Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yours fondly in prayer

5:42 p.m. Today's project was to wrap up our women's Bible study year at Calvary Chapel. I have so enjoyed leading my group, exploring God's word as it rings utterly true in human lives at every age, location, race and cultural background. We'll be looking forward to our ladies' retreat the first weekend in June, and there will be a monthly study gathering at church.

With our home Bible study on  II Samuel beginning Thursday, June 7th, I'll once again be dedicating unbelievably joyful and productive hours studying, researching, and writing the message for my ladies each week.  I am so grateful that over 25 years ago, the Lord gave me lessons for the book, so all that had to be done was to have a gifted sister Kathy Langtry, a retired secretary, put those hand-typed papers into Microsoft Word format. Last year, our I Samuel lessons went out online to 70 women, not all of whom could physically attend Bible study.  The essence of the ministry is simply this: God's grace, God's calling, God's gifting, God's plan, God's doing!! He thinks so much bigger than I could ever have done back when I wrote lessons for the 30 women who attended Bible study in our home in the 1980's! Romans 12:5-8 exhorts believers, [bold type mine] we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individual members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy according to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

When I  went forward at an altar call on January 6, 1980, the Lord gave me an insatiable desire to learn the Bible. He placed my son and me at Calvary Chapel Riverside (Harvest Christian Fellowship) where there was a tape library of teachings by Chuck Smith and Greg Laurie. Since I was working as an insurance agent, I would take in some teaching in between my client appointments. Additionally, I listened to cassette tapes and every radio Bible study I could find while driving around. Isn't God good to give us the desires of our hearts, according to His will for us?         I John 5:14 says,

Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.           

And I asked God for more knowledge of the Word! And the Holy Spirit gave me my request. then as I was about to head up to the Harvest tape library, sitting in my 1980 T-bird, a 6-month-old baby believer, the Lord said to me, "You are going to teach women's Bible studies."  That's quite a shock for a new Christian to absorb, but rather than fight and argue, I applied myself even more. I spoke to Tim Weeks, a future pastor who led the home Bible study I attended and where god had place my future husband Steve. He said, "Keep studying, and find a mentor in the women's ministry." Bonnie York, teacher of the Tuesday morning women's Bible study and teacher of the children's Church class I assisted her with, agreed, and I sat under her teaching, and eventually began to sub occasionally. I was married to Steve by then, and learning both by studying and by doing the ministry God called me to. By 1983, I had a two -woman Bible study at a neighbor's; by 1983 I was the Tuesday morning teacher; and my home Bible study was in motion, growing and serving the church and surrounding community until 1988 when I "bequeathed" the study to 3 trusted godly young women I'd mentored, to carry on after the birth of my 5th child.

The Lord has called me to several ministries over the last 31 years, and I am always happy to serve as asked, as leader or participant. But I never feel as at ease and with just the perfect mix of challenge and excitement in any other ministry as I do in teaching and mentoring women in God's Word. Just as the Apostle Paul exclaimed in I Corinthians 9:16 (KJV), "yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel," I feel the same way about teaching the Bible. With my God-given hyper energy, I get agitated and even bored when I am not studying with a pile of Bible versions, commentaries, dictionaries and concordances on my desk. And putting a message into writing is a slice of heaven on earth to me!

Not one to ever stop learning, I still listen to Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie, J.Vernon McGee, and David Hocking just as I did in 1980. Imagine how many pastors and teachers have sat at the feet of these men of God. Praise God for Christian radio! 

The only plans I can make are immediate ones such as resuming our study next month. But whatever God calls me to do, when, where, or how, or with whom is His call.  I'll leave it all up to Him, because my Father knows best!!

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