by Becky Blackmon
"OK, ladies, what are we going to study next year?”
I usually ask my sisters this question every May as our Ladies Bible Class dismisses for the summer. We know that we will resume our class in the fall, but we will miss our “Tuesdays with the Lord, ” as we call our class times.
It is my privilege to be the teacher of these marvelous women. We all take the Word of God seriously. Our ages range from 33 to 93, and what David wrote in Psalm 1:2a aptly describes each one of us: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD. ” Tuesdays are our “refuge” days. We escape this world and gather to learn more about our Father. We all become like Mary, the sister of Martha, because we, too, want to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to Him speak.
There are many good, women authors from the church who have written outstanding books for women to study. Just check out Publishing Designs, Gospel Advocate, and 21st Century Christian. My Mother, Lea Fowler, wrote 5 books, and with each book, she would say to me, “I want to help women know that the Lord loves them. ” I feel that way, too. There is no higher accomplishment as a Christian, other than leading others to Christ, than to help Christians love the Lord more through something you have personally written.
When choosing a book to study for men or women, I believe that we must make sure that the book is scriptural, spiritually, and doctrinally sound. We must always be careful with what men or women write ---whether in the church or out of the church. There are many books written by denominational men and women that say good things. I have read some of them. But, we must use caution, as there also are denominational thoughts expressed in these books which could easily cause Christians, new and old, to stumble. It is one thing to possess denominational materials on a Biblical subject in one’s private library, but it is another thing to teach a book that has doctrinal errors in it. Why would we take such a chance—not only with our own faith but also with the faith of others?
One of the teachings that rings in my head from my childhood is: “When in doubt, don’t! ” Surely we can apply this to every aspect of our lives—especially in the church. If we do not feel that the proposed material would be beneficial to other Christians, then don’t teach it.
Here is another good saying: “When in doubt about what to study, how about studying the Bible? ” Where does it say that we have to have an instruction manual or a booklet in the first place? Personally, I have found that when we have studied a book in the Bible, verse by verse, step by step, that the study was simply magnificent. We all grew in our spiritual maturity---students and teacher alike! You simply cannot improve upon what men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have written. Period.
It has been my experience that ladies’ classes held in the home are so beneficial, too. Many women feel more comfortable in this type of situation and will even volunteer opinions and ask questions—something they do not feel at ease doing in a mixed class.
Years ago, the elders of our congregation we attended felt that the yellow booklets by Bill E. Smith would be beneficial for all the adult classes. These books have 13 concise lessons with titles such as Parables of Jesus, Heroes of the Bible, Sermon on the Mount, to name a few. Jeff Jenkins has joined Brother Smith in co-authoring more topics that are so needful in the church today. These bright, yellow inexpensive books definitely lend themselves to further study.
Our Ladies Bible Class has been studying these particular books for the past 3 years. If there is one thing that I would stress to all who study the Bible, it would be this: There is no rush!! Please take your time. Always select materials that provide questions for group discussion and are adaptable to ladies’ classes.
Currently we are studying the Women of the Old Testament. Yes, there are 13 lessons, but believe it or not, we have taken 4 weeks for each chapter. We call this “dissecting and bisecting” these women of faith or women of no faith, whatever the case may be. We simply take them apart and put them back together again. We also study the woman’s husband and his faith---herein lies the key to understanding her.
How important it is to use maps and locate the cities and areas mentioned in the Bible! This makes the Bible come alive, particularly as we see these very same cities in the headline news of our current world. I tell my sisters that we must put on the Greek glasses, the Roman togas, and the Jewish sandals so that we may turn back the clock and understand life in Bible times.
Furthermore, we take the time to ask the questions that disturb us, and the discussions around our tables are thrilling, uplifting, and often emotional. We laugh together, and we cry together. We are also a mighty band of prayer warriors, and we purposefully spend a portion of our class time in our petitions to God.
The Lord admonishes us all in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. ” For years I did not notice the word, “workman. ” It takes work to study the Bible properly, to dig, to explore, and to find the gems hidden for the treasure seeker. There is simply nothing more thrilling than studying the Bible, but we have an obligation to make sure we are handling and teaching the Word correctly.
It is here, in our Ladies classes, that we women can put our burdens down and find mutual comfort. We simply need each other, and God knows that about His daughters. That is why He sends us to each other.
Ephesians 2:4 tells us that God is rich in mercy. How kind and long suffering He has been with all of us on this Christian journey—especially waiting for us to become hungry and thirsty for the Word! May I close with this promise from our Savior in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. ” How thrilling it is to know that as we hungrily study His precious Word, God is seeing to it that we are filled, nourished, and happy!
Becky Blackmon and her husband, Jeff, live in Waco, TX where they worship with the Lakeshore Drive congregation. Becky regularly teaches ladies Bible classes and speaks for special Ladies programs. She is the author of “The Begging Place,” and writes for a number of publications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.