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2 Chronicles Memory Verse

We WILL find God. He will allow us to find him. He will reveal himself to us. No matter how long it takes or how tough it seems. He is there. And He will be found by us. #mvotwyear

A Taste of Heaven

A few miles north of Waco, Texas, just off of Interstate 35, sits a Shell gas station and convenience store that looks like any other gas station except for one thing: the line for the convenience store bakery is almost always fifty people deep.

That’s because the bakery, called the Czech Stop, specializes in a little piece of heaven called the kolache.

One summer a few years ago, I was speaking at a Christian camp nearby. Someone from the camp staff declared they were making a “kolache run” and wanted everybody’s order. I had no clue what they were talking about.

“You definitely have to try a kolache, Jesse. It will change your life,” they insisted.

Change my life? The word itself sounded so foreign to me that I didn’t even know what to expect. Was it a donut? Was it some type of specialty drink? Regardless, I told them to surprise me and get whatever everyone else was getting.

Thirty minutes later they returned. The staff member handed me something warm wrapped in wax paper about the size of a softball.

I opened the edible gift and took my first bite.

Yes, it was heavenly.

Inside the soft sweet doughy bread roll was buried a savory chunk of homemade sausage infused with jalapeno bits. I couldn’t believe my mouth.

I was tasting something I had never tasted before. It was a wonderful, mouth-watering experience – something I had never experienced before but now I knew I could have it all over again in the days ahead. It was even large enough to enjoy over half a dozen slow and thoughtful bites.

I was ruined. Now, every time I pass through the Waco area, I have to stop and get me one (or two or three) kolaches. They even come in all sorts of different flavors and fillings. Furthermore, I have become a kolache evangelist, much like the staff member who introduced me to them. Sometimes I come across other kolache lovers and we have a good chat about one of our shared favorite foods.

You know who is better than kolaches? Even infinity times better?

God.

King David challenges us in Psalm 34 to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). I love how David mixes two of our five senses (taste and sight) in his song. It’s as if David is saying that experiencing God goes beyond our physical senses and into our spiritual senses – because God is Spirit (John 4:24).

David is like my friend in Texas who told me about a food I had never heard of, knowing that it would change my life if I would just taste it.

When we step out in faith and know God, taste His goodness, experience Him personally, trust Him with our whole selves, we will never be let down. We will see that the LORD is good every single time. This is a promise of God’s Word.

My wife and I struggled with infertility for the first seven years of our marriage. It was hard. We cried a lot – especially when others would tell us that we would make good parents and ask us when we were going to have children. We held the pain inside for many years, not sharing our struggle or pain with anyone but one another.

Then finally one day, we released our pain to God. We shared our infertility story with our close family and friends and asked for their prayers. We had been holding on to our pain without handing it over to God as a prayer request.

You know what happened? About two weeks later, we got pregnant with our first of two miracle daughters, Keziah Grace.

For many years, we were not tasting the goodness of the Lord in that area of our lives. We failed to hand the pain over to Him. When we did, he answered our prayers and delivered a miracle.

I understand that is not the case and story for everyone who struggles with infertility. Every couples’ story and journey is different. There is no perfect formula that says “prayer = miracle baby.” That is simply our story and how God answered our prayers when we finally lifted them up to Him.

But I do believe that whatever the particular story or journey God leads us on, the promise of God is “taste and see = the goodness of the Lord.” Taste and see that God is good. Trust Him with the things in your life that you have never given to him. Trust Him with the things you are holding back. And watch His goodness happen in the creative way that He does in your story.

 

Church not Childcare

I believe the words and titles we use for things convey messages of value. That’s how language works. For example, take “wedding ceremony” versus “wedding celebration.” Both terms tell people that a wedding is happening, but the first phrase sends messages of formality, tradition, and even the sacredness of it. The second phrase sends the message that this wedding is a fun, celebratory, party. Now, in this case, I don’t necessarily think one way is right and one way is wrong. I’m just saying that the words we use send messages of what we value to others.

Now take ministry with children on Sunday mornings at churches. Some people call it “children’s church” while others call it “nursery” or “kid church.” I have even seen it called “childcare.”

This is where I have a strong opinion about naming the programs for children at churches. If we call it “childcare,” we are sending the message to everyone that the Sunday morning church services are really about the adults and that children are secondary. Of course we care for the children on Sunday and there is something very spiritual and God-glorifying about that. But I think there are other terms that can convey a stronger meaning about what’s really important for the body of believers when they gather together for worship.

In churches that separate the ages for age-leveled worship (which is another thing I’m not a huge fan of, but I understand that it is the primary model in Western churches), I think the programs for children (for infants and older) should be named in ways that convey the value of children and the fact that they are full participants in the worshipping body of Christ.

Here are some examples that I think are better terms than “childcare” or “babysitting” for Sunday morning services for children. This is definitely not exhaustive. It is merely a sampling of ideas:

  • Children’s Worship
  • Children’s Church
  • Movers and Shakers
  • From the Mouths of Babes
  • All God’s Children
  • Godly Play (this is actually a thing)
  • God’s Kids
  • Faith Factory

The list could go on and on.

What do you call your services for children on Sunday mornings? What message does it send? What message do you want to send in the way you name programs for children?

1 Kings Memory Verse

Micaiah was under pressure to say something good to King Ahab about his chances in battle. All the other prophets were telling Ahab what he wanted to hear (that he was going to be victorious). Micaiah, though, insisted on only telling Ahab what the Lord was saying, regardless of what everyone else was saying. A timeless reminder to speak the truth of the Lord whether or not it is the popular thing to say at the time. #mvotwyear