Children in Our Midst

If you have your Bibles with you today you can go ahead and turn to Mark Chapter 10. If you don’t have a Bible with you, it will be on the screen.

So some of you might be wondering how this came to be. That I’m up here getting ready to share the message with you even though it’s outside of my normal gifting and calling. Well, right as the church was planted by God, He began to place a lot of things on my heart. As I prayed and studied scripture God began to birth in me a vision. I soon discovered I wasn’t the only one God was working in and birthing His vision in. Which is a great confirmation by the way, when trying to hear from God on something like this. Pray that it will be confirmed in others as well. I began to get this scary feeling, Justin knows it well, this feeling that God wanted me to bring the message to you all on a Sunday morning. However, I kept quiet until one day I was sharing the things that God put on my heart with my dad and he made the comment that I should share this on a Sunday morning. So I took it to the elders and they all agreed and here I am.

Also, I came across the book Too Small To Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford which happened to represent the same vision that God had put in my heart as well. This is how we know we all have the same Holy Spirit. Much of this is adapted from the way he lays things out and structures them in his book, and I will quote him a lot. But they are things that God was working in me and the others that God has placed this passion on, before we discovered this book.

Another thing before we get started. I’m not a public speaker. That’s not my forte, so I wrote pretty much everything down and if it’s all the same to you I’m going to mostly just read what I wrote. After all, most of the things Paul said were written and read to the churches, so I’m following in his grand tradition.

Ok so let’s get started.

We’ve been talking about foundational things here for a while. Today I want to ask a question. What role do children play in a Kingdom cultured, biblically based, thriving church.

Side Note: You might be wondering, Wait, why are you teaching on children? You’re not a parent. I acknowledge my inadequacies. I admit I have much to learn and somethings can’t be learn without being a parent. But I believe that the Holy Spirit has called me to do this and He has given me these words. In addition to that, Ive also invited as much wisdom as I can into this and different perspectives. Isn’t it also just like God to choose someone that doesn’t make sense to be doing this?  Having said this I have spent a lot of time with children in my 12 years in children ministry, not to mention 18 years of field research being a child myself.

Also another little side note before we get to far but whenever I use the term “our children” in this message, I’m not referring to your biological children. I’m referring to the children God has entrusted to White Stone Fellowship as a community.

What role do children play in a Kingdom cultured, biblically based, thriving church. Let’s do the best thing we can to answer this question and find out what Jesus said. I’m going to ask so-and-so to come up and read Mark 10:13-16

    And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

Everyone knows this story. We’ve all heard it at some point or another whether in church or Sunday school or seen it in a painting or something. But do we really fully grasp what just took place here? Of all the days of Jesus’ ministry. Of all those things that John said couldn’t be contained if all the books in the world were filled: all three synoptic gospels chose to include this story. Apparently, it was a big deal.

Let’s back up a little here. The context for this scene is actually a debate with the Pharisees concerning divorce. No wonder the disciples were trying to crowd control the situation. After all, The pharisees were the most important people in all Jerusalem! Or were they? Surely Jesus knew the importance of this conversation? Surely this is not a time for children to come barging in.

To quote Matt Chandler, “Y’all don’t care about Greek but here we go!” The Greek word used here for indignant is something I can’t pronounce, but the definition from Stong’s concordance says it’s a combination of two greek words meaning much and grief or to be to be greatly afflicted.

Webster’s dictionary defines our English word indignation as anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean. Jesus was angry. And because He lived a perfect, sinless life, we know that this is the proper response to the situation.

Did you know that the writers of all the gospels only ever specifically reference Jesus anger three times in all of scripture? Undoubtably, Jesus got angry a fair amount of times. He would have to, looking around at all the destruction sin has caused on his precious world and children. But only three times in do the gospel writers make it a point to make sure we understand that Jesus was angry.

Of course there is the time that Jesus cleansed the Temple when it was overrun by corruption and commercialism.

There is the time the man with the withered hand needed healing and the religious leads were poised to take advantage of this man’s disability to accuse Jesus.

Then there is this incident with the children.

So: What set him off? I believe that in order to fully understand this situation, we have to backtrack a little. I want you to turn back to Matthew chapter 18. These events are recorded in Mark chapters 9 and 10, Matthew 18 and 19 and also in Luke 17 and 18. I read the children coming to Jesus story in Mark because he is the one who points out Jesus’ righteous indignation. But Matthew provides even more details about the events leading up to this showdown. Let’s read Mathew Chapter 18:1-10

    18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it [d]would be better for him to have a [e]heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

    10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

    So let’s take this passage in little chunks and find out what God has for our church to learn and apply today.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

First of all, can you just stop and think a minute about how much this probably broke Jesus’ heart? We’re eighteen chapters into the gospel of Matthew. We’ve been through the sermon on the mount, the beatitudes, the parables and they still didn’t get it. Blessed are the poor in spirit? Ringin’ any bells guys?

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,

The child’s sweet face must have provided Jesus with a momentary oasis of refreshment in the parched desert of grasping egos around him.

The thought of just this child’s face providing Jesus with refreshment is absolutely astounding. Can we not drive by this too quickly? Kids, just your face, your beautiful, unique and humble faces are a relief to Jesus. He loves and delights in you just being yourself. Your childness is precious to Jesus and refreshing to him.

Jesus wants us to notice children. We have the saying children should be seen    not heard. But tragically in today’s society, they go fairly unseen as well.

We could blow right by this verse without a second glance but this is essential. Some translations have it, “He placed a child in their midst.” I wonder if the disciples even had noticed that the child was there. Jesus suddenly pulls this little boy out of thin air. From the scenery. From the outer fringes. He took what seemed small and insignificant to man and placed it at the very center of His message. Wess Stafford says about this event. This is a rather long quote from Wess Stafford but I think it really brings into focus why children need to be seen.

