Stay up to date with events at Providence Church. The Fall schedule 2015 can be downloaded from our website by clicking here.
It is back to school time! The school shopping finished and new back packs and lunch boxes ready! Kids are prepared for class. Here is a question; are they spiritually prepared for school? Take a read of the following article by a member of Providence Church, Sasha Barker, on helping to prepare kids spiritually for their return to the classroom.
6 Ways to Spiritually Prepare for Back to School
I don’t know about you, but when I hear “back to school” I think backpacks, textbooks, school supplies, haircuts, packed lunches, alarm clocks. Nothing peaceful or promising is elicited from the words back to school. Have a look at the circulars in your newspaper and the ads on your browser’s homepage. Society wants us to spend, spend, spend. Keep up with the Jones’ and “head back to school in style.” It makes me wonder what would happen if instead of spending, I took some time this season to invest. So, as I found myself struggling to answer questions such as “How many food groups are covered by an uncrustable PB&J sandwich?” or “How many marking periods could a $6.00 backpack really last?” I began to ask myself what I was doing to prepare my children spiritually for the back to school season. What investments have I made? If you too are pondering how to spiritually prepare your children for school, here are a few ideas I hope you will consider.
1. Find a devotion
I know what you’re thinking. Who has time to add one more thing to the morning schedule when you are already getting up at 5 A.M? Please hear me out. Starting your morning off in the word, with your children, is more than just something that should be included in your routine. It’s more than just another thing to check off your To Do list. Starting the day in God’s word tells your kids where your priorities are. More importantly, consistent morning devotion time gives the Holy Spirit the perfect opportunity to inform the decisions of your child’s day. Someone once said, “The gospel brings man to God; devotions keep him close to God. If you are pressed for time, be creative. Read your devotion during breakfast, or have one of the children read it from the backseat on your drive to school. If your children are too small to read, download an app to your smartphone or tablet. YouVersion is an app that has text-to-voice capabilities and tons of great devotionals that are perfect for children. Simply download the app, select an age-appropriate devotion, and have your phone read it to your family as you drive along.
2. Get plugged into a church
Again, I know it sounds like I’m asking you to miraculously find all of this extra time in your schedule. Actually, I’m not asking you to find time. I’m suggesting that you MAKE time. If your family is anything like mine, before the first pack of loose leaf paper is used up, your calendar will be so full of sports events, club meetings, homework commitments, conferences, sleepovers, and PTA obligations that you have to schedule dinner time. Make a mid-week church service a priority. If Johnny wants to be involved in football, track, and student government, remind him that if the practice schedule, or meeting times conflict with your Wednesday night Bible study, he’ll need to choose a different activity. Consistent involvement in youth group or an age-appropriate Bible study is important for spiritual growth and making this weekly commitment a non-negotiable priority teaches your children that spiritual growth should be a primary concern.
3. Pray with and for your child
If you believe in the power of prayer, be sure that belief is evident to your children. Pray together for their teachers. Pray for their coaches. Pray about difficult decisions that are coming up. Thank God for your child’s education, their school, and their healthy friendships. Ask God to inform the difficult decisions that are made daily by the administration at your child’s school. Ask Him to strengthen your children to stand firm in the face of bullying and peer pressure. The book of 1 Thessalonians reminds us to pray without ceasing. Look for opportunities to pray with your children; not just at meals and bedtime, but throughout the day. If your student tells you about a poor decision that one of her classmates made, rather than say “that’s disappointing,” or ask her how she would have handled that situation differently, take a moment to pray with your child that God would use her to speak into her friend’s life and that He will use her friend’s poor decisions to draw her into a closer relationship with Him. As you make time to pray daily with your child for his teachers, pastors, coaches, and principal, watch in awe as God instills a very healthy sense of admiration and respect in your child for those in authority over him.
