Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide

The last thing that you ever want to have happened is that a child would be put in danger at your church.  The very place that should be a safe haven for them in the midst of life’s pains, and it becomes a danger zone.  No one wants that to happen.  Yet why then do we so often lack at doing anything to ensure the safety of our children and our church?  “Just Trust God” is often said when we bring up the need for security.
            The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries” is a toolkit work.  What I mean is that this is not just a book that one reads from the front to the back and files it away.  This is a book that you give out to your team and read together, then you earmark pages, use it to help guide and create safe policies etc.  It is a book that will be pulled out over and over again and used to better our church.

            The book is broken into five key sections that all include thoughts, ideas, and practical tools to help formulate or even just aid in a current safety ministry.  This book has helped to shape and revamp our current policy and bring to light areas we were missing.  I would highly recommend this to be read by all safety teams, all children’s ministries and really all church staff members!

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15th, 2016, Isaiah 40:28-31

Isaiah 40:28-31

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

God's word is amazing!
Today in the midst of a Master's program, feeling tired, even maybe a bit overwhelmed.
Getting ready to help lead a debate team, nervous, don't want to let anyone down on the team...
I sit an am reminded....
Can you not hear a bit of the scold in that parent's loving voice
You've see His love before.
You've experienced His care and protection as well!

But you are tired and have forgotten.... AGAIN!

Notice where your strength lies... IN HIM!
Not in your own weak, feeble, frail, mortal being...

He will give you strength.

But will your life be effortless? Will it be so easy that you never learn like a spoiled child experiencing the real world for the first time?
Think about an eagle. What does the Mother Eagle do?
When the baby is ready to learn to fly what does the mother do?
From the HIGH nests on the tallest tree's the mother PUSHES the baby out.
The mother says it is TIME to learn...
But the entire time the mother is right there and if the baby is to able to fly she doesn't wait until the baby hits the ground but SOARS DOWN AND CATCHES THE BABY ON HER BACK!

He will not let you stumble and fall when you are dependent on HIM!
So walk, Run, this journey of Faith knowing that your HOPE and STRENGTH is in the LORD.
Praise God that it isn't in me.

God you are simply amazing!
We give you our lives.
Lord I pray that we will all see that YOU MUST COME FIRST!
Above all else.
Our Job, our family, our friends. YOU MUST COME FIRST.
These earthly things are temporal but your are eternal!
I am so in awe that by giving you my life, my family, and my all that you give it back to me renewed, restored, and thus I am able to enjoy them so much better than I could before!

God I praise you!
With all my breath may I praise you!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jan. 14th, 2016 Hebrews 12:7-13

Hebrews 12:7-13
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

My kids love it when they are disciplined. Don't your's?
We enjoy the pain of a butt spanking!
We enjoy the chastising of our parents, that scolding look of disapproval.


Because we dislike it as a child we scorn it.
Then later in life we look back in hind site and see WHY they did it.
Then you have children and you fully understand!

Thus why do we scorn God's reproof?

It is because we don't see what He is doing.
For the moment we grieve, we ache, we morn.... Yet our HOPE is in the NEW DAY!

So therefore: RAISE UP YOUR HANDS! Dry your eyes!
Turn up the worship music in your life and PRAISE HIM.

Your focus on praise will allow your focus to be removed from the pain.
Trust God.
Trust His plan!
Trust HIS purpose!
Believe that HE created you for a PURPOSE!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jan. 13th, 2016 Colossians 3:12-17

Colossians 3:12-17

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

What a great passage this morning!
When we are around people in a group, there are bound to be some people who naturally rub you the wrong way.
Subconsciously they may remind you of someone who hurt you (Sign of un-forgiveness possibly in your heart...)
Or they may be like you or exhibit a character flaw you see in yourself (Pride, Likes to be in charge, shy, etc...)

Yet we are called to be compassionate, kindness, humble, etc... we do it all though IN GOD'S STRENGTH! Which is a supernatural power!

But just in case, we think that's enough, we are called to forgive them...
I don't read that they asked for it... Do you?
We are to FORGIVE them. And not just superficially with words like a child forced to say 'I'm sorry' by their parents, but with a WHOLE HEARTED, I FORGIVE and will GIVE UP MY RIGHT TO HOLD IT AGAINST YOU forgiveness!

And just wait cause he is just getting started!

