The Importance of Children’s Ministry

In my 18 years of ministry, I have served as Children’s director and teacher in various churches, and ministry locations. Yet, I have found no matter the location (Arkansas, Tennessee, S. Korea, or Nepal) children’s ministry is a much needed and important ministry of the church.

Far too often parents place the Spiritual growth of their child upon the pastor, and or children’s minister. Many times falsely believing that once their child has recited a prayer and been baptized, that he or she is good to go.

Yet, in my years of ministry, I have found this is far from true.

Being a Bible believing Baptist, I do believe that once saved, always saved. Yet, many times children whom we assumed to be saved based upon a date written in their Bibles, are in fact lost.

Praying a prayer, being baptized, attending kids/youth functions, and being in church on a regular basis, do not save.

Jesus and Jesus alone saves. Not based upon what we have done or not done. But entirely based upon His own accomplishments.

I can’t tell you the number of kids I have taught over the years, who are now teens or college age who are no longer in church.

I also know this because it was true of me.

Growing up, I prayed a prayer, I was baptized, I rededicated my life at least twice. I was at church whenever the church doors were open. I went on all the kid’s camp trips, and youth retreats.

Yet, it wasn’t until I was in college, that I realized for the first time that God desired a personal relationship with me. It was then when I saw the sinner that I was, and that I was truly saved.

Up until this time it had all been pretense. I knew the lingo, I knew what was expected, but to me it was a sense of knowing and obeying the rules. Not a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Too many kids have a similar story and understanding. Believing that church is something you “do” or a place you “go”. And they miss the relationship the Lord desires to have with them.

I know now that having our children pray a prayer and be baptized is not the ending point. It is only the beginning.

Paul tells us to be sure of our salvation. Our lives should display fruits and evidence that we belong to Jesus. And if they do not, then we are wise to question our salvation or the salvation of our children.

I have three children, all of whom have prayed asking Jesus to forgive their sins, and be their Lord and Savior. One is almost 17, one is 15, and one is 11. From the time of their prayers for salvation, and baptism. My husband and I have told them clearly, that if we see that their lives do not reflect the fruits of a Christian we would call them upon it.

And there have been such times, we have done so. Admonishing them as Paul admonishes the believers in his epistles, to make sure of their salvation.

This is why children’s ministry and family devotion is of utmost importance in the lives of our children. This is why we seek to establish a pattern of church attendance, daily devotion, and prayer in the lives of our kids.

So that eventually, these rules or things they do because their parents and teachers instruct them to do so become things they desire to do, out of their overwhelming love for their Savior.

One of my daily prayers for own kids and the children God allows me to lead, is that the Lord would become real and personal to them. I pray daily that the Lord would declare to them how vast His love is for them, so that they will be overwhelmed by His grace. Therefore, desiring to live for and follow after Him, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Yet, as children’s teacher and ministers, it begins often with us. Far too many children receive little to no instruction in the home. And though I do believe it is the priority of the parents to train their children in the Scriptures, we can not assume this of the kids in our ministries.

Children’s ministry is far more than babysitting. It is so much more than entertainment. It is the God given opportunity to teach and train the future generations.

Why is it that so many teen and college aged leave the church?

I’m learning that it is because they lack that firm foundation of God’s Word, and a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Fun kids and youth events certainly have their place, but they must not be our emphasis.

Our ministry to children must be Gospel focused, with its aim being life transformation.

It is also more than head knowledge. Many kids are good at Bible trivia. They know the stories, they have heard them a hundred times. Yet, even the demons believe and tremble.

Head knowledge is not enough.

Transformation must be our goal, seeking to see those we minister to changed into the likeness of Christ.

Obviously only the Lord can do such a work, yet He allows us to be His hands and His feet in this process.

Which is why Children’s ministry is of such importance.

May we see it as such, and teach in such ways to transform the lives of the children in our midst to reflect the life of Christ.

