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.