Homiletics or Hermeneutics?

I received a comment on my blog, saying Bible Study Fellowship has it wrong for the final question every lesson.  It’s not “homiletics”.  It should be “hermeneutics.”

Never having heard of hermeneutics, I googled.   And now I am wondering myself which is it that BSF means.

Homiletics is “the application of Scripture” or “the study of the composition and delivery of a sermon.”  Webster’s defines homiletics as “the art of preaching.”

Hermeneutics is “the interpretation of Scripture” or exegesis.  Webster’s defines hermeneutics as “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible)”.

Exegesis is according to Webster’s “exposition, explanation; an explanation or critical interpretation of a text”.

When I took the Homiletic seminar a few years back offered by BSF, I understood it as the interpretation of Scripture and what is the Word saying.  But is BSF looking for what is the Word saying or what is the Word saying TO ME?  Or is it how to preach??

While there is infinite applications, there is usually only one (or a couple if not clear) interpretations.

I’m confused after having done my own research on just what is BSF looking for on that last question.  What the Bible is saying?  What is the Bible saying to me?  Or how to give a sermon to others on what the Bible is saying?  Or how to give a sermon to others on applications from the passage?

Would love to know from you leaders out there which it is…

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Extend the Spiritual Life Survey

Hey all!

To those of you who were invited to participate in BSF’s spiritual life survey (I was told 55 classes were selected randomly to participate), I’d like to ask your thoughts on it afterwards and what/if you learned anything.

To me, it was a bit depressing, especially the part that addressed my engagement with non-Christians.

I’m a homebody.  I don’t get out much.  I homeschool.  I don’t have a lot of friends.  Hence, I really don’t talk about Christian issues either with Christians or non-Christians.

Hence, most of my answers were ‘never’ to those questions.

I also was a bit negative about being prepared by BSF to speak about my faith.  I don’t feel comfortable explaining Jesus to others.  Probably because I’ve never really done it.  Weird, right?

I don’t get into a lot of Jesus conversations.  Probably because I don’t get out much…

I was also negative about the seminars because since they don’t offer childcare, I am unable to attend any of them.  I was negative about the community BSF is and the relationships it creates because personally I have made no friends at BSF.  I can’t attend fellowships much due to my children as well which doesn’t help.  I was negative about the group leaders because most of the time they never answer a question and my group leader is an acquaintance, someone I’d chat with about the weather, and nothing more.  This has been the case for my entire 4 years in BSF.

The teaching leader I was ambivalent on as well.  To me, being an engaging speaker is more important than being personal.  If I’m falling asleep during lecture, it won’t matter what you talk about, be it personal or not, in the end.

Surprisingly, there were no questions on the notes.  Hmmm…..

I’m not sure how BSF will use the survey because none of the questions offered concrete suggestions or offered up any ideas as to improvement.  It was only things like “Are we doing such and such?” and not “What if we did offer childcare at seminars, would you come?”  Stuff like that.

Anyways, I thought overall it was good.  It asked questions on how you are growing spiritually right now and if you are studying His word and your home church.  I think it should be extended to all classes because it was a good self-evaluative tool–however depressing the results were as in my case.

It just made me feel like I’m not doing enough.  Like I don’t talk to others about Jesus when I should be.  Like I need to be more involved with my church, the poor, and others.  That God isn’t number one in my life.  That I’m not growing as I should be.  That Christian relationships aren’t important to me.  That I don’t serve enough.  That I’m failing in my Christian walk as a broken, Fallen, inherently selfish human being.  Depressing…

I also felt guilty for rating BSF’s job as low sometimes and guilty about pretty much everything else aforementioned.  Mainly because I don’t feel like it’s BSF’s job to fix any of this.  It’s mine with God’s help.  I guess some of the questions struck me as odd that BSF feels it’s their job to help me grow spiritually.  BSF is just a tool in my opinion–a tool that I must wield.

