Showing posts with label Biblical Tales of Troubled Kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biblical Tales of Troubled Kids. Show all posts

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Bible Tells Me So; How The Church Should View Kids of Troubled Homes

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When we think of the Bible, “we normally think its a book about adults for adults [...].” However, children are referenced over 8,000 times. “Biblical narratives include dozens of children. [..]children with Godly parents, and ungodly parents, wealthy children, poor children, rebellious children ,obedient children, children with physical ailments, children with unlikely names and those with desirable names and miracle babies.”

We can flip to the Old Testament and read in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 or Psalm 10:17-18.

We can flip to the New Testament and read Mark 10:13-16  or Ephesians 6:1-4.

Furthermore, the presence of children in the early church is well-documented throughout Paul’s writings. Though young, they were vital members of the home church movement. Stories of entire households-including children-of Lydia, Stephen and the Philippian jailor can be found throughout the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians.

It seems as though the prophets, apostles, and Gospel writers knew what they were talking about.  They were aware of the sad fact of bluebonnet children, and they were even more aware of God’s call on their hearts to care for them.

Jesus took this call to the next level when he redefined the term ‘family’. Instead of an Old Testament emphasis on ‘clans’ and the nuclear family, Jesus emphasized that we are all part of the Family of God. “God alone is the head of this divine family” and we are to love every member of this family with a selfless love." 

Just as it’s pointed out in James 1:27(CEB):

“ True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.”

The book of James has always fascinated me. Unlike other letters in the Bible, this one is not addressed to a certain person, city, or congregation.  Also, there is no reference to a date or time in history when this book was written.  Finally, since there were four men in the New Testament with the recorded name of ‘James,’and the verdict is still out on which James authored this book.

With great authority, the author  is holding all Christians, regardless of city and century, accountable to “living out of true devotion, to care for the orphaned and the widows.”  The word “Orphan”, in Hebrew means ‘fatherless’ and in Greek it means ‘comfortless’ or ‘loveless’. The word appears in the Bible more than forty times.
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Whenever I think of one being in need of comfort and love, Mario comes to mind. He is a dynamic fifth grader who moves swiftly and enjoys juggling lots of tasks at once. I don’t know the details, but neither of the parents are in the picture and the aunt and uncle are the guardians. For the longest time, his family operated within a “drop-off-ministry” model. They would pull up to the church at 9a.m., Mario would jump out of the car, and then at 12:15 the car would reappear to pick him up. I will never forget the one time he was cheerfully bouncing down the stairs after Sunday school saying, “Man, this church is like a hotel!” [Insert full-tooth grin]. I will also be forever touched by the moment in worship when he subtly teared up during prayer time. The Holy Spirit was already at work in his life long before he entered our doors.

With his natural wiring, he became an excellent Techie for children’s church. Despite the fact that this church runs for grades K-4, some 5th graders just can’t quit us. They serve as assistants.  Mario loves the rush of responsibility. Arriving thirty minutes before the other kids, he sets up the projector and screen. He pulls up the YouTube clip I send to myself and has it all prepared to play when qued. As soon as 11:00 hits, he puts on the hat of greeter and welcomes the kids into the sacred space. At the close of worship, he puts the tech equipment back in its place. Yes-the cords are always neatly coiled.

As he has faithfully served out of his gifts, Mario has grown as a significant member of the Body of Christ. A year has passed since we first met, and now both guardians and three siblings also join him every Sunday. This eleven-year-old has built up the Kingdom! His story is one of many examples that children are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today. Over age eighteen or not, the hope-filled message of Christ sounds the same.  All are qualified to increase the Gospel’s volume through study, prayer, and service. Bluebonnet Child or not, we are called to come alongside them in committed service and learning.

Questions to Ponder 

  1. Who in your life built you up as the “church of today” as a child?
  2. Was the amount of times children are mentioned in the Bible surprising to you? What can you infer from the presence of children in the early church movement? 
  3. How can Jesus’ view of ‘family’ be compared to how your church views ‘family’? 

