LEWISTOWN - For 40 days, Noah rocked back and forth in the ark, Moses spoke with God on Mount Sinai, Goliath challenged the Israelites and Jesus fasted in the wilderness.
God used those 40 days to initiate strong spiritual changes in his followers, said the Rev. Howard Houtz, senior pastor at Calvary Bible Church.
Beginning this April, the pastor said Calvary will begin a 40-day in-depth Bible study to teach and inspire its members.
Houtz said he has noticed an epidemic of biblical illiteracy in younger generations.
Some doubt the trustworthiness of God's Word, and others try to read the Bible but soon drop it, he said.
"If you don't understand, it's easy to put it aside," Houtz said.
He blamed his own generation for dropping the ball and not teaching their children how to study the Bible.
Recently, he saw a potential solution to the problem in popular Christian author Rick Warren's latest curriculum, "40 Days in the Word."
The key theme of the study is "Love the Word. Learn the Word. Live the Word." The program explores the authenticity, reliability, power, comfort, interpretation and doing of God's Word.
Houtz said the curriculum teaches a very practical, easy to understand method of studying the Bible. It offers memorization techniques and resources for defending the faith.
And it's not just for young people.
"We can never say, 'I've got this Bible thing down flat.'" Houtz said.
The congregation welcomes everyone to join the study, not just people from Calvary, he said.
The program will be incorporated into the worship services, small groups and daily devotions beginning April 15. Sign-ups begin Sunday.
Houtz said his first sermon will be about divine inspiration and trustworthiness of the Word. He will teach about the reliability and authenticity of the Bible.
The traditional worship service will be held at 8:30 a.m. and the contemporary service at 11. On Sunday evenings, small groups will meet in homes to discuss the lesson.
The Bible is an essential source for Christians - "our sole authority for faith and practice," Houtz said, referring to the church's doctrinal statement.
From the 40-day study, Houtz said he would like to see the congregation commit to acting out God's Word in Mifflin County and across the globe.
For more information about "40 Days in the Word," call the church at 248-5409.