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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #16 – Distinction

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at The Discipline of Distinction. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I don’t agree with everything he wrote, many of the things he has written resonate with me.

As he begins the chapter on Distinction, Edman says, “There are disciplines of the soul that are deeper and more difficult to learn and that determine character more than do those that are obvious. To be sure, there is the discipline of dismay when we know not which way to turn, but there is also that of delight when the pathway is picturesque and appealing; there is the discipline of darkness when we stand humanly alone in the shadows, and also that of light when we think we walk by sight and not by faith; there is the discipline of difficulty when the road is uphill and when heart fails, but also that of ease when we are drugged into a false sense of security, and like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress we sleep in Pleasant Arbor, with consequent loss of time and testimony for Christ; there is the discipline of disease, when in weakness and pain we make  our tryst under the shadow of His wing, and also that health when we seem sufficient to ourselves and think we have little need of Him; there is the discipline of obscurity and neglect when we are overlooked by others, but there is also the discipline of distinction when we come to a place of rare opportunity and responsibility.” (pp. 203-204).

Edman adds further evidence to substantiate that disciplines must be learned by citing Paul’s statement, “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12).

King Uzziah Illustrates the Discipline of Distinction (2 Chronicles 26)

A good summary of his life is given in 2Chronicles 26:15b-16a where it says, “And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction…” We might title his story, “A Tragic Conclusion to a Promising Life.” The chronicler says of King Uzziah, that he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but goes on to describe that after a time he made choices that resulted in calamity for him and for his legacy. It would seem that the Lord is providing us warning that how we live, the decisions and the choices that we make, matter a great deal. To begin well is not enough. The Lord wants us to finish well, too

In verses 2 to 15 the chronicler provides us a substantial list of achievements that made King Uzziah great:

  • He rebuilt Eloth and restored it to Judah after Amaziah’s father died (v. 2)
  • He took on several long-term enemies of Judah, the Philistines, the Arabs, the Meunites, and he defeated them all. In doing so, he also gained the fear and tribute and perhaps the vassalage of the Ammonites, and as a result we read in verse 8 that Uzziah’s fame spread as far as the border of Egypt because he had become very strong (vv. 6-8).
  • He built towers in Jerusalem, at several of the gates entering the city. He built towers in the wilderness, in the foothills, and coastal plains around Jerusalem. He also constructed many cisterns for water retention for the large herds of livestock that he owned. The towers Uzziah built in Jerusalem and all around Judah provided fortification and protection for royal workers as well as storage. We read that he employed farmers and vinedressers in the hills and the fertile lands, for we’re told he loved the soil (vv. 9-10).
  • He had a well-trained army that was highly ordered with capable leaders. This was no simple militia. It was a large army of 307,500 who could make war with mighty power. Add to that Uzziah made very significant provisions for his army. In biblical times it was typical for soldiers to provide their own weapons. Not Uzziah’s army. The writer mentions that Uzziah made shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows and stones for slinging for every soldier. Uzziah also had what the ESV calls engines invented by skillful men to be used on the towers to shoot arrows and great stones. This was a very modern and enviable army that would put fear into Judah’s enemies. And one more we read in verse 15 that Uzziah’s fame spread far (vv. 11-15).

The chronicler also explains how Uzziah was able to accomplish his remarkable achievements. We read in verse 4 that Uzziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. In those years that Uzziah flourished, he set himself to seek God….But secondly, Uzziah had help. We also read in that same verse that he had a religious advisor named Zechariah who taught Uzziah to fear the Lord. He was to Uzziah what Jehoiada was to Uzziah’s grandfather Joash. In addition to teaching Uzziah to fear the Lord, one can assume that Zechariah appropriately held Uzziah accountable for his life with God.

God helped Uzziah fight his battles with his enemies (v.7), and Uzziah’s fame spread far for he was marvelously helped until he was strong (v.15). But something went dreadfully wrong. Who would have anticipated anything from King Uzziah but the continued favor of God, and success in all his pursuits? We must now ask what happened.

Verse 16 says, “But when he was strong he grew proud to his destruction, for he was unfaithful to the Lord.” Something radically changed in Uzziah’s life. It seems likely that Zechariah was no longer an influence in his life and had not been replaced by another mentor. Uzziah was ambushed by pride, and with that he ceased fearing the Lord. He was at the top of his game as a king. He had great power. His enemies feared him. He had achieved great things for Judah, and at some point he forgot that it was the Lord’s doing, not his. His pride swelled and he forgot the Lord, and Uzziah fell away.

The chronicler goes on to describe in detail how King Uzziah’s pride manifested itself in verses 16 to 21. Uzziah in his pride was not satisfied to be a great king. He determined to take to himself the responsibilities of the office of priest as well by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. This duty was strictly limited to the priests in Exodus 30 and in Numbers 16 and Numbers 18. To violate this was a capital offense.

Rather than repent, what does Uzziah do? Verse 19 tells us: He became angry with the priests. And although what Uzziah had done was worthy of death, the Lord spared his life, but there were severe lifelong consequences for him. Verse 20 we read that the Lord struck Uzziah with a skin disease described as leprosy that rendered him unclean and unqualified to continue as king for all practical purposes. In verse 21, the chronicler says Uzziah remained a leper the rest of his life and was required to live in a separate house, away from his residence and the temple. Jotham, his son, became a co-regent to rule the people from that time forward. If living the rest of his life as a leper and removed from exercising his duties as king wasn’t enough, we read in verse 23 “and Uzziah slept with his fathers and they buried him with his fathers in the burial field that belonged to the kings, for they said he is a leper.” Uzziah rested in royal land, but not in the tombs of his fathers. It’s a final dishonor. Even in death, says one commentator, Uzziah did not lose the shame of the skin disease which he received as a result of his infidelity.

The Discipline of Distinction Comes to Us When We Have Achieved

Edman says, “The discipline of distinction comes to us when we have achieved a place of prominence, a plane of privilege, a plateau of prosperity, and pleasure of plenty. In prominence do we have the humility of heart that marked us when we followed closely after the meek and merciful Man of Sorrows? … In privilege do we have the concern for the rights and feelings of others that we had when we were ourselves obscure and unimportant? … In prosperity do we have the same tenderness, even tearfulness, of heart and trust in the provision of the God of all grace and comfort that we had when we were penniless in purse and poor in spirit? … In our pleasure of plenty do we remember that once we were in painfulness and weariness, that it was of the Lord’s mercies that we were not consumed, that His grace was sufficient, that ‘every good gift and every perfect gift … cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness’? (Jas. 1:17) (pp. 206-207)

Edman says the real test of character comes when we are exalted and extoled. This certainly is confirmed by the account of Uzziah. Edman says of Uzziah, “He could stand poverty but not prosperity, work but not wealth, toil but not triumph, struggle but not success, duty but not distinction. His heart was lifted up, only to his destruction” (p. 207).

The Discipline of Distinction Speaks When We Can Answer “Yes” to These Questions…

“The discipline of distinction speaks thus: Are we as tender toward sin as when we first were lost? As thankful toward the Saviour as when He saved us? As thoughtful toward others as when we shared a cup of cold water, all we had? As thorough in our study and our service as when we began to tell others about His grace? As trusting in His promises as when we were poor? As trustworthy in our stewardship as when we tithed joyfully our meager resources?” (p. 208).

The Best Preparation for the Discipline of Distinction is Contrition of Heart

Edman says that this contrition of heart “will keep one always contemptible to himself, contrite before the Lord, cautious to hear any appreciation for others, concerned ever with the welfare of others and oblivious of his own pleasure” (p.208).

Conclusion

“May God grant to us the stern discipline that will enable us to regard distinction as a stewardship to be used in His service, bringing with it deepened dependence upon Him, more definite devotion to duty, c. disinclination to hear the adulation of others, distaste for the praise of men, death to self-interest, and daily delight in doing His bidding” (p. 208).

The chapter closes with this poem (Edman does not cite source nor author but many on the internet credit Meade MacGuire, a prominent Adventist leader and author who lived from 1875 until 1967.

“Father, where shall I work today?”

And my love flowed warm and free.

Then He pointed me out a tiny spot,

And said, “Tend that for me.”

I answered quickly, “Oh, no, not that.

Why, no one would ever see,

No matter how well my work was done.

Not that little place for me!”

And the word He spoke, it was not stern,

He answered me tenderly,

“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;

Art thou working for them or me?

Nazareth was a little place,

And so was Galilee.”

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 203 – 209)

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Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be #9: Responsibility

If I am to become the man God wants me to be, I must develop the attribute of responsibility. Responsibility is “the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.” (www.dictionary.com).

Responsibility is one of the attributes that the Heart of A Champion Character Development Program (http://www.heartofachampion.org/) strives to develop in young people in its outreach program. Their written and video programs approach this under 4 subtopics: Responsibility to Work, Responsibility to Family, Responsibility to Others, and Responsibility to Serve. We shall use that same approach in discussing it here. Please consider …

Responsibility to Work

“Work is seemingly the center of our lives. We work at our jobs, we work at school, we work in our interest, we work at our relationships; everywhere, in everything we seem to be constantly working. Yet success in any of these areas comes down to the amount of responsibility we accept and act upon. An old truth tells us that, ‘whatever we sow (or plant) we will also reap (or harvest).’ The greater the effort we put into a process, the greater the results will be. Jobs, school, relationships, sports, the fine arts – no matter what it is, the results we see are in direct correlation to the effort we put in. Hard work produces results. The responsibility we each have is to use our gifts and talents to the fullest and give every situation our all. When we do that, we will have the opportunity to see amazing results. Be reliable in the work before you, so that you can realize a great harvest of success, be rewarded and be given new and greater opportunities (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.4).

Christina Bernal

“Christina Bernal was like any other student, faced with the difficulties of school and trying to get good grades. But one day, a special teacher began to share with Christina a vision for how she could become successful. Inspired by the challenge to work harder, Christina responded and her hard work produced great results” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.4).

Stephen Shaw, her fourth-grade teacher, introduced her to a program called Odyssey of the Mind. The spark that this program ignited in her, stayed with her throughout high school and she became valedictorian of her graduating class at Lyford High School in Lyford, Texas. Near the end of her high school career, she was also notified that she was receiving a full scholarship to the school of her dreams. Christiana attended Texas State University in San Marcos in 2004 as one of that year’s recipients of The Terry Foundation Scholarships.

Al Hollingsworth

“Al Hollingsworth is a business leader, international speaker, minister, author and founder and CEO of Aldelano Corporation and Aldelano Solar Solutions. A successful entrepreneur of 50 years, Hollingsworth’s heart is to help others succeed in the visions, dreams, and ideas God has given them. Hollingsworth founded Aldelano Corporation in 1968 as a young man living in Los Angeles. Today, Aldelano is a nationwide provider of packaging and staffing services with a client list of Fortune 500 companies.

In 1985, Al and his wife Hattie founded B.O.S.S. the Movement Ministries—a program dedicated to mentoring youth in both business skills and spiritual disciplines. Al and Hattie also started Vertical Leap, an adult training program which allows others to start B.O.S.S. programs in their communities. Today, B.O.S.S. the Movement is a series of training curricula that have been planted in nations throughout the world, producing thousands of successful leaders and entrepreneurs.

As Al and Hattie traveled throughout the world with their ministry they experienced first-hand the struggles stemming from the lack of infrastructure. The lack of power, refrigeration and clean water – particularly in remote areas – was creating a daily living crisis and continuing a cycle of malnutrition and poor health, poor living conditions, educational setbacks, poverty and the inability to expand business and resources. The Hollingsworths saw that the governments were not addressing the issues fast enough and other countries who claimed to invest in the regions were getting rich while the countries themselves remained poor. Al’s heart for ministry combined with his business acumen led to the development of his most recent innovations including the Solar ColdBox – a solar-powered, industrial-sized cold storage unit that offers both refrigeration and freezing temperatures; the Aldelano Solar WaterMaker – which produces drinkable water and ice from the moisture in the air, and the Aldelano Solar PowerPak – a line of industrial-sized solar power generation systems. These products are designed to provide Instant Infrastructure to remote and underdeveloped areas, empowering small farmers and businesses to convert and monetize their own natural resources through the Power of Solar.

