For Granny

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The year 2018 ended with an emotional experience for my family and I, we buried Granny, my dad’s mother. She had been in bad health for quite some time, so it was not a total surprise when she passed. However, it is never easy to say goodbye to someone who had such an impact on your life. What brings the ultimate comfort is knowing where she will spend eternity, in the arms of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Still with loss, comes pain and sorrow. Family events that used to be the norm, will now only be memories. I’m grateful to have known my grandmother for 33.5 years, many can’t say the same. I’m grateful for all the lessons she taught and for the special times together with family.

It was her wishes I speak at her funeral. It was a heavy, emotional moment, but still an honor nonetheless. The following is what I wrote and read for her funeral service.

For Granny:

Today, Granny, we remember the things you said, the things you did
How much you loved us grandkids
It is easy to celebrate a live well lived.

It was always fun at Granny’s house
We would run and play; asked mom and dad if we could stay
There in the kitchen with your apron on
That chocolate and yellow cake was barely cooked before it was gone

The summer heat that would bring little league baseball games
In that long, white and black Cadillac you came
You would sip on Diet Coke, napkin wrapped around
Cheering for us to hit a homerun was the sound

The winter months would bring snow on the ground
Wrinkled one-dollar bills in box could be found
Every year, aged one to eighteen
A personalized ornament with our name and the date could be seen

You loved your church and the traditional music that would ring
We joined you on Mother’s Day as the choir in their robes would sing
It was a faith you passed down to Uncle Scott and Dad;
we are eternally grateful that you had

This past Christmas as we were all gathered
It was the sweet, sweet spirit of family that mattered
Hugs and kisses with Madelyn and Caleb on your lap
Those are the memories that bring a smile and a clap

Now you are back home in Jesus’ embrace
Where Scripture promises He saved a place
For now, we see you in picture frames
That won’t always be the case, one day the Savior will call our names

Today, Granny, we remember the things you said, the things you did
How much you loved us grandkids
It is easy to celebrate a live well lived.

Kinkade Family: A Personal Update

This post is going to be a different post for me. My posts are usually centered on helping Christ followers, ministry leaders and the like in maturing their faith and circle of influence. For this one, I want to give you a personal update on the journey my wife, family and I are on.

For the last twelve years, I have served as a local church associate pastor, mainly in the area of youth ministry. It was what I went to school to do and what we as a family have invested many hours of time and energy. We have been a part of four great churches in this time, seeing incredible ministry take place. At all four of these churches, we have been blessed beyond measure to be around incredible families who have loved us like their own family and been there for us. Local church ministry on the staff level can be robust no doubt. It can be messy and figuring out how to best work in the “system” that you are in has its challenges. There is no doubt that God called us to all four of these churches and His hand guided us in the season while we were there. I love pastoring and shepherding. I have a deep passion for the local church because it is the primary vehicle God uses to spread His Kingdom.

About five years ago I stumbled into writing with a local publishing ministry here in Nashville. I’ll never forget it. I sat around the table with the ministry leaders, writers, and editors and we planned how to best help this curriculum line take next steps. I remember calling my wife that night from my hotel and telling her, “I loved being apart of this. I don’t know what this means or looks like, but I would love to write and help local churches and ministries in this way.” One opportunity led to another, and I began contract writing soon after that and haven’t looked back. I love writing and have a deep passion for helping churches and ministries through the written word, whether that be curriculum, story-telling, and articles, blog posts, or training materials. There is no doubt in my mind that five years ago what I thought was “stumbling” across a writing project, I can clearly see as God’s providence in my life- leading, guiding and directing me.

Next week, my two passions, the local church, and writing, collide into a new full-time ministry opportunity. I have accepted a job as a copywriter with The Gideons International here in Nashville. This is an incredible organization whose sole purpose is to win the lost to Christ and to get the Word of God into the hands of as many people as possible. How awesome is that! Will it be a change of pace and a learning curve? For sure. Are we excited? Absolutely! God is faithful. He has and continues to reveal that to us time and time again. He can be trusted when things are going well. He can be trusted when you have no idea what will happen next.

Our life long calling is ministry and the advancement of the Kingdom of God. We get one shot at this thing we call life, and we want to do well. The local church was established by God Himself for a reason. Plug in, be active, serve, give. Be faithful to the mission given to every single believer to make disciples in your circle of influence and beyond. I love the local church and pastoring. I love writing, and I’m eternally grateful for this God-ordained opportunity. I am also incredibly thankful for my incredible wife and family who has been right beside me every single step of the way.

