When the Church Today Isn’t the Church You Remember

MEGAN HILL | GUEST The old men of Ezra’s day may have had aging bodies, but their minds were sharp and their hearts still sought the Lord. They could remember Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:1–8:11) like they had walked through it yesterday. Walls lined with cedar, floors covered in cypress, everything overlayed in gold. Carvings of cherubim and gourds and lions and palm trees and flowers. And, most precious of all, the ark of the Lord that had gone with God’s people since their exodus from Egypt. Everyone who remembered it agreed it was a magnificent temple, filled with the Lord’s presence. But that temple was gone—destroyed by the Babylonians decades ago—and in its place was the bare foundation of a new temple. The old men could already tell this temple wouldn’t compare with the one they remembered from childhood. God’s people no longer had Solomon’s wealth or his workforce. They labored under threats from their enemies. And, worst of all, they no longer had the ark. As the old men looked at the fresh foundation, they could only cry: “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundations of this house being laid.” (Ezra 3:12) When the church you have isn’t the same as the church you remember, it hurts...

When the Church Today Isn’t the Church You Remember2024-05-01T15:47:12+00:00

Her Name Was Nellie Smith: The Call to Intergenerational Discipleship

SHERRY KENDRICK |GUEST Her name was Nellie Smith, and she was one of my mother’s closest friends. Through the years, they became natural partners in multiple ministries. Nellie would teach and my mother would make sure there were snacks, crafts, and a welcoming space. And through this relationship, my mother learned how to disciple and encourage me in God’s Word. Deeply and faithfully, Nellie communicated God’s Word. She taught at the Good News Club, Sunday School, Children’s Church, and Vacation Bible School. She was a student of the Word, and those of us under her instruction learned the depth and breadth of Scripture. My love of the Old Testament and how it points to Jesus came from her. Though she was not formally educated, Nellie practiced the art of captivating storytelling and warm engaging lessons. It was never boring to hear her talk about the truths of Scripture. The gospel was present in every lesson, and it pierced my young heart. One day near Easter, she prayed with me to receive Jesus and she rejoiced with my family in my salvation. Nellie loved Jesus, His Word, and His church, and she loved me. Her influence in my life shaped the beginning of my spiritual formation. From Generation to Generation As the Family Ministry Director at my church, I constantly read and follow studies about faith formation and child discipleship. The Kingdom impact of Nellie’s initial investment in my life became clear to me as I learned about the development of lasting faith in children. The impact of meaningful relationships with older faithful believers, like Nellie, cannot be underestimated...

Her Name Was Nellie Smith: The Call to Intergenerational Discipleship2024-05-02T15:53:07+00:00

The Beauty of Intergenerational Friendship

KIM BARNES | CONTRIBUTOR I was 19 years old and back home in Tampa for the summer. My freshman year of college was a spiritual crucible, deepening my faith and love for Jesus. I was excited about my growing understanding of the Bible, and being a volunteer youth group leader at my home church seemed a great way to invest my time that summer. The dividends were greater than expected. A Beloved Sister in Christ Soon, I met a fellow youth volunteer named Judy who exuded warmth, kindness, and passion for Jesus. Despite the generation gap, Judy and I connected instantly. That summer we got to know each other as we led a group of teenage girls through a study of 2 Timothy. Judy was old enough to be my mother, but she didn’t treat me like a child. She valued my opinions and ideas. She extended grace to me amidst my youthful foolishness and pride and treated me as a sister in Christ. We became friends. The summer concluded and I returned to college, but Judy and I remained connected. In the days before cell phones and email, our bond was nurtured through pouring out our hearts in letters, and cherished visits during holidays and school breaks. Judy’s consistent encouragement, genuine interest in my life, and unwavering support was a gift to me. Life unfolded. I married, became a parent, and embarked on my own journey. Meanwhile Judy continued her tireless service in the church, especially among youth and women. Out of a heart overflowing with compassion, she eventually founded a ministry for single mothers. Judy cared for hundreds of women and their children, providing practical resources and spiritual nourishment. While my friendship with Judy waned over the years, a bond remained, and her example of faith and service continued to teach me. The Scriptures point to the value of relationships, like mine with Judy, that span life-stages and generations. A Call to Intergenerational Friendship In Luke’s Gospel, we witness how young Mary and aging Elizabeth turned to one another as they faced pregnancies that were impossible without God. Imagine the solace they found in each other as they traded stories of angelic visits and experienced shared awe at the unfolding miracles growing within them...

The Beauty of Intergenerational Friendship2024-05-07T17:01:41+00:00
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