UFC Women begins a new Bible study today, using Jackie Hill Perry’s newest book, Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture, and it’s not too late to sign up. Here at ufcwomen.blog, you can expect a Bible study tips column each Sunday and a reflection post each Thursday. We have two today as an introduction to this brief New Testament letter! If you’re on social media, you’ll see us post memory verses on the other days. We want this blog to be a place of encouragement and challenge as you commit to spending time each day in God’s Word and as you dig into the week’s homework. You can find study aids on our Jude page, listen to audio recordings, or dialogue with other women through the comments section found at the end of each post. As always, we welcome your feedback and questions, which you may submit here. We’re excited to study Jude with you in the next six weeks!
By Phares Gilchrist
I grew up in what is called the Space Coast of Florida. Cape Kennedy was the industry, and fast growth was its hallmark. The men in my family were and are accomplished golfers. I well remember when the Houston Astros would come to town for spring training and seek my father out for help with their golf swings. Dad was known for his remarkably fluid swing. Gary Propper, the world champion surfer, was from Cocoa Beach. Don Wilson, a friend and classmate, became a world champion kickboxer. Many professional athletes from many sports passed through our world.
As the youngest of four, I developed a strong sense of observation. You aren’t always having things spelled out as the fourth, so you adapt early. Patterns became obvious, but I couldn’t understand why there were no corrections to the behavior. The pattern was someone would be gifted, they would be recognized for it, and they would squander the opportunities that came with the recognition.
Meanwhile, I had a cousin who was playing golf for Alabama at the same time I was playing golf for my high school. In what could only be considered a dramatic turn of events, Walter quit golfing at a competitive level. He had become a Christian. We thought he had become a fanatic. I remember his darling mother declaring him a Jesus Freak, a few months before she became a Jesus Freak. Walter eventually went into ministry. Today he is part of the leadership team with City to City, the church planting arm of Redeemer Church in New York, which was begun by Tim Keller. Walter travels the world with the goal of planting churches, particularly in Europe.
Another close relative of mine, generally agreed to have been the most talented golfer of the clan, became an alcoholic at an early age. He has struggled with mental and physical issues ever since. The give and take of self absorption and self loathing produced a squandering of one’s life, one who had both a sensitive nature and a selfish desire for his own glory. It isn’t that Walter is better than the relative. It’s that he saw his need for intervention, accepted Christ, and experienced redemption in every area of his life.
This redemption is taken quite seriously by Jude. He does not mince words and has no use for social niceties. “Waterless clouds swept away by winds” will find no cover with him. In other words, shallow pursuits at the expense of holiness will not be abided.
As I begin to read Jude in preparation for our study in the coming weeks, I am reminded of the culture of competition and advancement. Jude causes me to take a close look at one segment of our culture that can reflect his rebuke. It causes me to ponder, to be so thankful for those in high profile cultures who submit their gifts to the one who gave them, and seek Him first. To not do so is to squander the opportunity.
I look with anticipation at the opportunity to examine my own heart.
The (Awkward) Art of Blessing
By Jasmine Timm
I’d been having nightmares for about two weeks when I asked one of my seminary professors to meet with me. My nightmares were abstract, and I couldn’t put my finger on what was causing them. Was I eating too soon before bed, were client stories from my counseling work creeping into my dreams, or was I experiencing stress? Nothing seemed to explain the bizarre and terrifying dreams I was having. As we learned about the nature of spiritual warfare in my theology class — how it can often extend to dreams — I figured it was worth a shot to seek my professor’s assistance.
My theology professor had been in the ministry field for more than four decades as a pastor and had been teaching Bible and theology longer than I’ve been alive. His specialty is in issues pertaining to angelology, the study of angels and demons. The appointment I had requested was intended to assist me in discerning what the nature of my dreams were, specifically if I was experiencing any form of spiritual attack. Our conversation was casual — no exorcisms included — and we concluded that I was not wrapped up in any serious demonic footholds. But perhaps I was experiencing some minor forms of oppression in the form of distressing dreams. My professor asked if he could pray for me before I left his office.
As soon as the word “yes” left my lips, I found myself staring into the eyes of my 70-year-old professor as he began his prayer for me. I was caught off guard, and I must have missed the first 15 seconds of his prayer as I thought, “Wait, did we just start? Should I close my eyes now? Oh, my goodness, we are staring at each other while he prays for me. What is happening?” I had never experienced someone praying for me in this way, let alone while staring them right back in the eye. There was nothing spooky or hyper-spiritual about his prayer. He simply prayed to the Father, stating truths we as believers possess in the gospel, and asking for the power of the Son to guard me as I slept and as I woke.
It’s taken me some time to realize my professor was doing something that Christians have been doing for millennia. He was praying a blessing over me, asking God to help me live into all that I already possess as His child in Christ. My 70-year-old professor’s prayer was not pretentious and didn’t contain anything extraordinary — other than my adjustment to looking someone in the eye while praying. Rather, I got to see the heart of my professor, who wanted so badly for me to experience the abundant blessings I already partake in as a co-heir with Christ.
Although we possess power and peace in the gospel, we often forget. In every New Testament letter, we see believers from 2,000 years ago participating in the sacred act of blessing their fellow co-laborers in the gospel. The letter from Jude begins with the same act of blessing, reminding the believers to whom he writes of all that they possess in Christ. His heart was to remind them and encourage them, as they likely needed to be reminded of the treasures they had in Christ.
As we begin our study of Jude, let’s remind ourselves of the sacred act of blessing and being blessed. Jude is packed with reminders about our identity as God’s chosen and dearly loved saints, and we need to be reminded by other saints that what we already have in Jesus really is ours to keep. May we look one another in the eye, despite the discomfort, and be humbled that we are permitted to be blessed by God’s holy and beloved saints.