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Step 4: The Patient Teacher

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” John 16:12

Having successfully weaved my way through 13 years of public school and 5 years of college I look back and can see so many of my teachers’ faces.  Each face that passes through my memory comes with its own set of feelings.  The teacher who bored me to death in basic high school science, the chemistry teacher who explained chemical components through ballet moves, the college humanities professor who seemed to feel teaching was beneath him, and the hard-nosed journalism professor who demanded perfection and awarded it handsomely.

We all are the recipients of teaching in some form or another – life skills, religious, formal education, even hobbies.  It’s interesting then, that Jesus chose this method, being a teacher, as His style to bring the message of salvation to us all. 

“But having considered the whole situation (how to best approach the world), he said, “No, I will not do what others have done, I will choose the slow and toilsome way; I will not cut the knot, I will untie it; I will not push the world, I will draw it; I will not subdue the world by military methods, I will heal it by the sympathy of human hearts.”  

Charles Jefferson, The Character of Jesus

On paper, His methodology was sure to fail.  By the end of His time on Earth Jesus could count about 120 disciples.  You would expect more from the Son of God.  This small cadre of devout followers was to spread the message throughout the entire world?  And yet, here we sit thousands of years later reading His Words.  Soaking up His teachings.  Setting our lives out each day on the path He has instructed.  No one in the history of the world has had as much influence from so little time teaching.

But Jesus was no ordinary teacher of course.  He perfected the art of being a patient teacher.  He didn’t start out putting fliers around town calling the masses to a class on How to Avoid Adultery or the 10 Steps to Servanthood.  He quietly began calling individuals.  And sitting with them in one-on-one mentoring.  He took our first three Jesus Mindset traits – loving friend, humble servant, confident warrior – and used them to tailor His words to each person’s needs.

One of my favorite teaching moments comes when the respected Pharisee, Nicodemus, came to Jesus secretly one night to learn more about Jesus’ message.

 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:1-8

He then goes on to slightly rebuke this great “teacher” of Israel for not understanding the true message of God’s will.  And a rebuke is fair, given the man’s standing and role.  Yet when Jesus talked to everyday people, He tailored His teaching to their station.  And through watching His behavior with others or through the use of everyday circumstances He gave time for the “ah ha” moments to sink in.

All successful and great pastors are, of course, of some teaching variety.  If you read or follow on social media or podcasting various pastors you will find, however ones who want you to understand the many almost hidden aspects of the Bible.  It is the “teaching” pastor that emphasizes the context of a passage and the connections to other places within the Bible.  They craftily lay out the message they wish to get across and slowly bring you through each point, each verse, each Bible story so you see the big picture of God at work.  For when we know of the 1,000s of connections from story to book, prophecies that came true, and the culture behind certain actions we get a greater understanding of God’s character. They know their audiences – the novice Christian, the well-versed, the Bible educated and even the seeking.  

This is not to say that other pastoral styles are any less in quality or success.  There are pastors who have more of a counseling nature.  Or, like in our previous Jesus Mindset post on being a loving friend, ones like Max Lucado who remind us through various Bible lessons of God’s love.

And for the “regular” Christian we too will approach the world with slightly different styles when spreading the Good News of the gospel.  The underlining Jesus trait however, is the desire to impart the majesty and glory of God and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.

This week I’ll highlight a young pastor who is teacher through and through.  You’ll notice I said young.  A teacher of the Word comes in many forms – not just old wizened ones!  And we’ll also delve into Bible studies and groups, leading them and what you should be getting out of them.

We are all teachers in one form or another.  Whether we teach through example or through words, there are always people watching and listening.  We may not all reach the point where we feel comfortable teaching others the Word but with patience and diligence, we can all get to a place where we can be knowledgeable enough to contribute to others’ learning.  It is our responsibility as members of Jesus’ cadre of students – grown from the 120 to millions – to continue His slow and steady work of bringing more people to the wisdom and love of God.

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Matthew 13:10-12

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Amazed by Ordinary

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

“When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue,and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked.“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Matthew 13:53-58

At first glance, these verses seem like just another story of Jesus teaching in a synagogue, healing the sick, and amazing those around Him with His wisdom and power. Yet, what amazed the crowds in this story the most about Jesus is just how ordinary he was. 

Jesus is teaching in his hometown of Nazareth. Here, the people watched Him grow up; they knew him as a small boy. They knew of his humble carpenter background, that his family was not from riches, and that his brothers and sisters were also just that – ordinary. They couldn’t believe that someone who looked just like them could speak of such wisdom and perform such miracles.  

