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TRAIL GUIDE: Remember When?

QUEST-Trail-Guide-Devo“Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 3, Lesson 3: Remember When?

Why is it that God spends so much time in the Bible telling His children to “remember” Him? I’d like to venture four reasons I believe are grounded in scripture. When we fail to remember God we risk…
1. …Falling into idolatry/trusting ourselves or our possessions (Deut. 8:13-14)
2. …Never growing in trust of/faith in God (Isa. 40:20-21)
3. …Stumbling into sin and suffering the Father’s discipline (Deut. 8:19)
4. …Forfeiting a generation to the enemy (Judges 2:10-11)

So how can we use our minds to remember God? Here are five ways, listed below, that God has ordained for us to remember Him, who He is, and all that He has done. Help your kids use their memory to love God this week.

1. In His Word – God’s Word is our primary means of remembering who He is and all that He has done throughout history. As adults our most important duty in the kingdom is to take the words of God and, “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
2. In song – Remembering God in song is a theme we see in scripture over and over again. How wonderful it is that our Creator gave us music, knowing the power it has to help us remember as well as to connect our heads to our hearts and emotions.
3. In prayer – Prayer should not only be about asking for help but about remembering to God all that He has done. When we thank God in our prayers we are “remembering” that God alone is responsible for providing our every need. (Nehemiah 9)
4. In true Christian fellowship – Fellowship is much more than potluck dinners or bowling night. It is about gathering together to remember God to one another. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
5. In traditions and memorials – Traditions and memorials are things that we, in the bible church movement have largely banished from the life of the church. While a healthy dose of caution about tradition becoming idolatry is warranted, the Bible is also clear that God has given us tradition and memorial to help us “remember” who He is and all that He has done. (Joshua 4:4-7, Luke 22:19)
I hope that these will serve you well in helping the children in your group apply their minds to remembering God for who He is and what He’s done.

“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely  changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”    -Romans 12:2

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Josh 4:21-24 | Prov 22:6
Psalm 103:1-5 | Jn 14:26
Deut 11:19 | Prov 3:1-6
Deut 8:1-5 | Deut 24:9

TRAIL GUIDE: My Gift of Love

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 1, Lesson 3: My Gift of Love

“So what’s on your heart this week?” Hopefully you have taken some time during our study to reflect on how to use your interests and passions for God. But what about when you see things in yourself that fall short of God’s standard? Do we assume we’re a lost cause and of no use to God? We cannot hide our good qualities or our failures from Him. He “alone knows every human heart.” (1 Kings 8:39). But be of good cheer, the ungodly things I find in my heart bring me to Him in a special way, a humble way. I wish I could bring to Him a Great Commandment Christian, fully assembled and ready to serve. But I came broken, and though I’m not a slave to sin, my flesh still fights against my makeover. When I recognize this and grieve my sin, then I am in a position for God to transform my heart. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the Lord promises that He is near to the brokenhearted.

In Psalm 147 we are reminded that it is fitting to praise God. The best way to praise God is to think about His actions and his attributes. The Psalm tells us:

God heals the brokenhearted. He names the stars.
He sends rain to the earth.
He delights in those who fear him.
He has unfailing love.
He sends us his protection.
He shares his commands with us.
He controls all nature.
He communicates his word to Israel and eventually to us!
Praise the Lord.

Loving God has many facets, praising Him for all He has done is one of them. Aligning our lifestyles with His word is another. What kind of heart does God want me to have? A pure heart, a clean heart, a kind heart and of course a heart that loves Him above all else. The kind of heart that Jesus displayed for us.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for
everything you do flows from it.”   
-Proverbs 4:23

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

1 Kings 8:61 | Joshua 22:5
Psalm 37:4 | Psalm 57:7!
Luke 6:45 | Psalm 51:10

TRAIL GUIDE: God’s Gift of Wisdom

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 2, Lesson 1: God’s Gift of Wisdom

About two years ago, I started using a Mac laptop instead of my old PC. One thing that prompted that switch was the problems I was having with viruses on my PC. As it turns out, the Mac operating system is much less prone to virus problems. It does a better job on its own, without the expense of extra virus protection services, of keeping out unwanted and damaging material that could slow down or freeze up my machine.