“No matter what the setting, children seem to be a second-rate mandate. No matter what the ill of society, it tends to spiral downward and eventually land with its cruelest and most smothering impact on our littlest citizens. Small, weak, helpless, innocent, vulnerable, and trusting, they are the waiting victims for our simple neglect and most evil abuse. No matter what goes wrong, the little ones pay the greatest price.

When hunger and famine strike a nation, adults become weak and hungry, but it is the children who most often starve to death. When disease arrives with all its fury, adults can become very sick, but the first to die are usually the children. When war erupts over ethnicity or boundary lines in the dust, it is the littlest victims who pay the most tragic price. The wars of the last decade killed more children than soldiers…

We sacrifice children on the altars of our most destructive sins. (adults, I don’t need to go further and explain how some of our other most depraved sins have affected children from the streets of Thailand all the way to our capital of Atlanta, do I?)

Perhaps a little closer to home is the reality that children are the sacrificial lambs when our homes break up through neglect, anger, hostility, and eventually divorce. Kids frequently blame themselves for the destruction, carrying deep scars on their innocent spirits for a lifetime. Our most vulnerable citizens have become the world’s most disposable commodity.

Because children have no political clout or even voice in global affairs, they can become marginalized. Since they don’t vote, they have little effect on the political powers that should act on their behalf. Every segment of society seems to have figured out how to protest, march, and agitate for its individual and collective rights. But have you ever seen children holding a protest? Ever seen their placards going down your city streets? I thought not.

They have much to legitimately protest, but they are voiceless and powerless. Our selfishness and greed cause them to pay the greatest price, but they suffer silently.

I have never come across a Children’s Hall of Fame to honor the champions and heroes of the young. It should come as no great surprise that very little gets handed down on their behalf by the powers that be.

Sadly, the church cannot claim exemption from the neglect and abuse of children. The church may have avoided overt sins of commission (tragically, not always), but we are equally guilty of the covert sins of omission.

…research indicates that almost two-thirds of the people who give their lives to Christ do so before the age of eighteen. In other words, line up any twenty Christians, and thirteen of them will have accepted Christ as their Savior while a child or youth. In fact, researchers tell us that if people have not accepted Christ by age twenty-one, the probability that they ever will is only 23 percent. Yet we spend a pittance on the more open and strategic part of the harvest. (Yet most churches seem to treat the children program as something who’s main function is just to get the kids out of the room so the adults can concentrate. We see the role of youth pastor as something to graduate from into something like senior pastor. Most churches spend less than 5% of their budget on children ministries and outreach involving children.)

Every major movement in world history has recognized the strategic importance of mobilizing children. The Nazis had their Hitler Youth bands. The Chinese Communists had their Red Guards. The Taliban in Afghanistan had their… schools to instill extremism in the young. The great omission seems to be unique to Christians.”

-Wess Stafford

Ouch. That stings. God wants us to see children.

When Samuel came to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel they didn’t even invite David solely for the fact that he was a child. They equated childhood with insignificance. But God pointed out to Samuel that he looks not at man’s stature, but at the heart. And the Kingdom Heart of a child is exactly what God needed then, and what he still requires today.

but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong  1 Corinthians 1:27

    Jesus asks us to notice children. What children has God already set before you that he wants you to start noticing?

    3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Not only does god ask us to notice children, He asks us to become children at heart.

One of the biggest and one of my favorite characteristics of Jesus is His disruptiveness.  Jesus had a way of walking into a situation and completely turning the tables in shocking and even offensive ways. Jesus didn’t even answer the disciple’s question! Instead he took it a step deeper and reframed their perspective entirely. Forget about being the greatest in the Kingdom, you need a complete overhaul before you can even enter! And Jesus meant overall. The word translated “converted” here is the same greek word used by Peter in Acts 3:19 when he called the crowd responsible for crucifying Jesus to “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” This is not just a minor change in perspective or viewpoint. It’s a change that is so radical that only the Holy Spirit in us can turn us around.

Kid’s have something special in them that reflect the kingdom. I call that something the Kingdom Heart. They haven’t been in this world long enough to get that Kingdom Heart messed up too bad. Of course they’re not sinless. That’s not what I mean. Our hearts were designed for the Kingdom. But slowly over time as the hurt and disappointments of this life set in, our adult hearts have adjusted to life on this fallen earth a little too much. We need our Kingdom Hearts back. So what are some Characteristics of that Kingdom Heart that children bear? Well Jesus answers one of them, in the very next verse.

Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    So the first thing is Humility. It’s not often you will find a child who is prideful and arrogant in the way that adults have a tendency to be. Instead, they are for the most part, teachable and humble. This is in stark contrast to the disciples who were trying to fire up a competition to see who could climb to the top fastest. The kind of humility Jesus is teaching on here is all about being vulnerable to God. It’s not about self-hating, or devaluing of yourself as we Christians are so good at. That’s called false humility and it’s heresy when viewed in light of your position in Christ as a new creation. It’s about not demanding any place of power or anything that you feel you deserve.

Parents, have you ever called your young child for dinner only to find him putting on his jacket to go work for their own meal? “No thanks mom, I prefer to earn my own food.” No. Have you ever given your little toddler a hug and whispered tenderly, “I love you” only for them to push you away and respond with, “Thanks but I don’t deserve such love. I’ll work really hard to earn it and then I’ll let you hug me.” No. They humbly look to the adults around them for their needs, love, and affirmation and receive those gifts for what they are: gifts. Already I’m sure you’re beginning to see how this is absolutely inseparable from gospel salvation. Not by works but by faith. No wonder this is a requirement for entering His Kingdom.

The disciples made the mistake of thinking they could outdo each other into a place of Honor in the Kingdom. All they had to do to receive the honor that Christ already planned for them, was to come to him humbly like children.

But Humility is not the only characteristic found in children, His Kingdom Hearts, that Jesus held precious enough to make it a prerequisite to entering His Kingdom. Let’s look at some instances in Scripture where God choose to work through a child. By doing so, perhaps we can find some of these characteristics. At the same time I want y’all to notice something else big. God uses children for big things.

