As a Christian woman I am offended by the so-called women’s Bible studies and teachers that are available to us. The landscape is littered with many women’s teachers whose studies and conferences are geared toward our emotions and not our intellect. I realize that we are the more emotional gender, but to ignore our intellect is just downright offensive. It’s as if they’re saying we’re not smart enough to understand theology.
In the past I went through a few Beth Moore studies and conferences, and each time, I came away thinking something was wrong with me because I got nothing out of them. Her worship services were emotionally charged and her studies didn’t explain biblical text at all. She found a way to make the stories and scriptures about us. I don’t do emotional fluff. I’m not saying I’m not an emotional person. I can get pretty emotional at times. But when it comes to studying the Bible, I don’t want emotional fluff. I don’t want someone to tell me what THEY think the scripture means about us. I want to know what GOD meant when He gave us His Word. That is why I got nothing out of Beth Moore. I went in wanting to learn the truth of God’s Word but instead got emotional goo. Once we know and understand what scripture teaches, once we understand why God did what He did, and why Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins, then we can respond with the proper emotion.
The number of true women’s Bible teachers are very small. Two that come to mind are Nancy Guthrie (http://www.nancyguthrie.com/) and Susan Heck (http://www.withthemaster.com/). These two women go through the Bible and explain what the verses mean (God’s interpretation), not what they think they mean. If you’re interested in their studies, they both have podcasts you can listen to. Nancy’s is “Help Me Teach The Bible” and Susan’s is “With The Master”. No emotional goo, just straight up Bible study.
So, I’ll pass on the ladies conferences. If I want emotional, I’ll find some chick flick to watch. When it comes to Bible studies, I prefer those that challenge me to increase my knowledge of the Bible. Give me the Greek and Hebrew words and what they mean so that I can understand it better. You can keep the Kleenex.
The Christian life is not easy. Contrary to what some popular television preachers preach to their congregations and those who watch them on the idiot box each week, being a Christian doesn’t mean life will be all roses and rainbows.
While it’s true that we don’t have a long list of rules to abide by, there are things we must do to help us grow and mature as Christians. Our adversary, the devil, knows this and he will do what ever it takes to keep us from doing those things, thus, keeping us from growing and maturing in our faith.
I struggle with Bible reading and praying. I can sit at my desk with earphones in my ears listening to different sermons while I’m working with no problem, but to sit down and try to read the Bible? I would be asleep in no time. Praying is hard, too. It’s not that I don’t pray at all. If/when a need arises for me or someone else, I can say a quick prayer, but to be a person who has a set time to do some serious praying? My mind would so easily drift off to something else and I’d lose concentration on the task at hand. And, many times, there’s just things I put ahead of my Bible reading and praying. I know there’s no excuse and I need to remedy this situation.
The devil loves to make us useless. He loves it when people give up. He can put some kind of trial or adversity in our path and cause us throw up our hands and say, “I can’t do it anymore. I give up.” That is what his goal for us is. When he sees that we no longer struggle to stay in the fight, he wins. The Bible says we are to put on the whole armor of God. Putting armor on doesn’t mean we’ll be taking a leisurely stroll through a pretty garden. Putting on the armor means we are preparing to do battle every day. We battle against spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. Forces that are working hard to keep us weak and useless so that we throw down our weapons and say, “I give up.”
What forces are you dealing with? Are they the forces that seek to fill your head with lies that tell you that God can’t use you due to your past sins? Are they forces that tell you that because you don’t read the Bible enough, or pray enough, or because you can’t understand what God’s Word says sometimes, then doing these things are useless? Are they forces that tell you “You’re just too busy to have time for reading and praying”?
We must stay in the battle. We must keep fighting. If we lay our weapons down, we’re saying to the devil, “You win.”
Summer is here that means that everyone is advertising their church’s Vacation Bible School. I have never liked VBS, even as a kid growing up. I always felt like it was too cheesy. It was the same stories, year after year. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like to me. The VBS curriculum has changed a lot over the years but has it gotten better?
What occurred to me as I was thinking about this is that the authors of the VBS curriculum probably create their material to appeal to those children who do not attend church regularly, so they make it as simple as possible. But, I think that does a disservice to the children who attend church on a regular basis. They’re getting the same watered down, milky lessons they have heard over and over and over again.
We have seen a trend in American education that has a lot of people upset and concerned and that is how the educational system has restructured how children learn and now we’re dealing with schools that are dumbing down its students because they don’t want to make those who don’t learn as quickly as others feel like they’re stupid. So, instead of the teachers working to pull those students up and encouraging them to work harder so that they can catch up, they dumb down the curriculum thus causing those students who are quicker learners to become stagnant.
Unfortunately, over the past several decades, even the past century or so, the Church has been guilty of doing the same thing the educational system has done, and that is dumb down the Bible. I, for one, like being challenged especially when it comes to the Bible. The milky VBS curriculum that I was exposed to bored me to death! I truly believe that pastors and other church leaders short-change the kids in their churches. They probably feel like they don’t have the capability to know or understand deeper Biblical doctrine. Granted, you can’t go in and start feeding a child who hasn’t been exposed to the Bible some of the “meatier” parts of the Bible at the beginning. You WILL need to start with the easy stuff. But, to continue on feeding them the easy stuff and never moving up to the solid doctrine just stunts their growth and they end up getting bored and either go looking elsewhere for more solid Biblical teaching or they quit altogether. It’s not for a pastor or teacher to decide what the kids can or can’t understand. They are to just teach and preach what the Bible says and let the Holy Spirit give understanding as He sees fit. Isn’t that where we gain our understanding from as adults? So, why should it be any different with children. Back during the times of the Puritans, the children were taught the heavy stuff of doctrine as part of their upbringing. I have no doubt that children back in those days had a more deeper knowledge and understanding of Biblical doctrine than some adults do these days. And it’s all because the Church felt it necessary to dumb down the Bible.