The Bible Centred Youthwork conference 2016 is a conference dedicated to focusing the work among children and young people in our churches on the principles and content of the Bible.
I have been sharing my notes for each day. Here are my notes and thoughts from Day 4.
Confident in Christ
How to affect the heart
We are redeemed image bearers, who are transformed in our understanding yet still with sin in our hearts.
We change our thinking by receiving and accepting preaching and teaching. This is vital for bringing Gospel change in our lives. But how do we change the inclination of our hearts?
The key challenge we need to ask ourselves and those we minister to is this: do you really want to change?
Timing is essential in this. When working with other people, we need to take time to listen, understand and earn the right to speak this challenge into somebody’s life.
The human heart and mind is like an elephant with a rider. The mind is the rider who ‘controls’ the elephant. The mind might know which way they should go, but the elephant is a powerful force that follows its own urges and desires.
To begin to change the human heart, we need to understand that this is the way that our hearts and minds work. Transforming our thinking is vital and essential. Yet often our thinking is highly influenced and even overrulled by our feelings. A renewed mind without renewed affections will face a struggle to conform our hearts to follow our minds.
Teaching and training the mind is the first step. We are called to transform ourselves by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12). As Bible teachers, we are usually quite confortable with this step, but find it hard to progress on from this. When we do, we become Bible preachers: people who take God’s Word and apply it in order to affect and change hearts.
Once we have informed and shaped our thinking, we need to motivate our hearts to pursue the right godly path. Key to this is that we fire godly imagination and give tangible warnings.
Fire godly imagination
We help people to imagine and visualise what we are teaching and saying; we create strong mental and emotional images. This stirs up our hearts to seek that which we know is right and good. Our minds know what is good, and now our hearts desire what is good.
Give strong warnings reinforced with encouragement
Warnings stir up right fear and hesitation in our hearts. This serves to prevent wrong actions from our hearts. Similarly, when our hearts seek what is right, we encourage godly affections that will train our hearts for the future. It is right to give and receive encouragement that is rightly placed. Godly actions are those that are carried out by us as we are being obedient to God’s Word in the strength that God provides. Success or failure relates to what we do, not who we are. Christians are redeemed image bearers who are good at some things, and bad at others. The question is: are we seeking to grow and change.
Once we have instructed our minds and motivated our hearts, the last step is to enable the new godly path to be walked. This means changing external circumstances, triggers, and influences in order to enable godliness and disable ungodliness. This includes forming good habits, engaging in regular patterns, actively rooting out things that are unhelpful.
40 years from now
Let God take care of your name
Our name is linked to our identity, and so our name matters to us.
When you turn to Jesus, you don’t lose your identity… you gain it, you gain a new name in Him.
In Numbers 26:52, God’s people are given their inheritance by name. Their inheritance is secured to their identity. In Numbers 27, Zelophehad’s daughters are given an inheritance so that their name does not die out.
Let God make a name for you
The LORD takes care of his people’s name, and in his Kingdom no name dies out. But this is only true because of Philippians 2. Jesus has been given the name above all other names, and in Him Jesus gives to us a new name that cannot be taken away (Revelation 2:17).
We don’t need to try and make a name for ourselves (like the people of Babel in Genesis 11). Instead, we look to the one who alone is able to make our name great (Genesis 12:1-3), and has done that in Christ.
Trust God with your legacy
In Numbers 27:12ff, Moses is about to die and be gathered to his people, and he is concerned that the people are not left without a shepherd. The LORD reveals to Moses that Joshua will lead the people, and Joshua leads the Israelites into the promised land where they take up their inheritance. Moses is not concerned with own name but the name of the LORD and the name of his people.
When our hope and confidence is in Jesus, we can pass on our ministry with confidence. We can rejoice in the success of others and take comfort in the fact that it is the LORD’s name that we are concerned with, not our own.