Monday, January 23, 2017

Good Try...Real Good Try

The man and his wife came in and sat down.  As the first songs were played a sweet move of the Spirit of God began to sweep through the congregation.  Saints raised their hands in worship, some clapped, and still others rejoiced in dancing.  The man and his wife sat perfectly still, but they were not unaffected.  Slowly a tear trickled down the man’s face.  His wife sniffed.  Another tear followed the first one.  She reached for a tissue.  Soon both were crying in earnest as the Presence of God tugged at their hearts, drawing them toward Him.  The worship service came to an end, the Pastor read his text and began to preach.  He preached the Word of God in love and sincerity, desperately trying to reach the man and his wife.  The couple’s tears had not abated, rather they cried through the entire sermon.  When the Pastor had preached everything he felt like God had asked him to say, he invited everyone that would to come to the front and pray.  The man sat rigidly, hands gripping the pew in front of him so hard his knuckles were white as he fought the urge to go forward and give his heart to God.  For the next half an hour as others around them prayed and responded to the Word of God, the man and his wife sat stubbornly refusing to move.  Finally, the service was over, the conviction lifted, the tears all dried.  The man approached the Pastor, his brother, and said, "Good try, Robby.  Real good try…but not quite good enough.” 

When I heard the Pastor relay this story several years after it took place, you could still see the heartache in his eyes, still read the “Did I do enough?” questions in his facial expression, and still see the frustration at seeing his brother come so close to turning his life over to God…and yet it wasn’t quite good enough.  As I pondered his words I realized that while it hurt horribly for the Pastor personally, the reality was that his brother really hadn't been addressing him that day.  Sure, he thought he was, but for all practical purposes his statement had been, “Good try, God.  Real good try…but not quite good enough.”  Because while it was the Pastor whose mouth did the preaching, it was the almighty God who was gently reaching, wooing, and calling this man and his wife.  He was doing His very best to draw them to Himself so He could give them a wonderful life that was sweeter than any they had ever known.  But alas!  The man decided that God’s best wasn’t quite good enough for him.

Sadly, this man is not alone.  For some it seems that Calvary was a good try, but the sacrifice He made isn’t good enough for them, and certainly not sufficient to merit a change in lifestyle.  He reaches for them, but the gentle drawing of His Presence just isn’t sweet enough to pull them to an altar.  He offers them a good marriage and a strong family serving Him together, but that doesn’t compare to a life in the world with its many lovers and great entertainment.  God presents a clean life free of addiction, promiscuity, and emptiness, but somehow that seems lackluster when compared to the thrills of sin.  He promises them Heaven, but Heaven dulls in comparison to the appeal of living according to one’s own desires.  Yes, God offers us His very best, and for some it’s a good try…but not quite good enough.

For some who choose to spurn God’s best the consequences will only be seen in eternity, when they are done living life the way they want to live it and death claims them unprepared.  For others their lives will meet shipwreck, leaving them empty and hurting and wondering where they went wrong.  For this man his decision would cost him his children – one would die of a drug overdose and the other would face intense struggles with addiction among other things.  I have often wondered if he stood at the grave of his child and wished he had allowed God’s offer to be good enough when his children were young enough to be shown a better path.


The great God of Heaven loves us enough to offer each of us salvation that He paid for with His own blood.  It’s up to us to choose to accept that offer…or callously say, “Good try, God, but not quite good enough.”

Note:  The story above is true.  I changed the names to avoid ready identification of the people involved.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Respect

As promised (but a little later than planned), here is another short "blurb" post.

In recent months I have become troubled by a trend I am observing.  You see, I am quickly developing a grave concern over the lack of respect I see in “little” things.  Things like…

  •          Kids running laughing and shrieking through the Sanctuary before and after church (and in some cases, during church)
  •          Children who don’t stand and offer an adult their chair when there are not enough seats in the room
  •          Adults who think it is funny when little kids say things like, “Shut up, Old Man” to their grandparents or other adults
  •          Congregations who don’t show respect to the Word of God by standing for the reading of the Scripture text
  •          Eating snacks (when you are over the age of 3) and drinking soda during church
  •          Children who are baptized and then splash and play in the baptistery as though it were a swimming pool
  •          People who laugh and talk the ENTIRE church service, completely disconnected from what God is trying to do
  •          The titles Brother, Sister, Mister and Misses have dropped from our vocabulary and those of our children


Maybe I’m a little old fashioned…but I can’t help but believe we would be better served by teaching our kids these (and a few other) basic facets of respect.  They lay a foundation for the overall respect for authority, our elders, God, and His Word that will be required for them to successfully navigate life and a walk with God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

True Repentance

Over the next few weeks I will be posting some short "blurbs" that have been on my mind for a while. I fear they are likely to be heavy reading, but hopefully short and sweet will counter balance that a little. Thanks for stopping by.

