Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hebrews: A study where I toss the rules out the window

Sometimes we got to do what we got to do.

Sometimes we have to be who we have to be.

Sometimes we have to figure out what's most important and focus on that.

I started a new study this week about which I'm bouncing off the walls excited. I admit it - I'm a Bible geek. The thought of a new study - with new truths, new applications, and new insight into the heart of God Himself - is enough to get me going. I completed the first lesson and taught it a few days ago. I came away thinking, though, that can't be it. I want to do more with this.

A lot of publishers, editors, agents, and other experts have given me a lot of insight into what makes a good Bible study. Here is some of the advice I've received over the years...
  • Keep it short. No one cares after a few weeks of a particular study.
  • Have lots of personal stories. People find those more interesting than scriptural insights.
  • Make it all about the reader. People are only interested in how you can help them.
  • Put a well-known author's name on the front, whether he or she wrote it or not.
  • Make sure it's sexy. Yes, sexy. I actually had an agent tell me that one time.
Those five keys probably do help to sell books. After all, we've all heard "Sex sells."

When I began the journey of personal Bible study almost twenty years ago, my primary goal was never to sell books. My goal was to know the Creator of the universe; I instinctually knew He couldn't be as boring as many Bible studies try to make Him.

When I began teaching my personal studies and writing them into books and articles, my goal still wasn't to sell books. My goal was to not only know Him but to make Him known.

So, if my goal isn't money, then I'm going to toss those five tips out the window.

What's the new study?

I'm starting a new interactive study of the book of Hebrews. Not only that, but I'll be approaching it from an Old Testament perspective. You could say that the Old Testament will be the lens through which we'll try to understand the message of Hebrews. After all, the Hebrew author wrote the book to Hebrew believers who based their understanding on their only Scripture at the time - the Old Testament (aka, the Tanakh or the Law and the Prophets).

It's something I've wanted to do for years; God has brought me to the point where I see that now is the time. I'm doing it myself so I can better know Christ. I'm sharing it with you so I can make Him known. Plus, I can tell this is the direction in which He is leading Grow Barefoot right now.

Why Hebrews?

David Guzik, one of my favorite commentators, writes, "Hebrews is basically a book that exhorts discouraged Christians to continue on strong with Jesus in light of the complete superiority of who He is and what He has done for us." Let's break that down a little.

I know a lot of "discouraged Christians" right now. Persecution, disease, sickness, and violence are becoming rampant - domestically and internationally. We all see suffering in the lives of our loved ones and even in our own lives.

God calls us "to continue on strong." Over and over the New Testament tells followers of Christ to persevere - to push through until the end. For example, "For you need endurance, so that after you have done God's will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life" (Hebrews10:36-39).

Life isn't about us. It's about Jesus - "who He is and what He has done for us." Much Christian Bible study has become little more than self-help groups. People attend to be encouraged and find a little nugget of truth that might help them feel better. Like much of our lives, we make it about us. We miss the point though if this is the extent of our reason for Bible study. Yes, Scripture encourages. It does give us little snippets of truth to make us feel better. I like to call them Bible Band-aids. Sometimes, however, we need to stop focusing on what makes us feel good and start focusing on Jesus. After all, He alone is the Word made flesh who left the glories of heaven, lived as a common man, humbled Himself unto death, and resurrected back to eternal life. He alone is the One who suffered so He might have an intimate relationship with you and me.

What's this mean for our weekly time together?

The blog will continue as it always has. I'll post a new article every Wednesday about various topics from world news, my personal life, and how God's Word helps me understand both of those things.

In addition, a new tab at the top titled "A Study of Hebrews" will offer the possibility for you to engage in this online, interactive study. The first section will be up in a day or two. I'll warn you now, though, that I'll be tossing those five rules I mentioned earlier out the window.
  • This will last more than a few weeks; it will probably go through most of 2015. Bible study, to be honest, requires more than a few weeks here and there. We get to know Jesus when it becomes a regular part of our lives.
  • I may throw in an occasional personal story but if you're coming to this site, it's because you want to interact with a community who's getting to know Jesus a little better. Remember, the goal isn't to know Christ and make me known.
  • If it's not about me, then it's not going to be about you, either. The goal also isn't to know Christ and make you known.
  • The importance of the author's name - well, the author of Hebrews didn't feel it was important to identify himself so maybe we don't need to value that quite so much either.
  • Let's be clear from the start on this one. This study isn't going to be sexy. I'm really not even sure why I have to clarify that one but apparently I do in our modern day culture.

If it's not any of those things, then what is it?

It's a place for followers of Christ and people considering Christ to come together and study His Word. No charge. No ego. No time-limit. No sex.

I'll post a new section each week. I'll be waiting for you to leave your thoughts, opinions, and questions in the comments section. We'll interact together on the passage and then move on to the next section. It's that simple. I'll also be trusting you to spread the word to others you might know who are tired of all the marketing and big names.

Remember, it's not about us. It's about Him - knowing Him and making Him known because people are hurting, society is crumbling, and we need to continue on strong.

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