Being Thankful Despite Your Circumstances

It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in the negative circumstances of our everyday life and we can all too quickly become ungrateful. We can loose sight of that which we hold so dear…Our relationship with Christ, and the fact that He came into this world, fully man, in order to redeem us and bring us into a right relationship with the Father. This alone is worth getting excited and displaying a heart of gratitude.

Please hear me, I’m not discounting your trials and the painful circumstances we all face in this world, but as God’s Word states, Christ has overcome the world. This includes all of the pain that is in the world. All of the pain and trials we all face will soon fade away and we will be united with Christ once for all. the same Christ who took away the sins of the world has taken care of your worldly circumstances and has brought you into the fullness of a right relationship with Him.

So serve the Lord with gladness and enter His courts with praise. Live a life full of gratitude, a life that exemplifies the love of Christ that lies within you. For you have overcome your circumstances through He who has overcome the world. Be grateful and serve Him in a way that honors Him. May your life be a testimony of gladness and gratitude, despite your current circumstances. For the things of this world are temporary but the love that we have in Christ Jesus is eternal.

Keep your eyes focused on the things above. Colossians 3:2 states “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Paul goes on to write in Colossians 3:17 “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Bottom line – It all comes down to gratitude. A heart full of gratitude can overcome anything this temporary world has to throw at us because it’s rooted in things above or in things of God and His redeeming son Jesus Christ!

Be blessed this Thanksgiving and give thanks, for He is good and we are blessed!

 


Hope: A Necessary Ingredient in Life

Paul stated the following in Romans Chapter 5:

“…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

Hope is often a word that is guised in glib conversation without meaningful intent. it is often used in a manner that has no power or resolve. Unfortunately, that is not the true power in the definition of the word and how it plays out in our lives.

However, the real power in the word “hope” is identified in the above text.  Hope does not disappoint us or fail us. It provides us a means to a way out of troublesome circumstances. It provides us the truth we need among the negative voices that swirl around us in painful times. Also Randal S. Langly has a solid perspective on the word hope.  He identified hope as the “confident expectation of your future and knowing that with God, the best is still to come.” Langly is spot on. In Christ, the best is yet to come, no matter what our current circumstances may be or what we may face. When we place the entirety of our present and our future, in the power of Christ, the power of hope is soon realized!

So the next time you’re struggling with difficult or demanding circumstances, take hope in knowing that with Christ, we can grasp a full hope in our future and the blessings in which God has in store for us.


5 Facts You Can’t Ignore

Reggie Joiner, founder of The Orange Movement and Curriculum Process identified 5 facts you can’t ignore when it comes to the church partnering with parents for kids’ spiritual development. These 5 Facts are essential in the process of a child’s spiritual formation. So here we go:

KidsPlayingUnknown

1. Nothing is more important than someone’s relationship with God.

2. No one has more potential to influence a child’s relationship with God than his/her parents. – Unfortunately this truth is often overlooked by the church.

3. No one has more potential to influence the parents than the church. – Often the church solely looks at discipling the parents and their own spiritual formation and overlook the fact that when parents are being discipled it overflows to the children.

4. The Church’s potential to influence a child dramatically increases when they partner with parents. – Effective children’s ministries are really holistic ministry to families.

5. Parents potential for influence increases when they partner with the church. – Effective children’s ministries not only raise up growing kids but also raise up growing parents to in turn, impact and influence their kids for the cause of Christ.

It’s extremely important that the church today never discounts the importance of their relationship with parents for the spiritual formation of their children. Remember, effective children’s ministries are also effective family ministries!


It’s our choice. What are you going to choose?

Image

My favorite position on a football team is the Offensive Line. These men sacrifice all to make a play happen. If you ever watch a football game you’ll notice that after every play the offensive linemen are typically picking themselves up off of the ground. Why? Because they have to get low and block the opposing line and linebackers as well as blitzers in order to keep the play moving. In other words, they end the play on the ground to keep their quarterback or running back up and running. They bite the dust in order to insure the success of the play and the team.

We can learn a lot from offensive linemen!

We must submit and lower ourselves in order to pick up people. But here’s the catch. It’s an offensive lineman’s job to hit the ground and get dirty, but it’s our choice! We can choose if we submit ourselves to God and others in order to insure the success of others in the family of God.

Joshua 24:15 states “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (NIV)

Our actions to follow God and lift up others is a choice. Sure, we might get a little dirty, but it pleases the heart of God and strengthens the family of God. Just like those offensive linemen, we’re likely to end up on the ground and we’re likely to get dirty, but we make a way to insure the success of others. This is true sacrificial living.

In order to live a life in sacrifice to God we must choose to follow him and his teachings.