Today, Aldelano is a global leader in introducing solar technologies to developing areas around the world and Al and Hattie are committed to aiding developing countries in eliminating waste and creating economic independence and growth for their people and communities.” (https://solarcoldbox.com/biography-alfred-d-hollingsworth-ceo-aldelano-corporation)

Describing the B.O.S.S. program, Hollingsworth says “The program trains youth ages 7-19 to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, public-speaking ability, and virtuous business skills through 20 weeks of classes in two-hour blocks after school and on weekends. Subjects include poise and leadership, motivation, virtuous principles of business and economics, and entrepreneurship and finances. Young people develop positive thinking habits, create business plans and engage in Internet entrepreneurship, where they are allowed to earn income from products they sell through web-based businesses they set up. Many of those involved in the program are fatherless and poor, the typical targets for urban gangs. These kids – and all other types of people – can be trained to work for success without sacrificing principle. That’s really the heartbeat of where we are vested. If you take a look where the young people are moving and running toward, they’re attracted to economics. In order to stay potent, we’re going to have to be able to address that in the lives of our young people…. Work is not a job, it is a purpose… Working is not something that I do because it is a task. I do it because it is a love. I work hard, and I have great joy – the joy of purpose” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.6).

Responsibility to Family

“In today’s culture there are so many people who have denied their responsibility within their families. Family discord and disunity are more common than ever today. Yet it is not supposed to be that way. Rather than finding fault and being critical, a better way is for family members to join together and each take responsibility to do their part in the family. Responsibility is not just doing what you say you will do, but doing what you know you should do – even when it is difficult. But that is needed in families to keep them functioning as effectively and efficiently as possible. It takes a contribution from every member, including you. How will you respond? (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.7).

Don Hooten

“Don Hooten has experienced great heartache through the death of his teenage son. Don is convinced that steroid use led Taylor Hooten to commit suicide. Taylor’s death inspired Don to reach others kids who are experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs. He feels a sense of responsibility to his son to do everything he can to help save other kids” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.7).

Taylor began using steroids, without his parent’s knowledge, in hopes of making his high school baseball team, the Plano Westside Bombers. Changes in his behavior brought the steroid use to the attention of his parents. When they confronted him about it, he promised to quit. But the prolonged use had taken its toll, and about six weeks after he had told everyone that he had stopped using, he hung himself. Don says, “There are no words that I can use to describe what the impact of losing a child is, let alone losing one to suicide for any cause.”

Don started the Taylor Hooten Foundation (https://taylorhooton.org) in hopes of helping other kids. Don has become a national voice to educate about the dangers of steroid use. He has spoken to schools and parent groups across America and testified before congress. He says that users deceive themselves into thinking that they are not “doing drugs.”

Just Think Twice is a United States Government, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website.

It tells Taylor’s story,

“Taylor Hooton was a star pitcher on his high school team, a handsome teenager who had everything going for him. Until steroids caught up with him, and he took his own life.

It took a while for his parents to connect Taylor’s recent weight and muscle increases with his uncharacteristic mood swings and violent, angry behavior. Like most parents, they didn’t know that these and other symptoms, like the acne he had developed on his back, were signs of steroids use. Taylor had always been a good son, a terrific athlete and had his act together. Taylor just wanted to make the varsity baseball team, and steroids had been recommended to him as a way to get bigger faster.

At first, his parents didn’t know what was happening, but they were alarmed. They took Taylor to the family doctor and asked that he be tested for drugs, not knowing that steroids were not part of the screening panel. He got a clean bill of health, but things continued to worsen. Even though he’d been using a cocktail of steroids and other hormones to bulk up, the drugs were wreaking havoc on his body and emotions. In one of his increasingly frequent rages, he told his mother he would take a knife and kill himself. His parents insisted that he see a psychiatrist.

After many sessions with the psychiatrist, Taylor mentioned his steroids use. Part of his treatment was to tell his parents about his problem and he promised to stop using. Later, when Taylor stole a digital camera and a laptop computer, his whole family confronted him about his unacceptable behavior. Taylor was grounded. After tearful apologies, Taylor begged his mother to lift his punishment, but she said no. Taylor went to his room and hanged himself. It was only after his death that the whole picture came into focus for Taylor’s friends and family.

The police and Taylor’s dad found the steroids and syringes in his room, and the medical examiner found them in his body—even though it was long after Taylor had stopped using. What Taylor’s parents and Taylor himself did not fully understand was the deep depression that steroids users experience when they suddenly stop taking the drug. (https://www.justthinktwice.gov/true-stories/taylor-hooton-17).

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Thomas-Graham began her career at Goldman, Sachs & Co., where she was a summer associate in the investment banking division while she was student at Harvard Business School. In 1995, she was the first African American woman to become partner at the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. [9]

In 1999, Thomas-Graham joined NBC as president of CNBC.com and in 2001, she became chief executive of the cable TV network CNBC. Her successful launch of the network’s business website became a Harvard Business School Case study authored by Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. In September 2005, she left CNBC [10] [11] and was hired as president of Liz Claiborne, Inc. [11]

In January 2010, Thomas-Graham joined the Executive Board of Credit Suisse as Chief Talent, Branding and Communications Officer. [12] In August 2016, she was elected by Clorox to serve as the Lead independent director of its board…

Thomas-Graham serves on the board of the New York Philharmonic and the Parsons School of Design. She is a member of the Economic Club of New York and the Council on Foreign Relations. [13]

Thomas-Graham is the author of a three-title book series, “Ivy League Mysteries”, published by Simon & Schuster: A Darker Shade Of Crimson (1998), Blue Blood (1999),[14] and Orange Crushed (2004).[5]

Thomas-Graham is the creator and owner of Dandelion Chandelier, a blog that explores the intersection of luxury, wellness, marketing, and technology. [15] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamela_Thomas-Graham).

But as the Heart of Champion article says of her, “Among a myriad of accolades, she still considers her most important role to be that of Mom.” At the time that the HOC article was written, these words were used to describe her, “Running a big business and writing mystery novels would seem enough to handle, however Thomas-Graham still sees each of those duties as secondary to raising her three young children. She and Larry have a son and twins (a boy and a girl) who are three years younger. Creating enough quality time to spend with the children is a focus of Thomas-Graham’s life. She wakes up at 4:30 every morning to write, so she can reserve time to spend with her children in the morning before heading off to work. After work, she is home to spend more time with the kids, playing and reading. On the weekends most days are especially centered on fun outings with the kids, taking them to museums and the ballet” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.9).

Responsibility to Others

“Have you ever realized how much other people need you? There are so many people around us who are hurting and in need, with nowhere to go to get help. Yet, you have something to give, something you can do to help meet the needs of others. You may not open a shelter for battered women, but there is no reason why you couldn’t. Whether it is cutting a homebound person’s grass, or conducting a car wash to raise money for the local homeless shelter, you can do something to make a difference. Others need you; they need what you have to give. When we all realize that we each are equally responsible for the community around us, then we can truly make a difference in the world. But all it takes is one person with passion to get it started. Will that person B U?” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.10)

Kris Hogan

“Kris Hogan is the Head Football Coach for Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas. During the 2008 football season Faith played a team from Gainesville State School, a maximum security facility for violent juvenile offenders from across Texas. Prior to the game, Coach Hogan and the Lions players recognized a unique opportunity to impact their opponents in a positive way” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.10)

From the perspective of the Gainesville State School Tornados, it had been a discouraging season. After suffering through a 2008 season that saw them lose eight consecutive games, and after scoring just fourteen points all season long while giving up over three hundred, the Tornados traveled to Grapevine to finish their season against private-school powerhouse Faith Christian.

Kris Hogan had developed a game plan for that night that had nothing to do with football. He sent an email to the entire Faith community asking fans, students, and parents to do something out of the ordinary, cheer for Gainesville and make the boys feel like they were their own. They set up a “spirit line” for the Gainesville team to run through and fans sat on their side of the field. It made the Gainesville team feel like they were the home team!  Though Gainesville lost the game by a score of 33-14, they went home winners!

Justin Gregorich

“At just 5 feet 3 and 130 pounds, 14-yearold Justin Gregorich couldn’t lift as much weight as other aspiring football players at Clearwater (FL) Countryside High School. In fact, his perceived lack of strength became a target for some of the other students, who have him a hard time about it.

On the afternoon of January 28, 2005, the teasing made Justin so upset he left practice early and began walking home. He was dejected and worried. As he walked, he thought about calling his mother, who normally gave him a ride home from school. But for some reason, he just kept on walking.

As he walked alongside Florida State Road 580, his mind raced with thoughts. Why did I leave? Will the coach be mad? Should I go back? Suddenly, a gold Lincoln Town Car came around the bend in the road. Justin watched as the driver lost control of the car, which careened off the road right in front of Justin, flattened a chain-link fence and barreled into a retention pond. Justin began running toward the care. ‘It happened so fast. I turned my head and bam! – the car was in the water.’

As he watched the car sink toward the bottom, Justin quickly dropped his backpack and dove into the frigid water. He is, by his own admission, an average swimmer. ‘I knew there were alligators and snakes in the pond,’ Justin said. ‘But right then, I just wanted to get to that car. Nothing went through my head except that I had to save that man, so I took my shoes off so as not to be weighted down, and dove right in. I didn’t even think about what I was doing…I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have to save this guy.’

Two other passersby, Michael McBrayer and Shawn Brady, who also saw the incident jumped into the water after Justin. One of them opened the car door. Justin grabbed the driver’s right arm. The other man took the left arm, and together they swam 50 feet to the bank, pulling the driver to safety. The three had saved the life of 82-year-old Raymond Kane, who was taken to a nearby hospital where he made a quick recovery from minor injuries. ‘The weird thing was, I didn’t really want to leave football,’ said Justin. ‘I just left because I got this urge.’

‘It’s amazing – there are snakes and there are alligators and it’s cold, and it’s amazing to see people, with no regard for their own safety, all three of them just jumped in right after that guy, said Mike Eash, a paramedic for Safety Harbor Fire Rescue.

What followed for Justin was a whirlwind of national media attention, pats on the back at school and phone calls from strangers who were touched by his story. What made the story even more poignant was the revelation that Justin has Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His story spread from the Tampa Bay area to newspapers across the country, NBC’s Today show, and just about every broadcast and cable news and talk outlet. In a statement read on the Today show, a recovering Kane called Justin’s actions ‘heroic and unselfish.’

But Justin remained unfazed, ‘Everybody’s making a big deal of it,’ Justin told the media at a surprise party in his honor, just days after his heroic feat. ‘I don’t really think it’s a big deal.’ He said he felt Kane’s real saviors were McBrayer and Brady. ‘They’re more heroical than me,’ he said.

Justin’s father Jim Gregorich said the experience has been a boost for his son, who is in a program for learning-disabled students. ‘God made him the way he is … and I think he is realizing that there is a lot of good in that,’ the father said. ‘When you get knocked down a lot, sometimes your self-esteem gets really hammered. He’s realizing that to a lot of other people, he’s special.

Justin’s mother wasn’t at all surprised by the actions of her son, whom she says has a ‘kind soul’ and is a hero not for what he did, but simply because of who he is. ‘He would do this for anybody,’ she said.”

” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.12)

Responsibility to Serve

“Each of us has a responsibility to serve in one form or another, and each of us will be presented with opportunities to do so throughout our lifetime. Like Roger, you have a chance to make a difference – whether in your local community or neighborhood, or around the world – whether with just one person or among many. It all begins with one person with a heart to serve someone else. Follow your heart and find a way to serve someone. Take the responsibility to serve and make a difference. Remember, U R needed!”  (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.13)

Roger Staubach

”In the 1960’s, Roger Staubach was one of the most popular people in America. A star quarterback at the U.S. Naval academy, Roger won the Heisman Trophy and was on his way to a pro football career. But he had made a commitment to serve his country in the armed forces, which is what he did during the conflict in Vietnam. For Roger, he was simply fulfilling his responsibility to serve.”  (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.13)

The responsibility to serve your country is important to many people, even if you’re a star. And that was Roger’s priority, even though he had been drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. After serving his country in Vietnam, he came back to play for the Dallas Cowboys, eventually leading them to a 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins is Super Bowl VI. That win turned the Cowboys into an NFL dynasty and elevated Staubach to place as one of football’s consummate quarterbacks, a role that Staubach inherited from his own role model Bart Starr.

Clay Walker

“Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has not slowed down country music star Clay Walker. In fact, it’s sped him up a bit. Walker was just 26 when he was diagnosed with MS in 1996. At that point, he had released two albums, which included five No. 1 hits.

He had been an athlete when he was younger, playing high school football, but his music career had taken him away from his physical regimen. The MS diagnosis made him recommit to physical activity. ‘Before, all I did was sing,’ Walker told Parade Magazine. ‘Now, I want to do everything. I’m so much more active. At the same time, I’m more introspective, both as a person and in my music.’

The disease also didn’t slow down Walker’s music career. He now has nine albums, for of them platinum and two of them gold, with more than eight million copies sold from just those six albums. Among Walker’s 11 No. 1 singles are: ‘Live Until I Die,’ ‘If I Could Make A Living,’ ‘This Woman And This Man,’ ‘Then What,’ and ‘Chain Of Love.’ He is one of only a few artists to have one of his songs included five years consecutively in Billboard’s year-end Top 10 country list. He’s also been one of the country’s top 10-grossing touring acts several times.

Walker knows that he has been fortunate among MS patients in the fact that he recovered most of his physical and mental capacities. The disease affects some 2.5 million people worldwide, including 400,000 Americans. It affects the brain and spinal cord resulting in loss of muscle control, vision, balance, sensation or thinking ability. The nerves of the brain and spinal cord are damaged by one’s own immune system. The immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord, the two components of the central nervous system, which decreases the transmission of nerve impulses, or messages, between the brain and other parts of the body, messages that control muscle movements, such as walking and talking.

A recording artist without the transmission of nerve impulses to his extremities seems unrealistic. But Walker has regained 95 percent of the functions he lost when the first symptoms appeared. He now rides horses in competition and lives on a ranch outside Houston. His life is nearly ‘normal.’  If you count making your living performing on stage normal.

‘When you’re young, you feel like you’re going to live forever,’ Walker told Parade Magazine. ‘I don’t know at what age people realize that they aren’t always going to be here, but I’m grateful that the process was sped up for me. It pushed me to enjoy life more fully.’

The oldest of five kids, Walker started performing country music at local clubs at age 16. By the age of 23, he had his first recording contract. Three years later, he was diagnosed with MS. Now, he feels a responsibility to use his experiences to touch the lives of others. He now sees his purpose as connecting with all the people with whom he comes in contact, and encouraging fellow patients. ‘I really want to make connections with everyone, from family and friends, to strangers and fans,’ he said.

As far as fans, he’s most touched when fans with MS want to meet him after a concert. It bothers him when he hears that those patients aren’t doing everything they can to fight the disease. So in February 2003, he started the Band Against MS Foundation. Merchandise sold at his concerts helps fund it, plus Walker is hoping that fellow entertainers will help as well.

He wants people to know that MS doesn’t have to be disabling. ‘Having MS has changed the way I look at every person in the world,’ he told Parade. ‘But I never let MS stop me from performing or recording. I want people to know that you don’t have to give up your dreams with this disease.”

(Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Responsibility, Volume 3, p.15)

Conclusion

Think about what it takes to demonstrate the proper responsibility in your life: to work, to family, to others, and to serve. I hope that, after reading this month’s article, you know a little more about responsibility and how you can further develop that attribute to Become The Man God Wants You To Be. Thanks for reading…

Randy

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #15 – Detail

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at The Discipline of Detail. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

We have been using, as an anchor for this series, a book by V. Raymond Edman published in 1948 titled The Disciplines of Life. Although Mr. Edman was associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I don’t agree with everything he wrote, many of the things he has written resonate with me.

As he begins the chapter on Detail, he says, “Life has its occasional crisis that crashes into its commonplaces, but it is more largely made up of details that seem in themselves to be insignificant and unimportant. In the multitude of many duties we may fail altogether to see any pattern to the details of life, and thereby we may miss much of its meaning, not to mention its melody. Details can give the motif, as well as the music, to any life” (p. 129).

Others have spoken of the value of being concerned with the details of life. The English Designer, William Morris (1834-1896), said, “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”  And legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Life Can Be Likened to a Sentence

In this lesson, Edman likens life to a sentence. He says, “A sentence is ‘a combination of words which is complete or expressing a thought, and in writing is usually marked at the close by a period; a sense unit comprising a subject and a predicate, especially one with both subject and finite verb expressed.’ Incidentally, that sentence is complicated and perhaps difficult to comprehend at first sight. How much like life it is! (p. 129).

“Life, like a sentence, should have its subject, expressed or implied. To have self as the center of one’s life sentence is to have narrow horizons, shallow objectives, unsatisfactory achievements, in brief, a life that is wasted (Mark 8:35)…. On the other hand, “The life with Christ as its grand subject is the life with wide horizons, worthy aims and entirely satisfactory accomplishment. It is the life defined by the Apostle Paul, ‘For to me to live is Christ’ (Phil. 1:21) (pp. 129-130).

“The details of a sentence have their significance in life. The Most High puts punctuation marks into our lives, to make them comprehensible and complete…. A comma indicates a slight change in the direction of the sentence, and an addition to its meaning or enlargement and enrichment to its description…. The semi-colon indicates a more abrupt and basic change in the direction of the sentence…. Parentheses are indicative of even deeper perplexity than that caused by the semicolon…. Then there is the period that brings the sentence to its completion. Of course the sentence can conclude with a question mark if life is essentially an interrogation rather than a statement of fact…. Also the sentence may end in an exclamation point, with its surprise and astonishment, but hardly with its success. Life should not be an incomplete sentence, whose completeness and disobedience will not escape the Master” (pp. 130-134).

There are as many kinds of sentences as there are lives.

As Edman concludes this lesson, he says, “The sentence may be simple, not necessarily short, but without complication; it may be compound, with two or more independent clauses; it may be complex, with modifications qualifying the main clause; it may be loose, complex and yet with its meaning appearing early; it may be periodic, also complex, but with its meaning not apparent until the last word or almost the last word has been reached; or it may be balanced, characterized by symmetry and evenness of flow. Whatever may be the structure of the life, however short or long it may be, wherever it may meander or keep to the beaten track, however many modifications may be made, however confusing it may seem for the time being, it should be meaningful and complete when the conclusion is reached at the period” (p. 134).

Conclusion

And finally, “Comma, semicolon or colon, parenthesis, modifiers, clauses independent and dependent, every detail of the sentence is designed for some purpose. We may be confused when God puts a comma in our life or sigh inconsolably at the semicolon; we may be utterly perplexed by the apparent irrelevancy of the parenthetical portions which seem to have no connection with the past nor place in the future; we may be muddled by modifies and be in consternation over some clause; but if our life is His handwriting, if for us ‘to live is Christ,’ then every detail can be a delight. The Lord of Life is the Schoolmaster of our life, to make its meaning clear” (pp 134 – 135).

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 129 – 135)

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Reaching A Generation For Christ #3, December, 2020: A Theological Framework for Youth Ministry

As we continue this series, “Reaching a Generation for Christ,” we look this month at the ideas presented in Chapter 2 of the book Reaching A Generation For Christ, edited by Richard R. Dunn and Mark H. Senter III and published and copyrighted in 1997 by Moody Press. Chapter 2 is written by Richard R. Dunn. 

Mr. Dunn begins the second chapter in the book with a story describing the experience of Elizabeth during a typical week as a youth minister, to identify the “heart and soul” of her youth ministry. On Saturday morning, she talks with a student who is “wrestling with spiritual doubt.” Over lunch on Monday, she helps another student who is dealing with a “profound sense of personal inadequacy.”  And finally, on Wednesday, she consoles a mother distressed about her daughter’s unplanned pregnancy. This type of schedule leads Dunn to say, “Relationships, human need, and questions about how to find meaning in the midst of life’s circumstances – these are the heart and soul of Elizabeth’s youth Ministry” (p. 45).

MISCONCEPTIONS CONCERNING THEOLOGY

Theology is not often recognized as the primary resource for the challenges faced by the youth minister, says Dunn. Dunn further states, “While most youth ministry texts do provide some biblical basis for their strategies and practices, theology is arguably the least written about aspect of youth ministry” (p.46). He says that there are three misconceptions that cause this to occur: that theology is too big, that it is too impractical and that it is too divisive. He deals with each of these in order, and then concludes, “Theological issues emerge in the living of life and the doing of ministry. Discouraged by the factors just mentioned, leaders may conclude that the best approach is simply to deal with theological concerns as they surface. A preferred response, however, is to pursue theological learning before, during, and after the emergence of critical questions that explicitly demand God’s wisdom. This chapter is designed to encourage youth ministry leaders toward this end by presenting the purpose and impact of intentional theological learning” (p. 47). He calls this the RATIONALE FOR INTENTIONAL THEOLOGICAL LEARNING.

Purpose: Why Pursue Theological Learning?

I have summarized Dunn’s definition of purpose with the following quotations.

1. “The true purpose of theological study is knowing God….

2. “Too often Christians limit their concept of theological learning to the formal, systematic theological studies found in Bible colleges and seminaries….

3. “To balance the picture, it is crucial to recognize that disciplined systematic study of theology is an important component in theological learning….

4. “The discipline of theology – the formal and systematic elements of theological study – is an essential tool in the Christian’s process of coming to a greater, truer personal knowledge of God.”

5. “Rigorous, systematic study is necessary to form and defend orthodox doctrine for the church of Jesus Christ” (pp. 47-49).

Impact: What Differences Does Theology Make?

I have summarized Dunn’s answer to this question with the following quotations.

1. “Impulsively one might be tempted to identify ‘increased accuracy in the teaching of the Scriptures’ as the only substantial ministry result of disciplined theological learning….

2. “The impact of theological learning is not limited, however, to proper hermeneutics and teaching. As we have seen, the depth of one’s personal relationship with God is directly affected by the authenticity of one’s factual knowledge of Him…..

3. “Every believer has a theological perspective – a ‘life lens’ based on his internalized concept of God. In fact every person has a worldview out of which he interprets life” (pp. 49-50).

CONSTRUCTING A THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

According to Mr. Dunn, “A theological framework for doing youth ministry consists of three components: theological foundations, personal implications and ministry applications.” He defines each of the components as follows:

  • “Theological foundations are the raw materials necessary for developing a life and ministry that reflect true knowledge of God.”
  • “Personal implications address the impact basic theological foundations should have on the life of the leader. Because the leader’s life is the primary teaching tool in ministry, how the leader’s theology shapes her life will be what students learn most about God through her ministry.”
  • Ministry applications are principles and practices that directly follow from the theological foundations. The youth ministry leader should seek to make the ‘why’ of youth ministry explicit in the ‘what’ of youth ministry” (pp. 50-51).

With this as a base, Dunn describes six “theological topics” that he says can be used as the “basic building blocks of a theological foundation for youth ministry.”

