From A Certain Point Of View

truth, The Bible, teaching, instructionThere’s a movie quote that is relatively famous among folks from my generation.  It’s from the movie “Star Wars” and when Luke Skywalker accuses Obi-wan Kenobi of lying to him about the death of his father (who has become Darth Vader) Obi-Wan responds (and I’m paraphrasing here) “your father ceased to be Anakin Skywalker when he turned to the dark side and took the name Darth Vader.  So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view”.

Far be it from me to teach that truth is relative to our own point of view.  That would be the opposite of what the Bible tells us about truth (that it is absolute and resides in God alone).  However, I believe it is accurate to say that our point of view can be an obstruction in our search for truth and that without the proper perspective we will never attain that which is God’s best for us.

In our example above, Obi-wan chooses to practice deception and because Luke trusts him, he believes the lie that Obi-wan tells him about his father.  While this is an example from fiction, it has relevance to reality.  In life, without proper instruction and guidance we too can very easily trust in the wrong people and the wrong things.  Some of us were simply never taught the truth and are therefore in ignorance.  Others have been taught to believe in lies and actively practice evil because of it.  Regardless of the cause, the effect is the same; lives lived in opposition to the truth of God’s Word.

Even among believers this is a common practice.  I think of the many well-meaning parents out there who love their kids and teens but nevertheless allow them to see movies and television shows that teach a morality that is anything but Godly and to listen to music that encourages rebellion and selfishness.  The message that these young folks are getting is often times much louder and stronger from the worldly side than it is from the little bit of Bible instruction that most believers are giving their kids these days.

Ultimately, we are responsible for those that we influence.  And if we know and have been given the truth then we have a duty and a privilege to first live it and to secondly teach it to those around us.  When we fail in this task the entire body of Christ suffers, and when we succeed the body of Christ is built up in unity.

What then is our answer?  How can we, wherever we are in our walk with the Lord, make sure that our point of view is in agreement with God’s?  The first step would be to pray early and pray often.  Take it to the Lord, always!  The second step is to make sure that we study and get to know God’s Word, the Bible.  We need to read it, we need to pray over it, we need to listen to those who teach it and we need to actively seek out those who would encourage us to learn it.

The fact is, God wants us to know Him and His truth.  He does not desire to hide Himself or the truth of His word from anyone.  But until we are ready to receive His truth and agree with His point of view we will never have His best for us.  We need to pray and ask God to help us to know Him better and for the courage and strength to live by faith according to His Word and the truth contained therein.

Opportunities For Encouragement

encouragement, Thessalonians 5:11, teachingI have a tendency to overlook the small things, to miss their importance in the grand scheme.  I think I am fairly good at keeping the big picture in mind and I am definitely a goal oriented achiever but God is in the details; He says the minute by minute stuff matters and that each and every second of the day belongs to Him.

How does this effect my daily routine?  When I take a break from my desk and make a trip to the water-cooler, for example, do I make it a point to smile and say something encouraging to the folks I pass along the way or am I completely focused on the reason for my trip (the goal of reaching the water-cooler) to the exclusion of the people around me?

Opportunities for encouragement seem like such a small thing but I am starting to believe that they make a tremendous difference to our Heavenly Father.  The beginning of our mission here is to preach the gospel so that souls might be saved in Jesus’ name but the ongoing work is the teaching and the encouragement of those saved souls to continue to seek God’s face and God’s heart and to be like Jesus.

Even though we are saved we still have that natural man within us, that fleshly nature that unless we are taught differently, will continue to lead us astray and into sin.  I need daily reminders to do good and to be good.  We all do.  Without the renewing of our hearts and minds by daily prayer and Bible study the saved children of God will not grow and will never become mature and Christlike.  I need frequent reminders of this truth as I am sure you do as well.

