Dear Vacation Bible School volunteers…
By Beth Gillem
Dogwood Journal of Dogwood Media Solutions
To those who made coffee and snacks to fuel the other volunteers, it was your combination of sugar and caffeine plus the Holy Spirit that kept the week going.
To those who spent hours collecting empty toilet paper tubes, plastic bottles or other random craft supplies and then prepping 999 craft projects for each day, we pray you got the glitter out of your hair before Sunday morning.
To those who worked in the kitchen creating and serving incredible Vacation Bible School-themed snacks for the kids, you fed their tummies and their souls. Even though you thought no one else saw you sneak the extra cookie for that child who always seemed to be starving, God saw, and you were such a blessing.
To those who organized registration, recruited and put every worker where God needed them, you are the bedrock of the amazing VBS week. The angels in heaven celebrated with you when that last volunteer said yes.
Still singing the songs?
To the music and song motion leaders who have been listening to all the songs on repeat for months now, we pray the songs leave your head soon and you can stop doing the motions in your sleep, even though the kids will keep doing them for months.
To the Bible study leaders and memory verse workers who fielded hundreds of heartfelt and sometimes crazy questions from curious kids, we hope your brain can relax and pray the seeds of truth you shared will grow in the hearts of the children.
To those given the gift of being able to turn colored butcher paper and crepe paper into the most amazing VBS decorations, we applaud you for using your talents to the glory of God. You made the building look magical.
To the pastors and children’s ministers who shaved their heads, got slimed or participated in any other crazy stunt to encourage the children, your living sacrifice was holy and pleasing to God — and unforgettable to the children.
To those who led the outdoor games and lost gallons of sweat, yelled encouragement until you lost your voice and applied more band-aids than you could count, we pray you rest well and maybe lost the couple of pounds you have wanted to lose.
‘Not all heroes wear capes’
To those who wiped away tears from the kids who couldn’t stop crying because they missed their parents, changed dirty diapers and sang your heart out to “Father Abraham,” your empathy and patience outweigh all others. Not all heroes wear capes.
To the leaders and coordinators who worked behind the scenes for months, praying, planning and brainstorming, thank you for your vision, dedication and outpouring into the next generation of believers. Take a week off then get to work on next year. There are only 11 months left to plan.
To those who volunteered for cleanup duty every day, thankyou for making the house of the Lord look nice again.
To those who walked 10,000 steps in the first four hours of every day walking children to classes, leading them to their next activity and chasing the ones who tried to run away, we pray your aching back and sore feet recover quickly and you remember “how beautiful are the feet of those that bring the good news of the gospel” (Rom. 10:15).
To those who smiled so much your face hurt and spoke encouraging and kind words to every child you encountered, you taught those kids church is a safe place, full of people who love them and a God who loves them, too. When you feel like you can’t muster another smile, remember God is smiling down at you because of your compassion.
To all VBS volunteers and everyone who prayed, donated money, donated time or did anything to support VBS, “thank you” does not express the depth of eternal gratitude felt for you.
A mom whose child accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior at VBS
Important to seek God in silence
Silence is important in seeking God, but how can we seek God in silence in a noisy world?
Many Christians have a special place and time for Bible reading and prayer. Some rise early to spend time with God, while others schedule time later at night.
Seeking God in silence helps us focus on spiritual truth rather than chatter from popular broadcast entertainment.
And in the silence God has promised to fill our hearts with His loving presence.
Pastor Michael J. Brooks
Siluria Baptist Church
Accepting our part in rebuilding
By George Yates
Alabama Baptists State Board of Missions church health strategist
We all, individually and corporately, have periods in our lives that necessitate rebuilding. The book of Nehemiah is great to read, study and be encouraged through the rebuilding process. The book also demonstrates that when God is in it and we follow Him, the rebuilding is far greater than we could imagine.
An interesting fact about Nehemiah is he did not pass the blame. He shouldered the responsibility and refused to point fingers.
In our individual lives and in churches, people often want to blame the broken walls on other people.
