Yesterday

 skyYesterday 18 kids at Woodbury Community Church’s Sky Vacation Bible School program made a first-time commitment to Jesus Christ. This means that they heard the Gospel, understood what they heard, and prayed a prayer to God that acknowledged that they were sinners in need of God’s grace. They asked God for His forgiveness. They admitted that they believed that Jesus is who Jesus says that He is, and invited Him to rule their lives as Savior and Lord.
18 kids were rescued by the God of the universe, who in His great love and mercy sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross so that we might have the opportunity to be reconciled to Him.18 kids, who likely have so much life ahead of them made the most important decision of their lives.18 kids were justified by the Lord of the Universe. At the moment of salvation all of their sin was forgiven and they were seen as pure before God.18 kids began the process of sanctification. It is a process that will not be completed until they are in heaven someday. They began the process of being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

18 kids began to walk as disciples of Jesus. And, like the original disciples those 18 kids will have moments of doubt, failure, frustration, disillusionment, and despair. They will also see the faithful hand of God on their lives.

Will all 18 kids continue walking with Christ? I sure hope so. But, none of us know. I do know that the work of God began in their life long before yesterday, and it will continue long after tomorrow. So, I rejoice!

Do you realize how cool yesterday was?!

It was so cool that God rejoiced!

Luke 15:10 says, “10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

I used to think that verse meant that the angels were having a party in heaven. But, when read in it’s context it hints that the one rejoicing is God, Himself!

There will be some who will say, “You’re fooling yourselves. The majority of those kids will not stay faithful to the decision that they made yesterday.” Instead of asking how they can get involved in the continuing discipleship process of new followers of Christ, they will criticize.

Others will criticize and say, “It was never their decision to make. God chose them and what happened yesterday has nothing to do with them.” In their theological dogmatism they will miss out on the joy of what God has done and what He will continue to do in the lives of these kids.

Others will say, “Kids were manipulated into making emotional decisions for Christ through slick programming, emotionally charged lessons, and lots of fun.” These folks will probably always have issues with any method we use to join Christ on His mission of making disciples. As I write these words I’m listening to close to 100 kids singing their hearts out on the last day of Vacation Bible School. The words they are singing? “Anything is possible with God . . . Nothing is impossible . . . We will fly . . . We will soar . . . Trusting God and leaving our fears behind . . . We will fly.” Vacation Bible School isn’t manipulation, it is telling the truth of Jesus Christ in a culturally sensitive manner to a generation of kids. The Gospel is always culturally relevant. Vacation Bible School gives us a way to bring that message to kids who otherwise wouldn’t hear. This year 8 in 10 of the kids at Vacation Bible School are not from Woodbury Community Church. That excites me!

Some will say, “Kids can’t make important decisions. Their brains haven’t learned to think critically yet. They see everything in black and white.” It was as a four-year-old boy that I made the most important decision of my life. It was on Easter Sunday, 1974 that I trusted Jesus as my Savior. Were there days of doubt? You bet! Were there days of despair? Sure. Were there days of rebellion? There are still way too many of those. But, God has been with me every step of the way.

Yesterday, 18 kids trusted in God’s grace, receiving the gift of salvation offered to them through Christ Jesus!

It seems to me that much of what is written in the blogosphere today as it relates to the Bride of Christ is cynical. There are enough cynical people in the world today. Take some time today to rejoice at what God did in these kids. Take some time to rejoice in the fact that the story of God isn’t through yet! Take some time to rejoice that all over the world people today placed their faith in Jesus! And, ask yourself what part you are playing in the discipleship process of the next generation. Those 18 kids crossed the starting line yesterday, not the finish line. They will need our guidance as they walk through life.

God is growing his church around the world. I rejoice that He has chosen to allow Woodbury Community Church to experience His growth in recent years. There is no growth that brings more joy to my heart than the birth of new believers! May God continue to bless the spiritual nursery of His kingdom! And, may we all get involved in the mission of honoring God by making more disciples for Jesus Christ!

Good Things Come in Small Packages

radicalidea
A Radical Idea: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (10-Pack)
A Radical Idea: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God – Kindle Edition

 There is an old axiom that states, Good things come in small packages. I haven’t always believed it. I certainly haven’t believed it when it comes to booklets. When I received a package that contained ten review copies of David Platt’s booklet A Radical Idea I was initially disappointed. I’m not sure that I have ever read a tiny booklet and been overly impressed. So, to say that I was surprised to find myself delighted, challenged and convicted in just 52 short pages is a bit of an understatement.
As he has done in his books Radical and Radical Together, Platt challenges readers to move beyond the complacency and consumerism of the American church and into true discipleship. In his opening pages Platt writes, “God-exalting men and women do not have the time to waste their lives pursuing a Christian spin on the American dream.” He then begins to unpack his vision of what the church could look like if together we pursued radical obedience to Christ’s mission to make disciples; which he repeatedly calls “impacting the world with the Spirit of God for the glory of God.”Platt, who pastors a mega-church in a multi-million dollar facility, challenges American Christians to rethink church. Increasingly uncomfortable with the massive amounts of dollars that western churches throw into buildings and ministry, Platt challenges us to think about how we are unleashing people for ministry that happens apart from the building. Platt has asked his church leaders to ask themselves how they would do church if they didn’t have the luxury of a building. It is clear that much of Platt’s thinking on church has been developed by his trips to parts of the world where being a follower of Jesus is illegal.He writes on page eleven that, “the goal of the church is never for one person to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ. The goal is always for all God’s people to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ.” He then discusses how Jesus used eleven men, who would have been considered the “wrong people” by many in the modern church, to transform the world for Christ.I like to keep a journal when I read books. One of the phrases that I wrote down while reading this book is, “Building the right church, then, is dependent on using all the wrong people” (page 12).Modern churches in other parts of the world and certainly the early church have not been built around great communicators, fantastic programs, state of the art facilities and worship. These churches have grown because of a desire for the people of God to gather together no matter the cost, for the glory of God. Platt asks his readers to consider, “What if the church itself – the people of God gathered in one place – is intended to be the attraction, regardless of who is teaching or singing that day? This is enough for our brothers and sisters around the world. But is it enough for us?” (page 18).Platt spends the remainder of the book detailing the need for churches to “make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples, and together multiply the Gospel to all peoples” (see page 47).In the church that I pastor we’ve encouraged each of our members to follow the example of Jesus when it comes to discipleship. Jesus had a core group of three men that He discipled in a greater way than anyone else. He spend three years building into the twelve disciples. He had a group of 70 that he poured into at a lesser level. And, He had the multitudes who he poured into at an even lesser level. Platt’s book challenges us to do a similar thing. He encourages each member of the church to be involved in a discipleship journey with those whom God has brought into their life.

I will be giving A Radical Idea to all of the small group leaders, church staff and elders at our church. It’s nice to have a booklet that can easily be read in 30 minutes or less to give to the core leaders of our congregation. A Radical Idea is a great companion to a discipleship program that seeks to “unleash the people of God for the purpose of God.” (Platt’s terminology, not mine — but I sure like it!) I highly recommend this resource.

To read an excerpt of A Radical Idea, follow this link and click the excerpt tab.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.