Friday, November 4, 2011

Upcoming Events in RA's and GA's

Check out what's goin on this fall at Fellowship Kids for the RA's and GA's!

Fellowship Baptist R.A. Hockey Night for fathers and sons at the NYTEX Sports Centre (8851 Ice House Drive, North Richland Hills, TX 76180) as the Texas Bramas take on the Bloomington Blaze in Central Hockey League action! We will meet in the Fellowship parking lot at 6:15pm, Nov. 11th to go over for the 7:30pm game. Tickets are $9 each and you'll need money for food at the rink (approx. $10) and any souvenirs desired. The return time should be around 10:30pm to the church. Make plans to join us for some chilling fun on the ice!

Both RA's and GA's are going to saginaw community food link on November 19th from 10:30am (meet at the church) to 1:00pm to distribute food for the needy of our community, we'll be going to CiCis or lunch parents are welcome.

Slumber Party for the GA's is going to be on December 9th at the Fellowship hall, From six in the evening until 9:00 am Saturday morning,

Make plans to be a part!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Effective Parenting in a Defective World

Hope you are pumped to learn more this week about how to raise your children God's way in these difficult times. Last week we looked at our focus and where it should be, on Jesus alone and conforming to His image. Forget what the world wants for your kids, our primary target is helping them to become more and more like Jesus in every aspect. It's making God's dream the priority rather than the world's dream for your children.

We also looked at the importance of us as parents becoming what we should be in Christ as role models for our children. The best thing you can give your kids is who you are. They will do what you do, more is caught than taught. You must be what you want your kids to become. Let them see your Christian growth and be real with them (Luke 6:40).

This week we focus on building relationships that bond. Difficult times will come and we need the cement of Christ-centered relationships in the context of our family to weather the storms. We will be looking at eight keys for building relationships that bond. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wednesday Nights at Fellowship

Children, Students, and Adults!
Make Wednesday night church a priority in your family this fall as we get into God's Word and learn more about how to be like Him.
We have something for everyone with our adult connection groups, students Big Wednesday youth service, and children on mission with RAs/GAs and Funshine Express!
Come be a part of the action, 7:00pm, every Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Apple Adventure Newsletter Day 4

Hey Everybody!
Once again it’s Joe Gagliardi comin to you…how you livin? Last night was a record setting night here for VBS as 128 children showed up to hear the gospel message in the worship rally and in various rotations! We currently have received information on 5 professions of faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior and we are thrilled that hearts are being changed by the “old, old story of Jesus and His love.” Last evening we focused on the concept “connect with trust” (1 John 3:16) in the story of Nicodemus who learned he could trust Jesus to be his Savior. We’ve got one more big night in store, so don’t miss out. We will see if I get a pie in the face, only 7 more than last light will put me “in the sweets” at the end of the evening. 12 more will get Rachel one and 17 more will get all the pastors creamed. Go to work and bring as many kids as will come. We are not done sharing the good news of Jesus with them!
Here are a few more things to draw to your attention:

1) Response cards for any of you who have spiritual conversations that you feel need to be documented for our church’s follow-up purposes can be found at the stage area of the sanctuary. You are encouraged to communicate with these children the love of Jesus any time you can and let us know the great things God is doing. But remember to talk to them out in the open or with more than one child present. We must be above reproach in our conduct with these children. Never go behind closed doors with a child by yourself.
2) Tonight when we are done, we need as much help as we can get in taking down our decorations, cleaning up the building, and resetting it for Sunday’s upcoming worship service. If you can stay around for 30 minutes or so after our dismissal to clean it would be so appreciated. Many hands make light work and you guys have been awesome at working together this week in making this VBS totally awesome. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
3) I’m planning on giving away as much of the décor as people want. I’m not sure where we got our license plates this year, but I’m planning on giving those away unless whoever donated them needs them. Please let me know if that was you and you need those plates. All blow ups and décor can be distributed to the kids that want them, but please don’t make it a competitive issue. Encourage kids to give and share.
4) We will have a time of prayer this evening at 5:30pm once again with hot dogs for dinner, NYC style baby!
5) See the back for a devotional.
John 13:34-35 34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
This is a simple command, but so complex to carry out. We need to ask ourselves how we are doing in this area of loving one another even as Christ Jesus loves us. Are we demonstrating that love like He would? Are we concerned enough about others to ask to important questions and dig below the surface to show we really and truly care? Are we carrying one another’s burdens and interceding for them as Christ asks us to do (Galatians 6:2)?
If we love one another, it is the greatest testimony we have to the lost. Let’s make sure tonight and every time we gather that we show the proper love and respect for one another so that our God will be exalted and more people come into His Kingdom. “When love is in the house, the house is packed!”- Toby Mac
Have a blessed day; let us gather tonight with one purpose
Yourz Truly!
Chris Robbins (AKA- Joe)
Children and Adult Ministries Pastor

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big Apple Adventure Newsletter Day 3

Hey Everybody!

This is Joe Gagliardi…nough said. Last night was a thrill aminute as we got “undignified” in Christ, washed some kids’ feet, shouted forjoy unto the Lord and prayed with conviction! We tallied 21 more awesomechildren into our event to learn more about how they could “connect with love”(1 John 4:9) in the story of a woman who loved Jesus much cause she had beenforgiven much. That means we had 111 learners last night! O my, if we get just24 more tonight, yours truly gets a pie in the skull!!! I’ll take it like a manif we get these beautiful children here to hear the gospel, which I will besharing tonight. Please pray for me to clearly share this precious truth of ourSavior Jesus Christ and how He delivers us from sin this evening. Pray heartsof adults and children will receive the message and turn to the living Lord forsalvation.

