Week of Monday, June 7-June 13
Make the Most – Man as Instructor

On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written...” And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. – Nehemiah 8:13-15, 17 ESV

Some of my most memorable moments with my sons have happened in the great outdoors. Hunting from a deer stand or duck blind. Wading in a river and fishing for salmon. Gathering around a campfire in the mountains, looking at the stars and telling stories. Then bedding down in a tent and continuing the conversations until drifting off to sleep. There were a lot of fun moments, but there were also many meaningful moments to impart wisdom and instruction to my boys about life and the Lord. My sons were not distracted by cell phones or iPads or any of the typical everyday technologies that hinder personal communications. It was a place where I had their total attention and they listened intently. Now that they are grown with children of their own, we still get together for our annual summer fishing trip in Alaska and our annual deer hunt in the mountains of Virginia, and we still have those meaningful conversations. That is a part of our role as Instructors, to make the most of those teachable moments while we are having fun fishing, sitting by the fire, or bedding down in a tent.

In Nehemiah’s day, his battle buddy Ezra had taught the Torah, the law of God, to those who had come back from captivity and helped rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. They had worked hard. Now it was time to celebrate the goodness of God. For as they were studying the Bible, they found that they were to keep the celebration the Jews called “tabernacles” once a year after the Jewish New Year, and they hadn’t been doing it. So, the call went out for families to hike up the Mount of Olives, cut down some branches—palm branches, olive branches, myrtle branches, whatever they could find—bring them home and build a brush arbor, a lean-to on their roof or in their courtyard. They were to leave their bedrooms and camp out in those make-shift tents for a week. It was like a national campout festival. And the purpose was to remind them of God’s faithfulness during their journey through the wilderness out of Egypt to the Promised Land as Ezra had just been reading about in the Scriptures.

So just picture it. Each family went out to gather the branches to make their tabernacle, their lean-to, their tent, then they gathered on the roof beneath its branches, and in the evening, looking up at the stars, the father would have told the kids, maybe the grandkids, the whole family, about how God guided and provided for their ancestors every step of the way during their 40-year camp-out in the wilderness. How they stayed out there in their own tents, how God met with Moses in the holy tent they called the tabernacle, and how God guided them with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. How God provided them with manna from heaven and water from a rock. How God protected them and gave them victory over their enemies along the way. For a whole week, dad was storytelling, reminding them, telling them of the goodness and faithfulness of God out there in the wilderness. It was a way of helping the younger generations to get in touch with their history and heritage. I’ll bet it was a lot of fun. I’m sure the kids would have had a good time. In fact, the Bible says here that “there was very great rejoicing.” At the same time, they learned a lot about life and the Lord from their dad, who was their instructor.

Guys, don’t just take your kids or grandkids on a vacation this summer to the beach, or a theme park, or a national park, or on a simple campout, or an afternoon of fishing and let fun be your only aim and goal. Make it both fun and informative. Have fun but be intentional. The Apostle Paul put it this way: So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do (Eph. 6:15-17 NLT). Men, make the most of those moments!
Recall those moments when your father, family member, or a mentor took the time to impart godly wisdom and instruction in a recreational setting. Considering your kids (or grandkids) and their interests, what can you duplicate? What can you improve on or do differently?

  • As you make your plans for vacations, family outings, and fun activities this summer, put some time into planning a few teachable moments.
  • Many teachable moments will happen spontaneously, but don’t make that your plan or you might return home without accomplishing anything. As Paul says: “Make the most of every opportunity.” So be intentional but flexible. Don’t force it but try to fit it in as naturally as possible.
  • Pray for God to help you recognize those teachable moments, discern the right timing, and how to maximize them.