Author Archives: lacycrowell

Strength Through the Wait

The last several weeks we have been looking at how to handle the times we are in God’s waiting room (click for “Waiting Through Perpetual Prayer” and “Waiting Through Study“). We have looked at Scriptures that will help us, how prayer can help us, and how in-depth Bible study can help us in those times when we are waiting for something major in our lives. While these are all excellent answers, they’re things we already know: we all know encouraging Scriptures, we all know that we need to pray, and we all know that we need to study our Bibles. Sometimes in the “real world,” when we are actually IN God’s waiting room, these very practical suggestions just don’t feel like enough. Sometimes the things we are waiting on are so critical to our lives that just praying and studying aren’t quite enough to keep our faith, our spirits, and our patience intact while we wait.

So what else can we do? Today’s article is simply some very practical, applicable tips to get us through our times of waiting, and grow our faith in the process!

  1. Form Your Team!
    I think one of the most important things we should do as Christians is form our team. I am blessed with an INCREDIBLE “team” in my life that I depend on for comfort, advice, encouragement, and their example.
    What do I mean by, a “team?” I mean a group of solid, Scripture-based Christian women that you can go to in your times of need. Of course, while obviously not a woman, my husband is the most vital member of my team (insert BIG push to marry a Christian for those of you who are not married yet) but other than him, my team is comprised of about 10 women of all different ages and backgrounds.
    While I won’t embarrass them by naming them specifically, these women know who they are. They are the ones I go to when I feel lost and don’t know where to turn, or when I am REALLY struggling with something spiritual and need some guidance to get me through, when I need a shoulder to cry on, or when I am in God’s waiting room for a reason I just don’t understand. These are the women God has put into my life that bring me through these situations stronger, and better on the other side. I believe this is why we have Scriptures such as Galatians 6:2 which tells us to bear one another’s burdens and Titus 2:3-4 that tells women to be an example to and teach each other.
    If you don’t know how to go about forming your team, elders,’ deacons,’ and preachers’ wives can be a great place to start!  These men are living an exemplary life, and that fact should be indicative of the type of woman they are married to. Also, look around to the older women in your congregation. See who shows the Godly characteristics you want in your life and start visiting with them. Invite them to your house, take them out to eat, go visit them at their house. Believe me, they will be honored! If nothing else, the women affiliated with CFYC would love to be on your team; that’s what we’re here for!
  2. Make a List
    A lot of the time when we find ourselves waiting on the Lord, it can be very easy to get tunnel vision. So often when we are waiting, it’s something MAJOR that we’re waiting on– something that will have a tremendous impact on our lives. That makes it really easy to overlook other, less pressing things that God is doing in our lives. If you don’t already, I challenge you to spend the next 6 months making a list EVERY DAY of the things you are praying for. You will be amazed at what all God is doing in your life! This list won’t change the fact that you’re waiting, but it definitely can give your faith the extra boost it needs to get you through.
  3. Seek to Serve
    Once again, when we are waiting on the Lord, it can really take a toll on us! It is easy to become super-focused on the particular issue we are dealing with, & when that issue is a major one it is also easy, in turn, to become down, discouraged and depressed. The best cure I know of for depression is service! When you are truly reaching out to help another soul who is in need, it is impossible to wallow in doubt, fear, and pity!
    This can be anything from making cookies for the local nursing home, to starting a card ministry, preparing meals for the elderly in your congregation, hospital visitations, mowing lawns for the elderly, cleaning someone’s house, or simply being on the team of someone else who is struggling, and stepping outside of your problem long enough to help them with theirs.
  4. Make a Joyful Noise!
    James 5:13 tells us to sing when we are joyful. I would also say sing to BECOME joyful! Laura Warnes had an excellent article on this the other day. It is impossible to be consumed with doubt and fear while singing, “Great are you Lord, worthy of praise!” Or, in this instance especially, “Count your many blessings name them one by one.”
    Singing is also an incredibly therapeutic way of dealing with the intense emotions that generally accompany waiting on the Lord. If you need a good cry sing, “Lamb of God” and REALLY focus on the words. Or if you need a good reminder of the journey we face as humans striving for the goal, try “All of Self, and None of Thee.”

Sisters, we may be Christians, but until Jesus calls us home, we all have to live in a world where Satan walks about like a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour, (I Peter 5:8). While we are waiting on the Lord is the perfect time for him to attack us! We need to recognize our vulnerable condition, and be ready! We need to be proactive to protect our faith in our time of weakness!

When we are waiting on the Lord, when we are going through those times of struggles, let us lean on our sisters for the wisdom, support, and encouragement! Let us make a physical list to remind us of all the ways God is blessing us every day! Let us seek to serve those around us! Let us make a joyful noise and sing our praise to our God and Father who will see us through it all!

I know it is hard right now. I am personally waiting on the Lord in my own life right now. But we can do it! We can persevere. God is there for us, and He loves us, and He WILL take care of us through everything we might face! Let us embrace our time of waiting as an opportunity to grow our faith and strengthen those around us, and let us come out stronger on the other side!

Other articles in this series:
Waiting Through Perpetual Prayer
Waiting Through Study

by Lacy Crowell
Lacy and her husband Jonathan are both graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute. They currently live in Coweta, Oklahoma, where Jonathan serves as an area evangelist, working with and strengthening area congregations. Lacy enjoys writing and speaking for ladies’ days. She spends her days at home caring for her husband and her three daughters and 1-year-old son.

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Filed under Encouragement, God's Waiting Room, Series

Waiting Through Study

Have you ever been in the unfortunate situation of trying to have a serious conversation with someone who is engrossed in the TV?  It is SO frustrating!  Why is it so frustrating?  Because you NEED that person’s feedback.  You need their response and reaction to what you are saying.  Maybe you need their advice and encouragement, maybe they have had experiences that can help you with what you are going through, or maybe you just need to be reminded that someone is listening and cares.

Sometimes, I am afraid we do this with God. We pray and we pray, asking for Him to help us with a situation in our lives, but then we don’t take the time to focus on what He has to say to us about it. Last week we talked about how much prayer can help us when we are struggling with things in life, how it can help us make it through those difficult times of waiting we go through. The other side of this is that we also have to make time to listen to what God has to say to us. A marriage cannot work with one-way communication, and neither can our Christianity!

God’s Word is a priceless treasure in our lives, especially when we are in God’s waiting room, and it is where we need to turn for comfort and reassurance when we need it the most.