 Today's Important Information:

1)      Responsecards for any of you who have spiritual conversations that you feel need to bedocumented for our church’s follow-up purposes can be found at the registrationtable. You are encouraged to communicate with these children the love of Jesusany time you can and let us know the great things God is doing.
2)      Tonightwe will be presenting the gospel in the worship rally and I will more thanlikely need some help with salvation counseling with the students. What I amplanning on doing is to have them stand and then have an adult join them andtake them aside in the sanctuary after everyone is gone to answer any spiritualquestions, make sure they understood the gospel, and fill out a response card.If you do not have other responsibilities during the first rotation, pleasemake yourself available for this ministry. I’ve attached the “Leading a Childto Christ” material one more time if you need a refresher on how to communicatefrom Scripture with them.
3)      Wemay run long tonight in the worship rally as the Spirit of God leads. If thishappens, we will stagger the rest of the rotation times throughout the eveningto give every rotation equal time. So be prepared to possibly end a few minutesearlier with your rotation. This may affect the recreation/snack group themost. I’ll do my best to communicate with you guys on this.
4)      I’vedecided to forego the video portion of our worship rally because of timeconstraints and some technical difficulties last night if any were wonderingabout that.
5)      Pleasebe promoting our mission’s offering for the homeless here in Ft. Worth. Icompletely forgot to promote that last night at the end of the service so wewill have little time for them to remember to bring their coins and dollars infor this important gift.
6)      Therewas some confusion last night. We will meet for corporate prayer at 5:30pm andthen eat. Tonight’s menu includes sandwiches and nuggets and tea from Chic-fil-a!

 Devotional for Today:

Ephesians 6:19  19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so thatI will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

Paul asked for prayer inhis missionary endeavors. You also be in prayer for those of us sharing thegood news this week with our children in the worship rally, the classes, and inour free time. Pray that God would alert us to the opportunities we have rightnow before us to share life, liberty, and peace through Jesus Christ to thosecrushed, hurting, and broken souls that have come into our church’s influence.

Pray for a fearlesspresentation, that the Holy Spirit would have full control over our minds andemotions that He could speak through our voices of His wonderful saving truth.

The gospel is a mysterythat needs to be made known today just as vitally as in the day of Paul. We areseeking to inform a lost and dying generation with the good news of JesusChrist. Pray and act as God leads in this incredible mission!

Have a blessed day; let us gathertonight with one purpose: "Connect with Trust!"

Yourz Truly!

Chris Robbins (AKA Joe Gagliardi)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Big Apple Adventure Newsletter Day 2

Hey Everybody!

This is Joe Gagliardi give’n you the latest and greatest news from our own “Big Apple Adventure!” Last night was awesome baby! We received 90 precious children into our event to learn more about how they could “connect with faith” (Romans 10:17) in the story of the Roman Centurion who had great faith. The expressions on the children’s faces by the end of the evening were beautiful because I could tell they loved the time they had spent here in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of you who worked so diligently to make these moments possible are to be highly commended; youz guys did an excellent job in every situation. Congrats! My prayer is for this week to be monumental in your own life and in the children we teach for the Kingdom of Christ.

Now, let me cover a few things that need to be discussed:

1)      For tonight, we need more information from the registration forms on several of our learners. Last night we only got names and some sparse information. It is very critical for parents/guardians to completely fill out their registration as much as possible. This may take some extra time, but it is essential for us to keep good records (primarily for the purpose of follow-up) and to have good emergency contact information if by chance we have that situation arise (and we pray it does not). All those helping Annette, Tina, Vicki, and Cindy with registration please help us with this vital information at check-in.

2)      Also concerning registration, tonight we start counting for which child or family of children brings the most guests. At the registration table, if you will ask each child if they brought a guest or guests and note how many they brought, then give that information to Annette so we can get an accurate count, that would be much appreciated. I have offered up the challenge to get 135 kids here for an evening, and we are praying that will happen.

3)      I know last night was difficult at registration with the noise from the music and children coming in and I apologize for the inconvenience. Tonight we will start the music right at 6:30 as we normally do. Last night we needed some extra time for introductions and briefing. The good thing is that we were able to get out to our rotations in time. If we go over the rest of the week in the worship rally, I will stagger the rotations in an attempt to give each station equal time. This probably will not be an issue tonight, but on Tuesday night with the gospel presentation we will probably go a bit long. My advice is to jump into your rotation with full energy and quickness. When you hear my blow horn that is the time to dismiss. Please teach up until that time, use every moment God gives you with these children. We need to be prepared so that we run out of time before we run out of things to do with our kids.

4)      Tonight, for those of us who can make it by this time, we will meet in the fellowship hall at 5:30pm to pray over the evening. After that, we will be having pizza, some chicken, and other light dinner items.

5)      Teenagers (parents of teenagers reading this please share with your helpers), we need to get seated in your section and stay there once we start the worship rally. Moving around is a big distraction to the kids and we do not want to hinder their opportunity to get into the things we are doing on stage. There was a lot of movement last evening and much of it was youth who could have been more stationary. Thank you for your help in this.

6)      Adults in the back and on the sides need to watch for being a distraction as well. There seemed to be a lot of peripheral noise in the sanctuary last evening. We need to do everything we can to create an atmosphere where children can hear and receive the instruction and worship that is being given to them from the stage area. Thanks for your help in these matters, your cooperation will be a benefit to what the Lord wants to do this week in our midst.

7)      Please promote giving to the homeless as we go through the week. We will be blessing the Beautiful Feet Ministry of Ft. Worth with the gifts we receive this week in VBS.

Now it’s devotion time:

Meditate for a moment on this idea from Scripture in Hebrews 12:1-2. We need to lay aside every weight (or encumbrance) and the sin, which can so easily entangle and ensnare us. And, we need to run with endurance the race that is set before us, especially as it pertains to this week in VBS. We need to look to Jesus, the author and completer (perfecter, finisher) of our faith. Jesus considered all things joy and went the extra mile to make sure that God’s will was completed. He even endured the shame and rejection, all for our sake.

