You’re cruising along, thinking, planning, driving, singing with the radio, and suddenly you see those familiar big orange barrels lining the side of the road or emergency lane signaling an upcoming construction zone. You try to ignore them, but their numbers are increasing as you continue to your destination. You see brake lights ahead and there it is – the flashing sign that reads “EXPECT DELAYS!” Whatever mood you had has now been replaced with frustration! So much for cruising, now you are more like crawling. Ugh! Crawling along with all the other people and wondering why today of all days on this road of all roads are they working now! Sound familiar?

This is a lot like our daily walk following Jesus. Our personal growth, family life, building relationships, the demands and challenges of ministry, and careers are full of delays caused by construction. Although most don’t come with flashing signs, there are clues that warn us to begin slowing down. Signs that show us we are going in the right direction, but things may take longer or we may have to switch lanes for a while.

While being delayed by one of these construction zones recently, it really made me stop and think. In the first chapter of James he says, “Consider it pure my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:2-5. Could a construction zone be a good analogy for the trials that we experience in life? Let’s ask ourselves, are we bothered by the reduced speed? Are we courteous? Are we patient? Do we speed up, so no one can get in front of us? Do we judge the people in the cars to the front or back of us? I could go on forever, right? James 1:12 says – “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Let’s compare orange barrel moments to trials that we face every day and consider these four thoughts that may help you get through:

  1. Expect delays— we always have our time-table or schedule in mind as to how long we think we should have to wait for a trial to end, to receive a blessing or an answer to a prayer. We are sometimes caught off guard if there are extended delays then we get downright mad and frustrated! We question the reason for the delay. We are creatures who have embraced the “now” moment! We want everything now, but sometimes it’s better to wait! Our timing is not God’s timing. We need to remember that it might not be God telling us “No.” Maybe He is just saying “Not right now.” The story of Lazarus is the perfect example. Lazarus was very sick. Mary and Martha, his sisters, sent word to Jesus for healing. When Jesus heard the news, he chose to stay where he was for two more days, not jumping up to rush to Lazarus’ side. By the time Jesus reached Mary and Martha, Lazarus had died and had been buried for four days in the tomb. Was Jesus saying no? No, he just delayed for the purpose of performing a miracle that would lead many to believe that day. Delayed, not denied!
  2. Bumps in the road – after a long winter, the ice, snow, salt and brine take a toll on our road system causing potholes. You know the ones that jar your vehicle so bad that all the items tucked away on top of your visor fall in your lap saying words like “I can’t wait until they fix this!” The quick fix would be to send a crew and patch the hole. While it is sometimes necessary to do this, it is only a temporary fix. One day the crew will have to return to resurface and restore this section of the road. Let’s also be clear here, a patched pothole is not pretty! It’s rough, bumpy and uneven. Have you ever driven on a fresh resurfaced road? It has newly painted lines, a smooth dark black surface and smells brand new! There are no uneven areas, and it looks amazing, right? But it didn’t happen overnight, there was a process, some procedures, some delays. Sometimes we just need to slow down, change lanes and allow God to restore. 1 Peter 5:10 says “And the God of grace, who called you to his eternal glory, in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Every day as we choose to change lanes, we make progress and allow restoration.
  3. Lane closed ahead – you see the flashing signs, orange barrels, brake lights and turning signals. Suddenly everyone wants in your lane! You now have a decision to make. Do you inch closer to the car in front of you to continue on your journey? Do you put blinders on and act like you never saw the car next to you with its turning signal on, trying to get in front of you? Ever thought, I had to wait my turn? Why do some people think they can jump ahead? Where is the fairness? If I have to wait, so does everyone else! It took me five years for a promotion! You can’t get one in two years! There are rules, wait your turn! Jesus addresses this kind of thinking in a parable found in Matthew 20. A landowner had gone out in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day. About the 3rd hour he hired more workers, telling the workers he would pay them whatever was right, so they joined the original workers in the vineyard. Then again on the 6th hour, 9th hour, and 11th hour, he hired more workers agreeing to pay them whatever was right. At the end of the day he went to pay his workers, but he started with the recent workers he hired at the 11th hour. He gave them each one denarius for their work, and they were very happy! He continued to give the 9th hour workers, the 6th hour workers and the 3rd hour workers the same pay, one denarius. When he got to the first hire of the day, he handed them each one denarius, and they began to grumble against the landowner. Stating it was not fair, the landowner reminded them that each of them had agreed to work the day for one denarius. Those hired after you only agreed to work for what was fair. I am not being unfair to you. Take your pay and go! I have the right to do what I want with my own money. Are you envious because I am generous? Life is sometimes unfair, as the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Don’t race, give grace!
  4. Double fines – in those construction zones along with signs for reduced speed, there are signs posted with “Double fines.”   This means if you are caught going over the speed limit posted, you will pay a double fine.   It was created to put an emphasis on the importance of reducing our speed and being aware of the construction zone.   Many workers are injured or killed every year by people ignoring the dangers in a road construction zone. When we take no regard for people’s safety, their value or worth, tragedy happens. As we walk with Jesus, the same applies to our relationships. Have we injured, maimed or killed someone’s spirit? Have we fought so hard to get through the delays that we ended up hurting someone? Did we try the blame game or pass the buck when a double fine was called. Are we generous or mean, do we use caution or carelessness, do we show compassion or hatred? Romans 12:10-14 says “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, and do not curse.”