4. Talk about modesty
Back to school shopping can be nightmarish, especially if your child’s school does not enforce a modest dress code. As you are shopping for the perfect pair of jeans for Dress Down Friday, take this opportunity to tell your tween or teen why you vetoed the skinny jeans she selected. Encourage her to dress in a way that does not draw attention to herself, but that honors God and is respectful of her male classmates. Don’t fall for Satan’s lie “But daddy, that’s the style.” Now, I’m not advocating you purchase a wardrobe that rivals Laura’s from Little House on the Prairie; I’m simply saying there is something beautiful about a teenage girl who is confident enough to let her beauty shine from inside and leave the rest to the imagination. The apostle Paul says it like this, in 1 Timothy chapter 2, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not adorning themselves with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
5. Teach your kids about contentment and good stewardship
If your email inbox looks anything like mine, you are sick to death of hearing about backpacks for 40% off, lists of back to school “necessities” or the perfect pair of sunglasses to “turn heads this fall.” Before you load the minivan and spend a small fortune at the mall, inventory your home. Does your 7th grader really need a new backpack, brand new shoes and five new Hollister tees before school starts back up? Of course some of these are occasionally necessary, but buying your child a brand new wardrobe each year, just because it’s August, teaches him to be discontent with what he has. Teach your children good stewardship by re-using and appreciating the gently used things with which God has already blessed your family.
6. Talk to your kids about their day
Lastly, talk to your kids about their school day. I think as parents we sometimes feel guilty for asking our child to answer a bunch of questions after they’ve been quizzed and brain bombed all day. However, asking about your child’s day is a great way to create those teachable moments Moses wrote about Deuteronomy chapter 6. When they rise and when they lie down, start conversations with your children about spiritual things. If you don’t want a dismissive answer such as “my day was fine” or “it was alright,” ask open questions. “What challenged you today?” “What do you see God doing in your school?” “How can I pray for your classmates?” Use the teachable moments you create during these conversations to influence your child in how to respond in a God-honoring way when difficult situations arise.
By incorporating some of these practices into your back to school routine, you are investing in your child. You are giving your child tools that are much more important than new books, supplies, and clothes. You are imparting wisdom which is far more valuable than anything else on your back to school shopping list. Proverbs 16:16 says wisdom is more valuable than gold. How will you invest in your child this school year?
After Church- Kids and Teens Water Olympics!
Calling all Kids and Teens to the Second Annual Providence Water Olympics. After church find the best clothes to get soaked and be ready for a great summer evening of splashing fun! Refreshments for all the young and young at heart who stay to watch and cheer.
Need some Bible Study this Summer? We all do!
Join Scott and Stephanie Knight for this one-night stand alone Bible Study. Join us for an in-depth study in God’s Word.
Refreshments and child care are provided. For more information or to volunteer to help with child care or set up and take down, please contact Pastor Greg at 352.428.6348.
Studies held at Airport Location. 16255 Aviation Loop Dr.(off Spring Hill Drive)
Good things are happening this summer at Providence Church and I hope you will be a part of it. Need summer Bible Study to keep you focused in the word? We’ve got that covered! Are you ready for after church activities that will help you meet other members of the Providence family? We have many after church gatherings the next three months so please join us! Would you like to keep your children and teens connected to church the next three months? Mark your calendars because it will be a great summer for kids! Are you ready to become a charter member of Providence Church? Our first membership Sunday is coming soon! Take a look and see how you can connect with Providence Church!
Click here for Summer Schedule. Providence Summer Calendar
M.Y.C. – If you are a mom and your little one is five years old or under then join Sarah Johnson for the “Mothers of Young Children” get togethers at Chick Fil A. This will be an exceptional time of sharing, support, and fellowship for mom’s and the children. Need more information? Contact Sarah Johnson. Hey Moms, be sure to invite a friend to join you and Sarah!
Single Scoop Studies– Need some Bible Study this Summer? We all do! Summer Single Scoop Studies are one night, stand-alone bible studies. Come to one. Come to them all. Each evening will be it’s own in-depth study in God’s Word. Refreshments and child care are provided. For more information or to volunteer to help with child care or set up and take down, please contact Pastor Greg at 352.428.6348. Studies held at Airport Location. 16255 Aviation Loop Dr.
