Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, July 29. Read Job 7:16-20. 1) Job was in the midst of his awful suffering. What does he say about his life as a result? 2) How does he view the human-God relationship? 3) What does he want God to do in verse 19?
Tuesday, July 30. Read Romans 8:18-25. 1) What does Paul say about suffering? 2) How does the Creation experience suffering and what will happen to the Creation at the end? 3) How does hope function with suffering?
Wednesday, July 31. Read Ecclesiastes 3:13; 5:18; 7:2; and 12:13. 1) In each of these texts you will find the Hebrew phrase, qal ha adam, which means literally, “all the man.” 2) It gets translated with something like “the whole of man.” In the four passages of this reading, how does this phraise get used?
Thursday, August 1. Read 2 Timothy 3:10-14. 1) What did Paul say Timothy had observed in him? 2) What did Paul say suffering people should do? 3) What is the reason for the suffering?
Friday, August 2. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 1) How did Paul review the end of his life? 2) How did he say he had lived? 3) What was his expectation, as a result?
Saturday, August 3. Read Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer of the Week:
Dear Father, thank you for letting us hear the raw, honest struggle of people who followed you, nonetheless. Qoheleth helps us see the hopelessness of attempting to find our own way, to buy our way out of distress or drug ourselves into stupor. Help us to keep our eye on you, even when life seems darkest. May we see the victory that is awaiting when we fight the good fight. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week
In the Hour of Trial
by James Montgomery 1834
In the hour of trial,
Jesus, plead for me
Lest by base denial
I unworthy be.
When you see me waver,
With a look recall,
Nor for fear or favor
Ever let me fall.
With forbidden pleasures
Should this vain world charm
Or its tempting treasures
Spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance
Or, in darker semblance,
Should your mercy send me
Sorrow, toil, and woe,
Or should pain attend me
On my path below,
Grant that I may never
Fail your cross to view;
Grant that I may ever
Cast my care on you.
When my life is ending,
Though in grief or pain,
When my body changes
Back to dust again,
On your truth relying,
Through that mortal strife,
Jesus, take me, dying,
To eternal life
Devotional Article of the Week
One Big Reason Why Young People Are Giving up on Their Faith
Pete Enns · Nature of the Bible
This one comes from the heart.
I’m speaking from my experience here–no polls or surveys, though I know what I say here lines up with those I’ve seen over the years.
As is well known, the trend among young people raised in conservative churches is to leave their Bible, and often their faith, behind.
In my experience, one big reason (not the only reason) behind this trend has to do with the Bible–maybe not the Bible itself, but how they are implicitly taught to read it:
*As a collection of go-to verses that tell them definitively and absolutely all they need to know about the world they live in and what God expects of them.
*That this kind of Bible is their sure anchor for maintaining their faith. Stray from it and their faith is shipwrecked and their eternal destiny is in jeopardy.
But as they grow older, especially when they enter high school or college, they find that their structured world supported by Bible verses is not adequate for providing a compelling explanation for the complex world around them and how the Bible can continue functioning as the anchor it once was.
So here is a simple plea–from a biblical scholar with his feet firmly planted on the ground, who has raised now adult children, and who now teaches young adults and sees the stress they are sometimes under to shelve their questions and misgivings and “hold on” to their faith.
*The way to reach them is not simply by promoting a more aggressive Bible reading program. If they are having problems with the Bible as it has been taught to them, shouting at them to keep reading the Bible they have been given “or else” won’t do much good.
*The way to reach them is not by taking an even more rigid, protectionist, “here I stand, the gospel is at stake every 5 minutes” position. That is the very attitude that contributes to them wanting to walk away. A reinvigorated apologetic for a faith that already doesn’t connect with them isn’t going to make them want to connect more.
*The way to reach them is not by glitzy rallies and hyped up motivational speakers with tattoos and torn skinny jeans. These young people are not shallow. They are worried and even despairing that the faith they have been taught is actually unable to support them once they leave the nest. They are not consumers looking for a cool deal. They are looking for meaning, whether their faith matters.
What may help reach young people is modeling an attitude of vulnerability:
*A genuine willingness on the part of their leaders and mentors to acknowledge the legitimacy of their experience of disconnection.
*Honoring them by being willing to engage with them the difficult hermeneutical/theological challenge they face.
*Deliberately creating a culture where the sometimes overwhelming difficulties of joining contemporary faith and ancient text are a welcome and expected conversation and where the outcomes of those conversations are not predetermined.
It will mean accepting the paradox that helping promote the continued spiritual vitality of your tradition will likely require some adaptation and change of that tradition for the very sake of those you wish to pass it on to.
It will mean not simply a preoccupation with training young people to be faithful to the past, but a genuine willingness to be faithful to the future, to deliver a viable faith to our children and children’s children.
Truth be told, one reason I write most of what I write (like here, here, and here) is to work through and contribute to this kind of conversation.