  • Building Block #1:God
  • Building Block #2 Scripture
  • Building Block #3: Humanity
  • Building Block #4: Sin
  • Building Block #5: Salvation
  • Building Block #6: Faith Community: The Local Church

Regarding the structure of the discussion of these topics, Dunn says, “Immediately following the discussion of each building block are representative personal implications and ministry applications. These brief sections provide examples of how theological foundations shape the life and ministry of a youth ministry leader. The examples by no means exhaust the implications and applications that arise from each topic. Rather, the suggested results of sound theological thinking illustrate the process and product of constructing a disciplined theological framework.” (p. 51)

As I read through each of these building blocks, I found some very encouraging principles that can help me as I work with young people and attempt to influence them to follow Jesus. If I can influence young people, I want them to understand that God is concerned about them, wants them to succeed and will be there for them, even when they turn away from Him. I want them to understand that their first priority is to develop their own personal relationship with God. I want young people to understand and believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God. That it is His instruction manual on how to live this life to prepare for that eternal life with Him after this physical life is over. It is my desire that young people truly believe that the Bible is very relevant to the issues and decisions that they make in their lives. I want young people to have good self-esteem, understanding that they are made in the image of God. I want to help young people to understand that they sometimes sin because they are human. But I also want to help them understand that when they sin, they can be forgiven by a loving God, when they turn back to him in repentance. I want them to understand the terrible nature of sin – that it separates them from God. And the supreme importance of repentance – that it reconciles them to God. I want them to understand God’s truth about salvation. That it matters not what some man might tell them. What matters is what God tells them. I want them to understand the importance of the faith community – the local church and how important it is for them to be active and working as a member of a local church.

But in spite of the excellent material that I found in this chapter I must agree with another reviewer of this book: “My biggest problem with Reaching a Generation for Christ: A Comprehensive Guide to Youth Ministry from a personal perspective is that anthologies of essays and short stories offer too many convenient spots for setting the book aside and pausing. That’s good when the essays, stories, or fables are deep enough to force one to cogitate upon them for a significant time. For me (and it may just be “for me”), the essays in this book are designed to be so basic that, even when they offer worthy observations, they don’t engender the thought process that would help me put the ideas to work in my situation.” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3093289546?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1) .

One of my favorite fiction authors is Irene Hannon. I like what she said in a recent interview when asked,  “What do you hope readers take away from your books?”

“I have three goals with every book I write. First, I want to entertain. People need wholesome ways to unwind in today’s stressful, fast-paced world, and I do my best to write books that help them put aside their cares for a few hours. Second, I want to leave people with hope; with a belief that no matter how tough life gets, a happy ending is always possible. And finally, I want people to close the last page with a better appreciation for the tremendous power of love—both human and divine—to change lives. To sum up my goal in three words: entertain, enrich, uplift.” (https://www.irenehannon.com/bio.html)

I think maybe that is what we want to accomplish with young people: entertain, enrich, uplift.

In this same interview, when asked, “Any parting words?”

“I’d like to say a few words about Christian fiction. For years it’s had a reputation as being too preachy and heavy-handed in terms of evangelizing. In truth, some of that is deserved. But the genre has changed considerably over the past few years. Now, Christian fiction refers more to books with a certain worldview. As a result, any reader who likes fiction that features traditional values would enjoy many Christian fiction books. I would love to find a way to convince more secular readers to wander into the Christian fiction aisle at their local bookstore. I think many of them would be very pleasantly surprised.” (IBID)

And maybe that is what we are trying to do with young people; convince the secular student to wander into the Christian sphere and experience a taste of traditional values that would impact their worldview and bring them more lasting joy and happiness than maybe what they have experienced thus far.

Those are my thoughts on youth ministry for this month. As this year winds down, and you set your sights on a new year, won’t you take time to pray that we all do our part in Reaching a Generation for Christ? Thanks for reading dear friends …

–Randy

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Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be #8, December 2020: Respect

If I am to become the man God wants me to be, I must develop the attribute of respect. Respect is “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability; deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment” (www.dictionary.com). The word “respect” appears 356 times in Scripture in 13 translations (https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/words/Respect).

Respect is one of the attributes that the Heart of A Champion Character Development Program (http://www.heartofachampion.org/) strives to develop in young people in its outreach program. Their written and video programs approach this under 4 subtopics: Respect for Others, Respect for Self, Respect for Those Different From You, and Respect for Authority. We shall use that same approach in discussing it here. Please consider …

Respect for Others

“What does it mean to be a person of respect? To respect someone means you respect who they are and what they stand for, even when you may not agree. Respect their ideas and philosophies, respect their freedoms, respect their standards and convictions, respect their boundaries, respect their possessions and property. Sometimes that even means respecting your opponent, adversary or competitor. That respect must be extended not only to those in authority or those who are not like you, but also to yourself.  At the heart of respect is an understanding of assigning value to everyone. Everyone is worthy of your respect, including yourself. An old saying tells us that we will ‘reap what we have sown’- meaning that we will receive whatever we give to others. Do you give respect? A life without respect given out will be a life without respect received. Respect is one of the most important traits for success in life today. It is also a trait that is missing from many aspects of our culture today. Through respect, we can show other they have value! How will you respond?” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.3)

Woodstone Elementary School

This school in San Antonio, Texas has created a plan to learn respect together. They created Courage Teams to stand up against bullying. Part of the program included a pledge that they created, committed to memory and recite every morning. The result has been A+. Their Pledge says,

“We are not just a class.

We are a COURAGE TEAM.

We promise to:

STAND UP against bullying and teasing.

STAND TOGETHER for anyone who is getting bullied.

STAND UP AND TELL AN ADULT to make sure the bullying stops.

We are a COURAGE TEAM.

We have the COURAGE TO STAND.

Dr. Michael Hall

In 2002, Dr. Michael Hall published a book, The American Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Chivalry. C. Everett Koop, MD says of the book, “It has been said that the character of a man is like a tree and his actions, good or bad, determine the fruit. The American Gentleman strives to make life more fulfilling and is written to inspire men to adopt a personal philosophy for growth and maturity. Through observation, integrity, spiritual philanthropy, altruism and knowing reality is perception a state of character can be formed for self-improvement, but more than anything else, we learn how to consciously become more considerate of others. You will not find a thousand-and-one rules of etiquette or a guide to hedonism in this book. Instead, you will find a gentleman’s manifesto based on the life experiences and considerations of a cultured and professional American man seeking social civility and greater personal character.”

(https://www.amazon.com/American-Gentleman-Contemporary-Guide-Chivalry-ebook/dp/B07934BF4T/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=The+American+Gentleman&qid=1608395665&s=books&sr=1-2)

Readers’ reviews include words similar to this one, “Refreshing and wonderful guide for all men, young and old. Mothers, this book should be required reading for your boys. They will thank you throughout their lifetime for exposing them to these ideals and so will their future wives. Ladies, this book will help you raise your standards and hold men accountable for their behaviors. The author has smartly balanced themes of history, medical and psychological reference, spirituality, morality, with a twist of eroticism. I have a renewed and uncompromising hope in finding a proper gentleman to share my life with.”

Dr. Hall’s quest was “to write a book that provided answers to his own questions and discover the qualities necessary for developing personal character…. Hall believes that developing sound moral character is a key to social civility. He also says a gentleman must stand up for what he believes is right – at all times. By Hall’s definition , a gentleman walks through life in what he calls a ‘state of character,’ observing the needs and concerns of people around him, giving of himself freely without expecting anything in return and always doing what he believes to be right, recognizing his character is linked to his deeds. ‘Trying to achieve chivalric ideals is something we just don’t talk about,’ says Hall. ‘I think this idea of trying to assign gender-specific behavior is something we’re not comfortable with.’  … Hall’s book looks to past tradition to develop a current guide towards civility and respect. He encourages readers to improve their personal character and promotes this idea by asking the reader to focus on what is truly more important: loved ones, family and community. ‘Many men and women have become preoccupied with their own needs and have forgotten about others,’ he explains. ‘It’s time for men to rethink their priorities and make necessary changes to become an American gentleman.’ … Hall specifically points to the need for men to show respect for women – no matter who they are or what role they have in society – something he says has been largely abandoned in today’s culture. ‘By celebrating womanhood, a man remakes himself.’” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.6)

Respect for Self

“You are special, unique, and one-of-a-kind. There is no one else in the world just like you. Nobody else will ever be able to fill the purpose that you will fulfill. The world needs you and what you have to offer. One of life’s greatest challenges is to see yourself NOT as you perceive people view you. Rather, you need to see yourself for the true gifts and talents you possess, and see what you are on your way to becoming in the future. Each of us is a ‘work in progress’, so be patient with yourself. Don’t give up on yourself, and don’t give in to pressure to become something you’re not. Remind yourself that UR special, unique, and one-of-a-kind! U really R!” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.7)

Cheryl Green

Cheryl was born with a rare birth defect that left her unable to walk. For the first seven years of her life, The Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children became Cheryl’s virtual home. She underwent numerous surgeries that never really corrected her physical disabilities. She also had a childhood filled with abuse at the hands of her parents. In her twenty’s she was diagnosed with major depression. But Cheryl has fought to regain and maintain her self-respect despite these disadvantages. She says, “Through it all nothing ever took away the spirit to persevere.” She wrote a book, Child of Promise, in which she tells her story and of her motivation and dedication to overcome these disadvantages. She is now an advocate for those who are underrepresented. She graduated from Yale University with honors and has gone on to receive an advance degree in Psychology and serves on several boards of several non-profit organizations.

Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch

“She is a woman with a gift to lead and a passion for young people. Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch rose from very humble beginnings to become a woman of significant influence. However, before she could have an impact on others, she needed to learn respect for herself.

Born and raised in a tiny port barrio in Laredo, Texas, Kickbusch overcame the severe challenges of poverty, discrimination and illiteracy to become a model of success. Breaking barriers and setting new standards in the military, Kickbusch rose to the position of senior officer and became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the United States Army. Known as a charismatic, passionate and entertaining speaker, Kickbusch today takes her powerful life message of respect and leadership to colleges, corporations and government institutions in the United States and abroad….

During her distinguished military career, Kickbusch held a variety of demanding and critical leadership positions ranging from Executive Officer for Information Systems Command to Technical Advisor to the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center to Company Commander of an all-male platoon….

In 1996 Kickbusch was selected from 26,000 candidates to assume the post that would put her on track for General Office rank. She declined the honor, retired as a twenty-year veteran and founded Education Achievement Services to realize her personal dream of helping people of all ages succeed….

Such a distinguished career looked unlikely during Kickbusch’s upbringing. One of 10 children growing up in a poor family, she says she learned that self-respect has little to do with wealth or poverty…. ‘I grew up with what I call a set of core values. They were never negotiable.’

Much of Kickbusch’s foundation of values came from her mother who worked as a maid. Her model served to instill in Kickbusch a clear sense of self-respect. She recalls her mother telling her, ‘I don’t expect you to clean toilets. I expect you to, whatever you go after, to do it to the best of your ability.’

Her immigrant father also had a profound impact on her self-esteem and her perspective. ‘He said, ‘This is not my country, but it is yours. If you can give nothing to it, take nothing from it. We don’t come here for handouts. And if you must sacrifice something for it, even your life, then so be it.’

These words of wisdom stuck. From a core of self-respect, Kickbusch has not only realized personal success, she has also passed the lessons on to millions of others. ‘We can all make our dreams come true, to not give up hope, but rather to take charge of your lives,’ she says. ‘Make a real difference in your families and communities and follow a disciplined road map to success.’” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p. 9)

Respect for Those Different From You

“We live in a world of labels. There are designer labels on jeans, and brand labels on all kinds of products. In the world of buying and selling, labels are often how we can tell a good product from a bad product, but we also use labels on people. We label them by color, socio-economic status, and appearance. If we view them to be unlike us, they receive one label. If we see them as like us, they receive another label. Like clothing, one brand is accepted and the other is not. Yet people are not jeans or soft drinks. We talk loud and long about tolerance in our society today. But what does it mean to live a life of tolerance? It means that you accept someone just as they are, even if they look, act, or live in ways that are different from you. This is unconditional acceptance and it is what we all desire. Respect in someone means accepting them unconditionally and even celebrating their differences. Every day you have an opportunity to show respect to someone different than you, and in doing so, attach to that person true value. You can speak life and hope into them and you may be the only one in their life that will do so. How will U respond?” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.10)

Jerry Traylor

Jerry Traylor’s message is, “It’s not bad to be different.” Jerry has climbed mountains, run 35 marathons, and jogged across America from San Francisco to New York, all on crutches! He says, “I am a mirror. I want people to look at me and see their incredible potential!” Jerry is now a motivational speaker, traveling the country telling his life-changing story, to motivate others to believe in themselves and to let them know that a handicap does not need to hold them back from achieving their dreams.

