From Across the Net – “China tells churches: Children and teens can’t convert until they’re 18”

Standard

China’s government has intensified its crackdown on Christianity in recent months, including its enforcement of a law against the conversion of children and teens.

“One of the rules that have always been in their law is that you cannot proselytize or you cannot convert somebody under the age of 18,” Eric Burklin of China Partner told Mission Network News.

Previously, he said, “People were having their children come to church and many churches started what we would call Sunday school classes. They would use that time to teach children Bible verses and teach them Christian songs and so forth.”

Now, though, “any churches have been notified by [China’s] Religious Affairs Bureau heads that you can no longer conduct Sunday school classes in your churches.”

“They even put signage up in the entrance of some churches to indicate that,” Burklin said.

Photo by Adi Constantin on Unsplash

From Across the Net – “Reducing the Stumbling Block before THE Stumbling Block”

Standard

We all put stumbling blocks before unbelievers can get to the stumbling block of the cross. Some of these are beyond our control, but others are within our powers of adjustment. The way we appear, our communication styles, attitudes, actions, and histories affect what others “hear” long before they hear the gospel. The faster we recognize this truth, the better we can prepare for for effective proclamation.

You can read more here

Notes from Sunday School – Follow Me

Standard

Follow Me

Intro: More than 24 times in the Gospels, Jesus invited people to follow him. Who did Jesus invite?

  • The wealthy and powerful.
  • The casual observer.
  • The spiritual seekers.
  • The religiously devoted.

Read Matthew 4:18-20

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Note: Peter and Andrew knew Jesus. He had talked with them previously (John 1:35-42) and had been preaching in the area. They knew what kind of man he was.

Read Matthew 4:21-22

21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Note: Verse 22 says that they immediately followed him, no excuse.

Q: What excuses do we give God daily?

Side Note: When Jesus asks us to serve him, we must be like the disciples and do it at once.

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Read Mark 1:16-20

16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon[a] and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

Note: The disciples were not men of great faith when they met Jesus.

Read Luke 5:1-11

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee,[a]great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon,[b] its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Q: What is Peter’s reaction to the fish?

  1. Realizes what Jesus has done.
  2. Realizes his own insignificance/sin.

Q: What did following Jesus equal?

  1. Leaving old life.
  2. Being trained by Jesus.
  3. Learning to obey Jesus (coming under his authority and leadership).
  4. Having a life that looked like his (character, priorities, and practices).

Closing Questions

Who are you living for today?

What does it mean to follow Jesus today?

How can you refocus your relationship/walk with Christ in 2019?

Memorize

John 3:17 – “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (NLT)

These are my notes from teaching this morning. I thought sharing them might be helpful.

We Cannot Bring About Lasting Change In Anyone

Standard

Labor Day has thrown me off this week. I keep thinking that it is Tuesday when it is really Wednesday.

I’ve been wanting to share my notes from teaching through Paul Tripp’s Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family in Sunday School. Each week has been a good reminder of what I’d call Christianity 101. Foundational Biblical truths we all know, as Christians, and yet forget to live out.

Sunday morning, our topic was on Inability (Chapter 4). The key principle was: “Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting.”

We started out by reading the following quote:

If you are going to be what God has designed you to be as a parent and do what he’s called you to do, you must confess one essential thing. This confession has the power to change much about the way you act and react toward your children. It is vital that you believe and admit that you have no power whatsoever to change your child. If any human being possessed the power to create lasting change in any other human being, again, Jesus would not have had to come! The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus stand as clear historical evidence that human power for change does not exist.

And then shifted to talking about our inability to save ourselves from the punishment we deserve for sinning against a holy God. How only faith in Jesus Christ can bring about lasting change, in our lives, and save us.

Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

We then went over the Gospel presentation that our Children’s Director goes over with our kids. I think it’s helpful to know what our kids are going over AND the simple presentation is good for us adults.

As a class, we read through the following scriptures noted in the presentation:

  • Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16-17; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:8; Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9; Romans 10:9-10, 13.

Afterwards, discussing what Tripp calls “The Three Most Often Used Tools of Parental Power”.

  1. Fear – “the power we buy into here is that we can issue a big enough threat that creates a big enough fear to change our kids.”
  2. Reward – “This may be the most popular way we fight our inability to change our children. We manipulate them to do what we want them to do by holding certain reward in front of them.”
  3. Shame – “Shame and guilt are power tools that parents use more frequently than we recognize.”

Coming to the point where we realize that we cannot bring about lasting change in others, apart from Christ, is freeing. Whether in our friendships, relationships, or parenting, Christ is the only one who can bring about lasting change. We CANNOT change anyone, no matter how hard we try.

“Good parenting lives at the intersection of a humble admission of personal powerlessness and a confident rest in the power and grace of God.”

Passion

Standard

I am passionate about:

  • Solid Bible teaching. I want to see fellow Christians challenged in their faith straight from the Bible. 
  • Keeping the focus solely on the Gospel and not on personal preferences.
  • The videogames industry being influenced with the love of Christ. I’m still not sure what this looks like, whether it includes handing out beer and Bibles, but I’m always processing this one. Currently I am exploring starting a GameCell at my church.
  • Helping others avoid the same mistakes that the Internet helped me make. I want parents to be aware of the parental controls on their children’s devices; I want individuals to take preventative steps to protect themselves from the wild west of the Internet.
  • Blogging. Yeah, you wouldn’t know it from my posting frequency, but I have always enjoyed sharing my life and what I’m learning with you. I love writing and it is not something I allow myself the time to do enough.

Working the 8-5 grind, I often get lulled into patterns that prevent me from focusing on my passions. This walking dead-like slumber causes me to forget how much I love my wife and son and how blessed I am to have them in my life. I am noticing that it is only through being intentional with what I consume media-wise/what I do daily that I am able to overcome this personal apathy.

So what about you? What are you passionate about?