Last week we talked about the good passions and desires that God has put in our hearts – let’s call them the pre-loaded software. We also talked about guarding our hearts from storing up ungodly things – let’s call them malware or viruses. The human heart was made for loving and glorifying God. Sin has corrupted that heart, but by faith in Jesus we can have our hard-drive (heart) wiped clean of sin and reinstalled with God’s programs, so that it is free to function as it was intended. The problem is that we still live in a sinful world where there are new viruses around every corner. That’s where God’s heart operating system comes into play: WISDOM. Wisdom comes from God and is the atmosphere in which all of your pre-loaded heart software works best. It is also highly resistant to viruses and will prevent unwanted items from piling up in your heart and slowing down or freezing up your system. If our kids want to love God with ALL their heart, then they need the right operating system… wisdom. “Whatever else you get, get wisdom.” (Prov. 4:7)

 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for
everything you do flows from it.”   
-Proverbs 4:23

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Prov 2:1-11 | Jer 33:3!
James 1:5 | Psalm 19:7
Prov 10:8 | Prov 16:23
Prov 2:10

As You Walk Along The Way – God’s Call to Generational Discipleship (Audio)

marriage-booster-0514

The greatest battle that the church family currently faces is the knock-down drag-out fight with Satan over the hearts of the next generation. Raising a generation that knows Christ and makes him known will be the greatest gift & legacy we leave for the world.

Key Verse:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:5-7

Considering our passage in its immediate context,

  1. Verse 5 – Preceded by the “greatest command”
  2. Verse 6 – It is a matter of the heart

Notice in Verse 7,

  1. Not a request – The imperative form is used. This is a command.
  2. “Impress them on your children” – Teach them diligently.
  3. Life on life discipleship

7 Principles for Walking Along the Way

Principle #1 – Don’t Freak Out – “Concern is healthy; panic kills.”

  • Take the long view because God is writing a story in the life of your child. It’s a movie not a snapshot.

Principle #2 – Be Real

  • Walking along the way means not being a pretender. You may fool a very young child for a little while, but they will find you out it will shake their faith to its core.

Principle #3 – More lens, less shield

  • Spend more time giving our children the proper lens through which to see this world, and less time sheltering them from it. If we don’t someone else will.

Principle #4 – Enter their world – Jesus entered ours (Phil. 2:5-7)

  • Make it a point to know the young person you are walking with.

Principle #5 – The target is the Savior, not behavior – Adjust your aim

  • Lead them to the gospel (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

Principle #6 – Be joyful

  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

Principle #7 – No excuses

  • Excuses may be valid, but they will be overcome when generational discipleship becomes a priority.

I hope that you found something here to challenge you and to encourage you to take seriously God’s call to generational discipleship and ask yourself the question, “What legacy are we leaving?” “Will we be mentioned in anyone’s story of faith?”

Questions for further discussion:

  1. If I could be remembered by my children or grandchildren for only one thing it would be…
  1. If you looked back at your life using Mike’s metaphor of the “snapshot” what period of your life might have given the adults around you reason to despair? How has God used that time period in the broader narrative of your life?
  2. Have you ever thought about your relationship with the children in your life as one of teacher-disciple? Why/why not? How might this perspective change the way you parent or engage with young people close to you?
  3. Did you ever view your relationship with your parents as one of disciple to teacher?  Why or why not?
  4. In what ways does the teacher-disciple relationship change as children grow up and in what ways does it stay the same?
  5. How are you, or could you be, living out God’s command to “walk along the way” with the next generation?

