Friday, June 21, 2024

A restart...

Many years ago, I finished my bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a minor in religion. I immediately followed it up with a master’s in math, which led to a wonderful career, but I always wanted to go back to school for a Bible degree. We had our three boys in three-and-a-half years, then I homeschooled them from kindergarten through high school. I would often tell my husband, “When the boys finish school, I’m going back.” This spring, our youngest finished his last year of high school; within weeks, I applied and was accepted at Liberty University. As for my youngest, he’s also attending Liberty, pursuing a bachelor’s in apologetics – which makes this momma heart so happy!

Thus, this summer, the two of us began our educational journeys at divinity school. In my first class, one of the books I was assigned is Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age by Stephen and Mary Lowe. They put forth that we are created to be connected with other believers in a spiritual ecosystem, and it is through those connections and interactions that we grow spiritually. We are influenced by our network of friends, and the growth of our ecosystem is based on shared “spiritual nutrients and resources.” I love how they state this concept in their book: “Reciprocal relationships that strengthen reciprocal communities should ultimately effect reciprocal growth among all participating members.”

My youngest is very smart, and over the years, I’ve lost count of how many times my husband and I have jokingly told him to use his powers for good. But that’s exactly what should happen in a network of believers! All dimensions of our lives are impacted and enhanced when we are in community with other Christians. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood,” but “against evil, spiritual forces” (Eph. 6:12, CSB). He then tells us to “take up the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). We often think of these verses as applying to an army of one, but that is simply not true. The Roman army would line up, shoulder to shoulder, and form a wall of protection with their shields.

In that same way, we as Christians are to be in fellowship with one another, staying “alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). This has been lacking in my own life and is something I want to actively work on in the future.

Another concept the Lowes introduced in their book is the “contagion of holiness,” which spreads via spiritual influence from believer to believer. I’ve always loved how Jesus replied to his disciples after he healed the woman from bleeding: “I know that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46). As the Lowes put it, “God’s holiness was not fragile and easily contaminated; it was powerful and contagious.” Just like the power to heal the woman transferred the moment she touched the hem of his robe, Christ’s holiness is transferable within a network of believers. As Paul writes, “let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion” (2 Cor. 7:1). Note how he uses the plural in that verse – sanctification is a group effort. This is a second concept that I want to implement in my own life.

With family, church, work, and school obligations, time becomes a precious resource, so I must be intentional about creating this fellowship which will lead to holiness. Fortunately, I am a planner, so I do have a course of action. First, I want to restart my blog. I began writing way back in 2006, documenting life with my three boys and my scrapbooking hobby. About a year ago, I re-designed the logo and layout of my blog (I even pay for a domain name!), but I haven’t posted anything since 2017. One of my purposes of the blog is to foster friendships, and I can’t do that until I start posting regularly.

The next thing I plan on doing is having consistent in-home fellowship times. My family are avid board gamers, so I will start with once-a-month game nights. These are casual, fun, and lighthearted get-togethers, but they build community, especially with younger people at our church. They are looking for a place to belong, and my husband and I share a desire to encourage and mentor the younger generation. I’d also like to host once-a-month Bible studies in my home to delve deeper into the Word. My plan is to meet throughout the school year for dinner and study with high school and college girls. I would eventually like to expand my outreach to women in their twenties and thirties and form a Saturday morning discipleship program where we would meet for a meal, worship, Bible study, and prayer. My ministry is to young women, so that is where my primary focus will be. However, my husband and I have talked of one day starting a ministry to families, where we would pair “seasoned” couples with young married couples in a mentoring relationship.

My long-term goal is to write my own curriculum. I would like to start with 4–8-week Bible studies, with an ultimate goal of creating a three-year-long comprehensive Bible study. I am passionate about teaching the Bible as the one story that it is (something that seems to be lacking in too many Sunday School curricula). Alongside this, I would also build a digital community, perhaps through a private group on Facebook or Instagram. In addition, I’ve contemplated adding a discussion board or some sort of learning management system to my website. Through it all, I want to be intentional about creating a close fellowship with other believers, that we may strengthen and encourage one another to holiness.

At the beginning of this post, I wrote that my youngest son is also getting a Bible degree, and I want to close with a few words to him. Andrew, time is precious. Each day, we only get twenty-four hours (though I’ve prayed more than once that God would grant me a few more) and there are lots of things pulling for those hours. Please don’t ever get so caught up in doing the work of God that you miss time in the Word of God.

Each day, prioritize your time with him. It can be easy to simply read the Bible as a school assignment and forget that it is “living and effective” (Heb. 4:12). We can get distracted in reading about God and lose sight of the fact that we have direct access to him through Christ; never forget that you can “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Heb. 4:16).

An old Larnelle Harris song, written from the perspective of God, speaks to this. In the chorus, God shares his hurt when we claim we’re too busy serving him to spend time with him and ends with, “but how can you serve me when your spirit’s empty?” Don’t let your spirit get empty. Remain in the Word and keep your relationship with God as the focus in your life (though, trust me, lots of other things will be vying for your attention). And then – watch out! Because he “who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) will work in a mighty way in your life. My prayer is that God uses you for his glory, and that your testimony will point others to him. God is good.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Back to Top