eTHeL! KEEP your MOUTH shut!

I have an Everyday Life Amplified Version Bible I like to study. Joyce isn’t everyone’s-cup of preachin’-but, in my opinion, she’s got an ingenious way of connecting with her audience. I doubt she’d have as many listeners if she strutted’s her IMPERFECTION that draws me. I have a harder time connecting with those who don’t need to study GOD’S WORD like mos t of us. They came out of the womb knowing it-or that’s what they want us to believe. I don’t buy it. There’s a lot of faking goin’ on!

It’s disheartening to see statistics about the time Christians spend delving into GOD’S WORD. Glancing over a Sunday School lesson or taking OPEN WINDOWS to the bathroom doesn’t qualify. Nobody is smart enough to breeze through the WORD and reach Sister Saintly or Brother Brain status; it’s a CONCENTRATED, CONSISTENT effort. We don’t get it all the first, second or sixtieth time. Isaiah 28:9-10 says it poetically. To whom will HE teach knowledge? Whom will HE make understand the message? Those who are babies, just weaned from the milk and taken from the breast? For it’s; precept upon precept, precept upon precept, rule upon rule, rule upon rule, here a little, there a little.

Living in The WORD is a lifelong process. There are times when our hearts soar-we GET & SEE-or uncover an answer we’ve been searching to find. When that happens, faith grows to GIANT size. But, we get to places that boggle, confuse and BORE us. It’s painstakingly torturous to struggle through page after page of names we can’t pronounce. I think GOD understands that the Old Testament genealogy doesn’t light our fire the same way that Christ’s Crucifixion or a glimpse of what JOHN saw does. Still, HE expects us to learn what HE’S given us to learn.

I was THIRTY when I got SERIOUS about learning GOD’S WORD. I’d been in church all my life. To be honest, I thought I was AHEAD for a person my age. One Sunday morning, when I least expected it, GOD showed me how I was NO WHERE CLOSE.

The teacher was seven years older than me. Fifteen chicks of all ages were in this class-asking question after question and this teacher could answer everything from the WORD-book & chapter. I was mesmerized! Sandra appeared to be an ordinary chick doing something I’d never seen any man do-I’m not saying there aren’t men who can do it, but I’d never met anyone with BIBLE knowledge like her; she impacted my life significantly. After the class, I bombarded her. How do you DO that? You MUST study all day! An older lady walked by and said-she has FIVE kids & a job!

She shared her secret this way. Five years ago, I was asked to teach this new class. I didn’t know the Word well enough to be responsible to help these ladies learn-but, I was sure GOD was leading me to teaching. I promised that if HE’D work with my limited time to learn, I’d do my best to soak it in. THAT’S IT? But, you’re a BIBLE encyclopedia!

She was unbelievably humble-a not yet forty year old wife and mom of five, could tell you where any familiar scripture was and direct you to those you never knew were in the pages. Breathtaking verses-beautiful imagery-I’d read the Bible through in a Year at least twice, I was proud of my accomplishment..but, not so much when I acknowledged-that I’d done it to say I’d done it..more than to LEARN it. This chick had the ability to give an answer with GOD’S WORD & PROVE IT because she knew EXACTLY where It said so.

The thing that stuck was- if you’re sincere, He will teach you. HE wants us to know HIS WORD but you’ll have to be serious enough to WORK for it if you’re gonna learn.

I made the promise several months later. Studying faithfully for twenty years, I still can’t do what Sandra could..but-I’m happy with where I am. I won’t lie-there were times when I almost quit..but she WAS right-being serious-made the difference in how I retained & understood. READING the Bible is easy..LEARNING is work! But, somewhere along the way, I began to crave learning more, writing it down, comparing versions. When you can give the reference, it validates what you’re talking about, builds your own confidence in sharing CHRIST if you feel more prepared.

I hold on to all my old study Bibles and periodically review notes I made in 1980, 1986, 1999, 2005. Those notes are like personal progress charts. That’s mainly why I bought the Joyce Meyer study bible; I’ve entered into a new season of life and I want to read with a renewed, fresh perspective. Things I read fifteen years ago have a deeper meaning today. Hopefully, the same will be true when I look back at notes I’m making ten years.

