Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Heroes of the Faith and Cultivating Vision in Our Children

 In my last post I mentioned several saints who have recently graduated to their eternal home in heaven.  Their pilgrimages through this earthly life have ended, and they have left inspiring legacies behind them.  I also asked the question, “Who will be the next heroes of the faith?”  Who will step into the shoes of those faithful saints who are finishing the good fight?  
  I would like to follow up that question with naming a few men and women who I feel are currently engaged in the battle.  These people  have run the race faithfully for a long period of time and have demonstrated long term faithfulness.  Having grown up in a christian home and having been involved in christian circles my entire life I have unfortunately seen many examples of christian leaders who started the race well yet did not finish well.  I am encouraged by those men and women who have stood faithful over the stretch of time.  
  Once of these men would have to be John MacArthur.  I remember growing up in a home where Christian radio was played daily and the ministry and teaching of John MacArthur filled our home on a regular basis.  My pastor father was influenced by the preaching of John MacArthur and it was a regular thing to hear the Grace to You broadcast playing in our home.  I appreciate the fact that John MacArthur relies on the sufficiency of Scripture as enough in his teaching.  He does not fall into the notion of thinking he needs to entertain people in his books or teaching.  He just simply explains the Word of God progressing verse by verse in an expository style and with no apology for remaining true to the Word of God.  He does not water down or sugar coat the Word of God.  He just simply explains it verse by verse and trusts the Spirit of God to speak to people through it.  In a day when many pastors are using gimmicks to draw in crowds I really appreciate this approach to trusting the sufficiency of God’s Word as being totally and completely sufficient.  I also appreciate that John MacArthur has lived a life above reproach and has led by example and not by words alone.  

  Another Bible teacher I highly respect is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemouth.  Years ago I found myself a young wife and Mama in need of encouragement and longing for wisdom from an older godly lady.  I began praying, “Lord, please send an older woman to me to encourage me in how to do this job of wife/mother that you have called me to.”  As I waited no such lady appeared on my doorstep, but I found myself tuning into the ministry of Revive Our Hearts (  more and more frequently.  As I heard Nancy teaching the Lord was breaking me in some areas and convicting me of areas in my life where I needed to surrender more to Him.  Around that time I was able to attend a conference at Houston’s First Baptist where Nancy was teaching.  I remember sitting there and bawling as the Lord was working in my heart, convicting me, and drawing me closer to Himself.  That was about eight years ago now, and I am still listening to and being encouraged by the Bible teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemouth.  At some point along the way I realized that the Lord sometimes answers our prayers in different ways than we had in mind.  He did not actually send me a Titus 2 mentor in the flesh but provided that mentorship to me through the radio teaching of Nancy on Revive Our Hearts.  If you have not tapped into the blessings of this teaching ministry I would encourage you to look it up online or download the app for Revive Our Hearts on your phone.  I respect Nancy so much, because she has lived a life of faithful devotion to Christ and to ministry.   She is focused on the Word of God as the core of her life, teaching, writing, and ministry.  Her teaching is not based on emotion but rather rooted firmly in the Word of God.  That is a refreshing message in today's culture.  

  Another ginormous hero of the faith in my eyes is Joni Ereckson Tada.  She has been an inspiration to me since my childhood.  I remember listening to her early musical recordings on the old fashioned vinyl records…o.k. I am dating myself now!  If you are not familiar with the life story of Joni I would encourage you to read her autobiography. The  basic overview is that she broke her neck in a diving accident when she was eighteen years old and has lived life as a quadriplegic ever since.  She has lived for decades now serving the Lord, singing beautifully, creating beautiful artwork with a  paintbrush between her teeth, writing books, and speaking to crowds about the faithfulness of God.  The thing about Joni is that she has a contagious spark and joy about her; she beautifully adorns the gospel of her Lord Jesus Christ even in the midst of great suffering.   In addition to these things she has a ministry called Joni and Friends that takes wheel chairs and Bibles to needy people around the world meeting practical needs while sharing the great love of Jesus.  A couple of years ago my children and I were blessed to be able to tour her ministry headquarters and meet her in her office.  At that time she sang “Amazing Grace” with us, read the Scripture with us, showed us her art studio, and blessed us immensely.   I was on cloud nine and feel it was one of the highlights of my life.  I was so excited that my children were able to meet such a great hero of the faith.  

  There are others of course……..these are three people who have impacted me greatly, but I am also thankful for so many others who are using their energies and lives to point people to the Gospel and to the Lord and His ways.  
  It is vitally important to me that my children grow up knowing that they were put here on this earth at this time "For such a time as this." - Esther 4:14  I pray for a kingdom minded vision for our family.  I pray that we will not be worldly minded but that we will understand the seriousness of the times we live in and live not for ourselves but to spread the Lord's kingdom and His righteousness.  I talk to my children and pray with them often about these things.  
  One way that we have chosen to prayerfully try to cultivate this world view of serving the Lord, serving others in need, displaying His glory, and living intentionally for the glory of God is by using resources that open our eyes to the lives of men and women who have lived and served well.   Below I am listing some resources we have found helpful in building vision in our home for how we can serve Christ and live with a missional perspective wherever He has us.  

We have a large collection of Torchlighter videos.  They are animated movies telling the life stories of great men and women of God.  Here is a clip from the story of Jim Elliot.

This is just a sample of some of the kinds of resources we use in our home to teach our children about serving the Lord, living for His glory, and spreading His Gospel.  We want these kinds of men and women to be their heroes.   Our culture is chronically consumed with media and pop culture idols but we want different kinds of heroes for our children.  We want them to see that a true hero is someone who lives out his calling in obedience to the Word of God and to the glory of God.  There are many other great resources but these are a few we enjoy.  

As I reflect upon the lives of great saints from previous generations, who have finished their course well, I feel a burden that it is time for younger generations need to step up and live purposely in our generation.  It is my hearts desire to raise my children with such a mindset.  We were not put here to live the status quo.  As christians we are here for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus and to share His Gospel with a hurting world.  Let's shine brightly!  

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."  - Eph 5:15-16

"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."  - I Timothy 4:12

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