Friday, April 15, 2011

I love to study.

I began studying the Bible a few months ago. Like really studying. Intensely. Reading each verse accompanied by commentaries and translations and original text - learning the context and the history and the language.

It has been one of the most life changing efforts in my entire life. I imagine you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Up until very recently, I thought the Old Testament was way too complicated and had little relevance in my awesomely hip 21st century life. And the New Testament? Well it's all about love and Jesus and disciples and a crazy whack book called Revelations and that's all you need to know about that, right? But wow, I was so so so so so wrong.

I'm only three books into my study (Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus) and I have never been so in love with three books in my entire life. Can you even imagine my love when I get to the New Testament? I can hardly stand the wait.

I mention this only because since I started studying the Bible I find myself yearning for the next chance to read and study. But it's not as simple as opening the Bible. I require physical space to study - for writing (I write all over my Bible) and note taking and journaling and space for a computer open to online commentaries (Biblos and Precept Austin are two of my best friends). So finding time to actually study the Bible isn't as simple as it might seem. But the longing I feel as I wait for the next chance to study is such a precious gift. It's indescribable. I'm constantly hungry for more God. More of His Word. More of His teaching. And that in itself has changed who I am.

I'm most at peace when I'm in His Word. Actually hearing it. Allowing it to speak to me. And when something doesn't make sense or doesn't sit well, I become a scavenger, hunting for the context or history or language to make the pieces of the puzzle come alive. And I am so blessed to live in this era with hundreds of websites and resources at my disposal. Sure, I find myself reading commentaries from folks of different theological backgrounds, but it is beautiful to read diverse teachings from folks who have one thing in common: a desire to better know God. It is in those moments that I find myself deep in prayer, that God would speak Truth to me through His Word - not theories or educated guesses. Truth and nothing less.

If you have never actually studied God's Word, I highly encourage it. Start with Genesis. It is by far the most exciting book I have ever read. Seriously, I have a love affair with Genesis like you wouldn't believe (I spent an entire day on the first two verses. It was heavenly). And just study it. Word for Word. Verse for Verse. It will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.

And let me know about it, please? I'm not only hungry for more God, but I'm hungry to connect with others who share this passion.

And for those of you who have done a formal Bible study, such as BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), what do you think? I registered for BSF and will begin in the fall, but I'm not sold. One of its greatest selling points for me is the childcare. Supposedly it's stellar. And that's the biggest obstacle for me as I study God's Word. It's hard to study when I have two adorable toddlers climbing on me. I love the idea behind BSF, but I also like the freedom that comes with studying at my own pace. I like setting my own rules, and when rules are presented, I often enjoy breaking them, and I wonder how I'll fit into a program that carries its own set of expectations. My attitude going into it is that I'm simply learning God's Word - it's a learning journey. I'm not looking to make friends or engage in therapeutic conversations. I simply want to better understand the Bible. I think I'll enjoy BSF if that remains my attitude. What do you think?

So what about you? Do you study the Bible? And if so, what are your favorite Bible study resources? Please share!

9 comments:

  1. I can literally feel my heart swelling with pride for you. I love, love, love, love, LOVE this. You are amazing. I share your love for Genesis (and even Exodus) but have never, not ever, felt a whole lot of love for Leviticus. You are inspiring, friend.

    p.s. I also can't get past the "rules" of BSF. Maybe it's a pride thing??

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  2. When we did the leadership study of Philippians 3, I really enjoyed the in-depth study guide that was provided. I totally got into it and wanted to use the same method for other chapters, books and verses of the Bible. I haven't yet, but maybe your post is just the inspiration I needed.

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  3. Hey friend, As one who I think shares a similar mindedness to you in all things "rules-ey" I was a late joiner to BSF this year I joined when Jude was around 2 months mostly to get myself out of the house and because I heard great things about their childcare program for E. I pretty much laughed at doing "homework" every week. And thought ya sure I'll read what I want to. GOD IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN MY OWN SELFISH AND PRIDEFUL self. He has blessed me in so many ways in my study of Isaiah these few months. Even after entering BSF with my own reservations and thinking, he blessed me with my first real STUDY of the word and I am so glad. I think if we could get over ourselves the "rules" are actually not there but what we concieve them to be in our heads. Love you friend and can't wait to see you next year at BSF.

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  4. Ali thanks for writing about this. I had not heard of BSF until now. I have it up in another session. I am gonna check it out! Maybe I will join you in class… if you are doing the evening one… so far it looks fascinating. I read every morning, I have for a few years; but I would really like to dig in – to get as much out of it as possible, you know? How cool that I was just talking to my friend today and said that I want more of God and she said that I already get up way too early (according to her) to journal and read before work… she said “isn’t that enough?” all I could respond was “it is never enough.” I want more, I want so much of God that there is no me. I want to soak in His word and live the best possible life I can. To do that, I need to dig… to soak and to learn. Thank you very much for writing this… I am excited!

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  5. whats bsf? i know bfl according to my students means best friend for life lol xoxo jackie

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  6. Oh Ali I love this post! WOW! I started BSF when we moved as a way to get connected to the body of Christ while we looked for a church. It has changed my life! This year was year 3 for me and I love the structure. I love answering questions and doing my daily reading/homework. Somedays I do more, some less, but the accountablilty it has given me is JUST what I needed. I too have that longing and yearning for more...which is how I want it to stay! BSF has not only helped me study the Bible, it's helped me apply what I learn. I'm gonna pray you are BLESSED beyond your wildest dreams! Can't wait to hear about it. (Oh, and YES the children's program is fantastic! When a 2 year old knows the Bible is "The one True word of God" and can sing "Holy, Holy, Holy"...SOLD!)

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  7. Thank you ALL!
    Jackie - Google BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP. I'm sure there is one in your area.
    Sharon - I'll be attending the Thursday morning class. But it really doesn't matter if you are there when your friends are there. They don't offer time for socialization. It's really just designed for the participants to STUDY!

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  8. Ali, I was invited to go to BSF for 7 years before I finally went. Next week, I will finish my 8th year! I actually finished a few years ago and then was oh so happy to go back when they added Isaiah. I do not like rules too much -- I always say that I only follow rules that are not stupid (like why do you have to stop at the "stop line" in a parking lot if there are no cars coming?). The rules in BSF enable you to share what you have in common -- Jesus -- and not have the other things get in the way (what church you go to, what music you listen to, tv shows, what is wrong with your Aunt Martha, etc.). You are only supposed to answer questions in your discussion group if you have done your hw, so you do your hw and are blessed beyond measure by what He reveals to you. You are asked to honor those who are not present (no husband bashing!). The first couple of years, I would look around my group and wonder why I was placed in that group. Then I learned that He had something for me to learn from each woman in that group. And I have learned so much from women at all different points in their journey to know Him more. The manner in which you learn in BSF revolutionized how I look at God's Word. It made me LOOK at His Word, to let it soak into my soul. Every study has been just what I need when I have needed it. I have seen His faithfulness to all generations at every turn. I have loved every moment I have spent in BSF -- I could do a commercial for it! I will pray for your studies!

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  9. SEG - your encouragement re. BSF is the best I've received. Thank you.

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