Nehemiah Prayer Time

Nehemiah 8_8

Nehemiah. He’s one of my favorite characters in the Bible. To be honest, I have a lot of favorites, but really, he’s up there as one of my top 20, or 10 or maybe even 5. . .

To coin a phrase from the Fabulous Bentley Brothers, “He built the wall, y’all!” But he did so much more. He prayed, he wept, he humbled himself, he led, he worked, he encouraged, he persevered and he saw God do incredible, miraculous things in and through the people.

Nehemiah 8 is one of my favorite chapters in his book. In a few weeks, I’ll be heading  to the Northwest to speak at a camp, and  I found myself digging trough the pages  of “his-story” for inspiration and prayer.

We find Ezra, the scribe, bringing out the Book of the Law and reading it to the people. He read it from daybreak until noon, and all the people listened attentively as he read. (Yeah, from daybreak til noon! Sometimes we hope for a good 15 minutes of attention!) While he read, the people all stood. They praised the Lord and lifted their hands and responded with Amen! Amen! Then they bowed and worshiped the Lord.

Verse 8 is one of my favorite favorites, “They read from the book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.”

Now there’s something to pray for. As we teach, may our words be clear and give meaning so those we teach can understand.

Here is a list of things we are currently praying from Nehemiah 8 for our camp and our campers:

v. 3 May our campers (and sponsors) listen attentively.
v. 6 May our campers (and sponsors) bow their hearts and worship the Lord.
v. 8 May we make the Word clear and give it meaning so that our campers can understand what is being taught.
v. 10 May we all know the joy of the Lord as our strength.
v. 12 May we celebrate with great joy because we now understand the Words made known to us.
v. 15 May we proclaim the word and spread it throughout our towns.

Nehemiah didn’t just build a wall, y’all. As we read, remember  and pray “his-story,” his life, and ours, is building believers! Let us pray. Amen! Amen!

Bring the Ephod

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There are days, and then there are days.

Sometimes days last into seasons. The kind of seasons that bring storms, danger, trial and fear.

David was living on the run. As King Saul pursued David, David lived out one of those seasons. In 1 Samuel 23:9, when David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod!”

“Bring the ephod”!

Three little words that said so much.

The ephod, a part of the garment of the Old Testament priest, represents Christ, our high priest. Worn much like a tunic, it was made of fine linen with gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread. At the shoulders there were two onyx stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob).

The High Priests would bear God’s people, their sins, needs and burdens on their shoulders as they entered the place of God.  Christ, the High Priest, carries the whole burden alone.

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” David said, “God, we worship You.”

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” David said, “God, we need You.”

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” David said, “God, we trust You.”

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” he humbly acknowledged His dependence on God for His wisdom, direction, protection and sovereignty over not only his life, but the lives of those who were now with him. His request to “bring the ephod,” was a request to inquire of the Lord God Jehovah for deliverance.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I don’t know what season you are in your ministry, family, relationships, finances or health. But I know the One who does, and as you come before Him with your need in worship and faith, He is more than able to direct, protect and provide everything you need. You just need to ask. So, what are you waiting for?

Bring the ephod!

photocredit: Tim Farris 

 

H.O.W. I’m Praying Now

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I’ll admit it. I like a good acronym.

Recently, while praying, God put three little letters together to help me remember to pray specifically for three not-so-little qualities that are changing my heart.

H.O.W. does it work? It’s simple. (I like simple and am really just a simple girl at heart!)

Every day I take time to pray for:

H Humility

O Obedience

W Wonder

In praying for these three things each day, God is opening my heart to areas of pride that need to be removed, and my eyes to areas where I can put humility into practice.

He is showing me what a deeper level of obedience means and reminding me again that the little things are really the big things.

God is revealing to me His wonder. The sometime inconsequential things that are really meant to be appreciated and treasured. In my race to get to the next thing on my to-do list, I have been missing out on the wonder of God around me.

Simple.

Powerful.

Life-changing.

Thank you, Jesus.

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~ Corrie ten Boom

 

5 Reasons I Love Easter in the Preschool Rooms

I love Easter. Love it.

Like Christmas, love it.

And so, I love to make the most of every opportunity to help our lil HiSKidZ see God’s Big Story about Jesus as we draw near to the holiday that is truly a Holy-Day.

Along with 5 reasons I love Easter in the preschool  5 (or more) ways we helped lil HiSKidZ at our church learn about and love Easter, too!

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1–We share things we know they won’t completely understand.

