“It’s back to school time!” These words can bring joy to some, while it leaves others to think, “Where did the summer go?” School really is a wonderful concept. It helps you to learn different things that will prepare you for a career and more importantly, experiences in life. While in school, you will gain knowledge. Knowledge and learning in general are very important, but as human beings we will never have ALL knowledge. No matter how much education and knowledge you gain, God will always have more.
Throughout history, men have placed their faith and knowledge in others. For example, the Greeks had ancient heroes like Alexander the Great, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato. The Greeks also had a love for science, math, literature, and the arts. The Grecian society placed emphasis on philosophy or “love of wisdom,” they were very much impressed with men of great knowledge and listened intently on what they had to say.
In I Corinthians 1:18-25, Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, discusses man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. The church in Corinth at this time did not have a “church building.” Groups of people would meet in homes making up many small congregations. Each of these small groups would be under their own leadership. The problem arose when these small congregations would begin competing with each other. These people would begin to follow different men and their teachings. Paul mentions Apollos in verse 12. Apollos was a great orator of the time and had people mesmerized. He would impart great knowledge to the Corinthians. Paul writes to the church in Corinth about not aligning themselves with men, including Apollos, Cephas, and himself (I Corinthians 1:12). Even though each of these men was proclaiming the gospel, Christians wanted to align themselves with them against others. We see this in the world today. Christians may have a favorite preacher or Bible class teacher they really like, but we must be careful to follow what the Bible says, not what man says. Following what men say can be a very dangerous practice. Men will always fail, but God never will (cf. Romans 3:23).
The Bible teaches that if you believe that you have more wisdom than God, you are foolish (I Corinthians 3:18-20). Just as Solomon begged God to give His wisdom, we must pray for it (I Kings 3:10; James 1:5). We, as Christians, should study the scriptures every day in order to gain knowledge and wisdom from God’s word. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
As you begin a new school year, you no doubt will gain new experiences and interactions with others. Always take comfort in knowing that God has all the wisdom. The beginning of a school year is like a fresh start. Commit to studying the Bible every day. If you are already doing this, commit to sharing what you have learned with others. Study so you will know what the Scriptures say before you have to face situations in the world. If you are interested in a particular topic, for example wisdom, get a good concordance and begin studying by doing a word search of where the word wisdom is discussed in scripture. Really commit to study and you will gain so much from knowing and understanding the Scriptures. I pray that you all have wonderful school year!
By: Kim Chalmers
I still remember the day—the day that everything changed. I was no longer just a teenager, I was someone who would be watched carefully. I would be checked out on a weekly basis and the words I said would be heavily scrutinized. For most people, seventeen is just a year of their life. For me, it always reminds me how God blessed my life tremendously.
When I was thirteen we moved to a new house. My mom insisted that we buy a park bench to make the outside of the house decorative. I could not have despised that bench more than I did. Once a week, I would have to remove the bench to mow the lawn, and then bring it back again. Four years after we moved in, I got back from camp and decided to begin a Tuesday night devotional. All of my friends had been talking about how cool it would be to start something like that. I wrote my first lesson, went into my room with my computer and recorded everything I wanted to say in the lesson. When I went to post it onto Facebook, the Internet would not let me upload the video. The wifi signal was not strong enough. Anywhere I tried to go to get a better signal wouldn’t work. I could not post the video. Finally, I went outside and sat on the park bench – the bench that I detested so much. The signal worked, and I was able to post my first video. After several good responses and feedback, several people asked when the next video would be.
I posted the next video on the Prodigal Son. A very dear friend of mine gave me some great tips on how to make my presentation better, and how to film it better. Months and months went by, full of lessons. A few friends began to help me, and some of them even recorded lessons with me. Eventually, we stopped recording lessons, and for a year and a half, we completely abandoned our mission. Then in 2012, I met with Mark Teske and Don Blackwell, the management team from the Gospel Broadcasting Network. Not only was I privileged to begin working there for GBN, I was also privileged to start recording more “Lessons From A Park Bench” in a new, revamped setting. I never imagined that I could be a part of something that amazing. I was only seventeen. I had never written books like Tom Holland, or preached in lectureships like Robert R. Taylor Jr. Yet, I was given an opportunity to make an impact. You may be told constantly that you are “too young,” you are the “church of tomorrow,” or you need to “wait your turn.” I am here to tell you that you can make an impact, a difference, be a symbol for Christ.
