Kids Camp Prayer Week

We are another week closer to Kids Camp 2013!  Thanks for all who are praying with me for the kids, staff and speakers.  Here is the prayer focus for this week:

1.Pray for our Activity, Décor, and Chapel time coordinator; Pastor Harvey Walls

2.Pray for our Prayer Coordinator; Pastor Isaiah McGarry

3.Pray for fun, organized, and safe activities for all

4.Pray for all of our prayer partners

5.Pray for operation of all equipment to be flawless

6.Pray for consistent prayer among all our prayer partners

7.Pray for kids with difficult home situations

Thanks for praying!
Advertisements

Sabbath

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath, by keeping it holy.”

Can you say the 10 commandments by heart?  I’ll be honest, I can only do it because of a silly pneumonic device my Children’s Pastor taught when I was a kid.  We had a 10 week series on the 10 commandments, and though I can’t remember any of the lessons, I do remember the poster they made and the phrase that we used to remember them: GIVeS F/M show me your MASLE (we said ma-sa-lee), but it was supposed to be like muscle.  Each capital letter was the key word for the commandment.  In order they are:

  1. God’s (Have no other gods)
  2. Idols (Don’t bow down to other idols)
  3. Vain (Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain)
  4. Sabbath (Honor it)
  5. Father/Mother (Honor them)
  6. Murder (Again, Don’t do it)
  7. Adultery (Don’t go there)
  8. Stealing (If it is not yours, don’t take it)
  9. Lying (Just don’t)
  10. Envy (Be content with what you have)

When we look at this list of do’s and don’ts, some are really easy for most people who call themselves Christians to follow (like murder, stealing, bowing down to idols), and others are more difficult.  There are a lot of discussions that we can have about what the 10 commandments mean for us today, but that’s another discussion for another day…

In case you missed it, today, I want to pose a question about the 4th commandment.  Of course, before the question I have a rather lengthy preamble: We are lousy at following the 4th commandment.  Starting from Monday, we spend 5 days at school and/or work.  The 6th day is often spent doing housework, catching up on laundry, yard work, running errands you didn’t have time for during the week, taking the kids to practice or games, or… you can fill in your own blank.  Then Sunday we wake up early and go to church, where many of us serve in some capacity or another.  In some churches, you can spend your whole weekend in church serving the Body of Christ.  In no way am I saying that is bad, but we fail to take a day off and “Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.”

So here is my question: “What does it mean to Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy?”  I think that we have the wrong idea here.  When I think of the Sabbath, and I suspect you as well, I think of a day off, relaxing.  Not going to the office, spending time with my family, some time enjoying one of my few hobbies, watching some tv and/or a movie.  That is my default idea of the Sabbath.

Yes, the idea of the Sabbath is rest.  The idea is that we need to recharge our batteries, less we burn ourselves out.  That is a human need that God created in each one of us.  However, our method, I believe is all wrong.  Take a look what scripture says about rest and strength:

Exodus 34:14 “The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 46:1 “The Lord is my refuge and my strength.  A very present help in time of need.”.”

Psalm 62:5 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

Isaiah 40:31 “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

If the purpose of the Sabbath is to rest and renew our strength, and our strength is found in God, I wonder if it is not a coincidence that the 4th commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.”  Is a true Sabbath resting and looking for strength the human way, or is a true Sabbath time spent with the Lord and finding our strength and rest in Him?

To be fair, in our world today, I don’t think that it is realistic to think that one could set aside one day every week just to spend time with God.  In fact I would say that very few could do that.  But could you set aside more time one day a week to spend with God?  Or could you find a way to keep one day a week a “more holy” than other days.  For example, on this one day, could you spend more time with God and be more careful what you allow in your mind through our various avenues of media (music, tv and movies specifically)?

Fearless

I was praying the other day over for our country, its leaders and for the people of America in general, and felt the Lord speak something to me.  What I felt him say that we are a country that is totally ruled by a spirit of fear.  The more I think about it, the more I believe it to be true.  Think about it, we are motived by fear in so many things.  Take air-travel for example.  we go to extreme measures to “guarantee” safety and make sure that no one disrupts the flight.  We have metal detectors, pat downs, screenings, people searching luggage, and we even have to take off our shoes for screening.

Or take the economy for example, people are terrified of not having enough money for retirement.  But, we are also scared of investing in the stock market.  We are too scared to save, but too scared to spend as well.  Housing prices are up and down, so people are too scared to buy a house, yet renting is a scary proposition as well.

Or take medical care for example, you can hardly watch 10 minutes of TV without seeing a commercial for some prescription for an ailment that less than 1% of America struggles with.  That’s not even getting into the financial side of health care and insurance.

