Friday, June 27, 2008


My sister sent this email FW to me. I have no idea where it came from. You may have already seen it. Maybe you were there!

The 92 year Old Preacher

While watching a little TV on Sunday instead of going to church, I watched
a church in Atlanta, Ga honoring one of its senior pastors who had been
retired many years. He was 92 at that time and I wondered why the
Church even bothered to ask the old gentleman to preach at that age.

After a warm welcome, introduction of this speaker, and as the applause
quieted down he rose from his high back chair and walked slowly, with great
effort and a sliding gate to the podium. Without a note or written paper of
any kind he placed both hands on the pulpit to steady himself and then
quietly and slowly he began to speak....

'When I was asked to come here today and talk to you, your pastor asked me
to tell you what was the greatest lesson ever learned in my 50 odd years of
preaching. I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one
thing that made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all
my trials. The one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heart
break and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me... the only thing that
would comfort was this verse.........

'Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
we are weak but He is strong.....

Yes, Jesus loves me...
The Bible tells me so.'

When he finished, the church was quiet. You actually could hear his
foot steps as he shuffled back to his chair. I don't believe I will ever
forget it.

A pastor once stated, 'I always noticed that it was the adults who
chose the children's hymn 'Jesus Loves Me' (for the children of course)
during a hymn sing, and it was the adults who sang the loudest because I
could see they knew it the best.'

'Senior version of Jesus Loves Me'

Here is a new version just for us who have white hair or no hair at all.
For us over middle age (or even those almost there) and all you others,
check out this newest version of Jesus Loves Me.


Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.


Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand in His I'll go
On through life, let come what may,
He'll be there to lead the way.


When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so clear,
'Have no fear, for I am near.'


When my work on earth is done,
And life's victories have been won.
He will take me home above,
Then I'll understand His love


I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day.


"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:12-14)

from Hosea 6
Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth." (vs 3-4)

Do you think we ever stop being God's children?
Do you think we ever stop being Emerging Kids?
Does thinking that way help us build bridges between generations?
Does it give us more empathy for children? For other generations?

Jesus was that baby in Bethlehem. His father? The Ancient of Days, Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end.

If we can give children (in every generation) a sense of the love and the presence of God that goes deeper than just cognitive understanding but penetrates down into the depths of their being, we've done our job. We can't do it alone - it's the work of the Holy Spirit.

But that's the job.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I probably never made it clear that when I talk about puppies and kids and rewards that affirmation and getting excited about success is at the heart of the reward. In dog training the food goes away. The praise stays. My observations say (though I'm not there, yet) that many dogs eventually just do it without reward and even without praise just because it's the right thing to do. Ok, they're just well trained dogs. It's pretty special when you have a pet that wants to please you. Though we're a little careful about teaching children a "living to please" mentality, it's special when you have a child that wants to please you, too.

But kids are different. Even if you take away the rewards whether self-centered, motivational, or fun, there are times in everybody's life when you just have to do "it" because it's the the right thing to do whether you want to or not, whether you get approval and affirmation or not, whether you get rewarded or not. Doing the right thing isn't always the thing everyone praises you for, or even the thing your favorite grown-up or your favorite person praises you for. Sometimes peer groups and communities encourage and support a kid doing the right thing. Sometimes they discourage it or even encourage doing the wrong thing. Which is why kids need to learn to think for themselves and trust their gut feelings, especially when those feelings are on the mark but everything around them is telling them "no".

God makes promises and He keeps them. We believe there are rewards in life. We also believe that there are rewards we won't see in this life. There are times in life when we feel gipped, even though we believe we did the right thing ... and life goes on. We walk on with our kids, and we all learn something. We don't live for the rewards, or maybe we do. Maybe we live with hope for the reward that someday we'll hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!" In my mind, that's the ultimate reward - an unseen, unrealized reward. Sometimes just the anticipation of that reward is enough. Maybe that kind of thinking is easier for kids than for adults because adulthood hasn't yet stolen their imagination and optimism. Maybe they're not as dependent on external rewards as we think they are, unless we've made kids that way. Maybe we need to be careful.

John 20:29 " . . . Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summing it up

Thoughts about children in scripture from Csinos’ paper. How does it change our thinking? What do we do with it?

1. Just as God gave children to Israel, a promise kept, children remain our God-given heritage – a reward from the Lord. (Gen 48:9, Ps. 127:3) How do I handle a God-given life? A God-given gift? A God-given reward?

2. Children are key players involved in community worship and celebration asking a most significant question that the adult faith community is required to answer. God wrote it into the script. (Exodus 12:24-28 NIV) 24 "Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' 27 then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.' " Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.” They are commanded to celebrate and remember the day and what God did. Are times of celebrating what God has done primary tools for shaping, forming, and teaching children?