One way that God’s Word can be a comfort to us is through the countless examples of others who have been in God’s waiting room, struggling for answers or struggling to understand what was going on in their lives. For instance, there are very few things that we could go through that Job has not.

Job:

  • Lost ALL of his income – Job 1:13-18
  • Lost ALL of his children – Job 1:18-19
  • Lost his home – Job 1:18-19
  • Lost his health – Job 2:7-8
  • Lost the support of his wife – Job 2:9

I can’t imagine how he must have felt, or what he must have been going through. Yet in the midst of it all he stayed faithful to the Lord! (Job 1:20-22). When I am in God’s waiting room, when I am struggling with doubt and fear, when I don’t know which way to go, Job is such a comfort to me! He struggled with the same things I struggle with, he questioned God, he got angry, yet Job 42 tells of a man who was victorious over the pain and struggles of this life. A man who remained faithful through everything and was rewarded not only eternally, but in physical life as well for his faithfulness.

Oh to be like Job! But how could I have that example if I did not turn to God’s Word? I must spend my own personal time in a study of Scripture to feel the comfort and example that God left for me through His servant Job.

There are so many tremendous examples of those who suffered greatly in this life, in various ways and for various reasons. There are the struggles of David, the times he felt alone and the times that people were literally trying to kill him. There are the struggles of the prophet Elijah who felt he was the only faithful one in the world. There are all of the different things that the apostle Paul went through during his ministry, not to mention everyone named in Hebrews 11 and what they went through! Sisters, the stories of these people, their legacies, have been left for us! These are the reminders God has given us to turn to in our times of waiting, when we don’t know where else to go.

Another tremendous gift that God’s Word gives us to get us through our time in His waiting room is encouragement! Romans 15:4 reads, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” God knew that we were going to struggle in these times of waiting. Let’s be honest: patience is NOT a virtue that comes easy to most of us, and that’s one reason why He gave us the Scriptures! He wants to be a constant source of hope and encouragement for us, but He cannot do that if we don’t take His Word into our hearts.

Have you ever really stopped and thought about the fact that one reason Christ endured the cross was to give us a hope through our struggles? According to Hebrews 12:3, “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Wow!

This gives me such an amazing mental picture. When my daughter Ariana was in Pre-K, I was so excited for Field Day. Those little four-year-olds looked SO cute running around on the big football field, but it was also glaringly obvious that the field was TOO big for them. And that was where the neat part came in. Ana was a soccer player, and her coach just happened to be a high school junior, and a linebacker and the star of the football team. This guy was HUGE! The next thing I knew, I looked down and this massive high school football player (who was already being actively recruited by OU, OSU, Texas A&M, & several other major universities) was running right beside my little girl! She had the hugest smile on her face, and she was running her little heart out with “Coach Marcus” there beside her, cheering her on the entire time.

Marcus had been there and done that. He knew what hard work it was for her little legs to run as hard as she could for so long, & he also knew the benefits that were waiting for her if she persevered. Jesus is doing the same thing for us! He has been through everything we could possibly imagine and more, and he KNOWS the glories that are waiting for us across the finish line. He also knows how hard it is for our little finite minds to persevere through everything this world has to throw at us, so He has given us Scripture, His own Word, to be right there with us, constantly whispering in our ear that we can do it!

A final way that God’s Word helps us in our times of waiting, is by reminding us that He is there for us! You wait, and you wait, and sometimes you can’t help but wonder if God is really listening. Does He really care? YES! And we know that because His Word tells us so. 1 Peter 5:7, “…casting all your anxieties on him, because HE CARES FOR YOU.”  God cares for ME! He cares for YOU! The Creator of the entire universe cares when I am hurt by a relationship that’s not working out. He cares when I am hurt because so far I have not gotten the promotion I’ve been praying for. And he has SOMETHING planned for me! Staying in His Word will help me remember that He cares until my wait is over.

God loves us so much. He has given us so much already. We need to go to His Word during our times of waiting so that we can REMEMBER that. We need to remind ourselves of the hundreds of times he was with people while they were waiting in Scriptures, and we need to look back on our own lives and see all the evidence of prayers that God has already answered. Let us use these times of waiting, these times of trial, to strengthen our faith through strengthening our knowledge of God’s Word.

by Lacy Crowell
Lacy and her husband Jonathan are both graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute. They currently live in Coweta, Oklahoma, where Jonathan serves as an area evangelist, working with and strengthening area congregations.  Lacy enjoys writing and speaking for ladies’ days.  She spends her days at home caring for her husband and her three daughters and 1-year-old son.

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Waiting Through Perpetual Prayer

When my oldest daughter was eight days old–on my birthday, as it happens– I went to check on her while she was napping only to find that she was barely breathing.  She had been congested for a few days, but I was young and a new mother and everyone I asked about it assured me that she was fine.  As I watched her struggle to breathe and slowly begin to turn blue, I knew that this was not fine!

Immediately my parents, husband and I loaded her up and rushed to the Emergency room of the very small local hospital. The overly-calm receptionist took our information and then told us to have a seat. We had to wait our turn. We waited and waited as I came closer and closer to hysteria. I repeatedly asked the receptionist when my poor baby girl was going to be seen, only to be told to return to my seat, and wait.

At this point in my life, I was not only in God’s waiting room, I was in a literal waiting room! I was young and had no idea what to do or where to turn. I had no idea what was wrong with my baby, how serious it was, or how I could possibly help her.

When we are in various trying situations in our lives–and we all are at one point in time or another–there is only one thing that we can do, and that’s follow the example of Jesus and pray.  And pray.  And pray and pray and pray (Matthew 26:36-44). It cannot, however, be just something we do here and there or something that we do in any way we please. There are certain attitudes that God wants us to approach Him with.

Have you ever had your young child come up to you, just stand there and hold an empty glass out to you? It happens to me with my 4-year-old all the time and it drives me nuts! It also drives her nuts though, because I simply stand there and look at her. Do I know what she needs? Absolutely. But has she asked? Nope. I will gladly do anything for her that she needs, but I also demand enough respect from her that she asks me politely for whatever she needs. As soon as she says, “Mommy, can I please may have some more to drink?” (her grammar is a little lacking, but it’s too cute to correct) she gets exactly what she wants.

God is the same way with us (Matthew 7:7-11). He knows exactly what we want, and more importantly He knows exactly what we need, but God will not answer the unspoken prayer any more than I will answer my child’s silent request for more to drink.

