Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do You Tell your Broccoli Where to Go?

What does broccoli have to do with Inductive Bible study? Read on.

I could write a whole boring post about why I love inductive Bible study, why I think it's the only way to truly study the Bible and why I think people who do not practice it do not grow as they could spiritually. I could make arguments for all that and more, but, instead, I'm going to make a list.

Inductive Bible study does the following:

******It protects you from false doctrine.
******It protects you from spiritual abuse.
******It keeps you from making presumptions about the Bible.
******It gives you discernment.
******It hones your ability to perceive God's will in your life.
******It empowers you to stand against oppression

One woman I know had never done inductive Bible study before and I taught her how. Years later, she said she's now able to understand the Bible better and that learning this "opened the Bible up like never before." Praise be. Mission accomplished.

I have met people who feel intimidated about doing inductive Bible study. It is not difficult. Our gracious Holy Spirit guides us to comprehend only what we are ready for. He wants us to understand the Bible. There is no mystery. You need two things:


Observation of Scripture means simply to observe what's written in the Bible. I highly recommend going through a book of the Bible systematically to avoid making assumptions. I have done a few studies that were not simply through a book from start to finish. I led a study on Christology and another on prayer. I'm always nervous to do that, however, for fear I will alter something. No one is immune from doing that. Observation leads to interpretation. We observe what the Bible says, dig deeper for word meanings and tenses. Pay attention to grammar and locations, history and traditions of the day, etc. It's a good idea to write your observations down.

I do not include application as one of the steps of Bible study, but many people do. That makes no sense to me. I have had people try to apply the Bible to my life and they have all missed the mark. We simply can't apply the Bible to another person's life, nor can we really apply it to our own lives. That's the job of the Holy Spirit....Who is perfectly capable of applying His Word to our lives as He sees fit. It will not return void...this is a promise....it's enough for us to read It, observe it and not take His matters into our own hands. Because It is alive, It will change your life without your help.

Trying to apply God's Word to your life, or to someone else's life, is like telling your food where to go in your body. If you are eating broccoli and chicken, do you tell that broccoli where to go? Do you say, "Now, broccoli, go to my legs, they are feeling weak today." Or do you say, "Meat, shine up my hair, it's rather dull." It simply doesn't work that way. You eat a steady, healthy diet and the food nourishes your body over time. A steady diet of inductive Bible study, coupled with expository preaching in your local church makes for spiritual health.  This is one reason my husband has been fully committed to expository preaching for 30 years.

Applying the Bible to someone's life is also fuel for legalism. Most people want to please other people and get the idea that if they change their behavior, they will be accepted. Changing outward behavior can never be a goal of true spiritual growth. If there's a heart change, the outward behavior will automatically follow. Many pastors push for behavior changes and many people comply. It's like saying, "Behave yourself as you go to Hell!"


God wants us to understand His Word. (Colossians 1:9 & 10)
He wants us to know Him. (Philippians 3:10)
He has promised to help us. (Matthew 28:20)
He has promised us peace. (Philippians 4:9)
He has given us His Spirit forever. (John 14:16)



Thursday, April 25, 2013

About Listening

"Mommy, I am very angry with you!" said my then 5-year-old son.

A friend who was with us at the time was appalled and said, "You let him talk to you that way? I would never!"

My reply, "Talk to me what way? Telling me honestly how he feels? I see no disrespect in this. He's telling me how he feels and I'm glad." At that, I talked to my son, found out why he was angry with me, dealt with it and he moved on. I can't remember now why he was angry with me, but no doubt it had to do with some little-boy-thing which seemed very big to him at the time. 

I've made many mistakes in parenting my eight kids. I became a mom before I realized the full implications of becoming a mom - as most moms do - and was the mom of a basketball-team-sized family before I knew what hit me! I had no perfect answers for what being a mom meant and really no time to analyze my situation. If I had stopped to think about it, my thinking would have been quickly interrupted by someone needing a diaper change, or needing to be fed, or whatever they continued to need. Motherhood was upon me and I had work to do. Despite my imperfections as a mom, my kids have turned out to be wonderful, God-fearing people who have respect and compassion for all people. 

This is the grace of God. This is no small thing.

In all the hullabaloo I experienced as a mom, one thing was always important to me: my children needed to have a voice. For them to have a voice with me, it meant I had to listen to them. This is something I intentionally tried to do every day.

