Growing Courage

In last week’s article I shared a small portion of our learning about the value of courage at our Ridder: Churches Learning Change retreat. Hey, by the way, wasn’t that a great video I suggested for you to watch!! My favorite line is when he says, “I know this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It’s my aliveness coming to get me.” When it comes to living on mission with Jesus, it takes a great deal of courage to let go of what is familiar in order to grab on to what is unknown.

Again, the definition for courage we were given is, courage is getting or staying in action, as wholehearted children of God, regardless of fear, anxiety, shame, or real or imagined consequences. Well, at the end of the article I pretended not to know how to grow courage and so I asked you to send me your thoughts in regards to this question: So how do we grow courage? Apparently you also thought I was pretending since I didn’t hear from any of you. J

Ok, so here are my thoughts on how to grow courage. First of all, we often grow in courage when we are forced to act in a particular situation because the consequences of doing nothing will be too costly for the other person. For example, if you have a co-worker or neighbor who you discern is darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God due to the hardening of their hearts, you’re not just going to let them go to hell; of course you’re going to muster up the courage to help them discover the good news of Jesus.

And when I think of other ways to grow courage, again I think of David. When it came to fighting Goliath, David found courage in reflecting on past experiences when God empowered him to overcome a situation that appeared to be impossible. When explaining why he had no fear of fighting Goliath, David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Courage is the choice to obey God based on past experiences of God’s faithfulness.

On another occasion David and his troops were out fighting against the Philistines and while they were away, the Amalekites came and destroyed their hometown and kidnapped their wives and children. Of course, David’s soldiers were heartbroken. In fact they were so angry with David that they wanted to kill him, and so in order to overcome his discouragement, it says in I Samuel 30:6 that “David strengthened himself in the Lord.”

You grow courage by learning how to strengthen yourself in the Lord. And you strengthen yourself in the Lord by rehearsing and claiming all of the promises of God. If you read through the Psalms you will find hundreds of promises that David wrote; promises like Psalm 91:14, “The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.”

And then my favorite way to grow courage is by studying the life of Jesus and hanging out with him. I figure if it worked for Peter and John, it will also work for me. Luke records these insights on how to grow courage in Acts 4:13, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

So, your aliveness of living on mission with Jesus is coming to get you, may you have the courage to grab on to it!! Hanging on to the old bar is no longer an alternative.

By God’s grace…learning how to fly, Mike Altena

 


Strong and Courageous

Included in my 100 favorite stories in the Bible is the story of David’s encounter with Goliath. The story is told in I Samuel 17. The armies of the Israelite’s and the Philistine’s gathered in the Valley of Elah to wage war. Battles of this magnitude often resulted in heavy death losses on both sides, and so on occasion in order to reduce blood shed, each army would send one man to determine the outcome of the battle.

As the story unfolds, “A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall.” He wore a coat of bronze scale armor which weighed 125 pounds. The end of his spear weighed 15 pounds. His size alone would have been enough to discourage anyone. Each day for 40 days Goliath would walk out onto the battle field and challenged someone to come and fight him saying,  “Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

No one had the courage to fight the intimidating Goliath until one day when Jesse sent his son David to the battle field with some snacks for the Israelite army. Upon arrival David discovered the tension between the two armies and after discovering the payout for the person who killed Goliath, David said to King Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

As I ponder David’s courage, I am amazed at how he managed his feelings of fear.  Although numerous times in the Bible we are told not to be afraid, it doesn’t mean that we should never experience fear. Fear is simply an emotion that is naturally produced by a situation that is perceived to be threatening. The command to not be afraid has more to do with how we respond to our emotions of fear. The opposite of being afraid is not the absence of fear, but rather the absence of courage.

Another value the Ridder Team learned about a couple weeks ago was the value of courage. It is impossible for us to live our life as if Jesus were living our life apart from displaying courage. There is no doubt; to follow Christ in mission will require courage.

