There Are No Professional Kid’s Ministry Workers

no-professionalsIf we want to reach the children in our homes or at our church, we have to be with them. We have to spend time driving toy cars on the furniture, hosting tea-parties, and celebrating the good grades on their report cards. In short, we have to do life with these precious little souls.

There are no professional parents or professional kids’ ministry leaders. True and effective parenting and ministry happens via life on life. Organizing programs and showing up for Sunday morning services will not produce life change by themselves. Our Wednesday night programs are only worth the time and effort it takes to get them going each week when the Bible is being taught and relationships are being formed. Our programs should be laying a groundwork that is needed to facilitate communication, care, encouragement and reproof. Our activities are not the sum total of the Christian life.

This is the crux of New Testament ministry.

Think of the apostle Paul. He repeatedly encouraged believers, to “imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1, 4:6; Phil. 3:17; Phi. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:9). The pastoral letters clearly indicate that Paul diligently taught people the word of God. He was a great preacher. But Paul did not just preach once a week and consider his job done. No. He lived with the people he taught. He invested in them. He heard about their messy and complicated lives and showed them how the Scriptures could answer all of their problems. Paul knew the people he ministered to.

To be effective parents and kids’ ministry teachers, we must do the same thing. We must know what make our kids tick. We need to listen to their concerns, celebrate their triumphs, and note their weaknesses. We need to learn their hearts.

Moreover, we need to model the Christian faith for our children. We need to depend on God, make much of our savior, and be quick to repent of our sins. If we hope to reach the next generation with the gospel, we must be able to legitimately call our kids to follow us as we follow Christ.

If our parenting and ministry never extends beyond a prefabbed lesson, if we protect ourselves from getting to close to others, and if we turn our faith on and off each Sunday, we will be able to do many things. We may have great programs, we may have huge budgets, and we may have grand feelings of accomplishment. But we will not have reached and discipled anyone. We will not have cultivated the very relationships that facilitate gospel growth.

You and me are by definition needy. Unfortunately, the same is true of our kids. We are all needy. Such is life until Christ returns! If we get to know our kids and invest in us needy people, we know what will happen. Those sweet kids and their families will begin to consume our time, our energy and our money. (And yes, we should install boundaries to protect our families and our own spiritual lives.) We must be willing to sacrifice our lunch hour, to answer a midnight phone calls, and to redirect our movie budget to the local mission center. How else will people see the gospel in action? How else can we call people to follow us as we follow Christ?

What Do We Tell Our Kids After The Election?

flag-1Are you ready for tomorrow?  The hours of yucky campaign commercials, snarky Facebook posts, and embarrassing debates will be at an end! Hallelujah! On November 9, 2016, the United States of America will have a new president elect. But once all the dust settles, we will have to face a new question, “What do we do now?” How do we help our kids (who must certainly have heard us discuss politics over the last few days) process the electoral votes and the state of the nation?

America Is Not Our Hope

Many evangelical Christian including yours truly have been rightly dismayed and discouraged by this election. Not only have we lost the power or the moral majority, we have lost the power to significant influence the primary process. Today’s politicians do not even have to pretend to be devoutly religious. They can get away with their lack of zeal because America is no longer a Christian nation. According to a new study by George Barna, only 36% of Americans attended a church service this week and just 2% read their Bibles. And the projections do not have those numbers going up anytime soon. We cannot expect our neighbors to support our Christian worldview or to vote according to our values. Most Americans do not even know what we Christians believe. The Americang government will not be our main agent of change. But then again it was never meant to be. We are called to be ambassadors on earth. We belong to the heavenly kingdom and appeal to the king who changes hearts.

At the end of the day, we are not supposed to boast about America. We are to boast in the goodness of our God who redeems and sanctifies the lost. As Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Its good and proper to thank God for our nation. But it is even better to thank God for being God. Tomorrow morning, remind your kids that God is your hope. Remind them that life is ok because our boast, our hope, our comfort is the Lord of heaven. America is not our hope.

 

We Will Stand For Truth

Regardless of who you voted for and who wins the presidency, Christians will need to have a prophetic voice. We must continue to speak for the unborn, to champion justice for all, and to protect the innocent and weak. We must show our kids that more money in our bank account does mean when can ignore discrimination and innocent children being murdered. Where the gospel speaks to social and political issues, we must speak to them even if that will put us sideways from our candidate of choice. We cannot condone sin because our politic parties calls evil good (Isa. 5:20).  If we want our kids to value our Biblical values, we must remain consistent. We must avoid the temptation to be a hypocrite for political gain. We speak boldly for the gospel at all times.

