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Monday, March 11, 2013

Making A Difference

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Looking back, I wonder if Mr. St. Pierre knew my situation.  I was an eighth grader and my father had recently left our family.  I would see him only once in the next seven years.

Even before this life-altering moment in the life of a fourteen year-old, my father had not been a big part of my life.  His job as a long-distance truck driver kept him away from us more than he was home.  His struggle with alcohol made much of his time at home unpleasant for all of us (Praise God my dad got saved three years before he died!).

I was struggling, needing someone or something to fill a void in my life that I was not even consciously aware that existed.  I was in dire need of a male role model.  I needed someone to look up to.  I needed someone to believe in me.  I needed someone to make a difference in my life.

Mr. St. Pierre was my Social Studies teacher, football coach, and baseball coach.  All the students liked him.  He was outgoing, had a cool sports car, and a beautiful girlfriend.

He probably is totally unaware of the impact he made in my life.  He allowed me to be his unofficial assistant in his class.  He made me the captain of the J.V. football team.  Most importantly, he seemed to genuinely be interested in me and my future.  He cared.  Because of this, God used him to make a difference in my life.

Jude 22 says, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”  This is not an optional part of the Christian life. This verse was not written only for preachers, deacons, and full-time Christian workers.  This verse applies to teenagers as well.

Christian teen, may I ask you a very pointed question?  In whose life are you making a difference? Are you obeying the command of Jude 22?

My first ministry after I graduated from high school took my wife and I to the coast of North Carolina where I served as a youth director, Christian School teacher, and coach.

We arrived at a school in desperate need of revival.  We heard about a time in the not-too-distant past when this school had experienced a move of God.  This time of revival has been sparked by a single student, Bill Jewell.

I knew Bill, having attended Bible College with him.  He did not have the most brawn (he was actually somewhat small), the most brains (he was smart but not the top-of-the-class smart), or the most bucks. What he did possess were the two key ingredients in becoming a difference maker:  he loved God and he loved people.

God used this ordinary young man to do the extraordinary.  God used this one teen to turn a school upside down.

I saw a statement one time that is troubling and tragic but nonetheless true.  Most people live and then die without ever having done anything of any real significance.

Determine to invest your life, not waste it.  Decide to make a difference.  With God’s help, you can do it.

Make A Difference With Your Family.

Many who will read this article have a close family member who is headed for hell.  What are you doing to reach them?

I received a message from Phillip, a young Asian man from a Buddhist background.  After he got saved, he got a burden for his family.  Because of his influence, several of his siblings trusted Christ and recently he was privileged to lead his mother to Christ.  After her baptism, he was rejoicing and yet still burdened to reach his father.  I fully expect to receive a message one day that Phillip has led his father to the Lord.

You can make a difference with your family.  Through your life, your lips, and your look, do all you can to let your light shine brightly for Jesus.

Make A Difference With Your Friends.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”Are you helping draw your friends closer to Christ or discouraging them in their walk with God?

Lindsay was invited by some friends to a Wednesday night Teen meeting that we had during my time as a youth pastor.  I’ll never forget that night when she trusted Christ as her personal Savior.  She became one of our best teens, faithful to every service, activity, bus visitation, and soul winning.

She attended the public school and invited her friend Linh to our church.  Linh got saved and these two young ladies became key members of our youth ministry, helping countless others through their bold witness and compassionate outreach.

A friend reached a friend who in turn reached other friends.  Are you making a difference in the lives of your friends?

Make A Difference With Your Future.

Why is it that so few young people are surrendering their lives to full-time ministry?  Youth say, “Well, God hasn’t called me to be a preacher or a missionary or a Christian school teacher.”

Two questions come to my mind when I hear a statement like that.

Are you sure God hasn’t called you?  Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:49. John 20:21, and Acts 1:8 all bear record to the final words of Jesus in which He calls all believers to a life of service sharing the Gospel.

Secondly, has God “called” you to be a doctor, lawyer, mechanic, engineer, or enter some other field?  Scores of Christian youth choose life occupations with no clear direction from God.

Instead of choosing to simply make money, why not decide to make a difference with your future?

David Menasche, a 40-year old English teacher from Miami, Florida, is dying.  He has stage-four brain cancer and is losing his battle after three operations, chemotherapy and radiation.

After a recent seizure led to brain swelling and decreased vision, he realized he couldn't keep teaching but didn't want to sit at home doing nothing.

He posted a message on Facebook in August asking if any former students had a place for him to stay, and within two days students in 50 cities had replied.

He has visited 50 former students in 12 cities so far and says he wants to know whether he has been a good teacher.

"I am at the end of my life," MrMenasche said.  "I don't know how much longer I have left, and I just wanted that sense of satisfaction that the time I did have I used well."

The article’s headline read, “Dying Teacher Asks If He Made A Difference.”

I have not seen Mr. St. Pierre since Junior High.  If he were to stop by my house and ask me what kind of teacher he had been, I would quickly reply, “You made a difference in my life.”

Christian teen, I challenge you to hear, heed, and honor the command of Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

[Tony Bazon – Park Meadows Baptist Church]


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