Imagine you were taken away from the United States of America during war. If you were brought by force to another country away from your family, how would you react? When you were given orders to do something or die, what would you choose to do? This is exactly the situation Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah found themselves in when they were taken into captivity. However, the key to their faithfulness is found in Daniel 1:8. Daniel decided before the choice had to be made that he would stand up for what was right. Daniel and his friends knew that they could make an impact (Daniel 1:20-21; 2:48-49; 3:29-30; 5:29; 6:1-3, 27). We see over and over again that they stood out from the people and stood up for God. They distinguished themselves from others and God blessed them with positions of prominence among the foreign nations.
Jesus was another example of a young guy who stood out and stood up from those around Him. When He was only twelve (TWELVE!) years old, He was already distinguishing himself among the teachers in the temple. He got so preoccupied with answering and asking questions, that He let His family leave Him in Jerusalem as they travelled home. With His understanding of the Law, He amazed the teachers who had been studying the Law their entire lives (Luke 2:41-52).
2 Timothy 4:2, Paul writes to Timothy, “Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season.” You know the names Michael Jordan and Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. One of the reasons you know these names is because they (arguably) are the best to ever play basketball. The reason they were the best was because when the season was over they worked just as hard as they did during the season. It may have been months before the next season started, yet they treated it like the playoffs were coming. Their attitude was if they found out that there was a game that night, they could play in it. They took the attitude of being ready, no matter what, to heart. God wants us to have that same tenacious desire to be ready in the Scriptures. If we are not expecting it, and someone asks us a biblical question, we should be ready and willing to answer it.
When we study hard and we know the word of God, we can be steadfast and immovable (1 Corinthians 15:58). There were those in the NBA that were scared to try to score on certain players. These athletes were so good at their position that they could keep anyone from scoring. Some of them even prided themselves in the fact that no one could score on them. You and I need to have that same type of attitude for the defense of the church. We should know the Word so well that we will never compromise on the Truth. We should keep others from compromising the Truth. It should be the case that when it comes to defending the gospel, the Devil can never get past us. Christ proved that it was possible, in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. There may have been times in your life before where he (the devil) has gotten past your defense and has brought you down. However, we must develop the faithful Christian attitude that says, “You will not get past me again.” You may be saying, “I’m only a young person, I can’t fight against an enemy that strong. When will I be old enough to do this?”
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he was writing to a young person. One of the things Paul did not want Timothy to miss was that age does not matter. Paul told Timothy to not let anyone “despise your youth” (1 Timothy 4:12). He told him to be an example in “word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, purity.” Since we know according to 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is inspired, we can take what Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:12 and apply it to our own lives.
I never thought that I would be on GBN or have these opportunities, because when I was seventeen, I did not think that I could make a difference. You may be thinking the same thing: “I can’t teach my friends the gospel, I’m not strong enough yet,” “I need to wait another year,” “I’m at a new school,” “My friends are smarter than I am,” “I need more time to prepare,” “I don’t have a good defense of the gospel yet,” “At my age, what could I do?” Most people have these excuses running through their minds, yet it is just the Devil trying to keep you from stepping up. When I started Lessons From A Park Bench, God blessed me with an opportunity to come to GBN. When you are struggling with a new school or a new environment, think of Daniel—he was in another country, surrounded by people who did not believe in the God that he did. Yet, Daniel was still victorious. When you are dealing with people who are smarter than you are, think of Jesus. Think that even at the age of 12, He was able to answer and ask questions to men who had been studying the Law their entire lives. When you are worried about not being prepared, let that motivate you to study more! That is the only way you can truly be immovable. Your age is truly just a number. It was just a park bench. I was just a seventeen-year-old boy. It was just the Gospel, the thing that was (and is) the power that gave the impact. You’re just a teenager. Now what are you going to do about it?
