Who Knew? Blue Jello and Bible Stories–Tiny Tot Tuesday

Naaman Jello

Seriously. Who knew?

Okay, maybe you did. But. . . on the other hand, maybe you didn’t. And, so, now you do. Or you will. Soon anyway.

I’m a food lover. Sure, I’m a little picky about some things, like, say, onions, for example. But, all in all, I’m a fan of food–especially as a teaching tool.

Holding fast to the concept that we all learn differently, it’s not only fun, but smart, to use meals or snacks to teach whenever we can. Using all a child’s senses to help them learn. Well, it just makes sense!

One of the favorites of our tiny tots is blue jello. The kids absolutely love it. Plus, it’s very rare someone is allergic to it, and you can use it with soooo many different Bible stories. (I wonder if Bill Cosby knew that?)

For example:

Naaman–Just add a Teddy Graham or Keebler elf and you are good to get dippin (7 times of course). We just did this one Sunday.

Jesus or Peter Walking on the Water–Same idea as above.

Creation–God made the water. Want clouds?? Add some whipped cream to the top.

Disciples Fishing–Add gummy fish to the jello for a big catch!

Israelites Crossing the Red Sea–No, we don’t use red jello for this, but you could for a lesson on the plagues!

Let your imagination go crazy and have some fun–at home, with family devotions or in your class or small group at church. It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to use simple, creative, colorful, and inexpensive things to help our tiny tots see the Bible come to life.

Who knew??

The King With the Giant Bed–Freaky Friday

mattress-giant2

“Next we turned and went along the road toward Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan with his whole army marched out to meet us in battle at Edrei. The Lord said to me, ‘Do not be afraid of him for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land. . .’ So the Lord our God gave into our hands Og, king of Bashan and all his army.” Deuteronomy 3:1-3

And so begins the story of “The King with the Giant Bed” in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 3. It’s not a long story, and it’s no wonder God was doing some reassuring of His people. Because not only was Og a powerful king who ruled cities fortified with high walls with gates and bars, he was himself a giant of a man.

Big men can be largely intimidating, and King Og was apparently both large and intimidating. How large? So large. . . .

. . . So large that his bed was more than 13 feet long and 6 feet wide. That’s one big bed, and that’s one big giant of an enemy.

deut3

Scholars tend to debate whether his bed was a bed for sleeping at night, or a bed for all eternity–as in a casket. Either way that was one big bed, and either way, he had slept in both by the end of this story.

I continually marvel at how God puts these obscure little details in Scripture. I don’t believe they are there just to “wow!” us, but to teach us and encourage us. Because when I read or teach this short little story, I am reminded of a couple of really important things. Things like:

When God goes before me, nothing is impossible.
When God goes before me, I don’t have to be afraid.
When God goes before me, giants fall.
When God goes before me, there is victory.

So when I read the story of “The King with the Big Bed”, I know with confidence that I can trust our Big God to do Big Work on the Big Giants that may seem a little scary in our lives. As long as He goes before me, I know that nothing is impossible, I don’t have to fear, giants will fall and victory is on the way!

Now that’s some truth to sleep on. May you rest well this freaky Friday in the big hands of the big God who loves you with a giant kind of love.

Da Bears!–Freaky Friday

yellowstone-grizzly-bear-attack-fatality

Let me say from the start this post has nothing to do with the Chicago Bears.

Rather, what follows is one of my favorite stories to teach at camp. Most kids don’t know this story, so it kind of freaks them out while at the same time I get to emphasize the importance of respecting your Bible teacher–me! Okay, that’s not the real point, but it’s kind of fun to tell campers that if they don’t treat you with respect, bears might come out at night at eat them!

Along time ago, in Bible lands far, far away there was a prophet named Elijah. He spoke to the people for God, warning them to stop sinning and return to following Him. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind and a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire. (Probably a future freaky blog post!)

And this is where our story begins.
(Disclaimer: This is an Elisha and the Two Bears, not a Goldilocks and the Three Bears Kind of Story)

After EliJAH goes up to heaven, EliSHA takes his place. After healing some water with a little salt, (yet, another freaky story) Elisha heads up to the town of Bethel where, while walking along the road, he encounters some youths who come from the town and begin to make fun of him.

“Go on up, you old bald head! Go on up you old bald head!” They shout. (Da harsh words!)

Upon hearing them, Elisha turns around, looks at them and calls down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. (Da Man!)

Then two bears come out of the woods and maul forty-two of the youths. (Da Yikes!)

And Elisha goes on to Mount Carmel and from there returns to Samaria. (I always imagine him whistling as he walks for some reason, but oh well!)

Da End.

