Are You Abiding in Christ?

12003984_10154274231750476_7361772779431152739_nI recently returned from KidMin, a children’s ministry conference. It’s always a blast connecting with others that share a similar calling as you, and when that calling is reaching kids for Jesus, you know it’s going to be a fun time.

The theme for this year was abide, with a focus on John 15:1-17.  The conference used yarn to represent vines. All over the conference, and even in the logo, you could see the yarn serving as a reminder of the True Vine.

So, what does it mean to abide in Christ?

To “abide” is to live, continue, or remain. So to abide in Christ is to know and follow Jesus (1 John 2:5-6). More than just checking a box, abiding is personal. Like a branch on a vine, we’re connected, in a living/growing relationship, yet we’re totally dependent on the vine.

The vine comparison reminds us that we can’t bear any fruit on our own, it’s all from the Vine. Yes, we’ll need to be pruned from time to time (see verse 2). But it’s a loving cut to help us bear more fruit.

Next time your family eats some grapes, pull out your phone and do a Google Image search for grape vine. Show your kids how the vine connects the branches, and through the vine, the branches are able to produce fruit.

If your kids have already made a decision to follow Jesus as Lord, talk to them about John 15:10 or 1 John 4:13 and what abiding in Christ means.

If your kids are starting to ask questions, remind them that the branches are united with the vine and read Romans 6:5 to them. (Here’s a simple outline for you to use if your child want to know more about becoming a Christian.)

Suggested reading:

What does it mean to abide in Christ?

What is it to abide in Christ?

Learning to Abide in Christ

What will one answer the messenger of the nation? The Lord has founded Zion, and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” – Isaiah 14:32

I’ve been studying the book of Isaiah over the past several weeks and it has been such an incredible blessing to read and study chapter by chapter this beautiful revelation of God and his redeeming love. When I came to Isaiah 14:32, God said to me “Stop! Read it again.” And so I did. He said to me “Read it again, and listen to ME speak.” And so I did. And I read it a third and fourth time and I’ve read it many times more since that day. As I write this short word of encouragement, please understand the depth of this great truth: God is actively working to save, sustain, and sanctify His people for the glory of his name. What’s more is that every circumstance believer’s face is working toward that ultimate goal as well. The book of Isaiah is written to this end and in it we find the great revelation of God’s judgment against the sin of his people tied to the abundant grace of God to sustain his “remnant’ who will carry out his work in this world. At the center of it all is Jesus, who is the Holy One established in Zion as the King of Kings and to whom all the afflicted in this life can run and find refuge. (Psalm 5:11, 73:28, Zephaniah 3:12, Hebrews 6:18)

A little contextual background on Isaiah 14:32 will help us greatly. Isaiah’s prophecy comes at a dark time in Israel’s history, as they are facing the threat of destruction from Assyria to the North. Already, Isaiah has prophesied the future destruction of Babylon (Isa. 14:1-23), as well as the fall of Assyria (Isa. 24-27), who is a “Babylonian type of empire”, who mocks God and oppresses His people. No nation that rejects the Lord God will stand, and both Assyria and Babylon would one day face the wrath of God.  By his sovereign choice the Lord God uses unbelieving nations and empires to correct and refine his people, as HE preserves and sustains his remnant who will ultimately glorify his name (Isa. 10:2-22). The Assyrians to the north were pressing into Judah, threatening to destroy them. The wicked and faithless king Ahaz has disgraced the Davidic line of kings and the once proud Judah is no longer relevant in the eyes of the nations. The Philistines, having once pushed back the Assyrians, will once again face the full wrath of the bloodthirsty empire (Isa. 14:29). So, Philistia turns to Judah to form an alliance against Assyria, their common enemy. Yet the Lord declares through Isaiah that their alliance is with Him, not pagan idolaters. God promises that those who are established in Zion will be safe, and all the afflicted of God will find a place of peace and safety on Zion.

