Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bible Study Fellowship

Something I've been wanting to share for a LONG time on this blog is the Bible Study group I've been a part of for the last 4 years. 

Before we moved to Dallas, one of our dear friends in Tallahassee suggested I look up/find a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) group. In fact, she was almost insistent on it, and talked SO good about it. BSF is a 50 year old international program, so it is everywhere. (Like 39 countries...everywhere, people.) She mentioned that as her and her husband had moved around often in their early married life, she always had a Bible study to get plugged in to. Not knowing ANYONE in Dallas, this sounded perfect for me. 

I got signed up and started in the Fall of 2012. (It follows the school year.) And ya'll, the book that we were to study for the entire year was Genesis.  I'm gonna be super honest here...I rolled my eyes and sighed. I thought, "OK, I got the whole creation/original sin/Noah/Abraham/12 tribes/Joseph and his pretty coat deal.".......But ya'll, I didn't get it. I may have known the stories, but I had never deeply explored the beauty of God's specific plan for his people and how that one book sets up the WHOLE redemption story for those who believe in Him and the Son he sent. And that study changed me forever, as well as the ones that have followed, just in different ways. I feel like I carry a theme out of each one, so I'll share that with you: 

Genesis: God intended to live in perfect harmony with humans when he created us. Sin (through man's choice) entered the world, so death and evil entered the world. But God LOOOOVES His people....and He knew this was going to happen in Genesis he sets out His Sovereign plan. To save his people from sin. Through a man that would come from people who loved Him.(See folks, it's always been through faith, not works...) Anyway, even though they know and love God, ya'll, there's some messed up things that happen in Genesis, and redemption seems unlikely. But He's Sovereign. I can't say it enough. Nothing thwarts God's plans.

Matthew: Agghh....Jesus is now in the scene! Praise the Lord. And yes, he was a darling tiny baby that was born in a manger, but ya'll, he's tough. He'll call you out.  Even if you are a king. Just because you act religious doesn't mean you're heart's in it, and that's what he cares about. But don't judge, lest YOU be judged. Because even if we WANT to do right, let's be honest, we're all struggling here. But DO judge everything around you, what you do, what you say, what you think about, etc. Because "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Then of course in this book the ultimate sacrifice takes place as he hands over his life painfully to be the justice for our sins. Think of all the evil happening in the world that we think should be paid for. Well, He did that. And this was the first time I've deeply invested my thoughts into the death and Resurrection of Christ.  And it hit me to the core. 

Moses: I'm gonna be honest and say that Moses (the study of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) was a little fuzzy for me. I was super pregnant for some and then mother of a newborn for the rest. just affirms God's Sovereignty as he releases his people out of Egypt after 400 YEARS. 400 YEARS YA'LL. Let that sink in. Anyway, they do what we all do when we leave what we know and act like straight wildcats. But God is faithful to them. He never leaves or forsakes them. He teaches them about obedience, which we ALL need some lessons in people. And not because he wants to rule over us like a dictator. He wants us to be obedient through HIS strength because he knows on our own, we'd act like wildcats and treat each other terribly!!! And based on our current culture, we know we're not doing so great on our own strength, don't we? So He is faithful, will never leave us, and instructs us not to be afraid. 

Revelation (just wrapped up this week):  WOW. Just wow. Again, in all honesty, I've never studied Revelation end to end. I was scared. I was happy in my ignorance. Ignorance is bliss right? But it did the opposite of what I thought it would. It grew my confidence.Without getting into specifics, some of it was mind blowing. But-God is HOLY. He despises evil (don't we all?) and cannot let it go unpunished (again-don't we all feel that way?) He is only waiting to condemn Satan forever because He wants more people to know Him so they can live in eternal paradise and not be separated from Him forever. End of story. But until the "End of Story" he wants us to live godly lives, not just sit around and wait....we are his workmanship and he prepared things for us to do in advance. (Ephesians 2:10). 

Okay, please know that that is a VERY brief highlight of my overall takeaways. If you feel like I left something huge out, I probably did!  Also, I want to point out that I'm human and still fail and forget these things DAILY and pray that God will remind me of  His goodness. And faithfulness. And sovereignty. now let me fill you in on the "logistics" of BSF: 
  • BSF is international, non-denominational, and broken up into men's and women's. (I go to a day women's group, but there is night class for men and women.) It solely focuses on the Bible and encourages you to stick to using your Bible for the study. Not kidding, at first I though this was weird, but it pushes me to depend on God and the Holy Spirit to speak through His words. 
  • Since it is non-denominational, they are held at "host churches", so for example, I am actually not a member of the church that hosts my area BSF. 
  • They try to alternate between Old Testament and New Testament studies. 
  • The format for all BSF groups is meeting in the sanctuary at the beginning and singing a hymn. (It's usually old school, ya'll, so practice some Shall We Gather at the River...).  Then you break up into groups of 10-15 and talk about the lesson from the previous week. We solely talk about the lesson. There is no "how is everybody" warm up, etc. Which I actually love. We just dive right in and dig deep. This keeps me accountable because I know at some point I actually have to say something worthwhile, lol! 
  • After about 45 minutes, everyone heads back to the sanctuary for lecture. It's the same teaching leader every week and she talks about the lesson we just discussed in group, which usually fills in the gaps for us.  After lecture we are handed a set of notes also about the previous week.  They are always amazing and usually answer any remaining questions floating around in my head. Along with the notes are the next week's lesson, which is divided up into six days of questions.
  • BSF clearly takes donations, but it is technically a free program.
  • Like I said, BSF is international, and all nations do the same study! If you are visiting from out of town, you can attend any BSF location! So literally-if we went to China-I wouldn't have to miss Bible study! 
  • In regards to signing up, sadly, this year's study has ended, so the new study (which is the book of John) will begin in September. 

Now let's get to the EXTRA amazing part. The Children's Program. They do NOT call it childcare, because the class teachers take their job seriously. It is clearly their calling to plant seeds of faith into these children. They have planned lessons that go along with my lesson each week and take the Bible around to all of them to let them touch the verse they are reading from.

When I was pregnant, I had signed G up for the next year and the first time I showed up with him (when he was around 6 weeks old) they knew him by name and said they'd already been praying for him. My hormonal self just lost it. There are specific nursing mother's groups, so you can bring your newborn and feel comfortable nursing, but they have classes for babies as young as 8 weeks if you're ready to be hands free! 

Greyson LOVES BSF! And the tugboat they have.
I can't say how fruitful BSF has been for me. It has helped me get into a consistent routine with the Bible and has grown my relationship with the Lord exponentially. Please please please consider signing up. Just go to this link where you can search for a class and email an instructor in your area and they'll get you plugged in! 

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