Free Marriage Booster Event at Reston Bible Church

 

 marriage-booster-0514 (1)Are you looking for a date night for this Friday?

We have just the idea. Come out and join other couples at the Reston Bible Church – Marriage Booster this Friday night. Nothing draws a couple together like a shared vision, a mission of everlasting significance. That’s what we have for you this Friday.  Mike Meyers will be sharing with us on the topic of generational discipleship. Mike is currently the Director of Children’s Ministries at RBC and served on the mission field in Brazil for 7 years among at-risk children and youth (click for full bio). Be prepared to laugh, cry, and be inspired as we uncover biblical principles for raising a generation that knows Christ and makes Him Known. This is open to all, so if you don’t attend RBC, no problem!  Come on out!

Friday May 2 , 7:45-9:30 PM @ Reston Bible Church  Registration is FREE – www.restonbible.org/marriagebooster

 

 

 

 

New devotional from Mike @ Reston Bible Church

TRAIL GUIDE: Spiritual GPS

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

SOUL SHERPA, LESSON 1: The Holy Spirit is Our Guide

The work of the Holy Spirit is to manifest (make known, show) the active presence of God in the world and especially in the church.

Isn’t GPS a great thing?  It amazes me that a satellite high above the earth can see me, and when combined with digital mapping software, can tell me how to get from point A to B in the quickest way possible.  It amazes me even more to consider that this system can see if there is heavy traffic or an accident along my route and re-direct me around it.  If I take a wrong turn it quickly notifies me. “Rerouting.”  But as amazing as this system is, it is only as good as its underlying data.  How many times have you followed your GPS directions only to find out that its map data is incorrect and you are at a dead end or the address data is incomplete and you end up in a business park when you wanted to be at a friend’s house?  Even when the data is good, it isn’t foolproof. An overcast day or poor cell coverage can knock your GPS out completely.

But there is a guidance system that is 100% trustworthy, 100% of the time.  Its data is perfectly reliable.  It works no matter how dark it gets because to it, “darkness is as light.”  It is an integrated system that lights your path, turns your darkness to light, guides you on the best path possible, reroutes you when you make a wrong turn, and even provides roadside assistance when you break down along the highways of life.  That is our triune God.  God’s living Word, breathed out by the Father through the Son is its database.  It is empowered by his Holy Spirit whose job it is to make known the active presence of God in the world and especially in his children by guiding us into all truth.  Our students need to learn early that they can depend, with ALL their hearts, on their fail-safe guidance system.

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

 

 

“Guide me in Your truth and teach me…”  -Psalm 25:5a

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Proverbs 3:5-6
Isaiah 42:16
John 8:12
Psalm 119:105
Psalm 23:1-3

Shark Wranglers continued…Lucas’ story

Continued from previous post… I learned a lesson that day. When our mission is just and godly we cannot let fear stop us. 

The Great Claim & The Great Promise

What could be scarier than going on a rescue mission into a hostile world in the name of Christ?  Most of us are familiar with the Great Commission as recorded for us in Matthew chapter 28. In this famous scene Jesus commissioned the disciples, and those disciples not yet born, to go into the world and share the gospel with the nations.  What most of us forget is that there are bookends to the Great Commission, namely the Great Claim and the Great Promise.  Let’s take a look.

     “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [the Great Claim]. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.[the Great Promise]”

Number one, Jesus first claims the authority, all authority, to say what he is about to say.  No one in their right mind charges into battle on the orders of a Private 1st Class.  It just doesn’t happen.  We want to know authority backs up the orders. Jesus has been given all power that exists, in heaven and on earth.  This command comes from the highest of all authorities.

After Jesus lays this very scary battle plan on us, he follows it up with a promise.  “Not only do I have the authority to send you on this mission, but I myself will be fighting along with you every step of the way.”  Do you believe him?

