VBS Reflections: Let the Children Come

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Mark 10:14

We lived through those final moments of VBS, as Day 5 has now come and gone. It was the ending to a week where I saw people giving completely of themselves so as to impact young lives with the love of Jesus. I saw joy and love everywhere I went this week — even in those moments hard and exhausting. But I suppose those trying moments are to be expected, and maybe rejoiced over, because: holy work is hard and it is exhausting. So, for all moments good, give glory and for all those moments difficult, praise Him for the gospel work being accomplished.

Day 5 was especially unique. Where we have journeyed and visited the lives of several people, adults, and their encounters with Jesus, on this day we found ourselves viewing the heart of Jesus from a new perspective. As we read through our story, there was a beautiful moment that occurred in our room full of little ears, it was the moment when they realized the story today…was about them. I saw looks of wonder when they heard Jesus’ words in the story found in Mark 10, as He welcomed the children to Himself. A week of building upon truths, a week of revealing who Jesus is and of His love for us, all seemed to connect for so many today as they heard this story.

The gospel is so simple that small children can understand it, and it is so profound that studies by the wisest theologians will never exhaust its riches. – Charles Hodge

I love that this week, the grace of the gospel was not watered-down for the ears of children. They heard the full truth of a Redeemer who sees us, knows us, and has come to save us. It is not a difficult message and their hearts certainly are able to understand it. Jesus himself modeled to us the importance of bringing the children to Him. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this valuable ministry and I am so grateful that my children were shown Jesus all week by all the precious teachers working with them and serving them. There was no place unimportant this week: every rotation and every volunteer played a role in pointing children to the Life-Giver.

What a wonderful week of VBS!

VBS Reflections: Out of the Dark, We Rise

As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? ” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3)

The end is drawing near for VBS. We have spent the better part of a week diving deep into some powerful truths about our rescuer, Jesus. On the second to last day of this incredible week, we get to see a glimpse of three very important truths: 1. We are seen by Jesus. 2. Through Jesus, we are restored. 3. We are redeemed and restored to live a life that brings glory to the Father in heaven.

You did not choose Me, but I chose you. (John 15:16)

On day 4, we found ourselves in the midst of the story where the blind man met Jesus. One of my favorite parts of this story, is found in the first sentence. Read this part again, “He saw a man blind from birth.” Did you catch that? He saw the one who could not yet see Him. How true that is for all of us. Where we were all once blind to Jesus, He already had seen and loved us. I can’t help but letting those words circulate over and over in my mind, until the comprehension of those words flow fully into my soul. Yes, where we once were bound by the dark, He sought us out to pour into us His light.

After He said these things He spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam (which means “Sent”). So he left, washed, and came back seeing.” (John 9:6-7)

He sought us and chose us for redemption; He chose us for our good and His glory. Yet, even still, the choice is ours to make. The blind man chose to wash the mud from his eyes, so that he may receive the gift of sight. We also choose. Do we accept the gift Jesus is offering to us or do we let the mud dry hard and refuse to go to the water that can rinse away the dark? Like the blind man in our story, may we take Jesus at His word and trust Him as we open our hands and reach for the water of restoration He offers us through His sacrifice and His victory. Let us rise from the shadows of the dark and into His perfect light.

I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Do not hold them back! Bring My sons from far away, and My daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone called by My name and created for My glory. I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

The part we really focused on, was this key truth: Our purpose is known to Jesus. If you notice in the last sentence of verse three in John chapter 9, we see these words, “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.”  Those resting in the redemption of Jesus are for His glory. This should bring us to a place of peace and contentment as we look to where we should go and what we should be doing with our lives. If we are to live a life to bring Him glory, then, in all things, we seek to accomplish that goal. Once we have determined our goal, our purpose becomes that much more clear. The question arises, are God’s works displayed in me? Am I, soul rescued and restored, following the footsteps of the blind man who used his healing to glorify God and point others to Jesus?

Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up.         (2 Corinthians 4:1)

Well, the last few minutes of the day are waning as I finish up this post. One more day is left in this week of VBS. Natural human weariness has found its way into this latter part of the week. A week full of fun and learning is beginning to take its toll on participants and teachers alike. But, not of our own strength, we finish strong. I will lie my head down tonight with a prayer of fortitude. I will rise with the same prayer on my lips. I am encouraged by the kingdom work happening in the hearts of lives young and old alike. The beauty and power of the gospel message is being heard by many. Our job is to be faithful to the work of pointing blind and broken to Healer. We do so with a smile on our lips, because it is not for our own well-being and happiness, but for the honor of loving little lives through the heart of Jesus and pointing them to His goodness; We do so for the glory of our God and King.

VBS Reflections: When Good is not Enough

 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3

The story of Nicodemus fascinates: the scenario, the person he was and the conversation on that dark night long ago. Day 3 of VBS finds itself nestled deeply in the moments captured between Nicodemus and Jesus. Here, we are given an undeniable reality of our need for a Saviour, a rescue from our sin.

Our first two days of VBS, we settled in and heard stories of Jesus loving and changing lives visibly broken – those whose sin-scarred lives were not all that well hidden. Then comes day 3. Today, our person of interest looks a little different than the rest. He sounds a little different from the rest. But his need for rescue? Is exactly the same as the rest.

If I could just insert myself into Nicodemus’ place for that time. For surely there was that part of me, like Nicodemus, which struggled with the knowledge of original sin and its occupancy in my rule-abiding life. To have been face to face with Jesus and meet eyes with the Truth-Giver as he shined light into the places dark and desperate of a person “good”…what a moment that would have been.

Here is a man who, by all accounts, is doing all the right things…and yet, his soul was still tainted with that which separates us from Holy. There is a need and a happening that has yet to take place in his heart. Born Again. 

“Our Saviour spoke of the necessity and nature of regeneration, or the new birth, and at once directed Nicodemus to the source of holiness of the heart. Birth is the beginning of life; to be born again, is to begin to live anew, as those who have lived much amiss, or to little purpose. We must have a new nature, new principles, new affections, new aims. By our first birth we were corrupt, shapen in sin; therefore we must be made new creatures. No stronger expression could have been chosen to signify a great and most remarkable change of state and character. We must be entirely different from what we were before, as that which begins to be at any time, is not, and cannot be the same with that which was before.”

– Matthew Henry

The thoughts that must have been wrestled through the mind of Nicodemus after departing ways with Jesus that evening. I imagine a very sleepless night. How hard it must have been to take all the knowledge in his head and suddenly be forced to see it with new eyes and a new understanding.

Today’s message filled me with hope and rejuvenation for the kingdom work taking place inside our church building this week. I prayed this morning for all those who would hear the story of Nicodemus. I know how easily it is to fall under the assumption that doing all the right things, will somehow clear our path to glory. As I moved through the lesson time with children, my heart and soul were pleading that the words of truth and light would be planted in the hearts and minds of young ears listening.

I sit here tonight reflecting on the goodness of God as I recall the various places we have journeyed so far this week of VBS. For those who think this week is just for children, I would beg to differ. The God-breathed words we have spent time with this week, have tested my own heart and spoke much life and truth into me, as well as it could have to any child. As worn as I am from this hectic week, I am also full and refreshed.

Day 3 was more than a breath of fresh air. I am in anticipation to see what all we will learn in day 4 as we continue to discover through our VBS motto: Jesus sees. Jesus knows. Jesus saves. I look forward to sharing with you again tomorrow.

For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17