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On Track for God : Spirituality for Young People

Author(s): Patrick Coghlan

ISBN13: 9781847301284

ISBN10: 1847301282

Publisher: Veritas Warehouse - Ballycoolin D 11

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  • Is the Bible history or parable? Is it relevant to life in the twenty-first century? What does it all mean? On Track for God is an exploration into spirituality for young people, tackling such questions as above, answers to which can often prove elusive. The author, Patrick Coghlan, applies scripture to everyday life; bringing the bible firmly into the contemporary world.

    This book is a resource for young adults who want to know more about spirituality, dealing with issues such as loneliness, peer pressure and maturity. However, the book is more than a simple guide or instruction manual; it is interactive, engaging the reader in questioning, and challenging them to explore their thoughts, opinions and beliefs. On Track for God is a medium by which young people can consider and understand the spiritual side of life, in a modern world that can often feel chaotic and isolating.

  • Patrick Coghlan

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    Patrick Coghlan is a Baptist Minister in rural England. But this is a little book for all Christians, or rather for all Christians trying to pass on the faith to another generation , the new Evangelisation again. The problem he addresses is how to reduce the message to that basic minimum that will engage the minds and imaginations of young adults. This is not an easy task. His approach is simplicity itself and will provide many group leaders with an ideal book for their purpose. Many parents faced with what one might call domestic evangelisation will also greatly benefit from it. This is a first step book, but then is not the first step on a long journey the most important on.

    Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic, February 26, 2009

  • Introduction

    I was eighteen at the time. It was my first trip to London on my own. Having arrived early for an appointment, I was killing time, walking around the side streets surrounded by expensive town houses and luxury motorcars. Suddenly, now that the rush and bustle of the journey was over I was feeling very alone. I might add that these were the days before mobile telephones. Then, something fluorescent caught my eye on the side of a lamppost. Stopping for a closer look, it was a sticker telling me to smile, because God loves me. No longer did I feel alone, because I knew that God was with me every step of the way.

    In a world that can be very hostile and isolating at times, life can seem very lonely. But in Matthew 28:20 Jesus promises that when we follow him he is with us always: in the good and joyful times, and the difficult, sad and stressful times , strengthening, guiding, helping and loving. John 3:16 tells us that God sent Jesus into the world as a demonstration of his love for us. God still loves us all, and that is a good starting point for this journey of exploration into spirituality.
    On Track for God is aimed at young adults in its approach, but it is the same Christianity that is open to everyone.

    How-to-Use Guide

    < Past , Present , Future >

    This first section is optional, but encouraged. For this you will need a small notebook to jot notes in. It is a personal response to the triune God (God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit) and his word (the Bible). It involves looking back, examining the present and thinking about hopes and dreams for the future. In the first chapter we ask the question: what is your life like now? In successive chapters the approach is: has anything changed in response to God and his word?

    Ask the questions

    In modern society, we are told to ask questions. One or more questions are asked as a lead in to the chapter. Perhaps some of them are similar questions to ones that you have been asking or perhaps have been stifling.


    A brief, sometimes humorous, but poignant introductory passage leads into the key part of the chapter, which looks at the evidence available in scripture.

    What the Bible says

    A number of Bible passages related to the questions that have been asked are examined. One or more key verses are printed out in full from the New International Version Bible, followed by bullet points and notes. The verse references are given to enable you to read around them and to look up additional notes in a study Bible or commentary. Sometimes you are advised to read, or at least look through, a wider passage.

    For example

    There are so many people in the Bible whose good examples we can look to. This section highlights one particular example to focus on in relation to the topic looked at in that chapter. It may or may not be someone who has been mentioned earlier.

    A guide to spirituality for todays young adults

    The main points of the session are summarised using bullet points.


    In this section, a meditative prayer of personal response can be found for each of the sessions. Each prayer is written out to be used either as a guide or just as it stands , as an act of personal response. There is a final session of in the appendix, which considers the overall response. Once again, use of the appendix is optional.

    Whats it all About?

    < Past , Present , Future >

    Before looking at this session, take your notebook and spend a few minutes jotting down some notes about yourself:
    - Some memories about your past, e.g. achievements, failures, happy times, difficult or sad times, joys and regrets
    - Something about yourself at the moment, e.g. the job you do,family life, assessment of what you have achieved in your life so far
    - Hopes for the future, e.g. your aims and priorities in life, what plans you have, how you would like to see yourself in five or ten years time

    Ask the questions

    - Is the Bible history or parables?
    - Is it relevant to life in the twenty-first century?
    - What does it all mean?


