Monthly Archives: June 2014

LIBERTY, LICENSE, AND LEGALISM

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Today in Christianity there are two extreme positions. These positions are not new they have existed since apostolic times. Each is critical of the other. Neither is biblically correct. Both are devastating to the cause of Christ. On the extreme right is legalism; while on the extreme left is license. There is between legalism and license the biblically correct position and that is liberty. Paul wrote to the church at Galatia to deal with this matter as the church at Galatia was caught up into the controversy. Read Galatians 5:1-13.

Legalism – a mixing of faith and works

The Galatian Error – Legalism

The church at Galatia had those who were guilty of mingling grace and works. They taught that in order for a person to be a Christian they had to believe in Christ by faith, but also had to submit to and observe the rituals and regulations of religion – i.e. circumcision, the Levitical Law.

“What must I forsake?” a young man asked. “Colored clothes for one thing. Get rid of everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Stop sleeping on a soft pillow. Sell your musical instruments and don’t eat any more white bread. You cannot, if you are sincere about obeying Christ, take warm baths or shave your beard. To shave is to lie against him who created us, to attempt to improve on his work.” Quaint, isn’t it — this example of extra-biblical scruples? And perhaps amusing. The list has constantly shifted over the 1,800 years since this one was actually recorded.

There’s something comfortable about reducing Christianity to a list of do’s and don’ts, whether your list comes from mindless fundamentalism or mindless liberalism: you always know where you stand, and this helps reduce anxiety. Do’s-and-don’ts-ism has the advantage that you don’t need wisdom. You don’t have to think subtly or make hard choices. You don’t have to relate personally to a demanding and loving Lord.

There are people (in churches) who do not want us to be free. They don’t want us to be free before God, accepted just as we are by his grace. They don’t want us to be free to express our faith originally and creatively in the world. They … insist that all look alike, talk alike and act alike, thus validating one another’s worth. Without being aware of it we become anxious about what others will say about us, obsessively concerned about what others think we should do. We no longer live the good news but anxiously try to memorize and recite the script that someone else has assigned to us. We may be secure, but we will not be free.

Rigidity is the trademark of legalism, the archenemy of any church on the move. Let legalism have enough rope, and there will be a lynching of all new ideas, fresh thinking, and innovative programs.

It was Billy Sunday who said, “Some persons think they have to look like a hedgehog to be pious.”

The bite of legalism spreads paralyzing venom into the body of Christ. Its poison blinds our eyes, dulls our edge, and arouses pride in our hearts. Soon our love is eclipsed as it turns into a mental clipboard with a long checklist.

A bishop said to Louis XI of France, “Make an iron cage for all those who do not think as we do, an iron cage in which the captive can neither lie down nor stand straight up.” The awful instrument of punishment was fashioned. After a while, the bishop offended Louis XI, and for fourteen years he was in that same cage and could neither lie down nor stand up. It is a poor rule that will not work both ways. “With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.”

2 Corinthians 3:6 “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.”

Galatians 2:20-21 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

License – Faith with an absence of works

The Opposite Extreme – I am free in Christ therefore, I can do anything I want to do. Many believe that freedom means license to do whatever we want, whenever we want.

Someone has said that license, is the abuse of grace to serve oneself selfishly and sinfully. It is an unrestrained life that scorns God’s commands. The Christian who falls into license may reason that he can indulge in sin because his eternal salvation can’t be lost, or because he is forgiven already, or at least, he rationalizes, “God will forgive me when I sin.” This is the immature attitude behind the objections noted in Romans 6:1 and 6:15.

Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

Romans 6:15 “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

License,” or “lasciviousness,” is a Biblical term. “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

The term “lasciviousness” means “without restraint.” Those in license see no problem in restraining the sin, which easily besets them.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Part of the problem of the lack of discipline and the overabundance of self-indulgence on the part of believers is that feelings has become more important to us than finding God. I. The person who practices license is not living by grace, they are Antinomian. His principle and philosophy of life is one of total freedom. He does not consider law, he is lawless. He does not consider love, he is selfish. His basic philosophy of life is one of total freedom. This was the philosophy of the libertines in the days of the NT. It is the philosophy of Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine. There are no absolutes, no laws. Things of life involve a total freedom and a total liberty.

