As we head into the routine and rhythm of fall, do you have a plan for your spiritual growth? Have you thought about how you are going to take care of your relationship with God in the midst of homework, activities, sports, and work responsibilities? In her new Bible study, Red Hot Faith, my Bible-teacher-friend, Cindy Bultema, discusses how we can have a faith that is passionate, alive, and meaningful, even in the midst of the hustle-and-bustle. She takes a look at the “lukewarm” church of Laodicea in Revelation 3 and reveals how their struggles are much like our own.
I’ve heard Cindy teach this study multiple times – at a retreat, in a month-long study, and during the DVD recording session – and every time, God has stretched and changed me to have a deeper relationship with Him.
I am so excited to have a complete Red Hot Faith study kit to offer one of you. Make sure you enter the drawing at th ebottom of this post. The giveaway includes the 8 session DVD teaching, a participant guide (which includes extra things to do at home on your own), and a fantastic leader’s guides with discussion questions, ice breakers, and helps for leading a Red Hot Faith group. I know you are going to love this study. Here’s a bit more about it.
(e-mail subscribers, you may need to click here to see the video:)
Here’s a little Q&A with Cindy:
In Red Hot Faith, you unpack Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus’ letter to the lukewarm church in Laodicea. How was the church in Laodicea “lukewarm”? How do you see this tepid attitude in today’s culture?
Laodicea was an extremely wealthy city known for three major industries: a banking center, a textile industry, and a respected medical school. Imagine the Kingdom impact the Laodicean church could have made with visitors traveling to this thriving city from all across the land. Yet, the church members of Laodicea were self-sufficient, self-absorbed, and arrogant. Their faith was useless, and they lived just like everyone else, making no difference at all. Like the Laodiceans, our current culture also affirms self-sufficiency and self-absorption. If we are not intentional, we too may experience a lackluster, lukewarm faith.
In Session 1, you share very openly your personal testimony. How did a “girl next door” like you end up abusing drugs and almost dying from a drug overdose?
I grew up in a home that didn’t pay much attention to God or Jesus or the Bible. My dad was emotionally distant, I was teased for my weight, and I didn’t cope well with rejection and other childhood hardships. I journeyed through life with extreme emptiness and loneliness. I tried to stuff and numb this void with everything the world has to offer: food, men, alcohol, shopping, even drugs. Nothing worked.
After college, in an effort to dull my purposelessness and pain, I began to regularly use cocaine. My “bottom” came at the age of 26 when I accidentally overdosed, and nearly lost my life.
In Session 2, you tell the story of hearing a persistent knock at your hotel door, and being very surprised at who was knocking. How did this experience shed light on Revelation 3:20 when Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock?”
Years ago I took my two sons to a hockey tournament in Chicago, while my husband John stayed home with our young daughters. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a continuous knock at the door. I tried to ignore the knocking, but finally gave in, arose from my comfy bed, and opened the hotel room door. I won’t give away the surprise – but let’s just say, I would have never ever guessed who I would find knocking at the door!
I wonder for the church of Laodicea, if they were equally as stunned to find Jesus knocking at “their door.” My sense is they were comfortable gathering together as the church, and assumed “well, of course, Jesus is here. We’re a church. We look good. We have need of nothing.” But apparently the church had not made it their priority to open the door and invite Jesus in. In Rev 3:20, we find Christ on the outside knocking, hoping someone, anyone would let Him in! May we not make the same mistake.
You talk about Laodicea’s water supply being neither hot nor cold. Tell us what you learned and how it changed your perception of Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:15 when He says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!”
The city of Laodicea had two sister cities, Hierapolis and Colossae. Hierapolis was known for its therapeutic, healing hot springs. Colossae was known for its cold refreshing streams. Laodicea’s water supply was lukewarm and useless.
I used to think “hot” was “for Jesus,” and “cold” was “against Jesus.” In other words, “be hot” or “for Jesus,” or “be cold” or “against Jesus,” just don’t sit on the fence and be lukewarm.
Now that I’ve traveled to the ancient ruins and studied this passage in great detail, I don’t think that’s what this passage is communicating. Instead, I believe Christ is saying, I wish you were therapeutic and healing (like the hot water of Hierapolis) or refreshing and invigorating (like the cold water of Colossae.) Be hot, be cold, but be something! Church members, be of some use!
In Session 5, you take a field trip to a gold refinery at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. What lessons did you learn about the refining process that applies to our faith life today?
It was incredible to watch gold refiner Ayhan Usta in action. I was awed by the extreme heat and intensity of the refiner’s fire. However, I also noted how Ayhan’s eye is always on the fire, monitoring not only the high temperature, but the fire’s strength and the timing. And no matter the circumstances, the refiner never leaves the scene.
As God’s precious treasures, we too can experience the refiner’s fire. Without the testing, refining, and purifying, we would never know our full endurance level, nor would we grow in our Christ-like character. It’s seasons of struggles and sufferings that smooth and strengthen our faith, so we will be useful to God and others. In fact, sometimes it’s in the fire that our faith becomes red-hot.
One of the reasons Jesus was so hard on Laodicea was because they were so self-sufficient. Expand on that a bit and tell us why we should examine our own lives for self-sufficiency.
The church of Laodicea confused material wealth with spiritual health. Since they were wealthy and needed nothing on the “outside,” they assumed everything must be good on the “inside,” or the condition of their heart, as well. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Jesus called the Laodicean church members, “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” Sometimes when everything looks good on the outside, that’s when we need Jesus the most.
What do you hope people will take away from Red Hot Faith?
My hope is that every person going through the Red Hot Faith Bible study would remember “Lukewarm is not our norm!” Jesus came so we could experience a full, abundant, purposeful faith life. Today. Not someday— when we get to heaven, when we lose weight, when we get our house all organized, or when know more Bible verses—but today. Christ is warmly inviting us to open the door and invite Him into every area of our life. (Yes, every part!)
If we are struggling with a stale, stagnant belief in God, let’s ask Him to ignite fresh faith in our heart and mind. Once that spark has been kindled, may we fuel the fire of our faith by spending time in His presence, and then look for ways to put our red hot faith in action! Lukewarm is not our norm! Let’s live a life of Red Hot Faith!
Cindy Bultema loves the Lord, loves her family, and loves life! She lives in Michigan with her husband and their four children. With over 15 years of experience in ministry, Cindy has trained leaders and created programs within a variety of settings. Cindy is a also a sought-after speaker, Bible teacher, blogger, and encourager. Her story of faith after the tragic death of her fiance is told in the Day of Discovery DVD “He Loves Me.”
This study is great to do on your own or with a group of friends. The giveaway includes the 8 session DVD, a leader’s guide, and a participant guide.
To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter entry form below. (If you have trouble with the form, just leave a comment on the blog letting me know you want to enter. You can tweet and facebook links to this post for extra entries too.)