It has been such a fun week! All week long we’ve had lots of kids, about 140 kids, with us for Vacation Bible School. I’m absolutely amazed at Linda Birsner and her team of leaders. We had lots of helpers, men and women, tons of teenagers, and all of them were used by God to plant seeds in the hearts of our kids that I believe will continue to be watered and nurtured by their families as well as by all of us, their church family.
For those of you who are new to BCC, there’s just no way for you to know how truly special a week like VBS is to us. I sent out an email this past week to ask you to pray for all of our leaders. In the email I mentioned that when Connie and I first arrived at BCC we didn’t have Vacation Bible School because we didn’t have any little ones in the church except for our kids, Dan and Nate. We prayed and prayed and God began to bring kids our way. Nobody who was here back then could have ever imagined a day like today where there are so many young kids who come to BCC to learn about how much God loves them.
I believe with all my heart that you can determine what is important to a church by observing how they treat kids. I don’t mean “our” kids. I’m talking about all kids. It’s only natural for us to want the best for our kids and grandkids, but do you want the best for the kids in this community, those that you don’t even know their name? Are you willing to make sacrifices for the kids you think have nothing to give in return? I say, “kids who we think have nothing to give in return,” because I can assure you that the kids I’m talking about have taught me far more through the years than I have ever taught them. Jesus made reference to this fact in Mark’s Gospel. Turn with me to Mark 10:13-16 and I’ll show you what I mean.
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NIV)
Jesus never told children to grow up and act their age. He told the adults to pay attention to the little ones and become like them. We are to receive Jesus’ teaching, we are to believe the things we read in God’s Word, like one of the kids who has sat and listened to their teachers this past week.
I was talking to Connie this week about the lessons our kids have been learning in Vacation Bible School. We both agreed that the lessons really aren’t lessons for kids, they are invaluable lessons for all of us, regardless of how young or old we are. The themes for each of the five days this past week were:
God made you.
God is for you.
God is always with you.
God will always love you.
God made you for a reason.
These five truths are some of the most basic, yet profound truths you will ever hear. They are also the most needed truths of all. And, in my mind, there is no group of people on the planet today who needs to hear these truths more than our kids. I don’t think it will take much to convince you that our kids are growing up in a very different world than you and I grew up in. There are all kinds of ideas, all kinds of beliefs that are out there, and there are plenty of people who want to share those beliefs with our kids. It is so important for you and me to share these vitally important truths with our kids and grand kids over and over again, in every setting of life. That was Moses’ counsel to the parents and grandparents of his day. Turn with me to Deuteronomy 11:18-19 and I’ll show you. Moses said,
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deut. 11:18-19 NIVO)
In 2004, Robert Fulghum wrote a book called, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It was a national best seller, but I would dare say the most valuable lessons of life are learned in Vacation Bible School. Let’s take a look at the first lesson the kids learned this week: God made you. Today there are many in our society who believe that God did not make us, but rather, we are the product of a random evolutionary process.
Dr. William Provine was raised in a pastor’s home, but he renounced his faith and spent his life as an evolutionary biologist who taught at Cornell University for many years. Dr. Provine would roll his eyes at the thought that God made us and that God has a purpose for each of our lives. This is what he said before he died after a long battle with brain cancer.
Let me summarize my views on modern evolutionary theory. Let me summarize my theory on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear. There are no gods, there are no purposes, there are no goal directed purposes of any kind. There’s no life after death. When I die, I’m absolutely certain that I’ll be dead. That’s the end of me. There’s no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and there’s no free will for human beings either. (William Provine)
No purpose. No ultimate foundation for ethics. No ultimate meaning in life. I would say that all of these statements about the emptiness and meaninglessness of life made by Dr. Provine came about because he abandoned the lessons he learned in Vacation Bible School.
If you listen to those who don’t believe in God today then you would think that anyone who believes that God made us is an imbecile, a complete and utter fool, and that those who believe religiously in the evolutionary process are in complete agreement. Truth is, there is so much disagreement among those who believe in evolution. In 2007, Harvard chemist, Dr. George Whitesides, accepted the Preistley Medal for lifetime achievement. During his acceptance speech, Dr. Whitesides said,
Most chemists believe as I do that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules on the prebiotic Earth. How? I have no idea…on the basis of all the chemistry I know, it seems astonishingly improbable. (Whitesides, George. Revolutions in Chemistry. 2007)
Just one more before we move on. Dr. Robert Shapiro taught at Cambridge and New York University before he died in 2011. He spent his life studying origins, wrote two books about the topic, and yet, he also wrote about the possibility of an RNA molecule spontaneously appearing on planet earth.
