Thinking Out Loud

August 27, 2013

Everybody Wants “Daily Bread” But Nobody Wants to Bake the Loaf

When a Bible's well usedThe Devil's not amused.

When a Bible’s well used
The Devil’s not amused.

This is a recurring theme with me, so apologies to those of you who’ve read this theme here before…

Finding material for the Christianity 201 blog is a daily challenge. In all the great din of Christian voices on internet websites, chat rooms, forums and blogs, a lot of what is being written is completely devoid of any quotation, reference or allusion to Bible text. That’s fine. I know there are people whose faith shapes their politics, their ethics, their environmental views, their economic principles… and by virtue of that whatever they write still constitutes writing from a Christian perspective.

The thing is, I keep thinking there ought to me of more of this kind of writing online:

  • The other day some friends and I were sitting around the coffee shop discussing the various ways of interpreting the scripture that says…
  • I was reading my Bible last week and I was drawn to the part where Jesus says…
  • Yesterday, I realized that there are actually a number of different shades of meaning to the verse that talks about…
  • On Sunday, our pastor shared a message which showed the link between an Old Testament passage and this one from the New Testament…

You get the idea.

The other thing is that a lot of what’s available right now that does begin in scripture is very shallow, very superficial or very short. The popular (in North America, at least) Our Daily Bread readings usually begin with a verse, followed by a contemporary story which takes up about half the printed space. A great illustration is not a bad thing — Jesus used them — but as an adolescent, I remember tuning in for the stories during dinner time readings of ODB, and then tuning out the concluding paragraph. (I would have been voted least likely to ever be doing what I’m doing now.)

Or then there’s the current, rather inexplicable popularity of the Jesus Calling devotional. Since the blog Rumblings is now over the 100-comment mark on this little book, I’ll simply refer you there; suffice it to say that you might get more devotional content in a fortune cookie.

To avoid the hypocrisy of not including a verse here, and to present something more positive as an ending to this, I offer Acts 17:11

  • NLT And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
  • The Voice The Jewish people here were more receptive than they had been in Thessalonica. They warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the message and then, day by day, would check for themselves to see if what they heard from Paul and Silas was truly in harmony with the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • The Message  They were treated a lot better there than in Thessalonica. The Jews received Paul’s message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said.

People who don’t understand the changes that have taken place at Willow Creek in Chicago over the past few years often chastise the church for offering ‘Christianity lite.’ These days, the seeker-sensitivity has been modified after surveys reveals that seekers wanted to listen to teaching with their Bibles open on their laps; the scriptures fully engaged.

If a visual image of the Christian involves ‘the towel and the basin,’ I nominate for runner-up a person with their nose buried in the Bible they hold in one hand, and a notebook and pen in the other.

link to Christianity 201

Disclaimer: Our Daily Bread, published by Radio Bible Class is a great way to begin or end your day. The problem comes if it’s your only source of Bible input for that day, or if you never do the full suggested reading, or if you’ve been a Christian for many years and have never graduated to other types of Christian reading that offer more depth.  Ditto The Upper Room devotional, published by the United Methodist Publishing House.

Background note: I mentioned North America. In the UK, for years, very similar-looking booklets existed that were actually quite different. Every Day With Jesus written by the late Selwyn Hughes and published by Crusade for World Revival (CWR), offered a 60-day intensive study of a single theme. (Many people in North America can’t tell you most days what their daily reading was about.) Furthermore, instead of free distribution, readers were expected to pay, which means they were financially invested. EDWJ collections are still available offering a year’s worth of readings, or six two-month studies.

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4 Comments »

  1. As a diligent student of the Word of God, I intentionally begin conversations in the way you suggest. ( “God showed me something so incredibly new from 2nd Peter”, to which they lean forward and I share). In my church, however, people come without Bibles. They read a scripture on the overhead, as if it is the condiment to the real discussion, and then the sermon goes on, devoid of actual scriptural content. Quotes from contemporary authors, magazines, internet chatter are far more common than a passage from the Bible. The famine of the Word is real at this time in history. But so is the hunger. The Bible studies I lead (in which we study the actual Bible) are sought after, not only in my own church but increasingly I am being invited to teach gatherings of people who are un-churched or new to their faith. It is actually a lot like physical hunger. Sometimes you don’t realize how hungry you are until you begin to eat.

    Comment by Cynthia Almudevar — August 27, 2013 @ 9:12 am

    • Your last sentence is most important. Some people haven’t really experienced deep Bible study, or read materials containing what I call “rich text,” but once they do they realize what they have been missing.

      Here’s a quickly-dashed-off article here from a few years ago where I tried to define “rich text” – a term borrowed from HTML code in the world of computers:
      http://paulwilkinson.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/sunday-seriousness-rich-text/

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 27, 2013 @ 9:18 am

      • I have all but two of those books in my bedside bookshelf…all but “The Well” and “Sun Stand Still”, which I will now seek out.

        Comment by Cynthia Almudevar — August 27, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  2. Looks pretty as a picture – I’d say a well used book!

    Comment by paulamorrison — August 27, 2013 @ 9:32 am


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