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Posted January 24, 2013


Tucked in the middle of a small valley between a swift running creek and a verdant hillside in Chattanooga, TN, sits Precept Ministries International's (PMI) Kinser building where people come from all over the world to study God's word inductively with the Arthurs: Jack, Kay, and their son David who is now CEO. What does the word inductive mean for Bible students? Each verse is weighed and balanced against other verses from the Old and New Testaments to make sure the Word of God is handled carefully and interpreted correctly, nothing taken out of context.

And I can promise, the studies are enlightening, inspiring, and fun, and the lunches served by Mark Holland--Bellaire Catering--after Kay and David lecture are more than satisfying and also dished up with the best rolls and sweet tea in town. And yes, I confess, I'm especially infatuated with Mark's meatloaf. We have a saying in the South: "I'll do such n' such," or "I'll be there if the creek doesn't rise, Lord willing." Well, during heavy spring rains the creek sometimes does rise and floods the lower section of the parking lot and it's simply no fun to leave the house. But if it's meatloaf day and Mark's managed to float his car past the flood waters, you can bet I'll be there even if I have to row in.

But not only are we physically fed delicious food at PMI while dining with our friends, we're spiritually fed. And Kay and David take turns making the Bible come to life. Before lectures and tapings, we spend an hour in class working on pilot studies being prepared for publication. This quarter, Kay's teaching from the book of Luke. She's still going strong, traveling to Israel for tours, and fighting the good fight with eyes that sparkle. When celebrating a birthday this year, she'll be turning an awe inspiring 80. (You can tell I'm the one who eats more than my share of Mark's meatloaf.)

As usual during class, we students are soaking in God's word like sponges even though some of us have studied the book of Luke all of our lives--we're still learning. Something necessary for Christian writers. Our classes are where we get to know one another, share hurts and pains. Joyful moments. Victories are sometimes over vainglory, sometimes trials end beyond triumphant. And most times our class is serious and yet on occasion, hilariously humorous. How can Bible study be serious and funny you ask? Shouldn't Bible study be serious all of the time?

Have you ever thought about the story in Luke 2:41-51 about Jesus being left behind in Jerusalem when he was a young boy and his parents went back to search for him everywhere before finding him in the temple? The train of thought in class went something like this: "Can you imagine that happening--Mary and Joseph forgetting their child? Who forgets their child? And Jesus at that?" At least three of us in the classroom were snickering and one woman shared her story about once losing a child for a few minutes. Another student pointed out, "Remember the movie Home Alone?" And of course, I had to share the reason I was choking back laughter in the back of the room.

Once upon a time, I was with my mother and some relatives visiting a quaint church in the country on a dripping-day-hot Sunday morning. As women do in the country during sermons, we pushed the humid air around with tractor advertisements stapled to wooden tongue depressors touted as church air conditioning, chatted with friends and acquaintances after the service for a bit, and instructed four of Mother's grandchildren to get in the car so we could leave. With the last door shut and tires crunching gravel, we adults were engrossed in deep meaningful conversation--surely it had to be heaven inspired to cause what happened next--Mother said, "Are all of the children in the car?" as she sped towards home.

"Head count!"

My girls, of course, were the obedient angelic cherubs and accounted for, but lo and behold, someone declared one devil child missing. Where was the little renegade? Frantic, I looked through the back window of the car and six-year-old Micah (not his real name but he knows who he is) was full-out-galloping behind the car chasing tail lights, squalling, and at the same time, eating gravel dust while slinging tears. Of course, all of the other kid faces were mashed up against the back window smudging the glass, and howling like hyenas to see the "fallen angel," while I held my stomach to keep from laughing so hard. Micah's mother glared at me with an arched eyebrow, pointed a finger that wagged and threatened me within an inch of my life. "Do not breathe one word to his Daddy about this." Serious emphasis on the first "D."

So all of our classroom stories and comments gave us new insight as to how Jesus could have been left behind on the trip home after attending the Feast of the Passover. While the families traveled back to their home towns from Jerusalem in caravans, cousins played and ran back and forth visiting different relatives and childhood friends while parents chatted and told stories about Passover week activities and discussed awesome happenings during worship. I can only imagine Mary leaving the women to approach her husband, finally curious about their son's whereabouts, in something akin to King James English since I do not know Aramaic. "Joseph, dearest, where art Jesus?"

"Hello darling, I thought he was with thee or with his cousin, Elizabeth's son John."

"Oh no, I thought he was with thee!"

"No, I kiddeth thee not, I thought he was with thee!"

I imagined Joseph and Mary frantically running from the front to the back of the caravan, searching to the tail end of the last human-bearing beast. But Jesus wasn't running behind to catch up with surly camels nor was he eating donkey dust. Jesus had more important things to do.

And after humorous examples were shared about how easy it was to forget a child when distracted and after I'd laid my imagined King James bad usage to rest, we studied nothing but God breathed truth. When they found Jesus in the temple he said, "'Why were you searching for me?' ...'Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?' But they did not understand what he was saying to them."

Nor would Mary understand more until she stood at the foot of the cross and gazed up in anguish at the little boy grown into a man, sentenced to die to save us from our sins--becoming a Savior to all who believe and accept Him. Mary wouldn't totally understand the significance of his death until her Son was raised from the grave. Wonderful truths to ingest and digest. But I'm getting ahead of Luke.

So, if you can make it--we have students travel to class from several adjoining states--Jack, Kay, and David invite you to come and dine with us. There's so much meat to these Bible stories they teach. And so much more than mighty fine meatloaf. They'll teach you how to dine--not just on delicious rolls--but the Bread of Life--Jesus. Can I get an amen?

"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" John 6:35 (NIV)

P.S. I'll see you there if the creek doesn't rise, Lord willing!

Comments anyone?

If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com

Love your King James version! Great post... ~Carol Weeks

Thanks Carol -- amazing what the mind thinks about when pondering a Bible passage.

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Email to....:vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com