Monthly News Roundup (06.24.21)

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Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

This is the last episode for the month of June – time for our monthly news roundup. In this episode, we’ll be talking about the number of Americans who are reading the Bible, the Department of Education and transgender students, and the effects of the pandemic on our emotional well-being.

STORY #1 –More Americans Are Reading the Bible

“The latest State of the Bible report from the American Bible Society finds that 181 million Americans opened a Bible in the past year—up 7.1% from the previous year.

“When thinking about their own usage, 24% of Americans say their Bible reading has increased this year compared to last. Around 2 in 3 (63%) say it has stayed the same, while 9% say it has decreased.

“In January 2020, 48% of Americans were considered Bible users by the American Bible Society—the lowest percentage in the 10 years of the study. That number rebounded, however, in January 2021 as 50% or 128 million Americans are Bible users this year—the highest percentage in four years and the most in raw numbers since 2014.”

[…]

“Even as fewer Americans are avoiding the Bible completely, not enough are reading it on a regular basis. Around 1 in 10 (11%) say they read it daily, and another 5% say they read it four to six days a week.

“That combined 1 in 6 Americans who read Scripture at least four times a week is an important number. Extensive research of the impact of Bible reading shows that is the amount necessary to see significant life change. People who engage with Scripture one to three days a week demonstrate the same effect on the personal lives as those who don’t engage with it at all. Those who read the Bible four days a week or more, however, see radical, life-altering effects.

“Unfortunately, even among churchgoers regular Bible reading is not common enough. Close to a third (32%) of U.S. Protestant churchgoers say they read the Bible every day, according to a 2019 Lifeway Research study. Including the 27% who say they read it a few times a week, fewer than 3 in 5 churchgoers read the Bible more than once a week. A full 12% say they rarely or never read the Bible.” (Lifeway Research)

Related material:

STORY #2 – Department of Education Says Sports, Bathrooms Must Be Open to Transgender Students

“On Wednesday, the Department of Education said public schools cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity under a new Biden administration policy that will impact such contentious issues as sports and the usage of bathrooms and locker rooms.”

“The Department of Education’s decision impacts multiple hot-button issues, including the use of bathrooms and locker rooms by students who identify with the opposite gender. It also affects athletics and the controversy over biological boys competing in girls’ events. In its new policy, the Department of Education says it will ‘fully enforce Title IX’ to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity ‘in education programs and activities.’ The latter term includes sports.” (Christian Headlines)

Related material:

STORY #3 – 44% of Americans Hit ‘Lowest Emotional Point’ of Their Lives During Pandemic

“If there was a growing mental health crisis before 2020, a new study finds the coronavirus pandemic may have sent it spiraling out of control. Half of Americans feel they lost complete control of their lives during the last year.

“A survey of 2,000 people reveals 47 percent feel helpless, while 44 percent say they hit their lowest emotional point within the last year. Since last March, Americans report struggling more with anxiety (42%), depression (37%), and loneliness (31%) than ever before.” (Study Finds)

Related material:

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Do Christians Need Other Christians? (06.10.21)

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Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

This week we’re going to be talking about whether Christians need other Christians in order to follow the Lord, or if we can be faithful to God without other believers. This is an important topic, especially in light of the year we have had with the pandemic and the lockdowns, closures, and isolation for many that followed.Continue Reading

What Has This Year Taught Us?

Masked couple

With a global pandemic, lockdowns, economic woes, a contested Presidential election, and more, this has been quite an unusual year. While the wise man noted that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), from our perspective it can seem like we are living in unprecedented times.

As the events of this year have unfolded, there are some important truths that have been highlighted. These have always been true, but they are more apparent in light of recent events. Let us briefly consider a few points.Continue Reading

Taking Personal Responsibility

Pointing at ManIn a time of lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing, we are more cut off from others than we had been previously. Obviously, there are challenges to this type of social arrangement – including spiritual challenges. One such challenge is that it is increasingly important for each of us to take personal responsibility for our faith and our standing before God. Paul mentioned this idea in his letter to the brethren in Philippi:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Paul wanted these brethren to maintain their faithfulness even when he was absent from them and could not encourage them in person. The reason for the lack of in-person interaction is different today. And, of course, Paul was only speaking of himself as being absent from them; the brethren in Philippi were still together. However, the challenge described by Paul is the same. We must maintain our faithfulness, even without the in-person encouragement we are used to receiving from other Christians.

In this article, we are going to notice why personal responsibility is important, some ways in which we are to take personal responsibility, and also why taking personal responsibility should never cause us to think that isolation from fellow Christians is to be preferred.Continue Reading

Take Courage in the Face of Tribulation

Jesus with His Disciples

Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33).

On this occasion, Jesus was talking with His apostles shortly before His death. He warned them that they would be scattered, which would happen when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56). However, despite the fact that these men would leave Him, Jesus knew that the Father would not leave Him so that He was “not alone.

Jesus encouraged them with the fact that He had “overcome the world.” It is important to note that this was said prior to the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet these events were so certain, Jesus could speak of them as though they had already happened. They were still in the future, yet they were facts. He told them this to give them the courage to endure the trials they would face (cf. John 16:2).

The Lord’s disciples continue to face tribulation even today. Paul encouraged the brethren on his first preaching tour “to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). We suffer in this life on account of persecution, sin, hardship, sickness, and more. Yet we can “take courage” just as the apostles were told to do.

So how can we “take courage” in the face of tribulation? Jesus made three points in our text – reasons why His disciples can take courage.Continue Reading

Why Would Anyone Be a Christian?

Sitting and Looking at SunsetIn the previous article, we discussed the demands of discipleship. We saw that in order to be one of Jesus’ disciples, we must be willing to surrender earthly homes and family relationships and make a lifelong commitment to Him. Many are unwilling to do this. Others are not only unwilling, but they also do not understand why anyone would do this.

The fact that people would question the reasonableness of being a Christian is understandable. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). For one who is only looking at things as they pertain to life here on the earth, it does not make sense for anyone to be a disciple of Christ.

Yet there certainly are reasons for being a disciple despite the demanding nature of that life. In this article, we are going to consider four reasons why we are Christians and why we believe others should be as well.Continue Reading

Regular Christians (Part 6): Tychicus

Regular Christians

Tychicus was one who encouraged his brethren by informing them of Paul’s condition. He was mentioned by the apostle in his letter to the church at Colossae.

As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts” (Colossians 4:7-8).

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