Genuine Love Does Not Consume

heart-700141_1920Genuine love does not consume the object of its affection. In Psalm 26:9-10, David asks God to spare him from judgement because he has not been a bloodthirsty man, “in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hand are full of bribes.”

When we think of bloodthirsty men, we correctly conjure up images of abortion doctors, husbands who murder their wives while on their honeymoon, and large corporations that stick thousands of employees in unsafe buildings that collapse and kill hundreds of poor people.

But the heart of bloodthirsty person does not reside exclusively on Wall Street or in the palaces of government power. It resides in senior adults, young men, and little kids. The bloodthirsty devour the lives of others for their own success. The senior adult who befriends a high school student to get some  technology help and then reneges on the contract employs evil devices. The young man who attends church to secure the love of his future wife and then removes himself from fellowship once rings are exchanged has taken advantage of others. And, the child who befriends the ‘smart girl’ so she can improve her grades and then refuses to sit next to her at lunch once grades are posted possesses the soul of the bloodthirsty. Those who love people like they love their favorite food reveal that have never loved.

True love does not consume others; it benefits others. If we love others well they should thrive at our expense. We should skip buying a new pair of shoes so that we can help our out-of -work neighbor buy groceries even though he can never repay us. We should invest in the life of the student, knowing we may never see her again and knowing she will bless countless others. And, we should take the senior adult to his doctor appointments even though he will never thank us because we desire to him healthy enough to attend church. If we love others, we will bless others, for this is the love of Christ.

He died for us because he loved us. He gets nothing from us and yet gives us eternal love. Those who have experienced the selfless love of God as they repented and believed on the finished work of Jesus should love selflessly. The world will know we are Christians by our love.

What about you? Will you be spared from judgment because you have love well?

5 Ways To Encourage Your Nursery Team!

nursery-workersOften when we come stumbling into to the church nursery with hands full of kids, books, and bags, we are celebrating survival. We made it to church.Yes we began the day as a two-touchdown underdog. But we are here! Praise the Lord!

And as we bolt for worship service after a hasty “goodbye,” we often give very little thought to the nursery workers who just inherited are sweet, little children bent on destruction.

While we celebrate the power of the gospel a few hundred feet away, those brave nursery workers we left behind begin to face the never-ending onslaught of toys, pee, temper tantrums, bottles, and crackers. Not too surprisingly, most nursery workers cannot wait for the service too end and for us to come back.  “Oh where are the parents?”

While there are things that our churches should do (such as insisting that nursery workers regularly attend church services) to maintain the health of their nursery program, we parents can also do a lot to help keep our church’s volunteers happy and healthy.

Here are 5 ways, we can count nursery workers as more significant than ourselves (Phil. 3-5).

1. Keep Sick Children at Home

I think it is great that you want to be a church. But if Sally is contagious and feeling ill, she does not belong in the nursery. She could infect the nursery workers and the other kids. By bringing your sick child to church, you could cause your friends to miss work, to incur doctor bills, and to spend sleepless nights.

Now I fully understand that we don’t always know when our children are sick. Not too long ago, my kids infected a few other families because my wife and I misread their little bodies. But if we know that our children our sick and infectious, we should not risk our neighbors health. We should count others as more important than ourselves and keep our little deranged steroid users at home.

2. Be Prepared

Again, I know this is hard. However if we can prepare well for nursery, we will save our kids and our nursery volunteers some heartache. If little Bobby is wheat, soy, lactose, corn, and water intolerant please send some snacks with him. Yes, our churches love your kids, but they cannot anticipate the specific dietary, discipline, and behavior needs of every child. If you can send food, toys, or information that will help your child last the 1-2 hours that he is in the nursery please do so. Don’t expect your church to have the resources of high-end private hospital.

And just in case you are wondering, the answer is yes. Yes, I have arrived at church without my son’s cup and diaper bag. I totally get no one is perfect. This not a rule but more a heart attitude. Instead of having a heart that demands your church’s to accommodate your child’s every need, seek to equip your nursery to minister well to your child.

3. Come Quickly.

Friends, I get that adult time is special. But if we are going to put others first, we must not impose upon the nursery team. They often have families and their own kids. The longer we wait to pick up our kids, the longer we keep others from adult conversations and from caring for their own families.

I know some parents assume the following, “Nursery workers love kids. What is wrong with giving them a few extra minutes with my darling little guy or girl?” Think of it this way.

