Using Worms for Bait (and Other Great Stories to Help Kids Dig Deeper into God’s Word)

Using worms for bait (1)

In some ways, the church where I serve isn’t that much different than a lot of other churches. Although we encourage children and their parents to read, study, know and live out God’s Word, it is often a challenge.

As a result we work at finding creative ways to help kids want to dig deeper in the God’s Word. One method way we use to move kids to want to read the Bible for themselves is to point them to some of the slightly unusual things that are in the pages of Scripture that they may not have seen or heard about before.

For example, our 6th graders are currently studying the New Testament. As we went digging into the pages of Acts we found worms. What preteen doesn’t want dig for worms–especially in the Bible? So we used that time to be sure to share with them Herod’s story from Acts 12:21-22 and the important truth of giving glory to God.

“Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.”

There are so many other great or at least slightly unusual stories that can peak kids’ interest in the Bible causing them to go home and read more for themselves.

Here are a few of the favorites with our kids:

Elijah Runs Raster Than a Chariot
I Kings 18:46

Elisha and the Bears
II Kings 2:23-25

The Really Big King with the Really Big Bed
Deuteronomy 3:11

The Man With 12 Fingers and 12 Toes
II Samuel 21:20

Going to the Bathroom Bible Style
Deuteronomy 23:12-14

Almost Any of the Judges
Book of Judges

Shipwrecks and Snakebites
Acts 27:13-28:6

Grabbing kids’ attention and directing them to the Word is a calling of such great importance. While it may not always be a good idea to use shock or disbelief just for the sake of it, sometimes it can be a very good thing to use to instill a desire and hunger to know more about the Bible.

C’mon, dig in, and let’s get ’em hooked on God’s Word!

Advertisements

Things I Want HiSKidZ to Know–Elijah’s Stories

Days of Elijah

These are the days of Elijah!

At least in our church they are. HiSKidZ in our elementary programs have been learning through High Voltage Ministry’s Curriculum about God’s faithfulness to Elijah and how “life is full of ups and downs but God is faithful.”

I love Elijah’s stories because they are filled with miracles, power and the kinds of things that just make kids (and their teacher) go, “Woah, Awesome!”

Birds bringing happy meals, a widow baking lots and lots and lots of bread out of next to nothing, the resurrection of a child, the total domination of the prophets of Baal, and the Spirit inspired ability to run faster than a speeding chariot are all part of Elijah’s encounters with the One true God.

As we come to the end of our lessons, we see Elijah in a cave on the mountain of God where He receives a message from the Lord wanting to know what he’s doing there.

Elijah tells God the things He already knows concluding with something sort of like, “Um, trying not to get killed.”

Then God says to him, “Go out. Stand on the mountain in front of me. I’m going to pass by.”

And as the Lord approached, a very, very, very powerful wind tore the mountains apart, breaking up the rocks.

But the Lord wasn’t in the wind.

After that wind there was an earthquake.

But the LORD wasn’t in the earthquake.

After the earthquake a fire came.

But the LORD wasn’t in the fire.

(At this point I do have to wonder a bit what Elijah was feeling. . .fear of the Lord is my top answer on the board!)

And then after the fire, there was only a gentle whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he pulled his coat over his face, and he went and stood at the entrance to the cave, where he and the LORD talked.

Elijah once again told God about the story He already knew, and about the fears God was already taking care of, and the LORD GOD JEHOVAH told him to keep going; it was going to be okay; there were others; he was not alone. After the mighty display of God’s power, God quietly reminded Elijah that there was still work to do, and God would be there with him to do it.

It’s so important that we share Elijah’s story with our children. For one, they need to know the awesome power of our miracle-working God.

They need to know that as His children, even when times are hard, the pressure is on and we feel alone, God is with us.

But even more, they need to know that His reminder may in some great announcement, but in the gentle whisper of the God who loves us. So we need to listen to His voice and follow His call, because the One who calls us is always faithful.

You can check out more of Elijah’s story in I Kings 17-19

This Crazy Little Thing Called Love–Freaky Friday

love1

I haven’t done a freaky Friday post in quite awhile. Actually haven’t done any posting in awhile. I guess with the son’s wedding, holidays and, oh yeah, complete and utter exhaustion; I rightfully gave some things a rest in life. Blogging was one of them.

But now, slowly and surely, it’s coming back and today seemed like the perfect day to start again. . .

Why? Well, because it’s Friday and I was reading in Corinthians–Chapter 13: The “LOVE” Chapter. I am always a bit convicted when I read the words Paul penned there, because, well, because this kind of love, and our kind of love just don’t always match up. In fact, there are some pretty freaky differences. And so the Holy Spirit powered lightbulb in my brain went off that said, “You might want to write these things down so you don’t forget what I’m about to say to you.”

