You will not be the same after reading each of these inspiring and informative chapters. They are concise and comprehensive chapters and you will be captivated by each one, and blessings untold will be yours.
Russell Board has wisely chosen just one word to give each chapter a title. Amazing. Effective. Profitable. Satisfying. Fruitful. Uplifting. Instructive. Masterful.
Stand by for the thirty-first chapter entitled, "Childlike":
The words Jesus spoke and the wonders He performed brought Him great notoriety. Even without a publicity campaign or even any advance notice of His coming, word quickly spread whenever He showed up, and crowds soon gathered to see and hear Him.
Mark describes an occasion when parents were continually bringing their children to Jesus, wanting Him to touch and bless them. Some of these children are no doubt sick, disabled, or afflicted with demonic oppression, and their parents are hoping that Jesus will heal or deliver them. For the rest, the parents believe that a word or touch from Jesus will bring a lasting blessing that will make a difference in the future of their children: good health, wisdom and virtue, financial provision, protection from calamity, a happy marriage, children of their own.
It is easy to understand how the disciples might become annoyed. Picture the scene: all sorts of people are clamoring for Jesus’ attention. Those with diseases or physical afflictions are seeking healing; Pharisees and teachers of the Law are trying to interrogate Jesus and evaluate His answers; would-be followers are pushing in close to listen to His teaching; curious onlookers are hanging around hoping to see or hear something new and interesting.
The disciples are naturally trying to bring some order to this chaos. Of course they want to keep their Master from being overwhelmed or overrun by the swarming crowd. It seems like a good idea to perform a kind of triage, screening those who approach and evaluating which cases are most urgent or most important, so that Jesus can see them first.
A parent holding a bawling baby or dragging a couple of runny-nosed kids is not high on the priority list. People with status and influence to help Jesus get the recognition He deserves, yes. People with wealth to support the ministry, yes. People with obvious physical needs, certainly. But a bunch of unruly kids? They only make noise and cause disturbance when Jesus is teaching the Word of God. Who has time for that?
The disciples shake their heads in indignation, rebuke the parents, and try to send them packing. But when Jesus sees what they are doing, He Himself becomes indignant. He doesn’t appreciate their attempts to guard His space, manage His time, and arrange His meetings. He levels a rebuke of His own in their direction.
To the disciples, the children are only a potential distraction or hindrance to the important business of the Kingdom. To Jesus, the children are precious individuals, each with full value and status in the Kingdom. He gladly takes the time to give full attention to every child, to take each one in His arms, to hold each one close and speak a personal word of blessing.
At times we may be equally deserving of Jesus’ rebuke for treating children as a nuisance or an afterthought. Even if we do not send them away from Jesus, we often fail to put forth the effort or expend the resources needed to bring them to Him. This is ironic, because children are more open to the Gospel than adults, and equally capable of knowing and loving Jesus. To neglect ministry to children or relegate it to second-tier status does not accurately reflect their spiritual potential or the attitude of Jesus toward them.
For Jesus, children are prime examples of what candidates for the Kingdom should be like. He goes so far as to declare that all who enter the Kingdom of God must do so like a child. It takes a childlike heart to receive the Kingdom.
The heart of a child is teachable and filled with wonder. It takes delight in the small daily marvels the world brings its way. It hasn’t grown cynical or self-protective, but is eager to welcome whatever new adventure may lay around the next corner. Such a heart is ready to embrace the miracle of the Kingdom.
The heart of a child is eager to love and to be loved. It is a sponge that soaks up affection, and releases it with a squeeze. It delights in kisses, hugs, and cuddles. It relishes time spent with loved ones. Such a heart is quick to receive the love of God, and to return it lavishly.
The heart of a child is sincere, ready to share secrets and wishes and dreams. It hasn’t learned to hide itself under a mask. Its feelings are not buried under a pile of fear and disillusion. Such an unguarded heart is open to the reality of the Kingdom.
The heart of a child is trusting, ready to leap with abandon into the arms of a Father, confident that it will be caught and held safe and secure. The heart of a child is ready to believe. Such a heart is ripe for the good news of the Kingdom.
The heart of a child is humble and dependent. It doesn’t harbor lofty ambitions, or pretend it is self-sufficient. It doesn’t mind asking for all that it desires. Such a heart doesn’t hold back from seeking all the treasures of the Kingdom.
In status-conscious societies, both ancient and modern, the child has no accomplishments to boast about, no credentials to offer to prove his worthiness. This, too, describes the condition of all who enter the Kingdom. There is never a question of earning or qualifying for the Kingdom. It’s not about merit or reward. The Kingdom is always and only about grace.
Meditation: Can you see yourself as a child running to Jesus?
Prayer: Lord, give me a childlike heart to come to You just as I am, trusting in Your goodness, resting in Your love.
Russell is as prolific writer and is no stranger to IPHC church members.
Russell wrote Sunday school Adult Student curriculum for One Accord Resources for use by IPHC and other Pentecostal denominations for 15 years. He also wrote Adult Teacher curriculum from time to time.
The book he wrote for new believers was revised in 2012 and reprinted in a new format under the title GROW. It is available here:
Presiding Bishop Doug Beacham and Russell Board co-wrote an e-book called CHRISTMAS BEFORE AND AFTER, where Russell penned 25 readings for Advent and Doug wrote 12 reading for the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is available on Amazon here:
40 Days with Jesus is available through LifeSprings here: http://lifespringsresources.com/40-days-with-jesus-encountering-jesus-in-the-gospels
Also, the Kindle version is available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/40-Days-Jesus-Encountering-Gospels-ebook/dp/B074G2NFDZ/ref=sr_1_3
If these messages of Russell Board are meaningful to you, please let me know. I need to hear from someone who has read them and has found meaning and enlightenment. Write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org