Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 3:9-20 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Recently, at Boulder Church, we did a week of Vacation Bible School (VBS). It is still a mystery that even after the laughing, the crying, the chaos, the tears, the ups and the downs, kids go away from that one week already completely pumped for next year. I had one grandparent tell me that her grandkids talk about Vacation Bible School all year long!
Now, before I say what I’m going to say next, I want one thing to be very clear: I love Vacation Bible School. It is such an incredible opportunity to have consistent time with kids—to get to know them and to help them get to know Jesus!
With that being said, when I read Paul quote Psalm 14:1-3, my mind jumped right to VBS. You see, this year our theme was “AMPED: Living Fully Alive,” based on John 10:10 where Jesus says that He came so that we might have life more abundantly. And what better way for kids to live life more abundantly than to set up an obstacle course! One small detail: only one kid can go through the course at a time. Not a problem, unless you’re between the ages of four and eleven. Then it’s a big problem. We quickly put into place a rule that if any child shoved anyone else while getting in line, he or she would have to go to the back of the line. If a child were to shove a second time, he or she would not be allowed to do the obstacle course at all. My words—which seemed very clear and straightforward to me— appeared to fall on deaf ears many nights.
This text really rings true: “There is no one without sin. None! There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help. All have turned away. Together everyone has become evil. None of them does anything good” (Romans 3:10-12, ICB).
It’s easy to look at kids who want to shove to the front of the line and think they just don’t understand. They aren’t listening. They’re only thinking about their turn. Before you lose all faith in me as a pastor for Live Wonder, Live Adventure, and Live Purpose (otherwise known as kids across a variety of ages), I want to share with you the joy on the other side of “the line” everyone competes to cross first. Each and every kid was cheered on by their small group as they hopped, scurried, twisted, and turned throughout the obstacle course. They loved watching each other succeed.
I wonder if, as adults, we have learned the etiquette of not shoving one another, but instead have replaced this obvious bad behavior with the more subtle action of tearing people down. We won’t directly cut in line, but we certainly won’t often cheer each other on from the sidelines either. Psalm 14 tells us that “the wicked destroy God’s people as if they were eating bread,” and “they upset the plans for the poor,” but in spite of this, “the Lord will protect the ones whom they harm.”
Recalibrate: When was the last time you genuinely cheered someone on? How does this act enhance your own relationship with Jesus?
Respond: Ask God to show you how you can be a cheerleader for someone in your life today.
Research: Read Psalm 14.
Remember: “There is no one without sin. None! There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help. All have turned away. Together everyone has become evil. None of them does anything good” (Romans 3:10-12, ICB).
Jessyka Albert is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church, leading Live Wonder (ages 0-3), Live Adventure (ages 4-11), and Live Purpose (ages 12-17), along with their supporting ministries. She grew up in Washington State and has a degree in theology from Union College in Lincoln, NE. Jessyka has served in various areas of ministry, but her passion for discipling kids has taken center stage in her career.
Make a list of “This Is How We Play” words for you and your little one. For example, how about the word “gentle”? We can demonstrate how to be gentle when we turn the pages of books, when we play with others, and when we pick up our children. Let our actions match the words we are using so our little ones get a clear understanding of what each word means.
Do you have rules in your home or at school that everyone is supposed to keep? Rules like washing your hands after you’ve been to the bathroom or keeping your own space clean? How does a new kid at school or church find out about the rules? If a friend comes to your house, how do they know what your family rules are? Make a list of the rules that you live by every day. The list might begin with “I am kind to everyone I meet.”
The text describes different parts of our bodies that are impacted by sin: our throats, tongues, lips, mouths, feet, and eyes. Have you ever thought about how our different body parts are used to sin? Think about a way you've previously sinned—what body part(s) played a role? Reflect about ways you could use that body part to glorify God.