Jerry was born with Cerebral Palsy. He spent more than a decade in the hospital going from one corrective surgery to the next. Even though Jerry was separated from his family, he always felt their love. After fourteen years of surgeries, Jerry went from not being able to walk, to being free to move with crutches. Even though his crutches allowed him to move around, he struggled for years with comparing himself to others.

Though he was different, Jerry soon realized that he too had a gift. Once he had his crutches, he knew his possibilities were endless. He says, “With these crutches, I’ve run a mile in 9 minutes and 29 seconds. With these crutches, I’ve climbed Pike’s Peak to 14,000 feet, I’ve jumped out of airplanes, and I’ve jogged across America. These crutches are a symbol of my ability. So you and I have to look at what we have regardless of what society thinks.”

Jerry says, “The incredible thing is that in our lives you and I tend to look at what we can’t do. We listen to everyone telling us what we can’t do. Why? Live Life, and love life, and learn! I do love exploring my potential and I do love being a role model for someone who says, ‘I don’t think I could do that.’ None of us are handicapped. We just need to remember that and go for it!”

Osama Shofani

“United States Marine Master Sergeant Shofani and his family moved in late 2001 from one community of California to another. MSgt. Shofani went through the usual routine of getting his utilities turned on at his new home. When he told the operator what he wanted to do, she asked him his name. When he responded, there was an extended pause on the other end. MSgt. Shofani knew the reason. His first name is Osama.

Two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Shofani experienced prejudice for the first time in his life, all because he shared a first name with Osama Bin Laden, leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. ‘Osama is a common first name in the Arab culture,’ MSgt. Shofani said. ‘It means Lion. In the Arab culture, you have the Catholic and Muslim religions.’

That MSgt. Shofani had served for more than 15 years in the Marine Corps at the time and had fought in two foreign conflicts, including the first Gulf War, did not help much. ‘In the beginning I was very frustrated,’ he said. ‘I had never faced prejudice. I had heard that it was out there, but I have never believed that it should stand in the way of achieving any goals you want to achieve. I still don’t. So that hit me hard. A year or two later, I started maturing. I decided that I could only educate, not retaliate. I started to ignore some of the things and educate people on the differences. I tried to take the high road.’

MSgt. Shofani was born in Jordan. His family moved to the United States when he was 10 years old. He says his parents taught him and his brother and sisters that it’s important what’s on a person’s inside, not his or her appearance….. MSgt. travels often for the Marines, and to lecture on Arab culture and language to soldiers…. He feels it’s his responsibility now to teach people about respecting others who may seem different. ‘I feel almost like an ambassador between two cultures. First of all as a Marine, teaching the Marines about the culture and sensitivity of that. Helping them understand what they think and why they do things. It’s a great position I’m in now. It’s taught me a lot.’” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.12)

Respect for Authority

“At times it can be a challenge to respect a person in authority. Often, we see authority figures as not respecting those whom they ae in authority over. We don’t feel they respect us. Still, respect comes under the law of ‘sowing and reaping,’ meaning whatever seed you plant is what you will grow. If you give respect to someone else, particularly one in authority, you will get it back in return. When authority figures are worthy of your respect, show them that respect and they will end up building positives into your life and give your respect back. These authority relationships we can grow from and grasp lessons that will last.”  (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.13)

Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter was one of the most electrifying players in baseball. He played both center field and right field. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Detroit Tigers from 1997 through 2015. Hunter was a five-time All-Star, won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards as a center fielder, and was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He was known for his jaw-dropping defensive plays. Many say he was the best defensive outfielder in the game during the years which he played.  

“Teammates, coaches, fans and even members of the media have consistently recognized Torii as one of the ‘good guys’ in sports. Not only did he have the natural ability to excel at baseball, but he is a man of great character. He is recognized as a man who demonstrates tremendous respect, both toward the game and toward people of all kinds….

Growing up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Torii and his family didn’t have very much money or material possessions. In a difficult situation, Torii’s mother made it a priority to instill respect in her children, believing it would take them far.

‘My mother taught us a lot about respect when I was growing up,’ says Torri. ‘She was determined that no matter what we had or didn’t have materially, one thing we would definitely have is respect.’

Much of Torii’s success in life can be traced back to the lessons he learned as a boy. Those who know him well say it is obvious Torii has not forgotten his humble beginnings. He frequently visits his friends and family in Pine Bluff, and helps out there through the Torii Hunter scholarship program which provides college scholarships to high school graduates from Pine Bluff and other parts of the country. Torri has learned that respecting others is the fastest way to earn their respect.” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Respect, Volume 3, p.15)

Conclusion

Think about what it takes to demonstrate the proper respect in your life: for others, for yourself, for those different from you and for authority. I hope that, after reading this month’s article, you know a little more about respect and how you can further develop that attribute to Become The Man God Wants You To Be. Thanks for reading…

Randy

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #14 – Disease and Disillusionment

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at our response when we encounter disease and disillusionment. As we have pointed out in previous articles in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “training that corrects molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

The Discipline of Disease

Sometimes we take our health for granted. We fail to be grateful, and then when disease strikes, we do not know how to handle it. But if we properly prepare, then when we come to the discipline of disease, we may face it with greater faith and strength that will sustain us. But even then, we may be perplexed, asking is this illness the result of my sin because ….

Sickness May Be the Result of One’s Own Sin

As a case in point, the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda was told by Jesus  “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you” (John 5:14). Also, we find that Miriam became leprous because she criticized Moses for marrying a Cushite woman (Numbers 12:1, 10). A third example from Scripture is Gehazi and his sin of deceit in receiving Naaman’s reward, that had already been declined my his master, Elisha (2Kings 5:27). The punishment for that deceit was spelled out by Elisha, “Because you have done this, you and your descendants will suffer from Naaman’s leprosy forever.” When Gehazi left the room, he was covered with leprosy; his skin was white as snow.”

Today we see this when one who has been an alcoholic most of his life, dies from liver disease. Or perhaps we know of those who have lived an immoral life and the die of aids, or some other sexually transmitted disease.

Not Necessarily, However Is Our Sickness the Result of Our Sin – It May Be “For the Glory of God”

Much injustice and grief has been caused “because of wrong judgment on the part of the friends or critics of the sick” (Edman, p. 191). The disciples were guilty of such improper judgment of the man born blind. When they asked Jesus, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” Jesus responded, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:2-3). Jesus’ dealings with Lazarus is another example. “But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea” (John 11:4-7).

The Sickness We Suffer May Be from the Enemy

Job’s suffering was hard for him to understand and sometimes it’s hard for us to understand God allowing him to be tried by Satan (Job 2:6). And Satan began immediately, and so intense was his suffering that even his 3 friends sat speechless. “So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot…. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words” Job 2:7, 13)

The Demon-Possessed Man in the region of the Gerasenes was troubled by many evil spirits taking over his body and forcing him to be “homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town” (Luke 8:26-39). The woman that Jesus encountered in the Synagogue on the Sabbath: “One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight” (Luke 13:20-11). Notice also His justification for healing her on the Sabbath, “But the Lord replied, ‘You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?’” (Luke 13:15-16)

And now let us turn our attention to …

The Discipline of Disillusionment (Luke 24:19-21)

The account in Luke 24 is interesting as it relates to our second point. Notice the disillusionment expressed by the words, “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.”

We Had No Assurance That the Results of Our Obedience Would be Happy – Nor Did the Disciples

“They had left fishing net and counting table, father and mother, household and goods to follow One Who had called with ineffable tenderness, Who spoke as none other with authority and yet with gentleness, Who fed the hungry and stilled the sea, Who announced a kingdom and its principles, Who provided for every need…. But now He was dead, dead, and buried, three days ago! Their Messiah, dead; of course they were disillusioned” (Edman, pp. 197-198).

And we were not promised that all would be perfect after becoming a Christian. Some have felt the personal experience of the possibility mentioned by Jesus when He said, “I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:35-36).

Disillusioned With Jesus. Perhaps we have even become disillusioned with Jesus. When we expected Him to be there for us, we did not feel His presence. He let us down. “It seemed that He had failed us, forsaken us forever. Our hears said mutely, ‘We trusted it had been He’” (Edman, p. 198)

Disillusioned With Others. We sometimes become disillusioned with others. We were attracted to form friendships with them because of their love, laughter, devotion, thoughtfulness. We found protection and comfort and peace in their presence. But then things changed. “Then came the forgetting, the failure, the forsaking….. Because they were human they were subject to frailty, even with the best of intentions; and because we are human, we suffered because of their failure. Without them life had neither meaning nor motivation, love nor laughter. We were disillusioned” (Edman, pp. 198-199)

The First Phase of Disillusionment. Edman says, “To face fully the fearful fact of utter loss is the first phase of the discipline of disillusionment” (p. 199).

Abraham learned this discipline on the slopes and summit of Moriah (Genesis 22:2)

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

Ruth learned it in the land of Moab (Ruth 1:16)

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

The disciples learned it at the Mount called Calvary (Luke 24:19-21).

“We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.”

The Second Phase of Disillusionment. Edman says, “To find that God’s hard word is not His last word, that ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Psalms 30:5) is the second phase of the discipline of disillusionment” (Edman, p. 200).

For Abraham on Moriah there was not only the restoration of Isaac, but also the promise (Genesis 22:16-18)

”Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

“For Ruth there was not only Boaz, little Obed, and a home in Bethlehem, but also beyond them, David and the Bethlehem Bab, the Saviour Himself after His humanity” (Edman, p.200).

“For the disciples there was not only the exposition of the Word on the way to Emmaus so that their hearts burned with them (Luke 24:27, 32), there was also the opening of their eyes to see in reality it was the Lord Himself that walked with them, and broke bread in their home” (Edman, p. 201).

 “And for us, in our despair and disillusionment, what provision does He make? Restoration of lost hope and love ones like Isaac, with larger promises and deeper acquaintance with Jehovah-jireh, the Lord Who provides; perhaps new blessings, undreamed in our night of sorrow, like Boaz and Obed and the Babe of Bethlehem; perhaps the burning of heart because His Word and the breaking of bread with day by day in life’s pilgrimage” (Edman, p. 201)

Conclusion

Disease is indeed a hard disciplinarian; and only those under its dominion can know the depths of its discipline. The frailty and futility of it all , the weariness and painfulness, the tears and testings, the long days and longer nights, can cast us into deep gloom, or the can cause us to know the word of the Lord, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2Corinthians 12:9) (Edman, p. 194).

Disillusionment, designed by the Most High for our good, leads to delight, indescribable and enduring. It is a searching discipline of the soul. It leads to sorrow, suffering, silence and solitude, to the apparently utter loss of the Cross; but beyond that Cross it leads to everlasting gain and good, in time and in eternity. Therefore, let us follow Him fearlessly, obediently, trustingly, until disillusionment is dissolved by delight” (Edman, p. 201).

Disease and Disillusionment … two important disciplines for the child of God to be prepared for, if and when the situation calls for.

Thanks for reading.

