Children

Teaching Theology to Kids (Carnivore Theology: Ep. 88)

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Steve and Al sound a little weird in this episode as explore teaching theology to kids… with kids!

Podcast Audio: 

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What You Don’t Know About Operation Christmas Child (Carnivore Theology: Ep. 78)

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Our special guest, Diana Billings, tells us what really happens to all those Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!

Podcast Audio:

How Can You Help Carnivore Theology?

1. Pray for us!

2. Subscribe and rate us on  iTunes and watch us on YouTube!! (If you don’t have iTunes use one of these FeedBurner links)

3. Record a question in your voice on our SpeakPipe page! (We love this the most!)

4. Send a question or comment through Facebook Twitter, or E-mail!

5. Buy some cool stuff from our new Merch Store! (And check out our friend Kim’s amazing art while you’re there!)

6. Share www.CarnivoreTheology.com and our Media Kit with your friends and church. Sharing is caring!

Is Halloween Evil (and Should Christians Participate)? (Carnivore Theology: Ep. 49)

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Halloween

Halloween is coming up soon, so the CT guys perform a skit and take on the perennial question of whether a Christian should participate in Halloween or not. We didn’t realize how heated the discussion was going to get!

Podcast Audio:

Behind the Scenes Video:

How Can You Help Carnivore Theology?

1. Ask us a question in your voice on our SpeakPipe page!

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3. Share www.CarnivoreTheology.com with your friends. Sharing is caring!

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Children’s Message: Jesus Loves Kids

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Every now and again I get a chance to speak to a group of AWANA children or at a local Christian school. It’s such a blessing to be able to talk to them about Jesus. What I often do is take a sermon I’ve written for adults, rewrite it and add some more fun and interesting graphics so it will make more sense to children. This is one of those. The original is here.

AWANA - Jesus Loves Kids

Podcast Audio:

Jesus Loves Kids!

favI want to play a game today. I call it “Favourites”. I’ll give you some choices and you tell me which one is your favourite. (CandyLand/BattleShip, AngryBirds/Cut-The-Rope, Chocolate/Vanilla Ice Cream, Sprinkles or No Sprinkes, Dora or Diego, Minions or Elsa). Now, let’s talk a little bit about favourites.

Here’s something you’ve heard many, many, many times: “Jesus Loves You!” Have you been told that before? Probably lots of times, right? Well, let me tell you something else you may not have heard too many times: “Jesus Loves Kids!” Have you heard that before? It’s true! Jesus has a special place in his heart for children just like you. In fact, did you know there is a story in scripture where it shows that Jesus’ favourite people are kids like you?

It’s true! Let me read it to you from Mark 10:13-16:

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”

Only Important People

how_F2G13PA.p-P2.tiffSo, I want you to get the picture here in your mind of what’s happening. A bunch of parents are bringing their children to Jesus so He could bless them, talk to them. This has probably happened to you, right? Have you ever been brought somewhere special to meet someone? Maybe you dress up to visit a relative far away, or go to the rink and see a famous hockey player, or have a missionary over to your house. Well, that’s what it was like for these kids. They were being brought by their dads and moms to see Jesus.

Except, what happened when they got there? The disciples looked at their parents and said, “Go away! You’re bothering Jesus with all these children! He has more important things to do than talk to a bunch of kids!”

I’m sure that’s happened to you, right? Have you ever been told to be quiet because the adults were talking? Have you ever been told to go sit at the kid’s table? Have you ever been given a baby sitter so that the parents could go and do something special? Have you ever been stuck in the Sunday school room so the adults could have a big meeting?

Let me tell you a secret: Most of the time, sitting at the kid’s table is BETTER, because the adults are talking about boring things like the news, the weather, the government, their money, and other booooring things. (Actually, there are times that I’d much rather be sitting at the kid’s table with you guys talking about toys and cartoons than with the adults.)

And the disciples were doing exactly the same thing. They thought were helping Jesus by only letting the important people come through. Only the people who were really sick, or town leaders, or other adults who wanted to talk to Jesus. In fact, the Bible says that the disciples were “scolding” the parents! That’s a pretty intense word!

Have you ever been “Scolded”? It means to get in trouble and be yelled at! Think of the last time your mom or dad raised their voice because you got in trouble – that’s what the disciples were doing to the parents who were bringing the kids! “Go away! Get these kids out of here! Adults only!”

