"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 13, 2014
When one of my brothers-in-law first got saved, he was in his twenties. He hadn't been raised in church, knew basically nothing about the Bible, and everything was brand new to him. He found it very frustrating when listening to a sermon or Sunday School lesson and the minister or teacher refer to a Bible story and say, "I won't go over the details, you all already know it." He had no idea what they were talking about because he had never heard the stories, so had no idea what they were referring to; so part of the message was lost, because he didn't know the story they were referring to.
I had a big illustrated kids Bible story book that my sister borrowed. She and my brother-in-law went through that book, story by story so that he could familiarize himself with them and know what those, who had been raised in church, were talking about when they referred to those stories.
I had a co-worker several years ago who had become a christian later in life, who also hadn't been raised in church. She told me one time that she got frustrated when she was in church and people would refer to a scripture or story and not say what it was or give details, but would say, "You all know what it is."
I do understand that there are times that ministers are trying to conserve time, which is why they don't always go into the details of the Bible stories they refer to. But I think we sometimes forget that there are those in our churches who didn't attend church as a child, so they weren't taught those stories in Sunday School or Children's Church. We assume that all adults know what we know, so fail to teach them biblical basics when they come into the church.
As a child, my parents raised me in church. Therefore, I grew up hearing about all the heroes of the Bible. We had memory verses each week, so I also grew up memorizing scriptures. When I was junior high and youth age, we would have Bible drills. We would divide up into two teams and everyone had to quote scriptures, without duplicating any that others had already quoted. It was amazing how many scriptures people knew back then! These Bible drills would go on for lengthy periods of time. I'm curious how long these drills would last should we do them nowadays with our junior high and teenagers. Are they taught scripture memorization?
Psalm 119:11 (NIV) says: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
How do we hide the Word of God in our heart? By reading it and committing it to memory.
Often we will teach youth how to live christian lives, but forget to teach them the stories in the Bible that they can use as examples. We teach new convert classes for adults, teaching them scriptures on how to live a christian life, but fail to teach them the basic Bible stories that they may have never heard. Those things are important, but perhaps we need to have a new awareness of not assuming that they know about David and Goliath, or Daniel and the lions den, or Jonah and the whale, or the men lowering the crippled man through the roof to get to Jesus, or the walls of Jericho falling......
Another thing we did in Sunday School classes and youth group when I was growing up was have what we referred to as sword drills. The teacher/leader would say a random scripture and the kids would see who could look it up the quickest. It taught us the books of the Bible and how to find scriptures.
The midweek service at our church is on Thursday evenings and beginning in September we are going to revamp the classes. My sister will be teaching ages 11-13 and the first thing she is going to teach them are the books of the Bible and have sword drills to teach them how to look up scriptures. The youth pastor is going to teach the youth group all the basic Bible stories that are taught (or at least used to be) in children's Sunday School classes. Most of the kids in his group weren't raised in church so don't know those stories.
I know this isn't the typical devotional like I generally write, but this has been on my heart the past few weeks. It's often embarrassing for adults, who weren't raised in church, to admit that they don't know the Bible stories that are referred to by pastors and/or Sunday School teachers. They may feel stupid; especially if the one speaking refers to it as "something we've all heard since we were kids". New converts or those who may not have attended Sunday School regularly as a child may be intimidated by those who have been in church for years, and be embarrassed to admit that they can't find scriptures or know Bible stories.
I have been as guilty as many others in making assumptions and not being sensitive to those new to church. Perhaps one thing we can do is befriend those who become converted to christianity as adults or who have not been consistent in their church attendance. Perhaps we need to become mentors, and if our church doesn't have a class that teaches how to find scriptures or teaches the basic Bible stories, then we can spend one-on-one time as we build relationships and teach those who weren't raised in church those things.
Even people who have grown up hearing the old Bible stories should read them again and again. I've been reading through Genesis again, and there are a lot of parts that I didn't remember well. For example, Israel was a hard worker, but something of a coward. One of the first stories about him (Jacob at that time) ended with him running from his brother, Esau, for fear that Esau wanted to kill him.
He worked for 20 years for his father-in-law, 7 years to marry Leah, and another 7 to marry Rachel, then 6 more to build up his own fortune. He used trickery to get more sheep and goats than he may have deserved. So, rather than tell his father-in-law he was going to head back to his family, he tried to sneak off. Not that someone can sneak well with 11 kids, a huge flock of sheep, goats, camels, and many servants.
When he got to his homeland and his brother Esau, he sent presents ahead of himself hoping to convince Esau not to kill him. Then Israel put his family in front of him when he finally met Esau. And even when Esau told him there were no hard feelings toward him, Israel still told him he'd meet with him one place, then took off another direction to settle down.
And finally, he ended up sending his sons to Egypt seeking food and water, but refused to go himself till he had no other choice.
On the other hand, Israel wrestled with God (or some interpretations say an Angle of God). And why is this all important? It shows that Israel was human. He had strong days, even strong decades. But he also had weaknesses. He struggled with problems, like fear.
This is one of the things I've noticed more as I read the story this time through. It seams that each time I read it, I notice a little something different. I recommend reading all of the stories again and again.
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups cold Milk
1/2 stick Butter, softened
16 oz. Cool Whip
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
2 small pkg. French Vanilla Instant Pudding
Cream softened cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar together. In a separate bowl combine pudding and milk; add in Cool Whip. Add the two mixtures together. Let stand for a few minutes. Crush the entire package of Oreo cookies, centers and all. In a large bowl, start with Oreo's and layer with the pudding mixture, alternating until all ingredients have been used, ending with Oreo's on top. Refrigerate several hours until good and firm.
My great-nephew, Jax, begins Kindergarten this week. Last week they had a meet the parents day at the school where the kids and parents could go see where their classrooms were going to be and meet the teachers. I was asking Jax about it this morning and he told me, "I didn't think my teacher would be so cute and so nice. I was surprised! She is so cute and so nice!" Last year he didn't have a very good experience with his pre-K teacher, so we had been praying that he would get a teacher that he would really like -- and one who would really like Jax -- and that he would enjoy school..... after all, he has 13 years of school ahead of him, plus college. This week had went for kindergarten testing/evaluation and his teacher told him, "You are going to be the best kindergartener ever!!" What a way to build a child's self-esteem and start out on the right foot!
Vows are often made in storms and forgotten in calms. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon