HiSKidZ Top Twelve Favorite Easter Songs

Our God is  risen and reigning and we're
It’s three weeks until Easter, and we are bustin’ out the Easter songs! Ok, to be completely honest with you, I’ve been singing them for awhile now, but this week we brought it to church!

HiSKidZ did an awesome job singing their hearts out to Fee’s “Rise and Sing” and as we finished, I mentioned how much I loved that song and considered it one of my favorite Easter songs.

“Easter songs?”

Their words and their faces both told me they had no idea what I was talking about, and it was then that I realized that although we had been singing Easter songs for years, we didn’t really talk about the fact that we were singing Easter songs.

Seein’ that Easter is a pretty big deal to Christians, and that we start singing Christmas songs in October, it’s really only fitting that we begin preparing the hearts and minds of the children of God for the celebration of the resurrection of our King, Jesus!

So, in case you are ready to jump on the Easter Carols bandwagon with me. Here are 12 of HiSKidZ favorite Easter songs:

1) Lord I Lift Your Name on High (Go Fish Guys)
2) Jesus is Alive Right Now (Kids on the Move)
3) Rise and Sing (Fee)
4) Take it All (Hillsong Kids)
5) Hosanna Rock (Yancy)
6) God So Loved (Hillsong Kids)
7) Celebrate Jesus (Jeff Moody)
8) Tell the World (Hillsong Kids)
9) Happy Day (reThink-Amber Sky Records)
10) Jesus is Alive (Promiseland Kids)
11) My God (Go Fish Guys)
12) My Redeemer Lives (Hillsong Kids)

What are your kids favorite Easter songs? I hope you will share, because your favorite may become our next favorite!

The above created art contains lyrics to Fee’s “Rise and Sing.”

Four Things I Want to Ask God

Four Thing

Lately as I’ve been reading God’s Word, I’ve found myself simplifying Scripture by breaking it down into instructions or commands. Today as I was reading Psalm 139, God stopped me at David’s “instructions” to Him in verses 23-24. Since I’ve never been super comfortable telling God what I want Him to do, (I’m not saying David was wrong there, I’m just sayin’ it’s not some place I’m goin’ at this stage in my life), I figured I would turn them into questions.

So here they are.

Four things I want to ask God every day:

1) Lord, will you search me and show me my heart? I need to know what it’s really like. Don’t let me fool myself or let pride overtake me.

2) Lord, will you test me and show me my anxious thoughts? I need to know where I’m not trusting so my faith can grow.

3) Lord, will you see if there is any offensive way in me? I’m often blind to my own faults, and I need you to open my eyes.

4) Lord, will you lead me in the way that leads to life forever with You? I never want to be without you again.

I love these. Because I know without a doubt that as I stop and ask these questions that He will always answer, “Yes.” Even if the truth may hurt a little.

Because He loves me like that–and as I sit here on my couch writing, that thought gets me smiling.

Here’s another thought that gets me smiling.

He loves you like that, too. Just ask Him!

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Getting Jesus in the Center of Our Lives–An Object Lesson for Kids

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This week as HiSKidZ learned about living for God rather than living for ourselves, we used this simple object lesson to help bring the heart of our teaching into the hearts of our children. Our lesson was about how King Solomon realized that living for self is meaningless.

To bring this point home, I found some things at the church–baby food jars, macaroni, and ping pong balls. I used two empty jars, two ping pong balls and enough macaroni to fill the baby food jars. Can I add that I love that I didn’t have to spend a dime? Woohoo!!

Each jar was filled with macaroni with a ping pong ball placed on top. On the balls was written the word “God” and on the jars was the word, “You.”

I asked the kids how we could get the ping pong balls into the jars. We were all in agreement that the only way was to dump out the macaroni. So we emptied one of the jars and put the ping pong ball inside.

god you macaroni2

Then we added the macaroni back in.

Almost all of the macaroni fit in, but there were a few pieces that we just couldn’t get back in the jar. Perfect!

god you macaroni3

Then I turned the jars around and explained to the kids that the jars represented our lives and the macaroni represented the things that are important to us–friends, family, school, sports, hobbies, electronics, media, etc., and the ping pong balls represented God.