A man’s worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes.

Liberty – Faith demonstrated by works

The Proper Response

Galatians 2:19 “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”

Galatians 5:13 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Liberty does not mean the absence of laws. The Constitution of the United States promises its citizens “liberty,” but that does not give license to break its laws. We can never enjoy true freedom without some restrictions on our activities. If every man does that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25), the result is eventual anarchy. As Christians, we are to maintain proper standards of conduct because of the Lord’s admonition to “be ye holy; as I am holy” (1Peter 1:16).

1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

Ephesians 2:15 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”

Liberty always comes with conditions – you must treasure it, defend it, use it responsibly – license is achieved by nothing more complicated than putting your selfish desires at the center of your life.

Lord Jesus, thou who art the way, the truth, and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please to do what is right. (Peter Marshall, Before the U.S. Senate)

In Christian Love and With Many Prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

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Missional Momentum, Embarrassed Kids and Christian Marriage…

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

This may seem like some meaningless rambling but please stay with me. We have a lot going on in our church. I wanted to take a moment to speak to three things of significance happing in the church now and in the immediate future.

First, any leader knows that Momentum is a leader’s best friend.

TRACTOR – Growing up our neighbor had an old tractor without power steering. I remember my cousins and I would climb up on that tractor and pretend to be driving it. But no matter how hard we tried, we could not steer that tractor as long as it was sitting still. But once it got moving, my granddad could steer it with two fingers. What’s the difference? Momentum.

TRAIN – A train traveling 65 mph on a railroad track can crash through a 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete wall without stopping. That same train, starting from a stationary position, won’t be able to go through an inch-thick block in front of the driving wheel.

It is never the size of your problem that is the problem. It’s a lack of momentum. Without momentum, even a tiny obstacle can prevent you from moving forward. With momentum, you’ll navigate through problems and barely even notice them.

The early church had incredible momentum. Despite the fact that the Jews wanted them dead, the government wanted them quite, the devil wanted them destroyed – the church went from a tiny bible study in Jerusalem to literally overtaking the Roman Empire in just a few Decade. We can too!

How were they able to do it? Well obviously the Holy Spirit – but I want to suggest that the Holy Spirit uses means. The Holy Spirit caused them to develop such clarity and focus that they were able to overcome internal divisions and external threats to accomplish the greatest missions’ movement of all times. May God grant us this clarity and focus of His purpose and mission for us as a church!

Second, we are in summer break and the demand son parents have increased and something I noticed in Wal-Mart this past week has haunted my spirit. This dad was seemingly intentionally trying to embarrass his son. I could not understand his reason for trying to make his son look less a young man by saying this words and by his actions. The young man was probably 6 or 7 years old.

Kids have such soft hearts and squishy spirits. Why would you ever want to intentionally embarrass them? That doesn’t stop some parents from humiliating their little ones and not accidentally. Let’s face it—we all embarrass our kids eventually but that’s usually because we dress too trendy or too dated or say something that makes us sound “lame.” I’m not a psychologist, nor do I claim to be one, and I didn’t stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night, but I am an experienced pastor and trained therapist and a former child. I know a little something about the crushing of a child’s heart, as a child and an adult.

I have seen some great parents in the churches I have been able to pastor but over the years I have met some that made some mistakes too. I’m not judging anyone, I’m not perfect, I have and still do make many mistakes, but I am concerned when parents drag their kids to church then embark on an embarrassing tirade (in front of everyone) about all the child’s failings from the past week. I’ve heard things like, “You need to pray a little harder for Jonah. He’s never going to get off restriction…” or “Can you believe what she decided to wear? That’s what happens when she dresses herself.” Ouch and ouch. These are actually mild examples I’m sharing. I don’t want to pass on the embarrassing moments.

It’s natural to feel frustrated with your children from time to time but embarrassing them into submission is nothing more than humiliation. Here’s what you won’t do:

  • You won’t make them humble.
  • You won’t fix their issues.
  • You won’t make them want to change.

As a matter of fact, this practice evokes a slew of negative emotions including rebellion, anger and even self-destruction. Some of these negative feelings become entrenched in the child’s personality and it can take a life time to root them out. (I have some personal experience with this.)