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 189 – 201)

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Reaching A Generation For Christ #2, November 29, 2020: Putting Youth Ministry in Perspective

As I indicated in the introductory article to this new series, “Reaching a Generation for Christ,” I am planning to publish a new article the 4th Saturday of every month. As I struggled with the content for this series, I did not make my own deadline and missed the October issue. The series will be loosely based upon the book of the same title, edited by Richard R. Dunn and Mark H. Senter III and published and copyrighted in 1997 by Moody Press. We will examine some of the thoughts and ideas presented in this book, compare them with Scripture and try to draw some applications. The articles will be written primarily by me, with perhaps a guest article periodically. I would appreciate your comments and feedback on the articles, and if you think they contain beneficial content, please share the posts with others.

Richard R. Dunn begins the first chapter in the book with a story describing the experience of Steve, the first youth pastor at Easton Community Church which is also Steve’s first assignment. “In the candidating process Steve had felt quite confident of his readiness for youth ministry. Now, on the occasion of his first day as a youth pastor, several questions are beginning to threaten that self-assurance. These questions include: How can I ever meet the needs of students from such diverse and social backgrounds? How can I build maturity into the lives of the twenty junior high and fifteen high school students who attend youth Sunday school? How can I build bridges to the other five thousand students who attend schools within five miles of the church? What changes should I be making right away?” (p. 26).

Mr. Dunn says that everyone in youth ministry has a perspective that is “based upon their past church, ministry, educational, and personal spiritual experiences” and that they have a “preconceived set of ideas about what is important in terms of values and practices in youth ministry.” He also suggests that, because no one has perfect 20/20 vision, as it relates to youth ministry, there is the opportunity to bring that perspective into clearer focus. He further suggests a process through which this refocusing can be accomplished, that includes the following three frameworks:

Theological Framework: A “God-View”

Dunn describes this framework as one’s understanding of “the way God sees.” He says, “Based upon biblical knowledge and theological reasoning each person has a perception of who God is and how He views the created world, including people and relationships” (p. 29). He then describes six benefits of this framework:

1. “It provides the basic rationale for youth ministry….

2. “It guides the ministry Godward….

3. “It guides the ministry into the faith community….

4. “It critiques ministry practices….

5. “It determines the context and shapes the delivery of the teaching….

6. “It provides ministry motivation and challenge for service….” (pp. 29-33)

Developmental Framework: A “Youth-View”

The second framework, Dunn labels developmental and defines as one’s “understanding of the way the world is experienced in the life stage of adolescence: ‘the way youth see.” He says, “’How do students experience and make sense of their world?’ is the central question to be answered” (p. 34). He then describes four reasons that this framework is important:

1. “It overcomes inaccurate stereotypes….

2. “It informs theological understanding of spiritual maturity….

3. “It provides tangible “touch points” for intangible spiritual ministry….

4. “It shapes the discernment of outcomes and process of assessment….” (pp. 36-38)

Sociological Framework: An “Inside-View”

The third framework, Dunn labels sociological and defines as how the teenager’s environment shapes their perspective into a worldview. He says, “The socio-cultural framework is formed by the youth leader’s understanding of (a) the student’s views of social roles, networks, groups, and interpersonal affiliations and (b) the student’s relationship to cultural symbols, myths, rituals, belief systems, and worldviews” (p. 39). He then describes six reasons that this framework is important:

1. “It bridges generational assumptions….

2. “It bridges cultural assumptions….

3. “It informs a holistic understanding of an individual’s personal and spiritual development….

4. “It provides a framework for exegeting behavior….

5. “It critiques the relevance of practices for a moment in time….

6. “It identifies, in concert with the developmental lens, tangible “touch points” for incarnational ministry among youth….” (pp. 40-43)

After presenting these frameworks, Dunn draws some conclusions, which I have summarized with the following four quotes:

1. “Developing one’s ministry perspective is a long-term process of focusing theological, developmental, and sociological lenses (see Getz 1988 for a similar development).”

2.  A youth minister assignment will serve as “a catalyst for intentionally broadening and sharpening his particular understanding of the nature and practice of youth ministry.”

3. “Ultimately, it will be his daily commitment to listen to students, to seek wisdom in God’s Word, to pray with and for the students, to reflect upon successes and failures, and to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that will help him form an increasingly mature ministry perspective.”

4. “Steve came to Easton to make a difference by ministering the gospel to students in the community. Little did he know that the ministry of the gospel in that community would make such a difference in him.”

How Does the Teaching of This Chapter Compare with Scripture?

I am afraid that many who believe strongly in “youth ministry” will not appreciate what I am about to say, but say it I must. As you study the subject of Bible Authority, you understand that there are three ways to establish the truth on any topic. Those three ways are: 1) direct command, 2) approved apostolic example, and 3) necessary inference. As you apply those to “youth ministry,” you find no authority for a separate program labeled such to exist within the local church. Now, if you want to form an organization separate from the church that seeks to guide young people, that is perfectly fine. I have personally been associated with various works of this kind.

Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL operates the Florida College Summer Camp program with camps scattered throughout the country. I have been a counselor at one of those camps. Those camps endeavor “to provide future generations with a glimpse of the Florida College experience, full of opportunities to grow spiritually, make memories and build lifelong relationships. With more than 20 camps across the country, volunteers with a passion for the mission of Florida College make it their aim to provide what many campers call the best week of the year” (https://www.floridacollege.edu/about-fc/summer-camps/).

Another program that I have personal experience with is The Heart of a Champion Character Development Program. The stated mission of that organization is “to transform culture by providing the necessary resources to educate, motivate and empower students, teachers, families and groups in core principles essential to lifetime personal development and maximized performance.” This program is conducted within the framework of a High School or Junior High School. In describing the program’s approach, they say, “Heart of a Champion teaches students about character using a program that consistently reinforces positive character traits by giving examples of persons with high character. These stories are told through quality print and video stories that engage all students. Our program focuses on nine core character traits – Commitment, Leadership, Perseverance, Teamwork, Respect, Integrity, Responsibility, Self-Control and Compassion. Each month students learn about a different trait that is broken down into four weekly lessons. Each lesson involves one video story, one print story, one group activity, and group discussion questions” (https://www.heartofachampion.org/aboutus.html).

A third program that I have personal experience with is YouthFriends. I served as a mentor to two young men while living in the Kansas City area. Youth Friends described its work, “YouthFriends volunteers are caring adult role models from the community who volunteer with young people in schools, grades K-12. The goal is to help students achieve success, both academically and socially. A child is matched up with a YouthFriends Mentor through his/her school district. YouthFriends will meet for one hour, once a week, either one-on-one or in a small group.” I was saddened to learn, as I prepared this article, that YouthFriends shut down on May 31, 2013. An article by Joe Robertson that appeared in the April 10, 2013 Kansas City Star, described their difficulties, “After 18 years and some 300,000 students served, YouthFriends is calling it quits. The nonprofit agency recruited and screened thousands of adult volunteers for more than two dozen area school districts, sending them into lunchrooms and classrooms to spend time one-to-one mentoring a youth friend. But signs of financial strain had been mounting, as the agency this year required participating school districts to begin bearing some of the program’s costs. This week, the agency notified the districts that the service would end by May 31” (https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article317512/YouthFriends-school-volunteer-program-shutting-down.html).

Kert Wetzig gives a good history of the development of youth ministry in his 3 part series titled “A PERSPECTIVE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY” at http://www.gracebiblestudies.org/resources/web/www.duluthbible.org/g_f_j/2000GFJ.htm. But a significant note is this statement in part 1, “It is interesting to note that there is no historical precedence for youth ministry. As you read through the annals of church history, you do not find any mention of youth ministries or programs before the nineteenth century (but then again, you also do not find Sunday schools, nurseries, ushers, etc.). There is virtually no mention of the role of children or teens in the church.2

2 In some instances it appears young children were discouraged from attending church at all. Elmer T. Clark, in his book The Small Sects in America (New York: Abingdon Press, 1949), pp. 202-203, tells of a written attack directed towards a man who insisted on taking his children to their rural Baptist church in the 1880’s. The letter said, “I do not object to seeing young people to meeting providing they behave themselves; and of course, it is especially encouraging if they seem to have an interest in gospel truth; but Mr. Gold goes farther than this, seeming to hold it as a sacred duty for Old School Baptists to take their children; even their babies to their meeting and see that they ‘give what attention they can to the preaching.'”

Is Youth Ministry Killing the Church?

Interestingly enough that is the title of a recent article that appeared in The Christian Century (https://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2010-02/youth-ministry-killing-church). Kate Murphy in the February 4, 2010 article says, “Kenda Creasy Dean and others warn that when our children and youth ministries ghettoize young people, we run the risk of losing them after high school graduation. I saw evidence of this in Jonathan. Over the years I’ve worked with young people as passionate and serious about their faith as Jonathan is. I think I’ve done youth ministry with integrity. But I may have been unintentionally disconnecting kids from the larger body of Christ. The young people at my current congregation—a church that many families would never join because “it doesn’t have anything for youth”—are far more likely to remain connected to the faith and become active church members as adults, because that’s what they already are and always have been.”

Another article, written in 2013, “Christian Teens Abandon Faith Because of Youth Groups, Not Despite Them,” says, “According to a new 5-week, 3-question national survey sponsored by the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC), the youth group itself is the problem.  55% of American Christians are concerned with modern youth ministry because it’s too shallow, too entertainment focused, resulting in an inability to train mature believers.  But, even if church youth groups had the gravitas of Dallas Theological Seminary, 36% of today’s believers are convinced that youth groups themselves are not even Biblical. (https://churchexecutive.com/archives/christian-teens-abandon-faith-because-of-youth-groups-not-despite-them)

A more recent article written November 20, 2017, “The Flawed History of Youth Ministry in Less than 400 Words,” says, “Scholars have dedicated much ink to youth ministry’s problems in its initial generation. In particular, the field has drawn much criticism for its failure to form students with lasting faith. Some surveys estimate that as many as seventy-percent of young people left the church after high school (Lifeway, 2006). However, youth ministry has learned a great deal in the last decade, and continues to move forward.” According to author Cameron Cole, there are 3 problems that plagued youth ministry in the past: (1) Youth ministry had the wrong purpose, (2) Youth ministry used the wrong provisions, (3) Youth ministry operated in the wrong place. He claims that if these problems are fixed that youth ministry can be effective.

So What Is the Application We Need to Make?

I concur wholeheartedly with the answer given by the website GotQuestions.org to the question “What does the Bible say about youth ministry?” Since I already cited this article last month, I will only copy the first paragraph of the article here.

“Although youth ministry is a fixture in the modern church, there is no biblical model for such a ministry. However, biblical principles can and should be the model for all ministries in the local church, including ministry to youth. Sadly, too many youth ministries are built not on biblical principles but on fads, hype, and shallow youth culture. For this reason, many are asking the question: Is youth ministry even something God wants the church involved in? If the church wants to follow the model of fads, hype, and shallow youth culture, then the answer is a resounding no! However, student ministry, at its core, should be evaluated on the same biblical basis as any other functioning ministry in the local church…. (https://www.gotquestions.org/youth-ministry.html).

So the application of the principles in Reaching A Generation For Christ by Richard R. Dunn and Mark H. Senter III are fine for organizations like the three mentioned above, but their application to our work with the young people within our local churches is not appropriate. The Bible is to be our standard of authority in those instances. In future articles in this series, then, I will reflect upon and note my observations as how they might relate to Florida College Summer Camps, Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, and other similar youth-oriented programs.

Thanks for reading …

–Randy

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Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be #7, November 21, 2020: Perseverance

 

If I am to become the man God wants me to be, I must develop the attribute of perseverance. Perseverance is “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” (www.dictionary.com). The word “perseverance” appears 25 times in Scripture in 10 translations (https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/words/Perseverance). Other words, similar in meaning, that are used by some translations in these 25 verses include: patience, patient continuance, endurance, longsuffering, steadfastness [your unflinching endurance, and patience]

 

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says of the word, “Rare in Hellenistic Greek, prokarteresis occurs in the NT only at Eph. 6:18, where it refers to persistent, persevering prayer as part of the Christian’s spiritual armor. The related verb, proskartereo, underscores the element of steadfastness in the Christian life (cf. “devote oneself,” Acts 2:42; 6:4) and especially in prayer (cf. Acts 1:14; “to be constant,” Rom. 12:12; “continue steadfastly,” Col. 4:2). Throughout the NT Christians are exhorted to persist in prayer (e.g. Lk. 18:1-8; Phil. 4:6; IThess. 5:17” (p.776).

