From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.Genesis 13:3-4
I heard a great sermon the other day about Genesis 13. I love how God lets us view people in the Bible with an almost cinematic touch. We reach deep into their thoughts, their trials, their sins, their joys. We can sit back and know they are about to fail or conquer. But like any good director, God places seemingly insignificant artifacts and occurrences into the story that, in order to get the beautiful breadth of the story we need to look again and dig deeper.
That’s the advantage of being in a church which hosts a good teaching pastor. They find the nuggets and carefully remove the outer layers, revealing the gems.
And so, I learned the other day about Bethel. About coming home. About retracing my steps to bring me back closer to God. Two little sentences in the Bible showing me where to go when I feel lost. When I have gone off track. I praise God today for Bethel – for His welcoming home.
Many years ago, I wrote a short poem for my mother in law. The gist of the poem was that like a bird finds its comfort in a beautiful birdhouse, so I find my home with her. A lot of people feel that way around her. She brings you in and gives you rest and comfort. In Abram’s case, after he had made some disastrous decisions while in Egypt, he made the wise choice to go back to God’s house – Bethel. It’s where he had built the first altar to honor God.
He didn’t just show up there, he entered back into communication with God. And he was surely welcomed.
Our human nature is to grow up and out of our parents’ homes. To plunge into the world of adulthood, seemingly going it alone. But for many who come from loving, healthy homes they know they can always come back for advice and aid.
Our relationship with God is unique. He wants us always tethered to Him. He desires to be constantly asked about who to marry, where to work, how to handle difficult relationships. He wants us to join His home gym, giving us strength to make it through trials and tribulations. He longs to have us sit around His dinner table sharing our day – our joys and our pains.
And when we wander too far away, we need to remember to retrace our steps. We need to follow our hearts back to Bethel.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:46
“The teacher encourages the student morphs – moth to beauteous butterfly soars”
Mala Naidoo, author
When God directed me to start the Emboldened blog He also led me to a few simple quotes to put on the homepage. I didn’t know at the time one day I’d be using those quotes for this week’s study on Jesus and His teaching nature! Of the few quotes He led me to, I included this one by Joyce Meyer:
“If you leave church and are not convicted, asking questions, or emboldened then either you are at the wrong church or you weren’t paying attention.”
How many times have you left church and within an hour couldn’t remember what the sermon was about? You couldn’t even pull up the general topic in your memory?
I recently heard someone say that we don’t go to church to sit and put in our “dues” to God. It’s where we should 1) be rejuvenated for the mission and 2) get more training for the mission. And the second we leave the doors of our “God classroom” we should be at the ready to embark on the commission which Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19. When church becomes a place where we leave just feeling like that was a “nice” experience, at best, or an obligation, at worst, we owe it to our personal faith progression to re-evaluate the situation.
When I started going to church my family ended up at a large Presbyterian church nearby. The pastor was just what I needed at the time. He was more counselor than teacher. And when I left each Sunday I felt he had really spoken to the problems I was having and reminded me that God loved me. The sermons were light on scripture, maybe one or two mentioned, and heavy on personal stories. But I soon found that sole message to be not quite enough. I wanted to know more. And the “teaching” sermons were what I gobbled up. As my husband can attest, I’m very curious. He constantly reminds me that I like to ask questions that seem to have no answers.
As a developing Christian, we should all be asking questions about God. If this “almighty being” is to be the center of our universe, the touchstone for how we live our lives, and the message we herald, shouldn’t we know everything we can know so we are prepared when sin enters our sphere? So we can be prepared when a seeking, fellow man starts asking us questions?
From learner to teacher. That’s exactly the path Jesus took. Here’s the rest of the scene when Jesus’ parents found him, as a boy, in the temple courts.
"Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers." Luke 2:47
And so, I constantly seek to learn more about this awesome God. At the beginning of this year my husband and I were directed to a new church. My son-in-law and his friend host a Christian men’s podcast called “Supplement the Faith.” They heard on a local St. Louis radio station a show called “Core Christianity.” The main host is Pastor Adriel Sanchez, who unbeknownst to me at the time, is a pastor in my town. They raved about his sound, Christian doctrine and told us we had to go check him out.