When I hear parents embarrass their kids regularly, I feel sad for the children but equally sad for the parent. You might be reading off a mental laundry list of all your child’s issues but you are also telling a lot about yourself. Here’s what I hear:

  1. I see myself in my child and it frustrates me.
  2. I have issues with perfectionism.
  3. I don’t have the parenting skills I need.
  4. My spouse isn’t helping me raise the children.
  5. My parents did this to me.
  6. I’m struggling with something else that I don’t want to talk about.

I’m sure there are so many other things I could mention but you get the idea. So what can you and I do?

1. Stop the embarrassment by refusing to enable parents who do this. Standing there listening isn’t going to help, other than giving the parent a place to vent. Raise your hand, wave your hand. Stop the conversation and invite the grown up to talk with you privately. If it is right before church (isn’t it always?) make an appointment with him or her. Be willing to listen, then guide them along in different ways of coping with discipline.

2. Always send the child away. Point him to an activity so at least when he’s with you, he won’t have to be embarrassed.

3. Help to find parenting classes. Sometimes people just don’t know any better. Show them another way to deal with the stresses and challenges of parenting.

You can do it!

Third, in just a few days we will be having another couple of single people in our church who will not be single anymore. Hey, hey hey! They is going to be a wedding. I am not directing this at them, we all can learn from this. We all need better understanding and practice within our homes of the Christian Ideal of Marriage. In case you haven’t noticed the family and marriage is under attack.

Some years ago, I attended an interesting wedding. I was especially struck by the creativity of the ceremony. The bride and the groom had brainstormed with the pastor in order to insert new and exciting elements into the service, and I enjoyed those elements. However, in the middle of the ceremony, they included portions of the traditional, classic wedding ceremony. When I began to hear the words from the traditional ceremony, my attention perked up and I was moved. I remember thinking, “There is no way to improve on this because the words are so beautiful and meaningful.” A great deal of thought and care had been put into those old, familiar words.

Today, of course, many young people not only are saying no to the traditional wedding ceremony, they are rejecting the concept of marriage itself. More and more young people are coming from broken homes, and as a result, they have a fear and suspicion about the value of marriage. So we see couples living together rather than marrying for fear that the cost of that commitment may be too much. They fear it may make them too vulnerable. This means that one of the most stable and, as we once thought, permanent traditions of our culture is being challenged.

One of the things I like most about the traditional wedding ceremony is that it includes an explanation as to why there is such a thing as marriage. We are told in that ceremony that marriage is ordained and instituted by God—that is to say, marriage did not just spring up arbitrarily out of social conventions or human taboos. Marriage was not invented by men but by God.

We see this in the earliest chapters of the Old Testament, where we find the creation account. We find that God creates in stages, beginning with the light (Gen. 1:3) and capping the process with the creation of man (v. 27). At every stage, He utters a benediction, a “good word.” God repeatedly looks at what He has made and says, “That’s good” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).

But then God notices something that provokes not a benediction but what we call a malediction, that is, a “bad word.” What was this thing that God saw in His creation that He judged to be “not good”? We find it in Genesis 2:18, where God declares, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” That prompts Him to create Eve and bring her to Adam. God instituted marriage, and He did it, in the first instance, as an answer to human loneliness. For this reason, God inspired Moses to write, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24).

But while I like and appreciate the words of the traditional wedding ceremony, I believe the form of the ceremony is even more important. This is because the traditional ceremony involves the making of a covenant. The whole idea of covenant is deeply rooted in biblical Christianity. The Bible teaches that our very redemption is based on a covenant. Much could be said here about the character of the biblical covenants, but one vital facet is that none of them is a private matter. Every covenant is undertaken in the presence of witnesses. This is why we invite guests to our weddings. It is so they will witness our vows—and hold us accountable to keep them. It is one thing for a man to whisper expressions of love to a woman when no one will hear, but it is quite another thing for him to stand up in a church, in front of parents, friends, ecclesiastical or civil authorities, and God Himself, and there make promises to love and cherish her. Wedding vows are sacred promises made in the presence of witnesses who will remember them.