Three Consistent “Asks” of Kids and Students

There are a lot of “asks” in life. As married adults, our spouses will ask for us to run errands, help fix something, or our opinion on different matters. Kids and teenagers are often asked to do homework, to help pick up siblings, help with yard work, to sit still and pay attention or potentially many other things. At times, it seems whether we are 8 years old or 88 years old that people are always asking something of us. Quite frankly it can get draining even if our true hearts desire is to serve and submit well.

With this framework in mind, I’m very careful how often and what I ask of my wife, my family and the volunteer leaders I serve alongside. I don’ want my reputation to be one of every time someone sees my name on their phone or sees me coming down the hall, they want to hit the decline button or walk the other direction because they know I need them to do something. As leaders, we always need help. People know this, it is no secret, especially in the local church setting. Volunteers want to feel valued and like they are making a difference. Therefore, it is important that even before we ask, they know we value them and love them no matter what. After all, that should be why we are asking them to help with something in the first place.

I spend most my days and weeks working with kids and students and with those that work with or parent kids and students. When it comes to asking of kids and students, I’m also very careful how often I do this and in the manner in which I do this. Especially students can often feel like you are just using them because they are gifted and talented in a certain area or because they are simply available.

There are three things I’m fairly consistent in asking kids and students to bring with them to church every week (outside of themselves, of course).

Their Bible. This may seem like a no brainer or it may even seem as if we are only desiring the “committed Christian” to show up. However, in the ministries I lead I want it to be no secret we are a people of the Bible. It is the most important book you can ever engage with. Period. If we can get a Bible in every kids and students hands that they can read and understand and instill in them and their parents the importance of daily Bible reading/engagement, then we are helping lay a crucial foundation in their life. It is impossible to disciple a person without Bible engagement. Therefore, I often say, “Be sure and bring your Bible with you. If you don’t have one or one that is easy for you to understand, come see me or one of the leaders and we will be sure and get you one as soon as possible.” 

A friend. The local church should always be a safe, fun and exciting place for kids and students to bring their friends. The big picture is we want to instill into kids and students  the importance of building healthy relationships with others. Then they/we have an opportunity to share the Gospel with others. Also, especially in the next generation, they want to be where their friends are. We don’t want to be event-driven, but we do want create environments that foster community. Therefore, I will often say or social media things like, “See you Wednesday at 6pm with a friend!” Also while promoting an event I will say something like, “This is an incredible thing to bring friends to that may not go to church or are looking for a new church.”

A willingness to learn and grow. I realize this is not a person or object but it is still very important. We want kids and students to know, in a very age-appropriate way, that we are a ministry and we desire for them to grow spiritually and learn all they can about God, His plan of redemption, the Church, how to live on mission and many other things about the Christian life. This is the age they are most eager to learn so we must capitalize on that. Therefore, I will often say something like, “Be ready to learn something very exciting this coming Sunday” or I will give them a well crafted, short, catchy phrase and then say, “You want to find out what this means… we will see you at church tonight!” This helps create a little bit of curiosity and an eagerness to learn more.

We don’t want to “ask” just for the sake of asking or sounding like a broken record. We have intentional asks because we care about the next generation and their walk with Jesus.

 

3 Things to Remember When Teaching Kids the Bible

One of my absolute favorite things I get to do every week is teach kids the Bible. For some, a room full of elementary kids bouncing off the walls, desiring to play tag with every free minute all while downing a sprinkles-filled donut, might not sound so awesome. While at moments it can drive you nuts, another way to look at it is all the potential that lies in the room. Here is the truth: these kids will not stay kids forever. They will continue to grow up. They are growing up in a world that does not love Jesus and could care less about pursuing Jesus. Parents, therefore, what you teach them matters. Kids ministry leaders, what you do every Sunday and Wednesday matters. It matters for eternity. You can’t save your child or anyone else’s child for that matter but what you can do is teach. You can take a pie-in-the-face, laugh with kids, and then share the Gospel with them. You can set a Godly example. You can equip and release.

Recently, I stepped into more of role in our church’s kids worship environment. It has grown me as a teacher of God’s Word and has shown me things I never saw before. And, quite frankly, I love it. There is simply something incredible about seeing a kid have a “lightbulb” moment and get it for the first time.

