Reflections on VBS 2013: Are You Justified?
This week has been brimming with songs, laughter, love and much learning. I’ve not witnessed kids having so much fun while being presented the true Gospel in many years. The level of excitement on the adults and the children’s parts were both hilariously great. There were songs, dare I say, extremely loud songs, as the attendants would call and return the lyrics to tunes such as “The B. I. B. L. E.” Another great one was, “Hallelu” in which one group would sing at the top of their lungs, “hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, Hallelujah!” and the opposing side would volley with “praise ye the Lord!” It might be that the surrounding neighborhood heard it. That’s how you make a joyful noise.
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”
I would, that we all could sing with such enthusiasm. It’s apparent that children do all things from the outpouring of their heart; not just ‘the motions.’ Though, they may not grasp the whole sphere of privilege and honor and greatness it is being in the House of the Lord, they certainly DID grasp that it was a house of joy. Oh, that I will call this to my attention each time I step foot into Meadowthorpe Baptist Church!
I report laughter, as there was much of it! When Judge Hyatt was announced, the giggles would begin, followed by little, random shouts of, “you’re guilty,” imitating the Judge’s response to the lawbreakers in his courtroom. With the wig he wore, how could you not laugh? Then, in would come the hardened criminal, Jen Fuhr, with her orange prison jumpsuit and bandana tied loosely around her hair, all the while spouting off things to keep the court riled up. They loved it! They fed off her energy and it made the courtroom setting that much more fun. I can’t forget the Bible drills in which the kids were asked to quickly turn to a Bible verse and read it for a chance to win a new study Bible. They’d flip and flip trying to find the more obscure books like Zephaniah. Obscure only in the sense that they’re less preached from and/or harder to spell. The whole point being that the kids might realize the Bible was made up of many books and that there is an importance in knowing the Word. Still, it cracked them up.
There’s nothing quite the like laughter of a child.
“Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.”
You can’t help but enjoy and laugh at the innocently, silly things kids do. Not only that - but the blessing that impacting children’s lives has on your very soul, knowing that God is being honored and revealed as our great Judge but also Father,Savior and Supreme Joy. That causes a laughter of joy. I pray that the world might see these children and our lives and say, “The Lord has done many great things for them!”
How abundantly love was shared between the adults and children, alike. And this, the most beautiful aspect of teaching kids the Gospel, is where I’m reminded of more Scripture.
“And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
The point of Vacation Bible School is not to for us to save kids. We know we have NO SUCH power! Only the God of Heaven and Earth, the Holy One, can have the active part in salvation! Our privilege is that we may bring these children to Jesus, as was done in Luke’s account. The reason is love. Love was evident in the kid’s lives too. Numerous times would I step back for a moment and observe. I’d see kids asking for help or hugging, maybe holding onto someone’s hand for reassurance and security. They weren’t afraid to accept that in some things they were helpless. They had no reservations as to accepting the help. It was an eye-opening blessing.
Is this not our calling as well? To simply accept that without Christ we are helpless, depraved and needy? If we could reach out to God as often as the children would reach to us – oh, if we could seek Him for reassurance and security – how much we would see our lives transformed away from stress and worry into the child-like reception of hearing and knowing Him! That’s unfeigned love for God.
Finally, I mentioned there was MUCH learning. Without a doubt, and I believe I speak for all classes, my children learned. I doubly emphasize that they retained what they heard! Each night before and after the lesson, I’d ask a few questions, seeking word answers with truly Biblical overtones. For example, a response would be to fill in a blank with, “Jesus died as THE substitute” or “Christ died, was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures.” It was amazing to me, that at 8 years old, the correct things poured from them like a scriptural water hose dousing the fires of teaching doubt. Every time we did this, I grew more astoundingly impressed, not with myself but the Holy Spirit’s teaching and impressing upon the kids’ hearts as if they were a holy sponge. Yes, we did talk about the joys of Christ and Heaven, as well as being delivered from sin. Yes, we talked about Christ’s bloody, atoning work on Calvary. There were very serious moments when death was brought to their attention. We discussed the eternal destinies of parties who would trust Christ and those that wouldn’t. There were some very quiet moments – something you wouldn’t necessarily expect from their age group. However, God’s Word penetrates as the two-edged sword it is. I faced questions asked by them such as what if someone were to never have a chance to hear of Jesus. The children were interested in knowing about this God that declares they’re guilty! But they were excited to hear of the freedom and justification through the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ as propitiation for the sins of those who would trust Him!
As much as the kids learned, might I say that I learned nigh the same, if not more. How’s that possible? Am I not supposed to be a teacher of the Gospel? Yes, I am. The challenge and beauty of teaching children is not in watering down the Word that they might relate to it. It’s finding within your own conversion, the simplicity of the Gospel and of trusting upon Jesus, in faith, that you might relay it unto the kids in a manner that is of Paul when he said,
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
I Corinthians 2:1-5
As a teaching and learning experience, I really had to consider how I approached the Gospel – again, being very cautious not to dumb it or water it down – but simply present it according to Jesus’ life and finished work presented within the Scriptures. It’s something we must consider every day as we speak with others. It’s something that reminds me, “I have no part in saving; simply a messenger for the One who is in the saving business.” And praise God, He is STILL in the saving business!
Vacation Bible School was a success. We battled many trials getting to this point. We prayed over it. We labored. But God gave the increase. He brought us the children. He taught them. Without Him, VBS would have simply been an extracurricular midsummer’s night camp. However, because of the brilliant display of God’s presence and blessing, Meadowthorpe Baptist Church hosted it’s newly annual Bible School and we couldn’t have asked for a better five nights. God is so good! I close with our theme verse for Vacation Bible School 2013, Justified:
“…No man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”
Pray for us as we soon start planning and praying for VBS 2014. Pray for the children that God would save their wonderful but guilty souls. May we live and walk by faith in Christ Jesus until the end of this age. Thanks greatly to all who helped, encouraged and prayed for this even. All things are of Him, through Him and to Him, who the glory belongs to forever! Amen!