I believe marriage is the most precious of all human institutions. It’s also the most dangerous. Into our marriages we pour our greatest and deepest expectations. We put our emotions on the line. There we can achieve the greatest happiness, but we also can experience the greatest disappointment, the most frustration, and the most pain. With that much at stake, we need something more solemn than a casual promise.

Even with formal wedding ceremonies, even with the involvement of authority structures, roughly fifty percent of marriages fail. Sadly, among the men and women who stay together as husband and wife, many would not marry the same spouse again, but they stay together for various reasons. Something has been lost regarding the sacred and holy character of the marriage covenant. In order to strengthen the institution of marriage, we might want to consider strengthening the wedding ceremony, with a clear, biblical reminder that marriage is instituted by God and forged in His sight.

In Christian Love and With Many Prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

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UnderstandingGod as Father…

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Some people mischaracterize God the Father as only judgment and righteousness. While these are true characteristics, there is much more to our gracious heavenly Father.

Is it possible that far too often as Christians we mentally compartmentalize the Trinity? Perhaps we think of the Spirit as empowerment and knowledge, the Son as meekness and love, and the Father as judgment and righteousness. But is this how God is revealed in Scripture?

Many Bible readers point out that over 200 times the word “smite” or “smote” (i.e., “strike” or “struck” in the newer English translations) is used in the Old Testament referring to God punishing people or groups of people for their sins. Some have emphasized that the last verse of the Old Testament even ends with God saying, “‘lest I come and strike the earth with a curse’” (Malachi 4:6). For skeptics and even some genuine but confused believers, this has come to characterize God the Father, whom they view as an angry deity waiting to deal out wrath at the slightest provocation. This is almost like the abusive father who is so overbearing and vindictive.

In Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit Without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004) author Alan Jones stated, “The church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as a universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it” (p. 132). He later quips that, “The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine” (p. 168).

In this way Alan Jones posits that a sadistic and surly God was angry at sinners, demanded blood, and the only appeasement to this hot anger was His Son’s death. But is this a fair portrayal of God the Father? Let’s confront these accusations by examining Scripture to get an accurate assessment of God’s character.

God the Father Shows Pity

One such misconception is that God the Father, as a righteous judge, can’t wait to punish people for their sins. But what does Scripture really say? Ezekiel presented God reasoning with His people and telling them that they would not have to face His judgment if they would turn from their evil ways and repent. God stated that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is not waiting to pounce on sinners but is longsuffering and patient:

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:30–32)

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11)

The Apostle Peter similarly declared that God is longsuffering specifically because He desires people to come to Him in repentance (2 Peter 3:9). However, we also cannot presume upon God’s goodness. God can and does punish sin as Abraham stated, “‘shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? ’” (Genesis 18:25).

God rebuked the prophet Jonah for his lack of pity toward the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4:10–11). Yet God was willing to show pity (and mercy) to a city of more than 120,000 people because they had believed God, humbled themselves, turned from their wickedness, and cried out to God in repentance. God recognized their penitence and told Jonah that He pitied the undiscerning Ninevites (Jonah 4:11).

God the Father Shows Mercy

Even in judgment there is mercy with God. Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy Sodom if there were but ten righteous people in the city, and God agreed (Genesis 18:22–33). Sadly, there were not even ten righteous people there. But even when God did destroy the cities of the plain, He delivered Lot and his daughters (and Lot’s wife too, although she was punished for looking back in violation of the warning she had received from the angels in Genesis 19:17).

Look also at the example of Manasseh, considered one of the worst kings in the history of Judah. He was extremely wicked and filled Judah with violence and bloodshed (2 Kings 21:1–16>). God punished him by causing him to be taken captive by the Assyrians. Yet towards the end of his life, Manasseh repented:

Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. (2 Chronicles 33:12–13)

Even when God punishes men for their sins, it is less than they deserve and is tempered with mercy and knowledge of the frailty of mankind (Psalm 103:6–18).

God the Father Chastens Those Whom He Loves

God the Father does not needlessly burden us, but He sometimes tries us that we may come out as refined gold. The prophet Jeremiah stated that God doesn’t arbitrarily and capriciously afflict mankind:

Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:32–33)

Sometimes we are afflicted because God wants to teach us valuable lessons from His Word, as the psalmist affirmed, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:71). Peter offered this comfort and hope:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:5–9)

This passage, as well as Hebrews 12:5–11, teaches that often the chastening of the Lord is to correct sin, refine our character, and produce in us patience, obedience, and righteousness.