3. Children initiate conversation, teaching, story-telling. (Deut 6:4-9, 20-25) God engaged their God-given curiosity to shape their faith. His design for instruction was something that took place out of the classroom day after day as parents and children walked through life together.

4. A whole book of the Bible (Proverbs) reflects a father’s instructing his son. What observations can we make?

5. “Hear…” (Proverbs 1:8) How, over a child’s young life did a parent condition those ears to “hear…?”
a. Multi-generational impartation (Prov. 4:3)
b. How can faith communities facilitate parent to child teaching, training, and impartation?

6. What legitimate leadership opportunities can we give to children? (Isaiah 11:6)

7. When God gives pre-teens, teens, and young adults vision for His Kingdom must it be only “spiritual”? Do we water it down? Are we afraid to let them pursue it? Or do we look for ways to hear them and facilitate the vision God gives them?

8. What was it about Jesus that people welcomed and still welcome? Do we welcome children in the same way? The thought of Jesus deferring to a little child is a powerful thing. The Master Teacher – God Himself - calling on a child for assistance is, too.

9. Without targeting specific children, do we use child-like examples and stories about children to teach about the kingdom of God? (Mark 9)

10. “. . . [C]hildren receive the kingdom not because of virtues they possess . . . but for what they lack…” (Csinos, p 109) How do we cultivate a sincere attitude (not self-righteous, not false humility) that says, “I am not worthy,” yet “I am worthy,” both at the same time (in adults and children)?

11. We value children as children but also understand that childhood passes. (I Cor. 13)

12. The scriptures tell children to obey and honor their parents with a promise attached – that things will go well for them and they’ll live a long time. (Eph. 6:3)

13. “It seems as though Paul considers these children to be moral agents who have the ability to reason right from wrong.60 What is more, this discussion of obedience ‘in the Lord’ reveals that, like her parents, a child’s ‘relationship to Christ [is] that which fundamentally defines and qualifies her life in all respects.’61 Therefore, parents and children stand alongside one another in their appropriate places under God. In saying ‘in the Lord,’ Paul demonstrates that adults and children are on the same level—they are both under God.” (Csinos p, 113) A controversial statement. Yet the tension of opposites, children obey your parents in the Lord (Eph. 6:3) but “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) is the strength of the relationship. The key component for the church is what does “in the Lord” mean? What does “in the training and instruction of the Lord” mean? Who is this God we look to as Father, Teacher, role model? How does He teach us? What do the scriptures reveal about this Teacher, His methods, the content He cares about? How do we see Him operating as Teacher in our own lives?

14. Just my own observation: This is from Matthew 25: 40 “ 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” and 45 "'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Culturally, this would have included children. It includes home, faith community, beyond faith communities, and it includes social justice. Maybe that’s the best way to sum it all up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thoughts from the paper 6

His title and theme is that of welcoming children and showing hospitality. I haven't tried to revisit the obvious here. It's a wonderful paper. It really speaks for itself and I hope you read it. It doesn't take that long to read.

He ends with application. That's where the rubber hits the road.

How do we welcome and extend hospitality to each new or visiting adult in our faith community? How do we welcome and continually express hospitality to each adult who is regularly participating in our faith community? Think specific actions, here.

How do we welcome and extend hospitality to each child who passes through the life of our faith community? To those who pass through every week? Again, think specific actions. Are we giving to/serving the child or are we merely checking off the tasks on an impersonal agenda. Are we merely content to meet the objectives of our programs?

It's worth going back through the paper asking, point by point, "how is this thinking (what the scriptures show us) different from what we've understood up to this point?" "What has to change in our thinking?" "What has to change in our actions?"

"How do we do this?"

Lord, help us...

Thoughts from the paper 5

As I read Csinos' discussion of children as found in Paul's Epistles, I didn't feel like it shook up my thinking that much but the more I thought about it the more I realize that it most certainly shakes up traditional/fundamentalist/evangelical thinking about the parent/child relationship. I don't know that recognizing that " parents and children stand alongside one another in their appropriate places under God" [Csinos, p 113] is intended to displace the need for child training and discipline, as appropriate, but rather to infuse definition and method with a new attitude and respect that works both ways, not only for the child as an individual and a person and as a representative of Christ Jesus and Father God but the child as one who stands before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - someone God respects and listens to - a child with the capabilities to choose. Let's face it, if we as adults are in training to live our faith as a discipled and disciplined life it seems only Biblical and natural to draw our children in, too. And maybe that's enough. Maybe that will cover the training and discipline - teaching children respect and kindness.