Jesus’ humble arrival on earth, first in a manger then as a carpenter and soon on a donkey, was all intentional. As Paul writes to the church in Corinth: 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29

God uses people just like you and me – ordinary people – as lights in this darkened world. He used His son as the ultimate example of what is looks like to be an ordinary person (though we know he was far from ordinary), who can also bring great glory to God while being rejected, persecuted, and cast out. People like Paul, Timothy, Titus, John– the list goes on — are all examples of God using the foolish to shame the wise. 

“After all, the thing that looks most ordinary might be the thing that leads you to victory.” 

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

I often struggle with “imposter syndrome.” I tend to think that I just got lucky with jobs, opportunities and such and find it hard to believe I really deserve the things in my life. I often live in fear of being “found out.” What if I’m not the professional they expected me to be? What if I’m not the Christian they thought I was? While there are many complexities to these thoughts, the biggest aspect is that I struggle to believe that God really trusts me with His Word and the responsibility of sharing it and shepherding others. 

The amazing part? We can find freedom from the lies that tell us we aren’t good enough or don’t deserve to be a part God’s chosen people BECAUSE God calls the ordinary. We must always remember this: He qualifies the called, not calls the qualified

So today, I encourage you to stand amazed by God’s grace towards ordinary people like you and me. Let us be astonished that our God is near to the lowly, sees the weak, and cares for the ordinary.

30daysofpraise, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Our 24/7 Tutor

At a time when attending school is so wrapped up in politics and fear I am struck with the idea of Jesus being the greatest Life Tutor of all.  He is available 24/7 – both through remote learning and face-to-face.  It’s no wonder the Bible was used as a teaching tool throughout history.  Horace Mann, considered the “father of public schools” once wrote:

Our system earnestly inculcates all Christian morals and welcomes the religion of the Bible.  The Bible is used in almost all the schools, either as a devotional or as a reading book.”

Horace Mann

It wasn’t until 1962, following a Supreme Court decision, that the Bible was removed as a regular textbook from the daily teachings of our school children.  It’s interesting to note that a lot of “Christian ideals” were attacked following that decision.

Note the first lesson at the top right page

And yet Jesus continues to teach us.  The beauty of His teaching is how tailored it is for each recipient.  In one speech or story Jesus weaves many layers – and depending upon your relationship with Him, determines the layer meant for you.  Even the apostles found themselves at different layers when listening to Jesus.  Peter, the loyal bold one, missed so much of the subtleties of Jesus’ messages as he plowed through each situation.  It wouldn’t be until Jesus’ death that Peter would sit in reflection and capture the entirety of their meanings.  In John 13:36 Peter demands to know where Jesus is going and states he will follow him and lay down his life for Jesus in his defense.  He wasn’t basking in the words of our Lord and learning the gentle messages of the coming resurrection.  What he did learn, however, was so valuable.  The gift of loyalty and love and reverence is woven throughout Peter’s life.

It heartens me when reading the multitude of times the disciples scratched their heads when Jesus spoke to them.  They are like you and me – wanting a quick, simple answer to life’s problems.  And Jesus does provide them.  In the book of Luke, Jesus tells us to “Love our enemies, do not judge, do not condemn.”   In Matthew, Jesus tells us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”  And if we were to learn and accept those few simple lessons God would be pleased.

Today I praise Jesus, the teacher, who pushes those yearning to learn to a higher layer.  The beauty of a parable is that it requires the reader/listener to arrive at their own “ah ha” moment.  And Jesus loved parables.  Entire sermons and books have been written on these simple parables.  We would all be so exalted if a four-sentence blog we were to write lasted as a teaching moment for thousands of years.


I once did a study on the Beatitudes – the eight blessings Jesus spoke of and documented at the beginning of Matthew.  The non-Christian world has misinterpreted many of these, just like the Pharisees misunderstood Jesus time after time.  I love picturing Jesus running circles around the Pharisees and Sadducees.  He was confident in what He spoke because it was directly of God.  If only we could have the same confidence when speaking of our faith!  But back to the Beatitudes.  If you have never read them, take a moment to go through each.  Write down what you think they mean.  Then research them.  Here’s one on-line source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/beatitudes-bible-verses-and-meaning.html. You may find yourself rolling up and tossing out your initial notes.  You will find yourself in the midst of an “Ah ha” moment.  It’s like the many times I studied the works of Shakespeare.  With the help of a good teacher I finally got the jokes, the political commentary or the messages of love.

Jesus, as the 24/7 tutor (and he’s free!), waits patiently for us to delve deeper into the Word of God.  Your “ah ha” moments bring a smile to His face.  He might even clap loudly with you and exclaim, “YES! You got it!”  That’s why everyday should be “Jesus Appreciation Day.”  But, learning like that takes desire.  It takes commitment.  It takes daily showing up to class.  Will you be present when he calls roll today?

Add your praise below of what Jesus has taught you!