This weekend I have been rattling around the house by myself while my wife and son are in Ohio at Cedarville University. My son Zach had an audition for a spot in the worship program at the college (Which he got! Way to go, Zach!) and then they are spending the weekend there before bringing my daughter home for Thanksgiving break. I posted the other day that I was going to make a list of things to do in order to keep me accountable for my time while they were gone, and I would say that things have gone well.
I had the bulk of my list done on Friday with the longer items held for Saturday and today. The CHRISTmas lights are up, the house has been kept tidy, the garage is clean, the chest in our room has been reconditioned, and while not on the list, I have shoveled a ton of snow this morning! There is only one thing left to do:
Life has been pretty busy lately. While that seems to be the norm, the intensity of life lately has made it difficult to have any real time to put into studying God’s Word. I have my daily verse I post, and I get in the occasional Quiet Time, but there has not been any real opportunity for me to just sit down and really dig into anything. Well, at least not any opportunities I have been willing to recognize in the moment.
So, this weekend I have been trying to use the extra time here at home alone to allow my mind to FOCUS on what I should do. I started thinking about using this time when I realized I would have it a couple weeks ago. I wanted to put some serious thought into what God wanted me to get out of it.
As I thought about it, I remembered something I had heard somewhere and then heard it again when my wife also mentioned it several months ago:
Every Christian should determine to become an authority on at least one book of the Bible.
That little thought has been niggling around in the back of my mind for a while. I tell people that I want Relentless Growth in Christ, and what better way to do that than to really dig in and learn about a book of the Bible so well that through time spent in it I can apply it into every aspect of my life? The Bible is the avenue to a closer relationship with God, and knowing His Word that well is a life-changing endeavor.
So, while puttering around, completing my list of chores this weekend I have been thinking about where God may be leading me to spend my time studying. What book of the Bible would be the launchpad for me? What does He want me to learn? What does He want me to overcome? What does He want me to share with others? Where is He leading this Relentless journey of mine?
As I thought and prayed over it this weekend, I have felt a desire to look into two books. The reason I chose these books just seemed to become more and more clear as I thought about my life and how God has worked in it over the last 10 years in particular. In some ways, I feel like I have a kinship to the authors as a result of my life.
I have mentioned in the past that I was saved as a young kid, and as a result I have struggled with the feeling that I wasted an opportunity to grow closer to God because my Christian life was basically all I ever knew. I don’t have a real “turn from sin to God” moment. No radical life change where I left an old me and became a new me. It was not fully appreciated until after I was asked to teach an adult Sunday School class and I finally started to really read and seek to understand the Bible. Then I realized what I had!
So, as a good old-fashioned Baptist, fully indoctrinated to feel guilt and shame over things I had done wrong and unwilling to forgive myself for past sins, I began to try to learn how God actually wants me to live my life. It was time to move on past the feelings of missed opportunity to get to know God better as a teenager and young adult, and just get down to the business of knowing Him! God doesn’t close the window of opportunity to know Him better to His children.
Thinking about that this weekend I began to think about people in the Bible who might have felt the same way. Eventually (I am slow sometimes), two names came to mind. They were both men who had similar opportunities to mine to know God REALLY well when they were young, but didn’t take advantage of it in those days. It wasn’t until later that they fully realized the opportunity they had been given, and then they made the best of it, being willing to be used by God to the point of being the instruments the Holy Spirit used to write two books of the Bible! Talk about getting it together!
So, who are these guys? They are half brothers of Christ, James and Judas (Jude). They grew up alongside the God-man, Jesus, but didn’t fully realize who He was, what He was here to do, and what it really meant for them until later in life. See the connection?
I have spent time studying James before, but I have never spent any time in Jude other than a quick read. In truth, I have avoided it because I connect it with a very hard time in my teenage years. A former pastor used one of the verses in Jude as his “life verse” and after how he spiritually abused me and many others I have not been willing to give the book much of a look since. Funny how we blame God for how people mess up…
So, after looking at these two books, reading some commentary about them, and praying about it even more, I feel God is leading me to dig into the book of Jude. It’s a short book, but I think it is going to be more than just a book to learn. I think it is going to be an opportunity to dig into some stuff that might be hiding in me over past hurts. Some bitterness that still needs to be dealt with. Some confession of anger and forgiveness that needs to occur.
I don’t know exactly what will come of this at this point, but that is the joy of it! I am open to what God wants me to get, and I am excited to take the journey.
My goal for the rest of the day today is to begin breaking some things down for a framework of study. Not sure what I will find, but I am excited about it. I look forward to sharing thing I learn with those interested or those who happen across the blog in days to come. I’ll to make promises about timetables or schedules, but I do plan on sharing as time permits.
So, time for me to get to work. I hope in some small way this is an encouragement to others to dig into the Word as well. We have so much to learn, and are blessed with a God who is so willing to teach. Dig in. Be Relentless!