Tag Archives: important
So I’m what you could call a story teller. I have been from the time I was little (a gift it seems I have passed to my oldest daughter), I would constantly hear my dad tell me to get to the point as I would be describing in detail so many things he wearied of waiting for the action. I’m still guilty of it, my wife likes to make fun of the fact that when asked by my last church’s search committee to briefly describe how I ended up in Arkansas and I mentioned the color of the station wagon that I rode in from California to Florida when I was five. For the record it was blue. As it turns out God is the master story teller, His Word recounts the history and emotions of the story mankind has been engaged in from the beginning, and all of it is amazing. I didn’t use to think this. I mean, I knew the Bible was important and I loved the stories especially the ones in the Old Testament, you know like when Jael nails Sisera to the ground with a tent spike through the temple while he took a nap, but I had a hard time understanding why, aside from just knowing the history, I should care. Then God showed me.
I’m sure most of you reading this are far more knowledgeable than I am and so this will be extremely shocking to you that I didn’t know this but I didn’t know that the whole Bible wasn’t just about history and understanding facts but was rather one giant love story of redemption. I had no clue that you could see Christ in every story in the Old Testament. I had intentionally not taught some of my favorite OT stories and stayed strictly on the Gospels, so I could teach about Jesus, but as it turns out the whole Bible is story about us and Jesus.
The story opens with the greatness of God who’s words speak things into being and sweet intimate fellowship with the humans in the cool of the day. Then we tanked it. From Genesis three on it’s the story of God bringing about redemption through Jesus. I’ll give you an example; in Numbers 16 we see a group of leaders attempt to lead a rebellion and basically try and get Moses and Aaron fired. God distinguishes between His leaders and the dissenters by causing the ground to open up and swallow those who oppose His leaders. The following day this is what takes place:
“41 But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.”42 And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting. And behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared.43 And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting,44 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,45 ”Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces.46 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire on it from off the altar and lay incense on it and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun.”47 So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people.48 And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.49 Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah.50 And Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, when the plague was stopped.” – Numbers 16:41-50
So we see the people of Israel not learn the lesson from the previous day and return to gripe at Moses and Aaron (and by proxy God), and this time God has had enough and a plague breaks out among the people. Moses recognizes it and tells Aaron to hurry and grab his censer and get some fire off the altar and then lay incense on and take it to the people to offer atonement for their sin and hopefully spare their lives. So Aaron runs into the middle of the crowd and literally stands in between those dying of the plague and those who are still alive. He’s standing there saying that in order to kill anyone else the plague will have to sweep through me. He’s waving his censer crying out for the forgiveness of their sin. What we see here is a beautiful Old Testament picture of the truth of our condition before a holy God we have challenged His leadership in our lives countless times as is evident by our sin. But because our God loves us with an unfathomable love He sent his Son to run into our midst and make atonement for us with His very life. He stood as our mediator, our rescuer and now stands between the living and the dead.
This is just one example of the great overarching story that our God has given us. It’s one of my five things that your students need to know before they graduate because these young people need to see that all of God’s Word is full of life and substance beyond so and so killed so and so. They need to realize that God has always and will always chase them with His love and He’s been telling us that from the very beginning.
What’s your favorite Old Testament story? Have you been able to relate the truth of God’s redeeming love through the Old Testament? Have any great stories to share?
This is part four of Five Things your students need to know before they graduate. You can find the previous ones here: Part 1 (The Gospel), Part 2 (Religion isn’t from God), and Part 3 (God doesn’t want your best).
The Lord has been teaching me quite a bit lately, particularly in regards as to what it means to live for Christ in more than just a Sunday Wednesday kind of faith. I am being blessed with what I believe are some insightful questions that will hopefully shake the norm of youth ministry. I know that we too often don’t like to focus on the fact that we are in a battle, a spiritual battle that is raging in not just our students families, or schools but in their churches. In our churches. As youth pastors/workers we are constantly sending young and men and women out into that world and my first question is have we equipped them to take the land? Do they realize that they are at war? Do they know there is more to our faith than church attendance? Has God really changed their lives through His gift of salvation or did they merely walk an aisle and pray a prayer then continue life as normal? If not where did we miss it? And perhaps more importantly how do we fix it? I am committed to finding answers to these and questions and others that we’d rather not face and I think it starts here.
“1 The Lord said to Moses,2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” – Numbers 13:1,2
So God grants the peoples request and has them send a cross section of His nation, into the land “which I am giving to the Israelites.”It is important for us to realize that God has given them this land regardless of their forty day espionage and at the end of their forty day recon the spies return to report to the people.