I looked at the papers published on the origin of life and decided that it was absurd that the thought of nature of its own volition putting together a DNA or an RNA molecule was unbelievable. I’m always running out of metaphors to try and explain what the difficulty is. But suppose you took Scrabble sets, or any word game sets, blocks with letters, containing every language on Earth, and you heap them together and you then took a scoop and you scooped into that heap, and you flung it out on the lawn there, and the letters fell into a line which contained the words “To be or not to be, that is the question,” that is roughly the odds of an RNA molecule, given no feedback — and there would be no feedback, because it wouldn’t be functional until it attained a certain length and could copy itself — appearing on the Earth. (Dr. Robert Shapiro)
I could go on and on. Make no mistake about it, those who teach that we are a product of random chance, a product of the evolutionary process, will continue to teach what they believe. That’s fine as long we teach what God’s Word teaches. Genesis 1 teaches us that God made us. As a matter of fact, Genesis 1 teaches us that God made everything that was, is, or will ever be. How did He do it? Well, Genesis 1:26-27 says,
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 NIVO)
In Genesis 2:7, we read that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a living being. In Genesis 2:21-22, we learn that God put Adam to sleep and while he was sleeping God took one of Adam’s ribs and made Eve. In Psalm 139, David said God “knit him together in his mother’s womb.” Do you know the underlying truth of all of these things we read in God’s Word? God made you. He designed you, formed you in your mother’s womb, and you are special because the God of all creation created you. Maybe that is why the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 95:6-7,
6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care… (Psalm 95:6-7 NIVO)
And again, in Psalm 100:3, we read that it is the Lord God who made us, we are his.
3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3 NIVO)
There are five truths we’ve taught to the kids all week long. We don’t have time to go into such depth on each of the other four, so I want to briefly share the middle three with you and then share another Scripture that I believe highlights each of the three. Here they are:
God is for you.
God is always with you.
God will always love you.
There are times in our kid’s lives, as well as in ours, when we will go through tough times and wonder if God is for us or against us, we’ll question whether or not God is with us, and we’ll wonder if God truly loves us. This week we’ve planted the seeds of God’s Word deep into the hearts of our kids so that when those tough times come they will hopefully remember the lessons they’ve learned from this week. Now, turn with me to Psalm 139 and think about these truths as we read from David’s journal.
1 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in– behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:1-18 NIVO)
That is one of the most powerful, intimate descriptions of God’s tender care and continual presence, not only in David’s life, but in yours and mine as well.
Last of all, our kids need to know that they have inherent value, worth, and purpose because God has made them the unique individuals they are. When the tough times come, when the bottom drops out, it is our understanding, our complete confidence in the fact that God made us, He is for us, He is always with us, He will always love us, and He has a purpose and a plan for our lives that will carry us through.
It was just two months ago that I shared the tragic news that Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden, took his own life. By all appearances, Chris had it all. He had a beautiful wife, three young kids, tons of money, and world-wide fame, but it wasn’t enough. On Thursday, while I was writing this lesson and thinking about the lessons our kids have been learning I heard the news that Chris Cornell’s good friend, Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, had taken his own life Thursday morning. Chester knew the heartache of Chris’ family, he sang “Hallelujah” for the family at Chris’ funeral. Chester and his bandmates in Linkin Park had six #1 albums on the Billboard music charts, an amazing accomplishment. Chester was married to a former Playboy model, he had four boys and two girls, including a set of twins. Everyone who knew him talked about how devoted he was to his family and friends. Yet, his family and friends weren’t enough were they? It’s tragic. So sad. For us to weather the raging storms of life we need an anchor far stronger than fame, fortune, our family, or friends. We need to know and believe with all of our hearts the lessons our kids have been learning this week.
Maybe you are here this morning and the lessons our kids have been learning are new to you. I want you to know they are more true than anything you’ve ever known. You were given life by God. He loves you, He loves you so much He gave His Son, Jesus, to die in your place so that you might have this opportunity to be reconciled to Him and to know that you are loved. Won’t you ask Jesus to come into your heart and begin to walk with Him, live for Him, this very morning?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
July 23, 2017