Most pastors dread it…that “off-weekend” where everyone decides to take a long weekend and get out of town. Of course, I recognize that it is needful and good to do, but it still doesn’t ease the anticipation of what will be an overwhelming drop off in attendance which ultimately affects volunteers, ministries, choir, etc. So it is with me every Memorial Day weekend. Historically, it has been the most travelled weekend for those who call Laurel Baptist Church “home,” making it the lowest attended Sunday of the year. Not to mention it’s race weekend here in Charlotte which ties up many of our people who work in NASCAR. Yet, this Memorial Day weekend (2016) will never be the same for me. God showed me once again that He still works on “off weekends.” Yesterday afternoon between our morning and evening services our five year old daughter, Kate, trusted Christ as her personal Savior.
We have been working with her for months. Answering her questions. Using discernment about her mindset regarding heaven, Jesus, the cross, and salvation. I must admit I often shy away from the quick “ask Jesus into your heart” approach. I want to be sure that all three of our children understand clearly this most important decision of their life, and that it’s not just a magical prayer that one prays to punch a ticket to heaven. At times I was afraid Kate viewed the story of Jesus as just another Disney production. So, when she wasn’t serious during our talks or answering clearly my questions about who Jesus is and why it is we must believe in Him and receive only Him then I wouldn’t continue the conversation. But yesterday, I had been praying that God would help me as a parent hear confirmation that she understood and was ready to choose Jesus.
At the lunch table I was asking my typical questions…”How was your classes? What did you learn? Did you get your candy taken away?” We began to talk about Jesus, heaven, and forgiveness. Keegan (my three year old) was getting restless at the table so I said to him, “Keegan, finish your food so I can put you down for a nap.” It was then Kate looked at me and said, “Daddy, after you put Keegan to bed will you finally show me how to be saved?!” At that second I knew that this was the moment we had been praying for. It was clicking. She was ready. It was time to lead her to her Savior.
I brought her into the living room and took my Bible and began to read Scripture and ask her questions. A pivotal moment was when Kate told me that bad people go to hell. To which I reminded her that even we were bad people, and before I could even get out my next sentence she interrupted me and said, “Yes, but if we believe in Jesus He will forgive us and take us to Heaven.” Thirty minutes later Kate bowed her head and all by herself prayed and asked Jesus to be her Savior. It was a moment Kathleen and I will never forget. A Memorrial Day weekend that will remind us that God still works on “off-weekends.” I’m so thankful Kate, at this age of understanding, realized who Jesus is and what He came to do not only for the world, but for her.
Here’s what God has taught me through Kate’s savlation day…
THE INFLUENCE OF GODLY GRANDPARENTS
Kathleen and I are so thankful for our parents. Their godly example to our children and constant example of Christlikeness helped Kate come to faith in Jesus. Both of our parents not only share the message of Jesus with our kids regularly, but I know they have prayed for them since before they were born. If you’re a grandparent, never underestimate the influence you have in leading your grandchildren to faith in Christ.
THE POWER OF A PRAYING WIFE
My wife is so sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Praying over our kids every night, as they listen to her, that they would follow Christ with their life. Teaching them throughout the day the importance of God’s Word and living for Him. The bringing of our children to Christ will largely be due to the faithfulness of their mother.
THE MINISTRY OF FAITHFUL TEACHERS
We are so blessed at Laurel Baptist Church to have children’s workers that truly love the Lord and desire their students to understand the message of the gospel. Every week our kids come home with Bible lessons that their teachers have taught them in Kids Connection Classes or Awana Clubs. I want to say “thank you” to Mrs. Lori Howell, Mrs. Betty Medlin, Mike & Heather Abberger, Pastor Josh, and Mrs. Cathy Schmidt who have faithfully shared the love of Jesus Christ with Kate in her classes. Of course, there are the countless numbers of church family that exemplify the gospel to our children weekly.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEAR INSTRUCTION
I don’t want my kids to simply ask Jesus into their hearts. I want them to know who Jesus is and why it is Jesus we must believe in for our savlation. I remember asking Kate yesterday, “Why Jesus? Why does it have to be Jesus that we believe?” Her answer is so important to her understanding and having assurance of her salvation – not a little religious prayer. My heart was assured when she said, “Because He is the only God who can save us.” Before we prayed I wanted her to know clearly what it meant to be saved, and if you ask her this is what she’ll say: 1) That Jesus forgives you of sin. 2) That Jesus lives inside of you. 3) That Jesus takes us to heaven when we die. Kathleen and I rejoiced as we listened to our daughter call unto her Savior all by herself. As a parent there is nothing like that moment.
I’m so thankful that Kate trusted Christ as her only, personal Savior. She has been forgiven. Jesus lives within her. She will spend eternal life with Him. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 4
Pray with me that Keegan and Ellie will trust Christ at their age of understanding.