Monday, January 14, 2019

What Peter Has To Say About Suffering

As my turn rolls around to post on the church blog, I thought I would share some of the emotions and thoughts that can easily come to mind when enduring hardship. Most of what has been/will be written comes from my own processing as I consider my diagnosis of an inherited retinal disease. My guess is that many of you can relate to these thoughts in the midst of struggle.

1) This is not fair!
God showed his grace to my family as we started reading 1 Peter together the morning before my diagnosis. The context of 1 Peter is dealing with those suffering from persecution, but the applications of suffering, I believe, can extend to other types of suffering beyond persecution. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 says:
[12] Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. [13] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (ESV)

We shouldn’t be surprised by trial in life. One could argue that we should be surprised when we are NOT going through trial. The effect of the fall of man upon the world and man is far reaching. Don’t think that it is not fair when experiencing trial. It is better to think that trial and suffering are expected and can be used for God’s glory—if only it means that one will grow closer to Jesus.

More soon…
Pastor Ben

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Few Thoughts on How to Maximize the Church’s Spiritual Benefits for Your Kid

At BCC we believe that God has called parents to be the primary people involved in the discipling, training, and raising up of their children.* As such, the goal of all the ministries we do with kids from infants to collegians is to partner with parents to help them in that process. Within our church and the many kid ministries we offer, however, I think at times it can be difficult for parents to see how best to take advantage of and use the church for the support it wants to offer. In light of that, here are 6 suggestions for ways you as a parent can maximize our church for the spiritual benefit of your family.

1. Encourage note taking during the sermon – This can begin even before a child is able to write well and can start with having them draw a few pictures from things discussed. Later a child can copy notes from their parents during the sermon to learn how to do so. For older kids this is an excellent practice for them to learn as it will benefit other areas of their life as well, like getting the most out of lectures at school and being more effective at studying.

2. Review the sermon – This may look different from family to family with some doing it over a meal or together at night, while others may do this individually with their kids. It could happen Sunday or sometime during the week or over the course of the week (note taking is very helpful for this =) ). There is a great deal of freedom but the idea is to take some time to discuss not just what was covered during the sermon on Sunday, but how it might apply to your child’s individual life situations and circumstances. For younger children finding one main point of application is good. For older kids it might involve walking through the sermon with them and finding a few application points. One note I would give is that as a child gets older you might find it beneficial to move more of the talking to them. You ask questions and let them figure out answers. Let them determine applications as they will be far more relevant than hearing something else mom and dad want them to fix. Be patient and let them fight for answers that are truly theirs and when they ask questions you don’t have answers to take the time to study them together. =)

3. Review the Sunday School lesson – Similar to reviewing the sermon, reviewing what your child learned in Sunday School or any other kids related teaching time can be very helpful. First, since that time is directly focused on your child’s age and place in life the applications can be more readily available. Second, as your child has interacted with leaders and peers during that time it also may have lead to other further discussions and situations you can expand on further.

4. Get to know your child’s teachers and leaders – Building into your child is a two-way street. Leaders want to know how best they can partner with you in caring for your family. It greatly encourages them when you open the door for conversations. Ask how they feel your child is doing and if there are any areas of growth or concern they’ve seen in your child. Tell them about what you’ve seen or things going on at home. I have seen this be such a help to parents in a number of ways. At times it means a child’s hypocrisy of looking good at church and living very ungodly at home is revealed and helps them be challenged to not live a pharisaical life. On the other hand, leaders sometimes see neat spiritual steps a child has made that we parents can miss in the daily grind of working with our kids and it is very encouraging to hear.

5. Help your child get to know Christian peers & their families – This can work in many different ways, but one of the neat benefits of having our kids somewhat separated by their grades is it allows for them to focus on making friendships and building deep relationships with peers who will progress with them through their childhood and into adulthood. We by no means believe every kid in our church is saved or living for the Lord, but I would suggest that church is the best place to find some that are. Have play dates if you have younger kids where you let them make friends while you get to meet other Christian parents that are walking the same road you are on. If your kids are older have parties at your house and make it a fun place to be for them to deepen friendships with other kids who are hopefully pursuing the Lord. Friendships are often not stumbled into. Rather they are made and worked at. Teaching your child that and helping facilitate it can lead to real, deep, biblical relationships they may get to enjoy for a lifetime.

6. Study the sermon &/or Sunday School passage ahead of time – Similar to the idea of review, this helps your child be more keenly prepared to listen to and learn from lessons being taught while at church. This helps prepare their minds and hearts as they come into teaching times and helps them realize those times can be a blessing for them spiritually, encouraging them to focus and listen carefully as God’s Word is presented.

Each of these suggestions is here to help, not create more for you to do in an already busy schedule! I know I can feel at a lack for how best to shepherd my family at times and I love that our church is so intentional to help in that process. Hopefully these suggestions can be used or they spark an idea in you that might help you as you seek to be intentional in the shepherding of your family as well!

Phil Smith

Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6-9, 20-25; Psalm 78:3-8; 127:3-4; Proverbs 1:8-15; 3:1-2, 11; 13:1, 24; 22:6; 29:15, 17; Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:5-11