We know preschoolers won’t completely understand everything about Easter. But y’know what? Neither did the grown men who walked with Jesus. This month we taught that Jesus loved his friends so much that He tried to explain everything that was going to happen. He told them that He was going to go to Jerusalem, He was going to die and He was going to come back to life. They didn’t really understand at the time, but they would later, and it would mean A LOT when they realized He cared enough to try to explain it them.

Our lil HiSKidZ made this place mat to use at home so that just like Jesus’ Bible friends, He would be helping them understand what Easter is all about. It was so easy for them to just glue the pieces on, and then work with our leaders to watch the laminator do the magic!! (Kids love laminating!)

 

zaccheus tree  zaccheus snack

2–We teach God loves everyone no matter how small, no matter what they’ve done.

Next, we taught about Zacchaeus. Because on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus met this now infamous man and changed his life forever. Jesus showed us again that He loves everyone–no matter how small and no matter what they’ve done–and that only He has the power to save them and forgive their sins.

We made the fun snack, (Twix bars, Rice Krispie Treats and Teddy Grahams) and our little ones made the craft! In case you needed to know one more thing you can do with a paper towel roll, try making a sycamore tree! Zacchaeus climbs up the tree to see Jesus and when Jesus stops by, down he comes.

donkey and handprint palm branches    donut hole guys

3–We celebrate Palm Sunday.

This week we will reenact Palm Sunday complete with Jesus in, not on, a donkey and our own interpretation of “palm” branches! You can make a million kinds of animals out of boxes, and be sure to hit up your local home stores for paint sticks–they are great for so many fun things.

My favorite thing this month has been our snack for this week. I saw this idea made with real rocks, (but not for a snack, obviously) which made me think of the verse from the Palm Sunday story where Jesus says that if the people stop praising the rocks will cry out. So, donut holes, candy eyes, some toothpicks, little flags and Hosanna! We are rocking the snack this week!!

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4–We get to have real Palm Branches.

As part of Palm Sunday, we always buy Palm Branches! And, yes, I think they should be capitalized. We get them for HiSKidZ of all ages, and they all love them. Several years ago, I almost stopped. I’m not sure why. Maybe they seemed old-fashioned, maybe I wasn’t sure if the kids liked them.

But, then, one of our 5th grade boys commented the week before Palm Sunday, “Next week is Palm Sunday! I love Palm Sunday! We always get those Palm Branches and we get to act like we were there.” ‘Nuff said. I’ve been buying them ever since. When a 5th grade boy tells you that Palm Branches have become a spiritual marker in his life, you buy them forever!

We live in midwest, and our palms aren’t always the best, but this year they are so green, I can’t wait for the kids to see them.

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5–The angel rolled the stone away, and Jesus is alive!

Like I said, I love Easter Sunday. I love saying, “He is Risen. He is Risen, Indeed!” I love singing Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate, Rise and Sing, and Jesus is Alive Right Now with our bigs and Hosanna, 1-2-3 and Jesus is Alive with our littles. I love the power of the day, and the reason we celebrate. I love how God moves as we share who He is and what He has done.

One of the above angel bags will be our craft on Easter Sunday. I’ll let you guess which one!

The picture on the left represents one attempt at an angel bag. I know it looks like a bird–a very surprised bird, but it is an angel. The bag on the right, thankfully, was created by one of our amazing volunteers so our kids don’t think angels are owls, and so their parents will let the come back to church with us!!

What do you love about Easter in your preschool rooms?

 

 

 

The Interrupt Rule-Teaching Our Children to Honor Others by Waiting

 

“One of the most important ways I can love my children is by refusing to let them interrupt my wife and me when we are talking.”

This morning I ran across this quote in my twitter feed, and it reminded me of one of the most valuable principles Tim and I learned when we were raising our boys:

Our children can learn to wait.

Even more, it’s important they learn to wait. It’s part of life. It’s respectful. It’s self-control. It’s patience. It’s loving. It’s about others.

When we were raising our boys, we had the opportunity to both take and lead parenting classes where we could learn and pass on valuable tools and heart principles. One of those tools was “the interrupt rule.”

We then taught our children that if they needed to speak with us and we were in another conversation, they should simply place their hand on our arm and wait patiently.  In placing their hand on our arm, we would know that they needed us, and we would take a break in our conversation as soon as possible without being rude to the person we were talking to.

This worked whether we were in person or on the phone, and it helped us teach and train our children that their thoughts and needs were important to us, but so were the thoughts and needs of others.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

When we specifically applied this principle to our marriage, our boys learned that our marriage relationship was our priority. They were not the center of our world, but rather a valuable part of it. Knowing mom and dad loved each other and put each other first added to their sense of security. They grew in patience and respect for us and others as they realized that they could wait and still be heard, and that others needed to have their chance to be heard as well.