My prayer for you after reading this is that when you see the sign “Expect Delays” or brake lights to slow you down or even lane changes to avoid pot holes or resurfacing, remember we are all going in the same direction! Our daily walk, the narrow road, the process to progress all involve our Heavenly Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and yes other people. Expect delays! Trials are for growing and maturing. Restoring is much better than a quick fix. Go deeper with God so He can heal your hurts and fears. As you slow down, look for opportunities to bless and put others first. Encourage, edify and honor each other. Be aware of their value and worth. Let God show you something while traveling through those bright orange barrels!!

For to us a child is born…


As Christmas approaches, I love to watch kids get excited!  Their little hearts pound and their eyes widen with wonder as we read  the Christmas story and re-create the manger scene for them.  They marvel at the surrounding animals, the magnificent star over  the manger and the Angel that told the Good News to the shepherds.  But all kids know, baby Jesus is the One wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in the manger.  They rush up to grab, touch, kiss and hug any baby Jesus they can find.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”     (Matt 19:14) NIV

How precious and heart-warming to see a child kiss the baby Jesus.  Teach them that this Baby grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him (Matt 2:40).  Jesus grew to be the Savior of the world.

Of the Gospel writers, only Matthew and Luke wrote about the birth of Jesus.  Matthew was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman government who was chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve Apostles.   Matthew was corrupt at first but radically changed after meeting Jesus.  He left the promises of pleasure and wealth to follow Jesus for the promise of eternal life.  Being a tax collector, you could say he would be an expert at keeping precise and thorough records, yet he chose to give very little detail about the birth of Jesus.  The story contains only eight verses from conception to birth.  He made no mention of the manger, just the town of Bethlehem, King Herod’s attempt to kill Him, and the Magi who sought to worship Him.

Perhaps Matthew was more focused on the Jesus he knew, the One who radically changed his life, not a baby, but the Son of God.  After all everyone is born into the world the same way except for Jesus.  The fact that His mother was a virgin, and He was conceived through the Power of the Holy Spirit was the highlight Matthew wanted the reader to remember.  His more detailed accounts were focused on the parables, messages and miracles of Jesus.  He shared details of Jesus’ final weeks during His betrayal, trials, crucifixion, burial and resurrection.  Matthew also ended with the call to evangelize and baptize the world.

Luke was a Greek who was educated as a physician.  He was the only Gentile, Christian writer of the New Testament.  He was not an Apostle, nor did he live in the time of Jesus.  As the Apostle Paul’s scribe, he gave us a very detailed account of the birth of Jesus through research and interviews.  He wrote of Gabriel telling the virgin, Mary, that God had found favor with her.  How she would give birth to a Son and give Him the name Jesus.  Luke explained the reason for traveling from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the town of David.  Luke mentioned the inn and the Baby wrapped in cloths lying in the manger.  He also wrote of the Angel with a great company of the Heavenly Host who could not keep from rejoicing and bringing the news to the chosen recipients, simple shepherds!  He detailed many events of Jesus’ life that brought to light some of the mysteries that may have been issues for the Jews and Gentiles.  He wrote for the Jews and the Gentiles to read and believe that He indeed came to be the Light for the Gentiles as well (Isaiah 49:6).