Proteen Youth Ministry– Great news! The 6th-12th grade students of Providence Church are continuing their Wednesday gatherings throughout the Summer. Is it time for your teen to get involved? Contact Tony and Stephanie Heald for more information. 352.442.5109. Important Note: Beginning Wednesday, June 3, Proteen Youth Ministry will meet at the Airport Location at 16255 Aviation Loop Drive- In the airport park off of Spring Hill Drive.
Building the Temple- What if you could strengthen your body and your walk with God in the same morning? That opportunity is here! Join Charlie Dawson for, “Building the Temple”. In this unique group, Providence participants will visit different and fun fitness stations (all levels- beginner to advanced) for some good healthy exercise, all under the watchful expert eye of Charlie. When that segment is complete, the group will come together for a look at God’s word and a time of prayer. Teens and Adults all invited! Bring a friend! For more information, call Charlie Dawson.
Study Gathering with the Anderson’s- Have you met the Anderson’s? You really need to! The Anderson’s will be opening their home this summer to gather for Bible Study and friendship. Everyone is sure to enjoy this sweet family in our church and their wisdom from God’s word. For more information, contact David Anderson.
Everyone is invited to join in The Ultimate Frisbee Challenge after church every Sunday in May. Come play, come watch, and come cheer! Bottom line: just come! Cheerleaders are always welcome too!
Lots of fun! All ages. Bring your sneakers. Light refreshments provided. Playing optional! Join the Providence family.
Game 1 May 3rd.
Game 2 May 10th.
Game 3 May 17th.
Game 4 May 24th.
Game 5 May 31st.
I am concerned.
I am concerned that we live in a “serve me” world. We are in route, if not already there, to being an entitlement culture. I hesitated even as I wrote that sentence because I don’t mean to start on such a low note. But to defeat a villain, the villain must first be identified. We live in a serve me world. And maybe, we live in and participate in this “serve me” world more than we know or would care to admit.
I have found there are times when people tip their hands that they are full fledged citizens in the “serve me” world. Like you, I have met many that somehow expect that everybody and every institution is a customer satisfaction desk dedicated solely to meeting their needs. Much to my dismay, I have probably done the same thing.
I’ve seen it in the college classroom. Students (training for ministry no less) will email explaining why they will not be able to submit their assigned coursework and suggest that I should change the due dates or the submission policies. It is not everyone, but it always happens with one or two. It is a “serve me” world you know, so change the policies.
I’ve seen it as a karate instructor. Certainly not with most, but with many over the course of the years – they confuse a class designed for training and instruction with a consumer product designed to serve their ever-changing best interests.
Ive seen it in the ministry. Countless hours with husbands and wives and children. Living in a “serve-me” world. It is a cancer in the home. In the complicated arena of relationships, people propel their marriages toward a train wreck when they live and act like it is everyone’s prerogative to live only for their own best interests. Men and women live like their spouses are customer service reps at a cell phone store or the complaint box at a local diner. When a husband or wife lives like their own needs trump all others, trouble is soon to come.
I’ve seen it with teenagers. At an age where maturity should be progressing, young people instead are increasingly egocentric. Rather than seeing their parents as people who God has given for their training and instruction, many youth really want their parents to be chefs, waiters, maids, and a bottomless ATM machine. And why not? After all, they are being raised and taught in a “serve-me” world.
It was last March when we learned of a New Jersey high school student who decided she could not live in her parent’s house anymore because of the rules – apparently as reported by news outlets, a few chores and a curfew was too much to bear. While living at a friends house – she attempted to sue her parents for the remaining tuition at her private school, as well as living and transportation expenses. An attorney was willing to represent her.
Absurd, you say? Why not? We live in a “serve-me” world.
The tension for the believer is this; as we study the scripture, we see the call of the Christian is dramatically different. The Christian believer, by that, I mean the man, women or young person who has declared Jesus Christ as their savior and only hope for eternal life and their only treasure in this life – the Christian believer is called not to subscribe to the “serve me” mentality, but to be a servant. “Servant” is a nice word, but if we translate it correctly from the Bible, what we learn about servanthood is that we are actually called to be slaves – slaves to God and His will. In bible times, a slave was not a person, but the property of another. For the believer, we are God’s property.
