Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Praying For Our Schools

Today is "See You At the Pole" Day, a student oriented movement to motivate students, teachers, parents and community members to pray for our public and private schools and the children who attend them.

We need to pray for our kids. If you missed a "See You At The Pole" event this morning, or want to continue praying for the schools and children within your sphere of influence or concern, here are some prayer points you can use:

Thank God for schools, opportunity for education and all the resources we have available.

Help kids use opportunities wisely.

Pray for protection - physical, emotional and spiritual.

Pray for protection against school bullies.

Pray that the Lord help students:

Make new friends and strengthen old friendships
Choose friends wisely.
Stand up for truth, shine for Jesus
Tell the difference between & wrong- give strength to do right.
Be kind to teachers and classmates.
Be "good helpers."
Know they can turn to God for help any time, anywhere.

Help teachers, parents, and administrators:

Make wise decisions in what and how they teach.
Have wisdom and Creativity in administering both discipline and compassion.
Shine for Jesus so even without a word, they will proclaim Christ.

It's tough being a kid in today's culture. May the Lord help all of us support our kids by showing interest in their school activities, strengthening their faith, and listening to them in their struggles.

For more information on the See You At The Pole movement, check out

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Comfort a Bereaved Child

Thanks to the Ministry To Children website, I found a resource that will help me this week in dealing with a family who have lost a beloved grandma. I hope it is a help to you as well.

How to Comfort a Bereaved Child

Next week, I'll share some more ideas on how you can help a child deal with death and funerals before they occur.

In Praise of Parenting

As I grow older and less connected with children, I fervently hope I can stay sweet, kind and approachable to the kids I encounter. I want to show interest in them. I want them to know I value them, I'm interested in them, that they aren't an annoyance to me. I get so mad when I catch myself becoming grouchy at their noisy presence at restaurants.

Deep down, I understand how tough it is to be a kid trapped in a restaurant booth. You can't run around. You are trapped between your mom and a wall. The food doesn't taste like Mom's and somehow, you aren't sure how, the rules changed and you're liable to break one without knowing. You act out to get attention and to test to see if the rules still apply and you're confused as to why everyone thinks you're cute - except mom and dad.

So I guess I'm not really upset at the kids even when the two year old across the aisle yells intermittently just to hear herself yell or when the three year old boy bounces on the seat behind me making my already tired head spin and my pre-arthritic joints ache. I get most upset at the parents and their disciplining efforts - or lack thereof. I wonder why Dad doesn't do anything about the screaming two year old or what the four year old boy did so wrong that Mom threatens to take away his toys when they get home, a threat I'd be willing to bet dessert on that she doesn't keep.

"Why can't you behave?" she finally demands.

Um, ma'am, have you defined for him what "behave" means?

I do feel compassion for the parents. They are probably eating out because they are tired and don't want to cook. I remember my days as a parent of little ones. I had these pipe dreams of so longing for a nice evening out with the family. I felt so pinned in with my kids at times that I just wanted one evening away from the house where everyone was happy - then wondered why nobody was happy.

Still, I hear moms making threats they fail to carry out and don't hear dads take an active role so often that I began to despair about the parents of today. Does anyone know parenting skills anymore? What is this generation coming to anyway? Are we going to raise an entire generation of out of control hoodlums? My, my. I am turning into a cranky old biddy.

Then I sat at a table with a young family at our church's midweek meal and my faith in the parents of today returned. While Mom held the baby, Dad took charge of the four year old. He initiated getting the boy to take bites of his salad. He cut up a boy size helping of lasagna into small bites. He praised the boy for trying the new food and wasn't overbearing when the boy wiggled on his chair.

As the boy's attention wandered, dad redirected him back to his plate. Dad was consistent, even handed, calm and attentive. It was a pleasant time for all of us at the table because Dad was willing to get involved.

I so want to find that dad and tell him, "Good job. You are doing a great job, Dad. You are acting like the head of the household ought to act. You're involved with your kids. You're taking the initiative to make sure that little boy does what is right but you're keeping in mind what he is able to do at his age level and not expecting too much out of him. Keep up the good work, Dad."

It's tough to be a parent in today's world. All of us who have been parents know all too well that none of us were perfect in our parenting. We do the best we can and pray hard that our mistakes didn't cause too much lasting damage or that too many people were watching. A little bit of praise and encouragement sure did help us lift our shoulder higher and try again.

Do you know any parents who could use a pat on the back? I think I found mine.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Lead A Child To Christ

The goal of every children's ministry worker is to see the children they teach come to an acceptance of Christ as their Savior. Yet, when the moment comes, I've seen many teachers balk, afraid they don't know enough or they might miss something. They call their pastor, letting him "finish the job."

The goal of every pastor and church leader is to equip church members to be able to do this important work! As I've expressed often in this blog, my guiding verse is 2 Timothy 2:2: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." You can lead a child to Christ. Here's how:

When I talk to a child about salvation, I use a combination of what is known as "The Four Spiritual Laws" and "The Five Finger Exercise." Kids are great at spitting back what they've heard all their lives. It's important that you get beneath the surface with them, that you discover their motives for wanting to accept Christ and that they believe with their heart that Jesus is the Son of God. So, after I've explained each step, I ask the child, "Are you ready for this?" It's amazing to me that, if children aren't ready, they will at one point back down, and say, "No I'm not ready."
Let's go through the steps.

1) Believe. I ask the child, "Who is Jesus? What did he come to do? Why did Jesus die? How do you know this?" I explain that belief means we accept these facts are true. I cover the first three steps of the Four Spiritual Laws:

  • God has a wonderful plan for your life.

  • Man turned against God by his sin.

  • God loved man so much he was willing to sacrifice His Son so He could regain a relationship with man.

All this is in termsthe child can understand. Then I ask, "Do you believe that Jesus is God's Son and He died for you so you could go to Heaven?" If the answer is "yes," we move on.

2) Repent. I define repentance by walking one way then turning around and walking the other way. Repentance means we are willing to admit we have done wrong, we are willing to stop doing wrong, and we are willing to start obeying God and living life His way.

I ask the child, "What have you done wrong? Are you sorry you did those things? Do you do things that God doesn't like?" This is a hard but crucial step. Some children have a hard time admitting they have done anything wrong. If they can't admit they have sinned, it's best not to press them and wait until they are ready. You haven't failed. You are planting seeds that show them what is needed. The Holy Spirit will begin to do His job of convicting them of their sin.

3) Confess. Confessing is not just telling a church congregation you want to accept Christ. Confession means you are willing to show other people you believe in Christ, that you will stand up for Christ, that you can admit to others that you are a Christian, even when it may be unpopular to do so.

I ask, "Would you be willing to tell your friends and other people that you love Jesus? Who would you like to tell? Are you willing to show you believe in Jesus by doing what He says?" Again, the answer to this question is crucial. If the child says yes, go to step 4.

4) Be baptized. I realize baptism by immersion is controversial. Baptism as a crucial part of salvation is not merely my opinion. I go by what Scripture says. I invite you to check out such passages as Acts 2:38, Romans 6:4, I Peter 3:21 and the stories of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 and the Philippians jailer in Acts 16.

I explain that baptism is a symbol of what is happening inside us. When we are baptized, we show other people that we are willing to "die" to the old way we used to live and become a new person, a person who loves God and wants to commit the rest of our lives to following what God says. At this point, we show the child the baptistry, and explain how someone is baptized. We ask if the child has any questions about baptism and how it's done. Finally we ask, "Are you ready to be baptized?" If the child says no, we assure them that they can tell us when they are ready at any time.

5) Live the Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is more a point of reassurance. I tell the child that sometimes it will be hard to do what Jesus wants them to do. But God has provided a helper called the Holy Spirit. Any time, they don't know what to do or they find it hard to obey God, they can ask for God's help. When they become a Christian, I tell them, God will always be with them and He will show them how to live the way He wants them to live.

Sharing Jesus becomes addictive. Once you've experienced the thrill of leading a child or anyone for that matter to an acceptance of the transformational gift Christ offers, you will want to do it again and again and again. I can't wait to hear your stories!