Take a Ride on a Roller Coaster! (4/26/15)

Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

Can you imagine a roller coaster ride that’s not filled with excitement and expectation?  Can you imagine a relationship with God that’s not filled with joy and expectation?  Pastor Jim’s sermon on April 26 challenged us to learn  from children; to take on the same wide-eyed faith that allows us to go where Jesus takes us…

Click the following “Play” button to listen to a recording of the sermon (from the 11  AM service), then scroll down to follow along…


The scripture was from Mark 10:13-16 (open the drop down box to read along)…

Mark 10:13-16

13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”

15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. NKJV

I love riding on roller coasters.  I have without fear climbed aboard some of the fiercest roller coasters available.  Yes- without fear- but not without excitement and anticipation.  Can you imagine a roller coaster ride which is not filled with excitement, joy, and anticipation?  Unless everyone has passed out, there is noise!

Raising their hands…
Just like Church!!!

The Machinery operates as well-oiled motors keep moving the coaster forward.  The call to be a disciple of Christ, to have a vibrant, growing and relevant ministry, can be wonderful and exciting at the same time.  Yet the ride IS fun, exciting, joyous, and it builds relationships with all of us who are on the ride.  And- Jesus said that we will make it through the ride!

John 16:33     I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Phil 4:13      For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a gift from God.  Why?  Could it be that we need to learn from them?  After all, Jesus said (Mark 10:15) “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”  Without kids to give us an example, how would we know how to be “as a little child?”


Be Quiet!  But we sing “There is Joy in  the Lord!”

OFH Feast14- GirlArms _IMG_1201Jesus says that the attitude and spirit- the things that make a child tick- should be part of our faith. Yes!  We should be joyous and filled with the same absolute trust that kids have.  But do we listen to them?  Or, do we try to squelch them?  The disciples tried to keep the kids away… “No, Don’t bother Jesus.  He’s got big, important, grown-up things to do.”

Jesus was angry (“Moved with indignation”).  He was displeased, disappointed and states emphatically in Mark 10:14-15 that He was not going to stand for anyone keeping children from coming from Him.

Elton Trueblood, in his book “The Heart of a Child” writes…

We tend to glorify adulthood and wisdom and worldly prudence, but the Gospel reverses all this.  The Gospel says that the inescapable condition of entrance into the divine fellowship is that we turn and become as a little child, tender and full of wonder and unspoiled by the hard skepticism on which we so often pride ourselves. 

God has sent children into the world, not only to replenish it, but to serve also as sacred reminders of something ineffably precious which we are always in danger of losing.  The sacrament of childhood is thus a continuing education.

Rather than being an annoyance, did you ever think that maybe Children have something to teach us?  We call it “Pastor’s Pals” or a “Children’s Sermon.”  The joy and simple faith of these kids acts as a sermon.  Yes, it is often a “Children’s Sermon”… a sermon taught by children, not to children.

Kids are listening.  Do we help them understand and to learn from the way they listen?


Do this Don’t Do That!  But Kids Trust only in Grace

According to Larry O. Richards’ Teachers Commentary:

In (ancient) Judaism, a “little child” was not considered to be under the Old Testament Law.  Not until one’s thirteenth birthday was a person old enough to begin to relate to God through The Law. 

To receive the kingdom like a “little child” meant to reject The Law as a way of entering God’s Kingdom, and to rely instead- as children did- on the love and grace of the God who made great promises to His people.

The faith and trust of children is amazing.   Jesus always has time for the kids.  Children are very trusting, very simple when it comes to spiritual matters.  Kids have a way of bringing excitement, a willingness to take calculated risks, and accept God at His word.   How many times as parents have we told kids “you just have to trust me on this.”  We need to trust God in the same way.


We Complain   And then Sing “How Great Thou Art”

What is our focus?  What message does it send to our kids if our walk doesn’t match our talk?  If we sing “How Great Thou Art” on Sunday morning and then complain about the usher, or someone sitting in our seat, or about the length of the sermon… are we backing up our claims of God’s greatness?  Do our conflicting messages “keep the little children” from bringing their simple absolute faith to Jesus?

Stop that Baby from Crying!  But We Want Lively Worship

We hear what we want to listen to.  There are many unimportant trivial matters that we can hear through  life’s “distractions.”  And yet, we often fail to hear important and vital things because we focus on the “distractions.”

Sometimes it seems that The Pastors Pals children’s sermon is “hijacked” by the kids. The object in the object lesson steals the kids’ attention away, and it seems that the intended message doesn’t get out.

Adults know where the pastor is trying to go.  But do we miss out on the lesson we might learn from the kids because we’re focused on the message we think we should be hearing?

What do we listen to???


Mixed Messages… Are We Pushing Little Children Away?

Jesus said “Let the little children come to Me,” and we should embrace them in our worship services.  Worship is livelier and richer with children present.  Children worshiping alongside adults who are expectant and reverent before the presence of God learn lessons they will remember all their lives.  As adults,  we can have a tremendous amount of influence on  children. We must take our role seriously; making the church the most welcoming place for children.

Three brothers went to the zoo one day for an outing.  They decided to visit the elephant cage, but soon enough, they were picked up by a security guard for causing a commotion.  The guard hauled the three boys off to the zoo security office for questioning.  The supervisor in charge asked the boys to give their names and tell what they were doing at the elephant cage.

The first brother immediately said, “My name is Gary and I was just throwing peanuts into the elephant cage.”

The second brother added, “My name is Michael, and all I was doing was throwing peanuts into the elephant cage.”

The third brother was the youngest and he was a little shaken up.  When he composed himself, he said, “well officer, my name is Peter, but my brothers and friends just call me Peanuts!”

In all we (adults) say- and do; in all of our actions- do we welcome the kids?  What messages do we send?  As in the above story, just a little bit of misunderstanding can lead someone to do the wrong things.  What are we communicating to our kids?


The Magic Kingdom and God’s Kingdom

Perhaps like many of you, my family and I have been blessed by being able to visit Disney World.  Now, while I suspect that Disney World does not intentionally intend to put forth Christian values per se, I  couldn’t help but find great spiritual lessons during our times there.

Children Matter!  Walt Disney’s dream was to create an unforgettable  experience for children. His intention was to create a place where kids could be with their parents or grandparents and be totally amazed.  Not just just amused, but amazed.  He wanted a place where children mattered, children were joyful, a place where children were valued, and a place where children wanted to return. A place where children wanted to be.

Disney once wrote:

Both my study of Scripture and my career in entertaining children have taught me to cherish them.


Jesus said:

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.


What does the church say?  Do we express that same kind of “roller coaster” excitement that teaches childlike energy, childlike joy and allows that to be driving our faith, our worship, our mission and our purpose?

In the presence of God is the fullness of joy!  Do we cherish our presence with God?  We’ve gotta have what these kids have!  We need their simple faith to jump into the arms of God.  We need their joy:

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”


Soar Like an Eagle!

The story is told of someone who took flying lessons.  In his own words…

My instructor told me  to put the plane into a steep and extended dive.  I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen.   After a brief time, the engine stalled and the plane began to plunge out of control.  It soon became evident that the instructor was not going to help me at all.

After a few seconds, which seemed like eternity, my mind began to function again.   I quickly corrected the situation.  Immediately I turned to the instructor and began to vent my fearful frustrations on him.

He very calmly said to me, “There’s no position you can get this airplane into that I cannot get you out of.  If you want to learn to fly, go up there and do it again.”

At that moment, God seemed to be saying to me,”Remember this.  As you serve Me, there is no situation you can get yourself into that I cannot get you out of.  If  you trust Me, you will be all right.”


Jesus wants us to join the children for an exciting ride… a ride which takes us on to eternity.  Jesus says…

“Trust me.  Get in, strap yourself in, and get ready for an exciting ride!  Go ahead, scream for joy as we go! 

Don’t fear the long high climb up.  Don’t fear as we go down that first bend… we’re going to twist and turn during this ride of abundant life, there will be  some jerking to the left and sudden jerks to the right, there will be plenty of times when we will be going up and then down. 

But lift your hands and scream joyously, I Am With You!”

Children teach us that passion is  the  roller coaster ride that can  happen when we follow Jesus Christ.  It’s the breathtaking, thrill-filled, bone-rattling ride of a lifetime where every moment matters, and all you can do is hang on to God’s promises (such as Phillipians 4:6-7 and Proverbs 16:3) and enjoy the ride.

Maybe it’s time we all got into the roller coaster again with God and took a ride!



 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…


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