Saturday, January 26, 2013

Can we do Drug Education in Children's Church

Can we do drug education in
Children’s Church and still be Biblical?

This article (blog) was originally written back in 2007, and published on an old Blog I had. For over seven years my wife and I served as Children’s Pastor of Kids View Children’s Ministries, Milford Assembly of God, Milford Ohio.   And because of background in Substance Abuse I was asked the question more than once, and I wrote this reply. Hope it helps.

            Can we do drug education in Children’s Church and still be Biblical? This past week I was asked this question by a Children’s worker that has been teaching in a local church for several years.  She shared that one of the children in Children’s Church had shared that some of her friends offered her drugs at school.  And she asked the teacher what should I do? 

            The teacher shared how she felt inadequate to share on this subject.  She said “I’m not sure if my pastor would approve of my teaching on the subject, and besides the Bible really doesn’t talk about it, does it?”

            Unfortunately this is not new in our churches or any other denomination in America, we have grew accustom to others teaching for us outside of the thought “Jesus loves me” in our Children’s programs.  Let’s take this teacher concerns and break them down.

1.     I’m not sure if my pastor would approve?
·        You will not know until you ask him, and he is able to share his feelings.  Keeping in mind he is the pastor, if he would prefer you not teaching on the subject of drugs and alcohol you must respect that.  However, understanding why prior to leaving his office is very important.  If he share’s that he supports the idea then get ready for a wonderful challenge.  With the drug problem becoming the national epidemic as it has.   I believe that you will find most Pastors’s and church members supportive of your sharing.

2.     The question, dose the Bible really talk about drugs and alcohol is amazing to me. 
·        Most of us know that Alcohol is mentioned in the form of wine, and we teach our children not to drink.  However,   there are 229 verses in the Bible that makes reference to alcohol in some form or another.  Some of the reference are good example’s like the Lord Supper, as a part of the sacrifice reference in Old Testament,  However, other verses relate to such as things listed below.

            In Proverbs 23: 29 - 35, we read the account of an individual involved in drinking alcohol and the effect it has on his life.  In Galatians 5:21 the word drunkenness is used to describe the use of alcohol, and also listed as a sin of the flesh.   In Galatians 5:19 the Apostle Paul uses the word “SORCERY”, (one translation uses witchcraft) as one of the works of the flesh.  The word sorcery comes from the Greek word "Pharmakia" which we today translate "Pharmacy or Pharmaceutical" in others words this is the use of medication to alter one's state of mind.

Verses that relate to the use of Alcohol and Drugs, and the harm they bring.

·        Violence (Pro. 4:14-17)
·        Brawling - (Pro. 19:29-20:1)
·        Rage - (Est. 7:6b-10)
·        Anger (Isa. 5:11-12 and Hos. 7:3-7)
·        Strife - (Prov. 23:29)
·        Complaining - (Prov 23:29-35)
·        Slandering - (I Cor. 5:11-13)
·        Mocking others - Prov. 19:29-20:1)

            These and other verse through out the Bible clearly shows that God understood the dangers of drugs and alcohol.  It is very important with drugs being offered to our children in elementary schools, that we take a pro-active part in educating them.  The saddest day we will have as children’s worker is with parents having to watch a child go through withdraws from drugs or alcohol.  Maybe even sadder is doing the funeral; I’ve been blessed not to have to face these.  I pray I don’t, However, I’m going to do everything I can to assure that my children understand the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

When preparing to teaching on Alcohol and Drugs I personally recommend you find a good lesson on the subject, or do some research about drugs and alcohol.  One of the greatest fears I have as a Substance Abuse Counselor, Children’s Pastor and Parent is when individuals wing it from their personal experience 20 years ago.  Back your lesson up with facts, and a solid Biblical principal.  Remember we are dealing with intelligent children, that want to know what God said, and how it effect them.

·        Two lessons that have really liked using in teaching on drugs and alcohol are.

