I’m excited to share a new Bible Study with you by friend Cindy Bultema, a writer, speaker, bible teacher and mom. Cindy grew up in a non-Christian home with an atheist father and spent her time in unsatisfying relationships and doing drugs. It wasn’t until she overdosed and almost died from a cocaine overdose in 1996 that she realized she needed God in her life.
From that moment, she dedicated her life to Christ and became active in her church and realized a passion of teaching and talking with women about faith.
Cindy 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 also a sought-after speaker, Bible teacher, blogger, and encourager. Her story of faith after the tragic death of her fiancé is told in the Day of Discovery DVD “He Loves Me.”
She’s the author of a new bible study, Red Hot Faith that you can start with women in your church or community. Here’s more about the study:
In Cindy’s new 8-week study, Red Hot Faith: Lessons from a Lukewarm Church, Bultema discusses the “what ifs” of pursuing a life of Red Hot Faith.
What if God was looking not for perfect women, but ordinary women, and He had powerful plans for us in the midst of our everyday life “stuff?”
What if God wanted to use our messes for a miraculous message of His redemption and grace?
What if we took off the false “labels” that have been holding us back and boldly replace them with new labels of truth?
What if we said “no” to lives of complacency, self-sufficiency, and self-absorption and instead pursued a life of Red Hot Faith?
“After reflecting on these ‘what ifs,’ I now have a passionate, burning desire to share these truths with others, even if it means leaving my comfort zone far behind” says Bultema.
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 preparation for Red Hot Faith, you traveled to the ruins of Ancient Laodicea. What did you discover about the city of Laodicea when you visited there that illuminated the passage?
The more we understand the city of Laodicea, the more Christ’s message in Revelation 3:14-22 comes alive! One thing clarified in the ancient ruins was the city’s prime location on a Roman trade route. Due to the mountains and valleys of the land, travelers had to trek straight through the city of Laodicea. I believe the church of Laodicea was strategically placed on this Roman road for maximum Kingdom influence. So no wonder Jesus was disgusted with this church. Rather than looking for ways to extend hospitality or share an encouraging word, the church’s self-sufficient, self-absorbed attitude led to minimal effectiveness and missed opportunities.
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.
Five months before you were to be married, your fiancé David died tragically. Tell us this story and how God used David’s death to influence someone you love.
Shortly after I gave my life to Christ, I met a wonderful Christian man named David. After a two year courtship, David asked me to marry him, and of course I said, “Yes!” David loved Jesus, and would often share he would give his life for one person to know Christ. Tragically, five months before our wedding, David was killed in a workplace accident. As we planned his funeral, David’s parents and I agreed — we must ask the pastor to share the Gospel message. Would you believe, at David’s memorial, my dad – who had been an atheist/agnostic his whole life – accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? Remember David said he would give his life for one person to know Christ? Little did he know it would be my dad!
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.
In the Participant’s Guide, you share the story of a rather dramatic “faith test” that you experienced in the middle of working on this Bible study. Can you tell us more about what happened that nearly postponed Red Hot Faith?
Less than a week before the overseas trip to visit ancient Laodicea, I completely lost my voice. The Director determined it was too great a risk to travel if I was ill, and the trip was cancelled. Due to their production schedule, the decision was made that Red Hot Faith would be postponed until the next year, and the overseas portion would be eliminated.
I’ll admit it, I bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t envision how anything good could come from this disappointing “detour.” What I couldn’t foresee at that miserable moment was the outpouring of love and prayers I would receive, as well as the rapid recovery I would experience. I also didn’t anticipate the phone call, just a few hours later, sharing that the film crew could reschedule the trip for one week later. Wouldn’t you know that while we were in Turkey, many commented on how fortunate we were to be there that exact week, because the week prior the weather had been rainy and unbearable? Coincidence? I think not.
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!