Psalm 119:162 says-I rejoice at your WORD as one who finds great treasure. This concise verse became my ace in the hole. As a mere reader, it didn’t mean that much but, when I became a learner, I saw it as a perfect solution to those who won’t take your word for it-they say-Show me. Learning how to show the passage gives me courage to be challenged.

Daddy is a preacher, Chipper is a preacher-but, I don’t rely 100% on what they tell me all the time. They are two of the smartest BIBLE scholars I know and I honestly can’t tell you how often I ask my dad or husband, who both have years of formal theological training to give me their take on a passage. But, as smart as they are, they don’t KNOW everything and I disagree with them on occasion about issues that are non-essential to salvation-but, are important enough that GOD included them in HIS WORD.

Everyone makes scripture blunders-Issac & Jacob…Rebekah & Rachel, they play mix/match in my head sometimes-an example why genealogy needs to be studied and learned. But, I’d rather take a second to get my facts straight OR to say nothing if I’m not sure-than to talk like I know what I’m talking about-be wrong and never even know I’m wrong!

Chip and I were being interviewed by a church once and the chairman of the search team solidified a point by taking an Old Testament event and foolishly placing it in the New Testament. As if that weren’t bad enough, he sited the book where IT WASN’T included. Note to self immediately set off alarm bells-if you’re a BIBLE DOOFUS-keep your mouth shut; you never know who is listening and does know the Bible well enough to correct you. It’s better to say-I’m not sure where this story is and carry on. People may wonder if you should study your BIBLE more-but they won’t be as apt to wonder if you have ever studied it at all.

WATCH & LEARN-I’ve been on the front pew 50 years and have seen adults cut down to size by a SWORD DRILL CHILD when attempting to fake it. From my own humbling experience, while I’m proud to see kids showing off Bible skills-it’s embarrassing to be corrected by a seven year old.

Every pastor faces the dilemma of getting Teacher Know it All out of a class because the attendance is plummeting and everyone BUT teacher knows why. One teacher we dealt with spent 40 of the 50 minute class time-talking about his grands, why his wife banished him to the couch and how their wayward kids were causing them insurmountable grief. I’ll never forget having lunch with a couple one Sunday who begged us to do something. The lady declared in desperation-His OWN wife doesn’t come to our class anymore.

I recall a deacon who came by the office one Sunday and left his bible on our secretary’s desk. Monday, she opened it to see who’s it was, assuming it was a child’s or brand new Christian’s because it looked unused-no marked passages or notes. When she found the name, she said-oh, he’ll be looking for it Wednesday night. That bible stayed the office for weeks. I don’t know what the guy studied from at home, perhaps this one was left at the church for convenience but, it left a negative impression on our secretary and spoke to me. I don’t want people to wonder if I study the WORD-I want them to know that I do.

That guy later lashed out at the same elderly lady-you need to get your head out of your butt. I was offended and told him so directly but there were some who heard the exchange and said nothing. What broke my heart and riled me up, too-was I had heard a few of those who stayed silent reprimand kids in our church for saying-that’s crap or it sucks. Fair enough-but how do we one justify closing our ears to an adult church leader, who speaks to anyone so vindictively or vulgar? We would all gain by losing our holier than thou attitudes.

PROVERBS advises wise men not to behave as fools, unable to control their mouths and are void of understanding in how to treat people. David Jeremiah issued a challenge once that I accepted and have done for twenty five years.  Proverbs has 31 chapters, so read the one that correlates to your monthly calendar. I’ll continue this for the rest of my life. 

In my church observation-it’s NOT the one who TALKS a lot about their bible knowledge who intimidates me. If I were a betting chick and you lined up Deacon #1, Sunday School Teacher #2, Pastor #3, Worship Leader #4, and quiet, white haired granny money’s on the old lady, baby!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sandra kelly
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 23:12:39

    I really like this one. Must I say it again? Keep on writing. People are reading and learning.


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