Zion represents the presence and authority of God. Those who are surrendered to God will find hope in the midst of sorrow and peace in the midst of turmoil. The “messengers of the nations” will come to call God’s people into a partnership, yet there is no partnership to be had with those who reject God and who worship false gods. The people of God have always been and always will be safe by faith in God alone. Even those who are severely afflicted will find a true place of refuge in God. I know the word “afflicted” is a strong word, but I believe it is accurate. We are people who are often afflicted by the pressures of life happening all around us.

The Christian life is not, as some would say, “all doom and gloom”. I firmly believe the life we have in Christ is one of joy, peace, and gladness. The most effective Christian witness comes from a believer who is “happy in the Lord.” But we also must be honest with ourselves and our condition; there is much that afflicts us in this life, whether it is from our own sinful pursuits and poor choices, or perhaps another person’s actions have harmed us, or even those instances where something unexpected has occurred and no person is really responsible.  The promise we read in Isaiah 14:32 gives us a clear and hopeful outlook: the people of God who have been afflicted, hurt, damaged, and defeated in this life have a place to go to find true peace. This “place” has more to do with a person than an actual building or location. The refuge we need is “founded upon Zion”, the place that signifies the sovereign rule of God’s Son, Jesus. In Christ Jesus we find freedom and joy and a release from the burdens we carry from our anxieties and concerns in how we will save ourselves (1 Peter 5:7).

Jesus promises us rest from all of that stuff (Matthew 11:28-30). He is all that we need (2 Corinthians 12:9). Do you have sorrows? Run to the refuge of Christ your Savior today, the one who bore all your sorrows on the cross. Do you have regrets and fears? Run to Jesus right now, the one who paid for those regrets and who calms your fears. Is there and pain and shame in your life? Run to the great and glorious refuge in Jesus; the one who heals your pain and who took all your shame upon himself in order to set you free and give you rest (Hebrews 12:2, Isaiah 61:7). Yes, the good news of the gospel really is THAT GOOD! Jesus is our refuge, where all of the afflicted in this world can find peace.

Mold Me and Make Me

Last weekend, we held our Make & Take Family Art Night. Families we’re invited to come make their favorite animal using 3P Quickcure Clay, a special material developed by a LSU professor. The material allowed families to take their time making their creations, and were able to have them cured by the time their supper was finished.

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We had a devotional time during the event, where we talked about how God, the master artist, created everything from nothing. And out of everything God created, we’re special because we’re made in His own image. We can be creative like God and love others as God has loved us. The families heard how we’re made to be in relationship with God, but sin separates us from our Creator. Then families heard about Jesus and how He came to earth and lived a perfect life. He died on a cross for our sins, and rose again! (If you want to know more about what Jesus has done and how you can be welcomed into God’s family for eternity, check this video out!)

We shared Isaiah 64:8 with families, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

As I saw parents and grandparents work with their children, I couldn’t help but think of how they are working to help shape their kids hearts and minds.  Like a warrior (Psalm 127:4) carefully aims and readies his arrow before releasing it, these parents are preparing their kids for the kiln-like heat of the world.

There are many studies out there that show that if people do not embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior before they reach their teenage years, the chance of their doing so at all is slim. According to George Barna, the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior was 32 percent for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4 percent for those in the 13-18 range; and 6 percent for people 19 or older.

Don’t get me wrong, we serve a God who can melt a heart of stone at any age, but we have a chance to reach kids in their formative years.

I like how MeLissa LeFleur, author of Why Believe, puts it…

“…The message is clear. Children absorb biblical information easily and that absorption peaks during the preteen years. In order to reach them, those childhood years are critical. Children are moldable, like little piles of clay. They are formulating their perceptions of God, the world, people, and so on…”

Parents, remember that God has placed children under your authority, and it’s your responsibility, and great joy, to teach your children how to live a life that is pleasing to God. We’ll be here to help come along side you as we help these kids discover the truth of God’s Word!

