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Christianity

Why BSF?

Yesterday I posted a blog about the Alpha Course and today I felt it only right that I blog about another course which is close to my heart and that is BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). 

In April of this year I joined BSF in the hope that I could meet and interact with other Christian woman and have an opportunity to discuss matters of faith with them.  BSF has met these hopes of mine and more. 

Bible Study Fellowship brings Christians together in groups to explore Scripture and relate the Word of God to our daily lives.  Learning how to put my faith into practice is what I value most about my time at BSF.  Each week I come away feeling closer to God, knowing more about the nature of God, and knowing how I can practice my faith in my family life, my friendships, my neighbourhood, my church, my studies and every other aspect of my life.  Another aspect which I am grateful to this course for is my ability to speak in front of others.  When I joined this course, I was extremely nervous, and I thought that I would just sit back and listen to what others had to say.  However, this did not materialise.  The environment that BSF adopts is so loving and inclusive that you are likely to find yourself completely at ease, not feeling as though your responses will be judged and confident that if you need to raise something more personal and deep in nature, that the group will be very supportive. 

Now to how it works.  If you would like to find out if there is a course in your area please visit www.bsfinternational.org.  Of course, due to Covid regulations, meetings are all virtual at the moment so, in effect, you could join a group anywhere, but, as the groups are likely to return to normal post Covid it may be best to find a group that you will be able to attend. However, if there is not one in your locale perhaps email someone for advice?  BSF is a worldwide organisation so hopefully there is a group out there for everyone.  There are women’s classes, men’s classes, young adult classes, school programs and preschool programmes.    

When you have found something in your locality signing up is easy.  When you have signed up you will receive an email with instructions as to what happens next.  I did find it a little confusing to start with regarding which notes, and questions related to that particular week but one of the leaders was exceedingly kind to me and helped me by means of text, email, and a voice message!

In preparation for the week’s class you must print off or request printed copies of the questions (if neither is possible, I guess you could just work off your computer or phone?).  Read the prescribed Scripture and answer the questions.  You do not have to worry if there are some you prefer not to answer or that you find confusing.  Just listen to what others have to say about that particular question and take notes. In the small breakout groups in the class you will discuss your answers to the questions, of course, speaking is entirely voluntary and if you want to just listen in for a while to get used to things that is perfectly alright.  Some people are more willing to talk than others and this is natural.  Once the class is finished there is a lecture to watch which summarises all of the things you have learnt that week along with notes to read to further summarise and then you are back to reading the Bible and answering the questions in preparation for the following week’s class. 

Have a look through the website where you will also find a wonderful Prayer Guide and other information.  Although not in everyone’s budget they do offer trips to the Holy Land which certainly look as if they would be the trip of a lifetime.  The tour guides are all deeply knowledgeable and would have a fantastic understanding of the Holy Land and how it relates to Scripture.

In my blog on Alpha that I published yesterday you will see my views on virtual classes and how, for those who fear going into environments they are unsure of or speaking in front of others, this is a fantastic way to learn and meet new people without the associated pressures.  Now is the time to try Bible Study Fellowship and I pray that you get from it as much as I have.

Of course, if you find you are unable to attend BSF because of your locale or the timings of the classes please look around for other bible studies that may benefit you.  Perhaps ask your church if they have any or if they know of churches nearby that have organised one.  If it appears as though there are no bible studies in your area perhaps consider getting a group together and forming your own bible study.  There are apps online which can help with content such as Wordgo which was created by Bible Study Fellowship.  Bible studies are so important to enhance Scripture.   

Lord, I pray that you guide your children towards places of learning.  We know that the church is designed to teach yet the church has many more demands placed upon it.  As a church we are to worship, to pray and to support each other and some weeks we may not learn from the Word as much as we should and this is where a Bible Study group fills any gap that may have arisen.  Without a sound understanding of your Word, Lord, how are we to understand your nature, how are we to get to know you intimately.  I pray that you guide your children to learn more about you and where there is a lack of teaching please place teachers in their midst.  We ask these things in the glorious and majestic name of your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

Church and Faith: Dead or Alive

I understand only too well what faith looks like both dead and alive as I have experienced both.  I have experienced a complete lack of trust in God, I have experienced anger with God, I have ignored God completely and rested on my own strength and I have doubted the very existence of God.  I have fooled myself by believing I was alive in faith when, in reality, my faith was dead.

Recently, thanks be to God, I have discovered what faith looks like when it is alive!!  Lockdown has literally saved my husband and I.  While, before our faith was dead, we are now truly alive in Christ!  We live for Jesus.  Previously, my husband, like many others, whiled away his days staring at his phone, now, he wakes at 5am for prayer and study before work at 9am.  He had intended to sleep until 7 or 8 at the weekend but he has been unable to, he is too excited to spend time with God!  He is reading an impossible number of books in order that he can write a book for new Christians exploring who Jesus is!  I have spent lockdown making lots of new Christian friends, I have undertaken various studies and summits which have inspired me greatly, without them I would not be writing this blog! Our plans are no longer our own and we are happier than we have ever been!  I woke this morning after a very disturbed night’s sleep and I thought I will just have a relaxing day, finish the book I am reading entitled “God’s Smuggler”, catch up on some housework and do some craft.  God had other ideas!  As I began to get ready and look forward to my lazy day, my mind became inundated with thoughts.  This has happened a lot since I became “alive” especially since I started writing my blog!  This told me that God had other plans for my day!  So here I am trying to assemble my racing thoughts into coherent English once again.  You may ask, how do you know this is of God?  The answer is simple, because despite my idea of a relaxing day being turned on its head and my plans being totally disrupted, I am happy, I am excited, I am eager.  At the drop of a hat, my plans changed, and I delighted in it.  I delight in it because I know that this is God’s will, that by writing this I please God and that by writing this I may help even one person who is struggling with their faith. 

