The young man, it appears, was straining his mind to try to remember them all. He had just shared some of the Ten Commandments – “Thou shall not steal," "Thou shall not commit adultery," and "Thou shall not lie."
However, it appeared that the others just weren’t coming to mind. He then stated very energetically “Thou shall not be a thug!”
I was not attempting to be rude, but that caught me off guard. I laughed at that one. I’m not sure how loud, but that, stated as a commandment, had me really laughing.
“No, that’s not one of the Ten Commandments. It sounds like a good commandment, but it's not one of the ten.”
Well, this young man did not earn a Ten Commandment T-shirt that day. However, I do believe that before the program was over, he was one of several youths that attended the community center activity that did earn one.
How did he and other youth earn a Ten Commandments T-shirt? By memorizing and reciting the Ten Commandments out loud before their peers.
Thus, my wife Birdie and I had one more day of adventure as we shared video clips demonstrating instances where people violated one or more of the Ten Commandments. We both taught the youth the meaning of each commandment and gave them the opportunity to interact and discuss them.
The Ten Commandments project has been operating for more than three years and has yielded much fruit. During our sessions, we invite the youth to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. And we teach the youth the importance of becoming a student of the Word of God.
We teach the importance of reading the Word of God every day. We suggest they start the habit of reading at least three chapters in their Bible every day.
Specifically, we encourage the youth to memorize the Ten Commandments and to live them daily.
Why is this critical? Why is this an important goal for a local church to pursue? Why should the church make this kind of youth discipleship project a priority? Allow me to share why.
There was a tragic incident in a large city when a young teen took something from a store and hurried out the door. A worker in the store stepped outside and shot the youth. The youth died.
Now the person who shot him did get arrested. However, the young man died. And there is nothing a person can steal that is worth dying for.
Had a parent, a Sunday school teacher, or a pastor taught him the Ten Commandments, the seed of the Word of God probably would have saved this youth’s life.
The seed of the Ten Commandments invested in the young man may have led him to realize “This isn’t mine. I don’t need to steal it.”
The Word of God in the heart of a young person can save him or her. It will mold and shape his or her character. That same Word of God can give that youth grace and wisdom that can bless him or her for the rest of his or her life.
Another recent tragic incident took place, that happened amongst three middle school-aged girls. The three girls left home. While they were away from home, two of them attempted to murder the third young girl.
How in the world do young girls in middle school obtain the mind and thinking to want to kill someone that they indicated was their friend? How does this happen?
Well, a major way is, too often, young people are filling their minds with toxic darkness that they learn from movies, the internet, and TV. They are literally being “discipled in darkness”.
So the question is: What are we planting or allowing to be planted in the minds and hearts of our youth?
Are they filling their minds with the darkness that flows by the gallon from the internet, so many present-day TV and movies, and other dark input?
Or are they having the powerful Word of God being planted into their hearts and minds?
In the book of James, we are told:
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21).
The Word of God can save us, mold us, shape us, guide us, and do so much more as well. There is nothing that our youth need more in their lives than the precious and powerful Word of God.
In Exodus, we are told :
And God spoke all these words, saying,
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:1-3)
And Psalm 119:105 tells us “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Every child in the world is created and designed by God to work and function in life most fruitfully as a student of the Word of God. Each child is made to live a life and lifestyle of reading, meditating on, and engaging the Word of God.
Nothing will bless, guide, mold, and shape a child more productively than the Word of God when it is invested in the heart and mind of a child.
We, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, are called to disciple our youth and to teach and train them to read and study the blessed Word of God.
The Ten Commandments Project is one way to boldly and aggressively pursue discipling our youth. We as followers of Christ are wise to use a tool like this one or others we may develop for the same purpose.
So, when it comes time to really do the work of discipling our youth, let’s take this work very seriously. Let’s faithfully be about our Father’s business in this crucial area of the kingdom of God.