Masthead header

Back to the Basics

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

Ephesians 4:21-23

Those of you who’ve been long-time readers of this newsletter know I have a special place in my heart for kids, teachers, and education in general. Needless to say, this time of year-the “Back to School” season-stirs countless memories of my classroom experiences, both as a student and as an educator. The excitement of a fresh academic year is in the air along with the anticipation of learning new things.

Yet sometimes this season of learning must begin with a return to the basics, and that’s the message Paul was reminding Christians about in his letter of Ephesians. Even though there is so much to know about our amazing faith, nothing is more important than understanding the fundamentals. Here are a few other essentials Paul added to the ones listed above:

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:25-27; 30-32)

I don’t know about you, but I can spend a tremendous amount of time trying to understand deep theological concepts. I listen to sermons, read the latest Christian blogs, and even try to keep up with how the happenings in the Middle East relate to Scripture. And while these are all good endeavors-adding to the overall store of knowledge that I’d like to have about my faith-during this time of year I’m asking myself if I have truly mastered the basics of my beliefs. If not, what am I doing? If not, is anything else really worth accomplishing?
If these simple suggestions from the book of Ephesians were netted out for us, the lessons they taught might look something like this:

  1. Stop doing things we know aren’t right.
  2. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us to new, godly ways of living each and every day.
  3. Be truthful with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  4. Don’t be angry-but when we are, fix things as soon as possible before the enemy can blow the situation out of proportion.
  5. Because of the grace we’ve been given, we should forgive freely-trying to be kind and tender in all our interactions.
  6. Most of all, strive to measure everything we do, say, and think in relation to whether or not it’s pleasing to our Savior.
In this season of back to basics for young people, let’s spend some time considering the foundational truths of our faith that we can strengthen in the days ahead. The six steps above can be a great place to start. Then, why not try reading some of the New Testament epistles that helped early believers understand God’s guidelines for great living? Whatever you choose to do, may the Lord richly bless your efforts as you draw closer to Him!

Thought of the Month

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
Ephesians 6:10-11