The definition we were given for courage was: “Getting or staying in action, as wholehearted children of God, regardless of fear, anxiety, shame, or real or imagined consequences.” A shorter definition from John Wayne is “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

In his devotion on this value of courage, Pastor Scott Stephan writes, “Most Christians have advanced in our spiritual maturity only as far as our courage has taken us. In other words, what is often standing in the way of experiencing God’s emerging future is not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of courage. If that is true, then it’s quite possible that what you and I don’t need is another sermon, but rather “saddling up” and doing what we already know God is calling us to do.”

We all have habitual areas of disobedience that exist solely because we lack the courage to do what we know is right. One of the primary reasons that leaders fail, that relationships break down, that teams become dysfunctional, and that churches become ineffective against the schemes of the devil is simply a failure of nerve—a failure of courage.

So how do we grow in courage?  Well, I’m not sure? So send me your ideas and then I’ll finish my thoughts on the value of courage next week. 🙂 In the meant time check this out!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWvV5N4hOGc

Growing in being strong and courageous,

Mike Altena

 


Aren’t You Curious?

Last weekend the Ridder: Churches Learning Change Team gathered in Sioux Falls with several other teams from churches in northwest Iowa to continue our discussion on how we can grow in becoming more fruitful and effective in personal and corporate missional living. Back in 2016 Vicki Altena, George A. Bonnema, Angie Fick, Erin Jacobsma, Becky Ossefoort, David Sandbulte, and Randy Sasker gave their word to learning with and for our congregation about how we could move towards God’s emerging future for ourselves and for ARC.

Meeting the first and third Tuesday evening of each month, our team spent most of 2016 learning how authenticity and integrity are significant values for living on mission and how the anxiety of change affects a family system. We also reflected on our mental model of discipleship and our mental model of missional living; both of which have a significant impact on the fruitfulness of making disciples.

Next, we spent the first part of 2017 identifying our current reality and the second half considering how we could generate and sustain some creative tension that would help us have a greater impact on blessing our community and also in connecting with those who are far from God. In October 2017 our team and a few other individuals from our congregation attended a Faithwalking Retreat which is a spiritual formation process designed to help a person increasingly follow the way of Jesus.

Then, in the beginning of 2018 we worked through Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Pursuing God’s Will Together, in order to help us grow in discerning where God is inviting us to join him on mission both personally and as a congregation. It has been an exciting process to watch where God has been inviting each person on our team to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel. Most notably we have been really excited to see how God has invited George and his board to address the needs of the senior citizens in our community. Since September we have also been working through Faithwalking 201 which is designed to help remove the obstacles to living an integrated, missional life.

Well, one of the new values we were introduced to last weekend was the value of curiosity. An individual or congregation that seeks to be faithful and fruitful in following Jesus on mission must remain curious. The Churches Learning Change definition we were given is that curiosity = “openly engaging God, others, and self with inquiry and wonder for the purpose of discovering God’s design to live missionally.”

Question: Are you still curious about discovering God’s design for you to join him on mission? Well having had the opportunity to help present the information on this value, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my level of curiosity. Actually I believe curiosity is more than a value we should develop. I believe curiosity is something that God has hardwired into us. We are curious beings from the time we are born. Have you ever heard of a parent who had to teach their child to put something in their mouth, to touch something they shouldn’t, or to ask the question why?

And yet in his book, Leadership on the Line, Ronald Heifetz suggested that, over a period of time while living into God’s call on our life, it is possible that our curiosity will begin to fade. He would argue that the continued resistance to change or the resignation to status quo dulls our capacity for curiosity. So then, in order stay curious, Heifetz would suggest, “The practice of leadership requires the capacity to keep asking the basic questions of yourself and of the people in your organization and community.”

So how about it, what would be some “basic questions” that would stir your curiosity to help you become more clear about the good works God prepared in advance for you to do?

Just curious, Mike Altena

 


Preparing…

Preparations are a part of life. Parents prepare meals for their children, teachers prepare lesson plans, pastors prepare sermons, high school seniors are preparing for graduation, and soon (I hope) farmers will prepare the soil for planting. On a daily basis, most people are putting something in order for a future time. My family is in the midst of an intensified season of preparation. We are in the process of moving.