Not only do we need to ask God to meet our needs, we need to be HONEST with our requests. One thing I have really learned lately is to be honest with God about how I feel about my struggles. I think sometimes we have it in our head that we have to be emotionally perfect to be a Christian. We cannot struggle with doubt or fear, we can’t be angry and we certainly can’t be angry at God. Guess what? All of these emotions are emotions that God gave us! We must keep them under control, but God understands that we have them! Also, He knows our hearts. He knows if we are angry at Him whether we actually say it or not.

If you notice, Job voiced a lot of these emotions to God. Job 23-24 shows us a deeply pained and agonized Job. A Job who loves his Lord, who trusts his Lord, who wants to do the right thing, and is REALLY struggling to see that what he knows is true. He pours his heart out to God; he pours out all of his pain, his doubt, and his fear. And God hears him and answers. Not in anger, but with a reminder of exactly who and what He is, which gave Job the strength to go on.

Sisters, we have to be honest with ourselves and honest with God about how we are feeling before He can begin to bring us healing and hope. Just as a counseling session with a human counselor will not help us if we are not completely open and honest, we need to be open and honest when we go before the Great Physician.

When my daughter was so deathly sick, after what I still deem to be WAY too long, FINALLY our name was called and it was our turn to see the doctor. Our wait was not immediately over, though. We had to wait through all of the doctor’s questions. We had to wait through tests. We had to wait for the results of the tests. We had to wait for a room. We had to wait to see if the treatments worked. Ultimately, we went through three weeks and two hospitals worth of waiting before we were able to take our precious, healthy baby girl home.

Sometimes our prayers to God are the same way. Sometimes we feel like we wait and wait, and the answer will never come! This can be the most discouraging time in our “waiting game.” But sisters, we must persevere! This is EXACTLY the way the widow in Luke 18 must have felt. In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a beautiful parable of the persistent widow.  This woman repeatedly went to a judge asking for justice, and was repeatedly ignored, but she kept right on asking!  Eventually, BECAUSE she kept asking, the judge gave her exactly what she wanted! Jesus Himself says in verse 1 that the entire purpose of this parable is so that we would, “always pray and not lose heart.”

Jesus, God in the flesh, knew that when we are waiting on the Lord, especially with things that seriously affect our lives, it will be discouraging. There will be times that we feel we aren’t being heard, or that God will never answer. But He also knew that those are the times it’s most important to keep on asking!

Sisters, God loves us. God hears us. God knows our hearts, our fears, and our struggles, but He also sees the big picture! I know that we can all look back on times in our lives where we were struggling, trying to figure out which way to go, trying to simply survive a horrible situation with our faith intact, and we can now see how the Lord worked in that situation. As we continue to encounter situations in our lives where we find ourselves “waiting on the Lord,” let us not lose heart. There will be times that it seems as though the wait will never end, but let us persevere. Let us lay our struggles and our emotions at HIS feet, and TRULY turn our struggles over to the Lord in prayer.

by Lacy Crowell
Lacy and her husband Jonathan are both graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute. They currently live in Coweta, Oklahoma, where Jonathan serves as an area evangelist, working with and strengthening area congregations.  Lacy enjoys writing and speaking for ladies’ days.  She spends her days at home caring for her husband and her three daughters and 1-year-old son.

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Those That Wait on the Lord

Did you know that the average person spends 41.6 hours per year waiting at red lights? Or that we spend about 121.3 hours per year waiting in lines at doctors’ offices, at the grocery check out, etc?  That equates to 120 days waiting at red lights in the average lifetime, and 404 days waiting in lines, offices, etc.  That is a lot of waiting!  It seems like we are always waiting in line to checkout at Wal-Mart, we wait in doctor’s offices, we wait for airplanes, we wait for our turn on rides, we wait for our food in restaurants, and women are certainly used to waiting for the restroom!  All of this waiting can get very annoying at times, but really it is so much a part of our lives that we are used to it and expect it.

There is a type of waiting in our lives as Christians that is so much harder though, and that is when it’s time to wait on the Lord.  How many of us, or our dear friends or family, are waiting on the cure to a serious disease?  How many of us are waiting on a source of income for our family in this unstable economy?  How many are waiting for God’s guiding hand in making a life-changing career or educational decision?    How many are waiting to meet their spouse, or have found their spouse and are waiting on the Lord to bless them with children?

I am sure that at least one, and maybe even several of these apply to all of us in one form or another.  Frequently when we are in these situations we hear things such as, “Just have faith, God will provide.”  Or, “Just pray about it, it will be ok.”   According to Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

While as Christians we KNOW these things, when you are the one staring at your critically sick child, how do you actually LIVE this type of faith?  When you are the one looking at your children, knowing that you are struggling to provide for them physically, how do you actually feel the comfort that these Scriptures are meant to provide?  When you are the one facing a major life decision, how do you patiently hold on and wait for the Lord’s guidance without depending solely on your own wisdom?

This is one of those aspects of Christianity that can be so much harder to do than to say.  Oftentimes we find ourselves KNOWING that God is there for us, KNOWING that He loves us, KNOWING that He is listening, KNOWING that He will provide, but still struggling.  KNOWING these things, but actually feeling the comfort and peace of this knowledge as we are going through a struggle can be two very different things.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at some practical ways we can actually feel the comfort and peace of Christ during our struggles.  However, in the meantime, for those of you who are currently struggling in your “wait on the Lord,” here are some Scriptures that bring me comfort, and I pray will do the same for you:

Psalm 25:3, “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.”

Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”

Isaiah 8:17, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” – even when it seems like God is not watching, He is there for us!

Micah 7:7, “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation my God will hear me.”

Galatians 5:5, “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”  – our ultimate goal!!!

And finally:

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Sisters, whatever your current struggle is, hang in there, you can do!  Lord willing over the next few weeks we will all be strengthened in our individual, “waiting game”, and we can strengthen our faith together, and see the blessings that God has waiting for us!

Note: Statistics found online at:  http://www.k12mobilelearning.com/2010/12/the-little-things-principle-add-9-years-of-learning-to-your-life-with-mobile-devices/

by Lacy Crowell
Lacy and her husband Jonathan are both graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute. They currently live in Coweta, Oklahoma, where Jonathan serves as an area evangelist, working with and strengthening area congregations.  Lacy enjoys writing and speaking for ladies’ days.  She spends her days at home caring for her husband and her three daughters and 1-year-old son.