Remembering the Greatness of our God

When we forget whom we serve, we grow tired and weary. When we forget whom we serve, we have anxious and fearful hearts.

Yet, when we remember how great is our God, we are encouraged. When we remember how great is our God, peace floods our souls.

As I was reading through the Psalms at church today, I was reminded of the greatness of our God. I was reminded that He truly holds the whole world in His hands. He sees and knows our every need.

He is not limited by time or space. He needs not our assistance, nor our instructions in what to do. For His ways, His thoughts are far beyond our limited views.

“By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;Who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might; Who stills the roaring of the seas, The roaring of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples. They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy (Ps. 65:5-8).”

He answers our prayers not in accordance with what we think is best. He answers in awesome deeds true to His very nature. So much better than what we could ever ask or even imagine.

Why? Because He is awesome in all that He does. His greatness is beyond our understanding.

He is the trust, the hope, the answer to all peoples, even to the ends of the earth.

The Mountains were created and are sustained by His strength.

Even the vast, magnificent Himalayas were established by His greatness and for His glory.

And though the seas roar, they calm completly at His word. He tells them just how far they can go, and they obey His voice.

Through His amazing creation, His voice goes out into all the world, so that people as far as the farthest seas stand in complete awe of His wonders.

And as magnificent as the beauty of the sunrise and sunset are, they pale in comparison to the greatness of our God.

As I meditated upon these verses, I stood in complete awe of who God is.

I was undone by my limited view, my doubting heart, and my fearful spirit. I was ashamed at how often I think I know better, and how often I act as if He needs my help.

Yet,I  was also encouraged and strengthened. As I was reminded afresh and anew of how truly amazing He is. As I learned again that nothing is too difficult for the Lord.

As we stood to sing, my heart rejoiced in praise to the Lord. My spirit which was weary grew strong. My heart that was anxious became calm.

Simply by remembering the greatness of my God.

Where are you today? Are you tired, weary, and worn? Is your heart anxious and afraid?

Then I encourage you to take time to remember the God you serve. Meditate upon His greatness, sing His praises, and watch how the burdens you now face become so small as you look upon His greatness.

We truly do serve a mighty, and awesome God!

Three Days Later

three daysThree days can change a lot.

Over 2000 years ago, the day was filled with sorrow, question, and doubt. For others the day was filled with joy and a sense of victory.

For those who loved Him, they did not understand. They wept as they watched Jesus be beaten and crucified. Their hearts were full of sorrow as they heard Him speak, “It is finished.”

For those who hated Him, there was rejoicing as they believed they had won, yet they could not have been farther from the truth.

For a lot can change in three days.

On that day, Jesus suffered and died. He also bore our guilt and our shame. He paid the ransom we could not pay, and He redeemed us. Changing our names from guilty to forgiven.

His death came at a high cost.

And yet, death could not defeat Him, nor could the grave hold Him.

For three days later, not only had He paid the price for our sins, He defeated death once and for all. Making it possible for us to be forgiven, and to have eternal life.

Three days later those in sorrow rejoiced at their risen Savior.

After three days, the darkness broke forth into everlasting light.

What had been watched in heartbroken silence was now redeemed with resounding shouts of joy.

Not the scouring, nor the insults.

Not the cross, nor the nails.

Could defeat the Lord.

This day of sorrow took not the Father by surprise, it was all part of His plan.

For He knew that three days later, the true victory would be beheld.

The victory that each of us in Christ has even now, years later.

Victory over sin, victory over death.

 “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:55-57).

A lot can happen in just three days!

 

Loving God

loving godThe two greatest commandments deal with love.

Love for God, and love for others.

One would think that both should come naturally to the Christian, and yet far too often they do not.

I’m learning that when my “love” for the Lord is not what it should be, it affects the way I treat my husband, my kids, and my neighbors.

I’m also learning that when I do not love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. That I am not faithful to obey His Word, to rest in Him, or to serve Him.