But children obeying parents "in the Lord," that qualifier suggesting that children have standing before God, not only challenges hard core patriarchal parenting attitudes but it opens up another question ... Do the author's comments affect the ongoing discussion in the church about "the age of accountability"?

Thoughts from the paper 4

Read his discussion of Jesus and the children in the Gospels. (McMaster Journal of Theology. Ministry/Csinos Welcoming Children, pp 104-110) after he tells us why he chose to quote from the gospel of Mark.

I always like historical/cultural info. That part is particularly interesting. Our country was the same way in that animals and children shared similar status. Not getting attached to little ones because so many died. But even with all that said, it's easy to read about Jesus and the children and miss how radical His action was, "Oh, this isn't new. I already think like this." I welcome children. We've heard these scriptures over and over forever. We're doing this."

Do I?

Do the people you love, work with, and serve really think this way? Are we allowing God to use children to teach us the way we expect children to learn from us?

If we did, what would it look like? What would be different?

Thoughts from the paper 3

I think the author's focus on the role of the child as leader is significant, yet I think his focus on the inclusiveness of young men taking a prophetic role as described in the books of the Prophets is even more significant. It's easy to see Jesus coming as child and leader. He also came prophesizing as a young man. Are the prophetic books only telling of the coming of Christ or is it, as Csinos suggests, a picture that includes children and young people playing important roles in the kingdom of God?

Is it something that's only for the future?

Thoughts from the paper 2

His comments focusing on Proverbs as an example of a father's instruction to his child/children is more food for thought.

From my perspective, a father taking responsibility for the instruction of his children gives him opportunity to impart to his children that which has been imparted to him - more than genetic or financial heritage. It's opportunity for mentoring and impartation. A whole book in the scriptures is devoted to this. That's profound.

Does it ever amaze you, as it does me, how we inevitably miss the obvious?

Thoughts from the paper 1

This is the first of 6 posts. The paper isn't a long one. The font is big. [smile] I read it through. I didn't study it. So these are first impressions.

I hadn't thought about how significant it was to the people of Israel that Abraham and Sarah were childless. Not only was the baby a miracle but from a spiritual/human perspective, a spiritual leader (and his wife) lived under a profound spiritual curse. If you were part of his entourage in his day and age, how would you feel about that ?

Even if you aren't reading the story with a focus on children, it's significant that only the birth of a child could make God's promise to Abraham real. Interesting that God sent His own son as a baby. It also seems to me that given the nature of the curse and the length of time involved that there would be a certain amount of empathy generated with all this. Random thoughts all.

This part is quite interesting:

The author continues: "Children (especially sons) were to carry the role of triggering the narratives of God’s redemptive work in Jewish history, which were not to be told until a child asked about the meaning behind the ceremonies." [Csinos p,99]

The interesting part to me? "...which were not to be told until a child asked..." What if we never told a child anything until he/she asked? (except to keep them safe) It reminds me of one of Chaim Potok's novels but I don't remember which one. Not sure it can be done in a classroom but maybe.

Children were given "the responsibility . . . to initiate conversation and storytelling that announces that 'The Lord our God, the Lord is one' (Deut. 6:4)." [Csinos p, 99]

I'm stretching here beyond what he said in his paper but ponder with me, if you will, how that very simple idea would radically change Christian Education/Spiritual Formation (to say nothing of our homes, lol!).

- Children initiate the education process by asking questions.
- No teaching is done unless a child asks a question and the teaching is only in response to that question. Just a little radical? [smile]

But I'm doing the scriptures and the ways of God and His people an injustice to separate teaching and learning from community celebration and worship. Notice how they were all intertwined? And notice that the children were given the job, the responsibility of asking "why?" Not that kids need us to prompt them to ask why. God knows! That simple child-like curiosity was a significant part of community celebration/worship/teaching and learning that God commanded to take place.

The way the author included Psalm 8:2 where he did in the discussion is interesting, too.

by way of Emerging Parents/Brian MCLaren/Dave Csinos

This comes by way of Emerging Parents/Brian MClaren/Dave Csinos

If you investigate you'll find that included is a paper on children in the Bible.

Any research on the spiritual formation of children in Emerging churches would definately be worth following. I hope it's a long range study. Just understand that research is what research is.

Now I'm going back to read the paper.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

more . . .

The underlying unspoken side of the last post is relational.