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Sensitive Women

Two women are talking at worship and one says, “Well, I had fun at your house last night but next time we should do it at mine.”  What happens?  The other one thinks (but does not SAY), “Well, she says she had a good time at my house last night but apparently it wasn’t clean enough or the food wasn’t good enough because next time she doesn’t want to come here.”  Was that really what was meant?  Possibly, but probably not.  The problem is that as women we are VERY sensitive.  This is one of our greatest attributes, it allows us to love deeply and fully, it makes us great servants and tremendous wives and mothers and should be embraced.  However, our sensitivity can also be a great source of strife in our homes AND in the Lord’s church.

How often have you heard the phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”?  This is SO true.  It really pricks me because nine times out of ten if I notice that my kids or my husband have a little bit of an attitude problem I can trace it back to myself.  What a responsibility!  But sisters, the responsibility extends SO much further than our homes.  As women, I think we seriously underestimate the influence we have on other people.  As women, we can set the tone for an ENTIRE congregation.

When the women are not getting along, a congregation will be shaken to it’s very core.  We see a tremendous example of this in the book of Philippians. Many people refer to this as the “joy” book, and they are certainly right that Paul emphasizes joy more in this book than any other, however, I would suggest that there is so much more to it than that.  I believe Paul is emphasizing JOY because there was a tremendous need for UNITY among the sisters there, specifically Euodia and Syntyche.

You see, these were tremendous women, women who had labored side by side with Paul (4:3) but they were not getting along, and it was destroying the church!  In the Greek language they used a lot of what we refer to today as “petition verbs”  For Paul, a petition verb was a way of putting a big ‘ol (!!!!!) at what he was saying.  In 4:2 he uses not one but TWO petition verbs in one sentence, which is not seen anywhere else.  It reads, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.”  The relationship between these two women was so important to Paul, and made such an impact on the church, that Paul was literally begging them to get along!

As women, our sensitivity is a tremendous asset but ONLY if controlled.  Our sensitivity makes it vey easy to take something someone else says or does very personally, and very negatively.  God holds us responsible for how we interact with each other, & as women this requires extra care!  When someone says or does something that hurts, we have two options.  1) We can choose to assume that they were not trying to be hurtful and let it go.  2) We can talk to them about what happened in a loving way to see if there is a problem with the relationship that needs to be reconciled.  There is NO option 3!  There is no getting hurt and upset and letting it damage your relationship with your sister.  There is CERTAINLY no going around telling everyone else what happened.

I for one am horrible at confrontation.  I get nauseous, my stomach turns into lead, and I want to burst into tears at just the THOUGHT, let alone actually doing it.  But Scripture COMMANDS us to confront our sisters when there is a problem.  Matthew 18:15 tells us to go to a brother who has sinned against us.  Matthew 5:21ff takes it even further and tells us that even if we are offering a sacrifice to God and realize that a brother has a problem with us, we are to LEAVE the sacrifice, reconcile with our brother, and then return.  This applies to women just as much as to men.  How often do you partake of the Lord’s supper with hurt feelings or anger towards a sister?  How often do you partake while fearing that someone is upset with you?  I Corinthians 11:17ff makes it clear that we are to be UNIFIED while partaking.

Sisters, we have SUCH amazing power for the Lord’s church.  The Gospel is rooted in love, love for the Lord, love for the lost, and love for our brethren.  Just as we love our children when we hug them, and we love our children when we correct them, we should love our brethren the same way.  If a sister is living in a way contrary to God’s Word we have a responsibility to confront her about that in love (Galatians 6:1).  If a sister hurts us we have a responsibility to confront her in love.  If we fear that we have hurt a sister we have a responsibility to confront her in love.

As a woman, I fear confrontation as much as anyone.  It is easiest for me to clam up and sulk and pout and let my emotions eat at me from the inside.  But this is not Biblical.  God wants us to have open, honest, loving relationships with each other.  We recognize that our marriages will not survive without open, honest communication, and, sisters, the Lord’s church is the same way.  Let us strengthen our bonds of love with each other, so that we can be a mighty force in our communities for the Lord.

by Lacy Crowell
Jonathan & Lacy Crowell live in Porter, Oklahoma where he is the pulpit minister and she spends her days caring for her children and supporting him in his ministry. She has 3 daughters and their son will be a year old in July. Lacy is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Women’s program and enjoys speaking for ladies’ and girls’ days.

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The Front Pew

I will never forget the Sunday morning two years ago when a 45-year-old man who had been attending regularly for over six months stepped out into the middle aisle, came down front, and put his Lord on in baptism.  It was a wondrous moment full of the love and grace of God our Father.  In spite of that, however, what stands out to me the most is when his wife of 15 years, with tears running down her face, leaned over to me and said, “Do you think it would be ok if I went down front and sat next to him?”

This woman had been faithfully fulfilling I Peter 3:1 for 15 years, her husband finally responds to the Lord’s invitation, and she is afraid of offending someone by going to sit by him on the, “front pew”?!  Sisters, this is a sign of our American culture.  The front pew is no longer the, “amen” pew, it is now seen as, “the bad place.”  How often when someone goes forward do people wonder what they did?  How often do people look at them differently?  If people react this way at all it is too often.

Sisters, I submit that a major reason for many of the problems we are having in the church is the way we look at the front pew.  “The front pew”, should be a place of love, comfort, and security.  It should be where we most show our love and concern for our brethren.  It makes me so proud when someone goes forward and my 10-year-old daughter immediately jumps up to sit next to them.  She has not been affected by the negative stigma yet & I pray she never is.  No one should ever be alone on the front pew.

So, in order to be able to change the stigma attached to the front pew we need to consider the reasons a person would go forward to begin with.  The first and most obvious reason would be that they have let God’s Word impact them.

Cut to the Heart
The best example I can think of in Scripture is Acts 2:37.  Peter was preaching the first Gospel sermon and those who were listening realized that they had crucified the Son of God!  Scripture says that they were, “cut to the heart and said, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They interrupted Peter, begging to know how to make it right!  Now, I am not saying that we all need to jump up and interrupt the sermon next Sunday morning.  But I am asking if maybe we haven’t stripped the emotion out of our worship services.  Do we allow God’s Word to cut us to the heart, or do we harden when it gets a little too close?  Do we search for application to our own lives from the sermon or do we think, “Boy, I hope Lacy is listening to this!”?  Maybe, if our hearts were a little more open when we were presented with God’s Word we would be more accustomed to people being on the front pew.  What difference would that make in the Lord’s church?

