Being a stay-at-home mom has its advantages. I do spend a good amount of time learning of God and "kneeling" in my "prayer closet".
I think the Spirit gave me a little insight into what's going on here. I'm suffering from a spiritual starvation. What does that mean? Well, I'll give you an example. You know how sometimes you watch the Food Network and you think, "Man, it would be awesome to take some culinary classes!" Not to become a "chef", per se, but just to learn how to properly cook. How to cook GOOD food, not just... pork chops.
I often feel this way about learning the things of God. I think how cool it would be to go to Seminary. I'm not even remotely thinking of becoming a pastor, but man, it would be amazing to take some MEATY classes to learn how to properly study the Bible. Or learn about God in general through a course that makes you write papers and research the Scriptures.
I want to know God, truly KNOW Him. I want to unpack Bible verses. I want to hear entire sermons that go through a book of the Bible and study it verse by verse. I believe this is called exegesis. I'm STARVING for this kind of teaching.
I feel like my Christian walk is like sipping milk rather than chewing on meat.
The problem I've found, however, is that the Body of Christ at large seems to be suffering from this starvation as well -- and they don't even know it! They go to church, sing a few songs, hear a lovely message, and don't leave the building CHANGED. They don't leave THINKING. They don't have their world rocked by a revelation found in a specific Bible verse.
Part of this starvation in myself came about because this summer of 2012, the Lord Himself took me -- line by line -- through the entire book of Ephesians and unpacked every verse for me. It was my most jaw-dropping, eye-opening period of awakening to the Scriptures in my entire life. I've read Ephesians countless times, but the Spirit made me slow down and digest each verse, and truly understand what it was saying while at the same time, giving me a spiritual knowledge of what it meant.
After Ephesians, God took me through Galatians, Philippians, and Colossians. The summer of '12 was an incredible time of tutelage for me under the Holy Spirit. But my lament now comes from the fact that unless I do deep study myself, I don't get fed in this way by conventional means.
Don't get me wrong, I love my church and all the leaders. I love learning different views from different people and discussing things amongst fellow Christians. I love the "lighter" sermons about forgiveness or remembrance or chatting about a Bible story. But I also need to have that deeper MARROW of Biblical teaching that will satisfy this hunger that's driving me to KNOW God.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about - I LOVE it when I hear a teaching from Genesis that the pastor then ties in to a verse from Isaiah. Or how the book of Joshua might fit in as well. I LOVE learning about prophecy, not only of who Messiah is, but His Second Coming as well. I ADORE cross-referencing Scripture and gaining new insight into something from an obscure passage in the book of Amos. I enjoy learning the original words in Hebrew and/or Greek, to get the full understanding of what the author was trying to convey.
However in today's churches, it seems there's a general "glossing over" of the Old Testament. They might pick out some Psalms and Proverbs, maybe the random Isaiah at Christmas-time, but as a rule, the teachings are all on the New Testament. For me, this robs God of His Hebrew heritage, of the history behind Christ and why He chose to reveal Himself through the Jews in the first place. And I'll be the first to admit I don't study the Old Testament as well as I should. But I WANT to. I want to find nuggets of God's amazingness in Deuteronomy just as I did in Ephesians this summer.
Case in point -- did you know that Moses' "suffering symbol" for the people of Israel in Numbers 21 was a precursor to the cross?
Why NOT?! I first learned about Moses' suffering symbol, not from a sermon, but through a SONG by Michael Card. I've read about it before, as I've read the book of Numbers, but unless we're TAUGHT these gems, we don't always see them.
The cross of Christ and foreshadow of Him is ALL OVER the Old Testament. Christ Himself even told us the Scripture prophesied of Him. During His life, the ONLY Scripture was OT! THIS is what I want to learn!
There are certain pastors who still preach in the way I "crave". I absolutely ADORE Charles Stanley. That man preaches everything the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me in my own study. I love listening to him and being "confirmed" time and again by what I've learned myself. Matt Chandler is excellent for the younger generation, a 30-something preacher who's survived a brain tumor and goes line-by-line in Scripture, unpacking the meaning behind verses. Another pastor I love is JD Greear. He's written a book entitled "Gospel" that blew me away. Why have I NEVER understood the grace of God like this before? Joseph Prince is an acquired taste for sure, however, when he digs into Scripture, they come alive for me. John Piper is amazing, as well as Paul Washer, both unafraid to "tell it like it is" and confront your lackadaisical beliefs. And give me ANYTHING to read by Charles Spurgeon, and I'll devour it like a starving man at Thanksgiving dinner.
I want to be challenged, I suppose. I want to hear messages I don't already "know". I feel as if pastors sometimes cater to the milk-fed while starving the meat-hungry. Perhaps they themselves don't know the meat. Perhaps they don't know the difference between milk and meat. Perhaps they think they are preaching meat when in reality, it is only milk. Perhaps God is leading me down this road because He wants ME to know the difference.
When I realized what my problem was, that I was spiritually hungry for MORE than what I'm learning, I said a bold prayer. I asked God to teach me Himself. Somewhere along the way, the Church has lost her Spurgeons, her Wilberforces, her Bunyans, her Edwards. We've had a few modern day preachers such as they -- AW Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill and the like, but they, too, have passed away. This generation of preachers needs to buckle down while telling their congregations to buckle up.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep."
Amen. Let us not assume our churches are filled with people who rightly know the grace of God through His Gospel. Until I read a book on it specifically, I didn't. Let us not assume we know all there is to know about foreshadow and prophecy in the Old Testament. Let's not have the children in our Sunday Schools be the only members in church learning about King David or Noah or Abraham or Adam!
As 2013 begins, let's recommit to feeding the sheep of God and giving His Body a deeper, richer walk with Him. Unless pastors and leaders truly ABIDE in Yeshua, neither can their flock. HIS flock. It is an awesome responsibility to be a man (and woman) of God. Let us not skate through it and assume we know it, or that they know it. As the Body needs to be challenged, so too do our pastors.
Dig in. Overturn. Seek. Knock. FIND.
It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.