Laying aside the weights, or encumbrances, of our lives has to do with proper priorities. If we are going to be filled with Christ, we must reject even some unsinful things in our lives that tend to drag us down and render us ineffective for His work. Of course we also need to be mindful of our sin and confess those things that offend God each and every day knowing that He hears, is gracious, is faithful and forgives (1 John 1:9).

Endurance has to do with sticking with it till its completion. Don’t grow weary in well doing, you will eventually reap want you sow (Galatians 6:9). We cannot afford to “flame out,” or quit in the work of the Lord. He has no pleasure in that (Hebrews 10:38).

Keep your eyes on Jesus, work in unity with each other. If there are interpersonal issues that you need to work out with individuals, be mature enough in your Christian walk to do that for the purpose of your own growth in the Lord, your peace, and His blessings on our work here this week and on into the future (Matthew 5:22-24). The last thing we want to do as His people is grieve and quench His Holy Spirit from doing as He desires among us. God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to humble (1 Peter 5:5).

Have a blessed day, let us gather tonight with one purpose: “Connect with Love!”

Yourz Truly!

Joe Gagliardi

Friday, June 17, 2011

Life Principles Study Series "Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines" Lesson 3

Lesson 3 from:

Life Principles Study Series “Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines” by Charles F. Stanley. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson), 2009.

This lesson is on conformity to Christ and setting some spiritual goals for our advancement in the faith. Dr. Stanley uses Romans 8:28-30 as a spring board for understanding the conformity process in our Christian lives. First, we are destined and chosen to be conformed as the Lord changes us and transforms us into His image as His work from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). None of us are perfect; we all have scars and need healing in some area from Him. Secondly, being conformed in Christ’s image means a process of learning to think, speak, and act just as Jesus would in any life situation. This is a continual progression that will not be complete until with are glorified with Him in Heaven as we “put off” the old and “put on” the new spiritual man. Thirdly, it is the Holy Spirit who radically changes us and not we ourselves outside of the human volition of faith and obedience. For this section please read the later part of Romans 7:14-25, which is a flesh driven existence, compared to the Spirit’s work in believers in Romans 8:14-30.

We will look at our ultimate purpose in life as we pursue Christ and conform to Him, not the world (Rom. 12:2). Be sure to come up with specific examples of how we sometimes conform ourselves to this world. Understand what the mind of Christ entails, even the aspects of suffering that Dr. Stanley shares with us. “…he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin…” (1 Pet. 4:1). The most fertile time of spiritual growth for a majority of Christians comes during a time of crisis, illness, persecution, loss, pain, or rejection. Don’t shy away from life’s difficulties; embrace them as opportunities to grow in Christ.

We will start our class with a time of testimony from any of you who feel led to share. This week should have seen us making a conscious effort to be more and more obedient to the Lord’s leading in our lives. Give our class some examples of how that played out in your world this past week.

Blessings in Jesus Christ!

Friday, June 10, 2011

S.O.S. and Homefront Weekly

I have a couple of important things I want to share with you today. One concerns our S.O.S. (Summer of Service for Souls) plans for children. The other concerns your family devotional, Homefront Weekly, which is attached to this e-mail for your edification and can be picked up each Sunday at the table by the place where you pick-up your children from Kid's Worship.
*First, I want to inform you of some important ministry opportunities our children and us have coming up this summer with S.O.S.. The Lord has opened a door of opportunity for us to minister to the children and residents of the Enclave Apartments (7201 Old Decatur Road Fort Worth, TX 76179). We are planning an evangelistic/discipleship ministry there on the grounds with these beloved children of God, which will begin June 29th at our church. That week, I will be on vacation, but Kay Sutton has graciously stepped forward to do some training with our children (grades 1-5) so that they will be prepared for the ministry opportunity that awaits them on the dates of July 6, 20, 27, and August 10. We are excited about this chance to share our witness and love of Christ with many who are unchurched and some who have never heard the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.
-This is how the four nights of ministry will work:
+Children will meet at the church at 6:30pm to take the bus to the Enclave Apartments, which is about 2 1/2 miles straight south of the church.
+We will do church at the apartments with our children, the children of the apartment complex, and possibly their parents/guardians who desire to come join us in the commons area behind the office complex by the playground. We will have activities, games, and crafts along with some serious time of soul searching within the children themselves as they ask spiritual questions that are on their precious hearts. We will have designed topics to facilitate discussion and the adult leaders from our church will provide biblical answers to meet the spiritual needs of the kids. These little ones have many questions about the world and their Creator. It is the responsibility of us as God's people to share with them the truth from the Word of God so that they might have a chance to believe in the Lord and turn from their sinful nature to God's eternal life, hopefully gaining understanding as to what God's will is for them in their lives. We are penetrating the darkness with God's light!
+Our children will return to the church by 8:30pm for pick-up by you, the parents, who will be returning from your own S.O.S. mission wherever that may be.
+This ministry is only for grades 1-5, both boys and girls. All children will need to have a medical release form on file with the church to participate in this outreach.
+The nursery and preschool children will be having their normal Wednesday night activities with loving teachers who are pouring their lives into these lovable darlings. The only difference would be the extended time from 6:45pm to 8:30pm because of S.O.S. activities.
*Secondly, I hope you are doing these fascinating family devotions with your children that come with TruStory Kid's Worship called Homefront Weekly. If you have preschoolers, you are doing the activities associated with Elevate, Jr. These are, what I think, wonderful discipleship tools to get your children thinking about the Lord outside of church and preparing them for a Sunday of worship to our Heavenly King. There are insightful analysis and a concentrated effort to connect them with the Bible given in these devotionals and they have the potential to give some structure to a daily or weekly quiet time with your whole family. This Sunday at the check-in podium at the front lobby of the church and by the youth room in the fellowship hall where you pick-up for Kid's Worship, there will be some flyers with a free app opportunity with your I-phones and Androids. It is called Homefront Monthly (search keyword: Tru Home). This publication gives even more ideas for helping in the spiritual development of your children, which are your gift and heritage from God (Psalm 127:3). I hope you will check this app out and begin to see spiritual results from it. Another great thing we have found in our family is This is a website and app that narrates the Bible word for word and is a great tool for doing nightly devotions before your kids go to bed in the evenings. It is a fun way to listen to the Word of God as a family before prayer and saying good night.
+I'm going to be checking with our children in Kid's Worship to see how many of you are doing family devotions and getting ready for Sunday worship. This is your warning, hint, hint . Let's work together to train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). The dividends in the future are amazing!
+Pray for your children constantly and be sensitive to their spiritual condition. Help them inquire about the things of God and seek God's Word together. God has made us, the parent/guardian, as the lead disciplers of our children and He holds us accountable for how we do that (Ephesians 6:4)
If you ever have any questions or need help, you know that I'm always here and available for consultation. May the Lord be with you by His mercy.
Have a great weekend! See you Sunday!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Faith of a Child- Chapter 5- How to Know if a Child is Ready to Become a Christian