Jesus Responds

But look at what Jesus does! What does it say, “When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples.” Now look who’s yelling! It’s Jesus! The disciples are in trouble! Jesus looks at Peter and James and John and the rest of the disciples and says, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them!” “Get out of their way! Get these adults out of here, I want to talk to the kids!”

You see! Jesus doesn’t see you guys as less important than adults. In fact, Jesus says here that He wants to be around the kids more than He wants to be around the adults! How does that make you feel? Pretty special, right?

I can just imagine the look on some of the children’s faces when Jesus looks at the adults and tells them to get out of the kid’s way! Can you imagine what that would be like? Having Jesus move everyone else aside – the prime minister, the mayor, the famous people, the teachers, the police men, the really important adults – push them all aside, and bring you and the rest of your friends up to Him. “Get out of the way adults! I want to see the kids!”

Jesus Hugs

And what does Jesus do with them? It says Jesus “took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”

Every one of these kids got to talk to Jesus, got a hug from Jesus, and He prayed for them. Each one, in turn. All the adults having to wait quietly while Jesus takes the littlest ones on his knee, talks to them, gives them a big hug, and then prays for them. This is the only place in the whole Bible that I read about Jesus giving someone a hug! And it’s given to children – just like you!

Who do you hug? Do you hug strangers? No! Do you hug people you don’t like? No! You hug people you love, right? You hug friends and family members. I don’t hug very many people, but I love hugging my kids and my wife because I love them in a special way! Hugging is a way we show a special kind of love – it’s only for certain people. And here we see Jesus hugging all of these kids. He didn’t hug the adults! He didn’t hug the disciples! The only people we ever read about Jesus hugging – is when He hugs kids just like you.

Jesus Protects

Let me show you one more other place in the Bible that talks about how Jesus feels about kids like you. It’s from Matthew 18 and it says that as Jesus was teaching a group of adults one day, He brought a little child over to Himself and said:

“…anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me…. Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18:2-10)

So Jesus looks at these adults and says, “Kids are very, very important to me. Welcome them like you would welcome me! Treat them with respect and love. Treat them like you would treat me! And be careful how you treat kids – I love them and I have given a special task to the angels to tell God exactly how people are treating the children in this world!”

That’s a big deal, isn’t it! Jesus love you kids so much that He has warned the adults to make sure they love you, respect you, and take care of you. And He’s made sure that all your prayers will be heard, and that anyone who messes with you won’t get away with it.

He loves you, protects you, and has told all of us adults to do the same.

For the Troubled Kids

Now, maybe some of you don’t feel this way today. Maybe you don’t feel like Jesus loves you. Maybe you don’t feel very protected. Maybe you’re going through a hard time, and there have been some adults that have let you down. Maybe you’ve even been hurt or lied to by some adults. Let me tell you that I’m very sorry – that makes me sad.

But let me also tell you that Jesus is there and He loves you. Jesus will never lie to you. He’ll never let you down. I don’t know how it’s all going to end up, but Jesus says He hears all of your prayers and no one will get away with hurting you. In fact, God knows exactly what’s going on and will deal with it. And He’s surrounding you with adults right here who love Jesus, love you, and want the best for you. This place is safe and you can tell your leaders about what’s going on in your life. They will pray for you and try to help. They know that you are Jesus’ favourite people – because you are their favourite people too!

Three Reminders

So let me remind you what I’ve said today, ok?

First, Jesus loves kids and you are one of His favourite people! You may not feel His hug right now, but He is always with you, and if you believe in Him, He will greet you with a big hug someday.

Second, even though some adults will let you down, there are others who have listened to Jesus and believe you are special and worth loving and protecting. These loving adults are a gift from God, and there are many in this room today.

Third, even when you go through tough times, Jesus will always be there to take care of you. He doesn’t think you’re unimportant just because you’re small and young. In fact, He thinks your extra important because you’re small and young! He died on the cross for your sins too – because He loves you. He has special angels looking out for you, and will never forget about you.

Be the Background (Life is Better There)

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AWANA - Be the Background

Every now and again I have the wonderful privilege of speaking to a group of AWANA children. Here’s a talk I gave recently (based on this previous post).