·        Daniel Chapter 1 … Where Daniel and his friends refuse take part in the eating of the king’s meat, and they would not defile themselves with the bad things of the world.
·        I Corinthians 6:19 … Dose Jesus, want us to put bad things in his temple.  Refer back with the children to when Moses and the child of Israel build the Tabernacle and what did God have them put in only Godly things?  Are drugs and alcohol Godly and good?

            My prayer is simple, that as children’s worker we do not continue to be fearful of teaching about drugs and alcohol, for to many years we have placed this responsibility at the feet of the public schools, and programs like “Just Say No”   We need to stand up and teach our children the harm of drugs and alcohol, However, we need to also teach the Biblical principal that our wonderful Body is the Temple of God  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pastoral Care is an act of worship!

Pastoral Care is an act of worship. As pastors and ministers of the gospel we are called upon to provide pastoral care in many different ways. We are called to visit in the hospitals those that are sick, preparing for surgery, being institutionalize in mental hospital, or suffering long term illness in a nursing home. We are asked to provide counseling for couples seeking to get married, marriages that are on the verge of divorce, and for families struggling with a difficult teen. We may be asked to visit in the jail or prison to those that have been found guilty of a crime. We are even at time called upon at times of crisis, such as the death of a loved one, a massive disaster, and etc.
However, in all these situations we need to exam OUR (as pastors/pastoral care providers) motives. I believe that Pastoral Care requires us to incorporate five specific things in order to meet the needs of the members of our church, and those that come to us for help.
1.       Provide an opportunity for an individual to know Christ
·         I believe as a pastor, pastoral counselor, or pastoral care provider this one thing has to become the most essential factor of our ministry. Bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ was the focal point of every conversation that the great Pastoral Theologian of Scripture (The Apostle Paul) shared. He shared tirelessly about knowing Christ in a very personal way.

2.       Provide Prayerful Encouragement
·         As pastoral care providers we need to have an exemplary prayer life, one that when we pray the Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit stop in their tracks to listen.  People that we pray with in the hospital, nursing home, funeral home,  office, or  the front of the church need to feel that presence of Christ and that we are talking to HIM as one who expects HIM to here.  It is also important that our prayers be positive and encouraging, not demeaning to the point which someone turns away from Christ.

3.       Provide scriptural wisdom
·         Know the Scripture or least if you’re like me and sometimes have a hard time remembering things, have a cheat sheet of scripture that you can go to. The fact that scripture is always true, and always the same makes it the perfect reference point for helping individuals address many of life’s situations.

4.       Provide reassurance of the Love of Christ
·         My experience as a pastor, men’s ministry leader, children’s pastor, and counselor has shown me that one of my key roles in Pastoral Care is helping individuals understand who they are in Christ, and that regardless of what they have done Christ loves them. Please understand this doesn’t mean that he will not judge them for sins they have committed but He loves us despite. A pastor friend puts like this … “Christ loves the sinner so much he died for him, but he will never Condones the sin he commits.”

5.       Provide an opportunity for a Heart Transformation.
·         As I sit in the office and write this blog post, I realize that as a pastoral care provider it is my responsibility to provide the resources, wisdom, and encouragement to the individual sitting in front of me to Change their heart and mind.  To transform themselves from a sinner to a saint. From a lost individual to a saved member of Christ family, and to take their very being from the darkest and separation of God, to the pure light of know Christ as savior.
 Now you’re asking after reading this why I would say “Pastoral Care is an Act of Worship” and my logic is simple. When I provide pastoral care, whether in the hospital, nursing home, funeral home, families home, my office, or at the front of the church, my number one objective is help that individual to develop and strengthen their personal relationship with Christ and help them worship Christ as Lord of their life. There for I’m always attempting to Worship HIM with the person I’m talking to.

Reflecting on scripture!

            As I read this morning from Mark 2: 1 – 12; I felt a special sense of urgency.   I was reflecting on the types of people we en...