We talked about how if we want Jesus to be the center of our life, we will have to empty ourselves of what we want and give Him priority. With Jesus at the center, many of the things that mean so much to us will still fit into our life, but they will fit around Jesus, not the other way around.

We also saw that some things will have to be left out if God is going to keep His place at our center. But as the kids saw the two jars, they readily agreed that in order to have Jesus at the heart of their life rather than an extra part of their life, it would be worth it to give up whatever they had to.

Together we were reminded that if we aren’t careful we can fill our lives with so many things that we want, that we squeeze out what He wants.

We also decided that if the wisest man ever, King Solomon, had a hard time getting this right, then we, for sure, better keep relying on the Lord to help us keep Him in the rightful place He deserves.

Last night in our mid-week program, I got to share this object lesson again with a group of 6th grade students, and was so excited to hear them talk through how to keep God at the center of their life by asking Him to lead them, spending time at church with other believers who have Christ as their center, listening to Him through the Word and prayer, obedience and by saying “no” to things that squeeze Him out of their lives–a good lesson for us all.

Does Your Children’s Ministry Got “Cred?”

Does Your Children's Ministry
Coming from a small town in Iowa, “cred” is not a word I use often. But I think I’m going to start using it more.

Defined as the quality of being believable or worthy of respect, especially within a particular social, professional, or other group, our level of “cred” is more important than ever as we face those who doubt our sincerity from inside and outside the walls of the church.

As we look at our ministries, it is imperative that we continually check in with the Lord to be sure that what we are doing is on track with what He is doing, and what He wants us to do. Otherwise, it’s all in vain and we lose our “cred.”

We lose it with our kids, our families, and the culture around us.

Karl Bastian, founder of Kidology, published an ebook called, The Kidology Way: The Four Pillars of Children’s Ministry, and although he didn’t use the term “cred,” it’s definitely there.

As we form our vision, mission and purposes for our children’s ministries, we are wise to include a healthy dose of Biblical “cred” along the way in the following ways.

C–Child focused. Is what we are doing, done in a way that kids can relate to and understand? We have to use the words they understand, the way they understand them so that they truth and heart of Jesus’ words can transform their lives.

R–Relational. Children’s ministry has to take place in more than just the church. Home visits, bleaching sitting, trips and fun days speak into a child’s heart and say, “I love you even outside of the church,” and “I care about you and what you care about.” We have to get away from our desks and out of our rooms and walk like Jesus walked.

E–Evangelistic. The message of Jesus needs to be shared, and often. Continuing to present the gospel not only allows a child to hear it and respond, but it helps prepare them to know how to share it with others. You’ve heard it said, “More is caught than taught,” and this certainly rings true in the how children learn to share their faith.

D–Discipleship Driven. We can be tempted to forget the steps that come after conversion. Solid teaching and opportunities for children to discover, worship, serve, give and share must be part of what we do on a regular basis as they grow to follow Jesus forever.

As we intentionally keep what Karl calls “the Four Pillars” at the heart of our ministries, our children will be building their lives on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ and He’s really all the “cred” we need!

So how ’bout your ministry? Got C.R.E.D.??

kidology_way_weblogo

Finding Freedom in Finding Your Focus

Teach people about (1)

My husband just told me I’m kind of “anal” about certain things. Hmmm. Insight.

In his defense, you should know that he didn’t just randomly share that information. I asked him if he thought I was a focused person. You see, I had just started this post out with a sentence that said, “I’m not really what you would call a focused person.” (Then backspace, backspace, backspace, backspace. . . )

Let me explain further:

Sitting in an airport, I asked him, “Would you say I’m a focused person?” He gave me one of those looks that said, “Is this a ‘Does this make my butt look big?’ kind of question.”

So when he cautiously replied, “Yes, yes you are,” I was kind of taken by surprise. And then he added, “You’re kind of anal about certain things.”

Nice.

After 30 years of marriage I have learned to listen to him, (Now, I want to say in my own defense, I learned that well before the 30th year). I realized that he was probably speaking truth (although I’m not sure “anal” is exactly the right word.) As we talked, it didn’t surprise me when he said one of my areas of “focus” was ministry.

In the past few years I have tried to spend more time seeking God as to the things He wants me to do, the places He wants me to go, the people He wants me to reach, and the ways He wants me to spend His money.