And so we went. The music was not my favorite – very simple and traditional hymns. The style of service was more formal than I was used to. But when Pastor Adriel gave his sermon I realized I was listening to a teaching pastor. That day, my church “program” was scribbled all over with notes!
In a brief period of time, I’ve learned a lot from and about Pastor Adriel. He and his beautiful wife have four little children with another on the way. This young pastor, who has led his fairly recently planted church for only about seven years, can be heard on the radio and podcast throughout the world via Core Christianity – which is a question and answer format. His youthfulness stands in contrast to his calm, confident poise. I recently asked Pastor Adriel if he’d be willing, in his busy schedule, to talk about his pastoral style.
And if you are on your faith journey toward learning more about His Word, I encourage you to tune in to either Pastor Adriel’s sermons at North Park Presbyterian (PCA) or the Core Christianity podcast. The questions asked on the podcast might just be something you get asked one day!
Kris: You seem to be drawn toward being more of a “teaching” type pastor than say a “counselor” type. How do you think you developed that style?
Pastor Adriel: I have a firm conviction that from the pulpit my job is to communicate God’s word clearly, and seek to apply it to the folks that God has entrusted to my care. Teaching or explaining the Bible is really important to me because I know that God’s word is the source of life. I do seek to provide biblical wisdom or counsel at times – but often that happens in the context of one on one conversations within the church.
K: Who are your favorite Christian authors/pastors?
PA: I love reading the Christian classics. St. Augustine’s Confessions, Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, Calvin’s Institutes, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I nerd out on church history, so I really enjoy reading the early church fathers. As far as living authors are concerned, I like books by theologians like Michael Horton, and pastors like Tim Keller.
K: What got you involved in doing Core Christianity and the podcast?
PA: One of my seminary professors invited me to be on a podcast he had hosted for decades called the White Horse Inn. Over time, we started thinking about a new project that would reach a broader audience helping them to understand the core doctrines of Christianity. A lot of research has come out recently highlighting how little Christians know about their faith – so this was a huge need. Our goal has been to answer basic listener questions about the Bible and the Christian life, and in the process to point folks to Jesus and his gospel. As we grow in our understanding of God’s word, we’re enabled to love and serve God better.
K: What do you like most about doing the podcast?
PA: I love the live element. I think it makes the show exciting, because we can’t really anticipate what kind of call we’re going to get. As a pastor, I also love it when I’m able to answer a question for someone and I can tell audibly that they’re encouraged by God’s word.
K: What are the most frequent topics you get asked?
PA: Questions related to marriage, assurance of salvation, finding a good church, and how to properly apply God’s law are common from our audience. Depending on what’s going on in our broader society, we also will get questions on current events.
K: What question have you gotten that “stumped” you? And what was the funniest question?
PA: Never been stumped! Just kidding. Actually, sometimes we get very obscure Bible questions, or questions for which there is no clear biblical answer. I find those questions to be the most difficult to handle. As far as the funniest question we’ve received… not long ago someone asked if there were fish on the ark too. That one made me chuckle.
K: Which book of the Bible do you enjoy teaching the most and why?
PA: I find that whichever book I am preaching through tends to become my favorite book for that season. Believe it or not, I had a ton of fun preaching through Leviticus a couple of years back. I also really enjoy preaching through the Gospels. I preached through Mark early in my ministry, and like to revisit the Gospels from time to time in-between other books.
K: Which book seems to be the most misunderstood?
PA: As I field questions about the Bible, I think one book that’s frequently misunderstood is Galatians. Many believers don’t have a proper understanding of the distinction between the law, and the gospel, and they struggle to understand how God’s law (and various OT commandments) are to be applied today. Galatians is helpful because it speaks to this kind of problem.
K: Do you see value in studying the entire Bible — not just the New Testament — and why?
PA: Absolutely. Jesus said in John 5 that Moses wrote of him, and in Luke 24 that the entire Bible was about him. The entire Bible gives us a glorious picture of redemptive history, and each story in that history is meant to instruct us in one way or another (1 Cor. 10:11). If you don’t study the Old Testament, you’ll miss out on so many of the riches in the New Testament, and you’ll miss out on Jesus as he’s revealed in the types and shadows of the Old Covenant.
