I had the privilege of running the sound booth last week for our Vacation Bible School, and it was a blast! It was such a joy to watch the kids as they listened to the Bible story, played games outside, and worked on their crafts together. But, the best part? Listening to them worship! They sang at the top of their lungs, danced along, and wanted to be as close to the stage as possible. Such a beautiful thing to witness.
I've led worship in some capacity for the past twelve years, and it always fills my heart to hear the kids worship whether it be at kids' events or during the regular worship service. No shame. No fear. I love it!
I think the most beautiful thing about hearing the kids worship is when we let them sing worship songs without watering down the Gospel or discounting how much they really know. Sure, the songs they sang last week were upbeat, had crazy hand motions, and train whistles throughout, but the kids were singing about how "the same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives in them." The kids didn't just learn some fun songs, they learned some biblical truths.
A few years ago, I heard of someone who said, "Kids need to learn the Sunday School songs from the past!" (i.e. The Books of the Bible, Father Abraham, I'm in the Lord's Army). Wait, what? So, you're saying that kids need to learn memorization tools and songs that can barely be traced to Scripture over modern worship songs? (Yeah, yeah, I know I stepped on some toes with that answer, but seriously...)
Parents and grandparents, my challenge to you is let your kids worship! Turn on the Christian radio, teach them hymns, let them be in the Sanctuary worshipping with the rest of the family, and evaluate what kind of worship you are pushing them towards. Sure, they can learn the kiddie songs too, but are they learning songs that teach them about the heart of God and teach them truths about Him? They are not the generation of the future, they are the generation of now! Let the children worship!
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
As I'm writing this, there are about fifteen days left of 2020. Hooray! There are no promises that things will be easier at the beginning of next year, but won't it feel good to just be done with 2020? But, I want to encourage you to not waste these last few days! It might be tempting to write them off, knowing that the holidays will be different than any other year, or maybe you're disappointed as you look back and see all the goals that you didn't reach. Keep going strong!
When I was a teacher, one of my mottos at the end of every school year was "Finish Well." i was always exhausted after teaching for so many months with only a few breaks, and the end of the year meant finishing grades, cleaning the classroom for the summer months, finishing the yearbook, graduation, and more. I didn't want to do anything except relax, but I had to get things done, and I wanted to get them done well!
Maybe as you look back at 2020, you see all the bad, all the negativity, but take some time to focus on the positive things that happened. There has to be something good that happened in your life. You may have to dig deep, but look for the good.
As you look back, you may also see goals that you didn't reach. I know I set goals last January that with the stay-at-home orders, I honestly could not achieve. But, don't dismiss your goals! You have a few days to start on them or simply put them on your list 2021.
In a few months, let's look back at 2020 and say, "we have fought the good fight, we have finished the race, and we have kept the faith!"
Luke 10:38-42 NIV
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So, you're sitting in your kitchen, and your friend comes over. You want to be a good hostess so you offer her a cup of something cold to drink. You open the cupboard, grab a clean pitcher and a glass, and start to pour, right? No. First, you have to fill up the pitcher with water, ice, and maybe even some iced tea or drink mix, and then you pour. This is pretty obvious. If you didn't do this, you'd just be giving her a glass of air. So, why do we try to pour ourselves out in serving before we fill ourselves up?
Serving is good. Helping others is good. But, you can spend sixty plus hours of your week serving and helping without spending a minute of time in prayer and in God's Word. Anyone can serve. Anyone can donate money to a good cause, but if we're serving for serving's sake, we're missing the point.
In the story of Mary and Martha, it says that preparations had to be made. Jesus doesn't say that serving and preparing were bad things to do, He just says that the better thing to do, the best thing to do, was to sit and spend time with Him. Martha was so worried about getting everything done, but don't you think if she were to sit with Mary and listen to Jesus for awhile, that He would be faithful to help them get everything done? All the preparations would be made, and they wouldn't be embarrassed or lacking as hostesses? After all, he fed thousands with minimal food and had some to spare.
If we serve or help others, we should do it because it's the right thing to do, but we should also do it to point them to Christ and His unconditional love for them. If we're not taking care of ourselves and our spiritual growth, it's going to be really hard to speak truth when the opportunity arises.
On the other hand, if we're filling, filling, filling, without ever trying to pour ourselves out in serving others, we're growing closer to God, but we're missing one of His main points in loving others. We're learning, but not applying. We need to find the balance between serving and seeking.
As you examine your life, here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you are keeping a good balance. Some may be a little difficult to digest, but we need to be honest with ourselves.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8
I love coffee! For me, it's a must-do for every morning. If I don't have at least one cup, the day is going to be a little off without my needed dose of caffeine. Lately, I've been trying to watch my spending so have been making a lot more coffee in the regular coffee maker with coffee grounds and good old-fashioned coffee filters instead of my single serve machine.
And you know what I don't love? Drinking my delicious coffee, taking in every sip, and when I get to the bottom, discover that coffee grounds got into my cup, and I have to go spit them out in the sink. Gross! This hasn't happened in awhile, but when it does, I go over and check the status of the coffee maker. Sure enough, in the process, the weight of the water pushed down the edge of the coffee filter, and some grounds snuck into the pot and then ended up in my cup. It kind of ruins my relaxing start to the day.
Filters of all kinds, are so helpful. They separate the bad from the good, the truth from the lies, the wanted from the unwanted. We use coffee filters, air filters, water filters, and more. Why do we sometimes forget to use filters when we are speaking or posting on social media?
As Christians, the most important filter we can use is the Bible. If anything we hear contradicts the Bible, it isn't true. Therefore, we shouldn't repeat it. If anything we hear contradicts God's view of those He created in his image, it isn't true. Therefore, we shouldn't repeat it.
Philippians Chapter Four provides us with a great filter to protect our thinking and speaking. If anything isn't excellent or praiseworthy or admirable or true, we shouldn't think about it, let alone say it. It harms others and it harms ourselves.
I want to encourage you to start using God's Word as a filter more intentionally before you speak or share things on social media. See how it changes your life and changes the lives of those around you.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
We recently moved, and wow, was that a lot of work! It technically still is as we are unpacking, organizing, and getting rid of things that we don’t need. We tried to do our best in planning ahead, packing a little everyday, and being wise with what we could control. Unfortunately, we couldn’t control everything and have learned a lot about patience in human error. People are not perfect. Amen?
During the past few weeks, it seems that mistakes made by others have cost us hours of time and hundreds to thousands of dollars. I won’t go through every detail, but one example is that even though we completed our financial paperwork months in advance, the bank was one day late in filing their information so our move had to be delayed. This meant getting a hotel room, renting the moving truck for more days, and hours on the phone quickly arranging all of the changes. And honestly, this was not the most expensive human error that we had to fix during the moving process!
This time has really challenged me in thinking of how mistakes and sins affect others. They don’t even have to be mistakes that are made on purpose but simple oversight or ignorance. One moment of forgetfulness can cost someone else hours of stress or having to rearrange their schedule completely.
Have you felt this in your own life? Has someone else’s mistake cost you precious time and money? What about the flip side…has one of your mistakes cost someone else precious time and money? Maybe you delayed in paying a bill and someone had to spend time calling you or writing you a letter to remind you to pay it. Maybe you didn’t want to do something so you simply procrastinated. I know I’m infamous for procrastinating when I need to ask someone a question, and I don’t know what their answer will be. Ironically, it makes my anxiety last longer so costs me my own precious time.
I think something that we need to remember is that there is at least one thing we all have in common. We are all imperfect beings! In Romans, it says that we have all sinned and we have all fallen short. Yet, we are all given God’s grace! Pretty unbelievable that He sees all of our mistakes but still gives us grace. I want you to think of that the next time someone lets you down or makes a mistake that affects you. We have all fallen short and “we” includes you and me. God gives us grace so let’s give grace to one another.
Take some time in prayer right now and confess your impatience with others, times that you know you have been imperfect, and ask God to give you some patience in the days to come.