Guard Your Heart!

Princess Diana famously said, “Only do what your heart tells you.”

Follow Your heart

This sentiment is found in a lot of Disney movies. It’s part of popular culture. But is it good advice for our kids to follow?childrens-ministry-guard-your-heart

In one episode of Lizzie McGuire, Lizzie writes this in response to a dear Lizzie letter, “Dear Confused- I wish I could tell you what to do, but, I can’t. All I can say is, follow your heart. It’ll tell you what’s right.”

Society says, “Follow your heart.” Can we trust our hearts to tell us what is best for us? If we follow our heart, where will it lead?

Guard Your Heart

The Bible says, “Guard your heart.”

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Why do we need to guard our heart? The Bible gives us the answer:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

The heart lies. It is untrustworthy. We cannot trust our hearts. We are sinners.

So, who do we trust? We trust the One who is perfect and trustworthy.

As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

We need to be teaching our kids that our hearts will not always tell us what is right. Our hearts are deceitful. We should not depend on our own understanding of things; rather we need to trust God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Instead of “Only do what your heart tells you,” we should be encouraging our kids to “only do what God tells you.” He is loving and good and worthy of our trust. He will guide us.

A New Heart

We also need to be teaching our kids that there is hope. Our hearts are deceitful and untrustworthy, but we have hope because God can give us a new heart.

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19

When we accept the gift of salvation, God makes us new! That means a new heart as well. This new heart is an undivided heart; a heart that loves God and desires to follow His ways.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11

We need to teach our kids to guard their hearts – why they should guard their hearts and how they can guard their hearts.

One way we can guard our heart is to hide God’s Word in it. We need to be reading the Bible regularly, memorizing it, and talking with God in prayer.
Let’s encourage our kids to be hiding God’s Word in their heart through reading, studying, memorizing, and prayer!

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

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Trust in the Lord

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.

Children's Ministry Rock EternalThe word steadfast is not one we use very often. It means firm; firmly established; firmly fixed in place; unwavering.

When I was a kid we lived at the bottom of a hill. I used to love taking my bike up that hill with my friends to play. One day, we were heading home, cycling down that grassy hill. Suddenly, my bike hit a large rock that was hidden by the grass and I went sailing over the handlebars. That rock, however, didn’t move – it was firmly fixed in place; it was steadfast.

This verse tells us that God gives peace to those who are steadfast because they trust in Him.

We trust God and He gives us peace. Not only does God give us peace, He keeps us in perfect peace. The peace from God is not something that comes and goes, He keeps us in perfect peace.

So, what do we do, people of God? Trust in the Lord forever, because the Lord is the Rock eternal.

Be steadfast in your trust in God. He is worthy of your trust. He is the Rock – firm, dependable, unmovable.

In your service as volunteers depend on God for the ability to teach these children. Depend on God for strength and courage and energy and wisdom. Trust God to give you love for the kids in your care and wisdom to answer tough questions; and grace to deal with those difficult kids.

Children’s ministry is rarely described as a peaceful ministry. It’s loud and chaotic and tough and awesome! But God promises peace to His people in the midst of everything when we trust Him.

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Be Amazed Once Again

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14

The Gospel is awesome! Let me encourage you to consider the wonderful truth of the gospel and be amazed once again at the love of the Father in sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. As you listen to this song, remember Jesus and His death on the cross that brought you life.

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

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Do Not Be Anxious

childrens ministry don't be anxiousI have found that there are plenty of things to be anxious about when you’re involved in children’s ministry.

There is the constant recruiting – will there be enough teachers for Sunday School? Will we be able to run our club program this year? Do we have enough subs in case teachers or volunteers get ill?

There is the worry about discipline issues and whether the kids are really learning and falling in love with Jesus.

It can be too easy to feel anxious about whether your volunteers are getting the training and support they need. Or if you are a volunteer, you may be feeling anxious that you are not skilled enough for the role you are playing.