K: What are your overall personal goals as a pastor for say the next 5 years? 10 years?
PA: Honestly, I just want to be a good husband, a good dad, and a faithful pastor. My goal is to grow in that for the next 5-10 years.
Thank you to Pastor Adriel for his time! Whether it be through a teaching pastor, Bible study groups/individual, Christian authors, a radio show or Christian podcast, these days we have so many resources at our fingertips to get to know God. As Christians, we must make it a priority to place this knowledge of His ways firmly at the forefront of our lives.
I wanted to leave you today with this quote about being a learning and then teaching Christian:
He who asks will have; what more did he ask for? But he who seeks will go further; he will find, will enjoy, will grasp, and will know that he has obtained. He who knocks will go further still, for he will understand, and to him will the precious thing be opened. He will not merely have the blessing and enjoy it, but he will comprehend it.
“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
We, therefore, desire to copy his character and put our feet into his footprints. Be it ours to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. What saith our Lord himself? “Follow me,” and again, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Not Christ’s apostle, but Christ himself, is our guide; we may not take a secondary model, but must imitate Jesus himself.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Many years ago, I had the benefit of listening to a sermon series on our progression as a disciple of Christ. I have heard many pastors say there’s too many of us Christians who seem stuck at the beginning of that progression and aren’t fully living the life Christ wants for us.
It may even come as a surprise to some that there is an expected “progression” in our faith lives. We assumed that once we accepted Jesus as our Savior we’re done. We are able to check off that box on the questionnaire asking what our faith is: Christian.
"But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16
We all have probably heard the above verse a few times in our Christian lives. But reading the entire chapter reveals something even more. The progression.
"When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power." 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
The apostle Paul himself explains that when he first came to the people of Corinth He came with the first step in the progression – the message of Jesus’ love for us. That He died for us. He rose again for us. Paul goes on to say:
"We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature." 1 Corinthians 2:6
The mature. Who among your faith group would you deem “mature” in their faith? Who among them would you deem a “baby Christian?” And where do you count yourself? This is not asked in judgment. All who are saved are equally loved by God. But you can probably tell the difference between people who are further along in their faith progression and those that aren’t. And it has nothing to do with age. The sign of a maturing Christian is that they’ve received the gift and have actually opened the box and are using it.
So what is this progression? In the sermon series I mentioned, these steps were defined as:
Believer – Mark 9:23
Follower – Luke 9:23
Apprentice – Ephesians 4:14
Learner – Philippians 4:9
Jesus Himself shows us this progression as He lived out those three world-changing years.
Step 1) The Loving and Faithful Friend
Step 2) The Obedient Servant
Step 3) The Courageous Warrior
Step 4) The Patient Teacher
Step 5) The Wise Counselor
Throughout this series, the Jesus Mindset, we will meet people – some famous and some very ordinary– who exemplify the different steps in the faith journey. And it is only correct to start with the first step. Lest we think we have step one down pat I should warn you that so many Christians remain in step one because of the difficult truths and expectations presented. It is the message we hear over and over in our churches. It is the first and the last message Christ has for us, which makes it the most important of all.
“As the Father loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9
When I was researching various pastors who make love and friendship a cornerstone of their message I realized I had an old friend already in my midst waiting to talk to me again. As I perused through my Christian books I stopped on, “How Happiness Happens,” by Max Lucado.
Pastor Lucado probably needs no introduction. He is an internationally known pastor, author, speaker and more. He’s written too many books and articles to count. And the theme throughout is love. How to accept Christ’s love. And how to show love not just to our friends but to complete strangers. He reminds us that Jesus is our loving and faithful friend and wants us to model that character trait to everyone we meet. When you read about Pastor Lucado you see his lifelong mission is to set solidly in our hearts the message of God’s love for us. He shows us how to translate that great gift to others.
“I’m a pastor. I can sit down with somebody who has a broken heart and love them and encourage them and remind them of how God cares. But I struggle when I look at a budget. Or I struggle when somebody says, ‘Well, what’s the long-term strategy for our church?’ Well, I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. Let’s love God, preach Jesus, and pray.”
