Thursday, September 14, 2017

When the Storms of Life Are Raging

Over the past several weeks, natural disasters have brought devastation to various parts of our country. First it was Hurricane Harvey bringing destruction to the Texas Coast. Then it was Irma hitting the Florida Keys and the coastal areas of Florida. As these storms brought their destruction, a large area of Montana is being ravaged by wildfires. These disasters have brought with them loss of homes and natural resources, destruction of property, and even loss of life. William Long, administrator of FEMA, predicted that the recovery from Harvey would take many years before we returned to normal. Federal and state agencies, community groups, non-profit relief agencies, and many others have joined together to reach out to those in need.

It is important that we ask ourselves, "As Christians, what is our response to these disasters and how do we reach out to those in need?" Here are some practical ways that we can help.

PRAYER — As followers of Christ, we need to fix our eyes on the God who promises his presence in the storms of life. We must, as individuals, and in concert with fellow believers, pray for the victims of these disasters.

GIVE — We can help both the relief workers and the victims by providing clothing, blankets, and food. Donations of money can be applied where they are needed most, but choose your channel for giving carefully. Make certain that your donation will go to those who need it rather than to an organization will use the funds for personal use.

VOLUNTEER — Some of us might be in a position to volunteer to work for organizations such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Many churches are sending ministry groups to help by fixing damaged drywall, flooring, roofs, and clearing debris.

One thing we must remember, this is not a short-term problem. These storms have produced major damage and we must be prepared to be involved long-term.

Heavenly Father, you are present with those who suffer from these natural disasters. We pray that those affected may feel your healing presence. You are in the hands of those who reach out to help those in need. We pray for those first responders in their courageous work. Help us to be faithful to pray for those who are suffering. Help us also to reach out in any way we can to help relieve their suffering. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Getting the Stain Out

It almost never fails. It seems that every time I get a new shirt, I manage to get a stain on it the very first time I wear it.  This seems to be especially true if I eat Italian food. Spaghetti sauce always seems to find its way onto my new shirt.

When this happens, I go straight to the laundry room and get out the spray and wash and spray it on the stain. Next, I pour some laundry detergent on the stain and put the shirt in the washing machine to soak. I will try everything I can find to get that stain out. I have tried new, intensified Tide.  Their TV commercial says, "Dirt can't hide from intensified Tide."  I have also tried new Blue Cheer, and Clorox II.  I have even tried to Shout it out, but nothing I do seems to work.

A life stained with sin is a lot like a spaghetti-stained shirt.  There is nothing that we can do to remove the stain. Some think that if they go to church, they will get clean, but the stain is still there.  Some think that if they get baptized, they will be clean, but getting baptized won't get the stain out either.

I may never get the stain out of my favorite shirt.  Perhaps it is hopeless, but it is not hopeless to get the stain of sin out of our lives.  You see, the blood of Jesus can wash away even the worst stains in our life.  The Bible says, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."  Perhaps you have tried everything to get the stain out of your life, but have you tried the one thing that will?  Have you tried Jesus?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Teaching Like Jesus Taught

The past several weeks our Sermons4Kids lessons have focused on the parables of Jesus. When Jesus wanted to teach people a lesson, his lesson quite often begins with, "The kingdom of heaven is like ______".  You can fill in the blank! Matthew 13:34 says, "Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable." Later in that chapter, after telling several parables, Jesus asked his listeners, "Have you understood all these things?"

"Yes," they replied. And that is why Jesus taught using parables!

When I first began teaching children, I spent most of my preparation time looking at the things around me. When something caught my eye, I would ask myself, "How could I use that to teach the children something about Jesus?" Almost all of my lessons began by showing the children an object and asking things such as what is it, how does it work, and what can it do for us? Then I would segue into the Bible lesson by saying something like, "That reminds me of something that happened in our Bible lesson today."

Jesus taught in parables, object lessons, and stories so that people would understand what he was trying to teach them.  Wouldn't it be a good idea for us to teach the same way? I have seen many teachers lose the children because they didn't engage their imagination in that first few minutes of the lesson. The right object will get you off on the right foot to learning about Jesus.

If that's not the way you're teaching, try it!