I have changed addresses many times throughout my adult life; this is number ten to be exact. However, I don’t particularly enjoy moving. It’s not that I’m overly sentimental or attached to a particular house. And even having the best neighbors in the world (aka The Woodleys☺) hasn’t derailed our current undertaking to transplant to a different neighborhood. The disdain I have for relocating is due to the preparations involved. Not only is there the sorting and packing and dismantling of things at our current residence, there are arrangements that need to be made for the transfer of utilities and mail and other paperwork. We have also been doing some renovations at our future home in preparation for the big move – cleaning, painting, removing carpet, updating some plumbing and heating, and trying to keep the snow moved.

Preparations require a lot of work. Necessary work. Sure there are times when we can wing it, or go with the flow, but lack of preparation often leads to stress and frustration and maybe even some tears. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

God’s Word also talks about preparations. 2 Chronicles 12 records a time in the history of God’s people when the king did evil because he had not prepared his heart to seek the Lord. This is true for all of us. When we do not prepare our hearts to follow Jesus, when we do not determine to be obedient to His commands, and when we are inattentive to the evil around us, we slip into destructive patterns and habitual sins and dishonor God. We do evil because we fail to prepare.

Lent is a season of preparation. We are preparing our hearts to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior. Some choose to prepare by fasting, eating different foods, or giving up something and denying themselves a particular pleasure. Others prepare by spending time in God’s Word, increasing their prayer time, or being more intentional of their spiritual formation, while others will arrive at Easter morning with no thought or preparation at all.

Jesus is also making preparations. In John chapter 14, Jesus tells his disciples to not focus on the troubles in this world because he is going to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. And when those preparations are complete he will return.

None of us know when that day will come. We do not know the number of days allotted to us on this earth. We do not know when “Moving Day” will be. But we can be certain that the time will come when the opportunity to make preparations is gone. Whether we leave this world as an individual or Christ returns for the final judgement, the time to prepare will be over. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus has prepared a way for us to be reconciled to God and spend eternity with him. All we have to do is believe in him and prepare our hearts by seeking him.

What are you doing to prepare your heart?

Erin Jacobsma

 


Volunteer Opportunity

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY  Resource 1, a focus team from #Luv1LuvAll, is partnering with ATLAS and the Rock County Ministerial Association to help those in need in our county. The group’s mission is to remove barriers to allow easy, personal access to all resources in Luverne resulting in a healthier, more inclusive community. To do this they are creating a centralized location that will have all resources and a brief description readily available for individuals to access. As part of this they are asking every church for volunteer mentors to walk alongside families on their journey. ATLAS will provide all training and the time commitment is very flexible, being as much or as little as you are able to provide. Please consider volunteering to be a mentor. Talk to Jon Schomacker to sign up or learn more.

 


Healing Touch

Sometimes the timing of things makes me stop and just smile. This week on my way into town I spotted a bald eagle swooping around near the ground. Just as I passed by, the eagle pinned down a pheasant, grabbed the hen’s body with its talons and took flight. Pretty incredible timing! The same was true last week as I read Mike’s article in the Archive. As I read about Dr. Pimple Popper’s “mashed potato” moment I both gagged and remembered what I had read in my morning devotions a few days prior. Leviticus 13 and 14 is full of God’s very detailed instructions to Israel of what is clean and unclean in regards to their skin afflictions and diseases. It’s not for the faint of heart and the reason I skipped breakfast that morning!

The Bible reading plan I follow takes me through a variety of selections from both the Old and New Testament each morning. My recent Leviticus readings have included several topics and instructions God gave the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. It has been interesting watching these same instructions tie into the culture of the New Testament as I read through them each day.

I was particularly struck when I read about the woman who needed healing in Mark 5. Jesus had been called by a distressed Father whose daughter was very sick and near death. The man begged Jesus to come quick and heal his daughter so she would live. (vs. 23) Being swarmed by a large crowd, Jesus agrees to follow the man. As he turns to go, Jesus feels someone touch his coat. When he asks the question, “Who touched my clothes?” (vs. 30) the followers thought he was crazy saying, “Who touched you? Look at all these people around you. Yet you wonder who has touched you? Seriously?” (my paraphrase from vs. 31). I don’t know about you, but I like my own space – my own personal bubble if you will. Jesus didn’t seem to mind, or perhaps even notice, the crowd pushing against him. The only contact he felt was the power of faith touching his coat.

