Archive for October, 2011
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3, ESV).
In today’s church growth culture it is tempting to target groups that will facilitate rapid growth and financial stability. This would essentially mean white, upper-middle class communities because they tend to be more “open” to church and have money. Now, to be sure, white, upper-middle class people need Christ; however, the need for churches to survive (numerically and financially) tends to lead some of them away from reaching out in low-income areas composed primarily of ethnic minorities.
Now, if we are thinking about reaching a demographic just for the sake of church growth and financial stability, the last demographic we would be interested in would be children. Of course, many churches reach out to children but some only as a means to an end—their parents. But children are not a means to an end, and children’s ministry is not a game. It is a serious endeavor for the expansion of the kingdom and the glory of God. The Bible reminds us that “children are a heritage from the Lord,” and that “the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Jesus was thankful to the Father that He had hidden the truth “from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; . . . for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26).
When the disciples asked Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus called a child to Himself and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4). As a matter of fact, when people brought their children to Jesus so that He may lay His hands on them, the disciples rebuked the parents, as if to say that Jesus’ time is too important for children. Yet Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:13-14). So Jesus laid His hands on them and went away. It is with this understanding in mind that Jesus said “whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-6).
You see, children’s ministry is not a game. Yes, parents have the primary responsibility to disciple their children, not the church. No, children’s ministry is not a means to reach the parents, though we hope God will use children to reach their parents if they’re not believers. Children’s ministry is important and necessary if we are going to encourage parents to disciple their children and if we are going to reach those spiritual orphans in our community whose parents are not followers of Christ. For this reason, I rejoice with churches who desire to reach the children in non-white, lower-income, multi-ethnic communities with the gospel of Christ. May the Lord grant us all favor in our communities as we seek to make Jesus known to all the children in our neighborhoods through our children’s ministries. Would you join your church as they encourage parents to be disciplers and reach out to spiritually-orphaned children, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
Oh no! Another Tebow post by a Florida fan! Well, not quite. I explained in an earlier post on the Tebow hype why I pray for him to flourish – football is not the reason. What I find fascinating is all the Tebow hate.
I understand comedian John Oliver’s hate – Oliver is an atheist. The following quotes are from an NFL.com news article by Jeff Darlington on the Tebow haters:
“How dare you — how dare you — thank God before thanking your offensive line,” Oliver cracked at Florida State’s homecoming in 2010. “Do you have any idea what an offensive line goes through during a game? If I was an offensive lineman for Tim Tebow, and I heard him thank God instead of thanking me at the end of the game, I’d find myself lining up for the following game and say, ‘Oh Tim, I heard your press conference at the end of the game last week, great to hear Jesus get a shout-out.’
“‘Wasn’t he fantastic for us? Wasn’t God great, especially in that fourth quarter? … Let’s see how Jesus blocks for you this time. Oh, it seems Jesus didn’t read that blitz.'”
What I don’t understand is the general hatred for someone just because of his faith:
During a Twitter-based survey on Thursday, a contingent of users following @jeffdarlington were asked to respond to this tweet: A question for anyone who dislikes Tebow for reasons other than his ability as a QB: What is it about him that bothers you?
“What bothers me about Tebow?” tweeted Bob Dziadik under the Twitter handle @bobbyd121. “The God thing for one. He just seems like a phony.”
Other responses ranged from Tebow’s “holier than thou crap” to the fact that he “brings his Bible thumping nonsense anywhere he goes. It doesn’t belong in sports and politics.” One user said he “can’t stand (Tebow)” because he “wears his religion on his sleeve too much.”
So, why all the hate? It seems to originate from several streams of thought, ranging from the anti-religious to the “he’s too good to be true” skeptics. Talk about pressure on a young man who is a Christian. The football thing must be a piece of cake!
Recently, we had a missionary couple from Mexico visit our church and ask about gospel resources in Spanish. There are no lack of resources in Spanish today. Unfortunately, far too many of those resources are steeped into the health and wealth, prosperity gospel or the extremes of Pentecostalism.
There is a clear need for gospel resources in Spanish, and thankfully, there are places where those interested can go. Allow me to simply list a few of those places. This is not an exhaustive list; it is simply somewhere to begin:
Gospel Translations – Spanish – resources from gospel ministries (Piper, Sproul, Dever, MacArthur, etc.) in Spanish
Iglesia Bautista Internacional: Pastor Miguel Nunez – gospel centered preaching from the Dominican Republic
Moore College in Latin America – in Spanish – biblical theology curriculum in Spanish
Torrentes de Vida – publisher of biblical theology materials by Graeme Goldsworthy, Vaughn Roberts and others
On October 23 (this Sunday) Tim Tebow will get his shot to be the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos. I have to admit that as someone who went to the University of Florida, I have followed Tebow’s career with great joy – but not for the reasons you might first think.