Then there is the mess of relationships. Are you able to help, support, and encourage those volunteers in your children’s ministry or your fellow volunteers? What about when something happens with a  child in your class or their family?

Being involved in children’s ministry can cause a lot of anxiety. So, let me encourage you.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The Bible has encouragement for those of us feeling anxious and maybe even overwhelmed. And an action plan.

First, don’t be anxious.

Instead pray about everything with a thankful heart. Bringing everything that is causing anxiety to the throne of God means that you are trusting Him to handle the things that you can’t. And doing it with thanksgiving shows a faith that He can and will listen to you.

As we bring our requests to God with thankful hearts, the peace of God takes over. Peace that doesn’t make any sense to us. How we can have peace in the situation we are currently facing is baffling. But that’s why Paul writes that this peace from God transcends all understanding. To transcend means to go beyond or exceed. This peace from God goes beyond our understanding and it will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds from overwhelming anxiety.

There is a 3 step action plan in these verses. 1. Don’t be anxious. 2. Pray about everything with thanksgiving. 3. Accept the peace of God that exceeds our understanding and let it guard your heart and your mind.

So we have a choice. We can live lives filled with anxiety or we can choose to take everything to God and let His peace which goes beyond our understanding to fill us and guard us.

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You’re Not Just a Babysitter – I Promise!

Sometimes volunteering in children’s ministry can feel like you’re just babysitting. You’re feeding babies and changing diapers. You’re serving snacks, taking toddlers to the bathroom, washing hands, smoothing over fights and hurt feelings. You’re dealing with behavior issues and bored kids.

Let me encourage you. Children’s ministry is so much more than babysitting.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

What is a disciple?

discipleA disciple is one who follows the teachings of another. So in this case a disciple is one who follows Jesus; one who has trusted Jesus for salvation; who has made Jesus their Lord and Savior.

So, first Jesus says to go. He says make disciples of all nations. For those of us in children’s ministry, we need to start where we are. There are children in our church and in our community who need to hear of the love of God and the gift of salvation that is offered to them.

And then, teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded them. We continue to love and support these disciples as we teach them; encouraging them to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Children’s ministry is a disciple-making ministry.

Think about the programs & ministries offered at your church. Think of them in light of making disciples. Those outreach ministries where you build relationships with the kids in the community – those are going & making disciples ministries. Those evangelistic ministries, like VBS, those are going & making disciples ministries. Mid-week clubs, Sunday School – those are teaching them ministries; making disciples and helping them to grow.

Children’s ministry is about making disciples.

The kids in your care are people that God loves and Jesus died for. You have the opportunity to share God’s love with them, share the good news of the gospel with them, make disciples, and continue to teach them all the things Jesus said.

So, be encouraged. You are part of an important ministry, obeying Jesus’ command to go and make disciples.

One way to find encouragement is to watch for those moments where your kids are growing in their understanding and their faith. Be encouraged yourself when you find those moments and share them with other children’s ministry volunteers. They are encouraging reminders that we are making disciples.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

Once I was teaching a class of preschoolers and I noticed a boy was intently working with play dough. I asked him, “What are you making?” He said, “I’m going to make God.” “What does He look like?” I asked. “We He has 3 ears and lots of mouths.” “Why does He have 3 ears?” “So He can hear everyone.” “Why does He have lots of mouths?” “So He can talk to everyone.” What a glimpse into that 4 yr. olds understanding of who God is. God is One who hears us and speaks to us. Wow!

During a preschool class – the story had been about David’s sin and his repentance before God. The teacher asked the question, “Why does David sin?” A student’s hand goes up, “Because he didn’t have a perfect heart like God does.”

Watch for moments like these when you are volunteering with children. Be encouraged that God is at work in the lives of the kids you serve. And then share those moments with other children’s ministry volunteers in your church.

Children’s ministry is so much more than babysitting. We are privileged to be involved in disciple-making ministry. And we are never alone! Jesus promised to be with us even to the very end.

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