Stay tuned for how the social sciences offer us supplemental hope! Be sure to subscribe to the right. 😁

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Biblical Bluebonnets; Dysfunctional Families of the Bible

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Bluebonnet Children have been around since the dawn of time. Ever since families have been putting down roots, some of them have been planted in poor soil. We are a broken people. While we see Bluebonnet Children within the programs of our church, they can also be found in our Bibles. Their stories, we must remember, are descriptive as opposed to prescriptive.

Certain scriptural scenes, though recorded, were not fabricated (nor blessed) by God; they are simply describing the sinful choices of others. The most bizarre descriptive texts usually speak to the cross-cultural, time-traveling adventure that is reading one’s Bible. Other portions of scripture are divinely recommended for us to “go and do likewise”.  God must hate the darkness of the first as much as we do; but we must remember that in all things, God is at work for good.  The stories below are heavy, but in Christ there is hope.

When did you last prepare a lesson over Jephthah from the book of Judges?  This is not a very common lesson in the Children’s Ministry realm, for the only “take-home point” it delivers is ‘how to be a bad father.’ Jephthah’s  mother was a harlot and his father was well-to-do.  Jephthah was sent to live with his father, where he was then despised and mistreated by his half-siblings.  Jephthah’s father was silent through all this mistreatment.  Fueled by his rage, Jephthah grew into a mighty warrior that led the Israelites into battle against Ammon.  He then took a vow and sacrificed his daughter after defeating the Ammonites.
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There was also King Saul’s daughter, Michal, who we meet in 1 Samuel. She fell hard for the future king of Israel, David. In a sense, he already felt like family to her due to his friendship with her brother and professional relationship with her Father. Unlike the customs of the day, she proclaimed her love to David first. Sadly, it is not recorded if this love was reciprocated. What we do know is that this initiated her use as a pawn in a slew of governmental games between the two men and her brother. Her assertive love for David, in time morphed into an assertive distaste. While David’s fame & fortune grew, so too did her bitterness. In time, her poor soil of the house of Judah disintegrated.

As it goes for most Bluebonnet Children, “bitterness breeds bitterness” and the abusive cycle continues. Those roots just dig deeper and deeper into poor soil with each passing generation. At least this was the case for King David’s righteous daughter, Tamar. Not only does the church detest this scriptural scene, but I am certain God does as well.  Her brother, Amnon and his cousin, Jonadab, created a sick scheme so that Amnon could act on his lustful feelings towards her. Amnon raped Tamar.
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Out of pure hate, Amnon tried to send Tamar away after, but she fought him on this. Despite the fact that this was unlawful (in many ways), David, did nothing because of his love for Amnon.  Thankfully her other brother, Absolom, took her to live with him where she lived out the rest of her days in despair and depression. Absolom shared these feelings with her until the grudge erupted into him having Amnon murdered.

Oh, if only we weren’t a fallen people. If only all parents strived for the example of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the book of Luke. As proud parents of John the Baptist, they were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.” If only all parents in our programs viewed their role in this way. But, like the above families, some have roots grounded in very poor soil. We don’t deny this. We face it “heart on”. We choose to focus our energy on the potential that is the Bluebonnet Child. Despite the poor soil, her bonnets develop beautifully once showered with God’s grace.

Questions to Ponder

  1. How do prescriptive (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matthew 28:16-20, Philippians 4:13) Biblical texts compare to descriptive (1 Kings 11:3, 1 Corinthians 14:34, Colossians 4:1) texts? Can you think of any other examples of either? 
  2. What evidence exists that God was still at work despite the darkness of Tamar’s story? Where is the grace? Where is the healing? 
  3. We know what not all manuscripts were canonized into our Holy Scriptures. If any details are shared about a person’s life in a Biblical scene, we know we should pay extra close attention because these moments are rare. What is the significance of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s story (Luke 1) as loving, faithful and intentional parenting “making the cut?” Why did the author feel the need to describe their faithful dynamics? Is there any relationship to this and the grand arrival in the following chapter (Luke 2)? 

Stay tuned for how the Bible guides us in serving such families! Be sure to subscribe to the right. 😁

Can't wait that long? Own The Bluebonnet Child  eBook now!