Support One Another
A second reason someone might go forward is for the support of the brethren.  Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens.  How can I bear your burdens if I do not know what they are?  So many times people get upset when the brethren don’t reach out to them in their time of need, yet they never let the brethren know that they HAVE a need.  As humans we struggle, we get sick, we get down, we have heartaches.  This is what the church is for!  It is EXACTLY these times that we need to be reaching out to our brethren.  It can be so hard to really open up and admit that we are struggling and need help, but sisters, that is exactly what we are COMMANDED to do.  Let’s give our brethren the blessing of being there for us when we need them.

Confess Sins
A third reason to go forward is that we are to confess our sins one to another as found in James 5:16. This passage does not say that we should confess that we HAVE sinned, but it says to confess the actual sin itself.  Romans 3:23 tells us that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  If someone goes forward and says that they have sin in their life and need prayers, guess what, so does everyone else!  There is something in every one of our lives that we are struggling with; it’s the human condition.  But if there is something in particular that is pulling us down– gossip, alcohol, anger, materialism, pornography–our brethren cannot effectively help us if they don’t know.  We need to step out of our comfort zones and open up to each other as FAMILY. Is that not the purpose of the church?  And on the flip side, when someone does open up and share their sins and struggles, we need to do everything in our power to completely envelop them in the love of the Lord!  Even Paul confessed that he struggled with selfishness in Romans 7:18-24 he says that the very thing he doesn’t want to do he finds himself doing.  He was struggling with keeping the Lord first, so why can’t we admit what we are struggling with?

Share Joy
Finally, I believe we should go forward when we have joy to share with our brethren!  Romans 12:15 tells us to weep with those who weep, but it also says to rejoice with those who rejoice!  When was the last time someone went forward to share something encouraging that had happened to them?  Or even to ask for prayers for an opportunity that was coming up? Maybe the front pew has developed a negative stigma because it is only used for negative things?

Sisters, I really believe that the church is one of THE greatest blessings the Lord has given us.  But are we really using it in our every day lives?  Are we really letting God’s Word impact us when we listen to it on Sundays and Wednesdays?  Are we leaning on our brethren and casting our burdens on each other?  Are we putting aside our pride and confessing our sins to one another?  Are we sharing our joys and our blessings with our brethren?  Let’s start a revolution in the church, and turn the front pew from a place of dread to one of joy.  And sisters, let there NEVER be someone on the front pew alone.

by Lacy Crowell
Jonathan & Lacy Crowell live in Porter, Oklahoma where he is the pulpit minister and she spends her days caring for her children and supporting him in his ministry. She has 3 daughters and gave birth to her first son in July. Lacy is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Women’s program and enjoys speaking for ladies’ and girls’ days.

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There Goes My Life

The summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, a barely 16-year old girl walked into the band hall and informed the director that she had to forego her private All-State training.  The reason?  She was pregnant.  This girl was the granddaughter of a faithful elder in the church, the daughter of a faithful minister.  As a sophomore in High School she had already been guaranteed a music scholarship to the college of her choice because of her talent and hard-work on the clarinet.  She was Captain of the Color Guard, and a straight “A” student who had never been in any trouble at all.

What are you feeling right now? What is your automatic reaction to that girl’s situation? How would you react if that were to happen in your own congregation? How would you react if that were to happen in your own family?

I was that girl.

In one instant my entire life came crashing down around me. Not only me, but also my family and the church.  We had not been flagrantly promiscuous; there was one time that we were alone too long and things went too far.  But, one time was all it took.

At that point I had to quit band, forego my scholarship, quit regular school and go to a self-paced alternative school so I could try to finish high school before the baby was born.  My mom had just switched jobs so we had no insurance, and no way to pay for the baby so I also had to begin working two jobs.

My boyfriend had just finished his freshman year at a college two and a half hours away.  He immediately quit that school, foregoing his own music and academic scholarships and transferred to a Higher Education center by our hometown so he could be with me, and began working at a local grocery store. My family was shamed and dishonored, and my father, my representative of God on earth, offered to leave the pulpit because of MY sin.  My wonderful daddy was actually the one who took me to the doctor for the official pregnancy test. I was TERRIFIED to go back into the waiting room where he was.  It cut me straight to the heart to even think of the pain and disappointment I knew would be in his eyes. The thought of actually saying, “I am pregnant” to him made me nauseous.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to tell him. I walked into the waiting room with tears streaming down my face.  My daddy crossed the entire waiting room in 2 steps and just pulled me into his arms, and held me, and cried.  I don’t know how long we stood there crying while he whispered in my ear that it would be ok, and we would get through it together, somehow.

At the next worship service my boyfriend and I, both Christians, went forward. We confessed our sin with broken hearts and did our best to make things right with our physical family, spiritual family, and the Lord.  Thankfully we were blessed with an AMAZING Christian family.  They took us in and supported us, helping us any way they could.  They told my dad that he was under no circumstances to even consider leaving the pulpit, that no parent, and no child, is perfect.

Naturally, my boyfriend and I wanted to get married right away but my parents refused.  We were absolutely furious but we had already caused enough damage so we respected their wishes.  Their feelings were that if we could survive a pregnancy, we could survive anything, and they didn’t want us looking back two years down the road, looking at each other, and thinking, “You only married me for the baby.”  They were right.  My mother walked down the aisle at our wedding with our precious 4-month-old baby girl in her arms.

As a side note, I am so thankful that we waited to get married.  When we had been married about a year we were having a huge fight fueled by immaturity.  I looked him in the eyes and opened my mouth to say, “You just married me for her!”  Suddenly, I realized I COULDN’T say that.  He DIDN’T marry me because of her; he had plenty of time to back out.  He married me for me, and that is one of the most precious gifts my parents have ever given me.

My husband and I have been tremendously blessed.  Our story ends (or I guess continues) as happily as it possibly could. He is the most incredible man I have ever known, and I feel blessed by him daily.  We worked hard and paid for the birth of our daughter ourselves before she was even born.  We worked hard, and put my husband through nursing school while I stayed home with our daughter (which involved him working 40+ hours a week during nursing school to support us).  Ten months after he graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Nursing, he realized that this was not really what he wanted and we sold the house he had just bought me and loaded up our now TWO daughters (the youngest of which was three months old) and moved across the country from Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado to attend Bear Valley.  Today we are blessed with a loving, fulfilling marriage, 3 daughters, a 10 month old son, & an incredible ministry in Porter, Oklahoma.