Repentance:     
1.deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like.     
2. regret for any past action.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/repentance 


We talk about repentance as turning from sin...and in the process we often forget that it includes Godly sorrow for sin. Usually the two go hand in hand, but sometimes we end up with one and not the other. The most obvious form of that is someone who is sorry for the sin, but not enough to turn from it. But what about the person who stops sinning but isn't really sorry for what they have already done?

For instance, you are absolutely dying to go tell your best friend what you heard about "So-and-So". You know it's gossip, but you tell her anyway. Doing so relieves your pent-up need to talk about it and so you "stop gossiping" because you know to continue spreading it wouldn't be pleasing to God...but you aren't really sorry about telling it the first time.

That is a super simplistic example, but I hope it demonstrates the point - we need to be very careful that we don't allow ourselves to fall into the dangerous pit of being willing to stop doing something displeasing to God without being sorry we did it in the first place. For it to be true repentance that will elicit God's forgiveness it must include both the Godly sorrow and the turning from sin.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Effective Altar Working

As a generational Pentecostal who grew up around “altar calls” I have had opportunity to witness many different methods to working the altar, but probably more important than my random observations have been my experiences.  As a child I sought the Holy Ghost for some 3 years, and in that time I encountered a large number of altar workers.  All of them were well-meaning, but I will readily admit that some were helpful and some were far from it.  Based on those experiences and subsequent observations I have compiled some practical guidelines to altar work that I hope will answer questions and give direction to those who wish to be an effective altar worker.  Under no circumstances am I attempting to be rude or condescending in my comments, but rather to put altar work into a sometimes humorous but at all times logical perspective.  As you read the rest of this post, keep in mind that praying at the altar is a very special time for a person to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the great God of Heaven, and for many, it will be their first ever conversation with that God.  With that in focus, here are a few “rules of thumb” to use when praying with someone else.
1.       Don’t talk to them unnecessarily.  There are rare times when you will feel a strong prompting to say something specific to someone who is praying and in that instance, by all means say it.  There will also be times when you need to give them brief practical instructions that I will talk about in #8.  But as a general rule, don’t talk to them.  They don’t need you to tell them, “Worship God!  Say, ‘Hallelujah!”  “Tell Him how much you love Him!”  or “He hears you if you will just talk to Him!” unless they are clearly stuck.    They are there to talk to God and let God talk to them – and when you talk to them you interrupt that conversation. 
2.       Don’t be overly “physical.”  A hand on their shoulder to let them know you are there and supporting them is great, but don’t rub their back, push, shove, touch their face, or anything else that would be potentially distracting.  Again, this is a conversation they are having with God.  If you were having a deeply emotional conversation with another person you wouldn’t want someone to walk up in the middle of it and begin to to forcibly rock you from side to side, give you a massage, pat your face, or any number of other things people tend to do when praying with others in the altar.  Consider your actions and if what you are planning to do could potentially distract them, don’t do it.
3.       Understand the need.  Keep in mind that, as often as not, the point of working the altar is for the person to know there are others who are still praying and who are supporting them while they pray.  Toward that end, be aware of the need and respond accordingly.  If someone is seeking the Holy Ghost, worship!  The presence of God that comes down as a result of your worship will do what no amount of encouraging, shaking, yelling, or anything else will do.  If someone has an unknown need and is at the altar alone, you can pray for them, but when you finish talking to God about them, stay nearby and just keep praying so they don’t feel like the center of attention.  If a sinner comes to the altar for the first time, don’t tell them how to repent or how to pray – get close enough for them to hear you and start repenting and surrendering your life to God.  No, I’m not suggesting you fake it – there is never a time we can’t all use a time of fresh repentance and consecration.
4.       Pray – don’t stare.  Altar working is not about staring at someone while they pray.  You are there to help usher them into the presence of God and to bind together with them in unity.  The best thing you can possibly do to help someone is to pray.  Pray for them, keep a hand on their shoulder while you pray for your Great-Aunt Bertha, repent out loud, worship…do whatever is appropriate for the circumstances, but remember that staring at them is NEVER the right choice.