I’ve been hoping Tebow would get his chance to start, and it’s finally here. However, my prayer has been for different reasons. I’ve been praying for God’s glory in Christ, not Tim’s. I’ve been praying that God would display His wisdom in the life of a young man whom NFL analysts believe is foolish for a coach to play. We’ll see how Tebow answers to the pressure this Sunday. I have a feeling that no matter what happens on Sunday, it will simply fuel both camps to solidify their position and conclude – “I told you so.”
Regardless, it seems the world is beginning to understand. Last night my daughters and I watched an ESPN hour long show which followed Tim’s life from his last Sugar Bowl as a Gator all the way to draft day, including his visits to hospitals to pray with several children. We were greatly encouraged.
Today, there is an article that will appear in ESPN Magazine which gives a helpful look at why all the hype:
This story appears in the Oct. 31 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
WHAT SHALL WE say about the kingdom of Timothy Richard Tebow? And what parable should we choose to describe it?
Consider the day this past summer when Tebow attended the Junior Denver Broncos Cheerleaders brunch. It began with an adult requesting a photograph with the Broncos quarterback. Security stepped in and forbade it, for photographs with Tebow were deemed an opportunity for children only, so the adults were waved off.
But Tebow calmly said to the men in the yellow windbreakers, “It’s okay. As long as everyone stays cool, I will take photographs.” And so Tebow posed for photos with all who wanted them. And the picture-taking lasted for quite some time.
This Sunday I will be cheering on the Denver Broncos. Not because I am from there or have an affinity for the Broncos since childhood, but because I am praying that God would exalt His name through a young man who has made himself available.
For those of you who would like to refer back to our series on Exodus as we prepare to enter into a study of Leviticus, here is our Exodus sermon series:
Sermon Series by Juan Sanchez
- Our Hearts are Idol Factories (Exodus 32-34)
- Jesus: The High Priest Who Opens the Way to God (Exodus 28-29)
- We’re Marching to Zion (Exodus 25-40)
- The Tabernacle: The Place of God’s Presence (Exodus 25-27…)
- Let All Who Have a Willing Heart Give (Exodus 25:1-9…)
- But You Have Come to Mount Zion (Exodus 20:18-24:11)
- Love: The Distinguishing Mark of a Christian (Exodus 20:12-17)
- What is the Significance of the Lord’s Day (Exodus 20:8-11)
- Are Christians Still Required to Keep the Sabbath? (Exodus 20:8-11)
- What’s in a Name? (Exodus 20:7)
- No Other Gods (Exodus 20:1-7)
- Our Holy God is a Consuming Fire (Exodus 19:1-20:21)
- The People of God: Chosen, Priestly & Holy (Exodus 19:1-6)
- The Lord is the Shepherd who Protects His People (Exodus 17:8-16)
- The Lord’s the Shepherd who Provides for His People (Exodus 15:22-17:7)
- The God Who Shepherds His People (Exodus 13:17-18:27)
- The God Who Redeems His People in a Manner that Reveals His Glory (Exodus 5-15:21)
- The God Who Remembers His Covenant Promises (Exodus 1-4)
Beginning this Sunday morning at High Pointe, October 23, we will begin a new sermon series on the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Join us. Be sure to check out our sermon series page for study resources.
1 Peter Sermon Series by Juan Sanchez
- Persevering Together Until the End (1 Peter 5:5-14)
- Elders: Shepherds of God’s Flock (1 Peter 5:1-5)
- The Logic of Christian Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19)
- Let Us Love and Serve One Another (1 Peter 4:7-11)
- The End is Near: How Will you Live Today? (1 Peter 4:7-11)
- Road to Holiness (1 Peter 4:1-6)
- How to be Fearless and Humble in the Face of Persecution (1 Peter 3:8-18)
- Knowing and Honoring Your Wife (1 Peter 3:7)
- Daughters of Sarah: Holy Women who Hope in God (1 Peter 3:1-6)
- Entrust Yourself to Him who Judges Justly (1 Peter 2:18-25)
- Christians and Government: Revolutionaries, Patriots, Conscientious Objectors or Foreign Ambassadors? (1 Peter 2:13-17)
- In the World, but Not of the World (1 Peter 2:9-12)
- The People of God: A Holy Priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-10)
- So You Want to Change? (1 Peter 2:1-3)
- Growing into Salvation through the Living and Abiding Word of God (1 Peter 2:1-3)
- Born Again through the Living and Abiding Word of God (1 Peter 1:22-25)
- Love One Another Earnestly from a Pure Heart (1 Peter 1:22-23)
- Hopeful, Holy Christians in a Hostile World, pt.2 (1 Peter 1:13-21)
- Hopeful, Holy Christians in a Hostile World (1 Peter 1:13-2:3)
- So Great a Salvation (1 Peter 1:1-13)
- 1 Peter: Living as Strangers and Aliens in a Foreign and Hostile Land (Overview)
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on the blog – a month to be exact. The absence from the blogosphere has been both circumstantial and purposeful: circumstantial in the sense that other responsibilities have taken priority as we began a new church year; purposeful in that I sought to not add this one responsibility to my many other tasks.
After an absence for about a month, I hope to post more regularly, though not slavishly. So, please bear with me.