Sunday, September 1, 2019

Back to School

Standing outside a building at Moorhead State University
By this Tuesday, most learning institutions will be back in session. While in elementary school, I was considered one of the smartest students in my class. Later in my teens, my grades went down because I hated doing homework (although much time was spent reading encyclopedia articles). Still, I managed to graduate from high school. Then I took several college courses but never got a degree. Often the classes I liked best provided hands-on training as opposed to listening to lectures all hour long.

Before answering the call to full-time ministry, a few people suggested I go to Bible school. The Lord told me it wasn’t necessary. Many of the early apostles didn't attend the Rhemas and ORUs of their day. Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” As an alternative, I put myself through “cassette seminary.” I listened to many sermon tapes while working at temporary jobs and then applied what I learned during evangelism outings.

I also used to attend various Christian conferences but in recent years cut back on that. Sitting in meeting after meeting does not automatically produce spiritual growth. As James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” I know a pastor's wife who once had a vision of 500-pound canaries sitting in church pews. Their beaks were open like they were saying, “Feed me!” Many believers today get fat on the word but hardly do anything with it. Jesus said, “Go ye.” He didn’t say, “Sit ye.”

Additional education can be a distraction if God hasn’t called you to attend a particular school. You don’t want to waste time and money on courses that won’t help you fulfill your divine destiny. When I first enrolled in a state university, a relative encouraged me to take out a student loan. He told me it was getting money back from the government. Instead, it resulted in a heavy debt load. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

Now I’m not criticizing all forms of higher education. Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear and increase learning...” Often extra schooling is required to enter a particular profession. I have a friend who was inspired to become a lawyer in his late 60s. He went to law school at Liberty University and then became a staff attorney for the Alabama Supreme Court.

Just before dying in a plane crash in 1982, Christian singer Keith Green wrote a powerful article titled “Why YOU Should Go to the Mission Field.” In which, he stated... 

Yes, God does call some people to go to college. Sometimes it's to get training for a ministry calling He's made clear to them. For instance, if you know what country you're called to, perhaps God would lead you to learn the language and culture somewhat before you go (although the very best place to learn is within the country itself - it's a definite ‘crash course’)!”

Ultimately, our teacher is the Holy Spirit. His textbook is the Holy Bible.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” - Romans 15:4

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