5.       Be aware of kids and direct them constructively.  We all want our kids to be involved and learn to live for God from a young age, but that doesn’t change the fact that an unsupervised child can hinder an altar call.  Just because we are excited that Little Suzie wants to pray for people doesn’t mean Little Suzie putting her hand on the person’s derriere (because that’s all short Little Suzie can reach) isn’t distracting.  If a child wants to be involved, pull them over to you and help them put a hand on the person’s arm or have them hold your hand while you pray for the person.  Also note that if the person praying is suffering from demonic oppression or possession, children should be removed from the altar area.  There is no reason to subject innocent children to that situation.
6.       Make it easy to go to the altar.  I recently heard a Pastor instructing his saints to go to the altar in waves and it made a lot of sense.  A few saints need to open the altar – the altar isn’t a place that only horrible, dirty, rotten sinners go and when some saints make the first move to the altar they communicate that concept.  But in many cases a sinner will hesitate before moving forward and if everyone has already gone up front they feel like they have missed their chance.  If others have “opened” the altar, wait a few minutes and then move forward.  Those extra few moments are also a great opportunity to notice anyone who might be praying at their seat and need encouragement.
7.       Let yourself be heard!  Nobody wants to feel like the whole church is waiting for them to stop praying, even if that is indeed the case.  So pray and do it out loud.  Even if the musicians are helping by playing and singing, the sound of another person seeking God is encouraging and helpful.  Please note that praying out loud does not mean praying loudly – you don’t need to scream in their ear, but make sure you can be heard enough for them to know they are not alone.
8.       Be logical.  Yes, prayer is a spiritual experience, but it happens in our very human bodies.  And what happens to and around someone praying DOES have an impact.  Toward that end, consider what will make them the most comfortable physically, especially if they are praying for a prolonged period.  I have already addressed not being distracting with unnecessary touch, but let me offer a few other thoughts on how to help reduce distractions.  Again, please remember that I speak from experience…and with a dry sense of humor.
- If they are crying, get them a few tissues and press it into their hand.  DO NOT wipe their nose for them.  They are probably not so lost in the Spirit as to be unaware of things such as snot, tears, and tissues.  Trust me when I tell you they DO know that someone is swiping at their bodily fluids and it IS distracting and embarrassing. 
- If they are hot, find a fan.
- Let them put their arms down.  I can remember nights when my shoulders screamed in pain after an hour of prayer because some well-meaning soul would repeatedly grab the hands I tried to lower and force them back into the air, and then leave me to try to keep them up.  God is not limited by whether or not someone has their hands raised, so let them do as they wish with their hands.
- If someone is determined to keep their hands up for a prolonged period of time, grab an arm and support it.  And if you are going to hold an arm up, do it firmly.  DON’T put a couple limp fingers under their elbow – that provides no support and therefore no physical relief. 
- Let them know they are free to do whatever makes them comfortable and to change position at any time.  They can receive what they need from God sitting, standing, kneeling, laying on the floor, or running laps around the building.  But odds are good that they won’t receive what they need if they are focused on excruciating pain from being in an uncomfortable position for a long time.
- If they do choose to stand when they have been sitting or kneeling, there is no reason whatsoever to insist that they continue to pray and keep their hands in the air while they awkwardly try to get on their feet with the assistance of well-meaning altar workers tugging and pulling on them.  If they want to change position, turn them loose and let them readjust.  They can go back to praying and raise their hands again when they are more comfortable.
9.       Don’t touch their head.  Unless your pastor has specifically freed you to do so, don’t touch their head.  As a general rule this should be reserved for the ministry.  There are a variety of reasons for this, but from a purely practical standpoint, it is uncomfortable for most to have a lot of people in their personal space and touching their face.
10.   DO IT!  We all have various gifts and talents, but there is not a single person who cannot be an effective altar worker, because in reality, all it takes is being willing to stand or kneel near someone and talk to God.  That’s it.  There is a powerful move of God available when saints of the Most High bind together with one another and talk to Him with and for each other, but we have to make the effort to see it happen.  So do it – make a habit of praying with others and see what God will do.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sign Choirs - An Interpreter's Point of View

A very popular trend in Pentecost today is the use of sign choirs.  Normally, young people, especially young ladies, wear dark clothing and perform a recorded song in “American Sign Language” as part of the worship service.  Over the years I have seen a great many of these sign choirs, and as a sign language interpreter and former sign choir director I would like to offer a few thoughts on the subject. 