 And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. – Luke 12:8

We must stand for the truth of the Bible regardless of the earthly cost.

 

We Trust God

Regardless who gets the most votes tomorrow, God picked them. God in his sovereign plan, appointed our next president. We may not like him or her. We may have grave reservations about their platform. But we know God reigns. And we know that only the presidents, kings, and dictators God picks come to power. And even more importantly, we know, “that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28).

Regardless what are next president does, it will be good for God’s people. I am not saying that bad economic policies that lead to poverty or rash decisions that lead to world war are a good thing. They most certainly are not. But whatever happens over the next four years, God will be working to grow our faith and his church.
And if we are trusting God, we have no votereason to attack our opponents. Those who voted for Hillary, Trump, or that wonderful third party candidate are not the devil. We do not need to tear down, lambast, or cascate our brothers and sisters in Christ for contributing to an outcome that we disapprove of. If we trust God, we can handle both defeat and victory knowing that God rules and directs heart. Our anger over the vote totals do not reflect a concern, they reflect pride. We thought we knew what outcome is best and we are mad that God did not give it to us. So instead of trusting God, we lash out at our oppoents. Avoid this pitfall. Speak well of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we trust God, we will come to 2020 with an even closer relationship with Jesus. Brothers and Sisters, let’s not cry in front of our kids or predict doom because of this year’s election results. Let’s point our hearts and the hearts of our kids to the God who is worthy of our trust. Let’s boast in the fact that God reigns and will one-day return and rule the world.  As Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Do not fret over President Trump or President Hillary. They cannot do lasting harm to our souls. Rather pray for them, asking God to use them in such a way that his church grows (I Timothy 2:2). Trust God!

 

Ok, now its your turn. What will you tell your kids tomorrow?

Are Vasectomy Parties Wrong?

viThe new parenting trend is not to parent. As the new slogan goes, “Cats, Not Brats.” Increasingly, husbands and wives are celebrating being ‘child-free.’ These couples are posting child-free announcement on social media, are hosting vasectomy parties, and are asking their friends to help them name their new boat. In short, couples have declared themselves free from the traditional family narrative.  As their Pinterest boards make clear, they have left the narrow road of societal expectations and are seeking to celebrate a narrative that is indicative of their experiences. And now, it’s cool to employ ‘birth announcements’ to celebrate the arrival of our new car coming in at 3,460 lbs.

As Christians, we should be deeply troubled by this trend. Our God values and loves children. And he designed marriage to be a place where children could be created, loved, and discipled. As John Piper says,

Marriage is for making children. Yes. But not absolutely. Absolutely marriage is for making children followers of Jesus.

Couples can have good and healthy marriages without having biological kids. But no couple should want to be kid free. Even couples that do not have their own biological kids should be diligently seeking for ways to reach and care for the next generation by coaching, helping with nursery, or participating in foster care. As Christian couples, we must not flee from the presence of children. We must embrace them as Jesus did.

And such an embrace is actually quite natural. Our whole understanding of the empirical and spiritual world is built upon the ideas of marriage, birth, and family. Christ was born. And we are to called to embrace Christ through rebirth. To be human, we have to work within this frame. Kids are not something we can simply write out of the human experience.

And the conversation around vasectomy parties makes this fact abundantly clear. To celebrate their childlessness, couples have to employ child rearing terms on their Instagram feeds. They talk of birthing businesses, of taking family photos with their dog, and of vasectomy reveals. To have a meaningful discourse with their neighbors, these trendy couples have to work within the bounds of nature. Every person celebrating their sterilization was born and raised. And their friends and neighbors also share this experience. To be human is to be born and raised. For this reason, Jesus came into the world as a baby. He did not appear as an adult. No one enters the world fully grown. At the end of the day, birth is not a societal construction. It is a biological reality within which we all live, move, and share.

We cannot escape the world of babies. But at the same time, we must recognize that true life is not found in deliver rooms. Nicodemus could not reenter his mother’s womb (John 3:4-5). True life is found in Christ by being born of the Holy Spirit.

Couples that seek to escape the burdens of child rearing so that can celebrate sex, homes ‘filled with sharp furniture,’ and increased spending power will be unable to find true life in being child-free. Instead of building our narratives around our view of babies, we need to return to the narrative of the Scriptures. We need to realize that true meaning and joy are found in Jesus. And as we do, we will find the ability to value both birth and our adult lives without making either of them into our means of salvation.