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June 1, 2004

In a few weeks our congregation will have the privilege of participating in Merced’s city-wide Vacation Bible School (VBS) ministry.  VBS holds a very soft spot in my heart.


When I was four years old I attended a series of VBS meetings at the home of a women in our church.  Amid the songs and stories I was convicted that I should invite Jesus into my heart as my Savior.  One night I knelt beside my bed and invited Jesus into my heart.  I praise God for Grace Spinella who cared enough to open her home and share with me the life she had been given in Jesus.


Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, writes, “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).  I appreciate how Paul takes a church-wide process of discipleship, nurture, and edification of which volumes of “how to” books have been written and gives us one basic definition, “Timothy, teach what you’ve been taught.” - literally, these truths “deposit” in faithful men.


As I’ve thought about those who have most deeply impacted my life its not what they’ve said about Jesus Christ, but, how they’ve lived because of Jesus Christ.  Men and women who have “deposited” their lives in me through the way they have lived what they taught.


One of my first teaching experiences was with a Sunday morning Junior High Class.  I struggled trying to keep their attention.  I was failing at connecting with them and sharing the relevancy of the Gospel to their lives.  Desperate, I began attending their Wednesday night youth meetings. 


I made an amazing discovery.  Despite my lack of teaching expertise, the more I played with them on Wednesday nights the more they listened to me on Sunday mornings.  The more I was with them, living out what had been “deposited” in me, the more they were willing (and even desiring) to learn what it meant to have Jesus “deposited” in them.


Sometimes we’re tempted to think that the ministry of teaching and discipleship is the duty of pastors, or Sunday School teachers, or a few “special” church members.  Many times we define our personal Christian ministry by what we cannot do.  Ever hear this?  “I’m not gifted like so-and-so.  I don’t have the training or knowledge.  I can’t do that.”


The reality is that the ministry of teaching others is a process in which all of us are involved.  You have the truth and life of Jesus within you.  The unique experiences of your life, your trust in Jesus, the wisdom He is growing in you are all “deposited” within you for a purpose.  That purpose is, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, to share your life in the community of believers and beyond, in order to “deposit” God’s truth in others.


Imagine, the Almighty God of the universe desires to use you to make an eternal difference in the life of someone else.  He has given you what you need.  All He asks is willingness to be used.


Every time we buy a soda we pay a deposit.  One theory is that the deposit is so valuable that we’ll bring the bottle or can back for the return of our deposit.  And, if we’re all bringing our bottles and cans back then there’ll be less litter on our streets.  Does this work?  Most of us have become so accustomed to paying the deposit that we don’t even think about the return.


May we be encouraged to think about the value of the deposit God desires to make in others through us.  May we be encouraged to pay the deposit of giving our lives to the next generation of Christians.  The return from God is eternally above and beyond anything we could ever imagine.