Lucas continued

When we left Lucas he was beginning to attend a new school, a gathering of the worst of the worst from the city’s overburdened school system. Their first “field trip” would change his life forever… Lucas’ class would be going to a local swim school that had been contracted by the city to teach swim lessons.  A shark wrangler by the nickname, “Zinho,” is the school’s owner as well as a former coach for Brazil’s Olympic program and a follower of Jesus Christ. He was on hand that first day.  He looked on as these unruly delinquents plunged willy-nilly into the pool. One of them in particular caught his well-trained eye.  This smallish, Afro-Brazilian boy dove in headfirst and, although he had no idea how to swim, he seemed to be at home in the water. Zinho called Lucas from the pool and asked if he would like to learn to be a competitive swimmer.  Lucas wasn’t sure what was involved, but he sure liked the pool and figured it was a good chance to spend more time there.

Zinho, Lucas and Michael

Right to left – Lucas, Zinho, and my son Michael

me and lucas

Lucas & me

In those days our organization, Open Arms, was also beginning to lead Bible-based, civic and moral education classes in Lucas’ new school.  Because my sons were also swimming at Zinho’s academy, he and I talked a lot together about the school and about Lucas.  We agreed that Open Arms would start a Bible study with the children on the swim team. Zinho recruited an older gentleman from his church to also meet with Lucas for one-on-one discipleship every week. Lucas began to split his time between our home and the swim school, where Zinho had made up a room for him. 

DSC_0139

Our Family at Christmas in Brazil

It was a bumpy road, as Lucas had no experience with limits or personal discipline of any kind. His brothers were drug users and well-known thieves and tough guys in one of the most notorious neighborhoods of the city (coincidentally one of Lucas’ brothers was incarcerated with Eduardo from our earlier story). His mother had no interest in caring for him but held on to legal guardianship in order to receive a small pension that was intended for his care. He once asked me tearfully, “Why did GOD give me such a terrible family? Why couldn’t I have a family like yours? Why couldn’t Maikinho and Rapha (my two boys) be my brothers?”

Lucas swim 2011

Lucas still has a lot of hurt to overcome, but in the context of a safe, healthy relationship with godly men and their families, Lucas gave his own life to Jesus.

Today Lucas talks of college and eventually a wife and family.  He told me recently, “I will never quit now. I know what I want and I know what GOD wants of me.”  For Lucas, the psalmists’ words are his own, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10).

 

The Spirit of GOD works through the lives of men committed to be fathers to the fatherless.  It’s time for the shark wranglers and bull elephants of the Church to stand up and step out. It can and will make difference in the lives of the children you touch. 

Raphael the fearless…Shark Wranglers continued

Raphael the fearless

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Early on in our work in Brazil we made a lot of rookie mistakes.  One in particular led to a wonderful story of the fearless faith of a child.  I think it might just encourage the shark wrangler hidden within you.

We had begun our first outreach using a building belonging to a little church.  As we reorganized the space to make space for our material we encountered a room full to the ceiling with used clothes.  Clothing had been collected for a bazaar and these were the leftovers. The clothes were in good condition, but no one was quite sure what to do with them. So after getting permission from the pastor, we set a date to take the clothes and distribute them in a favela (slum neighborhood) adjoining the neighborhood where the church was located.  On a typically balmy Brazilian summer afternoon we loaded the clothing into the back of our pick-up truck and headed out.  My two boys, Michael (9) and Raphael (7) were riding along, as well as Pastor Tiago, my friend Marcelo, and another boy from the outreach, Adriano. dnfr

A Just Cause

As we pulled to a stop in the neighborhood we were immediately approached by curious children and then adults asking what we were doing.  When they realized we were giving things away, the word went out and in an instant a sea of humanity surrounded us.  People pushed and shouted as we tried to distribute the clothes in some semblance of order.  About that time the door of the pick-up opened (I had forgotten to lock the door in the confusion) and some children jumped in and started grabbing at whatever they could find.  My soccer ball went first and then one of them grabbed my handsaw and took off up the street.  My youngest boy Raphael saw the whole thing and yelled to me, “Dad, that boy stole your saw!” I told him we had bigger problems and that we just needed to lock the doors now so that my wallet wasn’t next.  He insisted, “But that wasn’t a donation!  That’s stealing and it’s wrong!” Again, I told him to forget about it.  Next thing I know, there goes by little boy, barefoot, up the street, through the favela after the saw.  He didn’t hear me when I called to him so I asked Adriano to tail him and make sure he didn’t get into any trouble.

