Friday, May 30, 2014

Why I Don't Use SOAP

I don't use SOAP. I never have and I'm not about to start. SOAP is a popular acronym widely used in Bible study. It stands for


The problem I have with SOAP is the application portion. This trips us humans up every time because we simply cannot apply the Scriptures to our lives. We can't; it's not our job. Every single time we do, we become built up with pride and that application portion becomes our all-in-all. We don't stop with the mirror, either, but we take what we've applied to our own lives and project that onto others.

The minute any Bible study becomes about our response, it is no longer about Jesus Christ. 
When it is no longer about Jesus Christ, it is no longer relevant. 

Here are a few reasons I won't use SOAP, or any other Bible study method that uses application as a step in its process:

1. Human application of Scripture falls through human filters. These filters are not inspired, making them dangerous. Every single cult that started from a religious standpoint, started as a result of someone applying Scripture out of context as a means to control others. This was done through a human filter. Jesus tells us to learn from Him (Matthew 11:29). He does not fit through human filters.

2. Human application is nothing more than behavior modification. Behavior modification is not of the heart, it's out of a human effort to be righteous. This goes against Scripture since Scripture says "there is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10) Beware of behavior modification. Lots of people have behaved well all the way to Hell.

3. Human application leads to legalism. Legalism is not only dangerous in that it focuses solely on human behavior, it also leads to spiritual abuse. Every single time.

4. Human application is not about God. As soon as we take it upon ourselves to apply things the way we see them, we take God out of the picture. His Word does not need human application. If you become driven to share the gospel more, that is NOT because you are applying God's Word to your life, it is because His Holy Spirit is working in you to create that drive. When you find yourself responding in grace to something that might have made you mad in the past, that is not because you have applied God's Word to your life, it is because His grace is at work in you through His Word. It is all by Him, through Him and for Him.

5. Human application leads to guilt. As soon as a preacher says, "we should" or "you should" I tune out. I'm not interested in what he thinks I should or should not do. Not everyone is in the same place in life. Not everyone can live in the same way. I was at a ladies retreat one time when the speaker tried to lay guilt on us because she felt that some of us were not grateful enough to be there. She had decided that ungratefulness was the sin of the hour and railed on us to be more grateful and compared us to the grumbling children of Israel in an attempt to warn us of God's impending judgement upon us. But, she was totally wrong. I had been going through a rough time in my life and was so, so thankful to be able to go to the retreat. She had decided everyone needed to be hammered about ungratefulness and she took Scripture out of context to try to prove her point. Guilt is not a fruit of the Spirit.

6. Human application nearly always requires Scripture to be taken out of context. Entire cults have been built around this fact. Study up on a few cults; the ones which were started by religious followings were started with Scripture being taken out of context. This is not true of just cults; it's also true of many, many movements we've seen throughout history. Modern day movements are no different. They are built on mankind's ideas, false interpretation of Scripture and wrong applications of Scripture. Pick a movement, any movement, and hold it up to the Light of Scripture. You will find it is full of holes of non-contextual application.

7. Human application fuels human pride. This fact is clearly evident all over social media. We see people taking pictures of their Bible study time and posting it online for all to see. No more closet prayers done in secret. That scares me since God said He resists (opposes) the proud. (James 4:6)

8. Human application blinds us to the Truth. I once knew a preacher who constantly said things like, "I will not sacrifice godliness. I will not sacrifice righteousness." while his own behavior wasn't godly at all. He was busy not sacrificing "godliness" while he was (and still is) lying to and misleading his congregation on even small issues. All in the name of "godliness." He is blind to the Truth because he is wrongly applying things to his own life without the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to worship God in spirit and in truth. Human application blocks the way. Men like that declare themselves godly, outside the context of God, and people, fearful of disagreeing with what they perceive as God's anointed, allow this to happen. This is really an example of spiritual abuse. When someone tells you they will not sacrifice godliness, they are intimating that they have already attained godliness. Beware of those people. Do not sit under their teaching or follow their leadership.

9. Human application shows lack of faith. Because it's His Word, all fruit from His Word is His. Isaiah 55:11 promises that His Word will not return void, it will accomplish what He sends it to accomplish and will prosper in what He sends it to do. What's interesting about this verse is that it promises His Word will accomplish what He intends; it says nothing about our human intent or our human intervention. Be wary of people who tell you God can't do what He needs to do in your life without your cooperation. He gives no conditions to the accomplishment of His will. It will be done. Jonah's story is a good example of this.

Insist on studying God's Word in purity and Truth. A system like The Priscilla Principle, which does not include application at all, is better suited to unaltered Bible study. My life was transformed, but not by my application of God's Word to my life. It was transformed by His Word, alone. I had nothing to do with it. There were things He conquered in my life that I had no idea needed conquering. How would I have applied anything to them? The Priscilla Principle method does not include application. Rather it operates on the Scriptural promise that God's Word does not return void. (See point 9 above.)

