Michael Butler has served as the Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Chickasha, Oklahoma since February of 2011 after spending more than a decade in youth ministry. Away from leading his church, you are likely to find him unwinding with his wife Raylee and their four children, who keep him busy coaching soccer, teaching guitar or strategizing over a game of chess.
The Moment of Truth
I will never forget how I felt that day as the doors closed on the elevator. For the first time since we learned our news my wife and I were alone. I turned to her to express my excitement, but she was the first to speak.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile that big before…” “It’s that obvious, I guess,” was all I could think to say. “Uhhh, yes,” she replied sarcastically. Minutes before we had been sitting in a dimly lit room waiting to learn if she was pregnant with a boy or a girl. “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” In an instant those words forever changed my life.
Several of our friends had asked if we were going to find out what we were having, or if we wanted it to be a surprise. I would always answer them by saying, “We will be surprised. We just want to be surprised now instead of later.” I was very surprised that day; surprised to know that my intuition was right…We were having a boy!
The anticipation for that moment – the moment of truth – was unlike anything I had ever experienced. In the weeks leading up to the appointment I wanted so badly to be able to fast forward time. Then suddenly, in that moment, reality hit me that I was going to be a dad. I was equal parts alive with excitement and scared to death. I knew that my life was going to
In a very real sense, any time we approach Scripture we should have a similar sense of anticipation. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the word of God is living and active. It literally has the power to change hearts and transform lives. Your words don’t have that kind of authority; mine certainly don’t. But the word of God can come alive in the hearts of our people and it can transform them.
The God of the universe has gone to great lengths to reveal himself to us in order that we might know him and know how to please him. The apostle John even tells us that this was his reason for writing his gospel in John 20:31, where he writes, “these [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may
have life in his name.”
Life in his name. John’s purpose in writing was so that his audience might have life in Jesus’ name. Paul writes something similar in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He calls on them to continue to follow his instructions on how they should walk in order to please God, and he reminds them in 1 Thessalonians 4:2 that these instructions were given “through the Lord Jesus.” Paul’s aim in ministry was to be used of God for delivering the very words of Jesus to people.
John and Paul are not alone in this endeavor. The ultimate aim of every pastor, every Sunday School teacher and every small group leader is to connect people to Jesus Christ
in order that they might believe his word and have life in his name. This happens when we open the Scripture and let it speak into our lives. We don’t just read the Bible, we allow it to read us.
If we really understand this, then every time we study to prepare a lesson or prep for leading a small group, we should do so with the anticipation that God’s word has the power to change our lives. Our job, then, is to let it speak and to lead people to that moment of discovering its truth. Everyone who is entrusted with teaching God’s word should see themselves as a theologian given charge with sharing the word of God so that others may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that they may have life in his name.
This is why I love the ReConnect Sunday School emphasis. The whole point of the emphasis is to make sure that our Sunday Schools and our small groups are built with this purpose of connecting people with Christ and with each other in Biblical community. Then, out of this flows our purpose to engage with his truth and to join in his mission to share the gospel.
I hope that every time you open God’s word, whether it is for your own study or to teach it to others, that you do so with the expectation that God wants to speak his words of truth both to you and through you. Let’s commit ourselves to be faithful students of Scripture and to lead our people to that moment of truth where their lives are transformed by the word of God!
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