After a few minutes I was getting worried.  The throng began to subside as the last of the clothing was carted off. Where was my son?  I looked up and my heart jumped as I saw Raphael walking back toward the truck…with a triumphant look on his face and my saw in his hand.  As scary as that was for a dad, I learned a lesson that day. When our mission is just and godly we cannot let fear stop us.  

Shark Wranglers continued

see previous post...https://lastmanstandingchurch.com/2014/02/21/shark-wranglers/

Substitute “Strong Man”

Brothers, we all know it is our GOD given duty as men to care for our own children, to protect them, to fight off the sharks of this world and guide our children on the narrow path that leads to life.  But as Christian men we have a call that goes beyond just our own little ones.  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16.  It is not enough to hide with our children, or the children of the church on shore, within our homes, our safe neighborhoods or the walls of the church building, when there are still children in the water with the sharks.

Ladies, are you laboring with the men in your life as a team to pull more children away from the sharks, like the aunt in our story, binding up the wounds of one child while he goes back for more?  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, as a substitute.  When the “strong man” in the life of a child has been removed we, as Christ imitators, the last men standing, have the privilege to step into the gap, in the name of the Savior, as a substitute and sure up the walls in the life of that young person. bridgingthegap

Does that sound scary?  Sure it does.  But “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).  If this is a mission from our Father, and it is, then we must trust in the words that GOD said to Joshua and to all those warriors who would follow, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).

 

Shark wranglers

Continued…(click HERE to read previous post)

Sound Scary?

“At-risk children in my house?  Drugs dealers and thieves?  Juvenile detention centers?  Are you crazy?  That is the kind of thing best left for professionals, missionaries or folks without their own family to care for.  Besides, in this country you can get sued for looking the wrong way at a child. The risks are just too great.  What if I just write a check?”

As the President of a non-profit organization that survives on the giving heart of GOD’s people, I would say, yes, please do.  Better yet, you, your family, your business and your church could purpose to become regular financial partners with an organization, like Open Arms Worldwide (www.openarmsworldwide.org), that is working to get more “bull elephants” out into the places where children have been left most vulnerable.  But, if you stop there you are missing out.  Is it dangerous and risky? Absolutely. But with great risk comes great reward.

Do Not Fear

That leads me to my second animal story.  This one took place in the warm gulf coast waters of Florida in 2001 and was picked up and reported by most major television news networks at the time.  A man was relaxing at the beach with some relatives when he heard screams and looked to see a pool of blood forming around his nephew who was standing in the shallow water.  A seven-foot long, 250-pound bull shark had a firm hold on the boy and wasn’t letting go.

Shark Wrangler

The uncle jumped into the water, as most of us would, and, taking hold of the sharks’ tail, pulled the animal away from the boy.  The shark released, but had taken the child’s arm just below the shoulder. He was losing a lot of blood as his aunt began caring for him onshark finshore.  At that point the uncle would have been perfectly justified in releasing his hold on the shark and returning to the safety of shore to care for his nephew, but that would have to wait, there were other children still in the water.  Holding on tightly to that tail, he wrestled the beast, which was all the while trying to turn on him, up on to the beach where a park ranger shot it with his 9mm service pistol. The boys’ arm was retrieved and reattached, and the immediate danger to the other children in the water was removed.

Is there a lesson for us here?  Stay tuned…