Our story has a happy ending, but the pain and turmoil it has taken to get here– for everyone involved– is beyond description.  This pain will be with us the rest of our lives. I was the preacher’s kid who got “knocked up;” everyone in our small town knew it and I could see the condemnation in their eyes everywhere I went.  There was shock and terror at what the future would bring.  How could I take care of a baby when I was still one myself? I am only now beginning to understand what my parents were going through as they watched that struggle.  They loved me enough to do the hard thing and make me grow up and take care of my responsibilities.  There was no partying with friends, or going on dates.  There was no sleeping through 2 a.m. feedings.  I may have only been 16, but I was a mother.

Not only that but it affects us to this day. I still have people commenting on how I am too young to have a 10-year old, and they are right!  I have the shame and regret of my intelligent daughter understanding that she turned 10 in January, yet her daddy and I just had our 10th wedding anniversary in May.  There were months, and years of crying myself to sleep. When it was time to interview for jobs in the ministry, we were very concerned: being a preacher who had a kid out-of-wedlock could be a problem.  I was even cautioned about writing this article because many even in the brotherhood are very judgmental. I have to acknowledge that there is truth to that. Yet, if I pretend that I haven’t fallen short because I’m a preacher’s wife, I have done myself, the congregation, and the lost I am trying to reach a terrible disservice (Romans 3:23). I am human, I have failed.  I have one big, public failure– true. But unfortunately I have MANY private failures every day that only God sees & it is all the same to Him.

This pain is not without its fruit, however. I am a stronger and more compassionate person today because of what I went through at 16.  I am convinced that our daughter is what solidified us in the faith as young and (obviously) immature Christians. When the song, “There Goes My Life” was released, my mom bought it and gave it to my husband because it so symbolizes the last 10 years for us both.  Through the grace of God my husband and I (and the poor innocent baby subjected to such immature parents!) survived, but I will not risk my children going through that when I can prevent it!


10 years ago sexual promiscuity among teens was a problem, but it was taboo and not as flagrant and people were still able to deny the seriousness and scope of the problem.  That is no longer the case! We KNOW now how serious this problem is, that the best of us can fall into this trap and what a struggle it is for our kids.  So why in the world would I send those precious souls entrusted to me out in the world on their own to deal with it?!  The answer for me is that I will NOT.  I refuse.  The world (and unfortunately even my brethren) can be appalled, offended, and jibe at us for it, I don’t care.  Getting my four children to Heaven is my priority and I will do whatever that takes, and protect them from anything necessary, including themselves.

My dear brethren, I beg of you, please seriously consider some form of courtship for your children.  I really believe it is what my parents would have chosen for me if they had been exposed to any such idea.  There is no reason for hormone-driven young people to be sent out into the world on their own, or even into your living room on their own!  It is not a matter of trust.  My parents trusted me, & I was trustworthy, I just was not strong enough for the temptations that I chose to expose myself to.  I Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to flee the very APPEARANCE of evil.  When a couple is locked in a tongue in tongue kiss, believe me, that is more than the appearance of evil!  Let’s be honest, if first of all our children aren’t allowed to pursue a relationship until they are old enough & mature enough to begin looking for a spouse, and if during that relationship their time is spent with other people, what opportunity is there for them to be led astray by their own desires (James 1:14)?!

Sisters, take it from the voice of experience, DATING DOES NOT WORK. Let us raise a generation of pure youth. Let us be on guard for the temptations that Satan will most certainly throw at our children.  Proverbs 22:5-6 says, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Sisters, Satan is after our children!  Let us raise them with a Biblical understanding of what God wants for them in their relationships with members of the opposite sex.  Let us raise them to pursue purity and love rather than lust.  Let us guide them in keeping their minds (and hearts!) on things above (Colossians 3:2) ESPECIALLY in regards to how they will find their spouse.  May God bless you and your precious children and grandchildren with the peace that comes from purity of heart, mind, and body.

by Lacy Crowell
Jonathan & Lacy Crowell live in Porter, Oklahoma where he is the pulpit minister and she spends her days caring for her children and supporting him in his ministry. She has 3 daughters and gave birth to her first son in July. Lacy is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Women’s program and enjoys speaking for ladies’ and girls’ days.

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Courtship?!

36.9%.  What would you say if I told you that this is the percentage of sexually active FOURTEEN YEAR OLDS in America, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics as cited in an online article? What if I were to tell you that according to FOX News, 22 out of every 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 became pregnant in 2006, and that number is continuing to rise having increased by 3% just from 2005-2006?  This doesn’t even account for the sexually active boys.  Also, according to statistics females aged 15-24 account for 51% of all abortions in America, and 84% of these women are unmarried.  Keep in mind, these are just those who are considered to be “having sex”, these statistics exclude those engaged in sexual activities other than intercourse.  Add that to the fact that 50% of all American marriages end in divorce, and only 68% of our teens are currently living with two married parents AT ALL, regardless of whether or not those two parents have had previous divorces that these children have been through (citation).  WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Sisters, I have no doubt that every single one of us is DEEPLY disturbed by these statistics, & not only that but by what we see every single day we are in this world!  You go to Walmart and you see a 12 year old couple with their arms around each other and their hands on each other’s hips!  We have FIFTH GRADERS “sexting” at school, sending text messages to members of the other sex with pictures of their body parts!  We have rainbow parties and rainbow bracelets, all of which demonstrate partners that a boy has had and how far a girl is willing to go!  WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?!

Sisters, I am going to be boldly and crassly honest: it is coming from us!  Let’s not fool ourselves by thinking this is everywhere but our town, everywhere but our CONGREGATION!  I can personally site example after example of good Christian girls from good Christian homes who have ended up pregnant, or with an STD, or having had an abortion that haunts them to this day!

I am going to use a word that I typically do not use at all, but it is the only one that seems appropriate.  A practical definition of stupidity is doing the same thing you have always done, expecting to get different results.  Recently I was with a family I love dearly as they were dealing with their daughter’s first “heartbreak.”  The mother and the daughter both were agonized over modern dating, and both said that there MUST be a better way… as they began to discuss the next boy she would date!

Allow me to say that DATING, and our encouraging our childrento date, is the problem!  Dating in American society is no longer a girl and a boy on opposite couches sipping tea, listening to music, and visiting in the parlor.  Dating today is where we send our often-times 13-year old children into the world accompanied only by their raging hormones and members of the opposite sex… ON THEIR OWN!  Shame on us!  Horrible things happen in movie theaters!  Horrible things happen in cars!  Horrible things can happen in YOUR living room if you leave your children unattended!