I’m responsible for my growth.  I’m responsible for growing with others.  I’m responsible for making friends or not.  I’m responsible for putting God first and learning His word.  I’m responsible for attending extra learning opportunities.  I’m responsible for everything.  But the questions made it seem like I wasn’t at times.  Does that make sense?

Hopefully, you all had a better feeling afterwards and are growing with God.

The question I was most embarrassed to answer was this:  have you read the Bible all the way through?  I had to say no.  It’s one of my goals, but I’ve been stuck in the book of John for two years now.  So that was depressing.  SEVERELY so…

I’d be curious to hear more about how BSF will use the results and how they will offer improvements.  I’m sure they spent some money on this so am just wondering if it will be fruitful or not.

I don’t know.  I feel like I’m being negative here when I don’t mean to be.  I guess it’s just because I’m in a negative funk right now.  I’m struggling with attending church.  BSF lessons have been a struggle for me as I POSTED a bit ago.  Praying has been a struggle as has prioritizing God in my life.  Doing much of anything outside of daily living is a struggle.  Motivation is severely lacking to say the least…

So I will pray.  Pray about my negative attitude.  Pray about why I’m in a valley right now in my spiritual growth.  Pray for BSF for whatever they are seeking from this survey and pray I helped in some small way.

I will pray….

What else can I do?

Moses or Revelations?

I’m taking an informal poll.

Please leave a comment on which study you will be doing next year.

We are doing Moses but I’ve already received emails about Revelation help so am trying to decide here.

Thanks and God Bless!

“Atozmom’s Blog Ruining BSF”

This was a hit I received on my blog yesterday.

Admittedly, it made me chuckle.

I also received this one, probably from the same person: “how dare women put bsf material on internet”

Was just wondering your thoughts on the matter?

Am I ruining your experience and/or BSF?

Am I a hindrance or an asset or some annoying lady with some weird compulsion?

It’s That Time of Year Again…

So I was sitting in class when I, again, heard my answer recited verbatim.  If you hadn’t noticed, I use certain words that many of you probably do not.  It’s just my writing style that is unique to everyone.

And this was one of those unique answers full of words that are not common that I use regularly on my site.  And it was verbatim as well.

“Sigh”

Last year (See post HERE), it was one woman.  This year there are at least 3 women in my group who I have noticed that use my answers consistently in class.

It seems to be that time of year where it has become easier to just copy off of my site rather than do your own work.  Truthfully, it does bother me.  It bothers me because I know that woman probably didn’t do the lesson ahead of time.  She either copied or printed off from this website.  And then said, “Well, I got…”

It saddens me a bit.

Am I complaining?  No.  For this site is public for all to learn off of as its intent is.  It is sad though when I feel some are not learning at all.  I even wonder if those of you who do use my answers verbatim even read the question or the passage, which is defeating the whole purpose of bible study.

Yes, consequences of posting my answers.  For anyone could just print these off all year long and have the answers.  But those of you that do are only cheating yourselves.  You are not learning as you should nor internalizing God’s word and what He has to say to you.  For this is what He has said to me, not you.

It saddens me.  It truly does.

And I pray for those women to find the time to study His word and find their own answers and THEN come to my site and see what I have to say BEFORE class.

I know I am probably wasting my time with this post for I believe it is a minority of you that do this and I believe I won’t change anyone’s heart.  But I figured it was worth a shot.

To those who do use my answers:  at least try to paraphrase them.  For I bet half the women in your group know you are using my answers and they are probably thinking/feeling how I am.  Yes, it might take an extra minute to do so but maybe in that minute as you ponder the question you will hear from Him and just not me.  For I am a mere human who knows nothing.  He is the omniscient, One True God who is waiting for you.

Please know I am not saying you don’t do your lesson or you don’t open the Word and study it.  And if you do, I am not speaking to you.  I am speaking to those who don’t.

I am not judging you either.  I am merely yearning for you to hear from God.  For isn’t that why we are all here?

And if you use my answer because you like how it sounds better than yours, go for it.  For in your heart God knows you are seeking Him.  That is totally different.  That is how this site is supposed to be used.