 

Perseverance is one of the attributes that the Heart of A Champion Character Development Program (http://www.heartofachampion.org/) strives to develop in young people in its outreach program. Their written and video programs approach this under 4 subtopics: in adversity, in failure, against the odds, and with emotions. We shall use that same approach in discussing it here. Please consider …

 

Perseverance in Adversity

 

“There is no doubt that life is challenging. We will face trials, adversity, tragedy and failure at some point in our lives. Many of us will have bad things said about us that are untrue. Many of us will be hurt at some point, either physically or emotionally. If you have ever been discouraged; if you’ve ever felt like the odds are stacked against your; if you’ve ever wanted to quit, then remember you are not alone. Everyone around you has experienced one of those emotions at least once. Unfortunately some people in these circumstances simply give up. They walk away from their family, quit their job, leave their friends, or check out of life altogether. None of these are productive options. The fact is many people who walk away, quit, or check out have stopped just one step short of reaching their goal. The number one factor to succeeding in anything in life is perseverance. Everyone fails, but how many keep on going? Everyone falls down, but how many get back up? No matter who you are, no matter what you are facing, no matter how big the obstacles seem or how hard life feels, you can reach your goals, if you keep pressing on and don’t quit. Life is not a short sprint to the finish. It is a marathon, and those who endure to the end will receive a champion’s reward. Remember, it doesn’t really matter how or where you start, rather what matters most is that you finish. No matter how big the challenges in your life, you can make it if you NEVER GIVE UP!” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Perseverance, Volume 3, p.3)

 

Rudy Garcia-Tolson is an example of one who has overcome adversity to achieve his athletic goals. “Rudy was born with popliteal pterygium syndrome, resulting in a club foot, webbed fingers on both hands, a cleft lip and palate and the inability to straighten his legs. As a 5 year old wheelchair user, after 15 operations, he decided he would rather be a double amputee and walk with prosthetics. He had both legs removed above the knee…. In 2003, Garcia-Tolson was named one of Teen People Magazine’s “20 Teens Who Will Change the World”. He was the subject of The Final Sprint’s December 2006 “Success Story”; a monthly column that aims to highlight remarkable and factual accounts of runners who have overcome major obstacles and/or changed their lives via running.[18] He has won several awards, including the Arete Courage in Sports Award and the Casey Martin Award from Nike.[12] Following his success at Ironman Arizona, he was nominated for an ESPY Award in 2010.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Garcia-Tolson#Recognition_and_awards)

 

Olivia Bennet is another example of one who has overcome many obstacles to become a world-renown artist. She also was named by Teen People Magazine as one of the “Twenty Teens who will Change the World when in 2004 when she was 15. Olivia was just 5 years old when doctors gave her parents the news that she had leukemia. Olivia immediately began chemotherapy and to take an experimental medication, Vincristine, which caused her hands to curl up into claws. Painting, though difficult at first, became a form of therapy for her. Eventually, at the age of 7, her hands healed and doctors said she was cancer free. “Olivia’s artistic talent blossomed into a passion and now it is her full-time profession. Olivia’s work received almost immediate critical acclaim. She sold her first painting at age 8 and had her first art show at age 10, where she sold 24 more paintings. Since then, Olivia’s status as an artist has taken on superstar proportions. She and her artwork have been featured in numerous magazines and newspaper articles, as well as appearing on television shows such as Oprah and the Today Show….. Olivia grew up in Southlake, Texas, where she was homeschooled through high school in a K-12 program offered by Texas Tech University….. Olivia’s story and artwork are featured in Mark Victor Hansen’s latest book, The Richest Kids in America….. Visit Olivia’s official website at http://www.oliviabennett.com to view an online gallery of her paintings.” (http://homeschoolingteen.com/2009/08/olivia-bennett-homeschooled-teen-artist/)

 

Perseverance in Failure

 

“Everyone deals with failure. The most well-known people in the world have all failed – world leaders, business executives, educators, celebrities, and even parents! But all have gone on to accomplish great things after those failures. That is because they all realized that one thing everyone on the face of the planet has in common is failure. They also understood that failure is the training ground or foundation for real success. If you get knocked down by life, and stay down, you are always looking at things from the perspective of being down. But true champions always get up one more time than they have been knocked down. From that perspective, things always look better and you won’t miss opportunities. It all depends on your perspective. Persevere and let your failures become the foundation for future success. Never Give Up!” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Perseverance, Volume 3, p.7)

 

Tommy Maddox is an example of one who did not throw in the towel when he experienced failure. He was a #1 draft pick out of college in 1992, and was seemingly headed for stardom but then he failed. “At UCLA, Maddox played collegiately for two seasons and led UCLA to the John Hancock Bowl in 1991. The Denver Broncos drafted Maddox in the first round of the 1992 NFL Draft. Originally thought to be the successor to Broncos star quarterback John Elway, Maddox had an unimpressive record in his rookie year and saw limited playing time in his early NFL career. Before the 1994 season, the Broncos traded Maddox to the Los Angeles Rams, and Maddox would later join the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Atlanta Falcons. Maddox played under Coach Dan Reeves with the Broncos, Giants, and Falcons.

 

After being released by the Atlanta Falcons in 1997, Maddox became an insurance agent before making a comeback in professional football with the New Jersey Red Dogs of the Arena Football League in 2000. Maddox later became starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Xtreme of the XFL, a league that folded after one season. With the Xtreme, Maddox led the team to the Million Dollar Game championship and became league MVP for the season. Later that year, Maddox signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Originally as backup to Kordell Stewart, Maddox became the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 2002 and led the Steelers to a 10–5–1 record and a postseason run. For his achievements in 2002, the NFL named Maddox Comeback Player of the Year. After a 6–10 season in 2003, and an injury in week 2 against the Ravens in the 2004 season, Maddox again became a backup quarterback to Steelers first-round draft pick Ben Roethlisberger. In this backup role, Maddox earned a Super Bowl ring when Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season, beating the Seattle Seahawks. The 2005 season was also his final season as a professional football player. After retiring from football, Maddox became a youth baseball coach in his native Dallas/Fort Worth area” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Maddox). Tommy didn’t let failures stop him; instead he kept working and took advantage when other opportunities arose.

 

Abraham Lincoln is another example of one who continued to try in spite of repeated failures. “Below is one version of the so-called “Lincoln failures” list, shown in bold type. It’s often used to inspire people to overcome life’s difficulties with Lincoln as a model. Then look at the right column with other facts from Lincoln’s pre-presidential life. History professor Lucas Morel compiled this comparison from the Chronology in Selected Speeches and Writings/Lincoln by Don E. Fehrenbacher, ed., 1992.

 

YEAR FAILURES or SETBACKS SUCCESSES
1832 Lost job
Defeated for state legislature
Elected company captain of Illinois militia in Black Hawk War
1833 Failed in business Appointed postmaster of New Salem, Illinois
Appointed deputy surveyor of Sangamon County
1834   Elected to Illinois state legislature
1835 Sweetheart died  
1836 Had nervous breakdown Re-elected to Illinois state legislature (running first in his district)
Received license to practice law in Illinois state courts
1837   Led Whig delegation in moving Illinois state capital from Vandalia to Springfield
Became law partner of John T. Stuart
1838 Defeated for Speaker Nominated for Illinois House Speaker by Whig caucus
Re-elected to Illinois House (running first in his district)
Served as Whig floor leader
1839   Chosen presidential elector by first Whig convention
Admitted to practice law in U.S. Circuit Court
1840   Argues first case before Illinois Supreme Court
Re-elected to Illinois state legislature
1841   Established new law practice with Stephen T. Logan
1842   Admitted to practice law in U.S. District Court
1843 Defeated for nomination for Congress  
1844   Established own law practice with William H. Herndon as junior partner
1846   Elected to Congress
1848 Lost renomination (Chose not to run for Congress, abiding by rule of rotation among Whigs.)
1849 Rejected for land officer Admitted to practice law in U.S. Supreme Court
Declined appointment as secretary and then as governor of Oregon Territory
1854 Defeated for U.S. Senate Elected to Illinois state legislature (but declined seat to run for U.S. Senate)
1856 Defeated for nomination for Vice President  
1858 Again defeated for U.S. Senate  
1860   Elected President
     

 

(http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/failures.htm)

 

Perseverance Against the Odds

 

“At some point we all come up against odds that seem too great to overcome. Many of us have been told we are not big enough, not smart enough, or just don’t have what it takes to achieve what we are after. Remember, anyone can tell you what you’re not. But true friends tell you what you are, and what you can become. A wise king once said, ‘As a person thinks within their heart, so they are’ meaning how we see ourselves is typically what we become. Do you see yourself as an overcomer? The seeds of greatness reside in everyone. Often is the very process of overcoming obstacles that builds us into life’s champions. The journey to get to the goal is always more significant than the result, for in the journey we recognize what we are truly made of, and who we really are. Don’t let obstacles deter you. Great things will come from the process, and even the pain associated with it. Press on and be an overcomer” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Perseverance, Volume 3, p.10).

 

Dana Bowman is an example of one who persevered against the odds. ”Dana Bowman has astounded the nation and the world with his drive, determination, and will to succeed. He is a retired Sergeant First Class with the U.S. Army where he was a Special Forces Soldier and a member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. Dana Bowman is a double amputee. He lost his legs in an accident during the annual Golden Knights training in Yuma, Arizona, in 1994.

 

On February 6, 1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his teammate Sgt. Jose Aguillon collided in midair during the team’s annual training. Bowman and Aguillon were practicing a maneuver known as the Diamond Track. The maneuver calls for the jumpers to streak away from each other for about a mile and then turn 180 degrees and fly back toward each other crisscrossing in the sky. Bowman and Aguillon had demonstrated the Diamond Track more than fifty times without a mistake, but this time was different.

 

Rather than crisscrossing, the two skydivers slammed into each other at a combined speed of 300 miles per hour. Aguillon died instantly. Bowman’s legs were severed from his body, one above the knee and one below the knee. Bowman’s parachute opened on impact. He was taken to a hospital in Phoenix where doctors closed his leg wounds and stopped his internal bleeding.

 

Nine months later, he turned this tragedy into a triumph when he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. Bowman re-enlisted in the United States Army airborne style, skydiving with his commander into the ceremony, making his dream a reality. This achievement is just one example of Bowman’s many successes under adverse circumstances.

 

After Dana’s re-enlistment, he became the U.S. Parachute Team’s lead speaker and recruiting commander. Dana has been fortunate to have the opportunity to let his speeches touch so many from the physically challenged to the able-bodied. He strives to show physically challenged people can still work and excel in today’s society and military. Dana emphasizes the words amputee and uselessness are not synonymous.

 

 Dana has given more than 400 speeches in the last few years and has been featured in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, People and many more. There have also been numerous television programs which focused on Dana and his story. Some of the programs include: Dateline, A Current Affair, Real TV, NBC Person of the Week, Day and Date and Extra.

 

Dana retired from the United States Army in 1996. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota in May of 2000.

 

Dana spends a great deal of his personal time working with other amputees and disabled or physically challenged people. Dana inspires other amputees to walk again. His future plans are to continue to speak to the public and fly helicopters” (http://www.danabowman.com/dana-biography.php).