What are some of the signs that we can point to and say that this child is really ready to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior? First of all, we need to evaluate as parents and teachers if they truly understand what it means to become a Christian (73). Our kids can memorize and repeat what they’ve heard their parents and teachers say, but that does not necessarily mean that they understand God’s plan for salvation (73). Here are a few questions that can help determine a child’s spiritual readiness:

1.      Can the child explain the basics of becoming a Christian in his or her own words? When explaining how one becomes a Christian, does the child use “good works” answers such as “going to church, reading the Bible, getting baptized, praying, being good, etc.”? Or, do his or her answers have any mention of their need for forgiveness?
2.      Does the child have an affection for Jesus or a strong desire to be close to Him? Does he or she show a passion to follow Jesus or just a basic knowledge of the facts about Him?
3.      Does he or she distinguish between salvation and baptism? It is normal for young children to identify the act of baptism as the actual salvation experience (74).

The point here is that we do not want our children to enter into the Christian life ignorantly (74). This is not to say that their heart is not ready until they have perceived all the facts. They may or may not have all their facts straight. The key element is their heart (74). Is their heart ready to trust in the Savior of the world for their own personal sins and shortcomings. If they are able to discern that, then there is a good chance they are ready to make a decision for Jesus. When talking to children about salvation, a good practice is to go slow and ask many questions to get an understanding of how much they are comprehending or not comprehending (75). Let them talk and make some assessments from that. Make sure that you do everything you can to inform them about what it takes to become a child of God by faith.

The second thing you should look for is an exhibition of brokenness over sin. Does the child demonstrate a personal need or desire to repent of his or her sin (75)? Does the child express a genuine shame and regret for the things that offend their Lord? Knowing what sin is is not the same as being ashamed and repentant of sin (75). If a child is not repentant but goes ahead and makes a decision to become a Christian, then his or her decision is premature and incomplete (75). Letting a child think that he can become a Christian without repentance gives him or her a false sense of assurance (Acts 2:38; 3:19). If a child is led to think that he or she can be a Christian without repentance, they do not fully understand the need for a Savior (76). They run the risk of living their life thinking that everything is okay when in actuality it is not. The Christian life is about coming humbly before God desiring forgiveness through the work of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for our sins. This must be fundamental in leading a child to real and genuine salvation. Make sure that your children understand what sin is and that they have been partakers of sin so that they can understand the need for forgiveness (Romans 3:23).

The third thing to look for is the child’s seriousness about their commitment (77). As we know, children can often be silly, flippant, uninterested, and anything but serious when it comes to spiritual matters, or other things for that matter (77). However, as we also know, becoming a Christian is serious business. We must all consider the cost before taking up our cross and following Him (Matthew 16:24). As a child is contemplating the decision to follow Christ, he or she will eventually come to a point when it is very important to him or her (77). Listen to how they talk as far as their urgency and personal desire regarding salvation. They must reach a point of conviction where they realize that they need to do this (77). Otherwise, their decision will be shallow and doubted later on.

A forth thing that needs consideration is their making a self-made decision (78). It is not unusual for a child’s decision to be strongly connected to someone else, like a friend, relative, teacher, parent, or pastor (78). Questions to think about in this point include:

1.      Does the child demonstrate a personal desire to make this commitment with his or her life, or is he or she just being agreeable with those around them who want them to become a Christian?
2.      Is he or she influenced to make this decision because his or her family or friends have already done this?
3.      Does he or she feel left out of the family or peer group?
4.      Is this a way of getting some undivided attention or public recognition?
5.      Is this decision a result of a need to feel loved or appreciated?
6.      Does he or she have a mature understanding of the decision?
7.      Are there signs that the child has personally struggled about this?
8.      Has the child expressed that he has reached this decision after a personal evaluation of his life?
9.      What influenced him or her the most to make this choice?
10.  Has his or her decision come after realizing how much he or she needs and wants Jesus in their life?

A fifth and final consideration is making sure the decision to follow Christ has been sealed (79). There should be a time of consecration if at all possible to commemorate the choice to trust in Jesus. You want them to remember the time and place of their spiritual birth if at all possible. Give them reminders of that time and place to validate their decision and reinforce their commitment to Christ Jesus. This will go a long way in solidifying their faith in the long run.

Art Murphy, The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for your Child, Chicago: Moody Press, 2000.

