As I’ve watched the global events of the last couple of years unfold, I’ve become more convinced than ever that we must raise up a generation of Godly leaders for our nation. Your children and mine are living in a time when European socialism is praised and traditional family values are scorned. The faith of our Founding Fathers is considered fictitious by the cultural elite and many of those who walk the halls of Congress appear quick to praise the Occupy Wall Street Movement and slow to provide relief to small businesses who are struggling under the weight of excessive regulation and needless taxation.

In the midst of my cultural vexation, Pastor Mark Batterson reacquainted me with a Biblical hero whose story is often overlooked. His name is Benaiah and we learn about him in II Samuel 23:20-23:

20 Benaiah was a valiant man who had done many deeds. He killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also killed a lion down in a pit on a snowy day. 21 And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand and Benaiah only had a staff. But he wrestled the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 He did these things and won a name among three mighty men. 23 And David appointed him over his guard.

Last week I spoke to our faculty and staff at The First Academy and challenged them with this idea – our calling is to teach and train Lion Chasers. As I read the story of Benaiah, I discovered that there were three distinguishing characteristics that set him apart. We want to join you in cultivating and nurturing these beliefs in the life of each child at TFA.

First, Lion Chasers believe they can beat the odds. Benaiah was up against serious odds, but the Bible tells us that he killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day. This type of confidence is built into the lives of our children when they understand that they serve a BIG God – one who created and sustains all that is and is to come. This type of confidence is built into the lives of our children when we teach them that this BIG God loves them personally – so much in fact that He died on the cross for their sins and has prepared a home for them in Heaven (John 3:16).

Second, Lion Chasers believe they can face their fears. Benaiah faced a fearful situation with only a wooden staff in his hand. The Bible tells us that his opponent had a spear, but through the power of God he wrestled the Egyptian’s spear from him and killed him with his own weapon. When I talk with our students at TFA, I find that they have two significant fears – the fear of failure and the fear of being alone. We can teach our children to face their fears by sharing with them the wonder of Grace – through God’s Grace we learn that our flaws are not fatal and that our failures are not final. We can teach our children to face their fears by reminding them that they are never alone – Romans 8 tells us that there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from the love of God.

Third, Lion Chasers believe they have a divine purpose. God was building Benaiah’s resume all along the way. At just the right time, a God-appointed moment, Benaiah was introduced to a prospective employer named King David. Amazingly they discovered that they had much in common. David killed a lion and Benaiah killed a lion. David killed a Philistine warrior and Benaiah killed an Egyptian warrior. David saw the handprint of God on the life of this young man and made him his chief body guard. Our children will fully understand their divine calling when they hear us talk about the truths found in Psalm 139. This passage teaches us that God had a plan for our life before we were born. Our children will fully understand their divine calling when they hear us talk about the great “Cloud of Witness” in Hebrews 11 and 12 – those who have gone before us and paved the way for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

The name Benaiah is a combination of two words – a derivation of Yahweh and Bana – His name literally means “Built by God”. Thank you for giving us the privilege of partnering with you in raising a generation of young people whose hearts, minds and souls are crafted by the Maker of the Universe. Let me encourage you to share this story with your children as we begin the new school year.

Steve Whitaker