Podcast Audio:

Background is Important

Cartoon BackgroundsCartoons wouldn’t be the same without the background, would they? You’d see the characters doing things, but you wouldn’t know where they were. Why is that guy doing that? Where did that come from? Are they in outer space? Are they in a restaurant? Are they at someone’s house? It’s important to have the background so you can understand what’s happening in the story.

Have you ever thought of that? The importance of the background? We love looking at the main characters, but the background is pretty important, isn’t it? I would say that it is just as important as what’s happening in the story!

Camera’s that Face Us

1016969Well, here’s the problem today – there are a lot of people who want to be the main character in the story, they want to be the superhero, the funny guy, the important person – but they don’t want to be the background. The Bible calls that pride. People who refuse to be in the background, and let other people be up front, are prideful.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  How many of you have a camera, or maybe an iPod with a camera? On a regular camera, the lens – the part that takes the picture – faces outward, away from you. But iPhone or iPod, has a camera that faces you! It’s a camera built for one job – so you can take pictures of yourself!  Did you know there is such a thing as a Selfie Stick, so you can take a picture of yourself from far away? You don’t even need to have anyone else around! Now you don’t need to take pretty pictures of sunsets and cool cars and friends and nature and bugs and stuff – now you can take pictures of yourself and show everyone how cool you are.

That feeds our pride. We don’t just a picture of something. We don’t even want to be people in a picture anymore. We want to be the picture. It’s called a “selfie”, right? That’s pretty close to “selfish”, isn’t it?

And it’s all a way of saying, “I don’t want to be in the background. The background isn’t important. I want to be the main character. I want to be who everyone sees. The background Only losers are part of the background.”

But here’s something that you’re not going to hear from anyone other than a Christian teacher – everyone else will tell you to try to be the main character – only a Christian teacher will say this. Are you listening?

Life is better in the background. (Tweet this quote.)

It’s All About Jesus

That’s how God designed the world. There is one main character, Jesus Christ. He’s the whole story and everyone else is in the background. Even the people who take pictures of themselves and get a million hits on their YouTube video, who are rich and famous and everyone knows their name… they’re all background. And the more they try to be in the front, the more they try to take the place of Jesus, the more miserable they become, and the further they get from God, and who God created them to be.

Why? Because God designed people to worship Him, bring Him glory, sing to Jesus, talk about Jesus, and take care of each other in Jesus name. Jesus is the main character.

John the Baptist

The best example from the Bible I can think of – of a person who knew this and lived it – is John the Baptist.  Have you heard of Him? He was a really cool guy. There’s two things you need to know about him. First, he ate bugs. And second, he had a special job. He was chosen to be God’s megaphone, He was the announcer to Jesus, the person whose job it was to tell everyone that Jesus was coming!

He was chosen before he was born to do this. An angel told his father that “many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.”  And though his life was going to be special, he knew that he was never meant to be the main character.

I Must Become Less and Less

I want to read you a story from the life of John the Baptist found in the Gospel of John 4:26-30 which shows that John lived in the background so Jesus could be the main character.

“…John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.’”

Do you see what happened there? A bunch of John the Baptist’s followers were worried because more people were following Jesus than John! People were talking about Jesus more than John. “Oh no John! Jesus is more popular than you! More people are going to see Him! People like Him more!”.

In other words, “Oh no John! You’re in the background! What are you going to do? Jesus is more special than you! You need to do something to get back into everyone’s view! You don’t want to be in the background, do you?”

Now let me read to you what John the Baptist said to them: “John replied, ‘No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

If there is one line that John the Baptist lived by it was that one: “[Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John new what life is all about, and where he would be most happy – and that was when He was lifting up Jesus’ name, giving Jesus all the praise, and letting others see Jesus. He knew that life was better in the background, because Jesus is the main character.

Missing the Point

Let me ask you a question, but first let me tell you a story:

Imagine you took a friend to the movies. You pay for their ticket, get the popcorn, give them the 3D glasses, pick the seat, and get ready for the movie. So you’re sitting there – ready to go – and what comes on first? The movie trailers right? The little previews to show you what kind of movies are going to be coming soon.

Now imagine if your friend watches the movie trailer for three minutes, gets up, and leaves the theatre. You think he’s going to the bathroom, but as you wait you realize he’s not coming back. Now it’s half way through the movie – it’s been an hour and your friend isn’t coming back. So what do you do? Well, you eat all the popcorn, and you drink your drink – and then you drink their drink – and the movie is so good that you don’t leave until the movie is over. And you realize – your friend never came back!