1 Corinthians 15 Study guide for ABF 1 (1 Cor. 15:35-58)

Day Two – Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (The Bodily Character of the Resurrection)
Paul now corrects those who deny the possibility of the resurrection because they assume that earthly life is completely incompatible with the heavenly spiritual existence. He grants that the principle of polarity between heaven and earth is valid, but the student (the Corinthians and many of us) fails to understand that transformation can occur. As our bodies die physically there is that spiritual life that springs forth just as a seed does when it grows and produces a new plant. Paul is teaching resurrection, which is far different from the resuscitation of the corpse. What is mortal will be changed by the power of God through Jesus Christ so that those who are raised will be given a body that is consistent with its new celestial habitat. The resurrection of Christ Jesus has revealed the foundation for a new reality: He “will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him (Rom. 6:9).”
Questions to ponder and meditate on:
-How does Paul relate the physiological principle of a seed to the spiritual principle of the resurrection in this passage?

·         Cross reference- Matt. 13:3-43, John 12:23-26, 1 Cor. 3:6-7; 9:11, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 John 3:9

-Explain in your own words the difference between the first man, Adam, and the life giving man, Jesus Christ:

-Why can Paul state in verse 49 that we shall “bear the likeness of the man from heaven?”

-What do words such as you’ve just read do to give you hope in this world?

Application: The Christian life is one of hope and growth. While our physical bodies get older and are definitely in the process of decay because of the natural order caused by sin, the spiritual person within is being renewed day-by-day and learning to conform with the image of Christ (Col. 3:10, 2 Cor. 4:16). This is called sanctification in the Bible and it is a process that we undertake as believers. One day it will result in our glorification, which is when our complete redemption will be realized and the curse of this earth will have no further power or dominion over us because we are, in Christ Jesus, given an imperishable body. Give God glory and praise for this amazing fact! We have a lot to look forward to!
Day Three – Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (All Will Be Changed!)
Our victory is assured through our faith in Jesus Christ to complete this transformation into a new body, which is compatible with its new environment in eternity. God, by His awesome power, proclaims final victory over death on our behalf out of His love and compassion for us. Our work is not in vain in Jesus Christ!

 Questions to ponder and meditate on:
-Paul’s assertion in verse 50 that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” reiterates that a change must take place from our natural-sinful state of present being. What does it take for us to become imperishable in the sight of God?

-Is the passage from verses 51-53 clear indication to you that there will be some sort of rapture for the church? Explain your thoughts on this subject:

            * Cross References: 1 Thess. 4:16-17, Matt. 24:31
-How can verses 54-57 help us in our times of grief and sadness over loss?

-What are Paul’s final two exhortations to the Corinthians, and us, in verse 58? Comment on these two exhortations:

Application: We are to always stand firm letting nothing move us from our faith and always giving ourselves fully to the work of Christ since we know that eternal victory over the sting of death is ours because we belong to Christ and He will save us. What a joy and a hope this should give to us! This is certainly something worth communicating to others, in our family and our friends and even those we don’t quite know yet. Share the gospel of Christ! It truly is the Good News that overcomes the world and all its problems! Our work is not in vain!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Faith of a Child- Chapter 4- Understanding the Faith of a Child

The Bible teaches us that becoming a Christian is a “new birth” experience (John 3:3,7, 1 Peter 1:23). For children to get to that place of “new birth” in Christ by faith there are typically four stages in the faith developmental process. Understanding a child’s level of faith is a step in helping their faith grow and is revolutionary when we discover these principles (59). Do not be surprised when a child has one foot in one stage and the other foot in the next stage because transitions occur frequently and are part of the process (60). Let’s take a look at these four distinct stages that are probably indicative of your child or children.

1.      The Discovering Stage: Birth to approximately Five years old
Key Terms: first impressions, positive feelings, foundation building, sensory motor experiences
Our Role: cultivator (preparing the soil for seeds that will be planted later) (60)

In the first stage of life, a child is storing huge amounts of information into their being every day. They are naturally inquisitive and have immense desire to discover the world around them. They are figuring out life and all that pertains to it. They discover through their senses and emotions. As they formulate impressions of life, the effects will give them early impression of who God is (60). Their impression of God is directly related to their relationship with whoever is caring for them, especially their parents. The happy (or sad) feelings they get will open up the door of opportunity later on to receive the gospel when they can understand it completely (61). Deuteronomy 6:7 gives us the phrase “as we walk along the road.” This describes the most effective method of teaching stage one children because they experience life and learn much from their encounters. The daily experiences (planned and unplanned) mean a great deal to these little souls and they observe everything that is going on. Although they do not fully understand God’s grace and redemptive plan yet, they are in the process of learning and their cognitive facilities are starting to become aware of what life is all about. Help your preschooler discover the things of God in a fun, expressive way using all their senses. Begin to teach them the truths of the Bible in a way they can relate to and understand. It will provide everlasting benefits!

2.      The Discerning Stage: approximately Four to Eight years old
Key Terms: gathering facts, exploring the Bible, curiosity, asking questions
Our Role: planter (planting seeds through teaching, modeling, observing, answering) (62)

This stage is best described as a time of questioning (62). In the first part of this stage they will simply accept what they experience as a part of life without really thinking about it, but as they grow and progress they began to ask questions such as “Why did God do that?” or “How did God do that?” We need to foster their curiosity and give biblical answers to the multitude of questions they pose to us. As parents our worst mistake can be to avoid these questions and put them off. Please don’t ignore any question, even if it is a difficult one or one that may seem insignificant. Work with your children to find the answers and give them a reason for the hope that is in you and calling out to them in their young lives.
3.      The Deciding Stage: approximately Seven to Twelve years old
Key Terms: Conviction, struggle, faith, transformation
Our Role: caretaker (providing food for the new plant that it may grow) (63)

