They say third time’s a charm. Well it was four trips to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles, it’s an Indiana/Maine/Ohio thing apparently) until I got everything taken care of. On the first trip, I hadn’t checked on what I needed, and so I found out that what I had thought would be enough wouldn’t be close. Second time I thought I had everything, but found out one of the documents I had brought wouldn’t work. Third time, same thing. Finally, on my fourth try, I got an Indiana license and the title on my car transferred and registered. That’s not even taking into account the document I had to mail back to my parents so they could fill something out and send it back, the time I got everything together to realize they were closed on Monday, the conflicting things I was told by different workers, or the fact my registration had expired so I couldn’t even drive my car and had to have a police officer come over and check my VIN. I started going to different BMVs because it got embarrassing going back to the same one over and over.
Every year the Barna Research group does a “State of the Church.” In the 2016 edition the report states “Americans are attending church less, and more people are experiencing and practicing their faith outside of its four walls. Millennials in particular are coming of age at a time of great skepticism and cynicism toward institutions—particularly the church.” The number one reason Millennials don’t attend church, according to another study, was “I find God elsewhere.”
We live in a time when there is a declining interest in church--a time where many think they can have a relationship with God, but not be involved in a church. People drop out of church for many reasons, but God’s Word makes it clear that we never have an excuse to give up on the church. Here are four bad reasons why people give up on church:
When you hear “repentance,” what do you think of? Often we mean little more than reading off our list of bad actions so that God will forgive us. Perhaps we go a little bit deeper and acknowledge our wrong thoughts as well. Both of those are good, but they’re not enough. Do your prayers go down to the level of your heart, not just your head and hands?
Do you share with God your hopes, dreams, disappointments, and feelings? Do you ever admit to God that you’re depressed because you didn’t get what you want? Or that you are frustrated because someone failed to recognize you publicly? Have you ever told God that you didn’t feel like going to church Sunday evening, or that you’re scared to share the gospel with your co worker?
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:2-3 (KJV)
There has been a lot of distrust over modern versions. Some feel their updated language somehow makes the Scripture too common. Some dislike the fact newer versions sometimes leave out words or phrases if they feel that, based on new evidence, those words or phrases weren’t part of the original text. But some don’t like the fact that classic passages, such as the one above, have been modified or altered. After all, how many of us have grown being told we will receive a mansion? And now that’s changed? The NASB, NIV, ESV, NET, and the CSB have all changed this word to either rooms or dwelling places. So what gives?
I have read through Genesis many times. That’s not meant to be impressive, because a number of those times were when I attempted to read through the Bible in a year, only to give up a month or so in. Through-the-Bible-in-a-year programs usually go really well, until about halfway through Exodus. Then we get bogged down with specific laws for Israel and chapter after chapter describing how to build the Tabernacle. If we manage to make it through Exodus, we find ourselves in Leviticus, and then Numbers, and by that point many have thrown in the towel.
There are portions of the Old Testament that people love. One of the most common answers I get when asking teens where they are reading their Bibles has been Proverbs. The Psalms are well loved, and rightly so, for the way they speak directly to our emotions. But there are sections that confuse and challenge us. Wiping out all the Canaanites? Nine chapters of genealogies in 1 Chronicles! I mean, genealogies are one thing, but nine chapters! Then there’s poetry that doesn’t rhyme, imagery that doesn’t make sense to those living in the technology age, and prophets addressing a political scene that many are unfamiliar with, and before we know it we are back in the familiar territory of one of Paul’s letters.
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