Thursday, June 01, 2017

Stories Change Behavior

“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children.”—Psalm 78:5 (ESV)

I remember vividly the consequences of my first traffic ticket when I was a teenager. Not only did I have to pay a fine, I had to go to traffic school. I saw familiar faces in the class and we all let each other know how bored we planned to be.

In traffic school, we watched movies and reviewed the rules of the road. The stories in the movies had a tremendous impact. One movie we watched was filled with gruesome stories—pictures included—of the most dreadful traffic accidents imaginable. When the movie was over, the instructor had everybody’s undivided attention as we discussed the law. It forever changed the way I drive.

A testimony is a story. In the verse above, the story being referenced is what God did in Israel from the time He set the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt, through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, to the triumphant entry into the Promised Land. God appeared to His people in pillars of fire by night and pillars of clouds by day. The Lord spoke face-to-face with Moses. The ground opened up and swallowed those who rebelled against God. God wrote His law on tablets of stone and Moses held them in his hands.

This is just a short list of stories a dad could tell his boy as they toss a ball around in the yard or as a mom takes her daughter on an excursion to find her first prom dress. The testimony God established in Jacob is filled with miracles and murder, wars and wondrous provision of food and water, feats of heroism and faithful obedience, and the consequences of unbelief and lawlessness.

There are two kinds of children that will go into the world after the short time they’re in our homes: trained and untrained. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Each generation bears the responsibility of preparing the next generation to reach their world for Christ. Will your child be trained or untrained?

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