During this stage of faith development a child typically asks himself/herself “How does this affect me (63)?” “Does what the pastor (or teacher or parent) said apply to me?” “How does he know what I was thinking?” “Do I need to make a decision with my life concerning Christ?” “Am I going to follow Christ with my life?” “Do I have to make this decision public?” “If I decide to become a Christian, do I have to get baptized?” “My friends got baptized. Should I get baptized?” Kids begin to sort through all these questions and the information available to them to make their decisions (63). They begin to either accept or reject Christ Jesus in a very personal way. Children do feel this internal struggle in a real sense in this stage, which results in personal unrest, fear, and a real spiritual battle because there are opposing forces vying for control of them. Sometimes this struggle is not all that apparent in your child’s life, but it exists none the less. Encourage the child at this stage to trust God and let them know that you are there to help them too (64). Psalm 56:3 and Philippians 4:13 are great verses to teach your children if they are in this deciding stage and need the comfort of Christ Jesus. In the deciding stage the child moves from being curious to being convicted (64). If they are raised in a Christian home the norm is for them to want to be a Christian and this is your great opportunity to lead them to faith in Christ Jesus through taking the time and being concerned for their spiritual well-being. If your child has made a profession of faith earlier, you as a parent will see the transformation from curiosity to conviction in a powerful way as they begin to really discern the decision that they have made. It is a joyful struggle that needs care giving on your part.

4.      The Discipling Stage: approximately Ten years and up
Key Terms: establishing habits, consistency, maturity, growing deeper, doctrine
Our Role: pruner (shaping, encouraging, the growing plant) (64)

We begin discipling our children well before they accept Christ in the previous stages, but once they accept the Savior the intensity picks way up and should be taken very seriously both from you the parent and the child (64). The Christian life does not stop with a decision for salvation; it is only the beginning of a life walk with Christ Jesus. Children will not grow as they should unless we are intentional to help them memorize the Scriptures, read the Word of God, daily prayer, witnessing to others, inviting friends to church, giving of themselves, and other acts of kindness (65). Give your child the tools that they will need to cultivate a growing fellowship with the Lord and make it exciting and challenging for them to do this. Help them explore their spiritual giftedness and help them learn the Lord’s purposes and plans for their lives. Things should be kept positive, but don’t forget to rebuke and admonish your new little Christian in love when they make mistakes, and they will; you can count on that. The discipline you them shows that you care and is an example of how the Lord corrects us all (Hebrews 12:5-11). One important thing to remember is that you cannot teach a child to live the Christian life if you are not living it too (65). Be the model and example they deserve and the Lord desires. This is not to say that you will have to be perfect, none of us are that. Cultivate open discussions with your child in this stage as they mature and develop. Ask forgiveness of God and from others you may have wronged and sinned against. As you model a humble spirit, the child will see the grace and compassion of the Father in Heaven and realize that mistakes can and have been atoned for through the blood of the Lamb. Open lines of communication also help to release your child from covering up more important things as they grow into their adolescent and teen years. Parents need to know what is going on in their child’s life, and this begins to take shape in this stage as we do the work of pruning. Make these times regular and a priority in your life.

Question: How do we prepare children for salvation?

1.      Parents and teachers should start early teaching their children about God. Spiritual training should begin before a child is two years old at least.
2.      Parents and teachers should not wait until their children seek to know about God. Otherwise, this may never happen in their natural, sin-natured state.
3.      Parents and teachers should be positive and encouraging when their children express the desire to accept Christ. They may not understand completely yet, but encourage them to seek.
4.      Parents and teachers should not mistake a child’s curiosity with their conviction. Sometimes new parents will mistake false labor for real labor in the “new birth” process concerning salvation.
5.      There will usually be some sort of “kick in the womb” long before the spiritual labor of the “new birth” will actually begin. Look for clues that your child may be getting the Lord’s call on their life for salvation.
6.      Parents and teachers should not abandon a child as he begins making his decision to become a Christian. Their decision is not completely up to them. They need our wisdom, encouragement, evaluation, and direction at such a young age. Come alongside them and help them know Christ.
7.      Parents and teachers should not cease guiding a child once he decides to accept Christ. It is only the beginning of a spiritual journey that will one day end in Heaven.
8.      Parents and teachers should give a child’s decision some time to bear fruit. They should watch to see if the child begins to show outward signs of an inward conversion experience. Do reviews and check-ups to make sure they are convinced of their decision and are a “new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
9.      Parents and teachers should pray earnestly for their children. There is no substitute for this.
10.  Parents and teachers should pray for themselves, asking the Holy Spirit to lead them and give them wisdom in working with the children (66&67).

Statistics tell us that a majority of children making a decision for Christ under the age of seven and a half tend to have doubts about their decision at a young age and strongly consider making another decision just to make sure later in life at some point (68). This happens for several reasons:

1.      They don’t remember much about the first experience. They base it too much on what their parents remember.
2.      They were not mature enough to see the whole picture. They felt they couldn’t have understood so properly at a young age and feel like that may have diminished their decision.
3.      They tend to have more doubts and need more assurance than those who accept Christ at an older age. Satan loves it when this happens since he is the author of confusion and tries to defeat Christians with this lie (68).

These problems can be avoided however in most cases if enough individual time is given to the child in order to help him understand and grow into Christian maturity (69). As we cultivate our relationships with our children, God’s Spirit can take over and bring salvation to them as soon as they ready and able to make a convicted decision to turn away from their sin and depravity to faith in the Christ who died for their sins and rose from the grave!

Art Murphy, The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for your Child, Chicago: Moody Press, 2000.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Faith of a Child- Chapter Three- How Much Do You Know About Today’s Children?

