Training Up The Next Generation

Yesterday was a new experience for me.  It was my first day teaching Bible Released Time. This is a program in California where students are allowed to be out of class for 1 hour each week to attend a Bible teaching.  It’s actually California law.  This is something that all students in California have a right to do, they just need teachers to come and teach them.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as it was my first week.  The flyers and permission slips had gone out late, only a week before, due to some push back from officials in the school district.  We might have 2 kids, we might have none.  We ended up with 13 kids on that first day.  One more wanted to come but forgot his permission slip.  Others will be coming in the weeks to come.  They were very well behaved and wanted to be there too.  I didn’t notice any kids that seemed like they were doing this just to get out of class.  Some of them had some Bible knowledge already, some because they were regular church goers and some because they attended Released Time last year.  Most were participating when I asked questions and were engaged in learning about the Bible.  Teaching these kids made me feel fulfilled in a way that I hadn’t felt in a while.

It also got me thinking.  I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that I believe Corona is going to be one of the hubs of a great revival that is coming to the U.S. soon.  I’ve always wanted to be a part of that revival, and not watch it from the sidelines.  I always assumed that participation meant that I would be preaching or doing something high profile to reach as many people as possible.  But maybe my part doesn’t look the way I thought it would.  Revival always starts with the younger generations.  Perhaps my part is not to be in the middle of the fire.  Perhaps my part is simply to spark the flame by teaching and training the next generation, then it’s their turn to turn the spark into a full blown wildfire.  What a cool opportunity to be a part of, being able to reach out to the young people in the city outside the four walls of the church and train them to be the faces of the coming revival.  What an honor and a privilege that God would use me in such a way.  I’m so glad that I get to be a part of this.

Here’s the problem.  There are 25 schools in the Corona/Norco district, and we are in 5.  I know that the person in charge of Released Time in our city has been to all of the big churches in our city and many of the smaller ones, and believe me there are plenty of churches in this city.  Only a couple are actually participating, including ours.  The others are too busy doing other things, mostly within the 4 walls of the buildings.  I can’t for the life of me imagine what they have to do that is so important that they can’t give an hour a week toward teaching these kids.  It is a privilege that we have this law in California, yet we are not taking advantage of it. Many of you have kids in these schools.  Wouldn’t you want your kids to be able to participate in this program?  So I’m calling everybody reading this to action.  If you live in Corona and want to be a part of this, or if you live in another part of the state and want to know how to get started, visit our Contact Us page to give me a call or drop me a note and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction.  We have this great opportunity, let’s not squander it by being in only 20% of the schools.  Let’s get into 100% of the schools by next year.  This should be a no brainer.  1 hour a week.  1 teacher and 1 helper.  I know there are at least 50 people out there that have the time to pour into these kids.  Please join us.

Until then, be blessed.

I Knew Where You Were

First Published July 30, 2012:

Yesterday, we were on our way to drop the kids off at Children’s Ministry at church.  Colin and Liam went one way when we were going another.  So we called to them to follow us.  Liam did, Colin didn’t.  We kept calling for him but he wasn’t paying attention, as he often does.  So, we decided to teach him a bit of a lesson on paying attention and knowing where we are.  Lena kept walking with Liam and Cailyn and I slowly walked back to where Colin was to wait for him and see when he would realize what had happened.  He had already left when I got back, but there were only two ways for him to go.  One would lead him right to Lena, the other down the steps towards the sanctuary.  Either way I knew where he was.  I passed by one of the pastors on my way to look and he said Colin had passed by him looking a little freaked out.  I jogged over just to make sure I was right and he hadn’t gone down the steps, but it seemed to have worked out.  He had found Lena.  He was obviously a little distraught, though not as much as I thought he would be.  I actually didn’t mean to take it quite so far, I thought he would still be where we left him when I got back, but lesson learned none the less.

So, I’m not writing to tell you all what a mean parent I am.  I’m trying to set the stage for what happened next.  As I took his hand to reassure him, something came to my head that I felt compelled to tell him.  After asking if he was OK, I said, “I knew where you were.”  Immediately, as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized what had just happened.  The Lord had used my child to reveal something about His character to both my son and me.  As Christians, we are often so hard on ourselves.  We think that every time we mess up we lose our salvation and have to regain it.  We feel like we have to pray the prayer again and walk up in front of the church again and become a Christian again.  The fact of the matter is that we’re going to mess up.  When we become Christians, we are no longer sinners, but we do still sin.  We fall away.  We lose sight of our Father.  In a panic we run to find Him, fearing that we’ve lost Him forever.  When we finally look up (which is where He resides, so why didn’t we look there first?) we see Him again, and He looks down and says, “I knew where you were.”  Our sins and mistakes are no surprise to God.  For some reason we think we can fool Him or hide from Him, or that He looks down at the latest thing that we did and says, “Boy, I didn’t see that one coming.  I’m going to have to question whether or not he’s saved.”  He knew everything you were going to do before you were born.  Psalms 139:7-16 says:

7      aWhere can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8      aIf I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in 1Sheol, behold, bYou are there.
9      If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10      Even there Your hand will alead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11      If I say, “Surely the adarkness will 1overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12      Even the adarkness is not dark 1to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
bDarkness and light are alike to You.

13      For You aformed my 1inward parts;
You bwove me in my mother’s womb.
14      I will give thanks to You, for 1I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
aWonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15      My 1aframe was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the bdepths of the earth;
16      Your aeyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in bYour book were all written
The cdays that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (Ps 139:7–16). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

God knew us before we were even born.  That mistake you made that you thought made you fall from grace, He knew you were going to do that.  It wasn’t a surprise to Him.  The key is to confess and repent, not pray the salvation prayer every Sunday.  You may have thought you were lost, but as God’s child he knew exactly where you were, and he was waiting for you when you came back.  Unlike my situation, where Colin was out of my sight for a few moments, you were never out of God’s sight.

As I’m writing this the Holy Spirit is revealing more of the story to me.  The reason Colin was “lost,” was that he wasn’t paying attention.  He was curious about something.  I don’t know what it was, but it was something that had caught his attention enough to not notice us.  I know he should have heard us calling because Liam heard and came.  It seems like we are much the same.  Something else gets our attention.  We’re curious about something and we take our eyes off of God for a moment to see what it is.  And He lets us.  Sometimes it’s harmless, and sometimes it’s something that bites us.  But once our curiosity is over and we realize that we’ve lost sight of our Father, He reveals himself to us again, puts his arm around us, and says, “I knew where you were.”