I knew of a valet who was once responsible for a parking a brand new jaguar sports car. It was so beautiful, strong, and sleek that the valet could not help himself.  About 18 miles, 15 minutes, and a broken axle later, he put the car into the restaurant’s parking garage that was a mere two blocks away. When the patron, got his jaguar back, he noticed that the changes to his car. He was furious. And the valet: he was out of a job.

Friends, the men and women in the nursery have agreed to watch your children for a few blocks.  Thirty minute joy rides go are not part of the package. Please respect your nursery workers and make a good faith effort to pick up your children quickly.

I understand we will be late on occasion. I once dropped my son off in the nursery during our 8:45AM service and totally forgot about him. I was actually locking the doors to our kids’ center a little after 12:30PM when some very gracious nursery workers brought to me. Hashtag Fail!

There are also times when we may need to talk for 30 minutes to encourage a friend who just loss their mother to cancer. I get that and support such actions. But in general, we should always seek to quickly get our kids.

4. Say, “Thank You”

We know our kids. We love them. They are amazing. But they are our kids. Full of our faults and bad habits. They are little sinners. When you pick them up, thank the workers who just spent an hour or so with them. Let the volunteers know how much you appreciate them sacrificing for you and your children. The volunteers did not have to come and play with your child. But because they love Jesus, they came. Please, say thank you!

5. Serve

In today’s age of safety, I know not everyone can serve. There are interviews, background checks, and other hurdles to jump over.  You may not be able to serve in your church kids’ ministry. I am not trying to guilt trip you into anything. But, the best way to understand what the typical nursery worker experiences is to spend some time in their shoes. Spend time changing other kid’s diapers, wiping up other kids’ spills, and listening to other kids’ cry. By being in the nursery,  you will gain a better understanding of how much others have sacrificed for you and your family. You also will gain a better understanding of why your child’s diaper wasn’t changed or why your baby’s feeding was a little late, and why people are happy to see you pick up your child.

We should never forget that nursery is an awesome blessing. And we should always want to interact with the nursery workers in an understanding and loving manner. We should always seek to think more of them and less of us. Who’s with me?

5 Ways To Pray For Your Church

Nothing in ministry happens by chance. God works. He builds his church. If we want to see our church grow, we must be humbly dependent on God. We must pray. Below, I our 5 great ways to pray for our church and ministries.

1. Pray For Unity:

Friends, unity is supernatural. Churches are made up of people like you and like me. old man prayingI.e, Churches are made up of sinners. This means that every day we worship together, we teach Sunday school, and lead a bible study there is an opportunity for conflict. “Did you see what she was wearing; why didn’t Bob talk to me; do you think is upset about my Facebook post; how dare you correct my child?” It’s easy to let these thoughts fester. It’s easy to get offended and then to have fights in the church. It’s easy to destroy God’s house from within. This is why so much of the new testament is focused on relationships, on loving one another. We have to work at it. Notice what Paul says in Philippians 1:27

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

When the gospel takes hold of our lives it should produce unity and peace. Pray for God to work. Pray for God to give us humble hearts that are quick to ask for forgiveness and that are quick to defer to others. Pray for God to give us unity.

2. Pray For your Pastor and leaders:

Hebrews 13:18 says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all thing.” Paul regularly asked for prayer. We need to pray for our leaders’ holiness, for their relationships with their families and for them to have opportunity to reach the lost.

3. Pray for Wisdom:

Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” To fully understand the word of the God, we have to apply it to our lives. Sure, we can understand the Bible on our by going to school and getting a degree. We can know what it says. But we can’t live it out on our own. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. We can’t be changed by ourselves. Pray for God to open our eyes to his word. To fully understand it and to apply it, we need God’s help.

4. Pray For Salvation:

John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” If we want to see someone “get saved,” then we need to invite God to work. We can’t save anybody. I don’t care how cool your games were, how fun your lock-ins are, or how techy your service will be. We will save no one. Rather, we need to apply to the God from whom nothing is impossible.

5. Pray For God To Work:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” (Eph. 3:20). The reason I get stressed when kids’ ministry workers quit, when events flop, and when new programs take forever to launch is that I miss this truth. I often think it’s up to me. For a ministry to grow, I have to be smart, creative, and cool. But that’s not the case. God’s working. He can do way more than we expect. God is not a little idol in a closet somewhere. He is the ruler of the universe. He moves planets and starts. And he can do more than all our tiny brains could ever imagine. I can’t tell you how many times God has provided, blessed events, and grown new programs simply through prayer. Time and time again, God has gone ahead of my phone calls and has already begun drawing people to teach, lead and serve.  Let’s pray to the God of the universe. And then let’s expect him to work.