I have been getting a lot of blog reader questions lately pertaining to The Word of God. I wanted to take some time and devote a post to it that may answer some of your questions.
I have shared my testimony with you guys in the past. I grew up in a wonderful Christian home. I knew the truth but didn't want to surrender my life (my sin- my will- my plans) to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It was through a series of events that God (in His love and mercy) led me to Himself.
1. I had college professors telling me that there was no God and to believe in God was foolish.
God used this to challenge me to find out why I said I was a Christian if I had no idea how to defend my faith. God really used this man to bring me to Christ. Funny how God uses even people who deny Him for His glory! :) It was because of this man that I started to search for truth and figure out why I believed what I believed. I should write the professor a thank you note for the major role he played in my life to lead me to the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.
(I did go back and meet with different professors on the UT campus and spend hours challenging them on their beliefs after I gave my life to the Lord. They thought I was nuts but I bet they haven't forgotten our conversations. Maybe they are pastors now. :) Sometimes you gotta get on their turf with your offensive sword. I think it shocks them. But, philosophy teachers enjoy these conversations so it was all in love.)
2. An unhealthy relationship that left me so empty.
My relationship with my boyfriend was so unhealthy and emotionally abusive. He had become my idol and it just wasn't workin' out so well for me.
3. My mom got breast cancer.
This was the biggest circumstance God used to bring me to Him. I was devastated. I remember praying for God to heal her and feeling like my prayers hit the ceiling (because of the years of sin and rebellion I had put between us). I knew God desired to hear and answer my prayers but my sin had separated me from Him.
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" Ps 66:18
I needed forgiveness and to restore my relationship to God so that my prayers for my mom would go higher than my ceiling. (FYI- God healed my mom- Praise His glorious name!)
4. THE WORD OF GOD
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
So, one night alone in my bedroom (in Sequoyah Hills in Knoxville- I still love driving by that house and looking up at the window of the room where God changed my life), I opened my Bible for the first time to seek the face of God. I wanted to KNOW the truth about God and if I could know Him. I opened my Bible to the book of Galatians and saw my sin as God sees it. I understood my desperate condition and my need for a Savior. God used His Word in a powerful way to reveal Himself to me. I immediately got on my knees and on my face and cried out to God to forgive me. I remember begging Him to forgive me and change me. It was as if the skies opened up and forgiveness and love poured down. It was real. It was life-changing. I remember saying, "I have nothing to give you but I give you all that I am. However you can use my life, I am ready. You can have ALL of me." Here are the words I spoke that night that I believe gave me a hunger for His Word: I said, "If I can know you, I want to know you." I think it was that prayer that produced a hunger for His Word because the Bible is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. That is how we can know the One True and Living God. BY HIS WORD. I instantly began to read the Bible. And read. And read and read. I couldn't learn enough. I prayed and asked God to help me find a Church where I could learn his Word and He was MORE than happy to lead me to one of the best Bible teachers I have ever heard... Mark Kirk at Calvary Chapel Knoxville. I was there every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I would stay after and ask Mark 10000000 questions. He would lovingly and patiently answer them- ALL. I eventually moved in with them and would keep Mark and his wife, Tracy, up all hours of the night asking them more and more questions. They never complained. They always invested in me and took time out of their lives to pour into mine. I had no idea but God was using them to "disciple" me. It was a beautiful time in my life. A hard time as well as all the plans I had made up until that point began to fall apart. When you give your life to Christ, He usually has to stop you from going down the wrong paths you were on and reposition you for BLESSING. It is hard at the time because letting go of what you think are good plans can sting but, trust me, LET GO. You don't want your plans. You want His. I almost wrecked my life--- had God not intervened at the exact time that he did and re-guided me onto paths of righteousness for His Name's Sake (Ps 23).
"A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
All that to say, God answered my prayer to KNOW Him and I believe He did that by opening my eyes and revealing Himself to me through His Word. I have a passion for the Word of God that was given to me as a GIFT. I am grateful for this gift. God will give this gift to anyone who sincerely asks Him for a passion to know His Son and His Word. And He has also given us the Holy Spirit to be our teacher.