Ok, so maybe if I have talking lightbulbs in my head I still need a bit more rest. Either that, or this is actually a pretty good post for a Freaky Friday.

Anyhow, while reading, I did what I usually do when reading these verses and sort of charted out what the Bible says love is and love isn’t.

For example:

Love is:
Patient
Kind
Content
Humble
Considerate
Other Centered
Calm

Love isn’t:
Impatient
Unkind
Envious
Boastful
Rude
Self Seeking
Easily Angered

and . . . Love keeps no records of wrongs
(which just doesn’t seem to fit in either category so it gets its own spot)

I thought about leaving that last one out. It doesn’t really fit in the chart anyway. I sort of figured that I’m doing pretty well in most of the other areas, and honestly, I am not a grudge holder. Sometimes I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have a terrible memory of any kind. After all, you can’t hold a grudge when you don’t even remember what happened, y’know what I mean?

I wrote it down anyway. Then I went back over the list.

And in reading through it again, God helped me to realize that there is one person, (and this is funny, it’s a person I don’t even really know), that I have allowed to get under my skin. I’m not sure why. Well, yes I am. Because I haven’t chosen to love them, or think loving thoughts about them or consider the things they have surely done well, right and good. I have chosen to keep a record of how I believe they wronged me, and have chosen to dwell on those thoughts instead.

Of course this person, whom I will probably never see again in my whole life, has NO IDEA that I am upset with them or that I have a list of things about them that I believe they did that hurt me. But I know–well, at least I do now. And so now I must choose.

I must choose to get a little freaky and throw my mental list away. Gone, goodbye, adios, in the trash it must go. Because if I don’t choose to do that, well, then. . . seriously, well, then, I know that I have gained nothing, and am nothing but a big clanging cymbal in what should be God’s perfect symphony of love.

So today, I’m giving it to God, and I will do my best not to take it back. Because this crazy little thing called love changes me, changes us, and can change the world, when we choose to live it out in the completely unworldly way God intended us to do.

Maybe you need to get a little “freaky” this Friday. If so, take the time to sit down and choose to allow God to continue to mold and shape you to be more like Him. Because this crazy little thing called love isn’t a little thing at all.

A Lesson on Unity from Tower of Babel

john 1723

All this year the church I work for and attend has been praying for 5 different, specific areas of growth, and among them is unity. In these past months, I’ve learned that  praying for unity is sometimes a tricky thing. For example, if you pray for unity, you may begin to discover areas where there has been disunity–areas you didn’t even know existed.  But that’s a good thing–a really good thing actually, since you can’t address that which you don’t even realize is an issue needing to be addressed.  Honestly, I think I personally thought we were probably praying for greater unity. Praying for greater unity somehow makes you believe you don’t have to really consider areas where you may not have unity.

So during the course of this year, I have been taking note of certain aspects of what God says about unity.

Enter the Tower of Babel.

On Wednesday of this week, my boss/pastor shared a short message about the Tower of Babel with the students of Keokuk Christian Academy, the Christian school which is housed in our church. As I took a few minutes to go back and reread the account from Genesis  11, I couldn’t help but take note a statement I guess had somehow slipped my attention before.

It’s from verse 6:

“The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

Unity.

Those people had unity. It was just misguided unity. They were united for a wrong goal and they were united without God’s blessing. Their goal was to make a name for themselves and to not be scattered all over the world. (Verse 4) Goal #1 accomplished. Goal #2, Uh, not so much.

Apparently they were doing a pretty good job of building that tower, because God took note of these people who had united, and that there was little stopping them. Well, little, except for God.

So the Lord confused their language, scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building their city. End of unity.

I was reminded from these verses about how strong the power of unity is even when it is misguided, and I was inspired by even how much more powerful unity is when Christ is at the center and the glorification of His name is the purpose.

In John 17, John shares with us a prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us, the modern day believer. Both speak about unity. At the heart of Jesus’ own prayers for us is unity–that we would be one as He and God are One, so that the world might believe in Jesus, and that God sent Him to earth for us.

Because that is something worth being united about.

So how do we grow in unity? I believe by following the words and examples of Jesus and His disciples.

