20th Sunday after Pentecost
Children: Our Mission and Our Model
Text: Mark 10:13-16
I’m sure most have a picture in their minds of this story. It’s one of those feel good, warm your heart kinds of stories. You picture Jesus, perhaps sitting on a big rock. You envision young kids maybe around the age of kindergarten to third or fourth grade. They’re gleefully running up to Jesus, nearly piling on him like they would a fun uncle who came to visit. In your mind you see Jesus with a great big smile warmly welcoming these kids.
That’s the picture most have in their minds. That’s what we see in paintings and portraits. That’s even the scene that my father’s church has in a 40 foot tall stained glass window that was built over 100 years ago. But that’s not exactly what happened.
We’re told in the story that people were bringing little children to Jesus. While you and I have an idea for what constitutes a little child, in the Greek culture they used that word specifically for children ages zero to four. When it says they were bringing little children, it means really little children. Perhaps there were others kids, but these were mostly babies, toddlers, and preschoolers being brought to Jesus. Read the rest of this entry
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Which Son Do You Identify With?
Text: Matthew 21:28-32
Ooh their blood was boiling. They already despised Jesus, but now the chief priests and elders of the people—they were really hot. The day before the people had made a crazy ruckus in the city. They were shouting and waving palm branches and treating Jesus like a king as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Later that same Palm Sunday Jesus entered the temple, turned over the tables , of the money lenders, and drove out all the people who turned that holy house into a den of robbers.
Now it was the next day, Monday of Holy Week, and Jesus was back in the temple teaching. The chief priests and elders nearly had steam shooting out of their ears. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. They just didn’t get it. Their hearts were hardened with hate and unbelief. So Jesus told them a series of parables. The first one is before us today.
It’s a simple and short parable. There was a father who had two boys. Certainly he loved them. He addressed them each as “Child,” or “Son.” But like all parents, this father expected his dear children to work. They couldn’t just sit and play Super Mario Brothers or watch Scooby Doo all day. They had work to do for the family. You might expect your children to clean their rooms or do the dishes or mow the lawn. In an agricultural society, these two sons were asked to go and work in the vineyard.
The first one refused. “I will not,” he said, giving the response that we parents dread hearing: “NO!” But later on he changed his mind and went to work in the vineyard. The second son did just the opposite. He answered, “I will, sir.” If only! If only our children would be asked to do something and would always respond with a, “Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am” like this son. However, though he talked a good talk, the second son didn’t walk the walk. He never went to work in the vineyard. Read the rest of this entry
6th Sunday of Easter
Jesus is Here!
1. With his rebuke
2. With his riches
3. With his reward
Text: Revelation 3:14-22
I always know when trouble is happening. All parents know when something is going down in the house. What’s the telltale sign? It’s quiet. Too quiet. Normally the kids are loud or rowdy or pretending they are Batman or Dora. But suddenly you realize it is abnormally quiet. Too quiet.
“Gwendolyn, what are you doing?” “Nuffin’.” “Gwendolyn, what are you doing in there?” “Nuffin.’” “Gwendolyn, tell me what’s going on!” “Don’t worry about it!” (That is an actual conversation that has taken place far too many times lately.) Those are the times that the parent walks into a room and sees every drawer pulled out of every dresser and every piece of clothing piled up in a fort, or all of mommy’s makeup on the child’s face and on the floor.
The same things happen in schools. The teacher turns the back for one second and things start flying through the air. A teacher steps out for one second to discipline a studen and all the others think it’s party time. The teacher is correcting papers at the desk and the students think there is no way they will be caught passing a note, or these days, sneaking off a couple text messages. Then the teacher turns to look and suddenly everyone sits up straight and holds up a book—as if that isn’t completely obvious!
It’s amazing what kids think they can get away with. It’s as if they think they are above the law or immune to punishment. It’s as if they think they are untouchable. It’s as if they think they will never get caught and no one will ever know. But we parents, we teachers, have eyes in the back of our heads. We see everything. We know everything. We will always find out the truth. We will always catch them. They will never get away with anything! Read the rest of this entry
20th Sunday after Pentecost
Christ is Our Motivation and Model for Love
Text: Ephesians 5:21-6:4
“If you can only do this all the time, then you will never ever have any problems.” I say the same thing to every couple that goes through pre-marriage counseling with me. “If you can follow the words of Ephesians 5 perfectly, then your marriage will be the most enjoyable marriage ever.”
God’s instructions are clear and simple. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies . . . However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
What a clear and simple plan! Wives are to show humble, respectful love to their husbands at all times, just like believers do to Jesus. Husbands are to act as leaders and to show self-sacrificing love to their wives at all times, just like Jesus did for us. “Do that,” I tell people, “And everything will be just fine.”
The last paragraph of the second lesson today is similar. God’s instructions for children and parents are also clear and simple. “Children obey your parents in the Lord . . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
What a clear and simple plan! Children are to obey the fourth commandment and thus obey their parents. Parents are to be patiently and lovingly instructing and training their children. “Do this,” we can tell children and parents, “And everything will be just fine.” Read the rest of this entry
Devotion Text: Ephesians 5:21-6:4
“But mom! She was touching my stuff!”
Anyone who has ever been around multiple children knows this fact: territory and privacy comes at a premium. Whether it’s the dastardly little brother who always seems to find his sister’s diary or the children who bristle at their parents’ intrusion, the more people that share a house the more trouble there seems to be.
So, our admonition today–along with the many great admonitions in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians–is: stop reading each other’s mail!
How many husbands wish their wives were more submissive, yet fail to love them as Christ loved the church. How many wives beg for their husbands to be more self-sacrificing, but take the leadership role that is reserved for men? How many fathers would get the obedience they desired if they worked harder on “not exasperating” their children. How many children bring the exasperation upon themselves by consistently disobeying and failing to honor their parents.
Here’s a hint, it’s all of them.
We live in a world dripping with sin and seeped in selfish ambition. These words in Ephesians are not meant to be held up to others, they are meant to be held up to ourselves! We have so little room to quibble with how the other members of our family have failed to live up to the expectations here when we have so terribly failed ourselves.
Instead, we love each other. We don’t love because the objects of our love have merit. Neither are we loved because of any merit in us. We love, selflessly, to mirror the love shown to us by Christ. Only Christ’s selfless love gives us the motivation to love one another and only Christ’s love gives us the model.
Prayer: Forgive me Lord, for all of the times I have failed to love my family in the ways which you have commanded. Let my heart be filled with forgiveness for them as well Lord, for the times I have not felt their love. Gracious Lord, come quickly to take us to be with you where our love will be made perfect along with all things. In your name, Amen.