These horrible things do not happen to “bad” kids, and they don’t happen to “bad” parents.  They happen to unsuspecting kids and parents who want to do the right thing and do not know how.

So what are we as Christian teens and Christian parents to do?  Allow me to suggest courtship.  Courtship?!  When I first heard that word I immediately pictured Scarlett O’Hara in her puffy dresses being “courted” by all of the men, or Mr. Brooke bowing to kiss Meg’s hand in the entryway in Little Women.  My automatic reaction was, “we can’t do that today?!”  So, as someone whose automatic reaction to courtship was less than positive, let me throw out some things for you to consider.

First of all; what was the divorce rate back when they operated by courtship?  Had teen pregnancy ever even been heard of?  Have you ever heard the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”?  Well, the system of courtship was not broken, yet in America we have replaced it with the VERY faulty system that we refer to as, “dating.”

I firmly believe that it is time to change back!  Our children depend on it!  If you are brutally honest, & those you talk to are brutally honest, how many people do you know who did traditional dating and did NOT do something they shouldn’t have?  You don’t have to have intercourse to sin.  Because of all this, we have chosen courtship for our four children.  It is not without its difficulties, especially for us since our children attend public school, but it is absolutely doable, and our kids are worth it!  Our oldest just finished 4th grade and we had to have many discussions this year because all of her friends were beginning to have “boyfriends”.  Our 2nd oldest has been dealing with this since Pre-K.

But ladies, as Christians are we not to be aliens in a foreign land (I Peter 2:11ff)?  Are we not to be in the world and not of the world (John 15:19, John 17:14-15)?  Why do we apply these Scriptures to every area of our lives BUT the all-important area of how our children will choose their spouses?

Especially since our children are exposed to dating in the world at school, we have found it very useful to have very free and open discussions any time the opportunity presents itself.  They are perfectly okay with courting even though their friends do not understand it, because it is what has always been expected of them.  Honestly, as Re’Elle, our oldest, has gotten older it has given her an incredible sense of peace and comfort that her worth is NOT dependent on who her “boyfriend” is or how many “boyfriends” she has had even though many of her friends struggle with this very thing.

I have been very proud of how our kids have handled themselves in this regard.  For instance:  my girls know that there is no reason to “date” or have a “boyfriend” until they are ready for marriage.  They are intelligent kids & this makes perfect sense to them.  They know that when they are ready to pursue marriage, the young man (woe to him!) must start by asking their daddy permission to court them.  In my husband’s words, “If he is not man enough, & does not care enough about my daughter to ask my permission, he is not good enough for her.”  Of course, we will raise our son with this same expectation.  They also understand that once they begin courting their time will be spent with our family or his family.  It has been said that you can fool me, but you can’t fool me and my entire family!  This is so true.  We teach our children that marriage is the combining of two families, but how often do we teach them HOW to do that when they are dating?  Courting accomplishes both.  We have also been very honest with our kids.  We have been very open with them about the fact that their friends will see this as odd, & it is.  We have told them that others will not understand, and they don’t.  But we have ALSO taught them that this is the way of Christianity and our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Word is what is most important.  Once again, even our 6 year old understands these things.  So often I think we sell our children short to our own shame.

I believe that part of the problem many have with the idea of courtship is a direct result of our worldly view of what it takes to make a happy marriage.  We throw around terms such as, “compatability” and “falling in love.”  Fall in love? No; you fall in a hole; you DECIDE who you are going to love!  What greater compatibility is there than that of two Christians?  Yet it seems for many whether or not a potential spouse is a Christian is of little or no concern. Let me suggest to you that if a couple is made up of two God-fearing Christians who base their lives on His Word, it WILL be a happy marriage!  What could make a happier marriage than one modeled after Ephesians 5 or Solomon and the Shulammite?  What better wife than one who strives after the example in Proverbs 31?  What better husband than one who is striving to live like Christ?  Incompatibility is a direct result of worldliness in our marriages!

When you look at our Biblical examples–which is what we do with everything else in our lives as Christians– we see that they took it even further and had arranged marriages (Genesis 24, Genesis 21:21).  Yet how many Scriptures talk about the love, care, and affection between a husband and a wife?  This is themed so much throughout Scripture that the relationship between a husband and wife is compared to the relationship between Christ and the church in Ephesians 5. Would Christ’s bride go out alone with a man?

Sisters, divorce and teen promiscuity have literally reached epidemic proportions in today’s society, & even within the church.  This WILL NOT change unless WE change it!  I petition again that we CANNOT continue with the same actions and expect different results!  Our purity and that of our children, is one of the most precious gifts God has given us.  If we don’t protect it, then who will?  If we don’t protect it, what will the consequences be?  Let us prayerfully, Biblically consider the amazing change that courtship can bring not only to the church, but to our communities and our society as we are shining our light into the world.

References:
1.  By Parents for Parents
2.  Fox News:  Teen Pregnancy Rate Hits 15-Year High
3.  Guttmacher Fact Sheet
4.  NY Times

by Lacy Crowell
Jonathan & Lacy Crowell live in Porter, Oklahoma where he is the pulpit minister and she spends her days caring for her children and supporting him in his ministry. She has 3 daughters and gave birth to her first son in July. Lacy is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Women’s program and enjoys speaking for ladies’ and girls’ days.

 

 

 

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The Hardest Scripture

If I were to ask you what the hardest Scripture in the Bible is, what would you say?  To me, that answer is very easy.  In my opinion, the hardest Scripture in the Bible is

Matthew 10:37 which reads, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Wow!  What a toughie!  I am blessed with wonderful parents, and wonderful children, whom I love more than life itself.  Does that mean that I am not worthy of Christ?  Well, it depends.  Do I love Christ more than life itself?  Do I love Christ MORE than I love even my physical family?  If I don’t, Jesus says plainly that I am not worthy of him.

The parallel passage to this verse, Luke 14:26, takes it even further.  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  Ouch!  OK wait a minute.  First you say that I can’t love my family the way I love Christ, NOW you say I actually have to hate them?!  How can Christ ask such a thing of me?

Easily.  He has set the example for us.  In Matthew 12:48-50 we find Jesus in this very situation, “but he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Jesus is not telling us that we can’t love our physical families.  He’s certainly not telling us we have to actually hate our physical families, but what he IS saying, is that HE must come first!  The CHURCH must come first!  So often we get so tied up in our own physical families, especially those of us who are blessed with Christian families, that we neglect the Lord’s church.  Jesus is saying that this should not be the case!

