Not Being a Mother

I am not a mother, which means that I will never be a grandmother. That thought hit me the other day. But it also got me to thinking of all the children that God has brought into my life, especially in the last few years through coaching Bible Quizzing and doing nursery at church. While I may not be a biological mother, I am able to be another adult woman in the lives of these kids. One who cares about them, listens to them, wants what’s best for them, and longs for them to know Christ and grow in Him. Some of these kids are toddlers, just learning to talk, while others are pre-teens getting ready to navigate some rocky years of growing up.

As a result of my developing relationships with various ages of children and teens, I have been trying to collect resources to help these kids grow in their knowledge of the Bible and theology. While I may not have my own kids to build into, God has gifted me with these other children whom I can build into. In many ways, I am able to be a part of their lives because I don’t have my own children to take care of. I have more time that I can invest that I wouldn’t have if I had children of my own.

I don’t know what God has for me with ministry in the future. But He has been working in my life in these last few years and it is amazing to see what He has done!

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A Season of Waiting

It appears that I am currently in a season of waiting. I don’t know what God has for me regarding future ministry with teaching. While there are other ways I’m able to be involved at this time, teaching is not one of them. And I don’t know if it will even be a possibility in the future. I’m also trying to find someone to do a Bible study with. Currently I have not found anyone who is available to add on to what they are already involved in. I have found that I don’t particularly care for doing Bible study on my own. I am waiting for a Bible study book to arrive that I requested for review. That will be something I can work on until closer to summer when other ladies may be available to do a study with.

Waiting is never much fun. Yet God has designed that waiting be part of our lives. Even daily we wait in traffic at traffic lights, or in line at the grocery store, or on the phone trying to resolve a bill. And patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit that is to adorn the Christian’s life. God can use seasons of waiting to draw us closer to Him, to help us to depend on Him more and to develop our trust in Him. Perhaps I won’t have a chance to teach again. That is up to God. He is the one who gifts and provides opportunities for using those gifts. Am I desiring these things in my life rather than trusting God to fulfill His purposes in me? Even good things can become idols. We are all teachers in one way or another just in the relationships we have with others. God can use me to help teach others through my friendships and day-to-day living. It doesn’t have to be a formal teaching situation.

What I do during this time of waiting is important. In all areas of our lives we are to glorify God, to honor Him and obey Him. I need to be about the task of exalting Christ in what I say, how I act and my attitude through it all. “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” (Philippians 2:14). Perhaps you find yourself in a season of waiting as well. Or you are in a stage of life where you desire to use your gifts and are not able to because of other obligations with family or work. Rather than focusing on what we are not able to currently do, let us use the waiting time to focus on God and exalting Him to others around us.

Bible Study in Community

One of the things that I learned from the Simeon Trust workshop last year is the importance of studying the Bible in community. We don’t have all the answers ourselves. In studying the Bible, it is important to study along with other believers in order to keep each other in check, making sure we are understanding the text properly and not going off into some strange interpretation. I recently did a study on the book of Romans on my own and found it quite challenging. It was overwhelming and I felt like I had no way to check myself that I was on the right track in my understanding. Now I realize that commentaries can be used as a way to check oneself and see whether our interpretations are in line. But there is much to be said about studying the Bible with others who are studying it at the same time and can provide accountability and balance. My husband has been studying the Bible with a friend for the last several years. They study on their own and meet weekly to discuss what they’ve learned. I have seen the growth in him by studying the Bible this way. I long for something similar. Group studies are one way that this can happen and I am part of a weekly study at our new church.

I would encourage you to be part of a group Bible study (not just a book study, but actually studying the Bible). Or pair up with another person of the same sex to study through a book of the Bible together. If meeting regularly is an issue, email can be a great way to discuss what we’re learning also. I have done that before with my family since we don’t live near each other. But try to find others to study the Bible with you rather than doing it on your own. The insights learned, the balance of keeping oneself on track, and the fellowship of learning the Bible together is invaluable for a Christian’s growth.

