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

One More Time

“Your father has a proposal to share with you,” said my mother, sheepishly, one day last month when my parents, my wife and I met together in a coffee shop.

“We’d like to go camping with you,” said Dad.

He had given this considerable thought, obviously, and was going to look into renting a motor home.  My wife suggested that it might be cheaper to rent a Kamping Kabin at a KOA campground.

After some research, the combination of available dates for us, my parents, and the various campgrounds I called left us with the opportunity to spend two nights at the KOA near Barrie, Ontario, where Mom and Dad would have a Kamping Kabin that was suitably air-conditioned.  (It even had satellite TV, which borders on ‘glamping’!)

The accommodations were secondary, though, to the time spent together, which we all enjoyed most.  My wife and I are used to camping in our little camper van with just the two of us, so sharing meals, conversations, and campfires with my parents was different, but reminiscent of my childhood, when we took our 16-foot Holiday trailer to all sorts of Ontario campgrounds, often with family or friends.

Those were fun times.  We are all older now, and health concerns challenge my parents on a daily basis.  Despite that, or maybe because of it, I was very touched that they wanted to participate in the camping ritual one more time.  Rather than relive old memories, though, what we did was more important:  we created new memories.

It’s never too late to create new memories with your loved ones.  Those memories last a lifetime.

Honour your father and mother.  Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20.12, NLT).