No truth is more pervasive in Scripture than this one – real freedom, real victory is found in obedience and servanthood to God. Yet no truth is more incongruent with modern culture. So, here we stand before stark
crossroads – The gospel message of true freedom vs. the culture’s ideal of living with a “serve-me” mentality.
Culture Teaches – Hold on to Life; it’s yours
Scripture Teaches – Lose your life, for His sake
Culture Teaches – Follow Your Dreams
Scripture Teaches – Let your dreams be His dreams
Culture Teaches – Pride wins the day
Scripture Teaches – Humility wins the day
Culture Teaches – Serve Me; Give Me More; I’m entitled
Scripture Teaches – Serve God; Serve others; Give me less; All I need is
For the next several weeks at Providence Church we are going to be in a series of messages titled- “The Outward Focused Life – Serving God in a Serve-Me World.” Over these weeks we are going to be studying the scripture on the key issue of servanthood in several key areas of our lives. First we look at the theological foundation of servanthood and why it even matters. We will continue from there to see what the scripture teaches about how we serve God in our families, serve God in the church, and serve
God with our time, our talents, and our treasures.
This journey will be a challenging one for me and I expect for you, but I think it will be worth it when the end game is to look more like Christ and answer His call on our lives.
Join us on Sunday Nights at 6:00 and be sure to invite someone.
Ok, I confess…..I really like technology. For a guy who carried a pager in his early twenties, the things I see now are just amazing! I, like you, am one of millions of consumers of really cool gadgets like smart phones, tablets and BlueTooth headphones, and like many of you, I have no clue how they are made and no concept of how to fix them. I just really appreciate them. Not only is a lot of today’s technology just cool, it can also be very helpful in ministry.
That being said, here is my next confession: Despite how much I like technology, I still have to use a hardcopy / print Bible.
Do not misunderstand me, I am not against Bible apps. I have great Bible apps on my phone and they are awesome. Some of my favorites are:
ESV Free Bible App
ESV Study Bible App (complete with all the theological notes, etc.)
Reformed Study Bible App (This is a GREAT app. Lots of great theology articles are included)
Logos Bible Software App
Yes, I have plenty of electronic Bibles and references on my large phone (which serves as my tablet as well), but when it comes to studying and preaching, I need my dead tree version.
Here are three reasons why I will not trade my hardcopy exclusively for a digital Bible:
I can own It
When I have my hardcopy Bible, I am reminded that this is MY Bible. I can own it. I can share it. I can give it away. I can leave it to my children or my grandchildren someday. I really like it when I am about to walk out the door and one of my kids ask, “Daddy, do you have your Bible?”
Maybe it’s a generation thing, but for me, because it can be seen, touched and handled, it feels important. God’s word is central to my life. My physical Bible reminds me of that. Sitting here tonight, in my home office, with my Bible on my desk, I have a visual reminder of my true treasure, that one paramount priority; to know God through His word.
I Can Focus.
I need my hardcopy Bible, so I can focus. The great thing about a timeless printed Bible is that it is a single task item, and I need that. In a day where I have instant access to my email, to texts, to world news, to my calendar, to pictures from our family trips, and my continuing journey to break my Temple Run record, I do not need anymore distractions. Yes, maybe I should be more disciplined, and I will work on that. Nevertheless, I have to say, there is something so sweet to my soul when it is just me and my Bible – no distractions.
I Can Remember
When I hold my Bible (especially when preaching) I tend to remember two very important truths:
First, I remember that not everyone has a Bible, and I am so blessed to be holding God’s word. It is hard to believe in this day and age, but there are reportedly many parts of the world that do not have access to the scriptures. There are places in the world where it would be considered a crime, punishable by fines, imprisonment, or worse, to have a Bible. For me, this is important to remember. When I hold my Bible, I remember that I am holding something so powerful and so life changing that nations past and present want it as far away as possible.
