Grace Kids: God always keeps his promises

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Since my children first began to make requests, and I had to start saying “no,” I have been careful to avoid the words, “I promise!”

“Mom, will you read to me?”
“I can’t right now.” The child looks disappointed. “But when I’m done with clean-up, I’ll read to you. I promise!”

“Let’s go on an ice cream date, Mama!”
“That sounds special! But dad is waiting for us at home.” More disappointment. “I’ll take you next weekend, though. I promise!”

I know how robust my kids’ memories are, and how flabby mine is. I know life happens and good ideas don’t always become reality. Children don’t forget promises. Adults usually do. We’ve all heard the complaints from children whose parent didn’t follow through: “But Mom! You promised!

Instead of saying, “Yes of course…I promise!” to my kids, I like to say, “Let’s do that after dinner. Will you please remind me if I forget?” or “I would love to do that, but I don’t know if it will work out. Let’s talk again tomorrow and see where we are at.”

But even though I am careful about making promises to my children, they still have big expectations of what I will do for them. I often disappoint them with careless words spoken in haste, or a weak memory that doesn’t come through in time.

This month we are teaching our Grace Kids that God ALWAYS keeps his promises.

God doesn’t need to be reminded of what he promised. And he doesn’t have to avoid making promises either. Whether it is a promise for today, or a promise we look forward to in our futures, we can be confident that he won’t ever forget what he said. He has every intention to fulfill his promises, and the power to do so, too!

If you are a parent like me who struggles to do what you say, let your weakness be a beacon of hope that points your children to their dependable, trustworthy, and kindhearted Father. When you fail to keep a promise, set it right by reminding your kids that though you will probably keep forgetting, God incredibly never will!

God, thank you that your words to me are never empty. Thank you for remembering what you tell me, and remembering what I ask you–even when I don’t remember that myself! I am so glad you remember me. Remind me of your promises, and give me eyes to see the ways you remember me and fulfill your words to me every day.

Grace Kids: Love as an Identity

God loves us and he wants us to love each other!

This is the theme for our children’s program in August. It is the truth we want sinking deep into our children’s hearts at Grace Bible Church, but it’s the truth we all need to hear again and again: God loves us–God loves you! God loves me! 

I used to think that being loved by God was the fuel I needed to love others. If I really grasped what it meant to be loved by God I would be motivated to love him back and love others, too. It was a sort of deal I had with God, a return on his investment in my life. “Look at the way you loved me by giving everything to me in Jesus. The least I could do in return is love whoever crosses my path today…”

But I have found this to be a heavy burden, one I am not fit to carry. I blunder it time and again. When I’m honest, I have to admit that my motivation to pay my debts flounders. Sometimes it seems like a great idea to give God all by serving others in love; sometimes I’d rather not think about it. What does it mean to love others anyway? Sometimes I simply forget.

There will always be obstacles that hinder our drive to do the good things we think we should do. But is that the purpose of God’s love for us? Is it meant to be a motivator?

Or is God’s love meant to be my identity?

I’m starting to understand that “beloved” is the foundation of who I am and all I am becoming. As I live my days loved by God, I am gaining the freedom I need to love others with kindness, warmth and generosity, without fear of what’s in it (or not!) for me. Being “beloved” of God is softening the hard edges of my soul and producing a care for others I didn’t know was possible. “We love because he first loved us,” writes John (1 John 4:19). This isn’t an obligatory love. It’s a love that comes out of who we are, something birthed–and sustained–by God’s Spirit in us.

Our children are growing taller each day and each day they are taking in truths–and not truths–that are shaping their identities. Would you join me in praying this month that our Grace kids would believe the truth that they are deeply loved by God? Would you pray that they would be marked by God’s love in a way that will make them a source of love in their families and the communities they are growing up in? Thank you for remembering our children and all the ways you speak blessing into their lives!

Grace Kids: God Cares for Me

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My kids don’t worry about deadlines or a never-ending “to do” list that just keeps growing. But they do worry about playtime and bedtime rituals. Any deviation from normal is cause for great alarm. “No, mommy has to brush my teeth!” wails Felix when his daddy tries to help get him ready for bed. “We have to sing a song before we pray,” says Fiona when I fail to remember we have a pattern for saying goodnight.

No, children don’t worry like grownups do, but their young hearts are just as concerned with matters of great importance to them. Their scratched knees, broken toys and sibling squabbles fill them with worry–even if typically short-lived–in the same way our cancers, overdue bills and marital fights weigh us down as adults.

Our children need to hear over and over again, just as grownups do: Nothing about you is irrelevant. God cares for you. For the next few weeks, this is the focus of our Sunday morning toddler-preschool class. Our memory verse is 1 Peter 5:7 (NIrV): “Turn all your worries over to him. He cares for you.” Through songs, games, and conversations over toys, we will reinforce this beautiful truth–“God cares for you, Judah. Tell God whatever is important to you, Fiona.”

Would you take time to pray this verse and its truth about God over our children and their families this month? Pray that our Grace kids would experience God’s care for them as we greet them on Sunday mornings and as they play downstairs in their class. Ask God to show his love to our Grace parents through the love their children have for them. Pray that our children will know deep down to the tips of their toes that they are loved and welcomed by the God who made them!

May our church continue to be marked by hope and rest in God’s care for the youngest to the oldest among us.

Grace Kids: Sacred Appointments

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Every Sunday, an amazing group of people gathers downstairs during the sermon: our precious toddlers and preschoolers! We love the energy and transparency these little ones bring to our services and it is a great privilege to welcome them into the midst of all we do on Sunday mornings.

When children enter our church, each of us has an incredible opportunity to demonstrate God’s great love for them, whether we are teaching in the children’s program or not. We never know what our kindness, patience, or short conversation will mean to a child, but it just might make all the difference in the world to them and become an important aspect of their growth in Christ.

With this in mind, we view every interaction with children on Sunday mornings as a sacred appointment. We expect God to join our class downstairs just as he is joining the rest of the congregation upstairs. We anticipate opportunities God would give us to hold the new baby, or ask a child about school this week, or say hello to the quiet preschooler, believing that each of these moments are part of the great work God is doing in his church every week.

God is doing wonderful things in all those affected by our children’s ministry at Grace as we look to him to do so! For the last few months, each of the volunteers in our program has been praying daily for one child in our church, from the babe-in-womb to the older teens. As we pray, we are seeing God answer our prayers and work in these kids–and he is working in us, too! We have noticed the children growing in their love for each other and their teachers. They also love being in their class downstairs, and you should hear what they have to say about Jesus! My own children talk throughout the week about their friends at Grace, young and old, and I know this is the beautiful result of them being so completely welcomed and integrated into our church family.

Following the service on January 25, we are hosting a short training workshop for volunteers in our children’s program. If you are interested in learning more about serving children and families at Grace, please join us. Above all, please pray for our kids and their families this year! Would you ask God to arrange for a sacred appointment for you and one of our children next time you are at church? Even if you aren’t officially in the children’s ministry, each of us can be part of ministering to children at Grace Bible Church!