Max Lucado on his leadership style
So much of what Pastor Lucado speaks of seems simple. And yet, I find myself day in and day out forgetting to live out the simple messages.
“Greet one another for your sake. Experience the joy of showing people they matter. Greet each other for their sake. What is small to you may be huge to them. Most of all greet each other for Jesus’ sake.”
Max Lucado, “How Happiness Happens”
How often do we go through an entire day and find ourselves never having truly connected with another human being?
“Listen intently and praise abundantly.”
Max Lucado, “How Happiness Happens”
Isn’t that what Jesus did throughout His ministry? You can only imagine how the woman at the well in John 4:1-26 felt when Jesus was with her. He wasn’t looking over her shoulder at a bird or cute dog while she spoke. He wasn’t thinking about the next town He was to visit or His next meal. He saw her. He listened to her. He loved her even when she pushed Him away.
It’s definitely easier to live out the Jesus Mindset of being a loving and faithful friend with people we choose to be around. We pick our friends and we even pick who in our family we spend more time with. We are deliberate with whom we ask to go to lunch at work. But Jesus loved the unlovable. He touched the untouchable.
“You wonder why God doesn’t remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because he wants you to love like he loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy.”
Isn’t this where so many of us get stuck? We count ourselves, “good people” or “good Christians” and yet we harbor, at best unforgiveness, and at worst hatred for people.
I grew up in a household where unforgiveness and hatred ran deep. I had a parent who judged harshly and never forgave. People and places got etched into stone on “The List.” That was my touchstone, my guidebook. So when I started hearing the message of God’s love, faithfulness and forgiveness it was difficult to accept. The first step was to believe God felt that way toward me. And to be honest, I find myself frequently falling backward into not returning those gifts to others.
The lessons and examples from Pastor Lucado are great every day reminders on living out Jesus’ request of us to love one another.
“God is love” (1 John 4:16). One word into the passage reveals the supreme surprise of God’s love—it has nothing to do with you. Some people love you because of you. Not God – He loves you because He is He.
Isn’t that amazing? Wouldn’t you agree that most of the people in your life love you because of who you are to them? A daughter or son, a wife or husband, a longtime friend with similar interests, and so on. We may even find ourselves saying we love a person who is related to us but we don’t like them very much. It’s all conditional. But God loves us because He is love. Let’s not just gloss over that. Take a moment to really let it sink in. He is the definition of love. Like a cloud of love envelopes us and snuggles us wherever we go!
I saw a picture the other day of a woman at the store who had created a contraption designed to keep people six feet away from her. It involved a hula hoop, straps, signs, warning reflectors and more. When I saw this I thought, “that’s the exact opposite message of Jesus.” His cloud of love surrounding us is more like a fog bank — it pulls others in and seeps into everything. It quiets the world around us.
Today, when you go out into the world, picture your God cloud swirling around you. It’s beautiful and inviting. Its little tendrils reach out and wrap around others you meet. Invite them in with a smile, a greeting, a shrug of forgiveness. With each act of love we a do a bit of cloud seeding — leaving a piece of Jesus to grow.
“But we have the mind of Christ” 1 Corinthians 2:16
We so often hear the phrase, “To be like Jesus” but what does it really mean in our everyday lives? My BSGs were in a deep conversation on Revelation about whether or not we believe in the rapture. And, more importantly how does either position effect our lives. History and our current world are full of scholars who know a lot more about the details of the Bible than probably you or I will ever grasp. But there’s a difference, which is a deep and wide crevasse, between knowing and living out the qualities of Jesus.
“We, therefore, desire to copy his character and put our feet into his footprints. Be it ours to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. What says our Lord himself? “Follow me,” and again, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.” Not Christ’s apostle, but Christ himself, is our guide; we may not take a secondary model, but must imitate Jesus himself.”
Imitation is not knowing of something but molding ourselves into an almost exact copy. I say “almost” because of course, Jesus is God and we are not. We walk the Jesus drawn path toward His perfection but we are always in a human mode my friend Betsy calls, “imperfect progress.”
