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Today is the second Sunday of a four week sermon series called Reality Check: Allowing faith to emerge from our own reality. The aim of this series is to take a question, look at the reality surrounding that question, and then examine how our faith can emerge from that reality. The questions are practical questions. Last week I looked at how to live for justice in a unjust world; next week Im looking at how men can live a Spirit filled life; the following week Im looking at how we can live a life of prayer when we have no time. SLIDE The graphic for this series is a flower emerging from concrete. My desire for us

is for our faith to emerge from our reality looking like this. Today as we start summer Sunday Sshool and have a carnival for our kids I want to look at the question of how parents can pass on the faith to our kids. Not everyone here has children at home, but Im assuming that all of the adults at Chain of Lakes care about kids. Not everyone here has children at home, but all adults at Chain of Lakes are parents to the kids in our congregation. Last week we celebrated the baptism of Kyleigh Morin. All of us take a vow to help raise Kyleigh in the faith. To live out that vow, all adults are spiritual parents to the kids in our congregation. Also today is the celebration of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the birthday of the church and the movement of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost takes place 50 days or seven Sundays after Easter. Heather read for us the end of the story of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. This week in this brochure I shared a Bible Study on Acts chapter 2. I want to encourage you to get it out. I divided up the 47 verses into six sections and shared a section for each day this week. I think youll be blessed if you use it. In this brochure youll also find a place to take notes from todays sermon and a place for prayer requests.

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Reality Check. What is the reality of our youth and children? One reality is that our youth and children are much more programmed than kids in earlier generations. Many of the youth and children in the north metro are involved in some sort of organized activity. Often these activities are sports, but they arent necessarily sports. Some youth and children are involved in music or dance or art or theatre programs. Last weekend was the end of the year dance recital for our daughter, Hannah. Amy and I drove her from our house in Blaine to Elk River High School three separate times last weekendonce for a rehearsal and twice for performances. But a person doesnt need to live long in the north Metro to discover how much sports programs take up much of our youth and childrens time. Most of these programs are run by athletic associations; they arent school programs. Nationwide 80% of youth are in non-school sports programs. These associations will sponsor games at any time during the week. Including Sunday. Last Sunday I drove by the athletic fields that are adjacent to Radisson Road at around 8 in the morning. I would guess that a couple hundred people were gathered to watch girls play softball. It wouldnt surprise me if hundreds of kids are playing soccer right now on the Blaine soccer fields. The day of saving Sunday morning for church activities is long gone. Thats reality. Some youth are involved in traveling athletic teams. Hannah has a friend, Diane, not her name, who lives in Rochester. Last month Dianes brotherwho just finished 6th gradewas playing in a baseball tournament at the Blaine baseball fields. Amy, Hannah, and I went to watch his team play on Friday night. Dianes brother and her mom and friend came from Rochester to Blaine on a Friday afternoon. They were here for the entire weekend for Dianes brothers baseball tournament. They stayed at the Hampton Inn in Lino Lakes. Dianes brother

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had a game on Friday night, at least two on Saturday and one on Sunday. Hell spend many of his weekends during the summer traveling to tournaments around Minnesota. This is a different reality than what many of us experienced when we were growing up. Traveling teams were just starting to happen when I was in 6th grade. I remember playing catch with my Dad in a vacant lot one evening when a man came to talk to my Dad. This man was organizing a traveling baseball team and asked my Dad if I would play. My Dad said, no. The only traveling I did for baseball is when I rode my bike to the baseball fields to play a game on a summer night. Or I would walk to the corner lot down the block to play a pickup game. We would pitch to each other, be our own umpires, fight with each other about whether the calls were right, and hope we didnt hit a ball into someones window. I certainly wish that athletic leagues didnt have games on Sunday mornings. Or that one of Hannahs dance recitals hadnt been scheduled for 10:30 on a Sunday morning. My intention is not to come across as judgmental. I just want to describe the reality of our youth and kids. Because until we understand that reality it will be hard to pass on the faith to them. A second reality is kids have much more say in the decisions that affect their lives. This really is a shift in parenting, and it can be a welcome shift. We parents are trying to encourage our children to be good decision-makers. So instead of telling them what to do, we will often invite the input of our children in their decisions. We often might even ask them what they want to do and then let them do it. Giving youth and kids more say in decision making has had a big impact on churches. More and more parents let their children decide on whether they want to go to church. This is a shift.