The fifteenth chapter of Leviticus would reveal to us this woman was unclean due to her condition. This nameless lady had been bleeding for twelve years and would have likely been separated from everyone for that time. Twelve years is a long time to be alone, likely without any kind of financial support. Yet she had a hunch if she could just reach out and touch Jesus’ coat hem she would be healed.

The amazing part of this story for me that morning was not the healing. It was the idea that the woman didn’t let the “clean” crowd block her view of the Savior. There were years in my life where I didn’t feel clean and therefore didn’t think I could get near Jesus. What faith she had!

I also think we as Christians can innocently get caught up in our cleanliness of doing good and church busyness that it causes us to miss those who are desperately seeking Jesus; ultimately blocking their view of the Savior. May that not be so of us, friends. We were all dirty and unclean from our sin at one point in our life. Yet we reached out in faith, knowing we had no other choice than to trust, and grab hold of the hem of our Savior’s robe. Instead may we be more like Jesus who was always on a mission but always aware of the needs around him. May we ourselves reach out to those we encounter and help them step forward in faith to find the healing touch of their Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Pop the Pimple

As you know, our journey of life is full of many twists and turns and unexpected surprises. Such was the case for Vicki and me this past Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is very special to us not only because it’s a day to celebrate love between friends, but it was also 38 years ago that I drove Vicki out into a rolling meadow by Oak Grove State Park where we sat under a big oak tree and enjoyed a wonderful picnic. And afterwards I asked Vicki to marry me while the song I’ve Been Waiting For A Girl Like You by Foreigner was playing softly in the back ground on my boom box.

Well, rather than going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day this year, Vicki and I decided we would stay home and enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner complete with steak and shrimp, baked potatoes, corn and leftover cheese cake from the coffee shop and a glass of yellow wine (Mountain Dew).  Again we enjoyed a special time together, although I forgot to put the candle on the table.

Feelings of passion were intensifying so Vicki and I decided then that we would cap the night by watching The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story. It’s the story of how an American athlete and a Russian gymnast fall in love right before the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Well wouldn’t you know it, when we turned the television on to begin searching through Netflix for the movie, I discovered that a new episode of Dr. Pimple Popper had just started. So Vicki and I quickly snuggled under our blankets in time to discover that Taylore had an ear keloid on each ear that needed to be clipped off. Ken had several epidermoid and pilar cysts that needed popping and Jose had a two year old lymphoma cyst that was the size of a tennis ball on his forehead that he wanted extracted.

Dr. Pimple Popper maybe wasn’t the love story that we had planned on watching, but it was so exciting to watch each individual find freedom from their pockets of puss. In fact, at times, the show was so full of suspense Vicki couldn’t even watch—it was the perfect night of celebrating love!!

If you’ve ever watched the Dr. Pimple Popper show, then like me, you wonder how all those little juicy cysts and zits begin to grow. And even more amazing to me is why do some of the people let them continue to grow bigger and bigger; one lady had a 45 year old black head removed that looked like a black marble.

Well, because I’m always thinking of something to write about for these articles, I began wondering if there was a spiritual connection between having a pimple removed and our Christian life. After all, after having his lipoma removed from his forehead, Jose said, “Dr Lee has changed my whole life.”  And sure enough, as I was reflecting on the mashed potato like substance that was oozing from the pimples of each individual the Spirit helped me see that those cysts and zits and black heads are like unforgiven offenses or unconfessed sin—the longer you ignore them, the bigger they grow and the nastier they smell when you    pop them.