“26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.28 But…” – Numbers 13:26-28
Whoa! Did you catch that? They came back and told Moses and the whole nation “we went into the land… and it does flow with milk and honey!” Basically we saw the land and its exactly like the Lord told us. But… Wait a second, but? but what? Either God is a liar or He’s not! He said that the land was exceedingly good, and it was! Let’s step back and look at this rationally, God told them the land is good, and it was. Therefore we can be assured that God is not lying. Being assured that God is not lying we can therefore trust the rest of what he says which is that He is giving us the land. Which should cause us to draw the conclusion that the land is ours, therefore all we have to do is take it.
I believe that many of us and our churches are at the point of this decision in our own lives. Do we take the land or do we doubt God and retreat to the wilderness? Over the remainder of this year I am committed to walking down the avenue that will alert us to what that means in our own lives and the lives of our ministries.
I often find myself in awe of great pastors that we find in the main stream media Christian media; Steven Furtick, David Platt, and Francis Chan to name a few. As a communicator I often stop and wonder, aside from just God wants them to be his messengers, what it is that makes them them and me well me. I’ve even asked the question to my pastor and several others and their replies, while varying slightly, were simply opportunity. These men were in the right place at the right time and God used them. It sounded good to me, made complete sense, and as I found out is true, well partly true. I watched David Platt’s message “Outside the Camp” to the SBC in 2009
and like fifteen seconds into it I realized why he’s the man. Sure he was blessed with an opportunity, but if he wasn’t who he is the opportunity would have meant nothing. The truth is David Platt & the lot of “great” pastors/speakers are who they are for the same reason that Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world.
Tiger Woods is awesome at golf for several reasons. First he has a passion for the game. I read in a magazine today that he just purchased a huge new “pad” complete with a four hole putting green in it. He genuinely still enjoys golf, even to the point where its fun enough to do even in his down time. He hasn’t let the fact that golf is his profession strip the joy and love for his sport away. In the same way David Platt (and these other men) have a passion for God and His word. Their role as pastor has not diminished the hunger for the presence of God’s word in their lives.
Tiger Woods Daddy had introduced him to golf before the age of two, and he’s been working on shaping his craft and skills, his knowledge and his understanding of the game. He like Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis and other great athletes constantly strive to improve. They continue to spend time practicing so they may deliver to the best of their ability. In those first fifteen seconds I watched David Platt passionately recite scripture from memory, there stood a young man who had clearly spent many many hours in the Word. Studying God’s divine book was obviously something that he did on a very regular basis, with great intensity and discipline. His commitment to take the call of God’s messenger very seriously was evident and he delivered God’s message with the type of confidence that comes when you’re completely confident of the results of your efforts in study.
The application for me today is a humbling one, and my friend summed it up best when he said regarding Tiger, Peyton and Dr. Platt, “it’s there obsession.” They are obsessed with the Lord and His Word, and in light of that thought all I can do is repent.
As I write this I just finished an hour long nap battle with my two and a half year old. She’s at the age where she needs a nap, or its crabby central, but no longer willingly lays in her bed. So for the past hour I’ve been persevering, and applying the necessary resolve to ensure she goes to sleep. As I struggled with not losing my temper and remaining calm God used this rather humorous resistance to encourage me, and hopefully you.
I started in the hall, like normal, returning the runaway to her bed the moment she left the bed, and after six minutes I had picked that little creature up eighteen times and returned her to her bed. Then she broke me, I could no longer handle the giggling, smiling little girl and her no naptime game, and I was benched. I hate to admit it but my wife was right to pull me, I had given up on the plan, lost focus and perspective and needed to cool off downstairs with the non napping children. But fifteen minutes later, when my wife had also run out of willpower, I returned to the contest with a fresh resolve and a willingness to fluctuate the strategy if need be to emerge victorious.
Eventually I simply outlasted her, she ran out energy, and simply gave in and fell asleep. It took me another forty minutes but as I sit here writing, she is up there sleeping and that’s encouraging. It’s encouraging because youth ministry is much like a battle, one where you can get so frustrated that you snap, lose your cool and need to sit out for a while and regroup. It’s important to be flexible about the how but not about the what. I was not going to yield to the sleep defying toddler and allow her to do what she pleased; she was going to take a nap. In the same manner teenagers in my youth ministry will hear about Jesus. They may not hear it the same way everytime or in the same program, trip, service but they will hear about it. Naptime today did not go as planned, and you will find that youth ministry unfortunately is too often this way. It’s a battle; and far too often one we feel as though we are losing, but there’s good news, there is hope for success, if we’re willing to be creative and unrelenting we will win.