I am only addressing those (hopefully few) who don’t do the lesson and just print off or copy my answers and then use them in class as their own.

And you know who you are.

Everyone else can ignore this post.

The Consequences of Studying the Bible (Or of Doing BSF–Whichever You Prefer)…

I’m doing another Bible Study outside of Bible Study Fellowship (yep, I’m nuts).  But this one is not quite as intense.  It’s more of a social gathering for ladies if you will.  Hence, I told myself, “Why not?  It won’t take up too much time.”

It’s actually my old Bible Study group at my church before I discovered BSF.  It’s been years since I’ve been.

Here, at this study, I am much more confident in what I am saying when I talk about the Bible. It’s not all Greek to me anymore.

However, last week, I did get into an “argument” for lack of a better word with a young gal at my table who held the common belief that God is not a God of wrath.  She just couldn’t believe the God of the Old Testament.  She tried to say how Jesus changed all of that and basically we’re not bound under the Old Covenant any more.

Well, having done the study of Isaiah, I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut (not uncommon for me) so I challenged her on her beliefs.  I explained that you can’t negate the God of the Old Testament just because the God of the New Testament is ‘nicer’.  God gets just as angry at His people today as He did in OT times.  I’m pretty sure God is angry when I sin.  Sad, yes.  But He’s definitely not holding a cheerleading party when I turn from Him.

Yes, we now live under the New Covenant but that doesn’t mean the Old Covenant can be shoved under the rug and  forgotten.  It’s important that we know the differences.  That we know how God’s people lived back then.  So then we can truly appreciate what Jesus did for us and how now we all can stand with God by His side upon death.

There are still consequences for our sins.  Yeah, we’re not gonna be sent to Babylon (mainly because Babylon doesn’t exist anymore–not because God couldn’t or wouldn’t do something similar today) but we all pay.  And that is because God is unhappy with us when we sin.

The Book of Revelation explains what will happen when Jesus comes again and most of it is not pretty for unbelievers.

I think people today do not “fear” God.  They embrace the loving God (and this is predominantly preached at my church) and ignore the God who disciplines us.

God is to be feared.  We need to be humble before Him.  For He is Lord and Ruler of us all.  He is to be revered.  Most people today do not understand what it means to fear God.  It doesn’t mean we are scared of Him or His ways like we’d be scared of a ghost or a goblin.  It means we fear Him because He is omnipotent.  He is in charge.  He is in control.  And we are mere ants in His world. We exist solely at His will.  We could not exist at His whim as well.

If we do not fear God, we will not obey Him.  We fear Him because we know we are to be judged.  Yet, God forgives us.  God also loves us and protects us from evil.

Psalm 130:3-4:  “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

Genesis 22:12 releases Isaac back to Abraham because Abraham “fears God.”  This is the first mention of fear in the Bible.

In Matthew so far (and in most of the OT), we have seen when an angel of the Lord appears, most are frightened and the angel must say “Do not be afraid.”  This tells us we probably should be afraid.

I’m not saying I fully understand it because I do not fully understand God.  All I know is that I should be scared of God.  For He is my Creator.  And He could destroy me if He so chose in an instant.

Back to my story.  I’m pretty sure I offended most at the table, speaking of God’s wrath and how we cannot dismiss it because it happened in the Old Testament.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t earn any friends that way.  And needless to say I skipped this last week mainly because of it.  I don’t think many liked what I had to say.  I will acknowledge it probably didn’t come off as nice as this since I am a writer, not a speaker.

But I said it.  I said what little I knew of God.

Why did I say it?  Because I had studied it in BSF.  The study of Isaiah was all about how God’s people made God angry because they turned from Him so many times.  And how God’s wrath was brought upon His people.  His people deserved His wrath as we all do.  We’d all be better off if we remembered this fact every morning and every night.

Why else did I say it?  BSF exists to equip us to serve others.  To gain a knowledge of the Bible in order to bring others to Him.  To serve others in the community and the world.  It is my responsibility to tell others what I have learned.  My first BSF leader said if we graduate from BSF, we are basically receiving a degree in theology for free.  This has always stuck with me.