Whether you read Matthew or Luke, one thing is consistent throughout: Jesus came as a baby, born through the virgin, Mary, of the lineage of David in Bethlehem as foretold in the scriptures.  The birth might not have taken place in a stable or a cave.  It could have been the upper room of a relative’s home.  The innkeeper is never really mentioned.  The Magi did not visit a baby Jesus in a manger, but a child under the age of two living in His parent’s house.  December is most likely not the month in which Jesus was born.  I personally do not believe that He was born in December at all, but as some scholars and historians believe sometime in September.  If in fact He was born in September, being conceived by the Holy Spirit puts His conception date possibly in December!  Are we celebrating the Word becoming flesh at the exact moment of life?

No matter the location or month in history of His birth, our hearts are warmed when we see the Christmas plays recreating the manger scene.  We want to ponder all of these events and the humbleness of His birth as Mary did (Luke 2:19).  Remember Jesus humbly came into the earth so he could humbly die.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal Life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  (John 3:16-17) NIV

May we humbly take the focus off ourselves this Christmas season and remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus, as written in the scriptures of Isaiah:

For to us a child is born, to us a child is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.   He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.  (Isaiah 9:6-7) NIV

Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!


Imagine you are the parent the next time you go to church.  Pay attention as you are driving into the parking lot.  You flip on the turning signals and turn onto the blacktop pavement.  You are immediately directed by the friendly parking lot ministry, or you follow the well placed signs into a parking spot.  You approach the building, and as you walk toward the door, you are greeted by more friendly smiles.  You enter the foyer or lobby and into the hustle and bustle of the pre-service chatter.  You notice the congested area off the main lobby hall, the kid’s ministry.  This is probably the first place you will visit if you have children.  You sign in your kids, grab the sticker or ID bracelet, and watch them disappear into the classroom.  Whether you are a leader or a parent or both, this process is important.  You want to know your kids are safe and secure as you leave them in the care of others.  You realize that this oft forgotten side ministry is one of the most important ministries in the church.  Staffed by the most awesome, loving people you will ever know!  You grab a coffee, nod your head, smile and engage!

As a leader you know that down the hall, over in the corner or down the stairs where the kid’s ministry resides, there is a group of like-minded people working with whatever budget the church allocates, making a difference, investing in the precious children of God’s Kingdom.  They change diapers, make snacks, memorize skits, jump eagerly during worship, make castles out of LEGOs, give awesome high fives, shake hands, wear smiles and scoop out love by the armful to the children.  It can feel like a thankless job, an isolated job, a weary job.  We are sometimes the first enter the building, and usually the last to leave.  We carry bags of trash as we leave to toss in the dumpster.  We will use our own resources or spend our own money to enhance lessons to create the “awe” moment when teaching the children.  We are the ones that are praying for a child as a Band-aid is placed on the “boo-boo”.  We comfort, play, teach and love the children not just for parents to attend “big” church but because we love it.  We take every chance we can to come and pour into this ministry.  It’s the church within the church.

Kid’s ministry is vital to church families by offering programs for the kids – a structured time and area where kids can go so adults can focus on growing spiritually in the main service.  If a group of believers should take this view and nothing more, then an invisible ceiling can be placed on the ministry.  Those kids down the hall, crying babies and whinny toddlers are precious to God, and they are the future leaders of the church.  This ministry should be included as part of the whole identity, mission and value of the body of Christ.

Are you growing the church within the church—the kid’s ministry?