Are we afraid of older children and younger children growing relationships? Is our culture so saturated with bizarre crime stories and inappropriate sexual relationships that we and our children with us have lost the ability to love one another without all that cultural baggage? When we live in fear we serve an impotent god. We make God very small and powerless. I'm not talking about being irresponsible and stupid - we also serve a God whose depths of wisdom the most ancient human being will never fathom.

Yes, we're fallible human beings but if any community of people should be working hard to learn to love one another with a pure heart, shouldn't the church? The church - the Bride and Lover of Christ, children of the living God who's name is Father, Love, Truth, Judge, Shepherd, Counselor, Shield, Refuge - go through the names of the God of the scriptures. That's who He is. That's Who we represent - every part of Him. Oh yeah, He's God. Maybe that's why it takes generations to express who He is and why God is so patient with us!

We represent Him to our children, to one another, to the world around us. We stand in His presence and He decides whether or not we're doing a good job representing Him. Didn't Jesus come saying, "that which I see the Father do, I do" - (present tense)? Ok. Not an exact quote. Here's the exact quote. As always, read it in context. Maybe it's out of context here. But I still think it's relational and I still think it applies.

If we succeed, we will see the way we represent Christ Jesus reflected in our children - the way they interact with us, the way they interact with one another, the way they interact with any age, ethnicity, creed, socio-economic or educationally different, the way they interact with and love the world. It isn't memorizing the scriptures that count, it's the way we live them. That's what it's all about.

Each time we succeed, imagine God's joy!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Older children ministering to younger children

A couple days ago I read a plea written in 2006 - encouraging churches to adopt a minimum age of 16-18 yrs for volunteers ministering to children. If they had said, minimum age of 16 yrs or 18 yrs for someone responsible for groups [insert a responsible # of] children . That would make sense to me but help me here I'm a little out of the loop.

Questioning the safety of allowing older children to work with and interact with younger children (assuming responsible older children and responsible adult supervision) - is this an issue for most church communities? Is it common policy to keep older children from interacting with or helping minister to younger children?

Off the top of my head, it seems that to create a policy like that we risk losing the valuable resource and the teaching and learning that occurs from older children giving to younger children and visa versa. We risk losing the valuable socialization of older learning to care for those who are younger like siblings and younger children learning to respect whoever they're learning from. It seems this would be especially important for children who don't have siblings. It seems that a policy like that would just reinforce society's compartmentalization of age groups and limited interaction between old and young.

I definately favor giving older children appropriate opportunities to work with younger children. I say this assuming that the responsible adults in charge have the authority to say, "my previous experience with [older child] says this isn't a good idea," or "this isn't working, maybe we can find some other way for [older child] to help," or "allowing these two older children to serve together isn't a good idea." I'm also assuming that 16-18 year olds (or adults for that matter) aren't left responsible for children that he/she can't manage safely.

Again, I'm out of the loop right now. Is it common practice for different age groups to be kept from ministering to one another? Or is it the exception?

I understand where the fears come from but is it our job to respond to fear and reinforce the fear or is it our job to respond to the fear and help people wrestle with what wisdom means and teach them how to overcome their fears and make wise choices?

And these questions don't even begin to address underlying social roots.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pondering differences

and scizms. . . Speaking as someone who avoids fitting into boxes or categories - I'm pondering, wondering, asking questions again. It's inevitable. The curse of one who sees things from far too many perspectives.

I'm wondering if every generation sees scripture through the lens of their time in a way that enables us to know God in way that previous generations didn't. If you grow up in a more scientific or technological time won't you approach the Word that way and see God that way? If you grow up in a more community oriented or relationally focused time, won't you approach the Word and see God that way? If you grow up more individualistic and independent? The Word doesn't change, God doesn't change we may just have eyes and heart tuned to different sides of Him because of the times we live in. The Word doesn't change, God doesn't change but the points of reference we use to understand it may change even from subculture to subculture. Was that what Jesus meant when he said, "he who has eyes to see...," "he who has ears to hear. . ."?

I wonder if cultural ideological rebounds are inevitable. When we focus on scientific thinking to an extreme, doesn't it seem reasonable that the next generation will take their thinking in the opposite direction? Yet all of those qualities that fight with each other are in fact sides of who God is. His law word and His compassionate understanding, His justice and His forgiveness. His caring about a sparrow and His judgement of a nation. There's probably more. Even what we discover of God, what He reveals to us through His Son and His Holy Spirit is so much bigger than the one of us understanding. Bigger than one family or one church or one nation or one generation... Perhaps that's why the orthodox come to a place in their thinking where all they can say is, "It's a mystery!"

