I was raised (and often reared … if you get my drift) in a home where my sister Ruth and I had to be dead three days before missing church. After all, if Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, Mom and Dad expected us to as well. Missing church for baseball practice, going to the movies with friends on a Wednesday night, being up late on a Saturday night and not getting up for church on Sunday wasn’t an option. Consequently, in addition to the great foundation laid at home each day, we received consistent, systematic, solid Bible teaching in our Sunday school classes, children’s church, and Royal Rangers and Missionettes clubs. Thanks Mom and Dad!!!!
It was through those Bible studies that I fell in love with the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. After all, what boy in his right mind wouldn’t love a story about the battle of the G(g)ods? What boy doesn’t have pyromaniac yearnings for fire to bellow down from heaven?
This week, that story became even more alive to me. I have told this story for many years, first in our days of traveling as Children’s Evangelists in our Kid’s Crusades and from time-to-time in children’s church here at Trinity. But, in each telling of the story, I have always emphasized the battle and the fire. But this week, God placed a special emphasis in my heart about the cloud that followed the showdown between Baal and God.
I know that you remember the story found in 1 Kings 18. There had been a God-ordained drought for 3 years. Before the battle on the mount, Elijah told Ahab to prepare for rain. After the battle, Elijah forecasted a heavy rain was on its way. Upon sending his servant 7 times to go look for the rain clouds, the only thing that Elijah saw was a cloud the size of a man’s hand. A big promise had been given. All that Elijah could see was a small vessel on the horizon for its delivery.
Here’s what God shared with me about this story. In addition to being the children’s pastor of a local church, my mission or assignment right now is to travel around the nation and globe prophesying about a mighty rain of the Holy Spirit. In pulpits and in conferences I stand as Peter did on the Day of Pentecost declaring that “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” I am convinced that this is the day of the Holy Spirit in children’s ministry. And yet, what I see in doing these meeting are small pockets of people that are enjoying this rain. Here’s what God told me through this story (here’s the shouting material) according to 1 Kings 18, the size of the cloud didn’t determine the amount of the downpour! Right now, the cloud may be small. There may be only small pockets of people across the nation crying out for a Holy Spirit deluge. After this encouragement from God, with confidence I too like Elijah will boldly continue to say that I see a HEAVY rain in the forecast!!!!
Be encouraged. I’m Billy Burns and I’m your Holy Ghost weather forecaster. There is a 100% chance of that cloud that is the size of a man’s hand raining upon the children in your ministry this weekend. I see that a gullywasher (that’s Texas vernacular) Holy Ghost rain storm is already raining up the road from you and the cloud is heading your way. To quote T.D. Jakes, “Get ready, get ready, get ready.” I see the rain a comin’.
By no means do I consider myself to be a cityslicker. The city that I grew up wasn’t much of a city. With a whopping 6 traffic lights, “fine” eateries consisting of the likes of Dairy Queen and a greasy spoon called Grothe’s Restaurant, and 3 grocery stores, West Columbia, Texas wasn’t much to brag about. Still, it was home. Neither do I consider myself a country bumpkin. We did have a few chickens in a fenced-in area for a while when I was young. We did raise tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, and squash each summer in our little garden in our back yard. I guess that I’m a fine mixture of both … a misplaced wanna’ be big city boy with a touch of country flavor mixed in for good measure.
I do remember one thing from our gardening days. You never planted the seed and expected a harvest the next day, or the day after that, or the next week. You knew that there was a process that the seed had to go through. We confidently knew that the harvest would come in due time.
This weekend, I had the greatest experience. I had some dear friends in to minister for Trinity’s children. In between services Sunday, I took my friends over to visit with our senior pastor. Along the way to his study, teenager after teenager would stop me, give me a big hug and talk to me for a minute or two. I would then introduce the teenagers to my friends and tell how Vickie and I had been their children’s pastor for their entire life. It was so thrilling to be able to then state that the teen was now a master teacher in our 2-year-old nursery class, another one of “my” teens was now the praise and worship leader for our Saturday night children’s church, another one of “my” teens was now working in the media ministry running a video camera each weekend.
Sadly, few children’s ministry leaders get to enjoy that experience. They stay in one ministry or church for a few months or years and then move on to “greener” pastures. They haven’t learned from the wise farmer how to enjoy the benefits of their labor. For over 18 years, Vickie and I have planted seed. It was great this weekend to walk through the hallways and see our labors showcased throughout the church! Here’s to longevity ….
I love the biblical account of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites. From my early days in Sunday School, this story has ranked up there right alongside David’s battle with Goliath and Joshua and the battle of Jericho.
This story found Judges 6 and 7 provides three great leadership principles for Children’s Ministry leaders.
What an encouragement. God knows my battles (weekly ministry assignments) and has provided both the staff and tools to see the victory that He has prepared for me. The key is to see things as God sees them and start moving towards the course for my victory!
In teaching about moves of God, I often state that moves of God are nothing more than passion and discipline connecting. People rarely fail in the area of passion. They truly want God to show up. Their roadblock often lies in the area of discipline. Life is just too busy to begin and maintain the disciplines that move us from an occasional visit from God into a lifestyle that has the habitation of God (revival). Sadly, people are dissatisfied where things are but not desperate enough to do what it takes to bring about a change. I love what Martin Luther wrote in his journal, “I have a very busy day today; must spend not two, but three hours in prayer.” The movement of the minute/hour hands of the clock wasn’t the issue. It’s the discipline of pushing things aside connecting with the longing to be in God’s presence that brought the revelations that made Luther a threat to Satan’s kingdom. A great move of God in children’s ministry awaits us … for those connecting their passion with discipline. Selah.