Remember when Moses was a baby the Pharaoh ordered that all the Hebrew male infants be slaughtered? His mother put him in a basket and sent him down the river with his sister keeping a close watch.

5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?” 8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go ahead.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother.

(Exodus 2:5-9)

God used her to save her brother’s life who would go on to be God’s chosen vessel to lead Israel out of captivity. He also chose to reveal the Law to Moses that set the stage for the savior, Jesus to come. All this started when this little girl rescued her brother.

Unprejudiced: Adults are much more prone to prejudices or racism. It would be so easy for an Adult Hebrew to look at this situation and say “Oh no, that’s an Egyptian. We know what they’re like. They’re cruel and ruthless.” and rush in to save the baby or perhaps turn away and give up hope entirely. An adult might have missed the subtle glint of pity that sparkled in Pharaoh’s daughter’s eyes. Children don’t see through the filter of race, religion, age, or any other things that drive us adults apart.

She was also Brave to suddenly appear before Pharoah’s daughter unannounced, in the middle of her bath no less, just a lowly Hebrew and a girl for that matter. But love for her brother pushed her beyond any fear. Child psychologists say that Love in a child is one of the most powerful motivators in the world. Children will endure the worst suffering and abuse imaginable if they believe that they are somehow protecting the ones they love. Sadly many who seek to harm children have discovered this. But the opposite is also true. Children are capable of incredible acts of heroism when motivated by that same love. Jesus is looking for love from us as fierce and as motivating as the love of a child.

Let’s look at another story from scripture.

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”

(2 Kings 5:1-3)

If know the rest of the story, Naaman follows the little slave girl’s advice and is totally healed.

The little servant girl had Compassion on her master when she saw his affliction. We’ve talked about before that Compassion is to feel genuine empathy for those in suffering and translate it into action. She was also Forgiving. She could have looked at Naaman and said “serves him right for kidnapping me and making me a slave.” I think a lot of adults might tend to see this as divine retribution. But her child spirit didn’t hold on to grudges and instead she was moved to offer what she could to alleviate his suffering.

What about the prophet Samuel when he was just a little boy? God spoke to him one night. (Side note: Jesus speaks to children).

1 Samuel 3

Samuel was open to hearing what God wanted to speak through him, and bold  enough to actually do it. He had to tell Eli, a very respected and prominent figure in the church that he was basically doing an awful job with his family and God was going to remove him from his position. Isn’t that just like a child to not bat and eye when pointing out the truth of a situation. Where most adults would maybe soften the blow for fear of what this powerful man might do.

What about the story where Jesus fed the five thousand? Remember he first sent his disciples to see what food they could find among the crowd?

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”

John 6:9

Now maybe I’m reading in too much here but surely out of all those 5000 families, someone else thought to bring a snack? Jesus sent the disciples out to see what they could find and they only came back with the boy’s food. The boy was generous with everything that he had and he trusted that Jesus would be able to provide. Has your five year old ever asked you how you’re going to afford dinner tonight, or does she always trust that you have it taken care of?

There are SO many other examples of God using children in scripture for their child-heart. There’s David’s facing Goliath, Josiah who became king at age 7 and began a sweeping revival in Israel, Rack Shack and Benny,  the servant girl who called Peter out on his denial of Jesus, Paul’s nephew who saved his Uncle’s life by warning him of danger, even the unborn John the Baptist lept in his mothers womb when the Messiah was present. The first person to ever properly respond to the person of Christ was an unborn baby. That’s pretty cool. But what about today? Does God still use children today?

“During the Communist period in Albania, this little Balkan country was isolated from nearly everyone except its one ally, faraway North Korea. Travel was next to impossible. Radio and television broadcast signals from the Western world were jammed all across the country.

A little group of children in that dismal society was playing in an attic one day and found an old radio covered in dust and cobwebs. They somehow got it to work again, and lo and behold, it could pick up a Christian radio station! How this signal missed being jammed, nobody ever learned. The kids began to gather secretly in the attic and listen, with the volume turned way down low, whenever an Albanian-language program would come on.

In the time the gospel message got through to them, affecting their fertile hearts with great power. One by one they prayed to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Now the secret programs became discipleship lessons as they learned to pray and slowly grew in their walk with Christ. This remained a strictly “No Adults Allowed” club, because the children knew their parents, in great fear of the authorities, would take away their precious radio and probably destroy it if they knew.

One day as they were listening to the speaker, they learned a new thing about God — that he was the Great Physician. Jesus had healed the sick, the man said, and apparently could still do it today. Looking at one another, the kids said simply, “Well, we know where the sick people are. Let’s go!”

This little band of courageous and compassionate children found their way down the city street and into the state-run hospital. They decided to start at the top floor, the third floor. Peeking inside the first room, they saw a very sick man. “Lord Jesus,” they prayed in the hallway, “here’s one. Please heal him.”

They shuffled off to the second room and, discovering yet another sick person, repeated their childlike prayer: “Jesus, you can do this. Please heal her,” they said quietly.

At the third doorway, their hearts were touched by the sight of a child about their age. “Oh, Jesus,” they prayed, “please heal that little boy. He needs you very much.”

As they worked their way down the hallway, door by door, a commotion began to build up behind them. Starting back at room one, patients were discovering that they had been healed and were getting out of bed in wonder. Oblivious to the distraction they were creating, the children continued their prayer trek down the hallway. Door by door they prayed, and miracles kept happening.

The bewildered nursing staff was too consumed with trying to get rejoicing people back into their beds to notice the little prayer band of children. They got to the end of the third floor and then disappeared. As the patients kept telling a common story of a little group of children in their doorways for a moment followed by healing, a search was launched for the kids. But they were nowhere to be found.

Besa Shapalo, the wonderful Albanian child worker who told me about this, said she eventually got word of the miracles at the hospital, recognized the description of the children, and caught up with the little band.

“Do you know what was happening back there at the hospital?” She asked them with excitement and wonder in her voice.