By: Michael Clarke, GBNTV.org
I think everyone has things in their life that they regret, as well as things that they are very glad that happened to them. Luckily, for most of you reading this, you haven’t had many years under your belt to make bad decisions or develop bad traits! So take this list as advice from someone who is a little older than you (not by much), and please apply it if need be.
Study Your Bible on Your Own
My parents did a fantastic job of studying with us when we were younger and on into high school. I would most likely be safe in assuming that my Bible knowledge was pretty good for someone in high school. It was easy to let myself fall into the thinking of, “Well I’ve already studied my Bible once today that should be plenty.” I enjoyed my studies with my family, but it was sometimes difficult to develop my own personal study habits. And that responsibility rested solely on my own shoulders. The Bible says, “Be diligent (study) to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (handling) the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15). We need to know the Scriptures and know how to use them and apply them to our lives. How will we be able to do that unless we study the book to know what God wants from our lives?
Listen to and Trust Your Parents
I am blessed with parents who love me and want the best for me and my soul. Because of that, I didn’t always receive the answer I wanted. Maybe I wanted to go with my friends to see a movie that I knew was questionable at best, my parents would not allow me to go. They knew that as a Christian, I didn't need to go see that movie. Of course, this would make me somewhat angry at times. Later, after I had cooled down, I would think about it, and I would agree that I didn’t need to see that movie. God has given a command to parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This applies even when we may not exactly agree with the way we are being trained, as long as our parents are trying to raise us in a Godly manner. God also has a command for us as children to follow, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth”” (Ephesians 6:1-3). Guys and gals, listen to and obey your parents. In my experience, they do actually know what they're talking about, and they really do have your best interests at heart.
Learn to Serve
Being a servant is a foundational principle of being a faithful Christian. The Bible says, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). We are to be servants of Christ, not servants of ourselves, not making everyone else be the servant, YOU are a servant. I’m thankful that my parents taught me that we should serve others, even when it may not be the most pleasant thing to do. I obviously still have a tremendous amount of work to do in this area, but I know what God expects from me.
If we all make the commitment to better ourselves in these areas, think how much better off the cause of Christ would be. There is nothing in this world more important than being a faithful child of God. Although we will stumble at times, we must repent of our sins, and keep pressing forward. Learn to fight against temptation, and to stay away from sin. Follow what the Bible has to say, and you will be a faithful Christian.
By: Jameson Steward, GBNTV.org
It’s hard to imagine what I might do in his place. I’m not sure if I would have the fortitude and the wherewithal to make the decisions that he did. I’d like to think I would stand boldly in the face of adversity and right the wrongs of my father and grandfather or even stand up as the leader of a perverse nation and not worry about public opinion in order to change the profane into the godly, but I’m not so sure I’m at that point of maturity as of yet. That is what is so amazing about a man in the Old Testament who was well beyond his years and yet was one of the most mature children of God that we have the pleasure of learning from through the Word.
Josiah was nothing short of amazing, in my estimation. Not only did he start leading a country at such a young age (8 years old to be exact), he also started turning that country back to God in the same year (2 Chronicles 33:1-2)! I wish I could have lived during his reign. To be able to see such a young man turning the people of God around would be great. But one thing that we need to realize is that it doesn’t have to be something that happened long ago! If Josiah teaches us anything, it’s that age is irrelevant when discussing a leader of the faith.
I didn’t come from a cookie cutter family that would have fit perfectly on the pages of a movie script. I have a feeling that you didn’t either, and neither did Josiah. His father, Amon, reigned for only 2 years because he did evil in the eyes of the Creator (2 Chronicles 33:21) and that seems to have been the norm in his family, based on his grandfather’s evil ways (2 Chronicles 33:22). So, not only did Josiah faithfully serve the Father, he did so in contrast to his family’s beliefs.
The great thing is that we are never alone when trying to follow the Lord. When our family is off going at it on their own, someone out there is struggling like we are, and being profitable in doing so. Josiah probably felt as though he were standing all alone in the pulpit, as it were, but the fact is that there were other men doing the same thing and trying to bring Israel back to God during that time. While the country had given themselves over to idols, Jeremiah and Zephaniah were there, although not in places of prominence like their younger colleague, preaching and putting boots on the ground for God (Jeremiah 1:1-2, Zephaniah 1:1).
