Handcrafting Disciples

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Not long ago I had a parent come in and thank me for something I did for her daughter who is in my class. Her daughter had an assignment with all the other students, and part of the assignment required each student to stand up in front of the class and give a brief report. This student is extremely shy and had already received a zero when she refused to give an oral report. After this happened a couple of times, I talked to her about it. I managed to get her to agree that if I kicked out all the boys in the class, the next time she had an oral report, she would do it. The thought of this made her smile and I had hopes it would work.

A week or two later, the students were giving an oral report on current events and her turn came. Sure enough she refused, then I remembered our ‘deal’. I told all the boys to get out and to stand outside. The boys were confused, but also pleased at the chance to get out of class for a few moments. Sure enough, once all the boys were gone, she was able to do her oral report. With that success under our belt, I told her that next time we would leave just one boy in the class and she could pick who it was. I explained further that each time after that, we will add in one more boy and she can pick who gets to stay in.

Her mother heard about this from her daughter and tearfully came in one morning to thank me for doing something that no one had ever done for her personally, or for her daughter.  She explained that as a young girl, and still as an adult, she was painfully shy and it deeply touched her that I would do such a thing for her daughter, who struggles with the same deep fear of speaking in front of others.

Honestly, I had not really given it much thought. When I came up with the idea, I had no idea how it would profoundly touch the lives of my student and her mother. I was blessed by the fact that she came in and shared with me her story and the struggles that she and her daughter have.

I teach for a living, but more importantly I am in a position to touch lives. It has always been a second nature for me to care about my students and enjoy a relationship with them, to impact them in a positive way with a male figure many of them don’t have in their lives.

The area I teach is rural and poor, with many of my students lacking a father figure, or any kind of positive male role model, to influence their lives. Don’t mistake my accolades in being a positive role model as egotistical. I am well aware of my short comings, you only need to ask my wife, children, or family members to find a laundry list of faults. Nevertheless, despite my fractures, over the years God has confirmed to me that I am doing what he wants me to do. It is not always easy, but it can be deeply satisfying knowing what I do is pleasing to the Lord. I have never experienced that before in other jobs, and the only other time I have had that feeling was most recently in my study of apologetics and this blog.

Pastor John Ortberg said, “If we really want to help someone grow, we will have to help them in a way that fits their wiring. Our great model for this is God himself, for he always knows just what each person needs. He had Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, and Adam take the rap. He gave Moses a forty-year time out, he gave David a harp and a dance, and he gave Paul a pen and a scroll. He wrestled with Jacob, argued with Job, whispered to Elijah, warned Cain and comforted Hagar. He gave Aaron an altar, Miriam a song, Gideon a fleece, Peter a name, and Elisha a mantle. Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler, tender with the woman caught in adultery, patient with the disciples, blistering with the scribes, gentle with the children, and gracious with the thief on the cross. 1

rock-climbing

I came to the conclusion once, that I was done teaching, but you can see for yourself God never grows people the same way. Moses was raised in a palace to serve in the desert. Joseph was raised in the desert to serve in a palace. I heard someone say that the shortest path is often not the best because they may miss out on opportunity’s for growth, allowing God to do a work in their life. Rock climbers often have to ‘traverse’ a part of a climb to reach a way up. Traversing is never the first choice as it adds to the length of a climb, but it is often necessary to reach the peak climbers strive for.

 

There was once a little boy who wanted a bicycle and he was not sure how best he should pray for such a thing. He was watching a traditional service and saw how the minister prayed. So the little boy prayed the same prayer. “Lord if it is your sovereign will, and in your eternal plan that I can get a bicycle, in your time, and according to your will, would you please get me one. I pray amen.”

bluebike

A few days later when nothing transpired, he was watching another pastor on T.V. The little boy tried another prayer. “Lord, I declare my need for a bicycle! I want a nice blue bike, and that it be delivered to my house within 24 hours. I lay claim to it. Amen!”

Again, after a few days without any results, he began to think really hard on the matter. Finally, his mother saw him take a small statue of the Virgin Mary they had in the living room. She was busy, and had not given it much thought till later that night when the boy was in bed. She looked around for the statue, but could not find it. When she returned to the living room, she noticed a note had been placed where the statue had been. The note began, “Jesus, if you want to see your mother again…”

It is a funny story, but many of us, myself included, have gone to great lengths to get something we wanted, and it turned out to be nothing we needed. What lengths do we go to avoid traversing across the cliff when it could be God’s plan for us to take the long road and be blessed by his mercy and grace? What lengths do we go to help our adult children through difficult times when they should be traversing, and we are pulling them straight up the cliff? I have asked myself this many times over the years, and still do concerning friends, family, and students.