Or take playgrounds as an example.  The other day I was reading an article about “new playgrounds.”  They’re the same old playgrounds, but made super safe, so no one gets hurt, because no one wants to get sued.  The unfortunate side effect of such playgrounds is that we, as people, are meant to make mistakes and get hurt physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, or otherwise.  That is how we learn.

All these things are legitimate fears.  I’m not suggesting that we do away with any of these things (except these playgrounds), but what I am suggesting is that we look at ourselves and take a look at what we are really afraid of, and why.  Then, compare that with what God’s word says about fear:

“For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 ASV”

God did not create us to be afraid of everything we can imagine.  In fact, He advises us to do something radically different:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7”

Often times, I will pray in December for the year to come and sometimes God gives me a word or theme for the year to come.  Nearly every time this has happened, I’ve seen it come true.  Perhaps it is self-fulfilling prophecy, or God is challenging me in how I view the year to come, I don’t know.  In any case, I was praying about 2013, and to be honest the reason I was praying is because I felt a lot of anxiety about it.  There are some things in my financial picture that are unknowns for this year.  We have a baby due this year.  No one has any idea what the economy will do this year, and how that may or may not affect anyone’s job.

The word for this year came to me: FEARLESS. Not stupid fearless, like risk my life everyday doing stupid thing because I’m fearless.  Not fearless, like I need to be bold or brash.  Rather, to not fear these things, because God is with me.  The God who spoke the world into existence, who sustains the universe and everything in it, who formed the mountains; rivers and flatlands with his hands,  who lives in your heart, He loves you and looking out for you.  He may not always give what you want, but He always provides what you need.  He may not always make you comfortable, but He is always with you through the discomfort.  He may not always give you all the answers, but He tells you what you need to hear.

I choose to be FEARLESS this year, and trust in God.  He is my everything.

Heartbreak of Children’s Ministry

I could never imagine what it would be like to minister in a community that experienced tragedy like what happened recently in Newtown, CT.  It is truly unspeakable. My heart goes out to the survivors, families, and pastors, especially children’s pastors who have to live with the tragedy everyday for the rest of their lives.  While I wondered how far I should go to talk to my kids about it, my fellow children’s pastors in CT where wondering how to even deal with it.

I am not trying to compare what is like day-to-day in “normal” children’s ministry to such a great tragedy, I can’t help but to think about some of the difficult situation Children’s Pastors have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Please understand that I love children’s ministry.  There are many great rewards to it, like seeing kids that I’ve ministered to grow up serving God continuously through Jr. High, High School, College and into adulthood.  It’s awesome to see kids worshiping God with their whole hearts, praying with kids to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, watching praying with one another, getting baptized and…. I could go on and on.

There is hard side to it though.  Of course, it is hard to see kids stop attending your church because their parents take issue with some adult matter.  But, we hope and pray that the Lord leads them to a church where God will continue to do great things in their life.  Its hard when a child wants to go to an event, but because of decisions the adult made, they are unable to (late registration, other plans, or not asking about scholarship opportunities).  It’s hard to see a families that look so great on the outside, but their kids end up so messed up.

For me the most difficult thing in Children’s Ministry, is taking prayer requests.  About 90% of the time, I get prayer requests that I pray for only out of obligation.  Plus, I figure if it is important enough for the kids to ask, it is important enough to take to the Lord.  After all, He cares about all the big and little things in our lives.  It’s that last 10% though that is really difficult for me, and I imagine almost every other children’s pastor out there.

The last 10% of prayer requests are the ones that kids think are so simple, but adults see the complexities in.  Like the foster child who asks to pray that they can go back to their “real” parents; when they probably do not understand that their “real” parents are drug addict, who neglected them as an infant and rightfully had their parental rights permanently terminated, but now they have the blessing (that they don’t understand) of living with a wonderful new family who loves them and takes care of them above and beyond what the state requires.

Or the child who prays that their parents get back together, not knowing that their mom has had more affairs than she can count, and dad deserves better than that.  Or the child who prays for their dad to come home, because they forgot how dad beat them when he was around.  Or the other child who prays the same thing, either not realizing or not caring that their dad is in prison for murder.  Or the child who believes that God is going to heal their terminally ill brother, even up to the brother’s death.

Children’s ministry certainly has its difficulties, but at the end of the day, it is always worth it.  Even though the kids don’t understand the whole situation, we get to walk with them through it.  One day, they’ll look back and see how God was protecting them, teaching them or helping them through it.  Or maybe they won’t.  I still don’t know why God has allowed me to go through some of the hardships of my life, but I do know that He has walked with me every step through it.  That is the truth that I hope to impart to kids.