I just finished reading the book of Joshua, and in chapter 22:5 it says, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

As I read this, I thought this should be our natural response, but it obviously is not or both Moses and Joshua would not have had to remind the Israelites again and again to be careful to love the Lord.

When I thought deeper, I realized that when we fail to love the Lord as He ask us to love Him, we will also fail to walk in obedience to Him, we will to keep His commandments, we will fail to hold fast to Him, and we will fail to serve Him. For all of this stems from our love for Him.

But on the flip side, when we truly love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will walk in obedience, we will keep His commands, we will hold fast to Him, and we will want to serve Him. And naturally, we will love others as we love ourselves.

In Revelation 2, God holds against the church of Ephesus, was that they had left their first love. Oh they were going through the motions, doing what was right, but it was motivated out of duty rather than love for the Lord. He tells them to repent, and to return to their first love.

It seems many Christians fall into one of two camps. They fail to love God with all of their hearts, and do what is right based on duty and obligation like the church of Ephesus, or they simply turn from the Lord and the things of the Lord.

When I think of what Christ has done on my behalf, I am overwhelmed. I stand in awe of Him, and my desire is to love Him, to please Him, and to serve Him. Yet, when I forget or take for granted what He has done, I lose sight, and love other things more than Him.

Over and over we are told to “remember” because we are so forgetful.

The greatest commandments seems so simple, and yet how do we truly love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?

I’m finding for myself it means taking time daily to remember what He has done for me, giving Him thanks for these things, and asking Him to give me a deep, deep love for Him, and all that He loves.

In fact, this is what I am praying for my whole family. That God would give us a great love for Him, a love that will then motivate everything that we do.

Loving God is more than some emotional feeling, which seem to come and go. Loving God as He instructs means remembering what He has done, thinking upon the Scriptures, and choosing His way over our own.

May we truly seek to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).”

 

When what God ask doesn’t make sense..

trsting GodI don’t know about you, but it seems oftentimes that what God ask of us doesn’t make sense in my mind or in the eyes of the world.

It’s kind of His theme, a way to see if we will really trust Him.

For example when He told Abram to leave his country, his family, etc and move to the land He would show Him. This didn’t make sense, but in obedience to God, Abram obeyed, and watch God provide.

Or when God chose Moses to deliver His people from Egypt. Though what God asked of Moses seemed impossible, after many excuses, Moses obeyed, and watched God do the impossible.

Today I read about another such instance in Joshua, when God led the people into the promised land by way of the Jordan River.

As I was reading I noticed that the Jordan was at flood stage. Now if they were anything like me, I’m sure as they neared this high, flood stage river, a dozen thoughts were going through their minds. Like how in the world, they would ever get to the other side.

When suddenly the Lord instructs Joshua to tell the priest to go and stand in the river. The Israelites must have watched in amazement as the waters stopped flowing and instead piled in a heap.

Once they got to the other side Joshua was instructed to circumcise the men, putting them at their weakest, while they had enemies on every side. This must have seemed insane, and yet Joshua obeyed. And GOD struck  fear in the hearts of the people so that they did not attack.

Then there is the familiar passage where the Lord instructs Joshua and the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho, they were to march around once each day, not making a sound. Then on the final day, they are told to march around the city seven times, and that on the last time, they are to shout.

I’m telling you this was a crazy battle plan.

But God.

The people began to shout as they marched their final time around the city, and then they stood amazed as the walls began to fall.

In my own life there have been many times I have felt what God was asking of me did not make sense. And far too often I have been consumed with fear as I imagine the worst.

But God.

He is always faithful despite my fears or my doubt.

And just as He did the amazing things listed above for those who trusted Him despite their fears, He can and will do the same for you and me.

Yet, if I’m not careful my fear can far outweigh my faith.

But, I know from the past, that when I let go of the fear, and trust Him with what He is asking of me. That these are the times I clearly see the Lord do the most amazing things in my life.