Some years back, we knew a young man who could not hold a steady job. Time and again we helped him out. Gave him some money, (I don’t loan money to anyone). Allowed him to stay at our house, fed him, prayed with him. He just could never get his life together. I know others helped him too, but at some point you have to say I am sorry, we can’t continue to care for you. You need to stand on your own. It ended tragically when we finally heard he committed suicide. Did we do the right thing? Should we have pulled him over the cliff? Continued to care for him? Could our efforts to pull him up have caused some in my family to slip down the cliff? Some questions we will never know the answer to in this life.

In 2003, there was a study at Dartmouth Medical School concerning depression in children and adolescents. The finding coming from a secular source was nothing less than astounding. They found that, “…the human person is hardwired to connect. We need close attachments to other people, beginning with mothers and fathers and family and then the larger community we live in. Also, we are hardwired for meaning, born with a built-in capacity and drive to search for purpose and to reflect on life’s ultimate ends. If these two needs are not met, children cannot be expected to be healthy and develop.” 2

The young man I shared about above did not have meaning to his life. He was lacking purpose and did not have any kind of healthy relationship with his mother or father that I knew of. If you are reading this and have an opportunity to impact the life of a young person, I encourage you to take the time and do so. You may find a deep satisfying purpose that the Lord had in mind for you. You may be surprised that you can help handcraft disciples.

 

Sources:

  1. Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011. Print
  2. McDowell, Sean. Apologetics for a New Generation. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2009. Print.
Mommy can I kill this?

Mommy can I kill this?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above image by Nicci Coertze-Kruger from Pixabay

On the first day of school a little boy whose father owned the local apple farm brought his teacher a gift in a box.

Many others had done the same, but his was the largest and last to be opened. It was a game they were playing, and before she opened each gift, she had to try to guess what it was. The boy placed it on her desk and stood waiting for her to open it. All the other little boys and girls were gathering around to see what it was because children are naturally curious about things, and the little boy had refused to tell anyone what it was.

The teacher, who was young in years and to the profession, stood up and noticed the bottom of the box was wet, and a small puddle was forming on her desk. She exclaimed, “Oh Johnny, I think it must be broken!” Johnny said, “Oh no, it can’t be broken.” The teacher dipped her finger in what looked like apple juice, tasted it, and asked, “Is it apple juice?” The boy smiled and said, “Nope.” The teacher again dipped her finger in the puddle, tasted it again and asked, “Lemon-ade?” Again the boy smiled and said, “Nope!” Unable to contain his excitement any longer he exclaimed, “It’s a puppy!”

It is so important to know what things are before we take action. The above story is an amusing example of someone taking a simple action, (tasting what she thought was apple juice), and it turns out to have been a poor idea. Hollywood often runs with that kind of theme where aliens, (the kind from another planet, not just south of the border), come to visit earth, and they encounter someone who assumes they are hostile invaders. Inevitably, someone takes a shot at an alien and starts a war, when all along everyone could have been best of friends.

New hunters are reminded never to pull the trigger unless they know what they are shooting. I know about this first hand, having been shot myself. 

Swat teams have the same mindset and can’t just kick in doors and start shooting at anything that moves. Members of the sheriff or police departments can’t just start banging away at every bad guy they think they see, not with the valid concern of shooting innocent people, or worse yet, children.

I know Hollywood does not portray these kinds of actions very accurately. Most often, in Hollywood shootouts, hundreds of rounds are zipping through the air, the majority of which hit buildings, cars, and windows because everyone is such a lousy shot. Anyone that does get hit is often just an expendable good or bad guy. It is important to know what someone is shooting at before they pull the trigger.

With that in mind, it would also be important for someone to ‘know’ what they are aborting in an unwanted pregnancy. If it is just a ‘mass of cell tissue’ or a ‘lump of flesh’, then we have nothing to discuss, but if it is more than that, it would be valuable to know.

