By Pastor Phil Stanley July 16, 2023
We survived taking the kiddos to camp. I’ve never seen something designed for the ultimate enjoyment of children that was also the ultimate torture for adults. Camp can be a lot but the services make it all worth it.
The theme of camp this year was “out of this world.”
Each service they would share the “big idea” for the evening. Night one we talked about “our image is out of this world.” They taught on how God made us in His image and shared Genesis 1:27 with them. They let them know that no matter what the world says about them, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. God didn’t make any mistakes and designed each of us to be exactly how we are. Pretty relevant topic for our kids in this day and age.
Night two was my favorite. We talked about “our gift is out of this world.” This was the night they taught on the baptism of the holy spirit and how it wasn’t scary at all and that anyone no matter how young could ask Jesus for the free gift. Alter time was filled with hundreds of kids going after Jesus with everything they had and our kids were right there praying and sobbing and it definitely made my eyes sweat a little. It was powerful.
Friday night was about how “our purpose is out of this world.” It taught them they don’t have to be afraid if they feel called to ministry. They can serve God anywhere doing anything as long as it’s what God wants them to do. It was awesome and several of our kids felt called to ministry and were bold enough to go receive prayer for their calling.
Kids camp isn’t just a cute little moment where kids are filled with sugar and made to feel important for a few days. This is where they learn to approach God with their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and questions. Never underestimate a child’s ability to understand what’s important. Remember in Mark chapter 10 verse 13 it says:
The Little Children and Jesus
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.Mark 10:13-16
I struggle to find the right words for it so maybe I should just stick with “overjoyed.” Between the youth camp and kids camp the embers of revival have been stoked and I believe we will see a move of God here in this church and community.
God is already moving.
But if we want to see it and be part of it, we need to be like the kids. We need to believe all things are possible. We need to go after God with as much passion and zeal as children do. We need to believe that the small things matter and Jesus cares about the details.
One of my favorite moments of camp was at the end they had us all pray together as a church and we were to find out who asked Jesus in their hearts, who got filled with the Holy Spirit, and who felt called to ministry but my favorite part was when we asked if anyone experienced a divine healing.
It was priceless. Heather asked if anyone had been healed of anything and Dawn raised her hand and said yes, Jesus healed my sore feet! Immediately, each and every kid in the group shot their hands up and claimed the same testimony of healing. I wanted to know how I missed out on that prayer session.
I got a kick out of that and shared that with our Georgia Kid Min director, Pastor Russell Smith. The man is incredibly passionate about kids ministry and I watched him and saw how he interacts with all of them. He cuts up with them, he’s silly with them sometimes but the most important thing he does is he treats them with the same level of respect as he would any adult.
Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won’t do that.”Walt Disnet
This morning I’m here to tell you that our future is completely tied to how we engage and encourage our children.
We’re not raising up kids to serve later, we’re raising them up to serve with us now.
Our kids ministry isn’t a glorified daycare. It’s the lifeline of our church fulfilling its purpose.
Mark 9:33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf[h] welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”
The disciples were doing exactly what many of us still struggle with today. Playing the comparison game.
We look around and try to see which church we outrank or what we do better than everyone else and I wonder how quiet it would get if Jesus just walked up and asked what’s up? What were you talking about?
2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 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. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The little kid Jesus used to bring conviction to His disciples was painting the picture of what it takes to see God’s kingdom.
Children are full of wonder, they are not afraid to ask hard questions, and they are comfortable being dependent on their parents to nurture them and provide for them.
These are the qualities we have to embrace to see God move.
There’s such a difference between how kids and adults ask the questions: how and why.
Kids have the ability to come from a place of honest curiosity. You can tell the difference as they grow up. The whys and hows start coming from a place of defiance and cynicism.
We adults very rarely approach anything without the weight of cynicism anymore. We can’t trust hardly anything we hear and our questioning bleeds over into other areas of our lives.
I wonder if that isn’t robbing us of the answers we’re looking for?
Kids hate being wrong and so early in life they start imitating what they see from all the adults and at some point they decide that no matter what they can’t be wrong. You know what I’m talking about?
My son is in a stage of life where his favorite pastime is challenging me. It’s part of growing up and he’s growing very fast but it’s a lot sometimes. I can tell him to do something and he’ll immediately start questioning me and trying to prove I’m wrong.
The other day I was driving us to the church but I needed to go by a store on the way so halfway there I made a turn and immediately from the back seat Nikolai starts correcting me. “Dad, you just made a wrong turn, we’re going the wrong way.”
The amount of excitement in his voice is just the worst. He was super excited to have caught me making a mistake.
Anyone else experience backseat driving from their child? Fun isn’t it?
I explained that we had to go to the store and I got the familiar response of “oh, okay.”
He was so let down that I in fact knew where I was going. But what’s incredible is that it took about two milliseconds for him to go from disappointment right back to excitement. He asked “where are we going?”
That’s what we’re missing. The ability to be disappointed when our expectations aren’t met but immediately rebound with excitement about the possibilities of what’s next.
The key is always humility. Nik knew he was wrong and was only able to rebound to excitement when he laid down his initial expectations of how things should have gone.
We have to be humble enough to let go of our expectations and embrace the excitement of God’s divine purpose.
That’s the childlike faith we have to fight for.
Nik knows I love him. He knows I want the best for him. He knows he is safe when he’s with me.
We need to stop trying to prove God wrong and start finding the peace and comfort of trusting in Him.
Yesterday, not one single kid on the church van cared which way I drove us home. They all knew we were going to make it back here and they chose to enjoy the ride.
They could have sat there watching for me to make a mistake. They could have questioned if there was a better path to take, but instead they all sat back and enjoyed the peace of knowing they could trust us to bring them home safely.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Our trust in God is our key to bearing fruit in any circumstance.
Children have an easier time trusting than us because they haven’t experienced the betrayals and let downs of life for as long as we have. The secret for us is to find a way to gain that childlike trust in God again.
Children are much more comfortable being vulnerable than we are. Maybe it’s because they can clearly see that they are not fully grown and they just accept that they need parents, teachers, and other adults to help them.
But that’s the heart of it all. Being okay with being vulnerable. That’s what strong, healthy relationships are built on. Mutual submission.
Our hope for cornerstone is not tied to a new building, a better AC, or how clever Heather and I can be as your pastors. Our hope is in Jesus and our ability to come to him with childlike faith and trust that no matter which way he guides us, he’s faithful to get us exactly where we need to be.