Friday, February 26, 2010

Bring Them To Jesus

Mark 10: 13-16 “And they brought young children to him that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.”

A special field trip
Many years ago, a group of Youth Leaders sponsored a unique field trip: No it wasn’t a trip to an amusement park; It was not a trip to a sporting or entertainment event. Neither was it a trip to the museum. These Youth Leaders sponsored a field trip to see Jesus.

The trip was a proactive approach to introducing these children to Jesus Christ. As parents, we should not wait until our children are in trouble to bring them to church. Don’t even wait until they are sick to bring them to church. Bring them now. Start when they are young and bring them often.

Shout Outs
In fact, let me pause to give a shout out to parents, god- parents, family members, neighbors and friends who bring children to church. God bless you. And while I’m at it, allow me to also give a shout out to Youth Leaders like Youth Pastors, Sunday School Teachers, Sunshine Band workers, Purity Class Instructors, Youth Bible Study teachers, Choir Directors, Junior Usher Board Leaders and various other volunteers who minister to children. God bless you.

Where is our urgency?
But it is amazing the number of children that are not being brought to church these days. They are being brought to a number of different places: The mall, The movies, sporting events, parties and various extra curricula activities. But we need to make a point to see that our Young people are brought to church; brought to see Jesus.

It seems that to a great extent, many parents (even Christian parents) have lost the urgency to bring their children to church. And many churches have lost the vision to reach children. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way that he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Psalms 127:3 says “Lo children are an heritage of the Lord and the fruit o the womb is his reward.” We should re-kindle the flame of bringing our young people to see Jesus.

For the church, children are easiest population to reach. Their opinions have not yet formed. They are very impressionable. And they usually have adults following behind them. In terms of church growth, children are referred to as low hanging fruit. But in order to reach them, one must bring them.

All they wanted was a touch from the Lord
The text says that they brought young children to him (Jesus) that he should touch them. It’s a wonderful thing to desire the Lord’s touch. They wanted the Master’s touch. No doubt that they heard about the power of the Lord’s touch. Maybe they heard about the woman with the issue of blood who simply touched the hem of his garment and was totally healed. (Matthew 9:20). Or perhaps they heard about his sermon on the plain where the whole multitude sought to touch him (Luke 6:19). It is also possible that they heard of the miracles at Gennasaret which says that “as many as were touched by him were made whole” (Mark 6:53). We should all desire the Lord’s touch. Touch me again Lord

A Disciple mentality towards Youth
Notice that the disciples incorrectly rebuked the children and Jesus was much displeased. Even in today’s church, there are certain folks with this “disciple” mentality who hinder the spiritual growth of youth.

The following is a listing of five reasons the Disciples incorrectly rebuked them that brought children: 1) The disciples did not have the vision of Jesus. 2) The disciples did not have a heart for youth. 3) The disciples did not see children as a priority. 4) The disciples had their own agenda. 5) The disciples were overly religious and traditional. Now we know that the disciples would eventually get it together and go on to change the world. But on this occasion, they missed the mark.

Jesus had a Youth Ministry
Perhaps the disciples forgot about Christ’s Youth Ministry. Remember how he used the lunch of a little boy who had 2 fish and five loaves of bread to feed more than five thousand. And let’s not forget how he healed the daughter of Jairus. And who can forget his advice to the rich young ruler. And in this passage, we see his response toward children as he took them in his arms and blessed them.

My Testimony
I am reminded of my own experience as a child growing up in Section 8 apartment complex, living in a poverty stricken neighborhood on the South side in Fort Worth, Texas. At the time, my mother did not attend church very often. And it seemed that nobody expected the young men in my neighborhood to amount to much. But the Love Sanctuary Church of God in Christ under the leadership of the late Pastor E.L. Battles, evangelized my community when I was about ten years old.

They knocked on my door and promised my mother that they would pick us up, take us to Sunday School, feed us breakfast, and bring us home every Sunday. I grew up in that church. To this day I am eternally grateful for their efforts. I close with the following poem:

Let them play and have their fun
They will laugh jump and run
The preached Word, they want some
So If you bring them-they will come.

If you teach them they will learn
God’s Word and the Bible’s story
And how we must give Him the glory

Bring them by bus, van or car.
those who are near and those who are far
when the Sun is shinning, or raining and muddy
to Sunday School and Bible Study

By all means we must teach them
But our first goal is to reach them
So as our young people make their search
Make the sacrifice and bring them to church

Bring Them to Jesus

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Please Pass The Salt

Matthew 5:13 ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted; it is thence forth good for nothing but to be cast down and trodden under foot of men.

It is interesting that Jesus compares Christians to Salt. Christ could have referred to us as Gold or Silver or any other precious stone. But he chose Salt. This is because of the impact that salt has on its surroundings. Salt has more than 14,000 known uses. Everyone uses salt, directly and indirectly. Someone once said that "Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn't in them.

From a Historical Perspective, the early Greeks placed great value on salt. In fact the saying “Not Worth his Salt” was taken from the Greeks as they used to trade slaves for salt. The Romans would often pay their soldiers with salt. They referred to the process as salarium. Incidentally, this is the forerunner of the English word for salary. Not to be outdone, the Egyptians used salt in the preparation of Mummies.

Salt has also had a major role in the history of the Bible. In Leviticus 2:13 God commanded that the meat offering "shall be season with salt and with all the offerings unto God that salt shall be offered." In Genesis 19: 26 Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt when she turned back to look at Sodom. And in 2 Kings 2:20 Elisha healed the waters of Jericho to conquer the bareness of the land by using salt. And of course there is Jesus who said "Salt is good." Luke 14:34

7 Ways that Christians are Like Salt

1. Salt has a healing component to it. Epson Salt is used to cure tired and sore feet. In warm water, salt can relieve sore and bruised gums. Just as we are healed through the stripes of Jesus Christ, as Christians -God gives us power to heal through the spoken word and through the laying on of hands (John 14:12).

2. Salt is a Preservative. It preserves its environment and keeps things from going rotten. As Christians, we must allow God to use us to prevent rottenness in our communities by lifting up the name of Jesus Christ (John 12:32).

3. Salt is a De-Icer. We use Rock Salt to melt snow and Ice off our roads. As Christians God has called us through his grace and mercy to bring love, peace and joy to a cold and Icy world. Christ said “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)

4. Salt is used to season or transform food. It adds flavor. We often delay the start of our dinner for the addition of Salt. Therefore, Born Again believers must bring flavor and seek to transform their environment through actions, and words (Romans 12:1-2).

5. Salt is an odor eater. It removes the smell of odor from onion hands, and helps prevent odors in our shoes. We need to be a sweet smelling savor for our Lord. (Ephesians 5:2) In fact, God wants his people to be an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice that is well pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18)

6. Salt is a Cleansing Agent. It cleans grease spots on rugs; whitens whites and brightens colors. As the blood of Jesus cleanses our souls, we must seek to have a cleansing affect on the world. And “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

7. Salt is a Distinguisher of Flames. As Christians we have the power through the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the devil (Ephesians 6:16).

In conclusion, I am compelled to ask the question, How Salty are You? One final observation: Salt must be spread or sprinkled. So as followers of Jesus, we must employ ourselves as salt shakers. Therefore, the next time you sit down for dinner and prepare to season your food, remember the impact that you should have on your community, and for Heaven's sake, Please: pass the salt.