Today I am linking up with Suzanne for a talk about our favorite Bible verses.
This is one of those tricky ones for me. Let me explain.
I was raised Lutheran and attended church and Sunday School all my life. I vaguely remember memorizing a few Bible verses when I was small, but that is about it. We did not take our Bibles to church. The pastor never asked us to turn to a certain book of the Bible.
Don't misunderstand...the Lutheran service is filled with the Bible. Each Sunday there was a 1st Reading from the Old Testament, singing of Psalms, and a 2nd Reading from the New Testament. Finally, we stood to hear the Gospel reading. However, it was all read to us as opposed to following along in a Bible.
I know I must have studied the Bible when I went through my Lutheran confirmation, but I was in 8th grade, and really do not remember much from that time!
Another to thing to understand is that I owned a Bible, but it was not high on the list of reading material. I can't explain why, but we just didn't read directly from the Bible. I was very familiar with many, many, many stories, but not from reading myself.
Fast forward to when I was 25 and decided to convert to Catholicism. That is a story for another day. In order to convert, I had to go through the RCIA program or The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. My Lutheran baptism was recognized by the Catholic Church because it was administered with water in the name of the Holy Trinity. I attended a year of classes and was confirmed in the Catholic faith at Easter Mass in 2000.
Again, going through a second confirmation, we studied the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It was important to understand the Church's teachings.
I was never asked to memorize Bible verses or really dig in and study any particular parts of the Bible.
Just as in the Lutheran Church services, a Catholic Mass consists of a 1st and 2nd Reading, Psalms, and the Gospel Reading. We do not take our Bibles to church (most don't), and the priest does not ask us to reference the Bible. We do have the Missal that is a book where we can follow along with the readings. I like to follow along!
I am a Catholic School teacher who teaches religion everyday, but I generally follow the religion text book as opposed to opening the Bible. The readings I need are in the text, but I want to be a better teacher using the actual book!
Are you sensing a theme? I know many parts of the Bible, but have not spent much time in a Bible study. I know it sounds ironic that I feel like a very religious person but could not tell you where many of the Bible stories I know and love come from. Another interesting fact is that if you attend Mass every Sunday for three years straight, you will have heard the entire Bible, and if you attend daily Mass each day for one year, you will hear the entire Bible.
My acquaintance with the Bible is frequent. My knowledge of the Bible needs much work.
I feel as though events in life are not an accident. Over the last few months, I have seen blog posts referring to great Bible studies. I was interested, but did not pursue it. Also, I have always wanted to read the entire Bible, but again did not pursue it.
For some reason which I cannot explain, I felt compelled to begin reading the Bible from start to finish this year. I found an online site that I use to read assigned sections of the Bible each day. As of this writing, I have finished Day 46 and am reading in Exodus (God just gave Moses the Ten Commandments), Psalms (they are rather confusing to me), and the Gospel of Matthew (many parables). Some days I have my 8th grade students read the sections with me. I really enjoy doing that.
One thing I realized and have even brought up with my students and with my priest is the distinguishing fact that I am simply reading the Bible, but I have so much to learn about understanding the Bible. I believe there is great merit in reading the Bible all the way through (I can tell you more than just what happened in Genesis!), but I lack so much knowledge.
This led me to pursue a second desire: to gain more understanding of the Bible. I have read many good things about Beth Moore studies. I found her site online and then had the great task of choosing which study purchase and learn. I chose Daniel. I don't know why other than it looked interesting, applicable, and God directed me to start there. (I truly believe that last statement that God directed my start in Daniel. I'll explain why later.)
I downloaded the 12 audio files for the study of Daniel and listened to the first one twice while anxiously awaiting my study guide book. It finally arrived last week, and I quickly jumped into the lessons. And oh how I love it! I feel like a sponge trying to read and understand the meaning behind the glorious text! I am having to restrain myself from rushing through too many lessons at once. I don't want to lose momentum because I tried to do too much. It is an 11 week program. I don't need to squeeze it into three weeks! This weekend I listened to Session 2 and have completed two days of the homework. I might do one more before the craziness of the week hits. We'll see. In any case, I am LOVING studying God's word. I can't quite explain how it has hit me like a ton of bricks that this is EXACTLY what I need to be doing.
Beth Moore wrote in the homework lesson I completed this morning, "We are desperate for time away with God to heal from the harshness of this world and to gain the courage to soften up again." I just might memorize that statement and use it as a motto for life! "These frequent times with God become a healing agent against the world's harsh winds and a healthy defense to still allow you to feel." Amen.
(Heh, I think Beth's Texas drawl is getting to me! I am sounding not like the California born and bred girl that I am!)
I wrote that I feel that my choice of studying the book of Daniel was divinely inspired. It really was. I had considered several other options: Esther, Thessalonians, and more. But I chose Daniel. The little caption under the book said, "Learn how to live with integrity in today's society." I knew I needed a bit of that, but other books sounded so appealing and "girl like." However, I bought Daniel.
I am only two chapters in, and I cannot tell you how many times over the past week I have heard reference to the book of Daniel from completely unrelated places, one being a Catholic devotion I am also studying! So weird! And wonderful! I have this new frame of reference to understand the world. That is why I know I was driven to study this book.
So that was a very lengthy explanation as to where I am in my Bible life. That being said, I do have some favorite Bible stories and references that have stuck with me all my life.
I've always loved the story of Zacchaeus. Probably because I love the song about him that I learned in Sunday School. Zacchaeus is short, I'm short. Jesus went to his house even though he was a sinner. I love that!
I also love Matthew 16:18-19.
I use this Bible reference often in teaching my 8th graders about our faith. We know that Peter was the first Pope, and there has been an unbroken line of succession since the time of Peter. I love to use this chapter and verse because it explains so well how we know that we are to continue our mission here on earth until the time that Jesus comes back for us.
Then there is the Bible verse that I chose to have inscribed on my running ID bracelet: 1 Corinthians 9:24. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
I chose this verse years ago as inspiration to run for the right reasons...to obtain the prize of Jesus Christ.
Finally, my husband and I chose John 2:1-12 as the Gospel reading for our wedding. I always liked the story of the wedding feast at Cana because it was Jesus's first miracle.
I hope that through my study of the Bible, I will find many more meaningful verses and passages that speak to me in just the right time of life.