So I need to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving, and then I need to still hang out with them?
You mean I can't change churches when the going gets rough?
You mean I can't hide?

And to top it all off, LET EVERY DETAIL be done in the name of the MASTER!

We are subservient to Jesus because we LOVE.
Will you love with that type of LOVE, DEEP LOVE, today?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jan. 12, 2016 1 Chronicles 16:8-14

1 Chronicles 16:8-14
8 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
13 O offspring of Israel his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
14 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
You know those Braveheart speeches? Those rally cries that we all love in movies?
This morning this sounded like one of those to me.
Remember that the hebrews were very ORAL in their tradition and would have read this aloud!
In fact it is known that if a priest, who was ordained JUST to read, could be fired and 'de-frocked' just for reading it poorly!
Just think about vs. 8. You can't read that without wanting to add a 'You' in front. Now that does make this come alive but in Hebrew culture again it was CORPORATE.
OH WE give thanks... etc...
Are you in community with believers that can all say this?
Read it once this morning making it personal but then read it once adding in the plurals to make it corporate!
Do you sing praise to Him?
Do you get your STRENGTH from Him?
Do you take time to remember the things that He has done that only HE could do in your life and in your communities (Oikos, family, friends, community!)
Is HE your Lord, your God?
Then look at that last verse. It seems a bit strange doesn't it.
We just heard these great things and then it says "His JUDGEMENTS?"
One meaning was to decide a case... or the process and procedure before a judge....
So all of these things (Getting our strength from Him etc) are part of HIS judgement?
The way I take that is that HE is so loving that He judges himself on how much He makes known to us His love?
Isn't that amazing?
He really LOVES US!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ezekiel 36:24-28 Jan. 11th, 2016

Ezekiel 36:24-28
24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.

25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.[a] 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

28 “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God.

This is a story of REDEMPTION!
Everything in life is a story about redemption. God is seeking to restore our HEARTS. In Heaven he will restore creation to where it was suppose to be.
But when God restores the heart.... LOOK OUT WORLD!!!

This verse explains why the NT Christian is not under the law as Paul said. It is because the LAW GIVER has written the LAW ON THEIR HEARTS!

Do you have that? Think about it... when you are driving down the road in Delaware the speed limit (THE LAW) changes. If a wonderful police officer pulls you over and tells you that you were speeding (BREAKING THAT LAW) and you said "Oh but I didn't know it changed" does he say "Oh, ok... since you didn't know it was wrong then it doesn't count!"

NO!!! He says... "TOUGH. Ignorance ain't bliss!"

You are held to the law even if you didn't know it was the law!

BUT because God loves us so much and wants to help us he WRITES THE LAW ON OUR HEART!!!!
That is the 'Jimminy Cricket' on your heart. That conscious that is saying "You shouldn't do that..."

OH but that comes with a warning... James tells us that when you do what you know you shouldn't do it is a sin.... OUCH!

I am so grateful for a God who writes his law on my heart. Who guides me, directs me, picks be up each and EVERY time when I fail him.

Mark 12:28-33 Jan. 10th, 2016

Day 10:
Mark 12:28-33
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

Ever wonder who this "Teacher of Religious Law" was?
Did he want to trick Jesus or was he curious?

Vs. 32 and 33 could be read as COCKY such as "See I told you there is only ONE GOD and you aren't it!"
Or it could be read in awe "They say you are a heretic but you speak with truth and grace and wisdom! I'd follow you!"

The point I got out of this was WATCH HOW YOU READ THE WORD!!!
When we read the OT as nothing but this mean God, we see God has having a streak of evil which HE CAN NOT HAVE!
When we read the N.T. and Jesus being all about just love (And not in a good sense but in that of a pansy sense...) we get the wrong picture... the two don't seem to mesh...

Yet the word LOVE in the OT was a word that didn't have any emotional connection to it... it was all about basically commitment!

LOVE, commit, treat others better then yourself.
I know one of the issues I have is that I frequently will expect MORE grace to be given to ME then I am willing to give to others.
I expect them to have patience with me but I am unwilling to give it to them.

