I'm getting back to the basics.
The meat and potatoes of faith.
The cornerstone beliefs.
Starting tomorrow, I'm leading a 101 Bible study in my city. I just gave it that name: 101 Wednesdays. It's not already a thing.
It felt pretty scary, but I invited as many friends and acquaintances as I could think of who seemed to be at least 1% interested in spiritual things. I knew many of them were not believers, which was sort of the idea. My motive was to bring church to them. If they would not make time in their lives to seek out and attend an intense 2.5 hour women's study with 100 women and 5-day a week homework, maybe they would meet at a coffee shop to talk about basics. I thought, "Maybe God has been preparing some hearts to take one small step in His direction. Maybe I could hold a woman's hand and help her take that one small step."
Wait, not maybe. I knew I could. If I were at least one small step ahead of someone else, and if God brought me that someone, I knew I could help her take that step.
That's my definition of discipleship. It is on my heart all the time, the "great commission," where Jesus said, "GO. Make disciples." The burden of that call finally got me off my rear end in my own community. But it wasn't just the call. God has lately been showing me how apathetic the world is becoming toward spiritual things. I have many friends who just don't care. Having a relationship with God seems irrelevant, unnecessary to them. If you look around, you'll see it. If it's heartbreaking to me, just imagine how heartbreaking the apathy must be to God, as a Father.
Goodness, I keep getting on tangents because this stuff is at the core of my heart. Back to my email. Many women I emailed didn't reply at all. But a few did. Then a few more. Then a few emailed their friends, and I got replies from a few more...women I've never even met. Today, I'm now concerned there won't be enough open chairs at the coffee shop. And I'm thankful for that problem.
So I thought I'd share the study here on the blog on Wednesdays too. Would you like to follow along?
The first book we are reading is the Jesus Storybook Bible. Yes, technically it's a children's Bible. Don't laugh, because it is incredible. It is written like a storybook, and it does a beautiful job of giving us a picture of what the Bible says in it's entirety. For those of us who didn't "grow up in church" or who feel intimidated or overwhelmed by reading the Bible, it is an excellent place to start. The Jesus Storybook Bible has been used in grown-up studies before to show how the most important things we need to know for our lives are at once both deeply profound, and also simple enough for a child to understand.
The subtitle of the book reads "Every story whispers His name," hinting at how the author weaves the stories together in the Bible to demonstrate its bigger messages. So it's the big picture that I'm interested in passing on to you guys through this book. We'll be able to breeze through it, and then afterwards, we'll start a more traditional book study of some kind. There are so many great ones.
If you want to follow along here, I will be posting a summary of what we learned that week, a reading assignment, and questions. They will not be "Try to get the answer right!" kinds of questions. They will be reflective, and are only for the purpose of processing what we're learning in the context of our real day-to-day lives.
Finally, I'm going to tell you a story about my friend.
I didn't send her the email because she is a strong believer already. She and her husband have worked in ministry at their church for over a decade. But she happened to be at my house, and somehow news of the study slipped out. I invited her out of politeness and was a tad apologetic that it was a "basics" study, assuming she would not be into it. Her answer shocked and humbled me.
She said she'd NEVER participated in a women's Bible study and NEVER attended a women's retreat because she doesn't know much about the Bible and feels horribly insecure. Because she wasn't raised going to church, she didn't know any of the stories. In fact, she'd work in the children's ministry at her church so that she could hear the basics taught in a simple way. She has such a deep insecurity about not knowing the Bible but being surrounded my mature believers that she said she often feels like she has to "fake it." And when I asked if her church ever offered women's studies, she said, "Oh yes LOTS! But none of them have ever had 'basics' in the title." She told me that 101 Wednesdays sounds like the only type of study she'd ever be interested in trying.
Isn't that so humbling? God knew. He saw my friend's fears, He knew what she needed. And I was too presuming to put her on the email list. What a mistake! But he also didn't let my mistake thwart HIS great plans for my friend. Thank you Lord. So I'm inviting ALL of you to join in. It's up to you to decide if you want to follow along.
I'm getting back to basics.
It's for you if you're so intimidated by the Bible that it collects dust on your shelf.
And it's for you if you grew up on a pew beside your daddy who sat in the front row.
It's for you if you feel like something's broken.
It's for you if you never expected life could be this hard.
It's for you if you are just curious, just wondering who this Jesus really is.
Is he a teacher, a good example, a prophet?
Did He really sit in the black nothingness and speak each star into being? By name?
And it's for you if you sit here reading, wondering what on earth that has to do with you when your responsibilities and relationships threaten to do you in.
Reinforcing the cornerstones of my faith? Remembering how Point A (the Bible) connects to Point B (my life)?
Yes, that's for me.