Well, not really. This is truly another one of those, “WAIT! WHAT! HOLD ON!” kind of Biblical accounts. I mean, seriously, what in the world? Mock someone and bears maul you? There would be a serious decline in mockery if this was the case.

The fact remains here though that Elisha was no ordinary guy to be mocking. Elisha was a prophet of God. No, he was the prophet of God. He was the guy with the double measure of Elijah’s power. He was the voice of God, Himself to the people.

And that is why they didn’t like him. He was calling them out on their sin, and they didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t want to repent. They didn’t think they needed to repent, and apparently, they didn’t like bald men. (Most likely because long hair for men back then was a really big deal.)

Still. Mauling bears. Seems a little intense. Unless you remember that these are God’s people–even though they are young–who entered into a covenant relationship with Him, promising to follow and obey, but failing to do so. God’s warnings to them from the prophets have been that if they continue is disobedience there would be judgment coming. If they would return to Him, keeping their promises, there would be blessings. But if not, curses.

Honestly, after an event like this one, the people of Elisha’s day should have “bearly” failed to miss God’s point!!! Yet, they did. So judgment came, captivity followed, and restoration completed the promises of God towards His people at that time. All of which remind me of the times we live in now, the warnings God is sending and His promises yet to be fulfilled.

And that’s the story of Elisha and the Two Bears.
Da End

Tell Me the Story

“Honey, I’m home.” I arrived back early this morning from an amazing week of church camp ready to tell my husband all my stories about a week spent with a pretty special group of soon to be high school freshmen. During the week I had the privilege of helping them take a look at the stories of the Old Testament and how they (the kids and the stories) fit together as part of God’s whole amazing story of love, redemption, grace and reconciliation. We talked about how everything in the O.T. points to Jesus coming to save us in the N.T. and the N.T. points to Jesus coming again to get us for Eterni-T.

This year God had placed in on my heart that we needed to be talkin about the fact that we need to be knowin the story. As I have been reading through the book of Acts–one of the greatest books in the Bible, at least from an adventure standpoint (yeah, that’s just a personal opinion, lol, but I think it’s spot on)–anyway, I couldn’t help but SEE (our theme for the week) that in the book of Acts, while the church was growing like wild fire, that not only did people know the story, they were living the story, they were sharing the story, and God was moving, changing their lives and their stories because of THE STORY.

I mean, Luke obviously knew THE STORY. . . he wrote the book of Acts. Then Peter pipes up with THE STORY at Pentecost. Stephen knew THE STORY and while sharing it he lost his life and gained a new one at the same time. Philip knew THE STORY, he shared it with the people of Samaria, a sorcerer and a Eunich. Saul became Paul because of THE STORY, and he couldn’t stop telling THE STORY for the rest of his days on earth.

The problem lies in the fact that we are not doing a very good job with THE STORY. Even if we know the stories, or some of them, we often don’t understand them or what their importance is or what they mean in the big picture of God’s story, His-story. . .our story.

Romans 1:28-32 reveals to us the consequence of forgetting THE STORY,

“Furthermore, they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

When we know THE STORY, we know GOD because HE IS THE STORY. He and His love are woven into every event, every person’s life and breath and story recorded on the pages of His Word. This week I saw students with a hunger to know THE STORY and THE GOD who is responsible for it. Watching them learning, praying, praising, committing, asking, and seeking is a great encouragement–a hope that the story will continue to be passed on and passed down until the One who is writing it returns to take us home. And until that day we must continue to pray, and we must continue, like the men and women of the book of Acts, to know THE STORY, live THE STORY, and share THE STORY with a world who needs to know the love of the Creator and the heart of His Son who came that we might have life.

David and Goliath

Only a Boy Named David

Our KidZChoiR did their little number on the bells yesterday at church. It was great!!! Simply a blessing. Peace like a river was flowing through our sanctuary, along with joy like a fountain and love like an ocean. I think God was pleased with the sincerity of their hearts and their willingness to not only use their talents for Him, but their willingness to have learned a new method to share Him with others.

Our HiSKidZ theme virtue this month has been HONOR, and yesterday’s big idea was to honor God in front of others. I loved how their special in music fit so well the truth we were teaching in our classes. God is so cool like that.

Our lessons all month have centered around David. We started out with the boy David. Gotta love the David songs:

“out in the fields watchin’ over his sheep, with a sling and a crook just like Little Bo Peep. Went into battle with a giant man. With one shot he knocked him in the garbage can.”

Okay, so maybe it’s not the “Only a Boy Named David” you remember singing when you were a kid. But we love our “Davey, Davey” version, and we do sing the old classic, too.

Well, we also covered teenager David and his BFF Jonathan, David the Dad and his son with great hair (and abs–ABSalom!), and King David and his grouchy, keepin’ life size idols in the house wife. The guy had quite a life. I tell ya what, He may have been only a boy, but there is so much we can learn from his ups and downs.