Although we should not hate anyone, especially our families, if we were to compare our love for Christ with our love for our families, it should seem that we hate them because our love for God is so vast!  In truth, loving God IS loving our families.  My greatest dread would be to find myself in the fiery pit of Hell, and look over and see my husband, my children, my parents, there with me.  The best way to prevent that is to follow Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

What better way to love your parents than to follow Ephesians 6:1-3?  What better way to love your children than by Ephesians 6:4?  What better way to love your spouse than Ephesians 5:22-33?  You see, God’s Word IS love.  Christianity IS love.  It is the only way we truly have love for one another   John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  How did Jesus show his love for others?  He encouraged and exhorted them, He corrected them when they needed it, He said the hard things, and ultimately, He laid down his life for even his enemies!

One of the saddest things I have ever heard said, and unfortunately I really did hear it, is this, “Well, I once believed this verse that way until it affected someone I love.  Then I had to change my opinion.”  Unfortunately for this person, God’s Word does not change.  There are some very hard teachings in Scripture; Christianity is not always easy, but if we TRULY have love for our family and for our friends, can we withhold the truth from them?  Can we leave them to a fiery Hell without at least trying to share with them the truth, and still say that we have love?

Sisters, God’s Word is the bread of life.  It is the only way to salvation.  And as much as we love our families, and as much as they love us, that love pales in comparison to the love of God the Father!  Worldly love, love that looks the other direction when those we “love” are in error pales in comparison to the love we show when God’s Word trumps everything else in our lives!  Let us strive daily to truly love one another.  Let us strive daily to take up the challenge presented in Matthew and Luke and let us rise to the occasion!  Let us have love!

by Lacy Crowell
Jonathan & Lacy Crowell live in Porter, Oklahoma where he is the pulpit minister and she spends her days caring for her children and supporting him in his ministry. She has 3 daughters and gave birth to her first son in July. Lacy is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Women’s program and is currently enrolled in the Bible program atHeritage Christian University. Lacy also enjoys speaking for ladies’ and girls’ days.

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Resolutions that Matter: Bible Study (Part Two)

In last week’s article we spent our time looking at the Scriptural reasons for improving our Bible study.  This week, let us look at five practical ways of doing just that.

  1. Set a specific time of day to study. This can be hard because there are a lot of things to take into consideration.  For instance, time when you are not tired and you don’t have to worry about children is ideal. If necessary, ask your husband for help! You cannot be the type of wife and mother that God desires that you be if you are not growing Spiritually. How can you bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord if you aren’t growing yourself first? There is nothing wrong with asking your husband to watch the kids for 30 minutes or an hour to let you spend some private time with God’s Word. (I have been known to take my Bible into a bubble bath and lock the door!) 
    Even without kids at home, however, life is busy! It is hard to make time for something every single day without forgetting, even if you have the best intentions. My husband and I have learned that setting an alarm works well!  We have taken a leaf out of Glenn and Cindy Colley’s book “You’re Singing My Song” (actually, their marriage seminar) and we do the same thing with our family Bible studies.  My husband has an alarm set on his phone for 9 p.m. every day.  When that alarm goes off, whether we are at home, in the car, at a ball game, or at a restaurant, the kids know it is Bible study time, and nothing else happens until we have spent time as a family in God’s Word. What a difference it has made for our family! 
  2. Quality over quantity. It is easy to fall into the trap of “speed reading” a few verses to keep our daily Bible reader status.  Unfortunately, “reading” the Bible does nothing to improve my spirituality. God’s Word does nothing for us until we take it out of our heads and put it into our hearts. There may be times that you can study, glean from, and comprehend, several chapters in 30 minutes to an hour. There may also be times you spend the entire time on 1-2 verses! God’s Word is rich and deep. Some verses contain more meat than others, and some passages may be more applicable to you at a certain point in your life than others. Take your time and make sure you are understanding what God is saying to you as you study His Word.  If you missed them, there have been some excellent articles on exegesis (how to study the Bible) and hermeneutics (how to understand the Bible) on Come Fill Your Cup that could really benefit you this year as you work at being a better student of God’s Word in 2011. 
  3. ALWAYS ask yourself how what you are studying specifically applies to you.  It doesn’t matter whether you are studying the Old Testament or New Testament, a prophecy or a command, there is always something specific that you can glean from any given Scripture. It may be a specific command that you need to follow such as in Acts 2:38, or simply an example of what NOT to do (as with the Jews wandering in the desert).  Somehow, there is a way you can learn and grow from every passage (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It does not say that most Scripture is profitable, or that the most well-known Scriptures are profitable, it says that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and will help us. That simply means that it is up to us to study those Scriptures in such a way that we will understand what God wants us to learn from it. 
  4. Learn the Word!  If God’s Word is embedded in our heart to the point we can quote it, what a difference that would make!  Although I can find any Scripture I need fairly quickly, memorization is not my strong suit.  If we really wish to follow the example of Christ, I think it’s a skill we need to learn. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He did not have to say, “Hang on a sec Satan, I know it’s there let me find it….” He was ready immediately to give his defense (1 Peter 3:15).  So often in the brotherhood I am afraid that we look at things that are daunting or hard and say, “Oh, I am just not good at that”  and let that be our excuse not to do it!  From this point on, I resolve—and I pray that you resolve—to approach daunting activities in our road to Spiritual growth with an attitude of, “Lord, help me try harder.”
  5. Don’t skip over the hard stuff!  Remember that God, in His infinite wisdom, is trying to communicate with our simple, finite minds.  Because of this, there are times that the Bible is just hard.  However, where there is a will there is a way!  You can try breaking down the passage, expanding the context, looking at other books by that writer, or doing a word study from the passage you are working on. If you are still stumped, ask other, sound brethren to study it with you, or go to a concordance or other resource.  There are many fabulous resources available through Focus Press and Apologetics Press.  Just remember when using a source other than Scripture that all men have fallen, and all men are fallible.

God bless you as you strive to improve your study of His word!

by Lacy Crowell
Jonathan & Lacy Crowell live in Porter, Oklahoma where he is the pulpit minister and she spends her days caring for her children and supporting him in his ministry. She has 3 daughters and gave birth to her first son in July. Lacy is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Women’s program and is currently enrolled in the Bible program at Heritage Christian University. Lacy also enjoys speaking for ladies’ and girls’ days.

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