As a child reared in the home of a violent alcoholic, I had no voice. Having no voice is devastating to anyone, let alone a young girl being repeatedly abused. I was taught very early on that my voice had no merit, my thoughts did not matter, my opinions were not viable, my needs not worth mentioning, and that I was not worth listening to. Imagine the struggle to overcome such thinking.....thinking that had been reinforced time and time again by overbearing adults who were, in my life as a child, supposed to have authority. When those in authority abuse that privilege by downsizing any and all needs of those they have authority over, it produces a way of thinking that is far from what the Bible teaches.

So, because of this, my kids were always allowed to tell me if they were angry, frustrated, sad, lonely, etc. They were allowed to feel these things and they were, and still are, allowed to communicate these things to me. I still see no disrespect in them simply telling me how they feel, even if it's a negative feeling. Everyone gets angry, becomes sad, etc. These are not emotions to fear.

As a child, I did not speak out very often. Once, when my dad was yelling at the top of his lungs at one of my brothers for his bad grades, telling him how stupid he was, I tried to speak out on my brother's behalf. I told my dad that he should not call him stupid. At that, my dad turned on me and I thought he was going to kill me. I didn't speak out again. He was not listening. The only voice he wanted to hear was his own, and he didn't even listen to that one!

The Bible teaches that we all have a voice. Jesus listened to leaders and he listened to beggars. He listened to women. He listened to children. He listened to men. He healed. He fed. He taught. He treated all people the same. He did not get offended when people questioned Him. He simply told the Truth no matter what.

All people have a voice with the Savior.
He listened.
He really listened.
Listening to people gives them their voice. What a great gift!

Are you listening?
Do you know how to listen?
Today, practice listening. Just listen. You might be quite surprised at what you learn by simply listening.

Friday, April 19, 2013

While You Were.......

A few weeks ago, I wrote this poem and put it up on my Facebook wall. Today, I thought it was a good idea to share it here, on my blog. With all the tragedy our nation is facing and all the uncertainty we face as a nation, perhaps this will help us focus on what's really important.

While You Were.....

While you were fighting for your rights,
Your neighbor up and died.
He did not hear you tell him,
Of your Jesus crucified.

Instead he heard your latest call
For things you would not buy.
He didn't really have a clue
What price he'd pay for that lie.

The lie is very clear now,
As plain as it can be.
The lie is known to all who dwell
Without Christ for eternity.

The lie is simple to believe
And sounds so true and right.
The lie so sorely tempts us
To fight for a human plight.

But, alas, the lie is just that
A lie, no more, no less
The lie distracts us all
From His righteousness.

For what difference will it make
In your neighbor's eternity
If he enters it while living right,
While Hell remains his destiny?

He can wear a tie
And be straight as he can be
And still face the plight
Of a Christ-less eternity.

We're better off to fight
for the Gospel every day,
A fight that we are sure to win
For the price that Jesus paid

All man's pride, gay or straight
Will be brought down one day
By the One Who conquered sin
By the One Who lights the way.

So,  tell those neighbors yet today
The joy that waits for them,
When they put their faith in the Savior
Who can save them from their sin.

This Savior will save them
As only He can,
And create in them
A completely new man!

A man who does no longer need
To lean upon his sin:
A man who surely will not stay,
In the path of his own whim.

A changed man your neighbor can be
If he will trust Christ for his eternity.

The Gospel makes the difference
In the lives of all people today,
Not a boycott or a protest;
Not a petition about being gay.

The Gospel takes a man
And makes him new inside;
So his sin no longer rules his life
And he looks to the Crucified.

Even you, all taut with pride
Can find eternal rest with the crucified,
So, please do tell me,
Why do you protest?

He died for you, too
To light and show the way,
To His eternal peace and rest,
You can know Him today.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

About Birthdays

Today, one of my sons turns 17 years old. Wow. He's a wonderful young man whom I love to spend time with.

There is something incredibly powerful about my children's birthdays. They touch me more deeply than my own birthdays. Seriously. When they were growing up, birthdays were special because everyone got a day off school, I was always in the kitchen making their birthday cake, which made the house smell wonderful, and we paused for just a moment in the chaos of life, to let the birthday boy or girl know that their birthday was worth pausing for...that they are special, wanted, loved and worth celebrating.

When I first became a mom, I had no idea I would end up being mom to eight kids. As each pregnancy came, I rejoiced with excitement as though it was my first. I followed the progress of my growing baby, taught the other kids that their new sibling couldn't wait to meet them (this avoided jealously altogether) and prepared for the birth of each baby with great anticipation.

I also quickly learned that not everyone shared my great anticipation. Not everyone was so happy about my babies. Not everyone shared my and my husband's joy. I found this incredibly confusing because the Bible tells me that "Children are an heritage of the Lord; blessed it he who has his quiver full of them." (Psalm 127:3) Yet, all my naysayers were Christian people. How can this be? They said things like:

"No way, another baby? How many are you gonna have?"

