Thursday, February 23, 2012


Emotions and theology...

It was a couple of years ago at VBS. The song was Great Is Our God and the kids were singing along with a worship video. It was instrumental and it was loud. I really couldn't hear the kids but it was clear from their expressions that they were loving praising God.

And then they turned down the sound on the video and all of sudden all I heard were hundreds of children singing how great is our God. Their pure, sweet voices overwhelmed me. I stood there and bawled. Thinking about God, thinking about the pure worship I was hearing. I still tear up even now just remembering it.

I was thinking about this recently when hearing some people justify different types of worship practices based on how the experience made them feel. I am not sure my emotions should be a determing factor in how we worship. It seems too easy to transition to an "end justifies the means" theology. Or should emotion be the byproduct of worship?

But this is not a new debate. Some preachers have manipulated emotions for years. Anyone care for the 8th verse of Just As I Am? But some gave their life to Jesus during those verses. Sometimes it lasted. Sometimes it didn't.

Or maybe we should just structure worship around non-instrumental children. It sure got to me.

Just asking questions. How much should what we feel determine what we do?

Friday, February 17, 2012


Leading our children to Jesus

So what is the role of parents in leading their children to Jesus.?

First, acknowledge that it is your responsibility. Do not put that responsibility off on the church, the youth minister, or anyone else. It is the parent's responsibility to lead their children to Jesus. And it is the most important job you have as a parent.

Be an example. Your children should see Jesus in you. You don't have to be perfect. After all, your children are going to have to learn how to handle sin, repentance, confession, forgiveness, and restoration. But in your home, remember that Jesus is better caught than just taught. Your life will always speak louder than your words. And remember that it is impossible to lead your children to somewhere that you are not.

Pray lots. Pray over your kids. Pray with your kids. Pray for your kids. Pray together for your kids.

Use a Bible. Do your kids see you preparing to teach Bible class? Do you tell Bible stories? Do you memorize verses together? Is the Bible part of your home life or part of your home decor?

Get them around Christian role models. Grandparents are great for this. Ministers are good. Hang out with Christian friends. It really helps to have them around older kids who model Jesus.

Talk Jesus. Tell Jesus stories. Tell your family faith stories. Talk about the great things God is doing in your faith community.

Serve others. Let your kids visit the sick or hospital with you. Let them help you do yard work for older Christians.

Give. And teach them to give. And why we give.

Witness and testify to others. Let you kids hear you sharing your faith with others. Let them know why you are having the neighbors over and why other people are sitting with you at church. Encourage them to invite their friends -- like you do.

See lots of baptisms. Explain them at church. Get invited to some after-hour baptisms and take your kids. Let them hear, witness, and ask aobut what is happening.

Be intentional. Plan. Strategize. Be wise.

Make it so being a Christian is natural and expected. And as their faith grows, they will come to the point where they want to make their faith personal. And you will have the incredible honor to watch your children take their most significant step toward adulthood when they die with Christ and are raised to a new life. A life they have choosen. Community and family not just by birth, but by the new birth.

As a parent, your greatest joy will be to know your kids choose Jesus. If they do, no matter how bad this life gets for them, it will still be good. And your greatest heartbreak will be if they do not choose Jesus. And if they do not, no matter how good this life gets for them, it will still be bad.

Children are a gift from God. Let's give them back. So we can keep them forever. And forever.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Valentine is sure different now...

OK, it's not what you think, but... Valentine's Day is different at 60 than it was at 20. Still the same girl. Then we were dating and starting to wonder about marriage. Now we have been married for 38 years. I am not sure I remember what Marsha gave me for Valentine's then, but I am going to guess it was a neat card and homemade cookies. I think we probably went out, but it was somewhere cheap because I sure didn't have any money those days.

But here are the Valentine's day gifts I am thankful for today.

She met me for lunch today and listened to me talk about the last week I spent with Christians in Nicaragua.

She spent the afternoon learning about Alzheimer's so she help my Mom take care of my Dad.

She raised two awesome kids who are happily married and who enjoy being with their Valentines today -- their spouses and those 5 precious grandkids.

She's cooking tonight. Venison. Nice.

I'm still her Valentine and she still loves me. She doesn't have to. She chooses to.

And I still look at her and my heart skips a beat and if not careful I get tears in my eyes.

She's a stayer. Lots of people these days aren't. She is.

I don't really remember much about Valentine's day 1972, but I doubt I could have ever envisioned how life would go over the next 40 years. But I think even then, I already knew it would be better if I could just hang on to Marsha.

Second best choice I ever made. Only Jesus beats her out. But it's kinda neat that one reason I still have him is that I hung on to her.

Still love you Mimi. It gets better every day.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


So what is the right age for my child to become a Christian?

I do believe this is different for each person, but let me share a few observations.

Forget the "age of accountability". That is not a phrase you will find in the Bible. There is no magic age which is the right time to baptize our children. It is rare that a child would be able to process this step before they are at least 10 or so. It is rare for a child raised in a Christian home to not process this decision before 16 or so. So as an elder often asked for advice, I discourage too young and encourage too old.

One factor to consider is how much children are around conversions. I don't mean just see a baptism, but actually witness conversion. Have they seen teenage or adult conversions? Have they heard you share your faith with others in your home? Have they been to the building at night to witness someone converted? Heard their story? I do think children around evangelistic families process baptism much quicker.

Are they old enough to worship with the saints? If they sleep thru church, need to be entertained with stickers and crayolas, or still leave for "children's church, then they are not ready to be part of the family of God independent of their parents. By the way, I am all for kids being in worship and if they need some help to stay busy that is fine. I am talking about whether they are ready to die with Jesus.

Can they process abstract thoughts like commitment, spiritual death, resurrection, sin, and discipleship? Once again, in homes where these are regular topics of discussion the process happens quicker.

When you tell your child no, how do they react? Or, as I asked one of mine... what would you do if I said no? At some point, they may say they will find someone to baptize them anyway. Or they might be able to discuss why they should.

Puberty is one marker in life that clearly indicates your child is becoming a independently functioning adult.

I might say here that some argue you should never tell a child no if they want to be baptized. What if they never ask again? Well, I would suggest that is a pretty good sign they were not ready. Answer this the same way you would when your child asks to date, or to drive.

I never worried that if I said no to a request to date that I had somehow missed the only time in their life when dating would be something they wanted. Saying no to the first request to let them drive did not cause me to worry they would never want to drive.

And as a parent, I was much more worried about the consequences of decisions they were not ready to make than I was about missing the only window of opportunity in their life. And of course I do not belive you just "blow off" the request. You answer in appropriate ways.

One last consideration. Ask someone you trust for advice. Or get your child to visit with someone else who might be more objective. Elder, preacher, friend.

Well, these are just a few of my thoughts on things to consider about baptizing our kids.

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