God the Father Loves Us

Some erroneously claim that God the Father only loves us for the sake of God the Son (but this is clearly a misunderstanding of John 14:21 and 16:27). Scripture plainly states that God the Father loved the world so much that He sent His Son as the Savior of whoever believes, and that He loved us long before we ever loved Him (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14–19).

The Apostle Paul spoke of the great love with which God the Father loved us (Ephesians 2:4–6). The Apostle John marveled at the “manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1–2). These are not the characteristics of a capricious tyrant but of a loving Father. God did not send Jesus as a wanton appeasement for His fickle vindictiveness and anger as Alan Jones imagines. Instead Jesus is the means of reconciliation between a holy God and a sinful, rebellious mankind (Romans 5:8–11; 2 Corinthians 5:18–19). Perhaps we should look anew at the “gospel in a verse” (John 3:16) as well as the next verse and amplify them for clarification, just as a reminder of what they really state:

For God [the Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God [the Father] did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him [Jesus] might be saved. (John 3:16–17)

Despite our sin and rebellion, God loved us. The Father loved us enough to send His Son who died for us that our sins could be forgiven. Thus we can die to self and the Spirit will guide us in living for Him (Romans 6:11; 8:13–14;Colossians 3:3–4; Galatians 6:8; 2 Timothy 2:11).

God is Both Just and Justifier

Yes, God is holy, righteous, and just. Therefore He is a God of judgment, wrath, and vengeance. But these are not His only characteristics. God the Father is clearly shown in both the Old and New Testaments as merciful, long-suffering, gracious, and compassionate. The very fact that He promised and planned for mankind’s redemption right after the Fall (Genesis 3:15) shows that He loved mankind. He chose to seek and offer us a means of salvation, even when we were His enemies. So God is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). Perhaps the Psalmist said it best when he contemplated the full scope of the character of God: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psalm 85:10).

Do you want to escape the judgment of God and instead be assured of His love and mercy? Then call upon His Son Jesus, the only means of salvation (Acts 4:12). The Bible says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). If you would like to learn more, please read the good news.

In Christian Love and With Many Prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

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GETTING OUR CHILDREN ACTIVE IN CHURCH AND THE WORD!