Was I called to say it?  Who knows?  But I would have been thumbing my nose at BSF if I hadn’t.  And that I will never do.

Yes, we are blessed because we live on this side of Heaven, after Jesus’ death.  But those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a repeat of God’s wrath.  Babylon was NOT a fun place to be.

Thoughts on the Changes in the Notes….

Hey all!

As you all probably have seen by now, the format of the notes for BSF has changed.  I would like to get your thoughts as to what you like and what you didn’t like about the changes.

I’ll go first:  did not like the scripture references being footnoted.  I found myself flipping back and forth to see what BSF was quoting and in the process it interrupted the flow of what the notes were trying to convey.  I struggled to remember what I had just read in those flipping moments and found myself re-reading a lot.

Didn’t like how a lot was in bold.  That was distracting to the eye as well while I was reading.  Plus, when things are in bold, the eye tends to just read the bold and skip over the rest.  I found myself constantly fighting this reaction.

Never been a fan of the boxes and charts.  I tend to gloss over those.  That may be just me.

And I didn’t like the pull-out boxes of what BSF had just said repeated in gray boxes.  I tend to not read those either.

Does anyone read footnotes in books?  No, not really.  I fear the same here.  Now that the scripture references are footnoted I believe less people will look them up.  A shame, really.  It makes it seem as if it is “extra”, which it is, but the deeper learning aspect has been buried it seems.  It just seemed easier to me to look up the passage while I was reading–not after the fact.

Loved the content as always.  Great stuff and learned a bunch.  Just not crazy about the changes.  It’s a bit more work it seems to me.

Please comment below on what you liked and didn’t like.

Who’s Ready for the Study of Matthew?!

Welcome back, everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a great summer and I for one am anxious to get back to the Word!

I asked this last year and again I was wondering what the start date is for you all for BSF’s Study of Matthew?

I want to try to coordinate my postings with the majority.

God bless and can’t wait!

Regarding Posting Before or After the Lesson…

This is the most common complaint I get from those who disagree with this site.

“Would you please consider posting your answers AFTER the lesson is over?  Then others couldn’t copy or couldn’t read your commentary until afterwards like BSF suggests.”

Here’s the crux of the problem:

When is AFTER?

Despite BSF’s efforts to have everyone on the same lesson, this is not the case.  The main culprit is Spring Break and the second one is the start date.  Most start after Labor Day. Here in the US at least.

But did you all think of the rest of the world?  Odds are those who complain about this have not.

They start SOONER than we do because Labor Day is not a holiday for them.

And then we have some of my favorite people around here:  The Aussies, The New Zealanders and those in Singapore, Malaysia, and the rest of Asia.

They start AFTER us.  Way after us.  Right now, they are on about lesson 9.  Should I wait on them to post excluding you all?

So, to all those who suggest I hold my answers back:  should I work around YOUR schedule then?  When it’s convenient for YOU?  And forget EVERYONE ELSE?  I think we know what Jesus would say to that one.

One woman recently commented that I am forcing you to read my answers, comparing you to children who are forced to eat dessert before the main meal and hence you all were “spiritually unhealthy”.  Seriously?  As if you couldn’t say “NO” to dessert.

Again, personal responsibility.  You either read them before, after, or not at all.  It’s your choice.  And praise God for that choice called Free Will.  You are in charge.  Not me.  I put my answers out there.  And you are free to click on this BEFORE, AFTER, OR NEVER AT ALL in accordance with your beliefs, your values, your goals, etc.

Please don’t put this on me.  I am here to help.  And I do it my way.  I appreciate feedback, praises, and disagreements but I do take offense when things are said on my site that are just fallacious and in total disregard for the will (and frankly intelligence) of others.

And occasionally, I feel the need to respond-AGAIN-to such critics as I did in this case.  To set the record straight.  And to emphasize-AGAIN-the importance of choice.