    Do you own a Bible? Have you taken the time to read the Bible? What is your attitude towards the Bible? Is it an object of sentimental value, stored away in a cupboard or somewhere, rather than parting with it? Do you treat it like that faithful old cookery book or encyclopaedia that you wouldnt be without, but cant recall when you last used it? Is it used to prop open a door, or level up a table with a wonky leg? Are you contemptuous of it, regarding it as out of date and irrelevant to life today? Or do you regard it in the same way as you would an invaluable instruction manual for something highly technical, which you use on a daily basis and wouldnt be without , and much, much more?

    These days, I am sure we have all become accustomed to flat packing. It would appear that for cheapness and convenience an abundance of things are available in this form, ranging from furniture to bicycles, and even the humble wheelbarrow. Thankfully, the accompanying instructions now seem to be much improved , invaluable to the process of construction. I always keep instruction books in a safe place, ready for use. I look upon the Bible as being within this category of a highly valued resource , and much, much more , that I wouldnt be without. I have heard it said the best Bible to have is a well-worn one.

    What the Bible says

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

    - In terms of considering the Bible, this is a very fundamental passage to look at.
    - The implication is that, because all Scripture is inspired by God and thus relevant to life, it has no time limit. Indeed, it applies to all generations, including todays.
    - Scripture equips the reader for all aspects of life, including the setting of goals and boundaries.

    Look also at verses 14 and 15.

    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
    - The Bible need not be just a book of written words; it becomes the living word of God when we act upon his promises contained within and strive to live out its teaching, in conjunction with our relationship with Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. As such, it is powerful and life changing.

    The disciples came to him and asked, Why do you speak to the people in parables? He replied, The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. (Matthew 13:10-11)

    - Jesus uses parables in his teaching; simple, everyday stories in understandable language that people will listen to with interest and comprehend at a physical level. However, within these stories also lie deep spiritual truths, built up in layers.
    - The depth of spiritual understanding that the listener receives is dependant on their receptiveness and interest to learn more about the purposes of God.
    - Ultimately it is Gods desire to reveal himself and his intentions to us.

    Look also at verses 12 and 13.

    Some people suggest that certain parts of the Old Testament are parabolic rather than historic. I prefer not to enter into such discussion , I know what I believe! However, the crux is that we pick out, understand and live by the spiritual messages that are contained within scripture. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

    Genesis is the book of beginnings:

    - God creates the world.
    - Humankind is created in Gods image.
    - Sin or disobedience to God enters into his creation and damages it.
    - We see the first prediction of the coming messiah.
    - God makes his first judgement.

    Have a look through Genesis and pick out these and other beginnings. The beginnings in Genesis are themes that are continued throughout the Bible and reach a climax in the New

    My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. (Job 42:5)

    - In one sense, in the book of Job, we see a man dealing with the issue of suffering in his life and coming out with a stronger faith and personal relationship with God as a result.
    - In a broader sense we see an eternal perspective of creation , Gods creation being damaged by humankinds disobedience to him and the devils intervention. However, through suffering and hardship many end up seeking Gods forgiveness and discovering a greater and more personal knowledge of and relationship with God through faith in Jesus.

    Look quickly through the book of Job; try to get the gist and feel of it.

    For example

    How often do you find yourself in a situation wondering what the right decision is? Maybe feeling that what you need is an instruction manual for life to give you the answers youre looking for. The Bible is just such a book. Time and time again, we see Jesus delving into scripture for his replies to people. Take a look at Matthew 4:1-11 (especially verses 4, 6 and 10).

    A guide to spirituality for todays young adults

    - The Bible is the inspired and living word of God.
    - Focus on the spiritual messages it contains.
    - Prayerfully allow God to reveal the deeper truths of Scripture to you.
    - Gods word is still relevant to you today , there is no sell by date!
    - The Bible is not a selection of random stories , there are themes that follow through.
    - Jesus sets the example of looking to scripture for answers to lifes problems and to help with difficult decisions.
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On Track for God : Spirituality for Young People