The Snake of Bitterness

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

Have you ever held a big snake?  Like a really big snake?  At Royal Family Kids Camp this last year, we brought in a mobile reptile zoo thing to entertain the kids for a about an hour while most of the adults were taking care of business to get the camp cleaned up.  Not having a specific duty at the time, I went down to see what this reptile zoo thing was all about.

At one point, I was asked to be one of 3 adults to hold a snake.  Not just any snake, but a python. Pythons are long (on average about 12 feet), heavy and strong.  While holding the tail end for only a few moments, I made some observations.  All three of us adults had trouble holding our section of the snake, not only because of the awkwardness of holding such a long and heavy object, but also because of its goal.  Over the course of a few short moments, the snake managed to wrap itself around me-not all the way around me, but around my wrist and was working his way up my arm.  Again, I’m not a snake expert, or for that matter know any more than the average person about snakes, but it seemed to me, that this snake had a plan.  It I had continued to stand there and allow the snake to do what ever it wanted, I am pretty sure that it would have worked its way up my arm, around my body then I probably would not have been able to escape.

I find this a striking parallel to anger and bitterness.  Anger and bitterness can creep into our hearts and seem harmless at first.  After all, we have a right to be angry right?  What they did to you was wrong! Oh, and you are not only person hurt by their actions, it hurt your family as well!  And it is emotional too, so your anger is justified. Lets not forget that Jesus got angry too, or at least it would seem so by the account of Him driving out the money changers from the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).  We can find all kinds of reasons to be angry and hold our anger.

I’m not saying that having anger is wrong.  It is perfectly natural feeling to having and can be good at times, and I do believe that Jesus was angry when he drove out the money changers from the temple.  We do have to be careful about what we do with our anger.  Jesus’ anger drove him to do what was right and necessary in the given situation.  The problem is that so often we choose to hold  our anger too long, and it becomes bitterness.

Back to the snake analogy: holding  the snake for too long and becoming comfortable with it would allow it to overtake me.  Becoming comfortable with anger also allows makes us vulnerable to it overtaking us by becoming bitterness. Bitterness is poison to the spirit, it causes one to not be able to say, do, or think anything positive about a person or group of people.  It ruins your outlook on life an allows your situation to be bigger in your life than God.  It creeps in slowly and takes over your life while you stand there thinking you can control it.

As I write today, I believe that I on the side of victory from anger and bitterness.  The crazy thing about it, is that I had not realized how much anger and bitter I was carrying around, until I decided to let it go.  The other day, I was driving home from an event, and Roberta was sleeping resting her eyes.  We had a conversation earlier in the day about some negative things that I had to say, and as does so well, she called me out on it.  She told me that I needed to work through my anger and bitterness (which I denied existed, or only admitted to so she’d stop talking).  As I was driving, I prayed.  I don’t remember exactly what  I prayed, but I clearly heard God tell me to put it down.

So, I thought about it.  I decided that there is no one in my life that I want to control me but Jesus.  As long as I held anger and bitterness, I was allowing something else to control me.  My mood could be affected by a comment I made or someone else made that reminded me of someone or something.  I could not speak positively about certain people, or even think a good though, and these people are brothers and sisters in Christ! How wrong is that?

I walk in forgiveness.  God forgave me of all the things that I have done wrong, so who am I to hold what wrong has been done to me against the supposed wrongdoer?  I choose forgiveness.  I choose freedom.  I choose love.  I choose to let go of anger and bitterness.

What would Jesus Do?

When I was in high school the phrase, “What would Jesus do (WWJD)?” became really popular.  As I understand it, it started in the middle of the 20th century as a Bible study group got together and decided that they wanted to start living like Jesus.  In order to carry out this enormous feat they came up with the catchphrase “what would Jesus do?”  If they ever came across a situation in which they were unsure of how to respond, this question would be their guideline.  Though I am sure that someone could explain how this became popular in the mid 90’s, it escapes me.

It became so popular that WWJD began to appear everywhere: bracelets, t-shirts, earrings, on Christian kids, those who preferred to party, jocks, nerds, rednecks, it did not matter, everyone was wearing WWJD.  Few people knew what it meant.  It most likely began with a few kids wearing it as identification to other kids that they were a Christian, but it spread far and fast.

In any event, I woke up this morning, wondering what Jesus would do.  The answer I came up with is pretty simple: if we look at Jesus as our model, we see that He chose love.  He was accepting to everyone around Him, the Samaritan (by the way, Samaritans and Jews hated one another) woman at the well (who had 5 divorces and was shacking up with another man), the prostitute who anointed Him, Judas the disciple who betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver, Nicodemus who had big questions, the thief on the cross, the soldier who executed him, plus you and me. Jesus loved and accepted everyone around him.