3 Websites to Visit Before Your Next Trip to the Movies

Movie_Night_Cupcakes_(4660244763)Has this happen to you? You’re with your family, sitting back, enjoying  a movie…then a scene comes on that makes you run to cover your kids’ eyes? Or have you ever spilt your popcorn trying to cover your kids’ ears before the main character can show off his unique vocabulary?

Today, I wanted to share with you a few websites to visit before your next movie night that will help you make an informed decision on what your family watches.


1. Plugged In

Plugged In, a branch of Focus on the Family, say they want to, “shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which they live.” With Colossians 2:8 in mind, they give great insight on the content of the movies they review (books, games, and music as well). They do a great job of nutshelling the questionable and spiritual content.

2. Common Sense Media

If Plugged In doesn’t have a review on the movie you’re looking for, try Common Sense Media. They offer the largest independent age-based reviews on movies, games, apps, TV shows…you name it. While they won’t cover the spiritual aspect of movies like Plugged In would, they are still a great source for parents, and will even give you some discussion questions to talk about after the movie is finished.

3. International Movie Database

This site is a warehouse of facts and trivia for almost every movie and TV show out there. Not only can you get a synopsis of the film, but you can get specific information as well. Find a movie you want to watch on this site then look for the Parents Guide link. You’ll find all sorts of info on what content you should be aware of. This site is great for those Netflix movie nights and you find a movie you never heard of before.


Remember that you can use movies as talking points with your kids. Keeping in mind the difference between the fake movie characters and real Biblical people, movies can be a great starting point for faith conversations. Compare and contrast Cinderella’s step-sisters to Joseph’s brothers. Use Star Wars to discuss temptation as Luke is asked to join the dark side. Think you can connect Dumbo the flying elephant to Peter in any way?

What websites do you use to check out movies? Share with us using the comment section!

Who God Is

StarQ_LIO_FA15_LogoLast week at BAM (Bible and Music for kids), we started a new series called Star Quest. It’s a five-week series on who God is all tied around the theme verse of Psalm 47:7, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!”

As we look to see who God is, let’s take a moment to see how people answer the question of “who is God?” According to the National Study of Youth and Religion, most American young people believe …

  1. That a god exists, and that this being created the world and orders/watches over human life on earth.
  2. That this god wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other—as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. That the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about yourself.
  4. That God does not need to be particularly involved in your life, except when you need God to resolve a problem.
  5. That good people go to heaven when they die.
  6. That church is just another thing on a list of things to do—it’s not where they enjoy their closest friendships.

These points can be summed up into something called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Moralistic meaning life is all about making right choices with the goal of being a good person. Therapeutic meaning God exists for our pleasure with the goal for us to find personal happiness. Deism meaning God is unknowable lawgiver who only gets involved if we need something.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism puts the focus on us and makes God nothing more than a distant relative that lives out of state so you never met him, but you like him because he sends you a card filled with money on your birthday telling you to be good.

During Star Quest, and everything else that we do, we want our kids to turn away from the self-centered way we’re tempted to live, and to put Jesus at the center of their lives, rooted in him (Colossians 2:6-7)

Last week we started with God is eternal. Our kids discovered that God never changes. We saw how God told Moses that he is “I AM WHO I AM,” (Exodus 3:14) and how Jesus echoed that in John 8:58. God is the God of Abraham long ago, and the God of Moses, and he’s our God, too! In all that time, God has never changed, and he’ll never change in the future. We know God never changes and will be God forever. And we can live forever with God, than
ks to Jesus. For more information about following Jesus, click here.

Let me encourage you to help your family be rooted in Jesus. It doesn’t matter if things are good or things are bad—God stays the same! He never changes, so we can count on him in any and every situation. Help your family focus on Jesus. He is worthy of our praise!