Coming to faith or indeed recognizing your faith is dead can be torturous, it can be mentally exhausting, you can be confused about who you are!  For years I was at war with myself, I was a soldier in a silent battle between God’s will and my own.  When I was defeated and accepted God’s victory, I then became swamped with questions, far more than I could find answers to!  By my own selfishness I had kept Jesus at arm’s length and, inevitably, this is why my personal journey was so difficult.  I did not want to let go of “my life”.  I liked my life just the way it was, or at least I thought I did.  It took far too long but, finally, I realised that the very things I thought made me happy were having the opposite effect.  Life will never go the way we want it to all the time and therefore, focussing on oneself is unlikely to lead to happiness.  This is a difficult concept to understand as it contradicts our modern thinking which advises “Be who you want to be!”, “Do what makes you happy!”” etc. etc.  This may work when you are employed, healthy, in love etc.  What happens when you are sick, you lose your job, your partner leaves, how do we just make ourselves happy then?  The reality is true happiness and contentment is found only in Jesus.  The peace and happiness that rests in your heart when you finally ditch your sense of self and accept God’s will in your life is unlike anything else one can experience. 

So how can you achieve this?  Well, for me, it was learning to trust God, to completely trust that everything that is happening in my life right now is God’s will and that it is for the good.  I may not see the good in this lifetime, but I trust at some point, I will!  It is surrounding yourself with faithful believers.  Lockdown has provided so many opportunities for me to join in different church services, bible studies, summits, conferences etc. that I otherwise would have been unable to attend.  This has literally changed my life, from the Cheerfully Given Creative Christianity Summit which turned me from an adamant uncreative whose biggest artistic achievement would be the sun, grass, bird, house picture of a four year old child to a buzzing creative with her own craft trolley, who is so full of ideas that she carries a notebook around with her at all times so that her head does not explode! The Aberdeen Christian Fellowship Big Church Weekend which brought my husband and I into the community of believers in Christ who welcomed us warmly.  The Alpha Course where we met fabulous new friends who we keep in touch with regularly, we chat, we laugh, we pray for each other and, God willing, we will soon meet each other face to face for a time of fellowship.  Watching Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conferences which due to Covid are broadcast online!  Seeing the faithful heart of Angus Buchan inspires us so much to follow in his footsteps, to live our lives for Christ.  Watching an African Church Service where praise is paramount, little is spoken without “Amen” or “Halleluiah”.  This is the faith I strive for, the faith to praise Jesus without fear or embarrassment.  A “Get Out Of Your Head Bible Study” where as a group of women we come together to discuss our struggles and our faith, we pray for each other and we learn from each other and I see Jesus in each and every one of these woman.  Scripture tells us how important it is to fellowship with one another, Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I fully understand the fears that you may have as new Christians reaching out to believers.  It can be difficult; I understand that churches can be cliquey, and some church goers may not be approachable.  I want to say to you that this is your time!!  Coronavirus may have been meant for bad, but God is using it for good.  I would not have had the confidence to attend the above in person and though I was still apprehensive, sitting in my own house, in my chilling clothes made things much easier!  I did not have to worry about my appearance, I did not have to worry about whether I could escape if I were uncomfortable and anxious because all I needed to do was press the Leave Meeting button!  Luckily, I have never felt the need to do this!  So, I urge you, give it a go!  Sign up for Alpha, watch a church service, sign up to Bible Studies or small groups.  Just have a peek and see!!    

For the church, this is the time to rise to the challenge.  Statistics show a huge rise in church attendance during this pandemic, people are interested, people want to know more, people need Jesus.  Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Like Martin Luther King Jr I too have a dream and mine is this … that we will see the Church of God come alive.  That the church will unite throughout the world focussing on union and not division.  That this church will exist for the glory of God and that the living Word of God will be preached with joy and love and without errancy.  That this church will welcome each and every soul as their brother or sister, that they will be welcomed with open arms and encouraged each step of their journey and that those who arrive as strangers, leave as family.  I dream that this church will heal the sick and save the lost.  That testimonies will be shared with joy and fervour.  That the praise will be resounding and powerful that those outside of the building may know that God is alive.  That the walls of this church will tremble from the vociferous preaching held in its midst and that this good news will flow to the ends of the earth and not be silenced.  That no brother or sister is left in any need, but is provided for financially, practically, and emotionally and that this church stands together, shoulder to shoulder with each other living out the graceful love of God.

Ephesians 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” 

Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Let this season of tragedy emerge a season of triumph!  Let the people come!!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx