Childlike Faith

What is it about little children that is so important to Jesus?

What is it about becoming like them that gains us entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven?

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4

I saw a glimpse of the value of little children last evening at the “In-Back Dinner” held at Solid Rock Day Camp.

Solid Rock is a local day camp that has been providing a great summer camp experience for kids since 1977.

At Solid Rock they believe, “At Solid Rock we seek to promote a fun, safe, friendly, and spiritual atmosphere that will provide opportunities to develop relationships and teachable moments that the Holy Spirit can use to draw campers and families to Christ and lead staff and volunteers to spiritual maturity.”

Last night I heard many stories that proved their statement of faith successful this summer. Many counselors shared their experiences of children wanting to know about Jesus. They told of their camper’s eagerness to have Jesus in their hearts, but not knowing how. Counselors told of their own uncertainty of how to guide them through such an awesome decision so they looked for another counselor to come along side and together they answered their questions and explained how to become a child in God’s family through faith in Jesus. Then when they asked the children if they wanted to confess their sins and ask Jesus into their hearts, the children were so excited and wanted to pray a salvation prayer.

Oh the simplicity of Childlike Faith!

Then many of the children wanted a Bible, and were so excited when they received their very own! They were eager to know what God had written and chose to read whenever they could, sometimes instead of playing games with the other campers!

Oh the simplicity of Childlike Trust!

While the staff were going about their days teaching devotions, sharing at camp meeting, and living out the Fruit of the Spirit, the power of God’s word, and the power of His love were making a difference in the hearts and lives of the campers, drawing them into the family of God!

God’s word and His Holy Spirit created an atmosphere that Jesus values!

Childlike faith!

A simple faith that what Jesus says is the truth. When heart and mind are free from lies that life brings along the way, and a choice to completely believe Jesus.

Childlike trust!

A simple trust that Jesus is the way to God. When heart and mind are humble and choose the ways of Jesus rather than our own ways.

We guard what we value!

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16

Reading through the Gospels I don’t remember too many times Jesus became angry with His disciples, but when they scolded parents for bringing their children to Him, Jesus had some sharp words for them.

Why did Jesus become so angry?

These little children had something that Jesus valued.

The disciples saw no value of children in the presence of Jesus. They saw them as a waste of Jesus’ time. They saw them as a hinderance to Jesus’ work. They told the parents they were doing something wrong by bringing their children to Jesus.

These were what made Jesus angry…

Anything that hinders children from coming to Jesus!

Anything that hinders Childlike Faith!

In this story it is easy to see the wrong in what the disciples did and said, but what about you?

First of all, how have you de-valued children, or adults? Have you seen them as wasting your time, as hinderances to your work? Have you believed the lie that you shouldn’t bring others to Jesus?

And second, what have you allowed to keep you from Jesus? How has pride kept you from believing that what Jesus says is the truth? How have lies from the experiences of life kept you from childlike trust in Jesus?

I am thankful to serve at a camp that values what Jesus values and I’m so thankful for God’s power and love that has made a difference in so many lives this summer.

The counselor’s stories were a great inspiration to me and I pray that no matter who I spend time with, whether children or adults, I will realize the value they have to Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within me create an atmosphere that enables others to come to Him!

And I pray for the humility of Childlike Faith to come into the presence of Jesus, to completely trust Him, and receive His hand of blessing upon me, and some glorious day enter into the Kingdom of Heaven!

May that be the prayer of your heart as well!







Lessons from Lobsters

What determines value? How is the importance, worth, or usefulness of something or someone determined?

Last week Mark, Kayla, and I went on yet another mini vacation to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, where we swam, hiked Mount Major, and ate a lot of ice cream!

We also spent a day on the coast of Maine. One option the small coastal town had to offer besides stores selling merchandise, was a lobster boat ride.

As we cruised off shore the lobstermen told all about lobstering, and as they checked their lobster pots we learned about the value of lobsters. We learned that lobsters have different types of value. Not every lobster pulled from the lobster pot was valuable to the lobstermen to sell for food. We learned there are some lobsters that are valuable for other reasons; the lobsters that were too small needed more time to grow, the lobsters that were too big were considered good breeders, and the lobsters carrying eggs all needed to be thrown back into the sea. But then a lobster with no claws was pulled from the pot. This one had no value for sale or for future generations and probably became the lobsterman’s lunch.

When the lobstermen pulled their lobster pots up out of the water they were filled with lobsters, some with value, some with future value, and some with no value.

Watching this procedure reminded me of these verses in Matthew 13…

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

Jesus chose every day life situations to be examples of spiritual life. The people of His day knew the procedure of casting nets and pulling in whatever was caught. They knew there would be good fish and bad fish mixed together within the nets. They understood the importance of separating the good from the bad. The good fish would provide money and food, they were of value to the fishermen. The bad fish were of no value, they couldn’t be sold for money or used for food. They were useless, and so thrown out.

Jesus used this example of value from every day life to explain the value of people in God’s eyes.

Reading through another story Jesus told I find He defines the difference between wickedness and righteousness…

With his pockets full of money, the inheritance he received from his father, the prodigal son set off in search of things that he considered valuable. His father’s fortune was the answer to all his desires and dreams and they were about to come true!

And so he enjoyed himself as he spent his money on the things he placed value on; pleasure, friends, food…

Then there came a day when the money ran out. With no more money those things that had been so valuable began to fade until they were gone completely.

When all of the things of this world were stripped away he came to the end of himself.

All that was left were his memories.

Memories hold within them the power to determine what is truly valuable.

Along with the memories of his pleasure seeking, the prodigal son had memories from his father’s house.

As he began to think about his father’s house he realized even the life of a servant held more value than what he had there in the pig’s pen.

