutions I was so excited about are long forgotten.

Since I don’t make resolutions, I’ve made it a habit to write out a prayer at the end of each year recounting the blessings of the 12 months gone by, and praying for strength for the new. Sometimes I get the sense that I’m going in a particular direction and build my prayer around it. And then other years I’m just grateful I made to the end and breathlessly stretch toward the finish line and the new beginning.

This yearend is a mixture of both.

No one will deny that 2016 has been downright brutal. The memes crowding my social media newsfeeds that express our deep loathing for the year that has gone by testify to the fact that many of us are walking into to 2017 emotionally exhausted and slightly paranoid. What in the world will happen next, we wonder.

Personally, I had a rough 2016 – but I can also find wonderful blessings and awesome surprises that walked into my life during this year as well. I face 2017 with a sense of excitement and hope, with a pinch of fear. And I pray for wisdom to walk well this year.

That brings me to the reason for this blog post…

The one thing I want to do this year is focus anew on the wonder of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. To that end, I have decided to become a facilitator for a wonderful ministry called Love God Greatly. They exist to help women get into the Word, be enriched by the Word, and grow in our faith through knowing the Word. The first study of the year is a survey of the book of Proverbs called Walking in Wisdom. If you are a woman looking for a way to get into the Word, I would so love for you to join my Facebook group and walk through this study with me! I’ve provided all the necessary links below.

We start January 16. I hope to see you there!

Happy New Year!

Walking in Wisdom study journal: You do not need the journal to go through the study, but if you would like to keep all your study notes in one place, this is a good way to do that.

Love God Greatly E2W Group: This is where all the action will happen! Hop on over and join in the fun!

Encourage to Wholeness on Facebook: I’d love for you to like my page. This is where all of my blog posts, pictures, and other shenanigans will be happening outside of the actual study.