What is God asking of you today, asking of your family?

Will you allow your fears to overtake your faith? Or will you trust God with all the unknowns, with all the giants you have to face, and with all your fears?

Oh may we be like the saints of old, ready and willing to trust God, even when what He ask doesn’t make sense!

Ready to watch God do that which is beyond human explanation!

Praying for your Teens

I don’t know how it happened. My little boys who use to make mud pies, drive cars through the dirt, and wear cowboy hats and boots, have become teenagers. These boys who use to love being wherever I was, now long to go hang out with their friends.

It is the natural way of life. Yet, I have found that the older they get, the harder I pray. For when they are young, they depended so much on me and their dad. Yet, as they grow older they must learn all the more how to depend upon the Lord.

So I pray regularly for them, not that they’d be a success in the eyes of this “world”, but that they would be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

10 things to pray for your teens:

1. Pray that they will have their own “real and personal” relationship with the Lord.  One that is not based upon what they have been told, but rather what they have experienced in their own lives with the Lord.

2. Pray that they will desire the things of the Lord more than their own way, and be willing to follow hard after Him. 

3. Pray that they would seek the Lord and His wisdom first before making decisions. Being willing to wait upon the Lord and His perfect timing.

4. Pray that they would seek and desire after a godly mate, and that God would bless them with a wonderful marriage.

5. Pray that they will remain pure until they are married.

6. Pray that no matter what God ask, no matter how big or how small, they will walk in obedience to His leading in their lives.

7. Pray that their lives will reflect their walk with the Lord, that others will see Jesus when they look at them.

8. Pray that they will never become so successful that they depend upon themselves rather than the Lord.

9. Pray that they will raise up their children and your future grandchildren in the ways of the Lord.

10. Pray that they will always know how much they are loved, how special they are, and that “in Christ”, they are perfect.

As a mom we want our kids safe, we want them successful, we want them to have friends, to experience love, to enjoy life….but I’m realizing that more than all of that, our greatest desire should be that they truly love the Lord their God with all of their hearts, mind, and strength.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

3 John 1:4

Lessons from Genesis

You are the God whose ways are best (Genesis 15:5). Your ways, and your thoughts are greater than my understanding. Though I can see only now, you see tomorrow, next week, and next year, so you know best. And thought I don’t always understand, I must trust you, rather than try to “help” you, which always leads to trouble.

You are the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13). You see everything going on in my life. Your concerned with every detail, and what matters to me, matters to you. Nothing is hidden from your sight. You see the burdens on my heart, you see the problems both big and small. You see, and you know.

You are the God with whom all things are possible (Genesis 18:14). No matter what is happening in my life, you are bigger. No matter how difficult a situation I find myself in, nothing is too difficult for you. When things seem or feel impossible, I know it is a small matter to You.

You are the God who keeps His promises (Genesis 22:1-2). What you say, that you will do. It may not be according to my time-table, it may take many years, but I can know and believe that it will happen. For you are always faithful and true, and you can not deny yourself.

You are the God who provides (Genesis 22:14). No matter how big of a need I have, you can fulfill it. You provide just what I need at just the right time. You are able to provide what I need for today, tomorrow, and all the days of my life.

You are the God who whispers to my heart, “Do not fear, for I am with you (Genesis 26:24).” You see, You know, and you care. Yet, despite whatever is taking place in my life, I need not fear. For you are with me. No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing.You are with me, so I need not be afraid.

“You are the God who never forgets me and who hears my prayers (Gen. 29:22).” Though sometimes it feels like you have forgotten me, I am never forgotten. You remember me and my request. For you are the God who hears the cries of my heart, and knows my desires. And though things don’t always happen according to what I think is best, you are at work, and will bring about the request of my heart in your perfect time.

Thank you Lord that though I don’t always understand, and sometimes you feel so far away. You are always there with me, you see and know my heart, and you care about everything that matters to me.