Just as our sacrificial living is a choice, God chose us. Colossians 3:12 states: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV)

Notice in this text that clothing ourselves in a way that honors God (and builds up the family of God) requires selfless actions. Actions that deny ourselves and lift up others. When we are compassionate, kind, humble and gentle, we are honoring God and lifting up others. We are submitting ourselves for the sake of the success of others…Kind of like an offensive lineman.

So it’s your choice, what are you going to choose?


All Good Gifts Come From God

Recently our Children’s Ministry in my has church broken attendance records. We’ve had more kids attend recently than we have in a very long time. THIS TRULY EXCITES ME!!! However I would be foolish to think this was by my own doing. First, we have great leaders and volunteers who faithfully work, week in and week out, with our kids in our Children’s Ministry. These cherished adults are priceless and immeasurable in our ministry to Children and I am extremely grateful for them all!!!

We also have a group of committed parents who are determined to insure their kids are involved in environments where they can learn timeless Bible truths. These parents are tenacious in their willingness to make sure they bring their kids to our various and on-going children’s ministry activities and events. I want to say a special thank you to our parents…You are GREATLY appreciated!!!

Next and most important is the work of the Holy Spirit in the midst of all of us, for without him none of it would be possible. We would would all just be going through the motions, with no purpose, if it were not for the fact that God is moving mightily among us!

There are a couple of key texts that specifically apply here. First is Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The second is 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”

There are a couple of real life take aways we can use from these texts. First, we must do our part. We must build, we must plant, we must water, etc. God is faithful to bless our work, if we are doing his work with a joy deep within our hearts. Second, God is steadfast to honor the faithfulness of his people. When we labor with grateful and expectant hearts, and do the work of the Kingdom, God will surely bless.

I’m thankful for our kids and their desire to absorb the truths we’re teaching them! I’m thankful for our leaders and volunteers, they are the absolute best! I’m thankful for our parents, their resolve to see their kids grow in wisdom and stature is phenomenal! However, most of all I’m thankful to God because all good gifts come from him!!!

 


Why Kids and Student Camps Aren’t Enough

You would think that a vocational Children’s Pastor would do all he could to promote Kids Camp, not take away from it. That, however, is not my intention in this post. My goal is to speak the truth.

Having said that, I must first admit that Kids and Student Camps have great value. The mountain top experience kids take way is priceless, not to mention their new and strengthened relationships. However, the real priceless time in a kid’s journey with Christ comes through every day life-day in day out! We as parents and leaders of Kids can capitalize on these everyday life moments by daily investing in the lives of our kids or our students from a biblical worldview. We can also see significant movement of our kids along their spiritual growth journey by allowing other faithful Christ followers to invest in their lives. Yet, I believe the best way we can see our kids lives impacted is by partnering with Godly mentors in their lives for their spiritual formation. People like Children’s Pastors, Student Pastors, Coaches, teachers, volunteers in their church (like Sunday School teachers), etc. By utilizing this strong partnership, especially joined with the work of the Holy Spirit in our kids lives, they will be well equipped to tackle real world issues, that they typically escape from on the mountain top experience at summer camp.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 states: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (NIV)

The power in the three-fold partnership between parents, Godly mentors, and the work of the Holy Spirit in a kids life provides the three cords that that cannot be easily broken.

Kids and Student Camps are fantastic and are a great part of building a lifetime of memories in kids lives and in their spiritual formation. However, it’s in those intentional relationships, day in and day out, in mundane life, where real transformation abounds.


Where Do You Find Your Significance?

“Live by the day – aye, by the hour. Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone….Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Psalm 63:8 exhorts us with the following words: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

We too often, by human nature, place our feelings of self-worth and value in others and the accolades of our peers and friends, etc. I know for me, when those whom I lead and work with speak highly of me and my gifts and abilities, I quickly begin to believe things about me that aren’t true. My head begins to swell and I think far more of myself than I should. Take a moment to digest this – Whenever we seek to find our significance in anything other than God himself, we will surely fail. King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:16-18: “I am better educated than any of the kings before me in Jerusalem. I have greater wisdom and knowledge. So I worked hard to be wise instead of foolish-but now I realize that even this was like chasing the wind. For the more wisdom, the more my grief; to increase knowledge only increases distress” (TLB). King Solomon also stated in Ecclesiastes 4:4: “I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy.” (TLB)

The point I’m trying to make is if we commit our lives to seeking the approval others, the accolades of men, and the self-intoxicating praise for our work, we will surely find ourselves at the end of a frayed rope, starring at a vast chasm below. However, when we seek the approval of, and find our significance in God-when we live our life in order to be a sweet fragrance to Christ, we are upheld and lifted high. If we live our life in this manner, we are as Jeremiah wrote “like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)