Why my kids never asked Jesus into their hearts.

One of the things being a children’s pastor taught me was that vocabulary matters. One of the phrases I retired from our kids ministry years ago was “Asking Jesus into your heart.” It’s not bad, just confusing. Kids always look at you funny and then rather than talk about the power of redemption and how we all are in need of the saving power of Christ. We spend time fielding questions from 5 year olds about the location of our Savior. “If Jesus is in heaven how is he inside my heart?” “Does God shrink Jesus so he can fit inside my heart?” “If Jesus lives in my heart why do I still get acid reflux?” Ok that last one wasn’t real. But I think you get my point.

Asking Jesus into your heart is not a bad concept to explain to kids it’s just poorly worded. The idea of telling kids to ask Jesus into their heart  uses a metaphor, I believe, is a bit dated. The phrase asking Jesus into your heart has been around for ages and I believe it has served it’s purpose well. I just think that it’s time for an update. Here’s why.

  • It creates more questions than it answers. – How can Jesus live in heaven and in my heart
  • We live in the information age and kids know how to google before they know how to tie their shoes. Kid’s are not thinking wow I want to surrender my affections to Christ they are wondering what is Jesus doing in my right ventricle.
  • It doesn’t focus kids to what matters most, their sinfulness and Christ’s sacrifice.

You may be thinking then what am I supposed to say to a child to invite them to surrender their life to Christ? With our kids at home and at church we are very intentional to ask kids if they would like to “Trust Jesus with their whole heart.” It may sound like semantics to you but I believe it’s much more than that. Kids need to understand from a young age that the first issue of faith that has to be settled is trust. Kids get trust.

Talking about Jesus inside our hearts conjures up a very different idea today than it used to. What we were trying to do was make a kid friendly way of saying that we were inviting Jesus to be the Lord over our affections. The heart always represents the seat of human affections. It’s still important that kids understand this because what language we use begins to form the world view our kids have. We have chosen to say “Trust Jesus with our whole heart” at the Luce house and at Redeeemer. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but it creates a much better conversation because it starts with us Trusting Jesus because of who He is because of what He has done. We give him our whole heart because He gave up his whole life for our sin. He doesn’t want a part of our affections He wants to be treasured above all else. Kids are never to young to hear the gospel. They need to understand their sinfulness and Christ’s unconditional grace. Rather than fret over the GPS location of baby Jesus.

Why have I been thinking about this? My middle boy decided last night to trust Jesus with his whole heart. I could not have been more happy. The angels in heaven are rejoicing, a 5 year old prodigal has come home. Love my boy but will never love him as much as his Savior.

Downcast – Great podcasting app

I love listening to podcasts. The problem I had with listening to lots of podcasts is the workflow of how Apple sets up podcasts is very cumbersome to say the least. Lots of time in iTunes which is what they want ultimately so you buy more music, books and videos. I listen to 3-6 hours of podcasts a week in the summer that could spike to 10+ so finding a better solution than iTunes.

I found two apps that would do the job. Downcast and instacast are the two biggest apps out there that provide full podcast functionality. Both were great here is why I chose Downcast.

Downcast

You have the choice to download, stream live or mark for later.
You can subscribe to whatever podcasts you want directly from your phone.
It remembers where you left off in the podcast you are listening to like an audio book
You can create separate playlists.
The customization features are fantastic.
Because you can stream the content it frees up space on your phone for other things.
You can share the podcast you are listening to via email, twitter, facebook, evernote and many more.

If you regularly listen to podcasts say 2 or more a week you really need to look into downcast.  I love it.

Here is a full list of current features.

Features
+ Search, subscribe to and download audio and video podcasts of any size
+ Video and audio AirPlay support
+ Manually subscribe to podcasts via URL
+ Sync podcast subscriptions, playlists, settings and episode information via iCloud
+ Download podcasts automatically (including resuming downloads)
+ Continue podcast downloads in background (per iOS restrictions)
+ Browse and download older podcast episodes
+ Auto-update podcasts
+ Settings for auto-download and episode retention (globally and per-podcast)
+ Import podcast feeds via OMPL
+ Export podcasts and OPML files to your computer and other 3rd party apps
+ Support for password-protected feeds
+ Play audio in the background (for supported devices)
+ .5x, 1x, 1.25, 1.5x, 1.75x, 2x, 2.5x, 2.75x and 3x speed playback
+ Chapters support for enhanced podcasts
+ Stream episodes without downloading
+ Control audio with Bluetooth or other headphone remote controls
+ Create and edit “smart” playlists
+ View podcast details and episode show notes
+ View embedded images in podcast episodes
+ Rename podcasts with long or unwieldy names
+ Gesture support
+ Integrated help
+ Sleep timer

Influence

I had a conversation with a pastor from another church, she said “God has given you influence, what are going to say?” It’s a great question because like it or not each of us has influence. God has given each of us a measure of influence what are you going to say when have people in your life that are listening to you what you are about to say. How are going to leverage your leadership to glorify Christ and not build your own kingdom.

I remember trying to come up with a message for homiletics class in Bible College it was rough. Looking back now I found it difficult because my understanding of God and my understanding of life where very limited. It was difficult because my level of experience with pain and with grace was nothing to where it is today. I was learning that’s what was expected of me (I thought I knew more than I did, I couldn’t have been more mistaken).

When God gives you favor and influence he does so at the right time for His own glory. For the purpose of focus and clarity especially the older you get I think it’s important that you decide what you want spend you life doing. As a leader of your family, church, and beyond you need to clarify your message. What you say will define you and hopefully glorify Christ.

Here are the things I want to people to take from me.

1. Families matter – When all is said and done our churches are only as strong as the families that comprise them. Our ministry to the world starts within the four walls of our homes. I want everyone to know that I believe family ministry is where all ministry starts in the church and where all ministry returns.

2. The Local church –  I never want my blog, my ministry or anything else to be about me. I love my local church I love the greater church. I believe the church is the hope of the world. I want people to see in what I say and do my value for team ministry, for working out ministry ideas in the context of a local church. I love speaking at conferences to build the broader church but I love learning at conferences to bring home ideas that influence my local church and help it grow.

3. The Gospel – I came to faith at a young age but wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I really came to understand the Gospel in a way that it was alive to me. I grew up being able to talk about it, but never in a way that it griped me. I want my kids to grow up understanding what faith means, what grace is and what treasuring Christ looks like. The gospel is not the gospel as long as we are defining it. The gospel becomes the gospel when it begins to define us.

How are you going to use the influence God has given you to tell others?

 

Asking the right questions

Questions

The most important thing we can do as a leader is ask the right questions of ourself and others.

When we don’t ask the right questions we get wrong information. When we don’t ask the right people questions we get wrong information. When we don’t ask ourselves the right questions we live in self deception.

Questions I am asking myself

1. What story am I writing for myself and my family?
2. In any area God gives me influence what am I going to say?
3. Am I treasuring Christ?
4. Am I living my life free from regret of the past and fear of the future but fully dependent on Christ?
5. What am I doing that if God doesn’t show up I’ll be in trouble.

Questions we need to ask as leaders few people are asking.

1. How are we going to communicate the Gospel to kids?
2. What do we want our kids, teens and adults to become?
3. What will my decisions as a leader look like in 10 years?
4. In a curriculum climate that largely leaves out the Holy Spirit, how am I going to intentionally add the truth of who the Holy Spirit is in a biblically accurate way.
5. When I leave the area of ministry I am currently serving what deposit will I leave? What will remain what we be lost after I am gone.
6. Am I building on my personality and preferences or am I building on Christ and his work that will remain?