The Importance of Belonging Before Believing

Often in our Christian walk we buy into the idea that people need to believe first before they can belong. In fact, sometimes we have taught – subtly or openly – that people must not only believe but also behave before they belong. But this was not Jesus’ way in the scriptures.

Children’s Church Reflection (22 May)

One of the most powerful actions God displays to us, His children, is that He chooses to forgive us of our sins. God loves people so much that He chose to give His son Jesus to be a sacrifice to die for us so that our sins could be removed from us. If a righteous God was willing to forgive us of our sins, He commands that we should therefore forgive people when they wrong us.

This was the line in the Lord’s Prayer we focused on this week with our children: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

Our Part

The first point we wanted the children to grasp was the severity of sin. Sin is a real problem that has real consequences and should not be seen as something like “naughty fun”. Some of the Cornerstone sites attempted to make brownies using all of the right ingredients, except also added a little bit of cat food. The children were horrified. We suggested that just a little bit of cat food shouldn’t be a problem. They were adamant that cat food, no matter how little, would ruin the whole brownie batch. With that revelation we told them how sin is the same. Just a little sin ruins our lives, and whether it was a little sin or a lot of sin, sin is still sin and ruins us and requires forgiveness.

We also taught how Jesus taught the disciples to forgive all of the time. God constantly forgives us. We should learn to forgive repeatedly as well. We also focused on the story where a king was willing to forgive his servant for a large amount of money owed, but how the servant, although forgiven, refused to forgive a friend for a little amount of money owed (Matthew 18:21-35). There is such an important message in this: we need to learn to forgive and ask God to help us to forgive others, simply because we have been forgiven by Him despite our many wrongs.

Your Part

Speak to your children about the action of forgiveness. It is an action, not only a verbal practice. Learn to speak forgiveness but also show forgiveness by not reminding someone of their faults or constantly holding it against them. Imagine how sad life would be if God constantly reminded us of our faults and used them as a guilt trip against us. No, He forgives us and leads us to move on in life. Ask your children if they are carrying unforgiveness against someone. If yes then try to work it through with them to come to a place to forgive that person.

For you, mom and dad, it is important that you learn to show forgiveness. Children learn so much from their parents. If your children have done something wrong (which, being children, will happen quite frequently), after you have challenged them or disciplined them in some way, be quick to express that you have also forgiven them for what they did. Let your children see forgiveness and grace come from you first, especially against their wrongs. This will help them understand God’s grace and forgiveness and help them learn to show forgiveness to others too.

We would suggest that you do not make any brownies this week. Your children may question the ingredients you used and check the bin for cat food tins!

– The Children’s Church team

Honour God

by Johan Van Niekerk
22 May 2016 at Bedfordview PM

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The Kodak Moment

by Andrew Mildenhall
13 May 2016 at The Exchange

Part of the Discipling in the Trenches series.

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Children’s Church Reflection (15 May 2016)

We are all aware of the difficult situations faced across the world when it comes to finance, provision, possessions and security. As a church, we have recently addressed the idea that fear must fall, especially around financial fear. This has led us to the current series titled, Rich Towards God. As we are addressing such ideas with the adults, how fitting and timeous it was to teach our children what Jesus means when He prays, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Our Part

We wanted our children to grasp the truth that God knows all of our needs and that God is our provider. We shared a few stories that Jesus taught. Jesus teaches that if a father on earth can give good gifts, how much more will our Holy Father give to us in need. We also looked at the time Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus saw the need, had faith that our Father can provide, and performed a miracle, one that we cannot take for granted today. I believe that many of us have witnessed such a miracle in our own lives, be in a small or great provision provided by our loving God.

But, with this idea of God’s provision, we also emphasised that God provides our needs as He knows what we need and not according to our desires. So sorry, but praying for the provision of a Playstation 4 because it will benefit your life and your friends is not a provision God means. He actually means that He will provide so that we can fulfil all that He (God) has called us to do.

Your Part

This is a great topic to pray with our children. Ask your children what they feel they need, the family needs, and even what others may need. Ask them what they feel God feels we need. Do we need every toy, every desire, or can we trust God to provide what we need knowing that He knows our needs?

Encourage your children this week to be generous in some way. Learning to give and bless others is such a privilege and a lifestyle we should learn as it is a characteristic of God our Father.