Overview of the Old Testament

As I’m taking the Simeon Course on how to study and teach the various literary genres in the Bible, I’m currently on the Old Testament Narratives section. I’ve also been reading Graeme Goldsworthy’s Trilogy – Gospel and KingdomThe Gospel in Revelation, and Gospel and Wisdom. The first one, Gospel and Kingdom, gives the importance of why we need to read and understand the Old Testament and how we can do that in light of the New Testament and Christ’s coming. It’s neat how these resources dovetail together in providing the theme of the Old Testament. Here is an excerpt from Goldsworthy’s book Gospel and Kingdom:

“Biblical History as the Bible Presents It

We are thus dealing with a history which begins with the creation of the universe, the world and man. The history then focuses on man (Adam) and on his relationship with God. After being ejected from paradise in Eden because of his rebellion against the Creator, man’s history is one of increasing and widespread sinfulness. This leads to destruction through the flood and to the preservation one family. From this family of Noah the lineage of man is shown to divide among the nations of the world although the focus is on the line of Shem leading to Abraham.

Abraham was called by God to leave Mesopotamia and to go to Canaan where he received certain promises concerning his descendants (of which there were none as yet). This promise was later passed on to his son Isaac and to Isaac’s son, Jacob. Eventually the descendants of Jacob migrated to Egypt and in time became a large nation. When this people was subjected to a cruel slavery by the Egyptians, God sent Moses to lead them into the land of Canaan which he had promised to give to Abraham’s descendants. This process was long and involved and included the making of a covenant at Mount Sinai in which this nation of Israel was bound to God as his people with all that that implied.

The dispossession of the inhabitants of Canaan, and the settlement in the land, led to the development of the need for some form of government or administration of the covenant. After a false start under King Saul, Israel received a great leader in the person of David. He united the tribes, established a capital city, secured the borders and set up a proper administration. Unfortunately David’s successor, Solomon, became too ambitious and unwise policies led to eventual dissatisfaction. When his son came to the throne, there was a rebellion and the ten tribes of the north seceded to become the kingdom of Israel while the dynasty of David continued to rule over the southern kingdom of Judah.

The secession led to a general decline in both north and south, although the prophets continued to call the people back to faithfulness to the covenant God. The north finally suffered defeat at the hands of the Assyrians (722 B.C.) and ceased to be an independent state. More than a century later the might of Babylon was aimed at the south and, with the destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) and the deportation of most of the people, Judah as a political entity ceased to be.

The exile in Babylon came to an end for the Jews when Cyrus the Persian overcame the power of Babylon and allowed captive peoples to return home (538 B.C.). Many of the Jews chose to remain in Babylon, for life had been quite kind to them. But those who returned had a real struggle to reconstruct the state of Judah. Eventually, with Persian co-operation, some stability was reached and Jerusalem and the Temple were reconstructed. But the glory of the golden age of David and Solomon never returned and the Old Testament period comes to an end with a whimper rather than a bang!

Some three-and-a-half centuries intervened between the two Testaments. During this time the most complex political developments occurred in the Jewish state. The Persian Empire crumbled when Alexander the Great pushed into Asia Minor and advanced to Egypt and beyond Babylon to the borders of India. Hellenistic culture was imposed upon Alexander’s empire by his successors and the Jews did not escape the fearful results of the conflict between the pagan Greek philosophies and way of life, and the Hebrew devotion to the Law and religion of the one True God. In the middle of the first century B.C., the Romans entered the Middle East region and the Jews found themselves a province of the great Roman Empire.”