Can I believe that God is God and always will be who He says He is and believe that the scriptures are true in every generation and every situation and still understand that not all of life's interrelationships are black and white? If the Living Word were always black and white would we have all the "Bible supported" controversies that we have? Can His word be true and all that the scriptures say about themselves for every generation without legalism, without fundamentalism or is there a time for that, too? Can God be the same yesterday, today, and forever and still be the Living God through generations that keep changing culturally?

My children don't all know me the same way. My grandchildren won't all know me the same way, either. My kids are pretty perceptive about 2008. Would they have been different people in 1908? Would they think differently? Would they process life differently? Even with the same scriptures would they know God differently just because of the time in which they lived? My faith thinking and understanding now, in 2008, isn't the same as it was in the '60's and 70's or in the 80's and 90's. My grandparents and great-grandparents were devout Christians but they expressed their faith quite differently at the turn of the century than I have at different point in my life. Has God changed? No. Has His Word changed? No. My parents and siblings express their faith in ways that are more similar to my grandparents and great-grandparents but they also have less interaction with and are less influenced by a diverse urban culture. There are ways we're all quite different but ways that our faith is the same.

God used the time of Adam and Eve to reveal something of Himself to man, the times of the law and fleeing Egypt, the times of kings and prophets, the times of exile, the times of Christ and the apostles... revealing something of Himself to those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Whether God made you more relational or more scientific in your approach to life will inevitably affect how you approach and understand God. Is one "better" than the other? Does it depend on the task at hand and having the understandings we need to accomplish that task? Some people have skills and understanding that I don't possess that enable them to do jobs that I can't do well. And the opposite is true. So we need each other. We need to respect and honor each other whether we agree or not because we need each other. We need every part of the Body God's given us to. I'm thinking that Christ expects one Bride, not many - mentally stable, not schizophrenic.

So what? Just pondering. Just wondering. Still asking questions...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Faith and Scripture Today

I'm sending you to this blog post, No Blog of Significance. It's a long post but I was taken with this quote:

"How, then, should we communicate our faith to this postmodern audience? Some Christians fear that in an attempt to be culturally relevant and attractive to outsiders we will water down the gospel. But it’s not about changing the message, it’s about changing the way we communicate the message, because we truly care about connecting with our listeners. In fact, it means caring enough to become listeners. The catchphrase among postmodern church leaders when it comes to evangelism is, 'Don’t count conversions; count conversations.'” It would be interesting to go through the Gospels and look at both Jesus' conversations and conversions.

If you're like me, you'll get to the end and realize that he's not exactly supportive of post-modern thinking but I still like this quote and I think he makes some important observations about our culture - observations that particularly apply to up-and-coming generations.

The one thing I would add is that we have to keep reminding one another that in any and every generation, faith says that even today He (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) is always watching over His word to perform it. It will never return to Him without accomplishing the purpose He sent it for. He is always willing and able to make His words and stories come alive in the hearts and minds of listeners in order to reveal Himself just as He has in every generation. Faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Which ties back to why I liked what he said when he said [but this is my version] that we can't water down or abandon His Word without abandoning Him. The question is what does that look like? What does it mean? Does it mean just quoting scripture, KJV or the NIV, or is there a chance His Word implies more than that? Words and living that say the same thing, send the same message, reveal the same Savior?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sandy Play

One of my college-aged daughters recently attended a sand therapy workshop. Don't know if this site is the same but it's a site with some info. She's preparing to be some kind of counselor yet to be determined. I understand that counselors use sand play for therapy - to help people sort out life and perhaps to help put people back together.

In Christie's workshop they used cardboard boot boxes (as in shoe boxes) so each participant had their own sand box. Therapy is one-on-one but if you have adequate adult supervision and use large wide cardboard boxes, with thick plastic bag liners that you can fold over the edges of the box to play and twist tie closed when you're done, you can give each child their own tray and if it's deeper than a cookie sheet MAYBE (no promises here) it would be a little less messy. They could also be used outside in good weather. When you're shopping, you might find other appropriate boxes, plastic dishpans, wooden box lids, or disposable metal pans . Then you collect lots of little toys and objects to play with and to act out Bible stories or stories from real life. You can even create your own small toys with older kids.

You take a therapy technique (the idea probably came from children playing in the sand to begin with) and just turn it back into a form of play but use it for pretending, playing, and telling stories with concrete objects. Obviously, you wouldn't want to use sand and small toys with children who still put things in their mouths. I would think that especially for Bible stories sand would be nice. If I remember correctly they may use a sand tray or table in Godly Play but this is a way for each child to have their own sand space so they can each create and tell their own stories. I also realize that they find this particularly beneficial if the child has an adult listener but either way, it gives children one more creative outlet for their stories, for play, for pretending, for processing life.