By the time Josiah was sixteen years old he was well on his way to restoring the Mosiac worship commanded by God. But he wasn’t doing it all alone. There were prophets in the nation working for God, but more importantly in the case of Josiah, he was leading other people in their faith and obedience to God. At twenty, he was breaking idols in pieces to restore the hearts of the people and had the priests working to restore the formal worship of God (2 Chronicles 34:3-5). And like a true leader, as we all can be regardless of age, he first made sure he was right and then made sure not to micromanage those who he was leading.
And then it happened, while rebuilding the Temple and getting things in order to worship, Hilkiah found a very old looking manuscript. It was the Bible, at least what parts of the Bible that God had completed by that time. So eighteen years after Josiah began his work of restoration, he finally had the standard! He wouldn’t have to go back and talk to the old priests who remembered how it was or go to the uninspired history books to see what David did, he had the Word of God to lead him (2 Chronicles 34:15-18). So, when Josiah heard what that old book had to say, he sent the priests to go and finish the restorative work that he had started many years before (2 Chronicles 34:19-21).
There’s many other things we can learn from Josiah, but what I’d like to point out is that this young man forsook the beliefs of his family, took it upon himself to bring a country back to God, led the people even though he probably felt all alone in doing so, made sure to be a godly leader (keeping himself in check before telling others how to live their lives), took the standard very seriously, and restored the faith of God Almighty! That is a real man! That is a real child of God! Never forget, when you’re facing a mountain of a task, whether that task is personal righteousness, evangelism/teaching of God’s Word to the world, being a role model for others in faith or even something outside of spiritual matters like being the captain of your sports team or section leader in your band, you’re not alone and you’re doing some of the best work you can ever do.
One more thing: you’re not too young! NEVER let anyone make you think that your age hinders you from being able to be a leader for God or being strong through Him.
- Lee Snow, ThePFP.net
One of the major hindrances of one who has been approached by Mormon missionaries or who have entered in to a conversation with someone of the LDS faith is the lack of understanding their religion. Many do not know where to begin the discussion and impede what could be a good opportunity in studying the word of God together. These questions are designed to spark a little doubt into their minds and stimulate the desire to study God's word with you.
1. Why are your young missionaries referred to as “elders”?
The Greek word for "bishop" is episkopos, the same word for elder (cf. 1 Timothy 3:12).
According to Paul, an elder must be “the husband of one wife…” (Titus 1:5, 6). He must also have children who are “in subjection with all gravity” and who are “faithful” (Titus 1:6).
Are you married? Do you have children who are faithful? Do you fit these scriptural qualifications?
2. Why do you install deacons at age 12?
Paul writes, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife…” (1 Tim. 3:12a). Are these children married? He adds, “…ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Tim. 3:12b). Do your children, at the age of twelve, have children of their own, as well as their own houses?
3. Would you follow a doctrine which contradicts the Bible?
If not, why not? If so, why use it?
4. Does the Bible contain all that is needed to be added to the Lord’s kingdom/church?
Does the Bible contain all that is needed to know how to remain faithful and obtain eternal salvation? If so, then why is the Book of Mormon or any other book needed?
Every conversion in Acts explicitly describes what one must do to be saved.
5. If I had never heard of the Book of Mormon, could I still go to heaven?
If not, then what is the point of your proxy baptism (baptism for the dead)? If yes, then why do I need it?
6. In the 8th Article of Faith, it states, “We believe the bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…”
Pertaining to salvation, where has the Bible not been “translated correctly?”
If the Bible has not been reliably translated, especially regarding salvational issues, why are you using it? Is it not your purpose to get me to understand the truth?
7. If man is as God once was, then who was God’s god?
Joseph Smith declared, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-346).
Lorenzo Snow coined the phrase, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be become.”
What is eternity if there is a beginning? If God had to have a beginning, then who was the first god?
Mormonism teaches God once lived as a man on another planet and became a god. He lifted his mate up to be a heavenly goddess. In retrospect there would be many gods, but we just worship the one in the Bible. If that's true, then how do you explain Isaiah 44:6-8?