His love looked different depending on the situation.  With the Pharisees and the money changers in the temple, His love was confrontational.  He told them the truth in a way they needed to hear it.  His confrontation was meant to bring change in their lives, but their hearts were hard.  With many others, his love was shown with quality time spent with those who needed it.  For the thief and Roman soldier, his love came in the form of forgiveness. That demonstrated f his forgiveness and acceptance of you and me as well.

“What would Jesus do” is a dangerous question.  It’ll lead you to people who you no one wants to be around.  It’ll take you to places that no one wants to go.  It’ll take you to the most sinful of sinners, the most hardened criminals, society’s outcasts and marginalized, and to the most Godforsaken places.  Asking this question will put your life in danger, and cause you to be hated.  After all, who is Jesus?  Yes Jesus is the Son of God, but He was homeless.  Jesus made friends with “tax collectors and sinners.”  He did not despise prostitutes, or criminals.  He loved everyone, and accepted them for who they were.  He spoke the truth when it was unpopular, and in the end He proved that He was right all along.

Go ahead, ask yourself “What would Jesus do?”  I dare you…

Promotion info and Summer Activities For Parents of PCC Kids

Hey Parents,

Summer is right around the corner, and before it officially gets here, I would like to take a moment to let you know about all the excitement that is coming up!

First of all, we have our promotions coming this Sunday!  If your child is a new Kindergarten, 5th or 6th grade student, they may go to their new classes beginning this Sunday in the 9:00 hour.  If they are not here for the 9:00, but are here for 10:15, new kindergarten students may come to the Trailhead, and 6th grade students may attend the adult service.  For 6th grade students, the middle school does have a section where they sit together (look for Pastor Aaron), or they may sit with their parents.  If at any time, anyone is unsure of where to go, you can ask myself, their previous teacher, any other pastor, usher or greeter where to go.

Summer activities:

We’ve got some amazing summer activities on tap this year!  First of all, Young Champions is coming up fast.  Mark your calendars for July 25-28.  Registration is online at www.PCCtoday.com or you can register on paper using the brochures that will be coming out soon.  Young Champions is an awesome track and field clinic where kids learn not only track and field skills but also how to be a true champion.  Cost is $20 per child with a maximum of $60 per family.  Invite a friend!

Royal Ranger Powwow

For so many boys, this is the highlight of their summer.  Activities include rock-climbing wall, zip line, bb guns, canoeing, batting cages, paintball and more!  They will also hear from a great speaker and come away changed by the power of God.  Powwow takes place at Camp Wildcat near Corvallis.  Boys going into grades 2-5 may attend without a male adult coming with them, younger kids must have a male adult chaperone (dad, uncle, grandfather etc) August 11-14, cost: $110 per boy.

Kids Camp

Kids going into grades 3rd -6th are invited to join us at Kids Camp August 15-19, at Kellogg Springs, in Sutherlin, Oregon.  At Kellogg Springs, the kids will be treated to amazing speakers (Jenni and Jeff Smith from Horizon Community Church in Tualatin), zip line, pool, archery, and much more.  For sign ups, see Pastor Brad.  Space is limited, so sign up soon.  Cost: $225 per child.

M’s Club Girls Camp

All girls between 1st-5th grade are invited to Girls Camp at Driftwood Creek Camp in Lincoln City.  Suzie Star will be our guest speaker and she will knock it out of the park!  This will be an amazing time for the girls to connect with other girls, worship God, and be challenged in their relationship with Him.  Cost $90 per girl.

Music Day Camps The 2011 Kids’ Summer Music Adventure Camp

August 8-12, 2011
Morning Only from 9:00 AM – Noon or
Full Day from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
For: Kids entering Kindergarten-4th Grade
Location: Portland Christian Center

Kids will have a blast during five fun-filled days packed with action and adventure as they explore music from the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Islands of Hawaii!

Each day we’ll dive into a different style of music, have demonstrations of instruments, interactive music games, music instruction, get artsy with fun crafts, learn fun new songs and dances and snack on yummy treats! Optional afternoon activities will include outings to the Oregon Zoo, OMSI, Oaks Park Roller Rink, the pool, and more!

COST:
Morning Music Camp – $130 (Early Bird Rate of $115 if registered and paid by 7/25/11)
Full Day Camp – $245 (Early Bird Rate of $220 registered and paid by 7/25/11)

For more information email lhalling@pcctoday.com

If your child wants to participate in any of these activities, but cost is a factor, don’t fret! Scholarships are available.  I don’t ever want for a child to be hindered from doing something because of money.  For more information on any of these activities, email me at bshimomura@pcctoday.com.

Have an awesome summer, I hope to see everyone at at least one of these events!

Pastor Brad