 

Perseverance With Emotions

 

“When you were faced with your most difficult emotional challenge, what did you do? What thoughts crossed your mind in finding a solution? What did you do? Did you respond or were you emotionally paralyzed? Fear often does paralyze us, and most often the emotional challenges we face are more difficult than the challenges that are physical. However, nothing is ever really too big that you can’t find a solution. In every challenge, there is always a way out without a life being lost. It’s ok to wrestle with your emotions, and it’s ok to talk with someone about your feelings. But even in the most dark of days, things will get better. It’s normal to wrestle with your emotions. If you experience some tough emotional times, you can persevere, and it’s ok to ask for help. So don’t hesitate to talk to someone trustworthy … about what you are dealing with. Remember you are valuable, unique, and one of a kind. This world needs you! So, when things are emotionally difficult, don’t give up!” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Perseverance, Volume 3, p.13)

 

Laura Hillenbrand is an example of one who persevered with emotions. Hillenbrand is the author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which was published in 2001 and then became the basis for the feature film Seabiscuit in 2003. She was able to write despite “suffering through a terrifying 10-year cycle of health problems” that began in 1987.

 

“She was diagnosed with CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Experts describe the illness as a complex disorder characterized by debilitating fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. It affects blood pressure, weakens the immune system and can make mental concentration all but impossible. Victims often feel useless and defeated. Many give up hope of regaining a normal life. Because of her illness, Hillenbrand had to drop out of school and was unable to handle the rigors of full-time work. She was in despair.”

 

But as she researched the book, she identified with characters she encountered. She already had a love for horses and wrote for equine magazines. “Hillenbrand attacked writing the story with all the passion she could muster. Writing was a way to momentarily escape her circumstances and the pain of her existence. ‘I got very emotionally involved in telling this story,’ she remembers. ‘Living in my own subjects bodies, I forgot about mine. My emotions would mirror whatever part of the story I was researching on a particular day.’ In addition to the numerous honors and critical acclaim that her book gained, she was provided a platform to spread awareness of CFS. It gave her renewed hope and purpose. “She had found a door of opportunity for a new life. ‘When I was writing, I became a storyteller, not an invalid. My entire life wasn’t oriented around my body. My life had a purpose to it … I felt like I was living for the people I was writing about … The whole world is new to me.’” ((Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Perseverance, Volume 3, p.13)

 

Think about what it takes to persevere in adversity, in failure, against the odds, and with your emotions. I hope that, after reading this month’s article, you know a little more about perseverance and how you can further develop that attribute to Become The Man God Wants You To Be. Thanks for reading…

 

Randy

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The Disciplines of Life: Lesson #13 – Disdain

“Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3)

Introduction

As we continue our series on the disciplines that the Christian should incorporate into his character, we would like to take a look at our response when we encounter disdain from others. I believe there are some valuable lessons to be learned as we notice what Raymond V. Edman has to say about this discipline and how it is illustrated by David and by Jesus.

Edman says regarding the words of Mark 6:3, “These quiet and inconspicuous words do not convey the caustic and causeless criticism contained therein. It was in no complimentary sense that our Lord’s fellow countrymen spoke of their neighbor in Nazareth as ‘the carpenter’; rather it was in consummate and contemptuous disdain that they thus depicted Him. They knew Him as a carpenter; ‘From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands (Mark 6:2) was their query. A carpenter, indeed! (Edman, p. 181)

As many of us might attest, “The discipline of disdain tries our mettle as do few searchings of the soul. We may be able to defy intrigue, to disregard innuendo, to deny insinuation; but we find it difficult to endure invective. We dislike to be despised. We cringe at contumely; we become quarrelsome when under contempt” (Edman, p. 181)

As we stated earlier, both David and Jesus “illustrate admirably the discipline of disdain. David met the test many times; and his reactions were not identical in each case. The differences may be accounted for by the occasion or the personalities involved, or possibly by the age at which he endured the discipline. Like him, we all face the cutting contempt that quickens the pulse and kindles the spirit, and by the same token creates the opportunity to show a quiet and Christlike calm (Edman, pp. 181-182).

Please consider with me the first example from the life of David …

David Defied the Disdain of the Giant (1st Samuel 17:41-46)

David had come from the solitude of the sheepfold, and from the struggle with the lion and the bear. He was an inconspicuous nobody, unknown and unheralded, with no reputation to maintain nor reward to gain. The text says, “Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy…” (vv. 41-42, NLT), and then he said, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with a stick? Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” (vv 43,44, NLT).

David replied to the ridicule with a statement of reliance upon God (v. 45). He had no fear because he knew God would enable him to defeat the giant! Edman says regarding David’s stand against the giant and what it teaches us, “Disregard for despising, disinclination to defend self, dependence upon divine aid, this is the discipline of disdain…. Out of disdain comes distinction to him that endures its discipline ” (Edman, p. 183)

Next, consider from the life of David …

David Nearly Succumbed to the Cynical Disdain of Nabal (1st Samuel 25:2-13)

The text describes the arrogance of Nabal, “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is?” (v. 10). Nabal compared him to a runaway slave. At this reception, David lost his temper became embittered and was about to send his army to attack Nabal (vv. 12-13). But God Met the Embittered David in the Person of Abigail (1st Samuel 25:23-31).

What are the lessons to be learned from this Bible account? “Would that we might remember in the fire of the injury and the fury of the insult that it is foolish to answer the fool according to his own folly. Therein we become ‘like unto him’ (Prov. 26:4).” The fool passes away, his foolishness fades, his sneers cease. By disregarding his disdain and doing our own duty we are masters of ourselves and mindful of tomorrow. David’s son could say, ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that a city’ (Prov. 16:32). Yielding to disdain can destroy us; disdaining to yield can delight us” (Edman, p. 184).

And then a third example illustrating David response to the disdain of his own wife…

David Met the Disdain of Michal (2nd Samuel 6:20-23)

“He led them to Baalah of Judah to bring back the Ark of God… from Abinadab’s house (v2-3). After the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark and the Lord in his anger struck Uzzah so that he died, David decided not to move the Ark of the Lord into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. After 3 months, he retrieved the ark from the house of Obed-edom and, amongst much rejoicing and celebrating, he brought the ark to the City of David.

“Perhaps he was overly exuberant, unduly excited. Perhaps he needed some restraint in his rejoicing. A smile of approval would have pleased him, a word of kindness would have cautioned him, a note of gratitude to God would have gladdened his heart; instead there was the measured and miserable meanness of Michal’s mimicry,” (Edman p.185) “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!” (v. 20, NLT)

Nothing hurts like that which comes from one’s own family. David could have expected sympathy, assurance, expressions of love. Instead he was greeted with cynicism and sarcasm. And David, wounded in spirit, responded, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” (vv.21-22).

As much as David was subjected to the disdain and responded in an honorable way, he did not hold a candle to the way our Lord was disdained and ridiculed and despised but responded in a way to leave us the perfect example. Consider that …

Jesus Knew, Above All Others, the Deep Discipline of Disdain

“He went everywhere doing good unto all, and in that ministry of mercy He came to His native village of Nazareth” (Mark 6:1-6)(Edman, p. 186). “There also He offered to be helpful with words of wisdom and healing touch. His efforts were ineffectual, for his hearers would non of Him; rather ‘they were offended at him’ (v. 3) (Edman, P. 186). “They summed up their scorn in the caustic query, ‘Is this not the carpenter? (v. 3). To them He was a carpenter, not the Christ; the son of Joseph, not Jesus the Lord. And who can measure the depth of wound caused by the contempt of countrymen and kinsfolk, the known and loved whom He would fain help? (Edman, p. 186).

“Disdain that damages or destroys – unless we determine to dominate our spirit, and to follow in the footsteps of the Saviour. He could reply with gentleness of spirit, ‘A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house’ (v. 4) (Edman, p. 187). “No censure nor sarcasm in return – only civility and sweetness. He did what good He was allowed by their antagonism, but no might deed (v.5)” (Edman, p. 187). “Their unbelief filled Him with astonishment; but He went onward (v.6). There were others to help, the hungry, the helpless, the heartsick in other villages” (Edman, p. 187)

Conclusion

“That is enduring the discipline of disdain: no harsh reply, no self-justification, no rendering evil for evil. Rather it is by gentleness, goodness, graciousness under provocation, that we prove ourselves true apprentices of the Master Carpenter” (Edman, p. 187).

Maybe you have been the object of someone’s disdain and ridicule and it has hurt you deeply. We definitely live in a time where much of that spirit is alive and well. I hope these thoughts might help you to respond appropriately if and when that happens.

Thanks for reading …

Randy

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 181 – 188)

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Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be #6, October 17, 2020: Servanthood

What Does The Bible Say About Servanthood?

The Bible has much to say about having a servant’s heart. One of those “teaching moments” that Jesus had with his apostles was when the mother of James and John came to Jesus to ask a favor. Here is the Scripture account:

20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” 23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” 24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:21-28, NLT)

Consider also the following passages:

Luke 22:27 ESV: For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

John 12:26 ESV: If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Ephesians 5:21 ESV: Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

1 Peter 2:16 ESV: Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Mark 9:35 ESV: And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Mark 10:42-45 ESV: And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45 ESV: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

2 Corinthians 4:5 ESV: For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Galatians 5:13 ESV: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Peter 4:10 ESV: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Philippians 2:5-8 ESV: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Matthew 23:11 ESV: The greatest among you shall be your servant.

How Does This Contrast With What The World Say About Servanthood?

“The world encourages personal ambition and pride. As the saying goes, ‘He who dies with the most toys wins.’ We live to compete and succeed. We want to be first. We want to be the boss. Our bumper stickers boast of our achievements. Our walls are decorated by our diplomas.

Is it possible that God desires something far greater for us than our own personal ambition? Yes it is, and yes He does. This greater thing that God wills is to be found in the most unlikely of places, a place to which most of us would never look at all: servanthood.

The world does not think highly of servants. To be a servant is to be in the lowliest of positions. No one boasts of their job as a servant. In fact, most people would be ashamed to be called servant. However, we do not live for the opinions or applause of man, but of God. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, what does God say on the subject? What does the Bible say about servanthood?” (https://www.compellingtruth.org/servanthood.html).

Here Are Some Real Actionable Steps We Can Take!

Leadership authority, Dr. John Maxwell, says that “to embody the quality of servanthood, a true leader:

1. “Puts Other’s Ahead of His Own Agenda….

2. “Possesses the Confidence to Serve….

3. “Initiates Service to Others….

4. “Is Not Position-Conscious….

5. “Serves Out of Love….”

He then suggests, “To improve your servanthood do the following:

  • Perform small acts of kindness for others that show you care
  • Learn to walk slowly through the crowd…. Make it your goal to connect with others by circulating among them and talking to people. Focus on each person you meet…..Make your agenda getting to know each person’s needs, wants and desires….
  • Move into action….Begin serving with your body and your heart will eventually catch up….

(The 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader, John C. Maxwell, pp. 136-139)

Conclusion

We can all probably think of people in our lives who have demonstrated the characteristic of servanthood. I always think of my Dad who selflessly served others as he preached the gospel for forty-nine years (1957-2006). He preached in many small, struggling churches and worked as a welder, to support himself as he preached. He was not one to get discouraged easily and was a great role model.

In her book When Character Was King, Peggy Noonan gives many examples in the life of former President Ronald Reagan that demonstrated his servant’s heart. Also, in an article titled, “The Quiet Grace of Ronald Wilson Reagan” by Craig Shirley and Frank Donatelli, that appeared in the October 19, 2016 Wall Street Journal, they give an example of his personal grace, “Over the course of his life, the Gipper sent thousands of letters to fans, friends and even opponents, many of whom remember his personal grace. During his stay in the hospital, recovering from the assassination attempt, nurses were astonished to find Reagan one day on his hands and knees, cleaning up some water he had spilled. The leader of the free world was wiping the floor so no one else would have to do it” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-quiet-grace-of-ronald-wilson-reagan-1476831665).

Serving others is a recognized step in the recovery process. In the Celebrate Recovery Eight  Principles, Principle 8 says, “Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.” Step Twelve of the Twelve Steps of Recovery says, “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” This step is based upon Galatians 6:1, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” This is all about giving back; about servanthood!

I hope these thoughts will help you in becoming the man that God wants you to be. Thanks for reading ….

Randy