Become Like Children

become like children

I think Jesus was trying to teach us something really significant when He gathered the crowd together and said to them, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

I am constantly amazed by kids, and as a former children’s pastor, and current pastor, I have seen quite a few kids in my day.  Kids have this great and innate ability to call it just like they see it and as a pastor that is incredibly refreshing.  Teaching a room of kids is far more intimidating than teaching adults.  Why?  Across the church (in my own experiences) I have been asked more complex, hard to answer, thought provoking, laugh inducing, heart wrenching, honest questions from children then I ever have from adults. Check out these real questions I’ve been asked.

“What if I pray, but can’t hear God’s voice?”
“Can I have more communion? I like it.”
“Why doesn’t God stop the bad people from  hurting me?”
“Can God come visit me?”
“If Jesus was a real kid…did He pick His nose too?”
“If God is everywhere…did He watch me in my school play ?”
“My parents are getting divorced will God ever do that with me?”

Perhaps this was one of the qualities of children that Jesus was trying to impress upon the crowd that day.  If so, we as adults, should take note.  We should learn transparency, urgency, humor and the art of asking questions.

Children are also capable owning their faith and it’s implication in their lives.  When a child “confesses with their mouth, and believes with their heart that Jesus is Lord” they are saved – and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell with them, and within them. (Romans 10:8-10) It should be said clearly and loudly that children get the SAME Holy Spirit that adults do.  Just because a child is 6, does not mean they only get a fraction of the Living True God – thats ridiculous.

Yet often we treat children as if they are lesser than us; incapable of ‘real’ ministry and unable to fully participate in the body of Christ.  We drag them along until they are 18 and ‘adult’ and suddenly expect them to have skills, passions and maturity ready to go.  Yet the whole time they could have matured in those areas we told them, “you’re too young” or “when you are older” or “that’s just for adults.”  Kids want to participate, they want to engage, to have ownership – and they are capable of it!

I see no reference in Scripture that indicates kids can’t – but I do see plenty that indicates they can.   Check out these biblical examples.

A young girl taken captive demonstrates immense grace toward her captor. (2 Kings 5)
God spoke to a young boy when the adults failed to listen. (1 Samuel 3)
It was a young boy who stood his ground against the giant Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)
A young girl was willing to obey God no matter the cost. (Luke 1:26-56)
A young boy with a sack lunch was ready to help feed people. (John 6:1-15)
A 8 year old boy became king to lead God’s people, and did right before God. (2 Kings 22)

What child do you have in your life that you can encourage to do great things for God? What is Jesus trying to teach you about your own faith through the kids around you?

Want to hear more about kids and God, and what it means for you as an adult? Listen to this recent message from KetchikanNaz:  All God’s Children.

Become Like Children

Endurance

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This is a tough word.  When we are hearing the word spoken to us it means that the circumstances of our life require it.  When we speak it out loud ourselves we are attempting to build it up within ourselves for the battle that might lie ahead of us.   It may be a simple athletic activity that requires endurance:  a longer than usual work out, heavier than usual weights, or even just getting out of bed early day after day to squeeze in that activity.

It could be endurance for a job that you don’t like.  Getting out of the house and into that workplace with a boss you must endure, or a coworker you must endure for a paycheck, which just barely breaks you even.  Some of you may not want to admit it, but you may even use this word when thinking of your kids or your spouse.  You have endured time with them when you are worn out from the other areas of life that require endurance.   And we haven’t even mentioned the larger than life things: terminal illness, job loss, financial crisis, relationship decline etc.  One can only take so much enduring before something gives, right?

Hebrews says we are to, “run the race with endurance.”  So what keeps us going in the midst of self imposed standards, daily grinds and extraordinary pressures and situations?   Is coffee?  Friendships?  That inner ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ attitude?   Or perhaps is there a greater motivator for our souls, bodies and minds when we must endure and what are we enduring for? Is it something greater than just the end of the day or the end of the trial?

Suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope.  (Romans 5:3-4)    The things we endure in life can either crush us or refine us and make us stronger.   Jesus suffered and endured the greatest evil and pain that is imaginable.  He was crushed for us, so that we do not have to be and He did it for the joy that was set before Him. He calls us to have that same hope and endurance.  He shows us there is something greater than this world and it’s woes.

“God is the God of endurance and encouragement.”  (Romans 15:4)   God has more endurance than any of us, and so He alone knows best how to encourage your soul as you patiently endure.  He has endured the worst of the worst and can sympathize with you – no matter what the circumstance.  He is generous with His compassion and mercy and love.  In the face of enduring something- God’s presence and friendship changes our hearts, though perhaps not our circumstances.

What keeps us going when we are running out of endurance?  Love.  Not love we give but love that we receive. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things…endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)  Jesus’ love for you enables you to have hope, to have faith, and endure all things!

When you feel weak and want to give in – call out to the God of endurance and encouragement!  His very character is that of Love and He will meet you right where you are and encourage you to finish the race!  Don’t give up…God is with you!

“Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith.  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorned it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and loose heart.” (Heb. 12:1-3)

Endurance