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May – Illuminate

To download the PDF for the May Illuminate, click here.


High School Exile

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Summary:  Executive Editor Jeff Finley introduces this issue on “exile” by reflecting on his experience transferring from a small Christian school to a large public high school for his senior year. He then shares the Bible Project’s description of exile as “the watershed moment of the Israelites’ history on which the entire Bible gains its significance.”

1.  Can you relate to the author’s story of going from an environment with mostly Christian people to an environment where many people do not share Christian values?

2. Have you experienced something in your life that seems like exile?

Further reading: 1 Peter 1:1 , 1 Peter 2:13-25
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Exile: Torn Away, Torn Down and Torn Up
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Summary:  Bishop David Roller asks readers to imagine what a person in exile experiences. He calls exile “the most radical rupture of life anyone can experience.”

1.  Do you agree with Bishop Roller’s statement that “exile is
never God’s desire for anyone”? Why or why not?

2.  Why does Roller write that “99 percent of those who will read
this do not experience anything that can seriously be compared
to exile”?

3.  How can a person ensure his or her resting place is in God
despite suffering or unexpected challenges?

Further reading: Daniel 1
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A New Homeland
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Summary: Isaac Bujambi, a Free Methodist elder who serves as the coordinator of African Immigrant Ministries, shares how his family fled war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Rwanda and Burundi before finding a new homeland in the United States.

1.  Are you an immigrant? If not, do you know any immigrants? Were your/their experiences similar to the Bujambi family’s experiences?

2.  Did Isaac Bujambi’s story change how you view immigrants, and did anything in his article surprise you?

3.   What can your local church do to help immigrants in your community? If you do not have immigrants in your area, visit and consider a donation to support the Free Methodist Church – USA as it helps African immigrants in other areas of the United States.

Further reading: Hebrews 13:1–3
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The Land: A Thermometer of Covenantal Faithfulness
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Summary: Bible teacher Whitney Woollard shares how “land plays an important role in the Bible.” She discusses the land as a divine gift, under divine ownership and as a way to measure humans’ faithfulness to God.

1.  What are the three “land/exile” cycles that Whitney Woollard describes?

2.   Why do you think God didn’t abandon creation after people disobeyed Him?

3.   How can we create “little pockets of ‘land’” as followers of Jesus?

Learning to Live as Exiles in Two Places at Once
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Summary: Roberta Mosier-Peterson — the lead pastor of the Gerry (New York) Free Methodist Church — discusses the scriptural story of a God who creates, gives, forgives and restores along with the humans who turn from God, return to God, and are restored and made good again.

1.  Do you think people are more likely or less likely to turn to God while in exile?

2.   How can we learn “what not to do” from the Bible’s stories of exile?

3.   Why do people turn elsewhere instead of turning to God for help?

4.   What can we learn from the early church about walking and living according to the Spirit?

Pop Theology
Sometimes We Forget
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Summary: Mark Crawford looks at ways in which we forget the details of familiar Bible stories, and he adds that “we are in exile in a world that wants to do everything it can to drown out the voice of God.”

1.   Why do we sometimes idolize Bible heroes instead of highlighting their faults and needs for God’s compassion?

2.   Other than what’s mentioned in this article, what are some details of Scripture that are often overlooked?

3.   What are some spiritual truths about which modern Christians need to be reminded?

Further reading: Daniel 1–4, Jonah 4
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