Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So...What's Your Story?

This week's entry was contributed by Chad McFadden.  I hope you will read and be encouraged by his words.

“Your life may be the only Bible that some people will read.”

This statement has always bothered me. Maybe it is because it is often used as a sort of cop out of engaging an unbeliever with the truths of God’s Word. Maybe it is because I live in America where the Bible is always the number one best-seller, and yet there remain individuals who have never read it. Maybe it is because of the fact that one must hear the good news in order to be changed by the good news, or maybe it is a combination of all these reasons that I avoid repeating this adage.

Even though I am not depending upon my lifestyle to convince someone to become a disciple of God, I am aware of the necessity for my life to reinforce the Word of God that comes out of my mouth. There is another adage that says, “What you are speaks so loudly that others can’t hear what you say.” Does the story of my life reinforce the message I give? Can I testify to the veracity of God’s Word in my personal life?

Moses instructed the children of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy that God’s message to future generations should be given both verbally and symbolically.

Moses begins the book by recapping the history of Israel (from the exodus through the wilderness wanderings) and of the Law, and the admonition not to repeat the past (chapters 1-5). This provides a backdrop for the discussion with the second generation of exodus Israelites concerning her relationship to God. Not only does the history lesson show the faithfulness of God and the worship He deserves, but it also shows the unfaithfulness of man and the need for God’s provision of a Savior.

Moses details to the Israelites throughout the rest of the book exactly how they can avoid the mistakes of their ancestors and enjoy God’s presence forever. The first set of instructions focuses on teaching future generations the commandment of the Lord by telling future generations the story of their ancestors. (6:20-22).

Notice how Moses structures the first section to bring out the emphasis of passage:

The Great Commandment: Love Yahweh your God! 6:4-9
   Fear Yahweh for He is a jealous God 6:10-15
      Be careful to keep the commandment 6:16-19
         Tell your children of the Exodus from Egypt 6:20-22
      God will preserve if we keep His commandments 6:23-25
   Destroy your enemies for you are a holy people of a jealous God 7:1-10
Keep the Commandment 7:11

Moses comes back to this idea in the middle section of the book when detailing instructions on keeping the Passover. “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes” (16:12). He also mentions the importance of reviewing their history at the end of the book in the Song of Moses. “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you” (32:7).

Moses was not the only biblical author who taught that the story of generations gone by was important for future generations to regularly rehearse. In 1 Corinthians 10:1–13, Paul emphasizes that the same historical events of the Israelites recorded in Deuteronomy were recorded for the benefit of New Testament believers as well! “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (verses 6, 11).

God placed importance in remembering key events in history to highlight His faithfulness to generations. However, I find that present generations rarely take time to consider the past. Is this because they fail to see the significance, or have we also failed to demonstrate the connection between the past and the present?

If God is truly faithful and man is truly depraved, then we should have no trouble looking through history to find examples and testimonies reinforcing these truths. In fact, we should have no difficulty finding examples in our own lives giving testimony to the faithfulness of God and man’s total depravity.

As I have gone through life, I have collected an odd assortment of mementos, including journals, pictures, letters/cards, books, and even an old, plastic piggy bank. Some might say that these things are worthless junk, and I guess if I get too carried away, I might need to purge my collection. However, I have chosen to display some of these “odd” pieces of my past around our house and occasionally, my office. They stand as a sort of memorial to me and a topic of discussion with my kids and others who might see and ask concerning them. There is a story behind every piece that demonstrates God’s faithfulness over the few years that He has allowed me to live on this earth.

I not only use these little mementos from my own personal life to teach my children of God’s faithfulness. I’ll even use different American holidays to initiate a discussion on the faithfulness of God. Memorial Day is coming up and is one of my favorites. We typically will watch the national Memorial Day celebration and end with a discussion on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. On the fourth of July, we celebrate not only our national freedom, but also the freedom that God gives in Christ from our sins. Thanksgiving provides an obvious time for celebrating the faithfulness of God as well.

Throughout the rest of the year during our time of family worship, we will read the biographies of various Christians. Many of those biographies will be about missionaries and pastors, but some of them will also be about doctors, businessmen, governmental leaders, and people from other various occupations. As we read each of these stories, we will seek to learn from their past to impact our present.

When my family is faced with a crisis or doubt concerning God’s goodness, there are plenty of reminders in front of our eyes that serve to bring us back to the truths of God’s Word. Those little reminders are not enough in and of themselves to draw my kids into a relationship with God, but those little reminders set up alongside the teaching of God’s Word present a very strong case for the validity of God’s Word and God’s faithfulness to every generation.