I’d love to know:

What tools have you used to help your children learn to wait without interrupting?

It’s a Good Thing Their Nets Were Empty (A Preschool Craft Fail/Success Story!)

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I had planned a simple craft for our preschoolers at church. It had something for everyone–color for the visual, texture for the tactile learners, scents for those who love smells. . . .you know! It was looking  to be a good day.

Preparing to head out of town to a wedding, everything was prepped and ready to go with the sample neatly placed in the preschool room.

We were teaching our littles that “Jesus is Our Friend.” Our craft would help them see how Jesus helped his friends catch fish one day when their nets were coming up empty. He even made them breakfast!!

The picture above is the craft they were supposed to make.

It was pretty cool. The “water” is really hair gel–that’s where the bubbles come from. The kids would work on counting skills as they added the Swedish fish to represent the nets going from empty to full! Our littles love to put stickers on of any kind, so we had the label reminder of the lesson truth. What could go wrong???

Well, for one thing, a blood bath– something that resembled a massacre of fish in a bag!

You see, I didn’t think about the fact that Swedish fish are just sugar and water, and that sugar and water are easily dissolvable.

When I came in early Sunday morning after being out of town, I was confident and relaxed knowing everything was in it’s place. But, that all changed when in the place of the lovingly prepared sample craft, I found this:

jesus is my friend fail

Oh my heck!

What’s a girl to do?

For about a half a sec, I thought about just going with it. I mean, how many parents really keep those crafts anyway? (At our church, thankfully, quite a few.)

It was immediately funny to me. However, as humorous as it was at the moment, I just couldn’t feel good about what was going to happen to those fish over the next twenty-four hours if they went home with our lil HiSKidZ.

After a quick, “OK Lord, what are we going to do with this mess?” I decided that no fish would be going in those bags and our craft talk would now go something like this:

Teacher: “Jesus disciples fished all night and didn’t catch a thing. Their nets were empty. But Jesus helped them to fill their nets. This “water” in our bag doesn’t have any fish in it, does it?”

Lil HiSKidZ: “No, teacher.”

Teacher: “But, now, whenever we play with our ocean bag, we can remember that when things might not be working out, we can trust that Jesus can give us all we need.

Who remembers what Jesus did after He helped his friends fill their nets with fish?”

Lil HiSKidZ: “He made them breakfast!”

Teacher: “That’s right. He made them a breakfast of fish. Real fish, not the candy kind I’m going to share with you today. . . . “

And so it goes. The lesson was reinforced. The kids had a great sensory activity and no additional Swedish fish had to be harmed in the teaching of God’s Word.

Sometimes things don’t work out like we plan. Sometimes, the results are downright murderous! And sometimes, the fail becomes a win!

If the disciples’ nets hadn’t been empty, they wouldn’t have seen the miracle of the catch and the provision of their Lord in ways they couldn’t have imagined.

If our nets wouldn’t have been empty, our preschool craft would have been just another Pinterest fail. Thankfully, it was a great success and an opportunity to see the provision of the Lord in ways we could never have imagined!

5 Things to Consider About God’s Plans for Your Life

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When I go on a trip, I like to know where I’m staying. There ya go.I said it. I’m one of those people.  I search for my hotel online, try to get the best deal and make sure the GPS on my phone knows how to get me there. For better or for worse, I want to know there is room at the inn when I get tired.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a compulsive planner, but I do like a little structure in my day-to-days.

Currently, in our Sunday morning children’s services we are teaching through the life of Moses. (Thank you Brian Dollar and High Voltage Kids!)

The series begins with an important reminder that God has a plan for us. Ultimately, His plan is for our salvation, and a life filled with worship and faithfulness, walking with Him in love and obedience.

But, we want “the big picture.” We want to know the “big”thing God wants us to do (or that we want to do for God). In focusing on that big thing, we can unknowingly walk out of the boundaries of His plan for us. It’s like trying to put together a puzzle without all the pieces.

Here are 5 truths that have helped me see the big picture:

  1. God’s plan is for us to be reconciled to Him. Is there anything keeping you from Jesus?
  2. God’s plan is for us to know Him. How can you use your time to get to know God more deeply?
  3. God’s plan is for us to share His plan with others. Who can you tell about Jesus?
  4. God’s plan is for us to love, forgive and show others the grace we have been shown. Who do you need to love? Who do you need to forgive?
  5. God’s plan is for us to serve others. How can you use your resources, gifts, talents and heart to help someone else?

This year let’s plan to know God, follow Him, share Jesus, love and serve others as part of God’s plan for us all. As we focus on the little pieces, I can’t wait to see the big picture emerge!