Just three more days of school for the kiddos and our church has already ended mid-week activities for the kids. Summer break is fast approaching and I NEED A PLAN!
Right now I'm brain storming some ideas for the kids which I will share with you soon, but in mean time I'm putting my priorities in order and making a plan for my own Summer Bible Study.
Currently, our church offers ladies Bible study twice a year in the fall (Aug-Oct) and then spring (Jan-March here). That's just not enough. I don't want to be the kind of Christian who only takes my Bible off the shelf on Sundays and Tuesdays when there's a class twice a year. I teach 3 and 4 year olds in Sunday School but preparing to teach them doesn't fulfill my need for adult level Bible Study if I'm serious about wanting to go deeper still.
A while back a friend (and mentor) invited me to a Bible Study in her home between church led classes that changed my life. It was "I Saw the Lord" by Anne Graham Lotz. The study was tremendous but even more important was the tool I gained for learning to study the Bible for myself. I grew up in the church, became a Christian at an early age, married a pastor but I wasn't really digging into the Bible on my own as I should. I attend church regularly, I read my devotion magazine or a devotion book with the verse at the top and then one page of someone else's commentary and a prayer. I guess I felt like I didn't know where to start. This is where you start!
Pick a familiar Bible story or character you want to know more about. Find it in the Bible and then use the Bible Study Guide I made to really study it. Here's how it works in summary. If you want to know more you can begin where I did by reading "I Saw the Lord" and doing the participants guide. First Read God's Word and write it in the Read column. You can go verse by verse or just select a key passage to study in depth. I just finished doing the book of James this way and I did not list every verse. I read one chapter at a time, looked for themes and asked myself, "what is this chapter really about, what are the key messages here?" Write down a few key verses. Then List the facts in the next column. Try not to just re-write the scripture but list the facts about who is speaking, where, to whom? Next, Learn the lessons from the scripture. Ask yourself what does this mean for me? Finally, Listen to God's voice. Take some time to pray as you reflect on the passage you've studied and ask God what He wants you to do with what you've learned. Anne Graham Lotz uses a fifth step called live it out but I combine that with Listen in my homemade chart because I want to already be committed to say "Yes" when God speaks. I use the Listen column to record anything the Lord is asking me to reflect on (self-evaluate) or DO.
Don't get discouraged, just be faithful to stay in God's Word. James only has five chapters yet it took me several months to complete because there were so many familiar key verses I didn't want to skip over it took me more than one day per chapter. Last summer I did the book of Hosea this way and learned SO much! This summer my husband is going to join me in studying the book of Daniel this way. I have a confession that over this school year I've gotten used to doing my Bible Study in carpool line. Yes, I'm an early bird who leaves the house 30 to 45 minutes before my son gets out of school so I can have extra quiet time in the car. My younger son sleeps, watches a movie, or plays ipod (usually) and I sit with my Bible in my lap and my notebook on the steering wheel and study away. Now that carpool line is just about over for the summer I have to come up with a new plan or I'll never fit it into the day. The days just have a way of slipping away with other activities when you've got small kids at home.
So here's my plan. I know your thinking I'm crazy, cause I do to a little. Just when kids and moms get to sleep later because school's out I'm going to make an effort to get up earlier (yes, earlier) and do my Bible Study. Now everyone else in my family are morning people anyway. The kids hardly ever sleep past 7am no matter how late they stay up at night. I however, like the snooze button. So we'll see how this goes. I read something on another blog about waking up for your children instead of waking up to your children. If you're talking about living out your faith in front of your kids so they they are influenced by what they see you do instead of just what you say to do, well, what better way than for them to wake up to see you reading your Bible? I'm praying for the strength and discipline needed to do this. I might need a little Mandisa Good Morning to get me outta bed though.