Thursday, March 13, 2014

lessons from children

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My favorite ministry in the WHOLE WORLD is children's ministry. Each Sunday I have the privilege of working with an amazing group of kids and teachers at the First Pentecostal Church of Orlando.  I am always amazed at the humility and innocence of the children.  Last Sunday our lesson was about forgiveness.  Forgiveness. An easy subject to discuss, but an extremely difficult one to practice.  I stood facing a group of kids ages five to ten.  I asked them if they had ever done anything wrong. I then asked them if they received forgiveness for what they did.  I was amazed at the candid examples the kids gave me.  They told me the offense they committed, and then they explained how they were forgiven. Some had broken their parent's cell phones--and worse. They shared how they felt, some even wanted to hide the offense, but they told their parents anyway and received forgiveness. We then talked about emotional offenses. I asked them if their feelings had ever been hurt. I also asked them if there was anyone who had done something wrong against them and if they had forgiven them.  They wrote on a post-it note the names of the people they needed to forgive. They also wrote the sins they had committed for which they needed God's forgiveness.  Then we lined up at the door with our post-it notes in hand.  We walked out to the three crosses that stand in the grassy area outside our church. We put our notes on the cross in the center, symbolizing that we were giving our offenses to God. We prayed as a group and went back to class symbolically leaving with forgiveness, our sins and names left at the cross.

In our session we discussed the steps of forgiveness:

1. Choose it!
2. Pray it!
3. Say it!
4. Forget it!

First we have to choose to forgive. Second, we need to pray that God will help us to forgive. We then need to say what it is that we forgive. Last we must let it go. (The memory may be there, but give the memory to God. Through His grace and help we can move on.)

In teaching these kids, I am always learning lessons. I could see so clearly what Jesus meant when He said that we had to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.

"And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
 you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:3 NIV

This means coming to God in humble openness. Honest, vulnerable, simply accepting God's forgiveness and graciously granting forgiveness to others.  When we come to God as children, we come to God with an honest heart, not hiding all our mistakes and messes!  We have faith that He as a loving Father forgives and accepts us.                                   ----Jennifer Jones 

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