I would preface the remainder of this article with a disclaimer of sorts.  I will be extremely blunt for the sake of clarity.  Please do not mistake forthrightness as accusatory in any way.  I believe our sign choirs are most often led by wonderful saints and young people with great intentions.  My comments on the subject are intended only to help bring into focus the purpose of sign choirs and offer some suggestions for helping them achieve the goal they were designed for.

The first thing that must be remembered in considering a sign choir is that American Sign Language (ASL) is a LANGUAGE.  It is not a “performing art” or a form of drama.  It has a set vocabulary, grammar, syntax, etc.  There are rules to sign language just as there are to any other language, and for the signer to be understood those rules must be followed. 

The second thing which is important to understand is the difference between translating and interpreting.  Translating is providing a word for word parallel of one language to another.  Interpreting is providing a thought for thought parallel from one language into another.  You will not hear the term “sign language translator” used by those who are familiar with the language because spoken language does not directly translate into sign language.  Instead, you will hear the term, “sign language interpreter.”  This is because ASL has a much smaller vocabulary than most spoken languages and therefore it is impossible to directly translate every spoken word.   

Finally, in order to clearly convey meaning sign language uses what are called, “non-manual markers.”  In layman’s terms – facial expression, size of sign, mouthing the signed words, etc.  For example, the sentences, “I understand” and “I don’t understand” can be signed using the exact same words and differentiating them with a simple headshake.

One of my primary concerns with sign choirs is that many of them focus on the often  in accurate use of non-manual markers with little if any attention paid to the vocabulary.  The trend is for the sign choir to move in such as a way as to give the feel of the music without actually signing it.  It is unquestionable that for music to be truly interpreted you have to include the beat, the flow of the words, and the overall mood of the music.  I’m not suggesting that these things be excluded in a sign choir.  On the contrary, in training interpreters I have strongly encouraged them to make music LOOK like music.  But while music does need to look musical, if someone who knows sign language cannot understand the song your choir is signing without the audio, you have become ineffective as a sign choir and are actually doing little more than performing a version of “interpretative dance. 

Consider this – you have a “Spanish choir” that gets up and intends to sing in “Spanish.”  But rather than actually using the translated lyrics, they sing  words such as ‘hola, adios, Jesus, queso, enchilada, Senor’ to the tune of “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.”  It sounds great!  It sounds worshipful.  It sounds like a song we should raise our hands and praise to.  So…does the fact that it sounds good make it something we should sing in church?  Does God get glory from it?  Is it worship?  Of course not.  But when the same thing is done in sign language we overlook it.  Sadly, that example is no exaggeration.  I can tell you that with the exception of one, almost every sign choir I have seen is NO MORE than 50% accurate and most of them use less than 15% accurate signs.  In fact, one group I saw signed no more than 5 words of the entire song in the correct context.  In other words, most sign choirs are largely “interpretive dance teams” with little to no correlation to sign language.

With that said, worship is a corporate activity, not a spectator event.  Sign language is a truly beautiful language and is certainly readily appreciated by a hearing-only audience, especially if it is dramatized to the point of interpretive dance.  It is a great performance to enjoy, but for a hearing only audience, a performance is all it is.  Furthermore, for a deaf audience, if it is not truly an interpretation of the song, a performance is all it is.  In my opinion, if you do not have a deaf person participating in your service you need to carefully consider the use of sign choirs in service on a regular basis.  What purpose is the sign choir serving and is the use of it giving glory to God?  And even if the choir is genuinely worshipping, is the use of a sign choir promoting corporate worship or encouraging spectatorship?   

Another concern with the increased use of sign choirs is the sense of competition between youth groups that results. I have no problem with some healthy competition on the volleyball court at a youth social event, but when we come into the House of God, we are there to enter His presence, give Him glory, and allow Him to change our lives.  There is no room in that paradigm for competition, pride, or vanity whether in clothing, hairstyles, musical ability, or sign choirs.  It isn’t about who can do the most dramatic version of “Break Every Chain” or which choir can stay the most perfectly unified while signing “Freedom.”  It should ALL be about giving glory to God.  All too often that focus is lost among our youth.