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,
Let me begin by saying…I am not even close to figuring out this parenting thing. But, I have been a dad almost 30 years. I have a 29+ year old. There were/are some days when I feel like I know nothing about being a parent. Some days were/are so crazy hard, I don’t even know where to start. And then, well, then there are some days when everything fits together like a giant puzzle.
Ok, that being said…
I love being a parent. I love being a dad. I love children.
Maybe I love it so much because I had an amazing dad and grandparents to help raise me. My dad poured into my sister and I and invested everything he had in us.
But, I believe with every ounce of my being that being a dad is one of the greatest privileges God gives and I don’t want to waste this time.
One of the areas of parenting that I’m asked a lot about is church.
Specifically, how do I get my kids excited for Church?
How do I help my kids understand the importance of church? How do I help them feel involved and included in our church?
So, because I very much love the local church and I love parenting, I thought I would throw out a few suggestions on how to get our kids excited about church. We just came out of VBS and believe me, kids are excited about being part of the “VBS CHURCH.” Our youth this year even seemed to have new excitement about being here. So here are just a few things that might help.
3 Ways to Get your Kids Excited About Church
Wouldn’t it be great to have just about every Saturday night, your child laying out their clothes and getting all their stuff ready for church the next morning. To have your kids love your church and love being a part. Now, of course, there are mornings when none of us want to go to church, but here are some ways to help kids be excited about their church.
Disclaimer: Before I go any further, I also want to say that I really believe these apply to best if our local church has an outstanding kids and student ministry. If our church is not investing in kids and the kid’s environments are less to be desired, these could be a much harder sell. Thanks for redoing the basement for our children.
Also, if our church is on the super traditional side and your teenagers fall asleep, again and again, I don’t think these are the answers. So, again thanks for being willing to look at how we do children’s ministry.
Ok, disclaimer over.
1. Model being a part of the Church.
Mom and dads…If you’re not actively involved in your church and excited about it, then there is absolutely no way that you can ask your kids to be excited and involved in church. If you are constantly openly critical of your church and negative about the church and its programing then how can you expect your children to be excited about church? Now, if your kids are teenagers and you just started being involved, honestly, it may be too late. But, that’s no reason to not get involved. And, it’s never too late to start.
Notice I didn’t say, just attend church. I really believe we need to be a part of the church. To be the church. That means we…
• Pour into the church
• Serve our church community
• Tithe and model giving to the church
• Worship
• Pray for our church
• Model serving at church
• Be in a small group
2. Involve your kids in Church Leadership
I personally think one of the absolute best ways to get your kids excited about church is to involve them in serving. If you serve, bring them along. Serve side by side. If they’re too young, tell them what you’re doing. Ask them what they think about it. Tell them all about it. What’s great about it and what’s not so great but why it is important. Tell them over and over and then over and over again why you believe in the local church.
If your kids are older, encourage them to serve and if that’s not enough, give them a push to serve.
In their youth group, with kids ministry, with worship, or whatever interests them.
For some reason, we push our kids incredibly hard with sports and drama and all the other after school activities. But, sometimes (again, just my personal opinion, we really lay off when it comes time to church. Why is that?
It’s not enough to just attend every now and then. It’s not enough to just attend.
We have to model being actively involved.
3. Ask them their opinions and dream together.
One of the things that my wife and I did and do a lot with Shari is ask her opinions. We ask her about everything.
We have made it a habit over the years to constantly ask questions and then to listen.
We spend a lot of time talking about church.
• What does she like?
• What does she think?
• What could be better?
• What would she do differently?
And, we spend a lot of time dreaming and praying together. Because everything we want is not best for us, especially as children, but we need to ask and listen.
How About Getting Our Kids Into The Word?
Teaching children to want to read the Bible and giving them Scripture to read takes work, but you shouldn’t stop there. Your children will become frustrated if you don’t also teach them how to use the Bible.
Here’s what they need to know.
Give the children an easy to read translation.
The Bible is 66 books. Teach your students that the Bible isn’t just one book, it is a book with 66 books inside. They won’t understand how to read the Bible until they know this. Then when you tell them what book to go to, they’ll get it.
The Bible has 2 sections. It may seem that everyone know this, but your child might not. Teach children the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament and give them an idea of which books are in which testament.
The Bible is divided into groups of books. Here’s a list of the way they are grouped so you can teach this to your students:
Old Testament:
• Law (5 books) Genesis – Deuteronomy
• History (12 books) Joshua – Esther
• Poetry (5 books) Job – Song of Solomon
• Major Prophet (5 books) Isaiah – Daniel
• Minor Prophets (12 books) Hosea – Malichi
New Testament:
• Gospels (4 books) Matthew – John
• History (1 book) Acts
• Epistles (21 books) Romans – Jude
• Prophecy (1 book) Book of Revelation
Each verse has an address. This is the easiest way to teach children to look up verses. The address starts with the book, then the chapter, then the verse. For instance, John 1:1 is the book of John, first chapter, first verse.
Teach students to memorize the books of the Bible. This is easier than you might think, but it’s important. If a child memorizes the books of the Bible, he develops a basic understanding of where each book is located long after he’s forgotten how to rattle them off. The best way to do this is to teach the books one section at a time. Use little rewards for each section and a huge reward when the child memorizes them all.
Here’s a link to some resources to teach children the books of the Bible:
Books of the Bible Countdown
La Bible Song (Made 2 Praise Vol. 8)
Flashcards
5 Great Games to Teach Your Kids the Books of the Bible
Footsteps Tools for Learning (Books of the Bible Curriculum and Resources)
Teaching Children Bible Basics: 34 Lessons for Helping Kids Learn to Use the Bible
– See more at: http://kidzmatter.com/teaching-kids-how-to-use-the-bible/#sthash.h5rIvLAP.dpuf
I know there is so much more, but I think these will give you a huge help to get your kids excited about church and the word.
In Christian Love and With Many Prayers,

Pastor Rick Signature

 

 

 

 

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