Suggested reading:

Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 5)

5058378176_f837887fb0_bNote: This is the fifth in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

Part 5: A Disciple Experiences God Through Christian Community

A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed the highest stressors among Americans as money and time. Because humans view these two aspects of life with such importance, we also have a tendency to attempt to control these assets with an iron fist.

As a follower of Christ, you are part of much larger family than just yourself, your friend group, or even the people at your church. You are a part of the huge body of Christ.

Read Romans 12:3-8

God has gifted each member of His body with a unique story or journey, special gifts and blessings, and particular callings. As a Christian, you are not intended to be isolated, but to be engaged in Christian community. God wants us to use the abilities He has given in order to build one another up in Christ

Think about ways you can engage more deeply in Christian community when you return home. Maybe you need to join a small group or seek out a mentor to guide you and challenge you in your walk with Christ. Perhaps you should introduce yourself to a neighbor, or ask a friend to coffee for intentional conversation about Christ.

Briefly share your journey with your partner. You may want to describe your initial encounter with the Lord, and explain what the Lord is teaching you right now. Find out how you can pray for one another and commit to pray for one another.

Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 4)

Boca_culture_003Note: This is the forth in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

 Part 4: A Disciple Engages with God Through Giving

A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed the highest stressors among Americans as money and time. Because humans view these two aspects of life with such importance, we also have a tendency to attempt to control these assets with an iron fist.

Take a piece of paper and write down the days of the week along the top. Spend a few moments filling out the weekly log with your normal routine. How much of your time is devoted to your job? Your family? Spending time in prayer and Scripture reading? Serving at church?

Flip the sheet of paper over and write down the following words: food, fun, family, church, bills, other. Think about where your money goes. Next to the words, write out the percentage of your money that goes to those areas. Spend a few moments reflecting on how your spending reflects your priorities.

Read the story of the widow’s gift in Mark 12:41-44.

In this passage, the two simple coins given by the poor widow were worth more to Jesus than the large sums put in by the rich. The widow could not give as much as others, but her attitude of giving was more pleasing to Jesus. In this case, it was not so much the amount but the attitude that was of true value.

We try to exercise control over everything to the extent it becomes a stress on our lives. Ultimately, every cent of money that we possess and every second of time we have already belong to God. God commands that we devote our time and money to Him, and when we do not, it is disobedience. Like the widow, He is not focused on the amount we give, but on our attitude. As such, we should give cheerfully and humbly, recognizing that anything we have is already a gift from Him.

Grab a sticky note and list the things or areas of your life you need to give to the Lord. Think about areas of your budget that need to be redistributed to either your church or a ministry that God has put on your mind. Consider areas of your daily schedule that you could better use in service at church or mentoring others.

Give it to God

Take out your wallet, your watch, your planner, or your phone as a representation of your time and money. Hold these items in the palm of your hand as a sign of surrender and giving back to God. Ask God to show you areas of your time and money that you need to surrender to Him. Pray for opportunities to give your time and money to honor Him. Review your sticky note and commit to give those things to the Lord.

Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 3)

2334183401_bf5ce504c7_oNote: This is the third in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

Part 3: A Disciple Embraces God Through Prayer

Look up the Lord’s Prayer in your Bible from Matthew 6:9-13.

Have you ever felt like praying to God was difficult or even somewhat unnatural? In this passage, Jesus provides a model prayer or guide on how we should pray, and you can use the elements of this prayer as a template or pattern in your prayers. An easy way to remember this is pattern is with the acronym ACTS.

A- Adoration

“Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prayer is not about you. You should always enter into prayer with your heart, soul, mind, and strength focused on the wonderful God we serve. God is worthy of all of your praise and adoration, and you should voice that praise to Him.

C- Confession

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” As a follower of Jesus Christ, all your sin has already been paid for and forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice. When you pray, you should confess any sin that is holding you back from loving God and living out His commands.