So you rush down the stairs and into the foyer looking for your friend – they’re not there.  So you rush outside and there’s your friend, sitting on the steps waiting for the car to come and get him.

What would you say? “Where were you?! Where did you go?!” And then your friend replies – “Well, I watched that little movie and I liked it, so I left. I thought that was why we came. That was such a good movie! It’s a shame it was only 3 minutes long. I’m just so glad we came today. And I’ve been sitting outside thinking about that little 3 minute movie for this whole time.”

What would you think? You’d think they were crazy, right?! You missed the movie! You missed the whole point of being here! You missed out on the real move, the whole experience, the whole reason for coming to the theatre! Why would you think the little trailer was the whole movie?! Why would you leave before the movie even starts?!”

It’s All About Jesus

it's all about jesusWell you know what? That’s what we do when we forget that this life is all about Jesus! He’s the reason the whole universe exists. He’s the reason we exist. He designed you! He’s the greatest Saviour. He’s the one who makes everything work. He’s the highest authority – the biggest boss – the king of kings. He’s the one that loves people most. He’s the one who is worshipped and adored. He’s the one who knows everything and is perfectly wise. He’s the one that died on the cross to save everyone from their sin so they could be with Him forever.

And that’s why Christians make such a big deal of Jesus. We’re happy to live in the background because we know it’s all about Jesus. And when we try to take his place – and let our pride get out of hand, thinking that we’re the main character – we get frustrated, sad and lost.

It’s all about Jesus.

Jesus is the movie, we’re just the trailer.

Jesus is the hockey game,we’re just the pregame show.

Jesus is the message, we’re just the phone.

Jesus the letter, we’re just the envelope.

Jesus is the power, we’re just the bulb.

Jesus is the light, we’re just the mirror.

Jesus is the internet, we’re just the computer.

Jesus is the picture, we’re just the frame.

It’s all about Jesus.

Don’t Mess with Jesus’ Kids (Abortion, Parenting and Ministering to Children)

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FreeGreatPicture.com-24237-hd-face-paint-children

Podcast Audio:

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

This is a great passage of scripture, and I think it really shows how seriously Jesus takes ministry to children. Usually, when this passage is preached, the emphasis is on verse 15 where Jesus says, “…whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” which is an important point –but I don’t want to park there today. Instead, I want to look a little further back.

Children In Bible Times

Let’s start at verse 13. “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.”

It was a custom for parents to bring their children to Rabbi’s and holy men to ask to bless them, so it wasn’t totally strange that they would be doing this. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, was in his final days of teaching. They were on crowd-control. They were tired from the journey, worried about what would happen when they got there, and were probably trying to give Jesus some space to do more important things.  They had a lot on their mind, and so did Jesus. So it only makes sense that they would try to only let the most important people, the sick, the local leaders, the ones that needed Jesus most, through.

After all, these were only kids, people 12 and under. Children weren’t treated very well in ancient society. It wasn’t as bad among the Jews, but the treatment of children was very bad among the pagan nations. Evil. They were, essentially, non-persons – property of their fathers or their slave-masters. In Roman culture,

“…an infant could be abandoned without penalty or social stigma for many reasons, including an anomalous appearance, being an illegitimate child or grandchild or a child of infidelity, family poverty, parental conflict or being one of too many children.” (source)

This was normal then, so the disciples weren’t being offensive to the crowd. Everyone would have understood that kids weren’t as important as adults. Everyone would have realized the disciples were doing the right thing in letting the important people come first. Everyone unerstood why the disciples “rebuked” the parents who were wasting Jesus’ time.

But there was someone there that didn’t agree with what the disciples were doing.

Jesus was Indignant

“But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them…”

A fascinating word pops up there to describe what was going on in Jesus heart and mind when He sees his disciples rebuking the people who were trying to bring their children to Him… “Indignant”. It’s the Greek word “AGANEKTEO” which is a very  descriptive word.

Its the word used to describe how the Pharisees felt when Jesus rode into town on the donkey and they heard the crowds crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt 21:15), They were “Indignant”. It’s the word used of the disciples when they saw James and John ask to be Jesus’ top-disciples (Matt 26:8). It’s the word used of the ruler of the synagogue who saw Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath (Luke 13:14).

The Greek version of the Old Testament uses the word to describe how the brothers of Dinah felt when their sister was seduced and defiled. They were “indignant and very angry” (Gen 34:7). And it’s used over and over to describe God’s feelings toward unrepentant, stubborn hearts:

“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.” (Jer 10:10)

It’s a powerful word, full of emotion, and here’s it’s used to describe how Jesus feels about people who get between Him and the children who want to come to Him. I hope you get an appreciation for that word. You can’t read these words of Jesus in a grandfatherly voice that says, “Oh, it’s ok. Let them come to me…” No, these are words of rebuke! “Peter, James, John, all the rest of you — GET OUT OF THEIR WAY and LET THE CHILDREN COME TO ME. DO NOT HINDER THEM…”

Jesus didn’t see these kids as less important than the adults around them. He didn’t see them as less significant than the leaders, parents or disciples. No, He saw them as exactly the kind of people that He had come to be with. They were weak, helpless, dependent and in need of a saviour, a defender, a redeemer and friend. And as he look at them He saw a group of people who were coming to him with pure intentions, just longing to be with Him, to discover Him, to know Him, to be blessed by Him. They didn’t want a show, they wanted the One who was there. These parents just wanted the touch of Jesus in on their children’s lives. These children just wanted to be around Jesus.

And then He saw His own disciples getting in their way and rebuking them for coming, it enraged Him.

And what did these kids see? They saw Jesus look square at his disciples and rebuke them for not letting them come to him. This could have been the first time in their lives that they were treated as the highest priority. These adults were getting yelled at because they were telling the kids to go away. I can just imagine the looks on the 10 and 12 year old boys that had been rebuked just that morning for breaking a dish or not doing their chores. Now they’re looking at each other, eyes wide and mouths open as they watch Jesus tear a strip off these adults for getting in their way. That probably made their day.

Children as a Commodity

We can criticize ancient cultures for how poorly they treated children, but it’s not much better today, is it? A lot of people still treat children as commodities and excess baggage. They are drains on our finances. They are problems to be eliminated. They are property to be shown off or discarded when they are inconvenient.

In Canada 100,000 lives lost to abortion every year. About 25,000 babies were murdered in Ontario last year – and the government, your taxes – paid for it. No, we’re not talking about the extreme cases of rape and incest, or the women or baby has health problems – that only accounts for about 7%. Let me give you the top reasons for why women have abortions – and this is from an abortion advocacy group!

Relationship Issues” – Her parents and/or the man who impregnated her doesn’t want her to keep it. This isn’t condemning the woman, but more often the man. He finds out she’s pregnant, dumps her and runs, or says he’ll leave her if she has a baby.

Another reason is “Financial and Practical reasons”. In other words, I can’t afford a baby, so it’s better to kill it. According to one sight I read 21% of women said they aborted because they couldn’t afford a baby. Just to be clear, that’s over 20,000 babies a year, murdered because they would be too expensive. 16% said they aborted because “their life would change too much”, 8% said “they have all the children they want”. These children aren’t seen as babies, but commodities. If we want it, then it’s a celebration with parties and balloons. If we don’t then it’s just dispose of it.

Another popular reason is that the woman isn’t “ready to provide for and meet the physical and emotional needs of a child.” Especially if the child has some sort of special needs. In their deranged minds, these men and woman think, “I’m not ready for responsibility. I won’t do a good job with this kid. I’m not ready for this level of commitment. I’m still living my own life and this will mess me up. And since I’m not ready – it’s better for the child if I kill it in advance.”

CBC reported this week that deadbeat parents – 97% of which are dad’s – owe 3.7 billion dollars in support payments for their kids. So not only are these men running away from the women and children before they’re born, but even after! They can’t even be bothered to send the most minimal, financial help– even after the courts of ordered them to. Reminds me of 1 Timothy 5:8,

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

If you don’t take care of your family – including your kids, you’re worse than a pagan. No Christian should ever be a deadbeat mom or dad.

But this is happening every day. Dad’s abandon their women and children, and mom’s killing their babies – not for health reasons or because of incest and rape – but because they don’t want the baby to affect their lifestyle. The height of selfishness and pride meted out on helpless children. These people idolize their life so much that they are willing to give the blood sacrifice of their own babies to the god of their lifestyle.