While being a part of kids worship I’m learning more and more about the ways kids learn and intake information. If you are a parent of a child, a kids ministry leader, a life-long VBS volunteer, a chaperon for events, or whatever role you find yourself in ministering to kids, I would like to offer you three tips when teaching kids the Bible. I’m in no way an expert in this area but I have found these helpful.

Break it down, don’t water it down. It is huge we understand the difference in these two things. When you break it down you desire to teach for impact. When you water it down you are simply “getting by.” By breaking it down you understand that you have influence in a kid’s life and you desire them to know Jesus. Typically, kids has a greater capacity than we give them credit for. They CAN understand the Gospel and Biblical truths. They CAN understand sin. They CAN understand why Jesus had to come to die for our sins. When we choose to water it down, we live under the false pretense that “kids can’t handle this yet.” As a result, we are doing kids a major disservice. This way of thinking usually comes from an immature Christian that simply does not want to put the time or preparation in. No doubt teaching kids is a difficult task. They are restless, up and down, and their favorite word is usually “why.” However, what we miss when we water it down instead of breaking it down, is the incredible opportunity to speak Gospel truth into the life of a kid at the most receptive time of their life.

Make it stick, so it will click. How you teach, what you teach matters. Hardly a time goes by that I don’t use objects, visual aids, or some form of media, when I’m teaching kids the Bible. These are all great tools in breaking it down to help kids understand what we are trying to communicate to them. When kids understand truth it gives them the opportunity to embrace truth and then apply that truth to the people around them. So work hard at making it memorable so they will have “lightbulb” moments. It is important to remember that you won’t hit a “home-run” every time. That is to be expected and okay. Change your methods up every once in a while, spend time with a parent or a ministry leader further down the road than you and ask what worked for them. All these things can help you think of ways to creatively teach kids the Bible.

Explain the Gospel clearly and often. Never, ever lost sight of this. While I’m all for exciting environments, they should NEVER replace or trump the Gospel message. Again, teach in a very age-appropriate way but never lose sight of the bottom line of why you are teaching in the first place- to introduce kids to Jesus. Don’t lose Jesus in the production. Ask a kid how they became a Christian, and they will inevitably tell you about a time that a caring adult, whether it be mom and dad, a Sunday school teacher, a coach, or a kids pastor/ministry leader, took the time to invest into them and tell them about the greatest hope they can ever have. This is a beautiful picture of the Church being the Church.

Bottom lineCreatively break down the Gospel message so kids clearly understand it and as a result have the chance to connect to it.

Here are three questions to consider as you are teaching kids the Bible:

  1. What is the one thing I want them to remember from our time together in God’s Word? (In other words, what is your bottom line?)
  2. How can I best teach this to them in a fun, age-appropriate way?
  3. No matter what I’m teaching them, how can I tie it back to the Gospel and what Jesus has done for us?

3 Things Christ Following Parents Need to Constantly Remind Their Kids

My wife and I have been parents for a little over three years now. We have a three 1/2-year-old daughter and a four-month-old baby boy. No, we are not getting sleep at night, and yes, we still love being mommy and daddy. Just the other night I was holding our four-month-old, Caleb, as he had fallen asleep in my arms. I began to look at him, gently rub his head and pray for him. In the background I could hear our three 1/2-year-old daughter running around, avoiding brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed. She is a constant reminder of what energy and laughter are. I thought about the current state of the world and what lies ahead. I thought about the solar eclipse that occurred this past Monday and what an incredible display of the awesomeness of God it was. I thanked God for who He is and how He graciously continues to reveal Himself to us. I thanked God that no matter how crazy our world gets, He is still on His throne.

As I was looking at Caleb, I began to have a thought I have had many times before, “What do I want our kids to learn and grasp?” As a Christ-following parent, if I could remind them of a few things over and over, what would those things be? These three things came to mind…

God loves you more than you will ever know. Yes, it is crazy important for our kids to know how much we as parents love them. We are very intentional to continually be affirming and loving with Madelyn and Caleb, even in the tough moments. Even in their very young minds, we want to instill in them that the greatest love they will ever know is the love of God. As much as mom and dad love them, God loves them more. While being raised in a Christian home, having a dad who is a pastor, and being taught the Bible at church and home, a relationship with God is personal. We desire for our kids to know and embrace how much God loves them personally. He loves them so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for their sins so they can have a right relationship with Him.

