Monday, October 26, 2009

Priceless moments

The first time you see HER; The first date; The first kiss; Every kiss after that; Hearing those words, "I do", The birth of the first child (Miranda); 5 more after that (Bethany, Cody, Kayla, Shane & Austin); each child's first words, steps, day of school, date, graduation......... You get the picture.

All of these are priceless moments, important moments, and moments I would never want to miss. Thank you God for letting me be there. All of these moments require a bit of investment. Not so much monetarily, as time. Is it worth it? YES!!!!!!

Never underestimate the value of investing time with your children. The more you invest, the more rewards/blessing you, and they, will receive. For example, reading a book with your child. In the 13 years that I was principal and teacher in a small Christian School, and the 8 years I've been a children's pastor, I've observed that a very high percent of children whose parents invested the time to read to them, have a head start in their learning skills and their social skills. This leads to greater confidence in the Sunday School class room and School room.

The child has already learned how to sit still and listen, and often times has developed an active imagination. These children will often grasp the point of a lesson quicker and earlier than those who haven't had the opportunity to have their parents read to them. Whether they should or not, teachers will tend to give these more mature children, special attention because they are easier to teach and seem hungry to learn. Of course, as in most all things, there are exceptions to the rule.

One of the largest benefits to reading with your children, is the special bond that it creates between you. Notice also that I said reading WITH your children. Some of my fondest memories with my children are when they read to me, before they really knew how to read. They would tell me the story as I turned the pages or they would gleefully inform me when I would make up something other than the way it was written just to see if they were paying attention.

Priceless moments. Moments that I hope to relive with my Grandchildren. Moments that I pray my children will pass on to their children, and they on to theirs. For an example, I encourage you to go to this blog and look at the video of Miranda reading with Brayden. It's priceless.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cultural Swamp

Consider this excerpt from chapter one of the book Children’s Ministry in the 21st Century with me.

In a postmodern world, cultural change is fluid. The trends that once took years to come and go, rise and fall in weeks and days. Culture tends toward the extreme. Sexuality, violence, and profanity mark the television landscape. The Internet is flooded with pornography, gambling, and danger.
In this polluted cultural swamp, children grow.
(emphasis mine)

The writers continue in the chapter to talk about how Christians, or at least Christianity, is often questioned politically, educationally, and philosophically. They point out that the church historically responded to this cultural sewage through separation and/or isolation. The belief is that, “separation from the world insulates and provides understandable security.” On the other hand, they point out, some parents adopt cultural immersion. These homes allow questionable television shows, music, and books. The statement is made, “Consequently, neither isolation nor immersion is ultimately healthy.” They ask a question that I would like to pass on to you. “What’s the solution to the cultural swamp?”

I’ve begun sharing with the children in Elementary Children’s Church a series of lessons about Moses, and I noticed that Pharaoh decided that the way to take care of the problem that the Israelites presented to him was to destroy the male children. In other words, to get rid of the strength of the people and take away their ability to reproduce. When his plan to kill the babies when they were born was foiled, he gave the command to throw all the baby boys into the Nile River (Exodus chapter 1). I believe that Satan is using this same strategy today. The Nile River of today is actually a cultural swamp, not filled with alligators and crocodiles, but filled with alcohol, violence, sexual activity, lying and cheating, etc. The media of today is filled with innuendo that encourages all of this. Our children are or will be surrounded by it.

So I’ll ask again, “What’s the solution to the cultural swamp?” In the case of the Children of Israel, God called a leader, some one to follow His instructions and lead the children out of Egypt. Moses was to be that leader, yet he could only give direction. He went to God and received instruction which he then passed on to the people, and it was up to the heads of each family to carry out those instructions, telling them to their children and them to their children and so forth. I believe that God still gives us instruction, and it’s up to us to carry out those instructions and tell them to our children and them to their children and so forth. If we don’t, our children will be filled with disease and die from the polluted cultural swamp that they’ve been thrown into. The question I must answer and I challenge you to ask yourself is, “What am I doing to clean up this cultural swamp?” Maybe you’re like Moses in that you can find all kinds of excuses not to answer the call. I want to remind you of what God told Moses. He said, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12 The same promise was made to us disciples when Jesus said, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.” Matthew 28:18-20 NIRV (emphasis mine)

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105