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When I was growing up I went through a phase in my very young years when I hated going to church. When I went to Sunday school I had to sit in small chair, in a cold room that wasnt decorated at all; sometimes a teacher would stand up and lecture us from the Bible. When I went to worship I was expected to sit still, say nothing, and not bother anyone around me. I hated it. I told my parents with all the strength I had that I didnt want to go to church. They listened to my protests and told me to get in the car. I was forced to go to church. Today Im glad my parents forced me to go to church. At that age I didnt know what I really needed. My parents knew better than me what was good for me. If I had stopped going to church, the significant events of my life wouldnt happened. I would have lost a lot if I hadnt been forced to go to church. I most likely wouldnt have become a pastormy experiences in that congregation formed my call to ordained ministry. I never would have married my wife, Amy. She would have had no interest in me if I wasnt connected to church. I certainly wouldnt be the organizing pastor of Chain of Lakes Churchmy dream job. My parents couldnt have seen how important it was for them to stand firm to my protests. But Im sure glad they did. They understood better than I did what was good for me. These are two realities of youth and children. Youth and children are involved in many programs and they have much more say in their decision making. Its hard to say that this reality is a cracked sidewalk. Out of this reality we want faith to emerge. The question is how can parents pass on the faith to their kids. The Pentecost story in Acts can help us develop a response to this question. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Im excited for you that you can read it in the devotion this week. Let me share some of the highlights of the story.

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Many people had come into Jerusalem to celebrate a festival called Feast of Weeks. This was a harvest festival that took place 50 days after the celebration of Passover. The 12 disciples were gathered in a house. All of a sudden there was a sound. It was a sound that no one had ever heard before. Lukethe writer of Actswrote that it was like the rush of a violent wind. The sound filled the house where the disciples were sitting. Its hard to explain what happened next so Im going to read some of the story. SLIDE Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:3-4 When people in Jerusalem heard this sound they came rushing to the house. When they arrived they heard the disciples speaking in many different languages. What was amazing was everyone understood everyone. One of the people cried out, in our own languages we hear them speaking about Gods deeds of power. Some of the people were cynical. They saw what was happening and said, these people are drunk. But Peter stood up to share a message. Remember Peter. He was the one who betrayed Jesus three times. Peter was the rock on whom Jesus was going to build the church. This rock stood up to give the sermon that inspired the start of the church. Its one of the best sermons in the Bible. One of the points of the sermon is that God had taken Jesus from death and placed Jesus at his right hand. This Jesus who the people had killed was alive. God didnt hold any anger against the people for killing Jesus. Peter ended his sermon by saying, SLIDE Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.

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When the people heard this they were cut to the heart. They were pierced and touched by what they had seen and what they had heard. It was as if they were standing there in their authentic selves completely understanding the power and love of God. It was like the Garden of Eden all over again. It was as if the people were naked, but they were not afraid. The people asked what can we do? Peter told them to repent, that is turn to God and be baptized. They werethree thousand. Suddenly this group formed a powerful community. They devoted themselves to teaching and fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon them. Its a three-letter word. A three-letter synonym for awe is wow. Think about the last time you said the word, wow. I believe that the word wow is an expression of the working of the Spirit. I would love it sometime if we created a Facebook page where we shared our wow moments. Im talking about times that totally surprise us and captivate us and we cant believe what is happening, but we do because its happening. Its God. Wow. This group of people in Acts was continually saying wow. They couldnt believe what they saw. Because they were cut to the heary they just loved on each other. Their level of care for each other was astounding. People sold their belongings to help each other. They would do whatever it takes to help another person in the community. This is church on a grand level. Its Gods vision for every local congregation, so its our vision at Chain of Lakes. A place where we are frequently touched by God; a place where we frequently say wow; a place of deep community and caring for each other. A place where church is not something to do once a week in order to fulfill an obligation. Instead its a place of tremendous pulse and energy and excitement. We cant wait to get there because we cant wait to see what God is going to do. Wow.