Worshiping Molech

It’s no different than the Israelites who saught to appease the false god Molech  who demanded that they take their newborn babies, place them on the arms of the carved idol, and watch them burn to death. (Lev 18:21) Let me read to you a description :

“It is believed that idols of Molech were giant metal statues of a man with a bull’s head. Each image had a hole in the abdomen and possibly outstretched forearms that made a kind of ramp to the hole. A fire was lit in or around the statue. Babies were placed in the statue’s arms or in the hole. When a couple sacrificed their firstborn, they believed that Molech would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children.” (source 1, source 2)

It’s the same, isn’t it? Sacrificing babies so that the parents can have more money for themselves and perhaps their future children.

This is what made the worship of Molech so reprehensible to God, and such a danger to the Israelites. They are warned in the law not to do this (Lev 18:21) and are commanded to destroy anything that has to do with Molech. Over and over the Israelites and their kings fell into the worship of Molech – but why?

Because some people are able to overlook the preciousness of their baby when it means they have to make personal or financial sacrifice. For some terrible reason there are people choose money, comfort, and lifestyle over the life of their child. (Click to tweet this quote)

The dads who abandon their children so they can live free from responsibilities are worshippers of Molech. The women who kill their children because they don’t want to change their lifestyle are worshippers of Molech. The parents who choose their work, their toys, their retirement savings, their vacations, over having children are worshippers of Molech.

Jesus prioritizes children and gives them high value. Demons are the ones who tell us that kids aren’t important – or are less important than we are.

Just Kids? Not to Jesus

“And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (vs 16)

Every kid that came, in succession, was held, hugged, and blessed. Jesus was ministering to these kids.

“He took them into his arms.”

This wasn’t just a formal dedication ceremony. How many times have you heard the word “just” used to describe ministry to children and youth? It’s just Sunday School. It’s just the youth group. The adults have gathered for worship – what are we going to do with the kids? Who cares as long as their quiet and not interrupting the sermon, right? After all, they’re just kids. It’s not like they’re important, right?

They don’t tithe. They don’t sit on the leadership boards. They don’t contribute to the potluck. They interrupt. They ask dumb questions. They’re noisy and need to be removed. They’re annoying and need to be distracted. Just get them out of here so the important adults can have their time with Jesus.

But what did Jesus do? He angrily rebuked the adults with that attitude, told them to get out of the way, brought each child into His arms, prayed for them, blessed them, laid His hands on them, and loved them. One by one He ministered to them and showed them how high of a priority they are to him. They weren’t in the way. Not at all.

Within a few verses Jesus will be walking into Jerusalem. The Triumphal Entry is in the next chapter. Did Jesus have a lot on His mind? You bet! Did He have places to be? Absolutely! Did Jesus stop everything to show love to the kids, and teach us that children are a huge priority to Him? Definitely.

God Loves Kids

Why did He stop? Not only to teach us something. He stopped because Jesus is God and God loves kids.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3)

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6)

When Jesus saw these kids, He saw a reward, a gift, and a blessing from Heaven. Children and grandchildren are not a burden, they are a gift! Hearing a woman is pregnant is never, ever bad news. (Click to tweet this quote)

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

Do you see the delicacy and intimacy with which God is involved in the design of every single baby? God knows every single one of those kids from the atomic level up. He knows every thought, every dream, every fear, every joy, every tear.

It was an absolute joy for Jesus to wrap His arms around these children because He knew that God had specially created every single one of them to be exactly who they were. They were special creations, and Jesus took great joy in them.

Don’t Mess with Jesus’ Kids

And with that in mind, I want to turn somewhere else to look at Jesus’ attitude toward kids.

“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” (Mark 9:33-37)

Now skip to verse 42. Nowhere in the narrative does it say that Jesus has moved. This is the same conversation. Presumably, it could be a little baby, cradled in in his arms, or a little toddler sitting on his lap… and Jesus looks from the child to the crowd around Him and says,

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

In the account of this story in Matthew 18, in the next verse Jesus says,

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:7)

How serious does Jesus take the ministry to children? He says that it would be better that we would die than to cause a child to turn from God. There are massive, eternal consequences waiting for people who cause children to fall away from faith, who teach them falsehood, or who tempt them to sin. Woe to anyone who leads a child away from Jesus.

Only a few verses later in Matthew 18, the same child still cradled in Jesus arms, we read Him saying,

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” (Matthew 18:10a)

To “Despise” means “to look down on”, “think little of”, “disrespect”, or “take lightly”.