Now, don't think that I don't wish I spent more time in the Word and less time doing other things. I am really praying that I would have the self-discipline to spend more time in the Word than on facebook and other time-sucking/unproductive activities. I wish I knew the Word better. Studied more. Memorized more. Prayed more. It is hard when you are sleep-deprived to read anything but I know I need God's Word now more than ever as I am stretched so thin and very low on patience with the boys. I crave peace and quiet. I crave sleep. Baby girl is starting to go a little longer between feedings. She goes about 3 hours at night now. This sweet baby girl is so alert. She was born wide-eyed and and I get to see those beautiful bright eyes during the wee hours of the morning. I love her so much. I don't care how little sleep I have or how many diapers I change. It is such a privilege to be her mom. But, I have stepped out of almost all extra-curricular activities and ministry. (I will be speaking at a Purity Conference for high school and college age girls- in Knoxville-in April. If you want details, email me.) I have scaled way back. We aren't having the normal amounts of crowds in our home. Just simple life and I love it. I have a friend who comes to my house 4 mornings a week to help me. She is such a blessing. I can sleep when she is here so I can still homeschool in the afternoons.
Speaking of homeschool... I get lots of questions about what our little school looks like, what curriculum I use, how I teach the boys to memorize their verses, etc... I don't like to write about homeschool on here because I usually get crazy, mean comments from people. I am not trying to say my way is the only way or that you should homeschool. This is just how God has led me to provide school for my children. It is a calling. It is not for everybody. I may send my kids to school one day. This is just where we are now. Please don't send me mean comments.
Here is a question I thought I would answer on the blog...
"I actually was writing you because I am very intrigued by the way you homeschool your boys...using Scripture as your curriculum. How cool is that? I do not have children yet...I just got married in October, so we are waiting a little while to start trying...I'm ready to start trying now, but I know it would be wise for us to wait at this point. So I am kinda jumping the gun, but I want to begin now praying for my children and what God has in store for them. And the way in which you homeschool your boys stirs something in me that I want to be diligent to look into. How did you come up with this idea? How is it working for you? Did you write the curriculum on your own? Do you have any websites or books that would be helpful for me as I look into this? Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated."
I never dreamed I would homeschool. All I knew of homeschool kids growing up was that they were odd, very pale and wore sweatpants that were 2 sizes too small (usually red). When I felt the Lord lay homeschooling my children on my heart, I gulped down my pride and ventured into a world that I knew NOTHING about. I started the boys when Reece was 4 and Bubba was 3. I figured I had nothing to lose and I could just give it a year and see how it went. If I couldn't do it, then I would start them in school. I asked Tim if we could turn one of our bedrooms into a homeschool room and he helped me do that. I needed a space to put books and a chalkboard. That room has been a wonderful use of space. I had no idea what I was doing. I still don't.
I started praying for God to show me how to do what He was asking me to do. I prayed specifically for him to give me creative ideas to connect with them and teach them His Word. I am not a creative person but I started to have really creative ideas. I knew God was going to help me.
I knew that there was one FOOL-proof way to homeschool. A curriculum that guarantees success.
Here is my curriculum. Drum roll, please...
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matt 6:33
I knew that if I put God first in our school by honoring His Word, that God would add to it everything the boys needed to thrive. AND HE HAS.
This verse says that God's Word is USEFUL for teaching and training in righteousness. AND IT IS.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," 1 Tim 3:16
For example, when we memorized Psalm 1. In one verse we were able to study trees, streams, water, fruit, seasons, leaves, withering.
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:3
I remember the first verses I taught the boys.
"Stand up and praise the LORD your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting! Praise his glorious name! It is far greater than we can think or say. You alone are the LORD. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve and give life to everything, and all the angels of heaven worship you."
I never dreamed Bubba was ready for Scripture memory at age 3, but he was. It is amazing what their little minds can learn... early. So, after this verse we learned the armor of God in Ephesians 6. They loved that. I bought them armor and let them dress up as we learned. You may remember that video if you have read my blog for a long time. Click HERE and HERE for a couple of old videos that make me laugh.
I taught Reece how to read by Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and by looking at Scripture as we memorized. Then, we started Math and Writing.
Now, a year and a half later, our school has changed as we have learned. Here is an example of our day in school. All of these things are things I have come up with over the last year and a half.
1. Open in Prayer
The boys are praying God's Word now... it is MUSIC to my ears! WOW!! We call that WARRIOR PRAYER. This is one of the sweetest things I have ever gotten to do in my life. Go into the throne room of God with my children and listen to their innocent little hearts of faith as they pray.
