Encouragement From The Word

Worth the effort

This week, our congregation has hosted Bible Fun Camp, our annual outreach to community children.  It’s been great to be back after a pandemic hiatus.

The amount of work involved, and the number of volunteers needed, to pull off a vacation Bible school is massive.  Even with a solid and user-friendly curriculum, the effort required is still significant.

But when it’s all said and done, we may be weary, but we will always say it was worth the work.  Why?  Because we have had the privilege of influencing children’s lives for Jesus.

I put an ad on Facebook for Bible Fun Camp about a month ago.  The first comment to come on our ad – which circulated to users in a radius of only about 20 kilometres around Nobleton – was from someone who was accusing us of brainwashing children.

While it saddened me to read, I replied to the comment, leaving both the comment and the reply visible for a short time before deleting both.  In my reply, I simply said that yes, we would be ‘brainwashing’ children, in one sense.  Parents, in leaving their children with us for five mornings, were giving us permission to influence their kids for the gospel of Christ.  But in reality, parents have a choice:  they can brainwash their kids with Jesus and his love, or they can leave it to popular culture to influence them instead.

I often say to parents at a baptism that when they take vows to raise their children to follow Jesus, they are making the choice to brainwash their children, instead of letting Beyoncé do it.  (You can name your favourite popular culture figure instead; I wasn’t just picking on Beyoncé.)  It sounds a bit rough, maybe even offensive, but the fact is that parents have a responsibility to shape their children’s values.  If they fail to do so with intent, the world around them will pick up the slack, and the parents may not be happy with the result.

Churches are called to equip parents to ensure their children’s values are shaped according to the gospel.  And sometimes, it starts with a five-morning adventure for the kids in the summer.  That’s often how the relationships start.

It’s worth all the work!

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22.6, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

A 100% certainty

Earlier this week, I saw a tweet from a fellow named Dustin Benge that put a lot of wisdom in a few words.  He said:

There is a 0.0296% chance that your child will become a professional athlete.

There is a 0.0086% chance that your child will become a famous celebrity.

There is a 100% certainty that your child will stand before Jesus.

What are you teaching your children?

Even if you’re past the stage of parenting, or are not a parent, there is still helpful instruction in that short tweet.

Each of us has a measure of influence over some children, whether of our own family, our church family, or our neighbourhood.  We have an opportunity in each interaction to have an influence.  Are we taking advantage of that opportunity?

It can be through our use of words, our actions, even our gestures.  What are we saying to the kids with whom we have contact?

No matter what or who they become as adults, there is a 100% certainty that they will stand before Jesus one day.  And you might be the conduit through whom they come to know him as Lord and Saviour.

Think about that as you engage with kids of any age.

Children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127.3a, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Parenthood: Discipline

Parents aren’t always popular when they discipline their kids, but as we hear in this message, based on Hebrews 12.4-11 and several verses from Proverbs, discipline is an important part of parenting.  Have a listen below, or click the link below that to watch the message on Facebook (no account required).

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Encouragement From The Word

Lessons from Charleston

By now, you may have heard about the massacre in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this week. Shootings are always tragic, but when one happens inside a church building, all of us, even those who are not big fans of the church, are rattled by it.

Whatever would cause someone to engage in such a heinous act? Reports say that the shooter was an obsessive white supremacist, and that he truly hated black people.

Why? What causes someone to develop this? Racism isn’t a genetic trait; it’s learned. And in this case, it was costly to many families, and very costly to one church family.

There are many instructive points for us in this terrible story, but perhaps one that hits close to home is the importance of having healthy, engaged community surrounding our children and youth, starting in the home.

Parents, grandparents and other relatives, surround your kids with love and encouragement. Let them see that, just as in God’s eyes, all people have value. True, all of us are fallen, broken sinners, but we are still all made in the divine image and carry intrinsic value as a result.

Parents, grandparents and other relatives, teach your kids that violence is not the way of Jesus. While we in Canada don’t have the same kind of ‘gun culture’ that exists south of the border, there is, nevertheless, an unnecessary degree of violence that takes place, often among youth, and frequently in our cities. Help your kids learn that dialogue and conversation are more useful tools than guns or knives.

Parents, grandparents and other relatives, model for your kids the love with which God has showered you. Children and youth want to know, above all, that they are deeply loved. We all want to know, above all, that we are deeply loved! You are deeply loved by God, and that enables you to love others. It is hard to love when we do not know that we are loved. Tell your kids you love them. Tell your kids that God loves them. Prove it with your actions.

And pray for the people of Charleston, South Carolina – for the church family at Emanuel AME Church, for the families left behind, and for those whose hearts are hard enough to kill because of colour.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3.1, NIV).