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How do we pass on the faith to our kids? Is there any doubt that if we develop this type of community our youth and children are going to be right there with us. The first way for faith to emerge from our reality is to create an Acts 2 church. When we do our youth and children will be here. Of course we want to have good kids ministry in our church. But too often we can get caught up in the techniques of ministry instead of being a community that deeply cares for each other. If we create and develop an Acts 2 church our children and youth will have a deep and vibrant faith. This week as I was studying this story I came across something that I hadnt noticed before. Let me tell you what I discovered. It comes from this verse SLIDE Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home, and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47 Do you see a three-word phrase that is repeated twice in these verses? What does day by day mean and how does this phrase help us as we look at the question of passing on the faith to our youth. I take from this phrase the importance of consistently spending time with each other. This community in Acts grew because the people spent time with each other day by day. They were serious about each other, they cared for each other. They were a community that went deep with each other. This type of community is hard to create in our culture. We are all so busy and involved in many different things. Instead of going deep in a few things, were spread out in many things. When it comes to church its easy to dip our toe in one Sunday, but the next Sunday were doing

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something else. In our minds were part of the church, but in reality were not part of a community because to be part of a community we go deep with each other. Im not asking us to come to church every day. But I am asking us to come to worship every week. Im asking us to do that because this is how we develop an Acts 2 community. Our youth learn whats important to us when we show up in worship every week. Even if we dont have kids. When we show up every week our youth and children learn that God and faith and ultimately this congregation is important to us. A baseball team could never operate if people on the team didnt show up for the games; a dance group could never dance together if some of the kids didnt show up for the recital; a musical choir cannot sing at its best if people decide to miss the concert. And a churchwell I think you get the point. We have to be together. To pass on the faith to our youth and children we have to make a commitment to being together. The best place is in worshipnot day by day, but week by week. There are 12 Sundays left in this summer. Could we make a commitment to worship on every Sunday for the rest of the summer? I realize for some of us that might seem impossible. You might be thinking, Paul youre lucky if I get here once a month. Could you try as an experiment coming to worship four Sundays a month. If a month has a fifth Sunday, try that one too. I realize that for some of those 12 Sundays many of us will be out of town. If were out of town could we find a place to worship? I realize that some of us have to work on a Sunday. If were working on a Sunday, could we find another place to worship? To pass on the faith to our kids we adults have to be clear about what we are going to feed on. If we adults arent willing to feed our own spiritual growth, then its going to be very hard for our youth and children to grow in faith. If my parents hadnt made the commitment to

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go to church every Sunday, then I wouldnt have gone. Their decision to feed themselves spiritually has had a lasting impact on my lifeand also my sister, who is also a pastor. Their decision to go to worship every Sunday helped my sister and I become a pastor. Of course, Im not saying that our youth and children will become a pastorthough some of them might. What I am saying is its very difficult for our youth and children to have faith if we adults arent intentional about feeding ourselves spiritually. What are we going to feed on this summer? Were going to end sermon with a wonderful spiritual exercise. Were going to pass out these beautiful rolls and ask you to eat them. As you eat the rolls Heather is going to share a reading from Isaiah 55 and then Kellie is going to sing a song. Then Ill say a prayer. These rolls dont represent anything but an encouragement for us to feed our spiritual growth. As you feed on the roll and listen to the Scriptures and listen to Kellies beautiful voice, could you make a commitment about what you are going to feed on this summer. I believe that if you feed on God and feed on God in a community you will be making a powerful statement about what is important. This will make an impact on the youth and children in this congregation and in the world.