“What?” replied the children.

“People were getting healed! God was answering your prayers. Many people were healed that day. Did you know that?”

The children looked at her with innocent eyes and said, “Yes, Jesus is the Great Doctor. He can do that.”

Maybe our kids should be leading our prayer groups.


Those kids didn’t need proof before they believed in the healing power of Jesus. Their faith was all they needed. Most kids believe whatever they hear from adults. We better not ever find ourselves taking advantage of that quality in children. Even in a joke! When we lie to children and call it joking we may not realized we’re chipping away at their faith. The next time someone tells them something, they will be a little slower to believe. Friends, what about the Woman who is struggling with depression in her thirties who find’s it so much more difficult to trust in the promises of God, to trust in her friend’s sincere desire to help her, because in her childhood, her trust was broken so many times.

It’s true well we shouldn’t raise our children just to believe anything they hear.” I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to shepherd their hearts. Don’t break their trust. Ever. Teach them wisdom, yes! Show them how to discern truth from lies but DO NOT TEACH THEM CYNICISM. Cynicism is the enemy of faith. They can’t co-exist. Don’t pass it a long. Let the children around you teach you faith. “I’m not being cynical, I’m being realistic!” Well there’s nothing more real than the hope and trust we have in Christ. And listen church, adults. I know. I know how hard it is. I know that your little child heart has been betrayed countless times. Lied to. Stomped on. I know that it’s hard but friends, we have to do this. The spiritual war around us is always seeking to destroy our faith. Cynicism is not an option. We need children to show us how to trust wholly and they need us to show them where to put their trust (hint: it’s JESUS).

Another story really quick. Compassion’s South Korea director and members of his board of directors were visiting a compassion project in Ecuador. They were schedule to see the program in action the following morning when the pastor came to them and broke the news that a little six year old boy at their project had been kit by a car and killed. They wouldn’t be able to see the project in action the next day because they would having a funeral for him.

The pastor told them that children do not generally attend funerals in their future so there would be no chance for them to interact with the children. The Compassion director however told the pastor that they would come and mourn with them at the funeral. When the Korean delegation arrived the next morning they found the sanctuary filled to capacity with over sixty of the attendees being children. “I thought you said children don’t attend funerals in your culture.” “They don’t” replied the pastor. He didn’t have an explanation. So the Pastor and the project staff went to every child and asked them why they were there. When they finished they came back to report. Every single child there said the same thing. “He was my friend. He’s the one who told me of Jesus’ love. He helped me ask Jesus into my heart.”

The little Ecuadorian child had led sixty of his friends to Christ. His life’s work accomplished by the age of six.

What made this child such an effective evangelist? One of the key components that adults often lack when sharing their faith is excitement and wonder!

Children are just excited. They can’t wait to tell whoever will listen about something new they discovered or learned or something fun they did over the weekend. We’ve got to catch this excitement from them. Often the natural tendencies of our adult hearts is to say, “Calm down! You’re embarrassing me.” At the grocery store, at church, etc. What if instead we not only encouraged their excitement, but joined in? Yes, teach them respect, but we often overdo it for the sake of convenience. It’s much easier to deal with a calm child than an excited one. But that excitement is one of the most essential components of evangelism. We have more to be excited about than anyone else in the world.

It’s also so important to our worship to be excited. Let’s also learn from kids WHAT to be excited about. Kids get excited about seeing brand new things in creation. They get excited when dad comes home from work. They get excited to experience a particularly tasty desert. This is something most of us as adults have lost. Maybe not the dessert part. Finding wonder in the so called “ordinary” (is anything in God’s creation ordinary?). We need children around us to remind us what is worth getting excited about and they need us to teach them to turn that excitement into worship.

There’s so many more characteristics of a child’s Kingdom Heart that we could go into but I think you’ve got the point by now. Children are valuable as they are, right now, not just for who they will be. They have plenty to offer our church now. What are some things we can do as adults to cultivate this childlike Kingdom Heart that Jesus so valued?

First of all we can pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit would change you.

Watch. Watch the children around you. Let them lead the way when it comes to these attributes. That’s one of the countless reasons we don’t separate the children from the adults in our gatherings. How can we have read the teachings of Jesus and come away with the idea that the second we walk through the church doors that everyone should scatter to their own age groups! God has strategically placed little examples of the Kingdom Heart all around us! We have let Satan, the world, and simple convenience sneak into the church and steal this from us. Jesus is the one who placed a child in our midst. Why are we trying to remove him?

Now, I have worked in children’s ministry for 12 years so trust me, I know the value of age specific curriculum. Far more important than mere cognitive understanding, is that our children watch and learn as a part of a loving church family where they feel loved, valued, and included by the entire church, not just their own family.  Don’t get me wrong We will have some things especially designed for kids here at White Stone. These things will not happen on Sundays and the goal of these times will be to better equip them to play a significant role in the church here in now. But most of the time you will see adults and children and teens working side by side as equals.

Besides, I guarantee you that every single child in this room can understand much more of what’s happening here. More than you or I or even themselves give them credit for. Kids, if you came in here thinking, “this is mostly for the grownups, I’m just here because I have nowhere else to go.” You’re so wrong. You’re not in this room because we don’t have a choice, you’re here because you are loved, valued, and we need you! You bear the image of God in a way that no one else in this room does. We need your Kingdom Heart. We need you to show us how to be humble, compassionate, forgiving, excited! When it comes to these things we have talked about, please don’t imitate the adults. I’ve seen you. I’ve seen what it looks like when we have kid’s worship time separate from the adults. I’ve seen you worship when there is only a few adults that you feel comfortable with watching. There’s a lot more dancing, jumping, singing along withe the songs as loud as you possibly can.