This world is broken. Just yesterday morning, while working from a local coffee shop, I had a conversation with someone about brokenness in their family. Divorce amid an affair had broken a more than 20-year marriage within their family. As I talked with this person, the conversation led to how an eight old girl had been affected by the situation. In one word, brokenness. An 8-year-old sees this, and an 88-year-old considers this. We live in a broken world as a result of sin. We need to continually remind our kids that the brokenness they see is NOT the way God intended the world to be. He still is crazy in love with us even when we make decisions that do not bring Him glory. We must instill in our kids that yes, brokenness will always exist on this side of eternity but, they can choose to pursue Jesus.

Jesus is always better. Our kids will face many temptations and decisions along the way. When it comes to choosing the God-honoring path or the worldly path, may we always instill in our kids that Jesus is simply better. He still is. The world offers quick, temporary “happiness” and Jesus offers eternal joy. There is a big difference between these two things. From the young child that yells, “But Mommy, I want it now!” to the teenager that keeps asking, “But why…?!” we need to continually keep Hebrews 12:1-2 on the hearts and minds of our kids. Why? Because Jesus is better, in every single circumstance that may arise.

From one Christ-following parent to another one that is reading this right now, I know it is hard. We in no way have this parenting thing figured out. There are parents that we lean on and ask for Godly advice all the time. We are praying for you as you raise kids in a world that does not love and pursue Jesus. We pray the Gospel of Jesus Christ will so grip your kid’s hearts and minds that they will passionately live for Jesus and His Kingdom. We are continually praying this for our kids.

Three Prayers for Graduates

Graduation is an exciting time in the life of families. When students walk across the stage and receive their diploma, wave at family and friends, it closes one chapter and begins a new one. Christ following parents pray for years that when their high school senior reaches this season of life that they are equipped to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They pray that would not simply know Bible stories but that they would know the story of the Bible. They pray that they would know exactly what they believe and why they believe it.

This is also a season of the unknown to a graduate. Sure they may know where they are going to school and what degree program interests them. Sure they may have a job lined up. However, for many graduates, it is their first time to have this much independence. The first time to experience what life is like in adulthood. So what should we pray for high school graduates entering this season of life?

“God, reveal yourself to me.”

Psalm 25:4a, “Show me your ways, Lord,…”

Every single believer in Jesus Christ should pray this often and with a sincere heart. If you have no desire for God to reveal Himself to you, then you are not walking with Jesus. You may know a few things about Him, but you are not walking with Him. What was the first thought you had this morning? What was the first action that you acted upon? For me, I answered 2 text messages and 4 emails before I even said hello to my family or got ready for the day. Don’t get so busy with life, work, and relationships that you place the most important relationship in your life on hold. When you wake up, may your hearts’s passion be: “God, reveal Yourself to me in a new and refreshing way.”

Then, be ready. If you really want God to reveal Himself to you, it will change your life. It will change your head, your heart, and your hands. 2 Corinthians 4:6 reads, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 

“God, refine me through Your mission.”

Psalm 25:4b, “…teach me your paths.”

There is a ton of self-help philosophy out there these days.  “3 ways to be a better you!” “4 things that must be accomplished today!” “6 ways to climb up the latter in life!” “5 ways to get what you want!” You know what the difference in philosophy/life theories and walking with Jesus is? Philosophy is connected to a system. Christianity is connected to the Savior. Systems, as good as some of them may be, will fail you at some point. They will let you down. Jesus will never, ever fail you, even in your worst moments and on your worst days.

The second half of verse 4 says, “teach me Your paths.” Don’t walk in your own strength and in your own wisdom. Jeremiah 6:16 encourages us by reminding us that, “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 “God, ready me to live my faith strong.”

Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Then, what is the action item? David prays in verse 5 that the LORD would guide him. Our world does not love Jesus. What is one of the best things you can do for a world that does not love Jesus? Ready yourself, in and through the Holy Spirit, to live a strong faith. What are some ways you can tell you have a strong faith? As a result of your faith, do others ask you about your faith often? Do you lead well in your home, church, and in your circle of influence? When things don’t go well, what or whom do lean on? Your faith in Jesus or what you can simply figure out? 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us of an incredible truth we must live by daily, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” In life, you may not see what is coming around the corner but, you serve a God that knew it was coming before you ever even existed. Trust Him, with all your heart.

Congratulations class of 2017.

Caleb Andrew Kinkade

On April 7, 2017 we welcomed our second child into the world, Caleb Andrew Kinkade. Madelyn is doing great as a big sister and everyday we continue to learn and grow ourselves as parents.