Going back to the example above, if I have Christ’s love foremost in my heart and a smile on my face as I make my trip to the water-cooler then I can share that with others.  Instead of receiving, at best, no regard from me whatsoever and at worst a frown and a negative attitude they get a small taste of God then that can make a large difference.  God can take those seemingly small interactions and use them for great good because little is much when God is in it!

In this I am both the teacher and the student.  It is my sincere hope and prayer that I encourage others so that they, in turn, can encourage someone else.  I am the encourager and I hope to be the encouraged.  I believe that this is how God wants us to treat one another; loving the lost in such a way that they see Jesus and loving the saved in such a way that they are motivated to do good works.

Opportunities for doing good and for being an encouragement are plentiful.  Do I have eyes to see them?  Do you?

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another  – Thessalonians 5:11a (NASB)

 

5 Things We Must Teach Kids After They Are Saved

teaching, instruction, youth1.  You have a responsibility to grow:  Whether you are a teacher, a pastor, a blogger, a family friend or a parent this is the primary message that you need to be giving the kids around you.  Being saved is not an ending or a destination, it is a beginning.  We who are in the position to do so need to be stressing how important it is that people start young in learning to love God’s Word and spending time each day alone with Him.  We must encourage growth and we need to be consistent with our message and in helping those coming up after us in developing discipline and spiritual wisdom.

We love our kids, we provide for them and care for them the best that we know how.  And we assume that because biological growth comes naturally that spiritual growth will also.  This is not the case (far from it) and we would do well to spend as much time encouraging spiritual growth in our kids as we do caring for their earthly needs.  If we don’t do this then we are doing a disservice to our children and we are going to be called into judgement over it one day as we stand before the Lord.  Our responsibility is a serious one and it’s time we started making it a priority.

2.  Be humble:  Humility is not often modeled in our society, especially by the athletes and stars that our kids view as role models.  The Bible says “God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)  Not only do we need to teach our kids what the Bible says about humility, we need to model it in our own lives and in our interactions with others.  We stress personal accomplishments, team sports, high grades and the uniqueness of the individual but what if we spent just as much time stressing meekness and humility as character traits in our kids?  What kind of change would that make in the world of tomorrow?

3.  Find and develop your gifts:  We are in a unique position to see our kids grow and to get to know the people that God is making them to be.  We should be helping them identify their gifts and talents and then encouraging them to use them for the Lord.  If we teach our kids to love to serve the Lord with gladness while using their gifts and abilities then we will leave a legacy of workers who are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and understand the importance of a unified body of Christ working together.  God richly blesses those who joyfully serve him and the sooner our kids discover this the richer and fuller that their lives will be.

4.  Life is not about having fun:  Despite what the world tells us and the constant bombardment on television for toys and games that appeal to our kids, we were not put on this planet simply to play and have fun.  For many of us, this is a tough message but the sooner we learn it, the better off we will be.  We need to instill a strong work ethic in our kids and students and teach them how to study and be wise with their time and talents.  With the advent of smart phones and the rise of the technology age our kids have more distractions and more games to play than any generation that came before them.  Unless we teach them the value and the pleasure of working hard then we are robbing them of their full potential.

5.  Pray without ceasing:  Prayer for the Christian should be as natural as breathing.  This takes time to develop and is not something that will occur without training, instruction and more importantly, example.  The best way to teach a strong prayer life is to have and live a strong prayer life.  Yes, we need to pray in our prayer closets and in our quiet times but if we are in a position to teach and instruct young people then we also need  to pray boldly and unashamedly in front of them.  We need to tell them to be honest before God and to take everything to Him.  A Christian with a strong prayer life is a Christian that is experiencing a vital life of faith and that is something that we all need.

My people are destroyed (perish) for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)  We teach and instruct because if we don’t our students become easy prey for the evil one and are prone to all kinds of heartache and error.  We teach and instruct to keep our kids close to the Lord and to provide them with the tools they need to grow and flourish as men and women of faith.  It is our responsibility and we must take it seriously if we are to raise the next generation up to be strong for the Lord.