Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Would Make Today Better?

Click on the photo to see the banner.
Early yesterday morning, I sat in a popular cafe, sipping coffee and enjoying a bagel. In front of me hung an eye catching banner, composed of different phrases. The restaurant had evidently surveyed their customers, and asked the question What Would Make Today Better? Their responses had been recorded on the banner in a variety of ways...some phrases horizontally placed, some vertical, each with different fonts and designs.
The banner read: Be Mindful; Breathe Deeply; Smile; Take the Stairs; Unplug. The finished result was pretty, and inspiring, but what was interesting to me is that the words 'Make Today Better' (which were, after all the whole reason for the banner) were placed, not in the very center, but off to the side.
Do we ever relegate Jesus to the side of our ministries? Does he ever get crowded to the edge, because our central focus is on our programs, or our children, or even ourselves? 
There can only ever be one Word that stands at the center of our ministries: Jesus. His name alone needs to take that central place. Everything we say and do must radiate from Him. All our goals, all our visions, all our dreams and all our plans should be centered around Him. Jesus can never be relegated to the side...He is, after all, the whole reason for what we do.
If you were to create a banner, with Jesus Christ at the center, what words would you include?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Big Waves

One summer evening, my husband and I were out in his homemade wooden boat, enjoying a beautiful evening on the lake. The sun was setting, we had just enjoyed a picnic, and we were about to row back to shore. From out of nowhere, a big noisy speed boat came zooming over the horizon and made a huge circle around us, creating giant waves on every side. We gripped the side of our little boat, afraid that the waves were going to tip us over. But guess what? By the time those giant waves reached us, they had become mere baby ripples. We had nothing to worry about. We laughed, picked up our oars and rowed with confidence.
Do you ever worry about big waves appearing on the horizon of your children's ministry? Do you ever find yourself worrying about things that might happen in the future? Do you ever question...Will we have enough money this year? Who will replace that staff person? How will I ever get this ministry to grow? Suppose our budget gets cut? What if I don't recruit enough volunteers for that program? 
Guess what? God has a way of taking those giant waves and making them into baby ripples. As you pray about future events, and bring them to God, you will find that you have nothing to worry about. Laugh, pick up your oars, and row with confidence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Living in the Land of Convenience

David and I had just moved to the USA. I put the finishing touches to my letter that I was writing to my sister back home in England and set out to walk to the village Post Office. I had to hurry. I knew that I didn't have much time to make it there. Luckily, I arrived at the Post Office two minutes before it closed. "Phew," I said to the clerk," I only just made it." Looking at my red face, which obviously gave away the fact that I had been running to get there, she smiled and said ," Honey, are you new in town? You do know that if you have mail, you can just put it in the mailbox at the end of your driveway? Raise the little red flag, and we'll be glad to collect it." Wow! Really? How easy is that! Am I living in the land of convenience or what? I really should have known that along with garage doors that ascend and descend at the touch of a button, living in the USA would also allow me the luxury and convenience of having a mailman who comes to me.
Do we serve a God of convenience or what? Living as Christians allows us the luxury of having a God that comes to us. More then that, we do not even need to raise that little red flag- He already sees where we are and knows exactly what we need. Whatever our concerns for our children, whatever our concerns for our ministry, He comes to us. How easy is that?
I will come to you. John 14: 18b

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Prodigal Frog

A few summers ago, my husband and our eldest son dug a pond in our backyard and filled it with goldfish and koi. When my dad came to visit from England for three weeks, he loved nothing more than sitting out by that pond and feeding the greedy fish. Always the nature lover, it gave him great delight to count the many frogs that would surround the pond each day. Most of all, he enjoyed looking out for one particularly fat, and easily recognizable frog, whom we fondly named 'Henri'. Each day, it became a regular routine to spot where Henri was hiding. But one morning, Henri was gone. That frog, who had almost become a family pet to us, had simply vanished. For several days, we searched for him- but to no avail. We were filled with sadness. The pond was just not the same without him. 
Imagine then our delight the day that Henri returned to the pond! It made us so happy! As ridiculous as it seems, the return of that fat frog filled us with joy! Henri was home! 
Now if we could feel so much joy over the return of one fat, prodigal frog, imagine how much greater is God's delight when His precious children return to Him. 
Never underestimate your role in children's ministry. You are helping to bring His children home. And that, my friends, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Disappearing Church

The little French church on the hill
Two years ago I spent a week in a beautiful French chateau, surrounded by spectacular views and fields and fields of golden sunflowers. One of my favorite sights from the chateau was a little village church, nestled high in the hills about two miles away. One morning as I walked, I looked up at the church, admiring what a pretty picture it made. I went a few steps further and turned to look at it again- but that little church had completely disappeared. For a moment I was confused, and scanned the horizon, trying to find it. I knew it could not have moved! Then I realized that some trees were obscuring it from my view. In order to see the church again, I simply had to change where I was standing.
Is your view of God obscured? Does it sometimes feel as if He has disappeared? Like that little village church, God never, ever moves. He is always there for us. As we begin this new year in children's ministry, let's put ourselves in a place where we can constantly see Him, and if we do lose our view of Him, then let's be ready to change where we are standing.