At the end of the day, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We are praying three specific prayers over Madelyn and Caleb’s lives as we raise them to love and pursue Jesus more than she loves anything else.

  • Our first prayer is that their lips would proclaim the glory of God to the nations.
  • Our second prayer is that their hands would be about the work of the LORD.
  • Our third prayer is that their feet would walk in truth.

Baby Caleb

We Didn’t Go to Church on Wednesday

We didn’t go to church this past Wednesday evening. Before you jump to conclusions, no, I have not lost my job and yes, things are fine at the church. We didn’t go to church on Wednesday because it was fall break for our local school system and we didn’t have our regularly scheduled activities. Our local school system actually has a two week fall break. Our student ministry had a game night during the first week and then the second week we gave our leaders and families a break. Many people were out of town for both weeks anyway.

This past Wednesday actually ended up being a very eye-opening, confirming night for me. Let me explain by giving you four observations/confirmations I made by being a home on a Wednesday night.

Our neighborhoods are full of people not connected to a local church. I saw many of our neighbors and their friends. At one point I looked out our front door and counted 8 kids, various ages. The driveways were full of cars, not empty. I had a great conversation with my next door neighbor about his job, family, and what it is like raising kids. It lasted about 30 minutes but no where in the conversation did he say, “Wait a minute, aren’t you a pastor? Why aren’t you at church right now?” We talk about missional living as this trip we go on 10 hours down the road in a different city, all while we have people we see everyday, that live right next to us, that may not be saved. That aren’t connected to a local church.

Our start times may be difficult for some. Several of my neighbors got home right before 6pm or right after 6pm. Most of the ones I personally know work 30-45 minutes away from our neighborhood. Our church has an optional dinner that begins at 5pm and then activates start at 6pm or a little bit after. People are busy, no doubt. Several families have two working parents, leaving/picking up kids at daycare, practices, recitals, and so many other things. We have to have a start time for programming. If you start earlier people can’t get off work to be there in time. If you start later you run into bed times for younger kids, middle and high students cramming to finish homework, and so on. Its a hard call when is the best time to start. Again just an observation about how crunched people are for time.

People miss church. I received a text message from one of our leadership high school students right before 6pm asking what time the party started at my house. We joked for a little while and I thought to myself, “What a great idea for another fall break down the road!” If I had student stuff that night would some have came, yes. Would it been a great night, yes. Next two week fall break am I going to meet both weeks, no. Why? It’s totally okay and valid to give volunteers a break every once in a while. It gives them a necessary break and tells them I appreciate what they do. You also have to have volunteers to pull it off. If you don’t, then you need to seriously evaluate what and how you are doing ministry. It was good to hear from students and know that they miss when we don’t meet.

I love what I do. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and spending time with them, but I missed church as well. It was an odd feeling. What was on TV? What were we going to do? I ended up thinking a lot about church and actually began writing this blog post. Outside of family vacation and if I’m so sick I can’t see straight, we are always at church on Wednesday. Some may say, “Well you are paid to be, right?” Technically, yes, but I have gone to church on Wednesday nights long before I was a paid staff member. That does not make me more spiritual than someone who works third shift and simply can’t make it a Wednesday night at 6pm. Church is a priority in my family, always has been, always will be.

We didn’t go to church this past Wednesday evening. Was that a bad thing, not at all. Should that be the habit, not at all.

 

Families and the Summer Months

Summer is here!!! What an exciting time for families to connect with each other and do Kingdom work! What tends to happen within the summer schedule is we allow our spiritual growth to drift a little bit due to different schedules, vacations, camps, and so forth. For many of us this can be done very unintentionally but yet very easily. Satan is “crafty” as Genesis 3 teaches and he may be getting your heart by getting your calendar. If you are consistently going to bed at night exhausted and worn out from various activities, there is a chance you might be falling into this category. You might be involved in really great, moral, activities but are you engaged in Gospel-centered, Kingdom work? Allow me to make four suggestions that you and your family can do over the summer to enhance your spiritual walk both as individuals and as a family.

Share the Gospel. Find a family in your neighborhood that is lost, on the fringe, or unchurched, and make a connection with them. Invite them over for a meal and fellowship. Take them a plate of cookies one afternoon and invite them to a family event at your church. The key, however, is to do all this with the intention of sharing the Gospel with them. A neat thing to also do is pray for the families in your neighborhood by street.

