Challenge Day 15

Review. It’s already (only?) the midpoint of the Writing Life Challenge! Just creating each day’s challenge is a challenge for me—I’m barely keeping up! How about you?

In case you missed the original idea behind the challenge (which, admittedly, has evolved a bit) or any of the challenge posts, I’ll post an easy-access review here:

Day 1: Thankfulness & Prayer
Day 2: Praise & Prayer
Day 3: Watchfulness & Prayer (now my #2 fave—it’s been replaced!)
Day 4: Devotion & Prayer
Day 5: How to Pray
Day 6: Who to Pray For
Day 7: What to Pray For
Day 8: When to Pray
Day 9: Where to Pray (knocked into my #3 fave place)
Day 10: Why to Pray
Day 11: Fasting & Prayer (my new #1!)
Day 12: Why Read the Bible? (My own answer to this is also near and dear to my heart)
Day 13: God-Breathed Scripture
Day 14: The Bible is Useful

Have you noticed a theme yet? I’m focusing on getting us back to (for some of us, started on) the basics: Daily prayer and Bible-reading. So what’s next?

Today’s Inspiration. What’s next is the last item in the short list of what Paul tells us the Bible is useful for:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)

Training in righteousness. That’s what we’ll focus on today. But I think before we move forward, a bit of context is important here.

When Paul wrote the books of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, he was writing to Timothy. Timothy was younger than Paul and trained by Paul to be a leader in the ministry, and these letters were Paul’s ways of continuing to instruct him. In the area Timothy was ministering in, people were beginning to come up with all sorts of stories and teachings that just didn’t line up with Scripture and with Jesus’ teaching, and Paul was giving Timothy advice on how to deal with that. That’s where we come to this verse, to Paul claiming that all Scripture … is useful for … training in righteousness. For training the people of God—people to whom one may be ministering—as well as for training oneself.

Top-down view of an apple on a wooden table. Photo text: Challenge Day 15, Bible-trained. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. Training in righteousness. What does that mean? And what is righteousness? Your challenge today is to explore the answers to these questions and think about how this applies to your own life. You could focus on the word training, on the word righteousness, or on both words.

Need help knowing where to start? The concept of training also appears in Hebrews 12 (especially verses 1-13). You could start on righteousness by pulling out a dictionary, but then you would need to look and see how the word is used and described in the Bible to get the full meaning. The word is used throughout the Bible, starting with Genesis. Looking at what the Bible says about Abraham and his righteousness—in both the Old and New Testaments—is a good place to look to begin to grasp the concept. Then you could put the two together—examine what training in righteousness would look like in your own life.

Today’s Participation. Depict training in righteousness through a drawing, a painting, or a photo and then share it with someone, either in person or online. If you’re using Instagram, friend me @rhondalorraineblog and tag it with #writinglifeaugustchallenge. I’d love to see how different people depict this!

Challenge Day 14

Today’s Inspiration. For several years in my late twenties and early thirties, I was between churches. This Baptist-raised, Sunday school, Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night prayer meeting—and later, youth group and college group—attending girl just stopped going for a while.

The years that I stopped going to church happened to be in my I-don’t-trust-God-with-the-big-decisions-in-my-life phase (described a bit here). That, in all honesty, was the biggest reason I didn’t go. But it also had a lot to do with a) the fact that I was dating a raised-to-go-to-weekly-mass, but didn’t-really-go-anymore-because-he-worked-seven-days-a-week Irish, Roman Catholic man (whom I married after many, many years of waiting for him to finally propose) and b) my own disappointment in the lies, the corruption, and the failure to deal with said corruption in the church I had last regularly attended—which happened to be Pentecostal.

When my boyfriend/fiancé/husband and I did occasionally look for a church, it was hard to find a balance: conservative and calm enough in its worship for him, and grounded in Biblical teaching for me. This last was extremely important to me: I needed meat, not milk (Hebrews 5:11-14), sermons primarily based in and derived from God’s word, verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, or book-by-book (as opposed to the more topical sermons that use a verse or two here and there). In effect, I wanted the teaching we sat under each week to be useful in both (all, now) of our lives.