Then this January I set a focus. Like, I penned a “woman on a mission” statement. I made myself a little piece of art. Cruised to Wal-mart and invested $1.99 on a frame and hung it on a wall directly across from my desk where I can see it every day.  It says simply:

“Teach people about Jesus and teach people to teach people about Jesus.”

So each week, I determine to do just that. It may be through training or speaking, or my regular teaching as the children’s director at my church. It may be through writing or coaching or leading a small group of kids or women. It may happen over a beverage or breakfast or a power walk or during kids’ worship practice. Although it usually happens with words, I hope it also takes place every day through my actions.

Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have determined that I will not be deterred. I’ve found the freedom to be able to say “Yes,” and “No,” when necessary, and to walk in joy and awe of God.

Like Paul, I find myself compelled to share the gospel so that people will know the One who knows them, loves them, died and rose again to set them free to walk in hope, grace and victory, and to teach others to do the same.

If the Spirit is leading you to set a focus, let me encourage you to listen to His leading. Get some away time and let Him show you how He wants to use you and enjoy the freedom and adventures that lie ahead.

Oh, and if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear where God is focusing you!

Let’s Paint a Memory (Verse)

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I wanted to take a quick sec and share this little memory verse artsy/craftsy that we did this morning with some of HiSKidZ. We have a pretty small group during our first service which allows us the chance to do things that can’t always be done in bigger settings.

Since I’m hugely passionate about discipleship and helping kids with Scripture memorization, I love it when we can come up with something new.

This was so simple and takes just absolutely no time at all.

Step 1)
Start with your verse and make a print out of it using some fun fonts. I chose to do mine like this because of step 2.

O my people

Step 2)
Grab an empty 2 liter bottle of pop, a paper plate and some paint. Put the paint on the plate. Dip the bottom of the 2 liter into the paint and press the bottle onto the paper. After we made the first press, we rotated ours to give the appearance of more petals.

Step 3)
Grab some markers and draw a stem, some leaves and a center. (you can also do this step before you paint.)

Step 4)
Step away from the table. Grab a Bible, look up the verse, say it together, and get back to business while your creations dry. It should be done by the time church is over if your team didn’t get overly aggressive in the paint department!

Success! In less than 10 minutes, we created art, made a memory, and learned our verse! Oh! Did I mention that even the boys loved it!!

Woohoo! Do you have a great idea that you can share? I’d love to hear it.

Plumb Bobs, Plumb Lines and Teaching Kids to Hear God’s Voice

plumbline1

It hangs on the front wall of our KidZChurch room from an orange string. It’s unchanging. It doesn’t move and it’s always in line.

What is it?

A Plumb Bob. A simple weight attached to a string that is used as the vertical reference line or “plumb line.”

It’s one of the few things that doesn’t change in our room. Posters, and paint and staging may change, but the plumb bob remains.

It remains because it is one of the best visual reminders I know to constantly bring HiSKidZ back to the truth that God’s Word is our plumb line. He has set a standard for us that includes truth, righteousness and justness.

We regularly talk about all the different messages and standards broadcast into their lives and how they need to be careful to check and see how they measure up against God’s standard. He is what is true. His ways are right and we need to adjust our life to His reference line, and not expect it to be the other way around.

Here are a couple of ways we have used the plumb line analogy with HiSKidZ:

1) The world says you need to take care of yourself first.
God’s Word says to prefer others before yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

2) The world says you matter because of your accomplishments.
God’s Word says you matter because of God. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

3) The world says you need to fit in.
God’s Word says don’t be conformed to the pattern of the world. (Romans 12:2)

4) The world says there are many ways to heaven.
God’s Word says there is one way to heaven through Jesus. (John 14:6)

And so it goes. . .

and as we continually refer back to the plumb bob and the plumb line it represents for us, HiSKidZ are reminded of the sacred value of God’s truth for their lives. It is our desire that when they hear a message, a voice, or have a thought or an experience or situation where they need to know if it is God speaking, they are gaining the ability to measure what they hear by the plumb line of God’s Word.

Oh! And did I mention that they think it’s really cool to know what a plumb bob is! If we could just get some square pants for it!

I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line. (Isaiah 28:17a)

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. (Amos 7:7)