Withholding pure, unbridled, stupid crazy joy in our worship is to withhold from God what is rightfully His. Now normally this is the part where I would say “of course that doesn’t mean every single one of you literally has to dance around like a goofball. Everyone worships in their own way.” But church, there’s no need for me to say this. We’ve swung too far in the opposite direction and used this as an excuse. Maybe we do need to dance like fools until we can find a healthy balance because right now we have a very unhealthy balance. And adults, believe me, I know it’s hard to let loose in worship. Especially when no one else is doing it. Which brings me to the last point

Get Humble and just do it. This stuff is hard for adults, but there is too much at stake. We simply must push upstream even when it’s difficult.

The Bible tells us King David got so excited about his worship that he stripped down to his underwear and danced all over the place. Does this sound more like a child at your house or an adult? He was the most famous and honored king in the whole bible. If David could get excited enough to Humble himself so can we. But not exactly like David. Let’s try to keep our clothes on.

Kid’s you have one job and I know you have what it takes to do this! When it comes to these things we talked about, just be kids. Can you do it? I know you can.

Adults, there is grace in this. Some wounds run deep. A lot of you know this is how you should be but it’s so hard. Give the spirit time to work and give yourself grace.

Well we could probably do an entire sermon series about how the spirt of a child is essential to the Kingdom but we need to move on in this passage because we have a lot of work to do. Did y’all like the introduction?

Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

Jesus asks us to welcome children. Talk about a re-calibration. Not only Is Jesus making child likeness a prerequisite for entering his Kingdom, now he’s saying that welcoming a child equals welcoming God himself? We may have become used to Jesus’ teaching by now but I imagine that the disciples must have been in a constant state of their mind being blown. Welcoming a child could look big like taking in foster children, adopting, sponsoring, or small like simply welcoming them into your conversation, approaching a child who looks lonely to cheer them up.

6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Jesus asks us not to make them stumble or as he puts it later on “Hinder them”. Wow. It’s got dark really fast. The disciple’s heads must have been spinning at this point. Jesus asked his listeners this so I’ll follow his example, adults only please. Imagine yourself being hurled head first into the ocean, arms and legs kicking and thrashing, deeper and deeper into the ocean, inescapably dragged by a two ton millstone. No really. Close your eyes and think about it. Does anyone still question how serious this is?

Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! 8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

We usually pull that verse out of context to apply it to the broader subject of sin. But here we see the context for this was talking about sin that causes little ones to stumble. I wonder what sort of things throughout the ages Jesus was thinking as he painted this horrifying scene. Maybe his own peers who were slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to slay him came to mind. Maybe he thought also of the horrors that our future held. Broken families. Abortion. AIDS. Child soldiers. Exploitation of the most deplorable kind. How Jesus’ heart must break on a daily basis

I think we would all agree that those kinds of things are deplorable and cause children to more than stumble.

I imagine maybe the disciples here were starting to get over their shock and get back on board with what Jesus is saying here. Of course they would all agree with this. None of them would ever intentionally harm a child. And I think all of us here would say, YES! Let’s grab the millstones! We get so excited when it comes to talking about what we’d like to do if we ever got our hands on a… bad stranger or kidnapper. (There are certain words I’m avoiding so parent’s don’t have to answer hard questions later. I hope you appreciate that.) When we get angry about injustice towards children, we are mirroring Christ’s heart for children. But 2 Peter 3:9 also says that God wishes no one be lost. Jesus’ heart is for rescue. That involves the children and the sinners. We have to be about both. So all that to say that IF there is someone in this room who’s mind it has entered to harm a child. Please. I’m begging you to talk to someone. I promise it’s not too late. Come to one of the Elders here. We can recommend Biblical counselors for you. I know you didn’t want that for your life when you were a child and I know deep down you don’t want that now. You can be free, you can be restored. Because we believe that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. Amen?

What about other, less obvious ways we can cause these little ones to stumble.

We can cause them to stumble by not leading by example.

Another way, and this is a big one. The tongue. Listen to what the Bible says about the tongue.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21

Freshly poured wet cement is very easy to make an impression in that will last forever. The harder the cement gets, the more force it takes to leave any kind of mark. Once it’s completely dry, it’s going to have to be broken in order to make any kind of change to it. This is exactly the way the human soul works. In a child’s heart, a moment can last forever. A little life can be launched with as little as a single sentence, an encouraging remark or an act of kindness.

If you have adjusted and grown well in society, confident of your place and talents, I’m willing to bet you owe that to someone from a long time ago. Who? Think back. Kendal, who told you you have a beautiful voice and you should never stop singing? And now you lead this church in worship every single week. Whitney, who told you, “wow that’s a beautiful picture you drew!” and now you help support your family with your art business. Think back guys, you owe some positive aspect of your life to something someone said to you as a child, don’t you? Who was it? Mom? Dad? Grandma? Grandpa? An Uncle or Aunt? A teacher? A Coach? A Pastor?

Unfortunately the opposite is also true. All it takes is a single unkind word to make a devastating impression. Sadly this person in your life might be easier to remember. Who said you were ugly? Who said you were stupid. Who laughed and pointed at you and humiliated you in front of your friends. Life and death in the tongue. What have you done with this hurt? Have you accepted these evil words as true? Have you spent your life trying to prove them wrong?

Friends we have got to start taking our words seriously. Especially when it comes to children. Wess Stafford recommends imagining each child you come across holding a little invisible chalk board, saying “Please tell me something about myself.” Be careful what you would have them write.

We’ve got to stop being so careless with these children’s hearts? Let me give an example.

Imagine you’re sitting around at a potluck with a group of adult friends. A little child walks up to you and begins to excitedly tell you a story. “And then my hands had dirt all over them so my mom made me wash my hands with soap and sand hanitizer.” You suddenly laugh because it’s legitimately funny. You turn to your friends to make sure they heard it. Sand Hanitizer. They all laugh and it becomes a big joke and the child’s story is forgotten.