The idea of the usefulness of God’s word is today’s inspiration:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (NIV)

Today’s Challenge. Your challenge today is to examine the usefulness of Scripture—of the Bible—to your own life. Do you believe it is useful (this touches on yesterday’s challenge question, too)? Do you really use it? Do you even know enough of the Bible for it to be useful in your own life? How should, or do, you use it? All of these are questions you could consider when contemplating the Bible’s usefulness.

Stacked dishes: Gravy boat, sugar bowl, teacup without a handle, sitting in front of a plate that stands in the background. Photo text: Challenge Day 14, the Bible is useful. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Pray for understanding and insight, both of God’s word and of your own heart, before you begin. Then, spend some time searching for answers in the Bible and in your own heart, mind, and actions. You may want to journal as you think through these questions.

Today’s Participation. Make it personal! What do you believe—really believe—about the Bible’s usefulness? Or how is it useful to you in your everyday life? Share your thoughts with someone in person, comment below, or create an Instagram post using #writinglifeaugustchallenge.

I know some of you may be wondering: Did we ever find a church? The answer is yes, resoundingly yes. The first year of our marriage, my husband and I lived apart; I was finishing courses for grad school out of state, and he stayed home at the job he had worked at for years. My brother invited us to his non-denominational church for Christmas services and we were hooked. When I moved back home nearly six months later, we started attending regularly and feasted on a regular diet of meat. Fast-forward 11 years to today: We have both grown tremendously in our personal walks with the Lord, and we have grown to love the church—the people we learn, grow, and serve with. Church is no longer merely a place to go to listen and sing and learn; it is family, it is home, it is who we are and how we live in Christ.

I also want to say a word to those who may have been hurt by something you saw or something done to you in a church before, since I mentioned having seen lies and corruption in a previous church: People are fallible. People, being people, will make mistakes and—yes—even sin. Putting our trust and hopes in people, as much as we love them, will ultimately lead to disappointment of some sort. What matters is that when sin is present, it is acknowledged, repented of, and if necessary disciplined in a Biblical manner. The church I attended in the past didn’t do that, at least not while I was there. I had made the mistake of trusting the people more than I was ready to trust God. I had it backwards. But don’t give up on all church bodies—on the church—if you encounter one that tries to hide its wrongs and ignores God’s word. Instead, find one that makes use of the word. And don’t give up trusting in God.

Challenge Day 13

Mug and iron star on the mantle of a brick fireplace. Photo text: Challenge day 13: God-breathed scripture. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Inspiration. Today, as yesterday, we turn to 2 Timothy 3:16 for our challenge inspiration:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (NIV)

Today’s Challenge. Your challenge today is both simple and profound—if you allow it to wash over you, to seep through you, to penetrate your heart and mind and soul. Today, explore the question “What does Paul mean by saying ‘all Scripture is God-breathed’—and what does this imply for me?”

If you’re not sure where to begin, once again I’ll suggest trying Bible Hub (I really love this site! And nope, not getting paid to say that). Look at the ways different versions of the Bible interpret the words. Look at the cross references. Look at the commentary. Look at the Greek it was written in, and see how it compares to the words used in other places in the Bible (was it? Look at that!). Do your best to understand the words God-breathed, and then think through what this means, what Paul is implying. If all Scripture is God-breathed, what does that mean for you and me? What does it mean for the part the Bible is to play in our lives?

Today’s Participation. There are few more important questions than what you believe the Bible is, which is, after all, what I’m challenging you to ask yourself today. As a Christian (and sometimes as a non-Christian), the answers to this question can change the way you live your life. So for today’s participation, write out your version of the statement, “I believe the Bible is _______________, so __________________.” What is it, to you? Do you believe it is God-breathed? If so, what does that imply, or mean to you?

Write it in a journal, tell someone about it, comment below, or create an Instagram post and use the hashtag #writinglifeaugustchallenge. I would love to hear from you!