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We Need Jesus’ Presence.

Are you desperate for his presence? Here is the audio of the talk that I gave at the beginning of our family ministry training two weeks ago.  The volume is a bit low.  The main points are also below.

The Little Children and Jesus, Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)

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.

(1)  The people longed for the presence of greatness. “Among Jews, as among other peoples, it was customary to bring children to great men to have them blessed” (Wessell, EBC 8:713).  The people did not necessarily recognize Jesus for who he was (some thought he was a teacher, some a prophet, some Elijah, some John the Baptist back from the dead), but they knew he was great, and so they came to be in his presence.  They brought their children to him for a blessing.  And what could be better than seekers—those who need Jesus the most—coming to Him and bringing their kids?

(2)  The disciples’ actions showed that they didn’t think Jesus’ presence was necessary. Sadly, those who kept children from Jesus’ touch were his disciples, not the Pharisees or Gentiles, but Jesus-followers like us. Their actions implied that they didn’t think Jesus’ presence was necessary.   Continue Reading…

Thursday Book Club: Dads as Shepherd Leaders

The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church by Timothy Z. Witmer, (P & R Publishing, 2010)

I just recently finished reading Timothy Witmer’s book for pastors on faithful shepherding.  One passage that stood out to me was a discussion of Richard Baxter’s model for “feeding the sheep,” that is faithfully and personally teaching the members of his congregation, by feeding and equipping fathers.  I found the passage personally convicting and challenging.  I wanted to share this passage with you.  It can be found on pages 150-151:

What better way to multiply the personal ministry of the word than by equipping dads to pray and read the Scriptures with their families.  Note that Baxter suggests that we “give them an example.”  How many of our families would be well fed if we merely gave some simple suggestions to their shepherds?

“Get masters of families to do their duty, and they will not only spare you a great deal of labour, but will much further the success of your labours.  If a captain can get the officers under him to do their duty, he may rule the soldiers with much less trouble, than if all lay upon his own shoulders.  You are not like to see any general reformation, till you procure family reformation” (Richard Baxter, Reformed Pastor (1656; repr., Carslisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997), 102).

In doing this you are not only multiplying the ministry of the Word among your people but helping fathers fulfill their God-given responsibilities.  Undoubtedly, many elders will have to repent of their neglecting this duty themselves in order to proceed with a clear conscience.  This is progress, too, and a great place to start!

Last Sunday: Family

This week in SojournKids, we studied the story of Jesus changing water into wine from John 2:1-12, and we learned that:

  • A wedding is a celebration where a new family is made.
  • Jesus went to a wedding celebration
  • Jesus blessed the wedding celebration by turning water into wine.

If you didn’t get a chance to grab the SojournKids “at home” sheet, you can download it here.

Thursday Book Club: Little Hands Learning to Pray

Little Hands Learning to Pray by Carine Mackenzie, (Christian Focus Publications, 2010), 139 pages.  Read to ages 2-4. Read by ages 5-6.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working through this excellent little book on prayer for preschoolers.  The book contains eight units filled with 4 to 12 two-page devotional thoughts on prayer.  Each devotional includes one Bible verse, two short paragraphs of explanation, and a full-page illustration with interactive questions.  The first four units and first 64 pages of the book teach the ACTS method for praying, which I learned as a teenager in church:

  • Adoration: I love you, God.
  • Confession: I’m sorry, God.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank you, God.
  • Supplication: Please God.

The second section teaches a theology of prayer with the following units:

  • God’s Word Teaches Us How to Pray.
  • Jesus Prayed.
  • Bible People Who Prayed
  • God Listens to our Prayers

Here are some of the cool features of the book.  The ACTS method is classic, and I really like the idea of teaching it in this simple format to our littlest ones.  The interactive pictures are useful for family devotions and for use in a children’s ministry context.  The sample prayer diary at the back is super useful for family devotions.  And the Bible Passages list on pages 134-135 is also really helpful for making this book a tool to use as a supplement to a Bible lesson on prayer.  **I think every Christian children’s book should have a Scripture index.**  I highly recommend this book for use at home and during a children’s ministry setting.

I received a complimentary copy of the book, Little Hands Learning to Pray, from Christian Focus Publications for review purposes.

Sign up for the April 3rd Baby Dedication!

We have baby dedication services at Sojourn because God has commanded both parents and the church to teach our children about God.  We dedicate our children because we recognize our God-given responsibility as parents, and because we know that our home needs God’s help.  We dedicate our children because we want to partner with our church family–making a commitment to raise our children in light of God’s promises. Our next dedication service is Sunday, April 3rd, 2011.

The “First Steps: Preparing for Baby Dedication” class is required as a pre-requisite for participating in  dedication services.  The class will be held at 5:00 PM on Sunday, March 27th at the Midtown and J-t0wn campuses.  The class will be on the same day during the 9:00 AM service at the East Campus. Sign Up Now!