This past week we had our vacation Bible school here at New Durham Chapel. Once again it was a very exciting week with lots of energy and excitement. I want to give a big shout out to my church family who always work so hard to make this such a special week of ministry for the children that God entrusts to our care. I’ve always been very impressed with the job that our church family does in preparing, planning and organizing this rather significant outreach event. In fact, 4 or 5 years ago that I decided to start bringing my grandsons from Michigan to be part of this great week of ministry. My oldest grandson, Ethan who is now 12, was so excited this year because he got to be my helper in helping out with the games that I was in Charge of. I found this assignment last week to be rather challenging as I’d never been in charge of games before. Whenever we step out and try something new in our service for Jesus Christ it’s usually filled with challenge and uncertainty. This was certainly true about my week in charge of games for 100 children. I did fine with planning the games for the fourth through sixth graders but I was a little challenged with the younger children ages K – first graders. When I was giving instruction of what the game was going to be by the time I’d finished giving instruction usually several of the children had strayed out of line and very few of them had actually gotten the instructions of what the game is going to be. But somehow with the help of God’s grace we made it through the week no worse for the wear. It was a growing a learning experience for me. The man that had led our games in VBS for many years passed away this past September. Ed was called home into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I remember many years of going out admiring how Ed would manage the kids and be actively involved even as an older individual. His service in this area was an inspiration for me even as I served this past week.
Challenging experiences should be part of our growth pains in following the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us of this when he writes to the Philippians and tells them: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”, (Philippians 3: 13 – 14 NASB). While we can have a great sense of joy and satisfaction over what we achieved last week we need to also continue to press on and understand that we will face difficulties in our Christian journey. Paul’s desire was to achieve completeness in the sense of fulfilling God’s mission for his life. Think of what Paul had already accomplished when he’s writing this from a Roman prison. We had a great week of ministry last week and many hearts were touched by the mercy and grace of God but our task is not finished. We need to utilize the opportunities that God sets before us. When Paul talks about “reaching forward” in verse 13 of this passage he’s using language from the Greek games that we now call the Olympics. In those games when a runner was running they weren’t likely to succeed or be victorious if they looked back during the race. We are not to take our eyes off of the prize of pursuing the Lord Jesus Christ nor are we to become complacent in our service for Him. But Paul says, “I press on”. We are to pursue with relentlessly determination the Lord Jesus Christ like just some of the kids were running around during games last week in our game time. We had some very interesting races with our kids just for the joy of having victory. But we have a heavenly call that the Lord has placed on us through the Lord Jesus Christ and God is delighted when our Christian life is manifesting itself in trust and growth. God is grieved when our Christian life reflects an attitude of self-centeredness or selfishness. These attitudes hinder us from fully serving the Lord Jesus Christ. God is the one who has apprehended us for the purpose of pursuing a deep and meaningful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When we serve the Lord with joy and thanksgiving and we have a united spirit we are moving towards the prize in our service for Christ Jesus. What a beautiful thing as a pastor to see your church family pulling resources and encouraging one another and serving together for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why my heart was bursting with joy on Friday night as we all came together to celebrate what God was doing as we continue to press on for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let’s fully give ourselves to the task of making a difference in the world of brokenness and pain.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo