Too Young For Chruch?

Recently, someone (who doesn’t go to my church and I don’t know well) asked me what my thoughts were concerning the roles of “youth and children” in churches. They even went as far as to imply that young people should “just sit on the sidelines until their time came.” As someone who has worked with youth for a just shy of a decade now…wait, what? Did I just type that? Wow. Time flies. Anyway, back on track.

I believe that it is so important that we understand and recognize that the young people in our churches are an important and vital part of the Body of Christ. (Just as any true believer is a vital and important part of the whole.)

We can be certain that children and teens can truly be a part of the family of God (have a personal faith in Jesus as savior) because of passages like Acts 11:14, 16:31-32, and 1 Corinthians 7:14. Additionally, Jesus values, loves, and accepts children in Matthew 19:14 when He says, “let the children come to me.”

It can also be surmised that a majority, or at least some, of the disciples, were in their teen years. We find evidence of this in Matthew 17:24-27 where both Jesus and Peter pay a temple tax, but the others are exempt from this tax because of their age. Many Jewish teenagers and young men would follow a Rabbi, learning from him and studying at his feet. This tradition is consistent with what we know about the disciples.

Another example of a young person having an active role in the church would be Timothy. Paul writes to Timothy, who was a young pastor, in the books of 1&2 Timothy. We know that Timothy was fairly young because in 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul writes, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” This tells us that although Timothy was still fairly young, many presume in his late teens, he still had an important role in the leadership of the church.

With all of these examples in mind, we need to remember that the church is made up of people of all ages, including children and teens. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 tells us that there is, “one body, but many parts.”

The focus of this passage is that each and every member of the Body of Christ is important and has a role to fulfill.

This, of course, includes children and teens. Since young people are a part of the Body of Christ part of their role, just like the rest of the Body, would be to encourage, pray for, and love one another.

Ephesians 4:1-3 urges us all to, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Additionally, Ephesians gives special instruction to people in particular ages and roles. Chapter 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

And, Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:1 is a good and helpful reminder for anyone as well, particularly teens and young adults. “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

From all of these passages, I think we can safely produce a few principles regarding the roles of young people in the church.

  1. To be a fully-functioning disciple of Christ.
  2. To learn from those older than them.
  3. To respect those older than them.
  4. To encourage others regardless of age.
  5. To pray for others regardless of age.
  6. To share the Good News of the Gospel with others regardless of age.

Notice anything about those roles?

They seem to be applicable to any believer of any age.

Encourage one another, love one another, serve one another.

 

I Make The Pancakes

One bright Sunday morning in October of 2018 I woke up and was feeling much more awake than I normally do on any given morning. I bounced out to the kitchen, started the coffee, and decided to do something I had only done a handful of times in my life.

I made pancakes.

They were only just alright. (But when are pancakes actually “bad” anyway?)

The next Sunday morning rolled around, and my wife came out to the kitchen and laughed, “you’re making pancakes again? OK!”

It was on the third Sunday in a row at the breakfast table that I boldly proclaimed, “I have decided that I will make pancakes each and every Sunday henceforth.” (Yes, I really did say “henceforth.”)

My wife and friends gave me an exaggerated “oookkk” and called me goofy.

But you know what? I have faithfully made pancakes each and every Sunday since.

You may be wondering why I am writing about making pancakes and my silly Sunday morning routines. The reason is that in this situation, as with every other situation in life, I am learning a lesson.

The lesson is, growth takes time, but it is very rewarding.

You see, when I first started out I couldn’t quite get the right consistency in the batter. The hotcakes were either too thin and floppy or too thick and dry. I also was a novice in the flipping department. And, worst of all, I was impatient and either turned the heat too high or flipped prematurely before the first side was even fully cooked.

Thanks to my wife and friends for eating those inferior pancakes without complaining.

This last Sunday I was able to make the best batch of pancakes that I have ever made…and I hope that next week will only be better.

You see, growth is a process. There are bumps and bruises along the way. You don’t start off perfect (or even close to it) but eventually, with time, you are able to grow. The goal is to be better than you were yesterday. And when it comes to our relationship with Jesus, our goal should always be to be closer to Him tomorrow than we were today.

My love for Jesus is stronger today than it was five years ago, and I pray that five years from now I will love Him even more.

2 Peter 3:18 says to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Hebrews 6 encourages us to leave the “elementary” things and move on towards maturity in Christ. And Hebrews 5 warns against staying in the childish immature stage of spiritual development.

We need to grow spiritually.

While it does take time to grow and it certainly is a process, (it’s called Sanctification) we need to realize that we do have a part in the process. In Luke 17 the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. And I suggest that we do the same.

We cannot expect to grow spiritually if the only time that we talk about Jesus is on a Sunday morning. We cannot expect to increase our prayer life if the only time we pray is before a meal. And we cannot expect to know God better if our exposure to the Bible is only from the “verse of the day.”

I have heard the following statement before from many sources, so I will simply repeat it here…

We must have three daily conversations:

  • We must talk to God (prayer)
  • We must let God talk to us (read our Bible)
  • We must talk about God (sharing the Gospel)

We cannot expect to grow deeper in our faith if we fail to practice it. Just like I could not expect to make good pancakes if I didn’t practice,  17 weeks in a row might I add. (And counting!)

So, friends, I encourage you, just as I am encouraging myself. To make an extra effort this year to be more consistent in your walk with Jesus.

Say no to spiritual immaturity.

Grow closer to Him.

Use Every Moment

One week ago, the year Two Thousand and Nineteen began. It is hard to wrap my mind around how quickly time flies and yet how slowly it can crawl.

It seems as though just yesterday we were ringing in a new decade. At the same time, 2015 seems like an eternity ago.

Everything happens, and nothing changes as time marches on. Ok. Maybe I am being too deep for a blog, but I am blasting an epic Hans Zimmer playlist while I write this so maybe that has something to do with it. But the point remains, time moves forward whether we are ready for it to or not.

And as I sit and think about this new year that is already a week old I can’t help but think about Ephesians 5:15-16. It says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”

The days in which we live, and the days that Paul lived as well since he wrote that, are evil. Therefore, we cannot afford to waste any time doing the things that do not matter. We must live and act wisely with the time that we do have.

In Psalm 90, the Psalmist asks God to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” And Psalm 39 reminds us that our time here on earth is small and limited but that our hope is still in the Lord. Colossians 4:5 reminds us to wisely use every opportunity we have when encountering those who do not know Jesus.

Each moment that we have here, in this life, is precious.

  • The moment when you welcome your spouse home and ask about their day.
  • The moment when you greet an old friend.
  • The moment when a family member reminds you of their love for you.
  • The moment when you look at the sky and appreciate God’s incredibly beautiful creation.
  • The moment when God reveals an exciting truth to you in His Word.
  • The moment where you thank God for your stressful job.
  • The moment when a coworker asks you about your faith.
  • The moment when you show kindness to a stranger.
  • The moment that you realize that God has faithfully been with you through every single one of your life’s moments.

We have so many opportunities in life to do something that matters. We can encourage, bless, love, pray, share, act justly, and so on. But as much as we have an almost uncountable amount of opportunities, we must also realize that today we have fewer opportunities than we did yesterday.

We must make each day count.

We must live each day for Jesus.

We must refuse to waste our lives.

9 Qualities To Stuff In Your Stocking

This is a very busy time of year for most people. There are times that I feel as though my hustle can’t keep up with my bustle. But through it all, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the real importance of the season. The true “reason for the season” has always and will always be Jesus. His relentless and wonderful love for us caused Him to leave the splendor of Heaven to come and be born in a dirty feeding trough. He exchanged streets of gold for streets of dirt.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Unfortunately, we are all so susceptible to the oppression of busyness and the disease of self, and we can quickly forget (or ignore) what really truly matters most. It’s times like this where we might only focus on what we do, and we forget who we are supposed to be. But the truth is, it’s less about what you do, and more about who you are.

Who we are will dictate what we do.

So, let’s take this time and check our hearts. Let’s be sure that who we are is who God calls us to be.

Here are 9 things that we should be this (and every) season.

Loving- Romans 12:9 tells us that we ought to “let love be genuine.” Love is something that we can’t fake. We can’t hide behind a fake smile and just try to be polite. No. Our love for people needs to be real. But, as 1 John tells us, we can only truly know and show love if we first truly know and love God. God loves, and God is love. So, it is imperative that we love people, no matter who they are or what gifts they have or have not given us.

Present- There are too many distractions floating around and vying for our attention. Be present with the people you are currently with. Our family and friends deserve to have our attention. If we are physically present, but not emotional or mentally present, we are doing a poor job of loving.

Joyful- Joy is not an emotion. We can be happy and yet joyful. We can be sad and yet joyful. Joy is not dependent on your current situation, rather it is an attitude of the heart. We can be joyful in the midst of great happiness and in the midst of great pain. Joy is from God and we can share it with others. Romans 15:13

Patient- Chances are that during this season you will be forced to occupy the same room as a person or group of people that are somewhat difficult to deal with. It is important that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and produce patience in us. Graciously show patience to others because God has already shown great patience to you.

Forgiving- We all have been hurt by people. A flippant remark. An offensive joke. Old wounds. Yep, they happen. But we can’t hold grudges. When we hold onto past hurts and pain it destroys us from the inside out. Reconciliation should always be our main goal. God has forgiven us so greatly, we need to forgive others as well.

Selfless- Life is too short to only think of yourself. Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Ask yourself, how can I make someone’s day today? How can I show Jesus’ love to them right now? How can I put others before myself?

Thankful- We all, no matter what our current situation is, have something to be thankful for. First, let us give thanks to our God for the salvation that is available to us! Second, let us be thankful for the people in our lives that are there for us, who bless and encourage us. Don’t forget to thank them in person!

Welcoming- As we huddle around our friends and families we can’t forget that there are people who may not enjoy the same sort of relationships we do. We ought to be ready and willing to include them and show them the Love of God. As believers, we should be beacons of hospitality, warmth, and care. Family isn’t always built with blood.

Ready- We need to always be ready, both in this season and out of this season to share the extraordinarily Good News of Jesus and His love! This particular season gives us many opportunities to share that good-news message. Let’s not miss out, we need to be ready!

Many of the things listed flow from or build off of one another.

I hope that this list helps you to be reminded of who we are called to be. And I pray that we would not get caught up with the “stuff” of the season. Instead, I pray that we would allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and make us look more like the Savior that came all those years ago.