For those who would use sign choirs as a way of training interpreters in case you ever have a deaf person in your church, I have mixed feelings.  On one hand, sign choirs are a great way to spark interest in the language and it is far easier to build a deaf congregation with someone who already knows how to sign.  On the other hand, I believe frequent use of sign choirs in regular services when there are no deaf people present can be counter-productive.  Furthermore, if the purpose of having a sign choir is in preparation for the occasion when a deaf person might attend your Church, why allow the signing to be done in a totally incorrect and incomprehensible manner?  My personal opinion is that using sign choirs for holiday banquets or special presentations is not a bad choice, but beyond that training would be better accomplished through sign language lunches or special classes.

So…what if there are deaf people in your church?  In that case, I believe a sign choir is a wonderful addition to the service.  Just as I believe that a bilingual Spanish/English church should sing in both languages, I believe it is appropriate for a bilingual English/ASL church to utilize both languages in their worship.  In that setting a sign choir allows the deaf congregation to worship with a special song in much the same way hearing people worship with a choir or chorale.  But there are still some guidelines that should be kept in mind with the use of a “visual” language.

First, remember that there is a visual “box” for interpreting.  Now, I don’t mind telling you that Apostolic church interpreters don’t stay in the “official interpreter” box any more than Apostolic worshippers sit with their hands folded.  If they did all emotion would be lost.  But there is still an appropriate visual area for even an excited Pentecostal interpreter.  That box, loosely speaking, extends vertically from about 10 inches above your head to your waist and horizontally the span of your arms.  When you move into the realm of a sign choir that box enlarges a little bit more.  It goes from about a foot above your head to your knees and offers the ability to lean right and left or step one direction or another to extend the span of your arms. 

Keeping that box in mind, here are some basic rules of thumb for sign choirs.  I would reiterate that while I am being extremely blunt, I am not suggesting that anyone is intentionally inappropriate; rather, I am offering advice on ways to avoid accidental oversights that could cause hindrances.

-          Large signs are often more clear.  Huge signs are so big they lose their definition.  Be careful not to make the sign so big and “flowing” that it can’t be understood. 

-          Stay off the floor.  There is no reason to drop to your knees, lean down and touch the floor, or do anything else lower than knee level.  When you do, the signs drop below the congregation’s line of vision and can’t be seen. 

-          Ladies need to avoid drawing attention to their breasts.  Toward that end, do not make a sign that fully extends both arms out to the side or above the head.  Don’t lean forward or backward beyond a 45* angle, and don’t swoop dramatically forward or backward.  Not only is this completely unnecessary, it creates an inappropriate focus, and in some cases begs for necklines to gape open and expose a lady’s bosom.   And lest someone protest that only the dirty-minded would focus on the ladies’ chests while watching a sign choir, remember that the visitor sitting on your pew doesn’t have the Holy Ghost to help him guard his mind.

-          Ladies, keep your knees together.  It is never appropriate for you to do more than step forward, backward, or to the side with a “normal” stride.  Again, protect the minds of our men by not spreading your legs apart.

-          Find the correct signs.  Look online for ideas for how to make the signs more musical.  Talk to interpreters to get ideas for signs that can be substituted without losing meaning.  Figure out which words are crucial to understanding the song and which words can be left out without sacrificing content.  Work on fitting the signs to the music in such a way as to make them LOOK like the song sounds.  But when all is said and done, sign the song – don’t just move to the music.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that I am not opposed to the use of sing choirs.  But I do believe it is imperative for us to give careful consideration to everything we do in our church services to ensure that they are done decently and in order and serve to glorify God.  I hope this post has provided some helpful guidelines that will serve to make our use of sign choirs more effective in the Kingdom.  Thank you for reading.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Church Kid...It's Time We Had a Talk

In October of this year I reworked a post I had previously written for this blog and allowed my husband to publish it on The Bruised Reed.  The original post was written in direct response to questions and concerns that were being brought to me (as the youth director) by the young people of my local church at that time.  It addresses issues such as learning to pray, backsliding, and falling in love with Jesus.  Although I wrote the article for young people, it applies to all of us as we continually strive to live for God.  I am sharing the link again here in hopes that someone who didn't see it on my husband's blog will read it and be encouraged.