When it comes to popping the pimple of an offense, Paul writes in Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if you have any grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  And when it comes to extracting the cyst of an unconfessed sin, John urges us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

With that in mind, I’d like to close by confessing a sin to you; I have an “epidermoid” growing in me. See I lied to you. I did not take Vicki to a meadow for a picnic and I did not ask to marry her under that tree with the song playing in the background. The truth is, I can’t remember where I took her out for dinner 38 years ago and I actually asked her to marry me while we were sitting in my car on her driveway right before I dropped her off for the night. I’m sorry. There I feel so much better ! Jesus has changed my whole life!!

With love,

Mike Altena

 


Set the Stage

As many of you may have noticed, work has begun on the renovation of the front of the old sanctuary. The stage area will be replaced with rooms for storage.  (For those of you who were at the Congregational meeting, you may remember that the project wasn’t going to begin until all the necessary funds were received. Well Merlin, Adam and Derek from Cleveringa Construction approached the Consistory about getting started earlier so they would have inside work during the next few months. Their proposal also included waiting to send the bill until funds were available, so the Consistory approved their request).

So, the Cleveringa crew quickly moved in on Tuesday, hung some plastic, built some temporary walls and began dismantling the old stage and choir loft. The space that so often was filled with the beautiful songs of the choir and the preaching of the good news of the gospel was replaced with the sounds of hammers pounding, the screeches of crow bars prying apart lumber, cordless saws cutting through perfectly good lumber and the sad, sad sound of country western music. J Even though the stage had been built sturdy enough to drive a semi on it, by quitting time, was almost completely dismantled. The area had been cleared and was almost ready for a “new stage” for enhancing our ministry.

Now, I’ll be honest, I’m not a very sentimental person—I don’t get too attached to anything that has fulfilled its purpose—and yet as I watched and reflected on the demolition, I felt both a sense of sadness and joy. I began thinking about all of the choir songs and special numbers that were performed on that stage. I thought about all the weddings, the baptisms, the professions of faith, the funerals that were performed by several different pastors. I even thought about the opportunity I had on May 30, 2004 to provide pulpit supply; my first since graduating seminary. I remembered Cory and the youth praise teams leading worship during YEL.

I felt sadness that the stage was gone, and yet I felt great joy when thinking about all the ways God had used that platform to reveal his love and grace to so many of you over the years. And even felt more joy when David Sandbulte brought me a vintage 16 ounce glass Mountain Dew bottle he found under the stage; complete with a soggy cigarette butt in the bottom of it. I began to wonder, did Merlin Cleveringa help build the stage when he was a teenager? Or was it from David’s dad, Henry? Did either of you ever smoke Camel straights? J

As I continued to reflect on my experience, the Spirit brought to mind the story from Luke 5 of when Jesus asked Peter if he could climb in his boat and use it as a stage to preach from. Peter humbly and eagerly welcomed him to use his stage. After he finished preaching, Jesus asked Peter if he would be willing to bring his stage out into the deeper waters to let down his nets and it was there that Jesus invited Peter to become a fisher of men. In a sense Jesus was inviting Peter to leave what was familiar and what likely had resulted in some great memories in order to risk a new adventure with a greater audience.

I thank God for the new stage that we have in the new worship center; I believe God has already revealed his love and his grace in so many ways to so many people from that stage. And yet like Peter, because Jesus said so, I hope each one of us is willing to take a greater risk by taking our stage into deeper waters in order to become fishers of men. “…so they pulled their boats [stages], left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11).

Don’t be afraid…,

Mike Altena

 


Respond With Worship

On Wednesday evenings, I have the privilege to spend 90 minutes with 5th and 6th grade girls in Pioneer Club. Part of our time together is used to explore the Word of God and for another segment of time we are involved in a project or activity. We do things like sewing, candle making, woodworking, playing games, and learning about etiquette. This month our focus is on First Aid. Two wonderful nurses have joined our class and shared the importance of knowing what to do in a medical emergency and how to respond in different situations. The girls have learned that while our natural tendencies are to freak out or be afraid, the response that is needed is to remain calm.

Remaining calm is a great life skill. It’s not only necessary in medical emergencies, but is extremely helpful in other situations as well. It is important to remain calm when we don’t get our way, when everything is falling apart, when relationships are tense, and when we are under pressure. Staying calm is a great response in almost any setting.

