Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THABITI ANYABWILE: Extraordinary Spiritual Awareness and Commitment in the Young

Hello all!

For those of us seeking to live a Rebelutionary lifestyle it is essential that we take the counsel of Hebrews 12:1 to heart.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

This verse challenges us to look to the disciples gone on before us - the "great cloud of witnesses" - as inspirations and examples of the faith (see Hebrews 11) that will enable us to lay aside the things that entangle and encumber us in our walk with God. Alex and Brett call it "making friends with dead people. That doesn't have quite the same spiritual ring to it that Hebrews 12:1 does...but the point remains the same.

Thabiti Anyabwile blogged a post this past week that caught my eye, in which he recommends the book 50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith.

At this point I'll just let Mr. Anyabwile speak for himself. :-)

I’ve been casually reading the short biographies of Christian men and women in Warren Wiersbe’s Fifty People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith. Each of the biographical sketches are breezy reads rich with encouragement. One of the encouraging bits in some of the biographies is the Lord’s gracious dealing with some while they are young. We live in an age where youth is either despised or largely ignored. We don’t take young people very seriously or challenge them very effectively. Hence the appropriateness of the rebelution.

But these biographies remind us of the power of God’s word and Spirit to deep, meaningful, lasting work in the lives of the young. Two examples:

Matthew Henry (1662-1712):

Matthew was physically weak, but it was not long before his strength of intellect and character made themselves known. At the age of three, he was reading the Bible; by the time he was nine, he was competent in Latin and Greek. He spent his first eighteen years being tutored at home, in an atmosphere that was joyfully and lovingly Christian.

He loved to hear his father preach. A sermon on Psalm 51:17 first awakened in young Matthew a desire to know the Lord personally. He was only ten years old at the time, but the impression was lasting. When he was thirteen, Matthew wrote an amazingly mature analysis of his own spiritual condition, a document that reads like an ordinary paper. Often, after hearing his father preach, Matthew would hurry to his room and pray that God would seal the Word and the spiritual impressions made to his heart so that he might not lose them. God answered those youthful prayers

Indeed God did answer those youthful prayers, not only to Matthew Henry’s benefit but to the benefit of the entire Church.

Then there is the young Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758):

Jonathan Edwards received his schooling at home; at an early age he learned Latin, and later he took on Greek and Hebrew. He had two passionate interests in those early years–science and religion. He watched spiders and wrote an amazing essay about them. He saw the mind and heart of God in creation; everything in nature revealed to him something about God.

But his interest in spiritual things was remarkable for a boy so young. He prayed five times each day. With some of his friends he built a “booth” in the swamp, and there thy would gather to discuss spiritual matters and pray.

In 1716, when he was thirteen, Edwards entered Yale college, where h invested four years in undergraduate study and then two more years studying theology. It was while he was at Yale that he had two life changing experiences. The first was his conversion when he was about seventeen years old. Since childhood he had revolted against the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. But as he read 1 Timothy 1:17, he had a remarkable experience of the sense of God’s greatness and glory, and all his theological objections disappeared.

“As I read the words,” he wrote in his personal account, “there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the divine Being; a new sense, quite different from anything I ever experienced before…. From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by Him.”

The rest is, as they say, history. We still live with the remarkable fruit of Edwards’ life and ministry, a life and ministry first evidenced in the inquisitive mind of childhood and stimulated with big, meaningful, spiritual, eternally weighty ideas

As Wiersbe noted of himself, my boyhood clubhouses were built for playing cowboys and Indians. And most clubhouses should be built for that purpose.

But one wonders whether there ought not be more childhood clubhouses where children find themselves reflecting on the mystery of the universe and the unsearchable riches of God in Christ. And one wonders whether there ought not be more Christian homes so saturated in spiritual discussions that it would seem strange to our children to not have these times of inquiry–at once playful and sublime. I think there are enough forces designed to destroy childhood. This isn’t a plea for more of that. However, reading these biographical sketches I’m left wondering whether we do need a plea for a God-soaked, Christ-infused, Creator-glorying childhood that produces a few more Henrys and Edwardses? I’m left wondering if I’m doing this for my own children.

Methinks Mr. Anyabwile has struck a very Rebelutionary chord in his post. :-)

If you don't already do so, be sure to check out and follow (if possible) his blog. It is one of the better out there.

God bless!

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