And so, with those memories, those thoughts in his mind, he decided the things in his father’s house, even the role of a hired servant, were of greater value than the things of this world, and began his journey back.

What we value will determine our actions!

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke 15:20-24

The father’s response is a picture of what God values.

Even though his son had rejected him, placed no value on the things he provided, and squandered all he gave him, the father welcomed him with open arms.

The father valued his son and he valued his return.

His son’s return and his confession showed the father that he had changed what he valued; he turned from the deception of the world to the truth of His father.

And that was what made his son so valuable!

This is what made him righteous so he could wear the finest robe, it made him worthy to wear a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, and it was this new life that brought out the fattened calf and began the party of great celebration!

Like the prodigal son we all have within us the desire to value the things of this world. Since Satan was cast down from heaven he has deceived mankind of what is truly valuable and has stolen man’s value with his lies.

But God so loves us that sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the high price of salvation so that when we come to the end of self and see that this world has nothing of true value, we will come to Him and receive His embrace, be clothed in His robe of righteousness, and enter into His house forever.

That is where true value is found!

Take a moment and ponder these stories of Jesus. Ask God to show you if perhaps you are putting too much value on things of this world, and if so, remember, He is waiting for your return and will greatly rejoice when you choose to value Him above all else!

Jesus Alone is Our Rescuer!

Are you in need of a rescue? Sometimes life brings storms that knock you down, overwhelm you, and overpower you.

Mark, Kayla, and I went to see Jesus this past Saturday. Well, obviously not the real Jesus, but the production entitled, “Jesus” at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. It was a wonderfully choreographed  performance portraying the rescuing power and love of Jesus!

Scene after scene people faced emptiness, illness, and hopelessness. They faced the storms of this world that the enemy meant for their harm. They had no way of filling their empty nets or their empty stomachs. Many suffered for years with illness, even sought the help of doctors, but didn’t get better. While others hoped for love, only to be left thirsty and condemned. But it was through those very storms Jesus intended to bring them good and to show them His glory!

In the presence of Jesus the winds of doubt and unbelief were calmed, the waves of worry and fear ceased, and the drowning weight of sin was lifted and forgiven. Whatever the need, whatever the storm, Jesus was the Rescuer!

However, there were several stories where there was no rescue, there were some lives that weren’t changed. Some of the people Jesus encountered were proud and didn’t believe they were in need of His help. They had created a reality for themselves that didn’t allow for need. They kept themselves above and separate from the storms of life. But it was deception. Their proud, unbelieving hearts wanted the praise of men and so they did all the “right things” to be admired by others. Meanwhile their hearts were raging with storms of sin; jealousy, hatred, and murder.

Jesus will only rescue those who want to be rescued!

There was a storm raging within me this past year. It began with a pain in my shoulder. I’m not sure the cause, but it seemed to begin when I was mowing the steep hill behind our house. I had pulled the mower backward up the hill and thought that I strained something. The pain continued into the fall and actually became much worse, even to the point that my neck was in constant pain too with some nerve issues causing tingling in my fingers. Of course I googled my symptoms and found several diagnoses, but every time I picked up my phone to call a doctor, I couldn’t make the call.

When I asked God about it I sensed He had a purpose for it. Though it was a storm meant by the enemy for my harm, I believed God would work it together for my good and intended for it to show me that Jesus alone is my Rescuer!

During this time there was another storm raging, a turbulent relationship. I believed there was a connection between these two storms.

I don’t know if it was stubbornness or faith, but as time went on I became confident that God would heal my shoulder and He would calm the turbulent relationship!

So I chose to endure the pain in my shoulder, allowing the pain to remind me to pray about the situations involved in the relationship and to learn how to rely on Jesus alone to bring supernatural rescue.

What I really appreciated about the performance of “Jesus” was the simplicity of rescue as Jesus met the need of every one who came to Him. The only things required of those Jesus rescued were actions of faith.

They needed to lower their nets when they had already fished all night, and they needed to find a couple loaves and fishes, so Jesus could fill their emptiness.

They needed to push through the crowd to touch His robe, and go and wash in the Pool of Siloam to be healed.

And they needed to receive His love and forgiveness to find hope.

This is what I believe God wanted me to learn as I was faced with these storms of life.

The simplicity of rescue requires actions of faith!

I had tried to rescue the relationship on my own…

When the wind and waves brought worry and fear I tried to rescue the relationship with control.

Then when control didn’t work I became frustrated and just wanted to give up altogether.

My attempts of rescue didn’t work.

Just as there was nothing I could do to heal my shoulder, I began to realize there was nothing I could do to calm the turbulent relationship.

Sometimes I felt foolish for putting up with the pain in my shoulder when I knew I could go to a doctor and have it taken care of. But then I would think, as painful as my shoulder is and as much as I want it to feel better, I want even more for this relationship to be healed.

There is a simplicity, almost a foolishness, in the ways Jesus rescues. His rescue is not from man’s perspective or within man’s understanding. Every story in the performance of “Jesus” involved supernatural love, and supernatural power.

And so I chose to take my eyes off the wind and waves and chose instead to look to Jesus. With my eyes on Him, He calmed my worries and fears, and brought peace to my mind. In His presence I could hear His voice tell me the actions of faith I needed to do so that healing and restoration would come.

And now, along with all those who Jesus rescued,  I too have a rescue story. Because of those storms I was given the opportunity to stop relying on myself and chose to learn how to rely on Jesus alone! Those crashing waves have become the very things that have made me stronger and braver, they certainly were intended for my good!

And it was by Jesus’ power and love alone that my shoulder is completely healed and the turbulent relationship has been calmed!

Whether you get to go see “Jesus” or not, I pray you will choose to take your eyes off the wind and waves that are crashing over you and put your eyes on Jesus.

For Jesus alone is your Rescuer!