Church Kid...It's Time We Had a Talk

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

10 Things that Helped Me Stay in Church

“What made you stay in church?”
“What did your parents do that made you want to live for God after you became an adult?”
I hear these questions fairly often, so I have compiled a list of things from my childhood I believe were integral in my choices as an adult.  While I am not foolish enough to believe that a backslidden child is always the result of parenting mistakes, I do believe there are things that we as adults can do to facilitate kids in developing a lasting relationship with God.  Please allow me to share my thoughts, and feel free to add yours in the comments section below.

1.       I was never required to pray at the altar or elsewhere.  When I was young I was required to go to the altar with my mom so she could keep an eye on me but I didn’t have to pray.  Living for God is a relationship and we can’t force our children into it.  Wisely, my parents exposed me to an atmosphere that was conducive to prayer and then allowed me to reach out to God if and when I was ready.
2.       Prayer was an everyday family event.  I learned to have a daily prayer life because every day at 9:00 pm my parents took prayer requests and we spent 30 minutes in family prayer.  I was allowed to pray for as long as I wished and then was allowed to simply sit quietly while my mom finished.  It ingrained the importance of prayer, the necessity of DAILY consistency, and it taught me how to pray as I listened to my parents. 
3.       They didn’t make a big fuss when I first began to seek God.   If they had I would have been embarrassed, but beyond that, I needed to begin building a relationship with God without the external pressure of “pleasing my parents” or doing it for accolades. 
4.       My parents did not allow me to be baptized before they were certain I understood the purpose of baptism and its importance.  When I was 8 I approached my parents of my own accord about being baptized.  They didn’t jump on the idea immediately even though I had been going to the altar and praying for some time.  Instead, they asked a lot of questions and had a very serious conversation with me to make sure I really knew what I was doing and why.  This not only ensured I didn’t just get wet in a ritual I wasn’t ready for, it helped instill in me the importance of what I was doing.  It is a great disservice to our church kids to cheat them out of the beautiful experience of knowing their sins are being washed away by allowing them partake in baptism when they don’t fully understand.  Similarly, my parents were firm believers that a child should not be baptized until they asked and were prepared to take it very seriously even if they had received the Holy Ghost.  It is crucial that our church kids don’t simply go through the motions because “this is what we do.”  They need to feel the tug of conviction and have the maturity and understanding to treat the blood that is being applied with respect. 
5.       Church was never optional in our house.  If you weren’t running a fever you went to church.  Everything else was of lower importance.
6.       We didn’t do homework at church.  It had to be done before or after.  If we dawdled and wasted time so we didn’t get it done before church, we got our backside paddled and then stayed up late to finish it, but we weren’t allowed to treat the House of God as secondary to anything, including education.
7.       We were encouraged to get involved in the work activities at church.  We learned dedication and the importance of the House of God both by watching our parents’ investment into the Kingdom and by being involved ourselves.  I started teaching Sunday School at the ripe old age of 11.  While I can’t say I would go looking for 11-year-olds to put in Sunday School classrooms, it did me no harm.  As I grew up I continued to take on more responsibilities in the church.  My time and energy were simultaneously being invested into both the work of God and my personal walk with God.
8.       My parents were real about living for God.  Our kids don’t need “rote answers”.  They need to see a real walk with God based on real life, real Biblical study, and honesty.  I was raised to understand the difference in holiness standards based scriptural mandate verses those rooted in wisdom and preference, and I was taught to respect both for what they are.  I learned that real Christians get discouraged, they fail, they repent, they have times when prayer is hard, and much more.
9.       Living for God was fun in our house.  When there were fellowship activities at church, we participated.  My parents made the necessary sacrifices to make sure we got to youth conferences, fun days, and activities our church friends were hosting, and if nothing was going on they hosted parties at our house.  Above all, they refused to treat living for God as a hardship.  I once knew someone who was fond of saying, “I traded my F-U-N for J-O-Y!”  I always felt sorry for them because I got to keep my F-U-N along with the J-O-Y of the Holy Ghost.
10.   I was raised to know what a “real” move of God is.  I was blessed to grow up in home missions, so I didn’t have some of the distractions many of our young people must wade through.  We prayed before church and worshipped until the Power fell.  There were no wild drums and screaming organs to “fake” a move of God for us.  I learned the value of standing silently with my hands raised and tears streaming down my face along with the importance of dancing and rejoicing.

I am not foolish enough to believe this is a “guaranteed” plan for keeping kids in church, but these factors were significant in helping direct and strengthen my walk with God.  As saints we all have a responsibility to do what we can to help the kids and young people in our churches develop relationships with God that will stand the test of time.  Thank you for reading.