2. Calendar Time
3. Pledge of Allegiance and School Motto
Boys say this as our school motto:
"Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips."
I say this while pointing to them (and usually laughing with them):
"I am teaching you today--yes, you--so you will trust in the LORD."
4. 1 Hour of Verse Review
We also have a Verse Motto that we say each day before reciting our verses-
"My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer."
We have learned so much Scripture now that it is amazing. God has blessed our efforts in amazing ways. We have to review it or we will forget everything we have worked so hard to learn. I used to reward them with Cheese Balls but now they earn Wii minutes (1 minute for each verse without mistakes). They love verse time now. It is hard to do it every day but it is all they know and they don't complain. Bubba helped me (and 2 of the girls in Bible Study) recite the whole book of Philippians in front of our Church. Bubba recited chapter 1. I was SO proud of him. This was right before I had Hope. A little nerve wracking wondering if my water was going to break on stage... (pause the music at the bottom to watch a little clip)
5. Proverbs Time
They each pick a number out of a bag and that is the Chapter and Verse that we look up. They have learned how to find it themselves. We write down the verse and talk about what it means. I would highly recommend this 5 minute exercise. It has been great. It teaches ME so much. And one day we had this verse...
"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day" Prov 27:15
The boys loved that one. Now if they ever hear me argue with Tim, they are allowed to say, "DRIP, MOMMA!!".
Nobody is safe in Proverbs time. :)
6. Studying line-by-line through Scripture using Bedell Curriculum.
I like it. You may not. Don't get it because I wrote about it. It isn't for everybody but I have loved it. It is super simple. It uses King James so we have to translate that. It pulls out science, math, geography, sociology, government, history, etc... all from the Scripture we study that day. I learned so much about Noah's Ark. Now, we are in Job. Poor Job.
7. What the boys call "Mail Time"
Mail time is when they do their Math, Writing, Time and Money. They call it mail time because they used to put it in the mailbox for Tim when he got home from work for him to see. I use workbooks from Sam's for this.
Reece reads his Bible out loud to Bubba and me. Bubba prays for God to show us treasures in His Word before Reece reads. We are now in Joshua. His reading skills are amazing because what harder words are there than some of the names in the Bible? Instead of reading "See spot run". He is reading words such as "Euphrates" and "Reubenites". Using the Bible for reading has put him way ahead and he is learning the Word of God. So am I as I am bathed in Scripture everyday with them.
Bubba is doing 100 Easy Lessons now. We also read fun kid books, history and science books during Reading time. We just finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They LOVED it. After we finished it, I let them watch the movie. They really loved that.
All of this has to happen during Lake's nap. There is no way I could homeschool with him. He is NUTS. He has become even more nuts since the baby was born. So, the school bell rings when his head hits the pillow and rings again when we hear his little feet coming down the steps. He sleeps from 1-4.
I just bought a really fun new curriculum that's main objective is to give your kids a heart for the lost and for world missions. I am loving it so far! We watch it at night as a family. Even Lake likes it. Click HERE for more info.
So, that is our school in a nutshell. It has been one of the MOST rewarding things I have ever done. I love being with my boys. Now, some days are harder than others and my goal for the whole first year was to teach them to hold still and pay attention (hence our school motto). Seems like it would be easier teaching girls than boys but what do I know? Homeschooling your children is a sacrifice. You are giving up freedom. You are giving up hobbies. You are giving up your time. But, what better thing to sacrifice for than discipling and training your children? I don't know how long I will do it. As long as I am able, I guess. Remember, I thought this was all taken away from me when I got sick. Since the time I was unable to take care of my children, my perspective on most things has changed. I GET to homeschool. God is LETTING me do it and I will as long as He lets me.
May Jesus Christ be high and lifted up in our tiny little school!
Here is another question I got from a blog reader. It is a GOOD one. I got it a few days after Hope was born and knew I didn't have the brain cells to answer it so I forwarded it to my pastor.
I loved his answer and decided to post it...
The answer to your reader’s question is answered through determining the character, or nature of the Bible. Does the Bible possess truth that transcends time, nations and cultures which would make it applicable and relevant to us today? I believe it does.