Our modern view of Jesus seems to be stuck in one quality, however. And truth be told, if we could regularly live out that one quality it’d be a great step forward on our path. That quality? A loving friend.
We hear the word “love” over and over in our churches, in our faith songs, on our Christian social media. But what about Jesus’ other characteristics? How many of us are willing to take on being Jesus the Warrior, Jesus the Servant, or Jesus the Counselor? If we have hesitated is it because we know that once we decide to move along in our sanctification journey, we will encounter more and more resistance from the outside world?
Are we prepared, like the disciple Stephen, to be a martyr for God? Are we prepared to state unequivocally that we must obey God rather than human beings? (Acts 5:29)
And so, we return to the original question, what does believing in the words of the Bible and Jesus mean to our lives? It means we are to be in constant preparation for His coming. It means we love our neighbors, we share the gospel whenever possible, we humble ourselves, we seek reconciliation and not revenge, we encourage and lift up our fellow travelers, we carry the message of Jesus throughout every generation, and we stand up for the truth of His Holy Word. It means we make a perspective shift on every single aspect of our lives because we believe that one day soon our “age of grace” will turn to the “age of judgment.”
Jesus expects us to be working on that preparation. It’s why He came – not to just leave us knowing God loves us – but living like God knows and loves us. He came to be our example for gathering up residents of the future Kingdom come.
Join me in this journey of looking at the different qualities of Jesus as we delve into His mindset so that we can become His imitators. We will be challenged to accept all of His qualities, not just the ones with which we feel most comfortable. Along the way we will meet some people whose lives are examples of those characteristics.
Jesus was a great disrupter – possibly the greatest of all time. Let’s let Him disrupt and reshape us.
As we begin this series take a moment to pray this confession found in Rick Renner’s, Sparkling Gems from the Greek:
“I boldly declare that I am a new creature in Christ. Old things have passed away and all things have become new! I am not who I used to be anymore. I don’t think like that old person; I don’t see like that old person; I don’t talk like that old person; and I don’t behave like that old person anymore. Now I am in Jesus Christ, and I think like Him, see like Him, talk like Him, and behave like Him. I have come alive with vibrant life because of His resurrection power that works in me! I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!”
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:42-44
If you are a parent, or even a supervisor of others at work, you can relate so well to Jesus already. You work day in and day out to show those who look to you for guidance how to live, work and even play. Through your love, your willingness to give up other things to serve them, your confidence, counseling and teaching you hope all that you share sinks in deeply.
And then you turn your back for a minute.
I was listening to the Talk It Out podcast the other day. It’s three friends who discuss the teachings of Joyce Meyer. This particular episode found them doing their first Covid-19 distanced podcast. One of the women shared how the day prior, when they were practicing how the podcast would actually work, she set up her two kids in the bedroom with snacks and a movie. She then went to another room for privacy. Everything was perfect. The kids had what they needed and were properly admonished.
Partway through the run-through her daughter interrupted the proceedings. As the mom turned to see what caused the interruption all she saw was a massacre. At least that’s what it appeared to be. Her young daughter had somehow gotten a hold of red nail polish and had painted her entire feet and hands. And the white bedspread.
When asking her slightly older son what happened he replied unabashedly, “I dunno, she needed me to open it so I did.”
Jesus spent three intense years teaching, showing, guiding and yet even His closest disciples struggled to model Him. And we sit here about 2,000 years later, with our red nail polish spilled all over our guidebook. Oops.
The thing about the red nail polish on the sheets is it never completely comes out. It leaves a pink stain, as the mom found out. She sat night after night staring at it. But thankfully, each time we fail to live up to the lessons of Jesus we can come with our stained hands and hearts and ask for forgiveness. We are washed white as snow.
We need to get up off our knees and try it again. We turn to Him and say, “show me, teach me.” Because He will come back into the room with us to see how well we have lived out His example.
Join me for my next series, “Jesus Mindset,” where we break down the different characteristics of Jesus and how we can live them out. We will all get them wrong at different points but God always holds out his hand to lift us up and dust us off.
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.”
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.
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!