T- Thanksgiving

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Jesus is King. As believers, we would do well to remember that all good things and every blessing come from God alone. As such, you should express gratitude for receiving those blessings. Through thanksgiving, you are giving God the glory He deserves, and admitting God’s power is greater than your own.

S- Supplication

“Give us today our daily bread.” As a child of God, you should feel no hesitation or shame in asking your Father for what you need. Start by expressing to God what is on your heart. Remember these words from Matthew 7:10: “Everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Through prayer, you enter into the presence of the One for whom nothing is impossible, and He alone can supply all your needs.

Spend time listening, and allow God to change you and make your heart more like His. Think about your prayer life and ways you wish to grow closer to God. When ready, spend time in prayer to God, focusing on adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Ask God to help you draw near to Him, and pray for Him to make you more like Him.

Act of Approach – Man’s Great End





Lord of all life and being,

There is one thing that deserves my greatest concern,

which calls out my deepest desires,

That is, that I may answer the great purpose for which I was created –

to glorify you, O God, who has given me life,

and to do all the good that I can for my fellow man;

Truly, life is not worth having if it is not improved for this great purpose.

Yet, Lord, how little this thought comes to the minds of men.

Most people seem to live for themselves,

without much or any regard for your glory,

or for the good of others;

They sincerely desire and pursue

the riches, honors, and pleasures of this life,

as if they believe that wealth, greatness, and pleasure

could make their immortal souls happy;

But what a false delusion that is!

And how miserable are those who will sleep in those empty dreams

for all our happiness consists in loving you and being holy as you are holy.

Lord, may I never fall into the vanity and temptations of this life,

the sensuality and foolishness of this present world.

It is a place of inexpressible sorrow; a vast and empty void;

Time is a moment, a vapor

and all the enjoyments of this life are but empty bubbles,

Like fleeting blasts of wind,

from which nothing satisfying can be derived.

Give me grace always to keep covenant with you,

and to reject as a delusion having a great name here or in the hereafter,

which brings with it all the pleasures and profits of the world.

Help me to know continually

that there can be no true happiness,

no fulfillment of your purpose for me,

apart from a life lived in and for Jesus Christ my Savior!


Translated from The Valley of Vision, p.22







Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 2)

4098605868_395724c077_oNote: This is the second in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

Part 2: A Disciple Encounters God Through His Word

To grow as a follower of Christ and child of God, you must know His Word intimately. It is vital that you set apart time to read, meditate on, and memorize God’s Word in order to learn more about what He wants to teach you.

Reflect on the following verses:

2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119:105, Hebrews 4:12


Read Matthew 4:4.

It is important for followers of Christ to hear the verbal proclamation of God’s Word often, but regular, personal study is equally essential. You must take an active role in reading the Bible for yourself and applying it to your life daily.

Choose a Bible verse. It can be one listed above or one God puts on your heart. Read over the scripture once, consider its meaning for your life, and ask God to teach you something through this verse over the next few days.

Read Joshua 1:8.
Meditation is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines in the Christian faith. With our busy schedules, we rarely take time to completely stop and focus on anything. When is the last time you completely stopped and focused solely on a verse or passage from God’s Word?

Look again at the Scripture you pick up a moment ago. Choose one word or phrase from the verse on which to meditate. Try to think only about the verse and nothing else. Ask God to remove any distractions or worries from your mind and to speak to you through His Word.


Read Psalm 119:10-11.

As a child, did you memorize any Bible verses in Sunday school or for Bible drill? Do you remember any of them now? Memorizing Scripture is a way to focus on God’s Word through the day. When you memorize Scripture, you can take it with you and meditate on it whenever and wherever you are!

As you go on with your day, write down the Scripture you picked and take it with you. Place it in your Bible, on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or anywhere you will see it often. Make it a goal to memorize this verse by the end of the week. After you have it memorized, make a commitment to choose another verse and memorize it, too.

Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for providing you with easy access to His Word, and make a commitment to read, meditate on, and memorize Scripture to grow closer to Him.


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