 

How a Book Can Change Your Life

Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word
So in the early summer of 2014, I read a book by Kathleen Nielson called Bible Study. This book, unbeknownst to me, God would use to set me on a trajectory that I could never have imagined. In the book, Kathleen quotes various women, one of whom was listed as being involved with women’s ministry and Bible study at a local church in my area. I recognized the name of the church and had several friends I knew from there through scrapbooking. So I was able to contact this woman on Facebook to let her know of my interest in Bible study and that I was wanting to learn how to teach the Bible to women. She let me know of a women’s training program that her church was doing during the school year and I was invited to participate even though I wasn’t a part of that church. I then also found out through her about the Simeon Trust workshops that are held which train women in how to study and teach the Bible. With help from my church, I was able to attend this workshop and get the excellent training that it provides. I was also able to meet Kathleen Nielson, whose book was what had started the whole journey that brought me there. Simeon Trust also offers online courses in training how to study and teach the Bible and I am currently taking one of those courses and learning how to teach the different genres of the Bible. All of this transpired as a result of reading this book and being able to connect with a woman in my local area who knew about these resources. You never know what or whom God will use in your life to direct and shape you.

My review of Bible Study

Women and Theology

There have been several posts lately about women’s ministry and women blogging, particularly regarding the voices of older women and their lack in the blogging world.

Lisa, part 1
Lisa, part 2

Aimee, part 1
Aimee, part 2

Persis

Deb

As I’m now in my early 40’s, I’m part of the group of women they are referring to. Part of the concern is the need for the mature voice, for the discussion on the deeper things of theology, for the input of women who have raised children. As someone who doesn’t have kids, I find that I sometimes feel like I don’t particularly fit the mold for women my age. Yet I have been a Christian for many years and have especially grown in the last several years in my knowledge of theology and how to study the Bible. And I have a passion for others to know the Bible, to study it for themselves, and to understand theology and what it is that they believe and why. Part of this passion has spilled over into the ministry I’ve started of Solid Food Ministries. The desire behind that ministry is for believers to grow from milk to the meat of the Word.

I’m really glad these women are talking about this and I’m happy to see that there are others out there who share my love for theology and the deeper things. Oftentimes we get so busy in our daily lives, wrapped up in our current issues and problems, we forget that there are others out there who share our passions. And it’s good to evaluate what is needed – the mature, older women speaking out about truth and building into the lives of the younger women. With age comes maturity (usually!) and wisdom that can then be passed on to others to help them in their growth. As I’ve become interested in teaching the Bible to women in these last couple of years, and have had the time to pursue training in it, I’m thankful that I’m older now as I delve into this pursuit. I don’t think I was mature enough in my faith at 30 to be an effective teacher. Not that I have all the answers now, but I’m further along in my knowledge and understanding than I was at 30. And I continue to learn and grow in this area.

I am eager to see what comes of these conversations and how us older women can use our gifts and knowledge to help grow the body of Christ together.

Thoughts from the Simeon Trust Workshop Training

Originally published on my private blog on March 12, 2015:

Where to even begin regarding the impact that going to the Simeon Trust Workshop had on me. And not just the workshop itself but the conversations with other ladies that pointed me in a different direction than I was doing. Realizing how bad I am at studying the Bible and the incredible need for studying with other believers. And yet my still having the desire to teach and share with others what the Bible says and to awaken a passion within them for God’s Word and knowing it. To spend a few days surrounded by other Christian women who are passionate about studying God’s Word and want to do it correctly was an amazing experience. Too often I feel that others around me aren’t as invested in studying God’s Word as I am or don’t have the desire to know and read the Bible like I do. Oh that others would see the joy that can be found in knowing God through His Word!
As I continue on this path of teaching and leading, I have found that while leading a discussion group is part of it, my heart is to teach. BSF leadership training is not the direction to prepare me for that. I’ve struggled a bit with being at BSF, finding it not as deep as what I would like. While I have learned a lot this year through the study of Moses – the holiness of God and the horribleness of our sin – it’s still a more basic study than what I would prefer. And there is a tendency for the text to be moralized in order to bring out application, when perhaps there really isn’t a direct application in that particular text. After conversations at the workshop, I’ve come to the decision that continuing in BSF is not the route I want to take. I will likely finish out the year but not continue in the fall. Dropping BSF will free me up for other potential Bible studies or perhaps even teaching opportunities with Sunday School. Though I don’t know that I really am good enough for teaching. Perhaps starting with teaching theology rather than a direct Bible study will give me room to grow in how I study the Bible and help me to become more proficient at it before leading an actual study.
I’ve also seen that I long for actual Bible study, not just a book discussion group. But others don’t seem to have that desire, at least not as strongly.
I think part of the allure or encouragement of the workshop was being around other women that seemed to be similar to where I am in my spiritual walk. Sometimes I feel alone, that with the books I read I’m further ahead than others and find it hard to have conversations. But I have to be mindful of pride and remember that I’m only where I’m at because of God’s grace to me. And I need to learn how to pass on my knowledge in a way that can be understood and help others to grow further.