Share your own stories with your children about how God has provided. Share stories from scripture. All of these will build faith and how exciting it will be when our children learn to not depend on this world and its currencies for security, but rather learn to depend completely on our generous and loving Father God.

– The Children’s Church team

Does Evangelism Make You Cringe?

What we’re trying to do with our Love Joburg Equipping course is shift the way you feel and what you perceive when you hear the word ‘evangelism’. This is the most used word to describe what we want to present as a lifestyle of sharing your life of faith with others. But does the word ‘evangelism’ make you cringe? Does it make you worry? Does it remind you of something you don’t like? What picture appears in your mind when you think of evangelism?

The first thing to do is cover what evangelism isn’t. Here is a brief list to make you think:

  • Evangelism is not a sales pitch.

  • Evangelism is not apologetics (clever arguments about God). Apologetics has its place, but it’s not how most of us are wired.

  • Evangelism is not trying to make people into ‘church people’.

  • Evangelism is not convincing people that your church is ‘cooler’ or ‘nicer’ or ‘not like “those” other churches’ etc.

  • Evangelism is not the phrase, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.” It is both words and action.

  • Evangelism is not filling churches. Full churches are a result of people coming to Christ, but full churches are not the goal per se. The goal is churches that are full of people who are going people.

  • Evangelism is not a cool event or a ‘crusade’. These might help, but they are not how we define evangelism.

  • Evangelism is not handing out tracts at street corners. There’s nothing wrong with handing out tracts, only that it isn’t how evangelism is defined.

  • Evangelism is not shouting out in the streets that people are going to hell. This might be necessary in some cases, but it’s not how we define evangelism.

  • Evangelism is not knocking on doors or going to hospitals. These could form part of it, but it’s not how we define evangelism.

  • Evangelism is not a notch for your spiritual belt – God is not measuring how many people you are evangelising to, and is not more pleased with you if you evangelise more than someone else. Sharing your faith does make God happy, but it does not make him more or less pleased with you.

By now you would have noticed a trend. Evangelism is how you live your life. You have faith in Jesus and you are simply sharing that faith with others because that faith defines your life.

However, sometimes the idea that evangelism is a lifestyle can be too vague, leading us to never know how to practically share our faith. Which is why we have courses like Love Joburg to help us. Sharing our faith is a culture that we develop in our churches and in our lives over time – and it’s our prayer that we will learn and grow into this more and more.

Spiritual Warfare: The Belt of Truth

by Sonja Long
11 May 2016 at KEY WOMEN Bedfordview

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Children’s Church Reflection (8 May 2016)

Many times in prayer we may have asked our Father, “Lord, let your will be done”. We can often say that without actually thinking about the consequence of this prayer and the response it needs from us. Are we willing to lay down our agenda, our method, our wishes, no matter how good they sound, if God says we ought to do things differently – His way?

This was the focus for Children’s Church this Sunday. Matthew 6:10 says, “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

Our Part

Our children were taught how we, as people, feel so proud and successful when we get things right, e.g. win a game, answer correctly, fix a problem etc. We are happy that our efforts were right. But many times we are also wrong. What then? Well, we know that God’s will, His effort and plans are always right and He is always successful.

Jesus taught us to ask the Father to let His plans happen and that we would seek His plan and that we would obey, no matter how we may disagree or how strange God’s plan may sound. We looked at the example of Joshua and how God told him to march around the city of Jericho, blow their trumpet, and then the walls would fall down. Surely no person would have come up with that idea, but that was God’s plan, and Joshua asked that God’s will be done, obeyed, and the walls fell down.

So we explained that we need to speak to God, constantly seeking His plans, His thoughts, His advice and His leadership, for He will never fail.

Your Part

As you continue to pray with your children, this week begin asking God to share His will for us personally, for your family and for the Church. I believe that God will give incredible ideas to our children and to your mom and dad on how every day in our different environments, be it school or work, we can live out God’s plans.

Ask your children what they think God wants to do in different situations. Let’s all learn to seek His will first. Also, speak to your children about the faith that God gives us to obey Him, like to obey and march around the city wall.

We cannot wait to hear and see the amazing decisions that our children will make in obeying God that will impact our city with such life. Different crafts were made to remember the story of Joshua. They looked wonderful.

– Children’s Church team