It may not seem like a big deal but that story was really important to that child and you just derailed it. You just traded giving value and affirmation to a child’s soul to getting a cheep laugh from the other adults. They won’t remember the joke 5 minutes from now but the child will write on her little chalk board, “too stupid to talk to grown ups.” She’ll make a mental note, people don’t care what I say unless they can make a joke out of it. What if that child had been MLK or Abraham Lincoln and you just gave them a fear of public speaking? What if the human race desperately needs that child to speak out confidently one day. At worst you contributed to what would eventually silence them for good. At best you just gave them another hurdle to get over. Do you want to be held accountable for that? By the way, that’s a true story. I was the one who derailed the story. God convicted me on it later and now I have a covenant that I will never interrupt a child to point out some kind of flaw in their still developing speech patterns.

You may think I’m being too extreme. “They’re kids.” you might say. “Words bounce right off them.” Yes. Sometimes. But you don’t know when they’re going to bounce. Cars bounce off other cars in a wreck but they still cause damage. Sometimes you can’t see all the damage that been accumulating until it’s too late. We’re good at convincing ourselves that our word’s don’t sink that deep. But if we want to claim to believe scripture we have to believe all of it. And it says right here in black and white “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Do you claim to know better than God?

Another thing to watch out for: sarcasm. I know, sarcasm can be a very funny form of humor. Jesus even used sarcasm against the Pharisees sometimes: “Have you not read…?” Never against children. Never at a child’s expense. No exceptions. Let’s make a covenant right now church. Repeat after me. “I will not. use sarcasm. at a child’s expense. ever. ever ever ever. Damaging. Harmful sinful. Let’s not.

We also have to be careful of what we say about our children when they are listening. “Ugh, these kids are driving me crazy.” Is that necessary? Is it kind? They hear. They listen.

That’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that As far as it depends on us, we should be Hallmark Card, cheesy, stupid kind to each other. If we believe the other half of that verse, “Life is in the power of the tongue” then why not. Get over the awkwardness of being “overly” encouraging.

Let’s see what else Jesus has to say.

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

Some translations render this word despise as “to look down on”. Well this is new territory. Don’t even look down on them?

No society has ever given children equal footing with adults and especially not the Roman/Jewish culture of that time. But Jesus is not talking about any earthly culture. What did we say the gospel Jesus came to teach was? The Kingdom is at hand. We are talking about a Kingdom culture and this is a culture where Jesus decides where people stand. This is the Kingdom that the disciples were to proclaim and it’s the Kingdom that we are to proclaim today. So if a visitor walked through these doors today and was not startled and taken aback by how much we value children then we have failed part of our purpose.

If you look at this verse in the greek, the word that Jesus uses for despise when he says “See that you do not despise any of these little ones” is actually literally translated “To think little of.” So not only are we not do despise or look down on children but also not to think little of? When we look at children do we expect little from them? Do we see children as valuable members of our churches with something to offer NOW? The children aren’t the future of the church. They are the church now! Children are capable of so much more than we think. There are children all over the world, 7 or 8 years old who go out hunting and bring home dinner for their entire village! We don’t think our kids can handle butter knives in the US, let alone evangelize, understand a sermon, or pray. We have under challenged the children of America. We just saw in scripture and some modern examples that God can and does use children. Why don’t we act like we believe this. I’m convinced, based on the all the passages we’ve read that it makes MORE sense for God to use children than adults! We don’t teach our children in the church that they can be used right now. So they don’t know any better. I believe if we raise the bar for children, they will rise to the occasion. Of course, Let’s just be careful do it in a way that encourages and builds them up and doesn’t shame them or scold them for not doing better sooner.

To think little of children implies not only that when we think of children, we think little of them, but also that we think of them little. Every week we come in this building and are surrounded with one of the greatest mission fields on the planet. One of the largest unsaved people groups. Remember the research Wess told us about that says two-thirds of the people who give their lives to Christ do so before the age of eighteen? Do we think twice about how most of the kids here haven’t accepted Christ? We get excited when we bring a visitor in who might not be saved but we don’t even bat an eyelid when we’re surrounded by unsaved children every week.

Is it because we think it’s the Parent’s job? Well you’re right if you say that parents are the primary disciples of their children. We shouldn’t take away from them the joy and privilege of leading their kids to Christ if we can help it. But primary implies a secondary. We are the family of Christ. We’re all aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents etc. This family transcends earthly families. As a church we have to stop throwing off our responsibility to the least of these that surround us. We were made for community. It takes a village to raise a child, or in this case a church. Wess Stafford says,

“What if we admitted to one another that parenting is a complex round the clock job and that we all need help from one another to do it well? …the need remains for adults to surround children – their own and other people’s children as well – with love and attention and support. We are all in this together. None of us is meant to be an island. The word community is more than just a gray sociological descriptor. It is a God term, designed by the Creator of children to water their souls and enhance their spirits as they grow. To ignore this is to sow seeds of dysfunction and future trauma. To welcome the young into the center of our lives is to enrich not only them but ourselves as well.” -Wess Stafford

Parents, if your child gets something from a mentor that they aren’t getting from you even though you tried your best. It’s ok! It doesn’t mean you have failed in some way. It’s not an indictment on your parenting. It just means God knew what he was doing when he designed us for community, at all stages of life. Mentoring can be a two way stream as well. Often the roles of teacher/student can be swapped in surprising ways. When Children in the church feel isolated from age groups outside of their own, everyone misses out.

Our Children were designed to thrive in a Biblical Community

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

Now, there has been plenty of debate on what the second half of this verse implies. Does it mean there are guardian angels assigned to watch over and protect children? Does it mean we all have them or only when we’re children. I wouldn’t be surprised either way, but the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that. What is the main point of this verse?

What Jesus said here implies that in the highest realms of heaven where the Holy glorious, beautiful throne of God is, where worship takes place 24-7, there are powerful angels who’s sole purpose is to represent these little ones. How does that make you feel Annalise? Danni? Jacob? Amelia? If by this point you are still doubting the value and importance of children to God, I don’t know if I can say anything else to convince you.

