Monday, January 26, 2015

Why not to distract your kids in worship.

One Sunday night I was watching TV with my family after church and received a message via Facebook Messenger. A young man in our church sent me a message saying he had heard in the service on Sunday about how I had helped people in need through the NC Baptist Men and jokingly said he needed my help rebuilding a house that burnt down on Minecraft. At first I thought it was funny that he sent me the message but then I started thinking about how much he must have picked up during the service. Our service focused on the mission efforts of the NC Baptist Men and included disaster relief and other areas of ministry. Here this young guy picked up on what was said during the service and many times we discount what kids will learn from worship at church.

Parenting kids at church is different today than it was 10 years ago much less 25 years ago. In today's society we tend to think that children won't understand what the pastor is talking about or it's not on their level. But before you give the kid your phone, tablet, or something else to distract them lets think about what we're doing here. We are telling our kids that the songs we're singing or the pastors message doesn't apply to them so they don't need to pay attention to it. It's important that from an early age we start training our kids to participate in worship. Like discipline, routines, and respect, if church participation isn't taught early it won't be picked up later. I can't tell you the number of times I've watched as children, who weren't taught to participate in church as young children, don't know how to act or participate in worship as teenagers and eventually lose interest in church altogether. Many don't make it much past the start of jobs, cars, and dating.

My desire is for the generation that is dying out in our churches to not be the last great Christian generation. I believe that there is hope for the church and I believe that the gospel message of the church is the only hope for the world. But we have to train our children to worship God and participate in corporate worship, whether that is children's church or regular worship. I'm not under some delusion that my own young boys understand and retain every part of my message any more than I believe that every adult retains it. But just like I don't remember the menu from every meal my wife has fed me over the years, I know that without them I would have died a long time ago. If we want to sustain the spiritual life of our children far into the future we need to feed them with a regular diet of worship.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

I've Got You Covered!

On the mission trips I've led in the past we ate good, I mean really good! We had a dedicated crew of cooks that did a great job of keeping us well fed so we could work hard completing the tasks God had put in front of us. I have to confess though that of all the meals I enjoyed on our mission trips one meal from a mission trip to Vermont really sticks out to me and (sorry to those that were on that cooking crew) it was at KFC. When we ate meals at fast food restaurants I handed out the cash to the people in the front of the line and they'd pass the change back to the next person and so on and so on. This is the most efficient way to get meals paid for with a large group. Most of the time I would work my way through the lines replenishing low funds so that we could have everything taken care of quickly. When we were leaving Vermont to come back home on this particular trip we ate lunch at a local KFC. Since we were the only people in line I stood at the front of the line handing out money and collecting change as our team ordered their food. As I stood their God spoke to me as I made a comment to one of our team members when I jokingly said something along the lines of “Here, I’ve got you covered!” Here I was taking care of everything financially for our team and continually handing out what was needed to get us through this situation. God spoke to me reminding me that this is how it is in our relationship with Him.

When we think about our times of suffering, that we all face at one time or another, and then look at our relationship with God, what are we hearing from Him? Is our relationship such that when we face those difficult times that we can’t hear God for all the noise of the storm around us? Or is our relationship with God so tight that the storm can rage all it wants because we can hear that still, small voice in our ear saying “I’ve got you covered.”

God’s Word reminds us repeatedly that no matter what difficulty we face, no matter how bleak the future looks in front of us that God is in control and that He has us covered, no matter what! Psalm 32:6-7 tells us “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Let this scripture from Psalms encourage us that no matter how high the waters rise around us we will not be overwhelmed because God is there to provide for us.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

What you don't know about the Bible may hurt you!

Nearly 2 years ago I needed to kill some honeysuckle and poison ivy that had grown up the side of one of our hay sheds. I needed to be about 10 feet up in the air so I could spray weed killer on all of the weeds. So I did like any responsible parent would do. I drove the tractor up to the side of the shed and placed at the controls my son who had been 8 years old for a total of 4 days. I climbed in the bucket, gave him directions on what I needed him to do, and then I stated a variation of a phrase I've used more times than I can count while working with my boys around the farm. I told him "You have to be very careful or I could get hurt or even killed." He did a great job, we got the job done, and we all went home in one piece that day.

Now some would say this was irresponsible, foolish, or down right reckless for me to trust my safety and even my life to the hands of an 8 year old. I would disagree. I have worked with my boys from a young age to teach them how to do things right so they or others won't be hurt. This wasn't the first time Dru operated the tractor and it wasn't the last. I've let him and Cooper drive my farm truck without me in it and 2 round bales of hay in the bed. But I didn't just throw them the keys at 6 and 7 and say "Have at it." I first taught them what they needed to know so they would know how to be safe and not get hurt. Its what they didn't know that could have gotten them hurt.

It's the same way with the Bible. When we don't know what the Bible says it can hurt our relationship with God. God expects us to study the scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15) and then apply them to our life. He wants us to know what it means to pursue holiness in a world ruined by sin. He wants us to trust in Christ not only for salvation but also for support in this life. He wants us to know that His grace is sufficient for anything we will ever face in this life (2 Corinthians 12:9). He wants us to know that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). The best way for us to grasp the truths He wants us to take hold of is to spend time in His Word. His Word is living and active as Hebrews 4:12 puts it. That means God will speak to you through His Word but only if you open it up and allow Him to do so. When we don't spend time reading and studying the Bible we are basically telling God that we aren't concerned about our relationship with Him. We're telling Him we don't want to hear from Him. And in the end that will cause us more hurt because we won't know what God is telling us through the Bible. It will lead us into sin and damage our relationship with Him.

My encouragement to you today is this: If you haven't been reading your Bible like you know you should, then start back today. Find a book in the Bible and start reading. The Gospel of John is a great place to start. Ask God to speak to you as you read and you'll be amazed at what He'll say!

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