Beware of books that insist you have an application step in your Bible study process. Applying His Word to our lives is not our job. I am seriously surprised that this is such a popular thing for people to do. But, I see it all over social media. I also see the results. I see people taking pictures of their Bible study time and posting it online. Farewell to the closet prayers we're commanded to have. I see people naming a ministry after themselves. Farewell to the humble servant who exalts Christ.

Any fruit we have in our lives is fruit of the Spirit. Having the fruit of the Spirit is a result of His work in our lives, not of our decisions to do/say/think/feel the "right" way. We cannot produce godly fruit. It's impossible. We have to stop trying. Perhaps one thing pushing people to try to apply God's Word to their lives and the lives of others is impatience. There is so much incredible power in waiting on the Lord. David says repeatedly in the Psalms, "Wait on the LORD." Isaiah (40:31) told of a great promise to those who wait. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint. I think I should add waiting as a Bible study step in The Priscilla Principle, for in the wait is strength.

Read the Scriptures > Observe without Speculation > Interpret  > Pray > Wait
Not an acronym.
Nothing fancy.
Study, then wait on the Lord. When He wants you to act, you will not be able to be still.


Monday, May 26, 2014

My Hero, My Son

I wrote this poem after my son returned from his first deployment to Iraq....and the awful reality of the Battle of Fallujah. My Michael, just 19 years old at the time, was on the front lines of that battle. This poem is still relevant, nearly 10 years later. I've posted this on my blog before, but I had to post it again.

My Hero, My Son

You say you’re not a hero,
I beg to differ, son;
You went into the war zone,
Carrying your gun.

You faced all of the danger,
Without even looking back;
You did what you knew God wanted
You didn’t one time slack.

You followed your heart;
Did what you thought was right.
You just kept pressing on,
Did not give up the fight.

Oh, you really are a hero,
A hero fair and square.
So far from home, you dared to go,
You didn’t think of where.

Now that you are home,
Oh, so safe and sound,
I will not forget the others,
The ones who aren’t around.

The war zone was relentless
They paid the highest price,
I know you would have done the same,
And made that sacrifice.

But, God allowed you to come home,
He has work for you to do.
It’s His will you must seek,
It’s His calling you must pursue.

Follow Him with all your heart,
And a hero you’ll remain.
Don’t look off to the right or left,
And His reward you’ll someday claim.

You’re my hero, yes, my son,
I’m proud as I can be.
Thank you for what you have done,
You’ll always be a hero to me.

Love, Mom

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Recently, one of my cousins shared this picture on Facebook with the comment, "Nice weather for ducks..." Immediately, comments started pouring in that these are not ducks, but in fact, geese.

Knowing full well that my cousin does, indeed, know the difference between ducks and geese, I also commented. I pointed out that she never said they were ducks and that her statement about the weather being nice for ducks was a true statement.

At that, someone said, "True but who would take a picture of a cat and say
'it's a nice day to walk the dog'?"

We could say that. We could do that. We could take a picture of a cat and comment that it's a nice day to walk the dog if it really is a nice day to walk the dog and it would not be wrong.

But, it would be unexpected, because the picture produces an expectation and when that expectation is not fulfilled by the words associated with the picture, people don't know what to do or think. The unexpected throws them. The picture actually becomes a filter they run everything through. If there's a picture of a goose, people automatically assume that any comments made in the context of the picture must be about the goose. But, there is more than geese in the picture. There's weather. There's grass. There's a field of stubble of some sort. There are no ducks, but my cousin's statement is still true; it was nice weather for ducks.

My final comment on the thread was, "Observation without speculation leads to independent thinking."

Imagine if we simply took someone at their word instead of filtering what they say by what they look like or where they live. We all have filters. People often approach God's Word with the same type of filter people used on my cousin. They go to God's Word with preconceived ideas and expectations and end up either being disappointed and become disillusioned, or they become legalistic and put their, and everyone else's, faith in a box.

Observation without speculation is hard to learn in our society. There are given expectations that everyone is expected to follow. Schools are a perfect example of this. Kids are often herded for control, expected to act and learn in a certain way. That doesn't work for every student. Albert Einstein was labeled "lazy, sloppy and insubordinate" by more than one of this teachers. His parents were told he wouldn't amount to anything. The schools did not know what to do with him because he was an independent thinker who made observations without speculation or expectation. The school system, even in that day, was ill equipped to handle him and others like him.

Thinking outside the expectations opens up an entirely new world. It might feel like it's out of your comfort zone, but I guarantee that if you start making observations without speculation, it will change how you see the world, and how the world sees you.

When Jesus walked this earth, He lived this way and it often astounded His followers and naysayers alike. Read through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and notice how Jesus talked and interacted with people. When He met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He talked to her. She, herself, questioned Him for doing this, saying, "How is that you, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" The verse explains, "Because the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." The expectation was that no Jew would be talking to a Samaritan at all, let alone a woman. Jesus didn't care; He acted outside the expectations. Verse 27 tells us that even His disciples marveled that He spoke with a woman, but no one questioned Him.

