Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is VBS Outdated?

If you are involved in children's ministry, you may have heard debates about the value of Vacation Bible School, or conversations questioning its relevance for today. Can a model that has been around for so long really be effective? Having just completed a week of VBS at our church, here is just a snapshot of what I saw, heard and felt... 
During the course of this week, I have seen leaders leading with passion and grace; teenagers volunteering their time with love and energy; new families welcomed with smiles and warmth; children with eyes and hearts wide open to God's love; and little brown hands holding white ones. 
I have heard the sounds of laughter and giggling; of singing and praying; of whispering and shouting; of 'oohs' and 'aahs' as children discovered something new about God's wonderful world, and His even more wonderful love for them. 
Most of all, I have felt the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit, moving amongst us as we sang; as the pastor passionately told the story of Jesus, and little children spontaneously ran out to the front to answer his call... 'who will follow Jesus?' I felt moved and convicted as their voices, in unison, replied, 'I will, I will.' And it makes me raise my voice with theirs, and affirm again His call on my life, that 'I will, I will.' I will go wherever He leads me, into the world, to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the children who need to hear it.
Is VBS outdated? Not for me; not for those children; not for those teenagers and adults who attended with me this week. It is a powerful, effective ministry and I thank God that I could be part of it.
Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Mark 16:15 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Florida Rain

I sat by the hotel pool, enjoying the beauty and heat of a Florida day. I swam, sunbathed, read my Bible, and relaxed. Perfect! But after a while, storm clouds began to roll in. In less that twenty minutes, the blue sky had turned gray. The breeze had become a strong wind, and huge raindrops began to fall. The pool was closed. I quickly gathered up my things, and retreated to the safety of my room, where I could watch this tropical storm from my window. It was only when I got there that I realized I did not have my Bible with me. My Bible was still sitting on a sun-lounger by the the middle of a torrential downpour. There was no hope of retrieving it until after the storm had passed. I knew it would be ruined.
After 30 minutes, when the rain had eased, I ran back to the pool, splashed through several inches of warm water, climbed over the low wall, and could not believe what I saw. Out of all the sun-loungers surrounding the pool, there was just one where the back rest had fallen forward. Underneath it was my Bible. It was hardly wet at all.
Some would call it good luck. Some would call it fortuitous. Some would call it coincidence. I would call it miraculous. I would call it a perfect picture of protection, a perfect picture that we can share with our children...of a God who covers us during the storm. 
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.
Psalm 91:4

Monday, June 11, 2012

Title or Testimony?

Last week I was privileged to hear Dr Tony Campolo, who was a guest speaker at our United Methodist Annual Conference. His entire talk was inspirational, but it was his final thought that challenged and intrigued me. 

He asked the question: what do you want to be remembered for...your title or your testimony?

He drew our attention to several Bible characters who carried a title, and contrasted them others, who carried a testimony.

Pharaoh, the cruel ruler of Egypt, who enslaved the Israelites, had the title... but Moses, who led them from captivity, had the testimony.

King Darius, who threw Daniel into the pit of lions, had the title...but Daniel, who was delivered from the ordeal, had the testimony.

Queen Jezebel, who used her position to persecute the prophets of God, had the title..but Elijah, who defeated the prophets of Baal, had the testimony.

What is your title?
Is it Christian Education Director?
Is it Pastor of Children and Families?
Is it Sunday School Superintendent?

My title is West Michigan Conference Coordinator of Children's Ministry. It's a long title, and one that is a privilege to carry, but it means nothing if I don't leave a testimony.

What do you want to be remembered for...your title, or your testimony?

Read Tony's blog: Red Letter Christians

Monday, June 4, 2012

Synchronized Steps

Click on the photo to see
Xander walking with his dad.
At 15 months old, my grandson is enjoying taking walks outside next to his dad. This cute photograph shows them out for an evening stroll. I can just imagine the little conversation they are having as they walk side by side, and that little boy's steps are perfectly synchronized with his father. But I know that their walks together are not always this way. Sometimes, when other families pass them by, Xander will turn around and start following them, walking in the opposite direction. Then his dad has to patiently turn him around, to get him back on the right track again. When Xander gets tired, I know that his dad picks him up and carries him along the way.
It's just the same when we walk with God too. He wants us to stay close by His side, our steps perfectly synchronized with His. When we get distracted, or tired, He will patiently turn us around, set us back on the right track, or even carry us along the way. 
Don't neglect to take a stroll with God today. He is waiting to have that little conversation by your side.