There are really only two options when it comes to viewing the Bible. Either it is God’s Book and God’s Words, or it is an evil book that has fooled and deceived millions of people throughout the generations. There is not another option. Many will say, "The Bible is a good book with good moral stories, but it is not God’s book." Saying it is a "good book" is not an option. Why not? Over and over again the Bible claims to be the Word of God. In fact, it claims to be the Word of God over 4,000 times. In the Old Testament alone you find these words recorded hundreds of times: "the LORD said…" If it is not God’s Word, and claims to be God’s Word thousands of times, than it is not a good book, it is an evil book.
If it is indeed God’s Book, then the truths contained within it would no doubt transcend time and culture and the words written by Jeremiah would be relevant to me.
In the New Testament we gain some insight into the nature of the Bible and how it came into existence. One of Jesus’ closest apostles wrote these words regarding Scripture: 20Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21
And the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16, 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Jesus summed it up with four words in John 17:17, Your Word is truth.
We have to decide in one word what we believe and what we will base our life on. That one word is Truth. You and I live our lives based on what we believe to be true.
If the Bible is true, there ought to be some evidence; there ought to be some verifiable, compelling reasons to believe it is what it claims to be: the very Word of God. My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects. (read that sentence again!) If I there is not logical, verifiable evidence to support the Bible’s claim about itself then I cannot receive it as truth and therefore live according to it’s principles. Many other books have claimed to be the Word of God, so what makes the Bible any different?
The Bible is proven historically reliable by the manuscript evidence.
How do we know what is written actually happened? How do we know that Moses or Abraham actually existed, or even Jesus for that matter?
First of all let me say that no one can prove emphatically that what we believe happened in the ancient world actually happened. However, we wouldn’t go into a history class and begin to question the existence of individuals like Plato and Aristotle. Why not? Because there is sufficient historical and archeological evidence to support the belief that those individuals actually existed and the writings attributed to them are actually their works.
Many will say, "How do we know the Bible is true when it’s been copied, translated, and had many revisions throughout history." For one, that’s not exactly true. The translations we have today of the Bible are taken from a compilation of the earliest manuscripts available. There veracity is solid. Comparing the manuscript evidence for those two Greek philosophers I mentioned and the manuscript evidence for the Bible is an interesting study. Notice the table below:
Date Written: 400 BC
Earliest Copy: 900 AD
Time Gap: 1300 YRS
Number of Copies: 7
Date Written: 300 BC
Earliest Copy: 1100 AD
Time Gap: 1400 YRS
Number of Copies: 5
Date Written: 100 AD
Earliest Copy: 200 AD
Time Gap: 100 YRS
Number of Copies: 5300
There are only seven copies of ancient manuscripts of Plato’s writings, and only 5 copies of Aristotle. Additionally there is a 1300 year and 1400 year time gap respectively from the date they wrote to the oldest copies in existence today. The New Testament by comparison has over 5300 copies in existence today and only a 100 year time gap between when the New Testament was written and the earliest copy in existence. Few would question that the writings attributed to Plato and Aristotle are actually their own work yet the manuscript evidence to support that claim is scant compared to the New Testament. And when comparing the 5300 manuscripts available to us today with one another they are all in agreement 99.5% of the time, and the .5% disagreement are of little theological or material significance.
A more modern comparison would be with William Shakespeare. In his prolific career as a playwright he wrote some 37 plays, and these were written after the invention of the printing press (the NT was copied by hand.) Among his 37 plays there are still over 100 passages in dispute and many of the disputes have material significance to the meaning of the readings.
Probably the greatest modern discovery that proves the veracity of the Bible was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In that discovery there are segments from every single Old Testament book, including the entire book of Isaiah. When comparing the manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls with what we have in our English text today, they line up an amazing 99.87%. There really is little, if any, doubt that what we have in our Bibles today is exactly what was written. But that still doesn’t fully answer the question. Just because we know what we have in our Bibles is what was written, how do we know they were telling the truth? Did they get history right?
The Bible is proven accurate by archeological evidence.