There’s another wonderful way to respond to situations in life that’s recorded for us throughout scripture. Let’s start in Genesis. We read in chapter 24 about Abraham sending his assistant on a mission to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant asks God to give him success in this task and when it becomes clear to him that the Lord has provided, his response is to bow down and worship Him.

In Exodus 12 in the midst of a series of plagues God brought upon the Egyptians, Moses meets with the Israelites and explains to them what’s going to happen with the 10th plague. He gives them direction regarding the Passover lamb, strange bread that they are supposed to prepare, and how to paint their doorposts with blood. They didn’t complain about all the rules and requirements, they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord in response.

In the second book of Samuel, we read a scandalous story of King David taking another man’s wife for himself, the woman becoming pregnant, David arranging for the woman’s husband to be killed, and a prophecy that the child to be born would die. David repents of his sins and pleads for the child’s life through prayer and fasting, but the child dies anyway. At the news of the infant’s death, David responds by getting up, taking a shower, changing his clothes, and going to the house of the Lord to worship.

In 2 Chronicles 20 we read of a great army coming against God’s people and King Jehoshaphat. They didn’t know what to do, but they fell down before the Lord and worshiped Him.

There are many times in our lives when we don’t know what to do and worship is probably the last thing on our minds. We don’t know what to do when our career is stripped away. We don’t know what to do when a medical diagnosis is not what we hoped for. We don’t know what to do when a prayer seems to go unanswered, when nothing ever goes as planned, when disaster strikes, when a loved one takes their own life. Remaining calm is a good start. But worship is always the best response.

No matter if you find yourself in the midst of joy or turmoil. God is still God and worthy of our praise. Next time you are tempted to shake your fists at Him or turn your back and walk away, try worshiping Him instead. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! For the Lord is good and his steadfast love endures forever!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Like a Child

We made it! The Polar Vortex of 2019 has passed and the sun is out – at least until next week’s forecasted snowfall. You know what they say, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a day.”  I was one of the lucky ones who were able to stay indoors and work from my dining room table during the bitter cold. My husband and oldest son were out in the elements keeping the livestock happy. Other than coming in and commenting the obvious, “It’s really cold out there!” they didn’t say too much about it. On Thursday morning I had to remind Evan to zip up his coat before heading out. He seemed completely oblivious to the cold temperature on the other side of the threshold. Even with my coat fully zipped and mittens on, I had to give myself a pep talk just to open the door!

A friend of mine stopped by my office this week and commented that she saw some younger kids running down the sidewalk without any gloves on and coats hanging wide open. “How do they do that” she asked. I assured her I wasn’t sure either, but kids seem pretty resilient to extreme temps. I’m sure we’ve all commented on the fact that kids don’t seem as easily chilled as we adults. Kids can play outside in the snow for hours in soaking wet snow pants and gloves and not think twice about it. All I have to say about it is, “Brrrrrr!”

The innocence of a child is pretty special. I am fortunate to experience this innocence both at home and here at church on a weekly basis. Watching children learn about the world around them is great, but there is nothing more exciting than watching them learn about their Savior. As they sit and listen to what the  teacher is saying you can almost see the gears in their mind turning. It is such a wonderful feeling within the soul to observe them drinking in the information and believing it without question. Something us adults could all take a lesson from; just simply listen, trust, and believe. No questions, no reasoning, and no arguing otherwise.

The gospels speak about this childlike faith and instruct us adults to take note. The disciples had been arguing about unimportant issues and lost sight of what really mattered. “3[Jesus said to them], ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” (Matt. 18:3-5)

When Jesus spoke of becoming like a child, he wasn’t speaking of their maturity, but rather their humble and sincere hearts. The disciples had become so preoccupied with the things and statuses of this world that they had lost sight of the Kingdom of God. May the same not be so of us; rather may we humbly look at a child’s faith in awe and in wonder as we seek to serve our Great Master with full dependency on him. Let’s throw off the gloves and unzip our winter jacket and experience all that God has for us.

Becky Ossefoort