If we believe this scripture, then why don’t we ask children to pray for us more? These angels that represent them are ALWAYS beholding the face of the Father in heaven. That is a place of great prominence and power and it only makes sense. God hears every prayer. The prayers of a child afraid of the dark. The prayers for a sick parent. The prayers asking god for a new little brother or sister… I know ya’ll can relate to that.

I’m convinced in light of that verse that there are few things more powerful than a child’s prayer. We must teach our children to pray, not just by themselves, not just for each other. But also for adults.

Now Don’t grab the nearest five year old after service and explain your darkest addictions to them to ask for prayer. Don’t tell them all about your struggle with depression.  But you can say, (in the context of an existing relationship that you been working on cultivating) please pray for me to not sin as much. Or “Ive been feeling really sad lately, will you prayer for healing and joy?” It’s that simple. You’re missing out if you’ve never been prayed for by a child. It’s not an “awe isn’t that sweet? Well, I better go get some real prayer.” There’s nothing more real.

Yes God is growing us up and maturing us in our understanding of prayer. He is calling us higher. But never at the expense of the childlike faith that we started with. We must never lose that, and we must never devalue it.

What if we could see the angels that represent these children in heaven standing behind every child. Those big terrifying creates that always have to yell “do not be afraid!” Every time they appear to someone. Wouldn’t that change the way we see kids?

So why does the world look down on children. Better yet, why does the church think so little of them? We’ve read all this before. We should know this! I can’t say it any better than Wess does here.

“Deep down, I have come to the conclusion that the reason they are such a low priority to the great human institutions that seek to control this world, both secular and Christian, is that an invisible battle, a spiritual war, rages over each and every child. It is above us and beyond us and engages the full fury of the hosts of both heaven and hell. Children may be ignored by government, church, and mission—but not by Satan or God Almighty.

First, we must understand that Satan knows the heart of God. It is Satan’s greatest joy and highest priority to do all in his power to break the heart of Elohim, the creator of heaven and earth.

At the moment of birth, all heaven stands in breathless anticipation and breaks into shouts of joy and praise. Each child is born into the world loved and full of potential to bring joy to the heart of God. A little flame flickers deep in the child’s being. It reflects a dignity and worth, made in the image of God Almighty.

Meanwhile Satan and his evil hosts stand ready to pounce and destroy that life as quickly and completely as possible, knowing how that will break the heart of God. All of heaven and hell are present and focused on the newborn life—for vastly different reasons. Both have strategic designs for this little one.

Given this frightening warfare between heaven and hell, it is all the more ironic that children are seemingly so unimportant to us adults. While all of heaven stands and cheers whenever a little one is born, and all of hell hurls itself at its destruction, we glibly go about our lives and ministries oblivious of the raging battle or the strategic importance of the children around us day by day. What is to be done?”

What indeed Wess? What indeed?

What did Jesus do? Let’s turn our attention back to Him and his disciples. After making his remarks about becoming like a child and giving his stern warnings about looking down on children, he departed Galilie and came to the region of Judah where the complicated discussion of divorce with the Pharisees began, with the mothers and children waiting on the fringes.  This happens in sequence in both Matthew and Mark.

My dad and I were talking about this scene while I was preparing this sermon. We highly doubt that this is the first time something like this had happened around Jesus. Kids have an amazing ability to sense where they are welcome. They can tell if a big person likes them or not, whether they will be welcomed or brushed aside. There are certain kinds of adult that kids feel very at ease around. Jesus was one of those adults. This is a good time to ask yourself if you’re one of those adults. If not, then it’s something that needs work. We are after all, being made over into the image of Christ. It’s gotta happen sometime.

I can imagine that when the disciples saw the children coming that they knew they had to do something before Jesus got “sidetracked” with the kids again. “Not now ma’am, can’t you see the master is busy? Don’t you know who that is he’s talking to?” This is the moment Jesus was indignant. How quickly the disciples had forgotten everything he had just told them just a few days ago.

I wonder how long the disciples kept the children at bay before Jesus spoke up. What was the last straw? When the joy hope and excitement on the children’s faces turned to sadness, hurt, and rejection? We don’t know. but at some point, Jesus could stand it no longer and the almighty King of heaven and earth came to their rescue. Can you imagine how those children felt when they realized that Jesus was putting everything on hold for them? That Jesus had scolded the other adults in order to love and welcome them? That he actually became angry on their behalf? I bet this story was told over and over to all their friends.

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

You can see why Jesus was indignant now. All that teaching he just gave them and they still didn’t get it. Well they do now. In one moment, the least of these were plucked from the sidelines and placed into a place of honor and dignity by God Himself. In that moment he made it perfectly clear that the disciples had been honoring the wrong people.

Jesus’ words here are the words that I believe Jesus has for our church. “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them.”

There’s so much just in these words. He didn’t say bring the children to me. Let them come. Today in our church Jesus is calling to every single one of these children. If we get out of the way and do not hinder them, they will be drawn to him.

So what does this mean for White Stone Fellowship. Well first let me talk to the kids. This means that you are a valuable, honored, important member of the church. As much as any adult. Last week I noticed that when my dad asked “the church” to come up to the front and pray for the elders, all the kids and some of the youth stayed in their seats. I watched your faces, you weren’t sure if they meant just grown ups or everyone. I saw one of you stand up, look around and sit back down. When we say “church” we mean you. We need you. If we mean grown ups only, we will let you know. That should be really rare by the way.

Kids, If you have given your life to Jesus and decided to follow him, then you have the same Holy Spirit as all the grown ups in this room. If you come in here every Sunday and think that what we do in this room is mostly for the grown ups, that’s a lie. You can understand the words of the Bible because you have the Holy Spirit. You can and should lead the way in our worship times instead of looking at the grown ups to see what they’re doing. You can and should lead prayers. You can share with this church what you learned in your Bible this week. This is the verse I want you to live by.

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.

It’s your job, kids, to not let anyone think less of you. Now here’s what that does NOT mean. You should not tell your parents or any other grown up “Hey! the Bible says don’t look down on me!”  The Bible also says to respect your parents. Here is how you do this.