The Bible is so detailed in its descriptions that if it were in error on any count it would be easily identified. Take this verse from the gospel of Luke:
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene. Luke 3:1
In that one verse alone there are over 15 specific references to historical people, places, or positions. If any one of them could be found to be inaccurate the Bible would be proven as a false book. In fact, Sir William Ramsay sought to do just that. He is one of the most prominent figures in history who wanted to prove the Bible wrong. A Nobel Prize-winning chemist and archeologist, he was an atheist on a mission. He was struck with the detail that Luke had written his Gospel, and the book of Acts. He knew if there was any way to disprove the Bible it would be through tracing Luke’s detailed descriptions. Ramsay spent decades digging up history, but not one thing dug up by him or anyone else has ever conflicted with the Bible. In Luke's writings alone, it references to 32 countries, 44 cities and nine islands, there were no errors. Based on the overwhelming evidence Ramsay found to support the Bible, he converted to Christianity
Dr. Nelson Glueck, a leading authority on Middle Eastern archeology, said this: "No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."
But these facts still don’t get to the heart of your reader’s question. We know we have what they wrote based on the manuscript evidence. We know what they wrote is accurate based on the archeological evidence. But how do we know that the Bible is God’s book?
The Bible is proven divine by it’s prophetic accuracies.
No other book on this planet can match the prophetic accuracy of the Bible. In the OT there are over 2000 prophecies that have already been fulfilled. Of all the other books which claim to be written by God, not one has a single fulfilled prophecy. And the prophecies fulfilled are not general, nebulous or ambiguous prophecies like Nostradamus. They are very specific prophecies that have been fulfilled in exact detail.
Just the prophecies regarding Jesus, the Messiah, should be enough to convince anyone of the integrity and divinity of the Bible. Over 100 messianic prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ in exact detail. And these were written hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born. In the chart below I have just a handful of the specific prophecies that were fulfilled completely in the life of Jesus:
OT Prophecy: Micah 5:2 Topic:Born in Bethlehem NT Fulfillment: Matt 2:1
OT Prophecy: Gen 12:3 Topic: Descendent of Abraham NT Fulfilment: Luke 3:34
OT Prophecy: Ps 132:11 Topic: Descendent of David NT Fulfillment: Matt 1:6
OT Prophecy: Is 35:5-6 Topic: Will perform miracles NT Fulfillment: John 11:47
OT Prophecy: Mal 3:1 Topic: Enter Temple w/authority NT Fulfillment: Matt 21:12
OT Prophecy: Zech 9:9 Topic: Enter Jerusalem on donkey NT Fulfillment: Matt 21:1-10
OT Prophecy: Ps 41:9 Topic: Betrayed by a friend NT Fulfillment: John 13:18
OT Prophecy: Zech 13:7 Topic: Forsaken by disciples NT Fulfillment: Matt 26:31
OT Prophecy: Ps 22:14 Topic: Pierced hands and feet NT Fulfillment: John 19:34
OT Prophecy: Is 53:12: Topic: Numbered with criminals NT Fulfillment: Mark 15:27
OT Prophecy: Is 53:9 Topic: Buried with the rich NT Fulfillment: Matt 27:56
OT Prophecy: Ps 16:10 Topic: Raised from the dead NT Fulfillment: Acts 13:35
Numerologists have determined through the science of probability that it would be a statistical impossibility for one man to fulfill just seven of the OT prophecies regarding the Messiah. Yet Jesus fulfilled over 100 of them.
I think I’m getting closer to the answer to the question, but this last point I believe seals the deal!
The Bible is proven to be personally relevant because of the scores of changed lives that it has left in its wake!
Of the two options I gave for the Bible I think it’s obvious that it is not an evil book but it is in fact God’s book. And since the Bible is God’s book and we are God’s creatures, the only conclusion is that the Bible is extremely relevant to us. Notice one more passage regarding what the Bible has to say about itself: The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
That’s the power of the Bible, that’s the power of the Word of God. It "penetrates." I am a living testimony to the penetrating power of the Bible, and you are too! When Jesus said "Your word is truth" he meant it is SIGNIFICANTLY true. Not just that it is true in the historical facts or it is true in the archeological accuracies or fulfilled prophecies. It is truth in its impact on the lives of those who read it. When it gives answers to the questions of life it doesn’t just give right answers, it gives the ONLY answers, because those answers come from God Himself.
But even if we have all the facts about the authenticity of the Bible, it still comes down to a point of faith. In order for the words found in the Bible to have any significant impact on someone’s life, that person must not only read them but believe them and live according to their instruction. That’s what it means to live "by faith."
Thanks for the question. I look forward to hearing how God proves His Word true in the lives of your blog readers!