His behavior constantly rocked the boat, even for His own disciples.

Rock the boat. Observe without speculation and see what happens.
Take a picture of your cat and tell the world it's a nice day to walk a dog.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Was That Awful, Neglectful Mom

I was that mom, neglecting my child, not listening as he nearly screamed "Mom!" in a public place.

I would not listen.

I made the "shh" sound quietly as I put my finger to my lips. I was on my cell phone and he wanted my attention. People began to stare. I could imagine they were thinking what a terrible mom I was for ignoring my little guy and choosing to talk on my cell instead. I was nearly in tears at my little guy's screams of frustration, but no one offered to help with him, they just simply stared and whispered out of the sides of their mouths, behind their hands. I strained to hear my phone call; I put my finger in my other ear so I could hear better.

Suddenly, my little guy threw something, I don't know what, onto the floor. I was nearly undone.

Why not just hang up the phone? Why not just tell the person I'd call them back? I could not. I would not.

The person on the other end of the phone was also my son.....was once my little guy.....and he was in Iraq and the war was raging....and I knew that it could very well be the last time I ever talked to him. It was stressful; there was a 3-second delay between our words to each other.

So, I let my little guy cry. And I ignored him. And I talked to my other son on my cell phone in public. And I let the judgments fly. And, as I did every single time he called, I cried my heart out when we hung up. And only when we hung up was I able to hold my little guy and give him my full attention. And my mother-heart nearly came apart for the grief and pain of having a son go off to war.

And to this day, when I see a mom on a phone, seemingly ignoring her present child, I think back to that time and I stop and I pray.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

What Church Planters Can Learn from a 3-D Printing Plan

Grace Choi is about to change the way you buy make up forever. Church planters can learn a few things from her. She is a self-proclaimed serial inventor and her 3-D printer, Mink, is about to make Mary Kaye consultants hurry to get the last mile out of their Cadillacs while they can. When I saw her presentation about her printer, I was struck with her poise, attention to detail, understanding of her field of knowledge as well as her awareness and acceptance of her weaknesses. Not to be deterred by past failures, she actually said that she will succeed because of so many failures.

The men on the panel who critiqued her presentation showed their ignorance a couple of times. She was unfazed by their ignorance and went on to tell them how this printer will need very little marketing because she is acutely aware of the high demand for it in the make up industry. She's touting high demand for something that her target buyers don't yet know exists! Yet, she knows them because she knows herself and she knows they will buy her product and price is not an issue.

The lipstick tube was one man's tripping point. He expressed concern that lipstick would have a hard time printing into a tube. How will it print into a tube? Silly man. Much of lip color in today's world does not even come in a tube. Grace Choi already knows this. Women know this.

Another man (or was it the same man?) questioned the price, saying it was too much. That man does not know the modern teen. These are kids with iPhones and college promises. $300 is nothing to Grace's target market. She already knows what these girls are spending, what they will spend and how they will get their parents to spend the money on this printer. Think of the savings, alone, if a girl can print her own make up and not have to make a trip to the cosmetics counter at the department store, where there is so much temptation to buy even more.

What can a church planter learn from Grace Choi? Plenty. As my husband and I, now church planters, look to continue this work, I see many parallels between what we desire to do and what Grace is doing/has done.

1. Grace saw a need. The need was manifold. She saw how girls needed more options in an affordable venue. She saw that girls needed to be in control of their make-up and not victims of the big corporations' high mark-ups. She saw that there was a way they could experiment with make-up in a more financially safe way by being able to try it out without spending huge amounts on things that could end up in the bottom of a drawer.

1. Church planters see a need: the need for people to know Christ. They see the need for Christ to be in every life, not just ones who go to church or grew up in church. They see that they have something to offer that the world cannot even come close to.

2. Grace saw herself as the solution to the need. She took her knowledge and expertise and put it to work creating something that could meet the needs she saw.

2. Church planters must see themselves as the solution for a world without Christ. Jesus, Himself, told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers. We, as church planters, are those laborers. We have to see ourselves as the solution to the vast need.

3. Grace did not wait for anyone else, she simply went to work creating what she knew was the solution to the needs she saw.

3. We church planters cannot afford wait. We can't afford to get caught up in the red tape that often accompanies modern day church planting efforts. We simply need to get it done. It starts with prayer, and lots of it. It does not start with meetings with interested parties. I know some church planters who are hung up on the meetings, spending time meeting with one person or committee after another, all while people are going into a Christ-less eternity. When you pray about the lost people around you, the Lord of the Harvest answers that prayer, usually by commissioning you. The Great Commission is highly personal.

4. Grace did not fear failure. She has already failed many times, so she knows that failure was inevitable. She also knows that failure is not the end. Each failure was a learning experience; she used them to her advantage.

4. We cannot fear failure. Are we going to make mistakes? Yes. Are we going to fail at times? Yes. But, the Lord of the Harvest has already conquered all our failures and short comings. We have nothing left to fear. We have a lot of work to do.

We can learn a lot from Grace. Much more than I listed here.