Welcome back. First all know this: Childhood in our culture has changed, but children have not changed at all (41). The characteristics of the twenty-first century child shaped by his/her culture looks like the following:

1)      They are high tech. They are being influenced heavily by the gadgets of our time designed to make life easier and less stress free. However, many times with our children, and for us as well, the bombardment of messages and signals coming at us from so many different directions causes confusion and mixed indicators. It has particularly devastating effects on our spiritual nature because all too often the Lord gets tuned out during the rigors of our busy schedule. What was meant to simply our lives and our children’s lives has complicated much of what we do. We could also mention here that our children our being influenced greatly by media philosophies of the world that reject the truths of God. It runs in opposition to what we are trying to teach as Christian parents. Our children are being robbed of their childhood right before our very eyes (42). In this instant information age our children are not taught the biblical principles and fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially in the area of patience and forbearance. They have trouble being focused and tend to have shorter attention spans than children of the past ages (42). It is becoming more and more difficult to capture their undivided attention (42). As a result of these quandaries we must consider how to best communicate with our children when discussing Christ. We have to know what we want to say, what the child needs to do, and how to keep the child’s attention so that the Lord can speak to them on their level (43).
2)      Today’s child is overexposed. They can obtain through the media and their environment inappropriate exposure to violence, materialism, gambling, the “Hollywood lifestyle,” movies and television programs that are way too unsuitable for their age (44). As discerning parents, we must be aware of when, where, and how our child uses the internet, e-mail, chat rooms, and texting. What we fill our minds with will have an effect on our lives. As one has said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
3)      Today’s child in desensitized. Our children, like it or not, do not value human life as much as children of previous generations did (45). We are seeing a hardening of their hearts and love that is growing cold, much like Jesus prophesied (Matthew 24:12). This attitude can cause children to show little responsiveness to the sacrifice and pain of Christ’s death on the cross (45). How tragic this is! However, this should never keep us from sharing the gospel of Christ since its message has supernatural power and can touch even the most jaded youngsters (45). There is also the satanic attack on truth in our children’s culture. They are being desensitized by the relativism that plagues our modern society and it is having catastrophic consequences in our Christian homes. There is also the plethora of immoral actions by religious, political, media, and athletic leaders that takes role models and heroes out of the equation for us as parents to point to and leaves serious questions about God in the minds of children (45).
4)      Today’s child is nonrelational. Many of today’s kids have little or no time for friendships and they have no one to show them how to develop them. Gone are the days of simply “playing” and many kids don’t know how to just go out and create their own fun. They want to relate to father and mother figures, and they desire warmth and affection. But, too often they are deprived of the essential discipline and love in their experience. The ones they’ve loved the most have hurt them and let them down by neglect or abuse, which raises skepticism in their soul (46). That’s why we need to share with them the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
5)      Today’s child is stressed. At home, at school, and even at church today’s children endure a lot of tension through activities and competition that they are probably not yet capable of handling. Too many parents are obsessed with developing child prodigies and put intolerable strain on their children.
6)      Today’s child is afraid. There has always been the fear of death, but today’s child especially wonders what will happen to them if they die (47). The bullying they observe at school and in the neighborhood intensifies this unhealthy fear along with the possibility of not being accepted by others (47). Kids are afraid of the future with a world in turmoil and seeking answers for the future (47). The environmental disasters and catastrophes exacerbate their uneasiness and threaten them constantly. There is a lack of trust because of the break-down of the family structure. They fear that God won’t love them because of all the rejection they’ve faced and won’t help them in their time of need. To combat this they need to understand the proper “fear of God,” which will rid them of all other fears, but sadly we live in a culture that doesn’t teach the “fear of God” anymore (48).
7)      Today’s child is angry. From parents who’ve mistreated them to teachers and leaders to classmates, siblings, and/or friends who’ve let them down, kids are fighting mad and don’t know how to properly release their frustrations. Many are even angry at God, the very One who is trying to save them from perishing (48). Children must learn how to give their pain to the Lord, talk out their frustrations in a safe environment, learn to value exercise and physical fitness (48). They must learn to pray and cast all their anxieties on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). They need to be taught Scripture and to display the fruit of the Spirit in regards to self-control. They need disciplined behavior modeled for them by parents, teachers, and leaders (48).
8)      Today’s child is depressed. There is a sadness in many children’s eyes that show their frustration, loneliness, and hopelessness (48). They have questions that are not being answered, hurts that aren’t being healed, and emotions they cannot properly express for fear of being labeled. They feel like no one has time for them and their needs.
9)      Today’s child is very, very special and loved by God and needs Him. We know children are precious in His sight (Mark 10:14). He loves them and has a great plan and purpose for their lives. It is up to us as parents to help them understand this great love and compassion that the Father shows to us.

Art Murphy, The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for your Child, Chicago: Moody Press, 2000.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Faith of a Child, Chapter 2- What God Says About Children and Salvation

First, the Bible teaches us that children are a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3 states that “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.” I know there are times when our children try to try our souls, but they are our most precious resource to be cherished and loved with all our heart. They deserve our love and devotion in raising them up to be people of God. Don’t ever believe the lie of Satan that you would be better off without your children. God says they are valuable and a prize of His favor upon you (Psalm 127:3-5).

Our children are easily influenced and directed (30). Jesus recognized this as He would welcome them to come and rebuked the disciples for hindering their coming to listen in to what He was teaching (Luke 18:16). In fact He compared the Kingdom of Heaven to children because they simply believe and trust. We as parents have a shot at developing our children in their faith while they are young, before the peer and ungodly influences of the world get their skeptical worldview in upon them to sway and take away true faith. Make the most of your opportunity. Your days are numbered with your young ones. They grow up fast and you want them to establish their faith at an impressionable age. Train them up right and the proverb says that when they are old they will not depart (Proverbs 22:6).

Children are responsive and sensitive to the things of God (31). He is near their humble hearts. Children are teachable, dependent, obedient, trusting, faithful, absorbent, accepting, loyal, and submissive at a tender age (31). It is at this time in their lives that they can be easily led and influenced for God. This means that we as parents must be careful to teach, model, and discipline our children in God’s Holy Word even if it is demanding of our time and energy. Jesus indeed took time with children (Mark 10:16). He took the children in His arms and nourished them with a blessing. They were valuable to Him (32). It was Christ’s warning that we are not to hinder young children in any way (Matthew 18:6). If we acknowledge the value of young children and encourage and teach them from the time they are infants, they will be drawn to the Savior (33).

