Monday, May 16, 2022


I had the honor of speaking before 300+ kids, teachers, and parents this past Friday at the final Chapel of the school-year for Keswick Christian Elementary & Pre-K School this past Friday. I may have come to delivery a message, but I left there inspired by the enthusiasm & zeal these kids had for Jesus... not to mention the encouragement I received by getting a glimpse of the love & hard work the teachers are obviously pouring into their students. It was a wonderful morning!
My message to the kids was simply relaying how much God believes in a young person's ability and capacity through Jesus to make a BIG difference in this world and in other people's lives. Sometimes when you're a kid you think you can't make a BIG difference until you become an adult. BUT, God doesn't see it that way! In fact, God makes some of the BIGGEST impacts in this world in and through young people. 
Did you know that the youngest King mentioned in the Bible was only 7 years old?! 2 Chronicles 24 says that, "Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years... Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord... Joash decided to restore the temple of the Lord." WOW! A 7 year old King that reigned for 40 years, did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and took on the visionary ambition to restore the temple of the Lord - now that's impressive!
Consider how important Jesus says kids are in the Kingdom of God and the importance of maintaining childlikeness throughout your life: "He [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:2-4).
Did you know that the older you get the less likely you are to ask Jesus into your heart? It's not because you get older and wiser and come to the "realization" that "God is a fairy tale" or an "imaginary friend". It's because you either get bad information, make bad decisions, and/or make friends with some bad influences. It's not that you become older and wiser; it's because you become older and jaded... which causes your heart to become harder & harder to the reality of God. That's not only true when it comes to salvation- it's also true when it comes to the quality & enjoyment of life. Many times as we get older we take on too much seriousness, heaviness, & no-nonsense not realizing that the abandonment of wonder, silliness, playfulness, and childlikeness actually makes your life more rigid, dull, boring, less efficient, less effective, unhealthy, and joyless. God's message to us is (and I'm paraphrasing here): Always stay a kid-at-heart.
Think of baby Jesus or Jesus as a kid... He was ALREADY changing the world, impacting the people around Him, and inspiring adults. Never underestimate the ability and capacity of a kid.
If all of that wasn't enough to illustrate the value and potential that God puts on young people then I leave you with this verse from 1 Timothy 4:12: "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." God believes in young people! God calls young people! God inspires us through young people!
I happen to run a ministry that works a lot with kids, teens, and young adults. I've beat this drum since Day One of GTD - we don't look down on young people. Some of our best volunteers have been kids! When young people show up for their adventure we expect them to help set up their tents, set up their cots, help make meals, help clean-up around camp, and so much more. It actually makes the adventures more fun and the overall adventure experience better and more satisfying. One of the biggest disservices of our culture in the past 50 years is pacifying kids with and addicting kids to entertainment, social media, and video games... then expecting them to be mature & responsible when they turn 18 years old. It doesn't work. Kids are so incredibly capable. Deep down they want to help in meaningful and constructive ways.
I could tell you countless stories about kids & youth that have come on GTD adventures and inspired us and even taught us as adults. There are times when I've learned more from a kid sharing what a Bible verse meant to them than I did from a theologian with a seminary degree. I've watched fearless kids jump off a cliff into the water be the inspiration to a fearful adult to have the courage to do the same thing. Never underestimate the ability and capacity of a kid.
I wrapped up my speech on Friday with this encouragement. I'm 51 years old. I've made a lot of decisions in my life, BUT the 2 BEST DECISIONS I ever made was when I was in elementary school. The #1 BEST decision I ever made was when I was 8 years old I asked Jesus into my heart. In the 43 years since that decision I have yet to make a decision that even comes close to how outstanding that one decision was. I'm 1000% sure I would have either be an alcoholic, addicted to something, in jail, or in hell right now. That one decision as an 8 years old kid changed the entire trajectory of my life. The #2 BEST decision I ever made came when I was 10 years old just a couple of years after asking Jesus into my heart. My Mom was going through one of the worst emotional pains a person can experience in life. She worked so hard to keep my Sister and I from knowing how devastated she was. But I would wake up at night and I could hear her sobbing in bed and it crushed my heart more than I could ever articulate. I would start sobbing from hearing my Mom and I would put a pillow over my face so she couldn't hear me. It was in that moment that I made the 2nd BEST decision of my life. At 10 years old and with a heart softened by Jesus, I decided that I would never do anything that would ever add grief or sadness to my Mom's life. My Mom suffered in silence for several years to protect us - her kids. From that point on one of my life's top ambitions has been to be a joy to my Mom. I'm humbled & happy to say that mission was accomplished. 43 years later her joy continues to be one of the driving forces of my life, and more importantly it was the greatest gift I could have ever given my Mom. I've never been married and I don't have kids, but I can imagine how much a wayward child would have burdened a parent's heart & mind for years. Likewise, I can imagine how much a faithful child would be an unending source of joy to a parent's heart & mind. I see that in my Mom's eyes. I see that kind of joy when she sees her kids. I wanted to build my Mom a mansion to live in. Unfortunately I started a non-profit (LOL!). Besides that, Jesus said that was His job. He builds the mansions. I found that the best gift I could ever give my Mom & my Dad was to live in a way that never added grief or sadness to their life. I'm certainly far from perfect, but I never did anything I'm aware of that gave them an ulcer, a migraine, or grief... even with all my practical jokes haha!
I made the 2 BEST decisions of my life as an elementary school aged kid. Don't miss that important fact. Don't underestimate kids. There is a capacity in young people that God does not overlook, and neither should we.
(Special thanks to Amanda Marie for making this happen!)