8. Would you be willing to renounce Mormonism if its doctrine was different from what Paul and the other apostles wrote?
Paul, an inspired apostle, wrote, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9).
Do you believe this?
9. Was the Book of Mormon divinely translated into English by an inspired prophet Joseph Smith?
If so, why did the original copy contain spelling and grammatical errors?
Did the Holy Spirit not know how to spell or put together a sentence?
If it was an error on the part of Joseph Smith, then would it not make him stronger than the one inspiring him?
How can this be reliable evidence of inspiration?
10. How is it possible that the Book of Mormon was translated into Elizabethan English?
Elizabethan English was not a language during Book of Mormon “history.”
The King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611, yet the Book of Mormon contains many quotes directly from it.
Some claim the KJV borrowed from the Book of Mormon, but how is that possible since the Book of Mormon was translated almost 200 years later?
Some claim that God gave the same revelation to the people here that he did in Palestine, but how would he give it in King James English? There is no historical accuracy to this claim.
- Nathan Franson, Mormonstudy.net
In their book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, Alex and Brett Harris write that “Our current ceiling for students is really much closer to where the floor ought to be” (pg. 36). In other words, we don’t expect a lot out of kids these days. Many parents are pleased with their teen as long as he’s not a murderous-underachieving-drug addict. So what if he sleeps-in, doesn’t search for a job, and can’t stop obsessing over the latest video game–he’s still a good kid right? This type of mentality is so damaging not only to teens but to our society. Growing up I was blessed to be around parents, teachers and ministers that pushed me to get to a higher level. Looking back now, as a 22 year-old minister, I’m so incredibly grateful for their constant pushing. Here are three phrases that every young, Christian man and woman needs to hear.
You Were Meant for More
Culture says “stay in school,” “don’t do drugs,” and “if you have sex, please use protection.” Outside of these things there are no rules. Parents are told to expect little from their children and unfortunately many parents and teens have swallowed this destructive little lie. Though culture doesn’t demand much of you, be aware that Christ certainly does. When you become a follower of Christ you are thrust into a world of work. Yes, there is time to grow, but that growth does not come at the expense of responsibility. Jesus said that those who would come after Him must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). There was no age limit on the denial or cross-bearing. The requirement is for all followers. As a Christian teen, understand that Christ expects a lot from you. You were meant for more than lame phrases and low expectations.
You Are the Church of Today
When you become a Christian you immediately become a working, responsible, necessary, piece of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13-27). Christian teens aren’t put on some kind of waiting list to be gradually grafted into the body, but we’ve acted as all these years as if that’s the case and for that I’m sorry. Teens, make no mistake, you are the church of today. You have the ability and responsibility to be a vital piece of Christ’s body right now. Not only are you responsible and capable, but you are absolutely necessary. Teenagers, the church NEEDS you now, at your age, to step up and lead.
You Can Do It
You have at your disposal the ability to change the world. The only thing holding you back from creating a website, leading singing, becoming a writer, mentoring a peer, evangelizing your classmates, becoming a preacher, becoming a teacher, becoming an elder, becoming a Bible student, filming Christ-related videos, and recording devotionals is society’s low expectation of you.
You don’t magically become capable of great things when you get older. It starts now! You have the ability to become a difference maker today. So what are you waiting for? Go change the world. You can do this.
Culture has given you little to no expectations. Shatter them. You have the ability to rise up so much higher than the world expects you to. Your teenage years are not meant to be squandered and wasted away, they are meant for Christ. Don’t believe the lie that you’re meant for great things tomorrow. You are meant for great things today. You are a functioning piece of the body of Christ now.
To any parents reading this, refuse to allow the culture to dictate the brilliance of your son or daughter. Encourage them to dream, to grow, to mature, and to get their hands dirty for Christ our King, but please don’t stop there. Lead the way and be someone that your children (and other Christians) can imitate. Children and teens in the church can become amazing servants of God and leaders in the church, but only if those that are older will step up and raise their expectations of them. Our teens can do this, but they desperately need to hear that from those that have gone ahead.
- Jack David Dodgen, Strongchurch.org