My response was always, "As many as we want."

"Well, I don't know what you're thinking, but all those babies are expensive and I don't see how you can afford another one!"

My thought in response to this was, "How can we afford NOT to have more?"

"I think you should stop and think about what you're doing here....so many babies can't be good for you."

My thought was, "My doctor says pregnancy is good for me. Since he's the medical professional, I'll go with his opinion."

"Seriously? Another baby already? When are you two going to stop?"

My response, "Seriously. Another baby. Relax, you don't have to pay for this baby or do anything for him or her."

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have two - a boy and a girl - what more do you want?"

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have three!"

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have four!"

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have five! Oh, for crying out loud."

"You two will never have any money."

To my utter confusion, no one in my "Christian" world seemed to be happy about what I thought was one of the greatest blessings of all time.

My response to all this? I didn't argue with my naysayers. What could I say? I was guilty of having "yet another baby." I had no defense.

But I DID have a response. I certainly did. My response?

Have "yet another" baby.

So very, very glad I did!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Church and Me

This month marks 30 years that I have been a pastor's wife. To me, this is not an occupation, but rather a result of my husband's call to the ministry. If he's called to be a pastor, I'm going to be a pastor's wife. Pretty simple.

Kudos to him - 30 faithful years in pastoral ministry! He was pastor of  four different churches and planted three others.

Despite the confusion I always felt from the expectations of those around me as a pastor's wife, my role in all this has been to be his wife, the mother of his children and the person God wants me to be. The only expectations I perceive I need to fulfill are first God's, then my husband's.

I was not raised in a Christian home, far from it, so I never had a pastor in my life, let alone his wife. I did go to church as a teenager for a couple of years, but going to be with my sisters and friends, then laughing in the back row, hardly qualifies me as a church-goer. When I did hear and receive the Gospel, at 18 years of age, I joined a church shortly thereafter....and had a pastor. His wife was always sweet and kind to me, but I had no expectations of her. This is why people's expectations of me, as a pastor's wife, have been so confusing.

Last Friday, Kevin T. Bauder of Central Seminary, wrote a blog post on In The Nick of Time that I can't stop thinking about. It captured my whys; my reasons for going to church, for being so committed to church, for my service in the church, etc.

Because my position as a pastor's wife is not my motivation for anything I do in the church, this blog post really resonated with me. Let me highlight a few things he said that were especially meaningful to me:

"All church members submit themselves to the discipline of their church, which means that they submit themselves mutually to one another. They swear (for the covenant is an oath) that they will watch over one another, care for one another, and hold one another accountable for both private and corporate spirituality."

"A church is not a social club. It is a covenanted body. People should never join a church casually or with mental caveats about what they will do if things do not go their way in the church. Church membership should be viewed less like a date and more like a marriage in the respect that both marriage and church membership begin with a vow before God. There is something deeply immoral about church-hopping, just as there is something disturbing about those believers who wish to attend a church while refusing the commitments of membership."

"A church is a community. Church members cannot expect to fulfill their covenant obligations if they only meet each other during the public assemblies. The nature of their mutual duties requires that they develop relationships that go far beyond the gatherings of the church. They must experience a level of transparency and trust that comes only with knowing one another well."

"Churches pride themselves on attracting a number of attendees that would have been inconceivable in the past. Anonymity is endemic to the situation. We are beset with a sense that our personal lives are nobody else’s business, and that word nobody includes the fellow members of our churches.
Nothing could be more deadly to church life."
"A church has to do more than to foster special-interest groups (such as a youth group, a sportsmen’s group, a mothers-of-preschoolers group, a quilting circle, etc.). It also has to do more than assign members to small-group studies. While these activities may be a part of the solution, by themselves they cannot do more than to produce a congregation of cliques. In a large church filled with members who are unknown to one another, such activities are better than nothing, but they are not enough. They will not produce a body in which the members are genuinely fulfilling their covenant obligations to one another."
I urge you to read the entire blog post, and the follow-up which is to come this Friday. 

I, personally, do what I do in the church out of a deep love and debt to my Savior and out of obedience to Him.....not because I'm a pastor's wife. My love for the Savior and obedience to Him drives all that I do, in the church and outside the church. Who would want it to be different? This is the ultimate motivation. From this, we learn about His sovereignty, about how trusting Him is a show-piece of our faith, an opportunity for our faith to be seen, not just heard. When times are tough, this will shine through. It will be made manifest.

Praise be.