David’s life holds with it so many of the qualities we want to see instilled in our children today–in our society today. Off the top of my head here are my top 10 favorites. (The list started out as “a few of my favorites”–but there were just too many!!)

1–David knew God. Straight up. He knew Him well. He talked to Him, wrote songs to Him, and was transparantly honest with Him, and it touches every area of his life.
2–David trusted God. This lion killin, bear killin, giant killin man knew that God was the One behind his successes, and that God could be behind everyone’s.
3–David had a giant size perspective on life. He understood that our problems, no matter how big, aren’t the focus. God is. He knew the truth behind the phrase, “Don’t tell God how big your giant is, tell the giant how big your God is.”
4–David was bold and courageous.. David wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said when it needed to be said, to go when it was time to go, and to fight when it was time to fight. He understood that courage came from knowing God was going before you, coming up behind you and had you covered on all sides.
5–David understood honor. David honored his God, his family, his best friend, his King, his children, and the people of his kingdom.
6–David was humble. Knowing there was currently a king in power, and knowing that he would someday be the king in power. He let God set the timetable, even when that king wanted to to pin him to the wall.
7–David kept his promises. I love the story of David going back to find Jonathan’s son and bringing him to his table, keeping a boyhood promise to his BFF through Jonathan’s handicapped son.
8–David could admit his mistakes. If you remember the story of the David and the bathtub lady, you remember David did on occassion make some “royal mistakes.” However, when pointed out to him, he owned up, repented and kept going. He let God’s grace, not his past mistakes define Him.
9–David wasn’t only a boy. He grew up. He owned up. He manned up. He put the boyhood things aside and became the man of God he was called to be.
10–David was faithful to the end. He finished well. He ran his race, played his game, and his did it til the end.

As we raise our children, influence our families, and make our mark in our communities, it would do us much good to live out, pour in and hold onto the character and virtues we see from David’s life. Not only do we need a few more boys like David, we could use a few good men like him as well.

Ravens and Patriots

It’s Sunday afternoon and the playoff games are on.  Currently the Ravens and Patriots are battling it out. Honestly, I don’t give a lick about either team. I have my favorites (GO PACK GO!, Tebow time, anyone?, and what Christian doesn’t get excited when we hear the Saints are marchin in!). But they were all knocked out last week (sad face).  Now, since I always tell my kids at church that you can find God in anything, I decided to ask Him what He might show me about Himself through this game that I care so little about, and of course, He has.

First off, Let’s take a look:

Dictionary.com  which tells me that a patriot is:

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

Then, let’s take a look at:

I Kings 17:1-6Tthe Real Story of the Patriots and the Ravens.

We don’t see Ravens and Patriots battling, we see them both being used to save a person (Elijah) and a  people (the Isreaelites).  God sends The Patriot, Elijah the Prophet, as His spokesman to His people, and deliverer of His judments. So not an easy job!!  As God’s messenger of judgment, Elijah must endure them as well– and this lastest judment means no rain, not even any dew for the next few years.  Of course, drought for Israel, means drought for Elijah the Patriot/Prophet as well. And no rain, means no water, no water  means no crops, no crops, means no animals, no animals means no food, no food means no worries for the ULTIMATE PATRIOT–THE GOD WHO LOVES, THE GOD WHO SUPPORTS, THE GOD WHO DEFENDS HIS COUNTRY WITH DEVOTION.

Enter the Ravens.  God lets Elijah know that although times are tough, He is keeping His promises to take care of His faithful.  (I LOVE THESE KIND OF PROMISES!!)  God gives Elijah specific instructions to turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, just east of the Jordan. There is a brook there to drink from and, get this, “I have ordered the RAVENS to feed you there.”  How awesome is that!!! What a blessed assurance that the God we serve controls all things, even Ravens.

And Elijah did what faithful people do, “He did what the Lord had told him.  He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and he stayed there.  And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”  What I think was probably the original Happy Meal!! I mean, just think how pumped Elijah must have been every morning to see those birds flyin’ in with his extra value meal.

But more than just meat and bread, every morning and again every night,  Elijah had this great evidence that in the midst of trying times, rebellious people, false prophets, false gods, lonliness, evil Kings and Jezebels, that God loved him, supported him, and was defending him and the people of Israel with devotion. Elijah knew that the God who ordered the Ravens to bring him the food necessary to save His life, was also at work to save the lives of the Israelite nation.

I guess what God is showing me, through ravens and patriots, is that every morning and every night as I sit down to eat, I can remember that the same Patriot God loves us, supports us and defends us with devotion.  So it is my desire to live like Elijah, loving God back in the same way–following faithfully, with trust and obedience, wherever He may tell me to go.