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.

Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

This is your job. Be an example in all those areas we talked about, kids.

And kids who haven’t made that decision to follow Jesus because you feel like you’re not ready or something holding you back. You have everything you need to make that decision right here and today. Jesus is calling you. Satan is screaming right now all kinds of excuses. “You’re too young. You don’t really understand.” If we have to be like a child to enter the kingdom, then children are the MOST ready of anyone to make that decision.

Adults what does this look like for us? How do we change our church into the kind of culture that values children not for who they will be someday, but for who they are and what they have to offer today.

I believe there are three stages of Child involvement in churches.

Tolerance – They are not a distraction.

Teaching – We are intentionally teaching and discipling them

Teamwork – Children feel that they also have something to share or contribute to the Biblical community.

I think our church is at the beginning of stage 3. We started being way more intentional about including kids in our worship. Having kids read the scripture every week became a tradition because my dad and I were brainstorming ways to involve them more. I think we can do even more in the coming weeks! I’m excited to see how God starts using children here.

Dennis Sawyer is the senior pastor of a thriving Seattle Church the specializes in intergenerational ministry. In speaking to Christianity today he said, “”If you come to our church on a Wednesday night, you’ll see 60 young people, ages 2-17, all in one group! Working with them will be 30 adults—a 1:2 ratio—guiding a wide range of learning experiences. The other night I stopped by, and there was this wonderful Kodak moment:a cluster of four or five energetic little kids gathered around two adult workers: a lady who’s in a wheelchair—she’s probably in her early seventies—and a 24-year-old single guy. The Bible doesn’t even have a word for teenager,”he notes. “So when visiting parents come up to me or call the office and ask, ‘What programs do you have for teenagers?’ I smile and say, ‘We have church!”

This is just examples of the kind of ministry you will see us doing in the future at White Stone. Intergenerational ministry. Youth and Children leaders have frustrated themselves for decades by trying to keep teens in the church via entertainment. “If we can just keep them here until their ready to to play a real role…” they think. But they have already lost them. Kids and teens want more than to be entertained. Sure they’ll gobble it down as fast as we can shove it at them, but deep down we are setting them up to leave the church. The frustration will grow inside them because more than anything they want to make a difference. The message churches across america are sending them is, “Not yet.”

Here at White Stone we are going to say Yes. You can make a difference right now and we will do everything we can to help you accomplish that.

So here are a few practical ways we can build up a child’s sense of worth and belonging in the church.

Bring them into your world

At church, intentionally look for ways children can help you. Be ready when a child says, “Can I help?” Don’t treat them more like a hinderance than a help even if they are.  Be patient. This is not about efficiency, it’s about discipleship. Which is the mission in the first place.

If you see a child who is sitting off by themselves doing nothing, it’s because they don’t feel welcomed anywhere else (or they’re in time out). Invite them to help you with what you’re doing. Let them try it.

Ask them to pray for you. It’s an honor. And they want to.

Step into their world.

Be intentional about developing relationships with children. Strike up a conversation. It may be awkward at first because they’re not used to grown ups other than their parents paying much attention to them.

Join in their play. “”If you are invited (okay, begged) by a child to join in their imaginary world, you have indeed been honored and should jump at the chance… Questions will be raised in that context; dreams will be revealed. Fears and joys will be shared in ways that the “real world” of your everyday home will never never allow. The openness and sincerity of a child is amazing when you find ways to tear down the social barriers of parent/child, big/little, old/young, strong/weak, and right/wrong that usually dominate the relationship.”

Pray for them. If we really believe what we said about a spiritual battle raging over each and every child then they should be the first priority in our prayer groups. Imagine if we could see angels and demons actually duking it out for the hearts of our children. We would be a lot more serious about praying for them. So in our prayer groups, don’t skip over the children, don’t let them wander off and play in the corner. If they don’t have a prayer request, pray for them anyway. We know they need it. Even the little infants in our church. If we come into this building and every single child is not prayed over specifically by name before we leave, then we have failed part of our mission.

Merge the two

“When the pathways of our lives and our children’s lives blend together, when we get into their world and bring them into ours, the result is something called friendship… we are no longer aware of when we playfully enter their world or deliberately bring them into ours. Instead, we genuinely like being with each other. This is child discipleship at it’s best.” There’s no quotation marks around the word friends. There is now no distinction for those who are in Christ. When I look around at some of the kids in this room I can call them my friend just as seriously as any one else! This is house discipleship happens. Not in the context of a formal I’m the teacher and you’re the student. Church is not meant to be like school. Discipleship happens in the context of relationships.

Yes Discipleship is the parent’s job primarily but we are the family of God and we are a community who watch out for each other and love each other as family. Every single adult in this church, has some level of responsibility for the discipleship of every child in this church. Whether it’s taking on a mentorship role or simple making it a point to say something encouraging once a week.

We have a chance as a church and as individuals to stop Satan’s efforts in destroying these little one’s lives. All it takes is one caring adult, and one minute to build up their self worth and assurance of being loved. I have made the personal decision to take on the title of child advocate. This is who I am now. This is what God has called me to do. However that looks, whether going on a compassion trip to love on children in poverty, working with foster kids, or simply taking a minute to be kind to these kids right here in front of me. Remember, every child in your path is a divine appointment. If you don’t have something bigger than yourself, a passion that moves you to tears in thirty seconds, then you are not fully alive. Take mine. Let’s be child advocates together. Let’s take a minute to show love to a child. It may be the minute that will launch their calling or restore one that desperately needed that kindness. You never know when a life is hanging on by a thread.

    If God places a child before you, and you are too busy to wield either a positive or negative influence… you just did the latter! You communicated that the child doesn’t matter and isn’t important.


That’s my challenge to you today. Be like Jesus. Be a champion of children everywhere. Believe in them. Protect them. Build them up. It only takes a moment. Our time on this earth is running out and we can’t afford to do nothing.


Quotes from Wess Stafford’s book, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most