This coming Sunday night is the first night of Fusion for 2011. Fusion is an adult Bible study written and taught by my best friend and pastor, Johnny Dickerson, and myself. Part of our focus is to get couples studying God's Word together and talking about how God can and is working in them and through them. We feel this is vital not only to the spiritual health of the individual but to the health of the marriage. And, ultimately, to the next generation. This semester we are in the book of Judges. Oh, I love this book so much. But, verse 10 of chapter 2 is chilling. Check this out:
"That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel." (HCSB)
The next generation did not know God. That's not what I want for our next generation. There are various reports about the number of students that will walk away from the church when they leave their parents' home. I've seen 61 and 70%. The survey that reported 70% noted that some will eventually return. Here's the deal - God's Word commands that we, as parents, teach God's Word to our kids. Additionally, we must model a life devoted to the study of and obedience to the Scriptures.
I get it about the cycles of the book of Judges. It's the story of my life. Sunday night at our church we sang the old hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessings. While I am more of a Passion and HillSong girl on my iPod, I still have an affection for the great hymns of our faith. Part of that hymn contains these words: "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." Do you get that? Has that ever been you?
I read the below paragraph to my LifeGroup this past Sunday. It's from the book Praise Habit by David Crowder. Oh yes, that would be the David Crowder of the David Crowder Band, my former-favorite band of all time. (It has only been replaced by my sons' band.) The book is, oddly enough, about the habit of praise. Here's what I read to my class:
"For most of us this natural ritual of praise, this offering of our ordinary life, this new reality of identity, is as foreign as crop dusting or macromolecular biophysics. We have forgotten. We have held our breath too long. Our rhythm is thrown off. There are extra firings; nerve endings have grown that set our hearts beating after other stuff. Lesser things that captured our affections have displaced the reality of the centrality of God... This is disheartening in that we know our living could be deeper and we have settled..." (page 40, emphasis mine)
Lesser things, prone to wander. When I know, I know, where the abundant life is, the security and the peace and the assurance.
An old friend (she's not old, she's in her early 20s, I've just known her for a while) gave me the DC book just before I went to India. DC used the word rescue over and over in the book. In the meantime, I have been studying, meditating, probing the book of Judges for over a year. God rescued the Israelites when they cried out to Him in desperation. His desire was to restore the covenant relationship between the people and Himself. Once people are rescued and the relationship restored, I think God wants to refine His people. He said, "Be holy, as I am holy." While we will never stop sinning altogether, confession is vital to that refining process.
So the culmination of weeks and weeks, months and months, of study and prep begin this Sunday night. I am anxious and anticipating what God will do, what He will teach each of us (yes, including me) over the next 9 weeks. I am excited about getting to know more of our church family - you know, the ones I don't usually come in contact with but will be in class. I am hopeful that hearts will be open and changed by the powerful words in Judges. I hope that I am forever changed, refined once again.
Serving the King,