The Changing of a Dream

Originally published on my private blog on January 15, 2015:

I worked in the Short-Term department at SEND International, a missions agency, for 2 years and this was my dream job. Because of a unhealthy emotional situation there, I needed to leave after 2 years and ended up at another job where I worked for almost 10 years before quitting to stay at home and work part-time. At the time I had to leave my dream job at SEND, I was devastated and didn’t really understand what God was doing, just knew that I needed to leave and He was in control of it. Now, many years later, I realize that what I’m doing now is really a dream “job” and would not have been possible most likely if I had stayed at SEND. By my working at another job that paid more over the last several years, we were able to get out of debt and be in a financial position for me to cut back to part-time work instead of full-time. This has freed me up to be more involved at our church and in ministry opportunities. I am developing relationships and using my gifts in ways that never would have happened if I had stayed at SEND. God’s dreams were bigger than any that I had.

1 Peter

Originally published on my private blog on December 24, 2014:

Reading through 1 Peter multiple times in preparation for my study on it. Which in turn, is preparation for the teacher training workshop I will be going to in March where I will have to teach on two of the passages and critique others on their teaching. In my Bible study how-to, I harp on the importance of context and reading whole passages rather than picking verses out here and there. So reading an entire book in one sitting is helpful in getting the overall feel and theme of the book. So what has been my takeaway so far from 1 Peter?
Be sober and vigilant, be willing to suffer for doing what is right, our inheritance is secure. So often our focus is on what is going on currently in our lives and how we can best prevent trials and suffering. We forget that this world is merely temporary, a blip on the eternal future that we have waiting for us, secured by Christ. The trials now are part of our exile in a land that is not our own.
I’m not experiencing suffering currently. Though that could change in the blink of an eye. Feeling incredibly blessed these days in the life that I have. Yet this life is nothing compared to what awaits.

So Many Thoughts

Originally published on my private blog on November 12, 2014:

Sometimes it seems that I have so many thoughts and ideas running through my brain. That my brain doesn’t really shut off but continues to percolate. Yesterday I found myself at work thinking about our church and some things I wanted to discuss with my husband Jono about it. I had to tell myself to stop thinking about it until I got home and could actually discuss it with him. Part of it was I didn’t want to forget the questions I wanted to ask him. But I needed to stop thinking about it and concentrate more on what I was doing.
I think part of it may be related to my having OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). The actual disorder, not the “oh I’m a neat freak, I must have OCD” type. The obsessive nature of thinking about the same things and re-hashing them in my brain is related to the disorder. Thankfully, I’m on medication that helps to keep the disorder under control for the most part. But it does rear its head now and then.
Sometimes I think this desire to get training for teaching better is just causing extra work in my life. Do I really want to pursue this? Is it really worth all this time and effort? But that’s the lazy side of me talking. I think God has given me this gift and unless I’m told that no, you’re a lousy teacher and shouldn’t do it, I think I need to pursue this. The discipline alone is good for me. And regardless of the outcome, it is good learning experience and helpful just to grow me as a person.