People often place the blame of current situations on past leaders and former members of the church. This may in part be true, but when we fail to accept responsibility, we have fallen into the snare of failure. Falling into this trap keeps us from moving forward.
Nehemiah could have blamed others, but he didn’t. His goal and focus was getting the walls rebuilt. This was the matter of highest importance.
Focus on God’s work
It was not about who did or did not do something in the past. It was not about what could’ve been or what once was. Nehemiah had a burden and a passion from God. He would not be deterred. Nehemiah’s focus was on getting right the task before him today so God’s work would be glorified into the future.
One of the great facts revealed in the book of Nehemiah is it only takes one person to begin the rebuilding process. Nehemiah was one man, but what a difference he made.
“Bible studies … and quiet times with God do not show the world how much like Jesus you are. Love does.”
Pastor Bobby McKay
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Mississippi
“The gospel is not a self-improvement program. God’s not a supplement to a better life. The gospel is: You need to die; you need to become less. The less there is of you, the better it’s gonna be. You need to know there’s something bigger than you,” said Christian comedian Tim Hawkins.
“When you start something and you have no idea and you say, ‘All right, Lord. Let’s go for it,’ then you see Him take it places you couldn’t have imagined,” said Jon Hagedorn, founder and guide of Family Lines, a ministry that organizes expeditions, hands-on workshops, field instruction and filmmaking for fathers and their children. “The grace of God becomes very real.”
We draw near to the heart of God when we enter into prayer with the full assurance of our faith.
“I’m thankful for the opportunities that God has allowed me to be a part of through the years. … I’ve seen God do the unimaginable in my life, and I am thankful,” said Roger Breland, who founded the vocal and musical group Truth.
An encouraged pastor is a better pastor.
Brian E. Nall
Pensacola Bay Association
“You do not build unity sitting in a coffee shop talking about how unified we need to be,” said Jeff Iorg, Gateway Seminary president. “You build unity when you get another believer by the hand and go out and do something in the name of Jesus for somebody else.
Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting at the North American Mission Board, noted the adversary tries to take advantage of the insecurities pastors often feel. “If he can make us feel isolated and alone and cut off and unimportant and small, he can keep us where he wants us,” he said. “Let me tell you, you are not isolated, you are not alone and you are not small. You have all the power of the risen Christ with you.”
“It’s been a rough season for a lot of us, for a lot of our churches,” said Trevin Wax, vice president of research and resource development at NAMB. “Go back to God’s word. … Refocus. … Recognize the road to joy matters because … God wants your joy more than you do.”
“There are attacks from the enemy and discouragements around every corner. This produces broken yet faith-filled parents and church leaders who need the Lord desperately. As a result, children get parents and leaders who are clinging to Jesus,” said Emily Guyer, who serves at Treasuring Christ Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
From the Twitterverse
Churches are embassies of Christ’s Kingdom. Healthy congregationalism is Christ centered & Kingdom focused. Disordered congregationalism is merely democratic & often chaotic. Our focus should be on collectively obeying Christ & advancing His Kingdom, not voting our preferences.
When people say, “I love Jesus, I just don’t like the Bible,” what they are really saying is “I love the fake Jesus whom I formed by my opinions and preferences, but not the real Lord and Savior described in the Bible.” Opinions don’t give eternal life. The real Jesus does.
You are fully known and fully loved by a God whose greatest joy is to be with you. I pray these truths flood your heart with peace like they do mine. Peace that gives you permission to live like you are loved.
Pastor-led churches are a biblical concept; pastor-dependent churches are not. When churches become pastor dependent, giftings within the church are underutilized as the duties of a pastor become overextended.
Christian, there is a world of difference between standing for truth because we love our neighbor and standing for truth because we despise our neighbor.
“When it comes to spiritual abuse, silence is as sinful as the acts themselves.” —@jdgreear
It’s not easy to read a Bible passage as fearsome as Deuteronomy 28:20–68, but it’s a healthy reminder that carelessness toward obeying God will undo us. @McCheynePlan
At the end of my life, I don’t want to be remembered by how many theological debates I won, but rather how I was obedient to the Great Commission while loving my family.