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Notice here that verse seven says to “impress” these commands on our children. Winning your children to Christ begins at home! God expects and even commands that diligent action be taken to instruct your children in the ways of the Lord. Don’t count on church, a Christian school, or some religious media to train your child. You have the God ordained responsibility first and foremost to evangelize your children.

Now we must consider what the Bible says about the age of salvation. The Bible is plain that we are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5). Even King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, could make this claim, so it would be unwise for us to think that our children are angels with a good nature. This is contrary to sound biblical teaching and our own experience when we think about it. But, God has a plan and is at work drawing them back to His side right from the beginning. One may ask, “When infants and young children die, do they go to Heaven?” 2 Samuel 12:23 gives us the best support from Scripture to say yes, indeed, they do go to Heaven. In this passage David has lost his infant son and came to peace with it because he knew that one day he would “go to” his son. This gives us indication that God receives young ones into His presence in what can be termed “an age of grace.” They will eventually reach “an age of accountability,” when they will be able to either accept or reject God’s plan of salvation of their own volition. Therefore, when children are old enough and start recognizing their sin and the things they do wrong before God and man, they need to be taught that these sins have consequences before a holy and just God. It is at this point that the plan of salvation can be presented to give them an opportunity to make a free choice on their own in favor of faith in Christ Jesus. We as parents must be careful not to force this issue, but children can be saved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Faith of a Child, Chapter 1- Building a Strong Spiritual Foundation for Your Child

Have you ever been a part of a construction project? Maybe you’ve built a new home or your place of business built a new building. Maybe your church experienced growth to the point of expanding with a new building. The process, while it can be taxing, is a wonderful experience as you see the new building slowly take shape and the original vision is realized.

God has given us the awesome blessing and responsibility of helping Him build the lives of our children (17). God has a specific design for each person that He has created (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:13-17). He provides the blueprint for our children in His instruction book, which is His Word, the Bible.

God expects us to lay a solid foundation just as any good building will require a sturdy groundwork. Hurrying this process we know would be futile and create disaster down the road when the winds and storms hit. Therefore, a solid foundation is critical both to a building and our child’s success.

Have you ever watched a movie and found out later about the props they used to make the background buildings look real? They are a façade of the real thing. Often our children can give the appearance of being Christians because they have learned all the right information, yet they still have not entered into a true relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior (18). We all know in the building process, what is on the inside is vastly more important than the cosmetic appearance on the outside for a building’s durability and strength. In Jesus’ day, He rightly saw that some were “hypocrites” because they gave the appearance of something special, but inside they were not (Matthew 23:27).

In laying a good foundation for your child’s spiritual success, make sure you help your child see the difference between knowing about Jesus and actually following Jesus (18). You not only want your child to know the definition of sin, but it should be your desire for them to be truly repentant of their sin and have that personal-convicting sorrow that will turn them away from themselves to a living faith in the crucified and resurrected Savior. But what will help us provide this solid foundation and the building blocks we need to ensure every opportunity for their saving faith? Here are several “building block” things to think about:

1.      Children Need a Godly Home- Is the presence of God evident in your lives? Children are not fooled by talk, they observe, and they know if you are yielded to the Lord in your home or not. Do you have family devotional time set aside that is dedicated to the Lord with stories from the Bible and important discussion on their level? Create an atmosphere in your home that says God is number one, top priority. Work hard to establish the right heart attitudes and have directed purpose for the things that you choose to do. Through their parent’s example, children will learn trust, patience, forgiveness, unselfishness, dependence, commitment, and love (20). Of course the opposite can also be learned if we as parents are void of the Holy Spirit’s control of our lives.
2.      Meaningful Relationships- It takes time to develop strong friendships, quality time. Build your relationship with your child by spending the necessary time to truly get to know them and relate to them in meaningful ways. This builds trust and compatibility.
3.      Good Habits- When we help children develop good habits, we shape their personality, character, and behavior (22). Children who are submissive to parental authority find it much easier to submit to God’s authority (22). Children need our discipline and boundaries so that they can become good decision makers in their lives. Raising disciplined children means that we as the parents must also live disciplined lives and know our weak spots (Hebrews 12:5-11).
4.      Being Positive about Life and God- Teach your children to be positive, constructive, and victorious (not in a competitive way though). Christians who whine, complain, judge, fight, and criticize are not very attractive to the world and are not appealing to their children either (24).
5.      Godly Role Models and Heroes- Your children look up to you whether you realize it or not. Statistics continually prove that you as parents are the greatest influence in your child’s life. Scary to think about sometimes, isn’t it? We must also be careful to make sure they distinguish between a hero and an idol. A hero is real and endears them to live out Godly principles. An idol on the other hand will take them from faith in the living God and is a fake substitute for the real thing. We as humans are naturally drawn to idols and therefore we must be careful about the influencers of our children. Pay special attention to their media influences in this day and age. Also, remind your children that heroes are not perfect, only Christ is that, and that is why He is ultimately the One we look to for our role model.
6.      Open Communication- As we spend time with our children, make sure that there is meaningful conversations about spiritual things. Encourage your children to talk about God and ask questions. And remember; give them your undivided attention during these times, which will communicate its importance. A good goal to shoot for is 15 minutes a day with your child in uninterrupted conversation to discuss anything they want.

Now, let’s talk about the church for a few moments. The church can be a good partner in building a strong foundation for faith in your child’s life, but it makes a horrible substitute. You as parents are the ones that God has given authority to in the raising of your children and that is to be taken very seriously (Deuteronomy 6:4-8). The church’s role is to assist you in helping your child come to faith in Christ Jesus. If a church is dead and does not care about your children, a careful assessment of that needs to take place and a possible move may need to be in order. Jesus said, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Luke 18:16).” You as a parent may even want to get involved in the ministry to children in your church if God is so calling you in that direction.

Art Murphy, The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for your Child, Chicago: Moody Press, 2000.