Value others more than you value yourself... See them with the broken heart and extreme PASSION that God does! It will CHANGE YOU!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Jan. 9th, 2016 1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter:1:3-9 (NLT)
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

6 So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

I really enjoyed the message version this morning but didn't think it fully captured the GLORY of this verse...
It was so perfect today for me....
1) Because I can not begin to tell you the number of people I have spoke to this very week who are dealing with these 'trials'. Yet as I keep encouraging them, this verses proves that they have something to still rejoice for!
The Trial is now, but it isn't permanent. It may seem like it won't end, that the sorrow doesn't go away, but there is a SALVATION and a HOPE that we can focus on in Jesus' eternal home for us.

2) Because as I was reading it a song was playing on my Spotify list... "Bless the Lord" by Will Reagan. It just repeats on the chorus "Bless the Lord oh my soul and let all that is within me SHOUT OUT!!!"

What if? What if in your sorrow you choose to SHOUT OUT to God with PRAISE?
What if? What if you focused on HIS saving Grace and Hope of eternity and not on your present trail?

If your focus was not inward but OUTWARD would that change your position? Would that change your posture of praise?

There was a time that Mandy and I were experiencing a deep trial in our life. We knew we were on the journey God wanted us on... but it was not easy.
One day someone told us, in fact it might have even been in a sermon... I can't recall... but they challenged us to pray over our past and ask God to show us all the times he SHOWED UP for us!

As we did we began to step through our lives chronologically. We had things like our marriage, our first born etc... but along the way an amazing thing happened...
You see we remembered things that we had forgotten.

As a child I spent some time in the hospital. The doctors had come down to only one possible cause and that was the word "Lukemia". How scary for a young child. I can still see my mother standing next to the dr. crying.
But then I remembered that God healed me. It became something as simple as an allergy to Red Dye #40!

Then we walked down life further and God reminded us of Skylar.
You see our first ultrasound of Skylar we found that her heart was on the wrong side of her body. Now there is a anomaly where all organs etc are reversed but it was only her heart. Thus outside the womb her blood would flow in the wrong direction and she would not survive. It was like this for multiple ultrasounds... BUT GOD showed up and healed her!

It's like the Israelites who continually SAW GOD but then turned and forgot him or cursed Him.
We are so FICAL as humans...

We get so focused on our CURRENT issues the we MISS how much GOD LOVES US!

What do you need to do today to be reminded about WHO GOD IS and HOW HE HAS SHOWN UP IN YOUR LIVES?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jan. 8th, 2016 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (Message)

Jan. 8th, 2016
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

This is a very familiar passage.  I have heard it, read it, quoted it... so I choose to write it out in the Message as that is so different from my almost stagnate memory of this verse.

In doing so it came alive again!  
I just finished a book on seeing ministry through the example of the Trinity.  In this book we see first that we had to understand each person of the trinity and how the three are one.  Then we begin to see the joy filled intimacy that they have.  We see how that Joyful intimacy creates glad surrender to each other because of the joy the experience in their relationship.

Does that joy filled intimacy in relationships describe us?  Do we enjoy being with other believers?  Or do we 'forsake the fellowship?'  Maybe we enjoy some of the people but not all... 

Do we see others as objects and if those objects do nothing for us we ignore them?  Or do we recognize each individual has unique gifts that will complement the whole? 

Yet the basic premise of it is this "Before you can have God’s heart for others, you must know His heart for you.”  If you are lacking in understanding the true intimacy of the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit, then you can not begin to fathom the intimacy that He has for you.

Are you seeking God FIRST before all else?  Ministry flows OUT of worship and love for our savior.  Relationships flow out of a relationship with our father!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jan. 7th, 2016 Philippians 3:7-14

Philippians 3:7-14 MSG
7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
10-11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Every now and then we need a swift kick in the rear. We need that BRAVEHEART speech, or the St. Crispin Day Speech (My favorite from Henry V with Kenneth Branagh).
This is one of those speeches!
But its that he knows where his HOPE lies!
It reminds me of the old hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
If you STAND on Christ... you have nothing to FEAR.
If you focus on this life and its cares then we are stuck... we are desperately lost... but if you FOCUS on CHRIST and HIS redeeming plan then we find HOPE!
Are you trusting in Jesus today? Do you trust His heart when you don't see His hand guiding your circumstances?
Our Job is simply to continue on... don't stop and be happy that you are 'saved' but PRESS ON! GROW! DEVELOP! LISTEN! Pray!
Check out Richard Fosters Spiritual Disciplines... one of my favorite books on the growth of a Christian Life!