Connect to a Daily Bible Reading Plan. Make sure you and your family are in the Word every single day. Parents have to be the ones setting the example and modeling this. Kids will model what they see. There are TONS of great resources available to help out with this such as bible apps, websites, and printed materials are all very accessible. My encouragement to families is to find a time, a place, and a resource that works for them and be diligent to see it through.

Spend Quality Time Together. I know spending quality time together as a family is growing more and more difficult simply due to schedules, especially if you are raising multiple kids. Make it a point to spend quality family time 2-3 times a week. In this time talk about what God is doing in your hearts and lives. Spend time together by seeing a movie, grilling out with other families, going to a local ballgame, or getting some ice-cream after dinner one night. All of these things communicate a key truth: I care about you and you are worth my time. Kids, whether they want to admit it or not, want to know we care about them and love them. One of the best ways to do this is to simply spend time together. Jesus modeled this in His ministry- He was all about people. He also took time to be alone- to rest and relax and spend time with the Heavenly Father.

Engage into Ministry Outreach. Simply put, be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around you. Serve during VBS week and/or get plugged into a mission opportunity through the local church. Find another family that is in need and if you are able to, meet it. If you don’t have the resources to help them do what you can, God will honor your heart and effort. One of the best ways we can reach families with the Gospel is simple acts of service. We model this because Jesus modeled this.

Summer is often seen as a time of rest and relaxation. While we definitely need to take time to do this, that doesn’t mean we put evangelism and spiritual growth on hold or make it an after thought. This summer, whether we have a lot of free time or we find ourselves so “busy” we literally can’t fit everything in, Jesus and Kingdom work must be our top priority.

Here is a simple way to think about ministry as a family:

Sharing: Who are we telling our faith story too?

Growing: How are we growing in our faith and as a family?

Caring: When are we spending quality time together?

Engaging: Where are we plugging into ministry?

Baseball, Graduation, and What is to Come

Spring is in full swing which means warmer temperatures, people putting up their winter coats and getting out shorts and flip-flops! You also begin to see families outside walking around, playing, and hanging out. The snow is gone and the sun has come back out and there is an excitement that comes with that!

I also love this time of the year because I am a huge baseball fan. I love throwing baseball outside, going to ballgames, and watching games on TV. From the sights and sounds of a bat hitting the ball, to peanuts and a coke at the ballpark, to teams competing against one another, it is all exciting for the devout baseball fan. From my earliest childhood memories, I remember being on the ball field with my teammates and my Dad coaching me either from the dugout or from the stands.

Baseball, like any other athletic completion, has two major components- the preparation for the season and then the actual season of play. We see this from little league baseball players who throw with their parents, siblings, or friends in their backyard to the professional athlete who trains to be bigger, faster, and stronger than they were the year before. Once the season gets here it is all on the line. All the preparation is to compete for the prize- a championship. Both preparation for the season and the actual season of play are crucial for the baseball player, their coaches, and the team itself.

Also in the spring comes another important time in the life of many families- graduation. High school seniors are getting their final assignments turned in, getting senior pictures taken, prepping for what is next, and in a few short weeks will walk across a stage and graduate from high school. This is a time to celebrate the growth that has been accomplished over the last several years of their lives, academically, physically, and spiritually. The graduation season is a lot like the game of baseball. There is a season of preparation and the season that is to come. In a lot of ways, for the high school graduate and their families, what comes after graduation has been prepared for and prayed over for the last 18+ years. From the joyous moments, to the hard conversations, the laughs, the tears, all this for the season that is to come.

So, what is to come?  In a baseball season, there are wins and loses. There are unexpected things that come up that no one saw coming. Typically, it doesn’t go exactly how teams had planned. Life is no different. There are wins and loses and unexpected joys and hardships. The key in life is to have a personal relationship with the One who knows exactly what will happen next- Jesus Christ. Nobody on this side of eternity knows what will take place next. As believers in Jesus Christ we know He holds the future and what Scritpure has laid out for us. However, we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Jesus does.

The apostle Paul encouraged the church in Corinth with this in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (HCSB)…”Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self- control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.”

So what would I tell the Christ-following high school senior? Run in such a way to win the prize. A prize that is so much more than an athletic championship. A prize with eternal value. Remember, life is not about you, it is about the glory of God. God has a beautiful plan laid out for your life, including this next season you are about to enter, so pursue Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. There will be ups and downs, unexpected joys and hardships. In all this, Jesus is still King and He still holds your life in the palm of His hand.