Can you see Jesus looking at this little baby or a toddler, stroking his little cheek, and looking directly at the people around Him and saying in a very serious tone, “Don’t take the ministry and care of these children lightly, because God doesn’t. Don’t disrespect these kids. Don’t look down on children, no matter how small.” And then He tells them why.

Keep reading in verse 10,

“For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

This isn’t just a verse about guardian angels, it’s a threat. These aren’t fat little cherubs that float around baby-cribs. These are the divine armies of God, terrible in power and terrifying to all who see them. God assigns these special guards to look over His little ones and no one gets away with anything when it comes to them. God gets a full report of everything everyone does or says to that baby, that toddler, that child.

And then He tells a story we’re all very familiar with.

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14)

Does that shed new light on this story? The picture Jesus paints is one of a shepherd who searches high and low for his lost sheep and then celebrates when he finds it. But God isn’t looking for lost sheep, is He? No… He’s saying, “This is how I guard these little ones. Even more than a good shepherd loves the littlest lamb, I love these children. I don’t want any of them to fall away from me. I have my eye on all of them. Each of them has an angel to protect them. I love them with a jealous, passionate love. So. Don’t. Mess. With. Them!”

Now, go back in your mind to our first story where the disciples are rebuking the parents and children for coming to Jesus. Can you see why He was so angry? Someone is messing with His kids.

Our God Given Responsibility to Children

And the bad news is that people are really messing children today. Deadbeat dads, abortive moms, abusive parents, divorcing spouses, neglectful churches. This is a terrible time to be a kid. Judgment is coming on those who mess with or don’t look after the children of this world, but in the meantime they have been given to us, God’s church, as a joy and a responsibility. And not just our own biological children! Taking care of fatherless children is a major theme in scripture. Let me close with a few scriptures to remind us of our responsibilities to kids.

Have Kids

In the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 1:28, God blessed Adam and Eve and then said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…” Having children was our first job, taking care of the world our second. I can’t see how that has changed. Those of us who have the ability also have the responsibility to have kids, by the command of God.

Canada has one of the worst birth rates in the world! We don’t even want kids! What a moral bankruptcy that has come upon us that having kids would be seen as such a terrible thing.

Teach Kids

And when we have those kids, we have a responsibility to teach them. To the Israelites God said in Deuteronomy 6:4-9,

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

God commands parents to make sure their children are absolutely saturated with the reason for their existence—to “love the LORD [their] God with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul and with all [their] might.” Everywhere they go, in their daily conversation with mom and dad, in their education and hobbies and decisions – written on the very walls of their homes – is the reminder that they exist by the will and for the pleasure of God. They don’t exist as an extension of us, parents. They’re not little you’s and me’s. They are created in God’s image.

Train Kids

Proverbs 22:6 says,

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

That’s tells us that we need to be consistent, for their whole young lives. We don’t have the right to get exasperated and give up on guiding and training the child. And it means we don’t leave it to others either. God gave those kids to us, and so it’s our job to train them up. If we leave it to the world to do it, then the world will certainly train them to be worldly. If we give them to the pagans to train, they will become pagans.

It also means that we believe that we need to be diligent. We’re can’t just turn them loose to figure themselves out. “I’ll let them decide for themselves what religion, or gender, or whatever they want to be” isn’t an option. If we want them to grow up to be good, strong,, studious, hard-working, faithful, men and women of Christian character, then we need to train them up in the way they should go! That means that we guide them along that way.

Love Kids

And finally,

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

This means that when we parent – and by extension when we grandparent or minister to children — we do it with abundant love, grace, sensitivity and care.

Without a doubt, we are to take their life and rearing seriously, and to guide them diligently. We have been given the right and privilege of being the “fountains of domestic authority” but that doesn’t give us license to let our passions run away with us so we make their lives miserable. We don’t over-indulge them and let them become sinful, spoiled pigs, but we don’t make their life miserable either. We pour out love and grace, living with a good temper and reasonable expectations.

Conclusion

I know we’ve covered a lot today, but if you take away anything, please remember how much Jesus loves children, and so we are to love them too. They are a priority to Him, so they are important to us. They are a blessing, a joy and a responsibility that we have been given. So let us embrace them, hold them in our arms, bless them, and thank God for them.