  1. Invest in Receiving!  Put a priority on attending leadership meetings.  If the kids’ ministry staff is not included in the weekly or monthly leadership meetings, ask to be invited.  Support from the church leadership is a key to a successful and thriving kid’s ministry.  Receive input, wisdom, prayers and support from your leaders!
  2. Invest in Vision!  Be in unity with the vision of the main church body.  Remember kid’s ministry is the church within the church.  It should reflect the same identity.  Your vision should be an extension of the whole.  If your church is very mission-minded for example, and there isn’t a world map or reflections of helping others being displayed, then maybe your kid’s ministry is not in unity.  If your church is reaching the un-churched, and your events are not tailored for bringing in un-churched kids, then your reflection may need adjustment.  Kid’s ministry should reflect the main body!
  3. Invest in the Visual!  Take an inventory of your kid’s ministry room appearance.  Is it warm and inviting?  Does the room say – we at this church body value the children!  Is the room neat and organized?  Check the toys!  Throw away the broken, unsafe toys and replace out-of-date items.  Put a value on these precious kids.  Plush offices, state of art coffee bars and flashy gadgets are attractive to the eye and can make you feel important, but does it grow a church like your kid’s ministry down the hall?
  4. Invest in the Message!  Get good curriculum for your kids and volunteers.  There are tons of good, innovative lessons out there!  Don’t be afraid to enhance any of them!  Be creative!  I love looking around the house for objects to enhance the message!  Be relatable and funny!
  5. Invest the Time!  Don’t set the example of looking at your lesson the day before or winging it during the church service.  The kids will know.  Spend time reading and studying the lessons.  God will teach you something as well every time.  The kids are worth your time!
  6. Invest in the Family!  Meet and greet the parents.  This is an opportunity to invest in the family part of kid’s ministry.  Remember that you are not the Lone Ranger!  Your incredible skills alone cannot fully disciple these precious kids!  Support and pray for the parents, grandparents and caregivers as well as the kids.  Show them your face, let them see your love, and open a clear line of communication with them!
  7. Invest in Yourself!  Good leaders are good readers!  Read the Word of God!  Sometimes we are isolated from the body of Christ especially during the main services.  Making service might not be possible every week-end.  I encourage you to find other ways to connect and get filled spiritually.  Listen to the message online, get with small groups, find leadership to mentor and invest in you.  Remember you are investing in kids, and you need someone to invest in you!

Kid’s ministry is the future of the Body of Christ!  We are growing the future leaders of the Kingdom of God.  They are the next pastors, teachers, missionaries, musicians, sound techs, videographers, laymen, administrators, community leaders, world changers and kingdom builders right down the hall.  I encourage you leaders of our future leaders!  Be blessed!  Know that your love and investment are growing the Church within the Church!


Working in ministry or with a group of people, you have heard the term “networking”.  It’s that group of people on your friends list, your followers, and your email contacts.  They are people far and wide, known for their blog posts and gravatar pics.  You like their ideas and marvel at their wisdom.  You slide your thumb across the screen and something catches your eye.  You pause for a moment and if interested you read, like, re-tweet or repost.  You sometimes even find yourself comparing or competing with them.  While there is nothing wrong with building a network like this, I challenge you to go for something bigger and better.

What if Jesus approached His disciples in terms of networking instead of building the Kingdom?  “Simon, you and your brother stay here, continue to fish, know that I am for you and not against you, and I’m praying for you!  Here’s my Twitter!  Keep in touch!  Be blessed my Brothers!  Let’s do lunch next trip around!”  So glad it didn’t go like that!  He invested in relationships and was building the Kingdom!

As I am writing this, I want to share that this behavior was modeled to me by humble, forefront Pastors who desired to build God’s Kingdom.  People, who are part of a body of Christ who are not competing against one another but share their blessings with all for the good of the Kingdom.

Go beyond just networking and start building relationships with the church down the road, the church in your city, in the next town, county or state.  Conferences and seminars are a great way to meet other fellow, like-minded people in your field of ministry, but they stop short of true relationships.  It falls to you to make the connections and then invest in the relationships.  Be bold and pick up the phone!  Invite that Children’s Pastor or Director out for lunch!  You buy!  Get to know them personally, invest in the start of a relationship and invest time and value in a person who loves and cares for the children as much as you do!  Love and encourage one another!

 “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up …” 1Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Maybe you have old curriculum lying around that you don’t use anymore?  Find someone that can use it and bless them with it.  Maybe you learned some cool ideas at a conference?  Share them with other Children’s Pastors.  Invite them to the next conference!  Encourage your leaders to sponsor a Pastor from another church.  What a testimony that would be!  Plan events with other Children’s ministries!  Work together in the community.  Nothing shows your community unity like leading by example.  Remember, you are already in unity in the Kingdom of God by loving and investing in these precious children.  Show each other and the world how awesome it really is to build the Kingdom of God!