Second, when I hold my printed Bible, and I feel the weight of this ancient truth in my hands, I remember the price that was paid by others that I could have a Bible in English. In our day of convenient online purchasing of any shape or style Bible we would like, we would do well to call to mind that blood that was spilled by courageous men in the past. Men who were so persuaded that everyone should have a Bible they could read, that they gave everything (up to and including their very lives) to make their dreams a reality.
Remember a man named William Tyndale (1494-1536)? Tyndale’s life was utterly changed when he discovered the doctrine of justification by faith while reading Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. Tyndale, who was a master linguist, knew the best thing he could do would be to produce an English version of the New Testament, so that many others could read these great scriptural truths. He would pay for this passion with his life. The English New Testament project was not welcome in England, so Tyndale had to hide out in Antwerp to work on his projects. He was eventually arrested and declared a heretic. Refusing to recant, Tyndale was simultaneously strangled and burned in the town square.
Tyndale was not the only brave soul who faced peril for the cause of Bible translation, but his story resonates with me as I hold my Bible today.
In the end, it’s not the binding, the font, or even the medium that matters, but the words. This is the Word of our Creator, and while it might not matter to Him whether you read a dead tree version or a digital copy, it does matter to Him that you read it, that you understand it, and that you treasure it. It matters to Him, it mattered to Tyndale and countless others, and I hope after taking these points into consideration, that it matters even more to you!
In my quiet time today, I was reflecting back on our church meeting this past week. Sunday night was to be our much-anticipated Splash Night for the children and teens of Providence Church. It all turned out to be quite an adventure.
I think we did most things right, leading up to the post-church special event. We advertised it. We posted it to our Facebook page and website. We made special phone calls and invited people. There was going to be no shortage of food either! We bought enough watermelons and ice cream to feed a big group. So there we were- The sermon was prepared for worship. The water balloons were filled.
Then it started….. Ka-Boom!!!! In true summer afternoon Florida fashion, the thunder and lightning began during church. It was looking like 6000 Mariner blvd was going to be on the losing side of the 20-30% isolated thunderstorm chance. The storm was definitely isolated…..right over our church meeting!!
The service continued, and so did the storm. Rain pounded the roof, lights flickered off and on, the sound system cracked, and babies cried. Another perfect Providence Sunday night.
As our church service came to a conclusion, I saw where the amazing hospitality helpers had rushed all the treats from outside into the small kitchen and dining area and were set up and ready to go. The food was ready, but It was looking like Splash Night was off.
We had a big crowd Sunday night, and many of us crammed into the side room for the watermelon and ice cream. Before we knew it, the rain subsided and the sun even peeked through the dark clouds. Our young people needed no prompting; Splash Night for the kids would be on again!
The helpers quickly assembled the supplies and the activities started – elementary in one area- teens in another. The Splashing began (especially for the teens and their unauthorized use of buckets, towels and water balloons.)
And then it came back…lightning…straight down and close by. Event canceled.…again.
As we all began to pick up muddy buckets and unused water balloons, and as others were wrapping watermelons and cleaning the kitchen, something struck me…..what sweet, sweet fellowship we are learning to have at Providence Church.
No one complained about the rain. No one criticized being inside, instead of outside, for watermelon. No one was perturbed with the ice cream choices or an upset baby during the church service. The helpers were joyful. The kids were joyful. Everyone who stayed was just…..together….sort of like a family…..the way church should be.
I am reminded this week of a scripture from our current 1 John Study…“…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. ” (1 John 1:3)
See, fellowship is something we share as Christians. It starts when we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That faith in Christ allows me to have fellowship with the Father and with other believers. We can have fellowship because we have a commonality with one another; we have been redeemed, we have been conformed and transformed by our Lord Jesus Christ. And that gives us a shared foundation that an unbelieving world will never understand.
Christian fellowship is a beautiful thing. It means believers can love one another and be with one another in joy despite what the circumstances are. So, whether we are singing together in church, studying the scripture together on a Wednesday night….or shoulder to shoulder stepping on each others’ feet while eating watermelon and ice cream, we can have sweet Christian fellowship.
That’s the kind of church….that’s the kind of people I want to pastor.
– Pastor Greg
P.S. – Here’s some pics of our “brief” fellowship…