I did hear Greg Koukl give this example of a boy walking up behind his mom, who was doing the dishes. The boy was behind her and asked, “Mommy, can I kill this?” 1 Well, what is the first reaction out of the mouth of the mother? She would turn and look, or she would ask, “What is it?” Now, if it was an unwanted household pest like a spider or a cockroach, most of us would give permission. If it was a snake or a bird, then probably not. If it was a dog or a cat, definitely not. If it was the infant from next door, emphatically not!

I don’t know if it was Greg Koukl who came up with the acronym SLED, or if someone else had thought of it first, but it can be a simple tool to make your case for the right to life. SLED stands for:
Size
Level of Development
Environment
Degree of Dependency

Let’s take a moment and look at each one. Starting with size and equating the value of a person on how large or small they are is foolishness. I don’t think anyone would dispute this. Are basketball players more valuable due to their size? Are parents more valuable than their children? How many of you remember William Perry, aka The Refrigerator, who played for Chicago Bears after being hand-picked by Mike Ditka. In high school, he played at 295 pounds! Those of you over the age of 40 might remember the song by Randy Newman, “Short People”.  A song I would play for my girlfriend back then, (she was short). We can laugh at songs like that, especially those of us who are tall, but in all seriousness, height or size has nothing to do with the inherent value of a person.

Level of Development is another consideration for those considering an abortion. Does the value of a human being lessen because of their level of development? Is a 16 year old boy more valuable than a 6 year old boy? If the level of development matters, then anyone prior to puberty would have less value than someone past puberty. Same would be true from an infant to a toddler, or a newborn to an infant. Does a fetus in the first trimester have less value than one in the 2nd trimester? Some might argue that point, but if that is true, then we should be able to apply that to everyone. Obviously we can’t, so level of development cannot determine the value of a human being.

What about environment, or location? Does your value increase or decrease depending on where you are located? Do you have more or less value because you are at work, home, in your car? Do you have more value on the left side of your sofa then on the right side of your sofa? How about those in another country? Do those that live in third world countries have less value than those in developed countries? Does the value of an astronaut change if he is orbiting the earth or walking on the moon? Does your value change when you have traveled from mother’s uterus, though the birth-canal, to the hands of a waiting physician? Absolutely not. Value cannot be placed on a person depending on where they are found.

Finally, we have the degree of dependency which again is a point some might argue. If you look at this issue sensibly, then you will see it has nothing to do with the value of a person. How many of you know someone with skills or talents that have allowed them to be less dependent on others, in particular parents, sooner than others. Is the young adult who is pro-active and finds a job right out of high school have greater value than another who has not found a job? As a child grows and matures, do they have greater value as the months pass and they become less and less dependent? Do those that collect welfare have less value than those contributing to our tax base and have full time work? Do those working full time have more value than those working part time? How about those who need dialysis or heart medication on a weekly basis; is their value less due to the medication they need? Obviously the answer to this is no, and to suggest the value of a person is dependent on their level of dependency is foolish.

After hearing these reasons, someone might respond, “So what? I agree with all this, but you still should not take away a woman’s right to choose.” I would respond, “Choose what?” Think about it, a woman’s right to choose what? Do women have the right to choose to kill an innocent human being? No, they don’t and neither does anyone else, because if size, level of development, environment, and level of dependence does not make a difference in the value of a person, then abortion is the killing of innocent human beings.

Someone might respond, “So you believe even in the case of rape, you would take away a woman’s right to choose?” Again I would ask, “A right to choose what?” “Because a woman was raped, does that give her the right to kill an innocent human being?” Ray Comfort asked, “Which is worse, rape or murder?” 2

Greg Koukl puts it this way, “Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 3

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NIV)

Psalm 127:3-4 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. (NIV)

1. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion-Only One Question”. Ambassador Basic Curriculum. Signal Hill, 2003. Lecture.
2. Comfort, Ray. “180 Movie” YouTube Video. YouTube. 21 September. 2011. Web. 25 July. 2013.
3. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion: One Key Issue” str.org. Stand To Reason, 30 March. 2013. Web. 20 July. 2013.

Sources:
http://standtherefore.com/blog/sled-the-case-against-abortion/
http://www.nrlc.org/NewsToday/SLED.html
http://www.str.org/videos/women-will-die-from-back-alley-abortions-if-abortion-was-made-illegal#.Ue8aJW3akQk
http://www.prolifetraining.com/five-bad-ways.asp
http://hopeafterabortion.com/?p=103
http://www.safehavenministries.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI
http://www.str.org/quickthoughts/abortion-one-key-issue#.Ue8adG3akQk

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