We pray for unity. (John17)

We stay kingdom focused. (John 17)

We choose unity. (I Peter 3:8)

We live out compassion and humility. (I Peter 3:8)

We don’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult. (I Peter 3:9)

We honor one another above ourselves. (Romans 12:10)

We are devoted to one another and share with God’s people who are in need. (Romans 12:10,13)

As we become truly unified, we continue to pray to grow in unity, so that those who are missing out on unity with Christ can know Him as Lord being reconciled to Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New on the Menu: Oxen–Freaky Friday

ox

I have to admit oxen would never be the first thing I would choose on a menu. Although I’m sure it’s probably pretty tasty– most recipes call for using it like beef. Since I already like beef, and it’s considerably less expensive, that’s what I’m sticking with for now.

That said, what if all you had was ox meat? Like, say, Elisha did.

In I Kings 19:19-21, we find the account of the prophet Elijah offering a call to follow him to the young man, Elisha. (I always remember which comes first by alphabetizing their names!)

Elijah found Elisha out in the field plowing with 12 yoke of oxen, driving the 12th pair himself. Elijah went up and threw his cloak around Elisha symbolizing that Elisha would succeed Elijah as the next prophet of God.

The Bible tells us that Elisha then ran after Elijah asking to tell his parents goodbye. Elijah grants him permission and then not only does Elisha tell them goodbye, he makes it more than obvious that he understands the call means he is not coming back.

You see, Elisha took that yoke of oxen and prepared them for a meal–and I’m not talkin’ about the oxen eating supper here! It was curtains for the oxen and the plow as well. Elisha burned the yoke and the plow, cooked the oxen on the fire and gave the meat to the people to eat. The he set out to follow Elijah and become his attendant.

O.K.

That’s one extreme going away party. Yet, I’m continually moved by Elisha‘s understanding of what it means to follow God–the willingness, no, it’s more than just being willing–the actual leaving of everything to follow God.

Elisha didn’t just talk about it. Elisha didn’t say, “God, wants us to be willing to leave it all, but He doesn’t really expect us to.” Elisha didn’t say, “See ya at Christmas, mom.” (Well, okay, Christmas didn’t exist yet, but you know what I mean.)

Elisha left it all to follow Elijah which meant Elisha left it all to follow God. No turning back. No turning back.

And as a result, Elisha experienced the power and moving of God like few other men in the history of the world.

Elisha gave it all to God. God gave it all to Elisha. So today, like everyday I read the account of “Grilling Oxen with Elisha,” I find myself asking, “Have I left everything to follow God?” and I’m reminded of that simple yet powerful song:

“I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back.”

And it is my desire to leave everything on the table–so to speak–in order to know, follow and serve God.

How ’bout you? Is today the day you are being called to follow Jesus? If you’d like to know more about what it means to follow Jesus completely, I’d love to help. Feel free to contact me or leave a post.

In the meantime, I have a strong urge to go do some grilling.

oxen1

All Fired Up!–Freaky Friday

fire

We have a saying when it comes to planning events with kids that goes something like this, “You can plan just about anything and as long as you include fire or water, they are going to love it.”

I just spent this past week teaching at our local church camp–one of my absolute favorite things to do!! Teaching through the Old Testament, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the greatest Bible stories include those two elements.

This afternoon when I returned home, I opened my Bible to the book of 2 Kings and saw a story I somehow never took much notice of before and decided it was definitely worthy of a Freaky Friday post.

It seems that after Ahab died, his son Ahaziah took the reigns. Apparently he had seriously injured himself falling through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria. (Which made me really glad my husband held off on replacing our lattice until I got home from camp).

Anyhow, he sent messengers to inquire of the false god, Baal-Zebub, as to whether or not he would recover. Silly king. He had to know that would get God a bit fired up. I mean after all, commandments one and two are pretty hard to misinterpret.

As God got word of the king’s decision to inquire of the wrong god, He sent Elijah to meet the king’s messengers and ask them this simple question, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub?”

Fair question. Seriously, why in the world was the King of Israel consulting a false god? Hmmm, well, that’s another blog post.

Besides, God knows the answer to his question–it’s Him for goodness sake! So He leaves the message, “Ahaziah, you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”

Elijah delivers God’s message to the messengers, and the messengers deliver Elijah’s message to the king, and it doesn’t take long before the king has gotten the message that God is a bit fired up! (Actually he has no idea how fired up He is, but he soon will.)

Apparently the king was a bit fired up himself, because he sent a captain with his company of fifty men up to meet Elijah declaring, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!'”

. . . Someone has forgotten who the real king is. . . . and that Elijah answers first to the king of kings.

Elijah answers back with, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” As if there was any doubt Elijah was a man of God, fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty men! WoooHooo!! Fired up!

Somehow the king got word of this–although it couldn’t have been from the fifty men now could it have?–and he sends another captain and another fifty men. They also declare, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once.'”

And Elijah replies again, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And, yeppers, fire came down from heaven and consumed those men!

So the king sends another captain and another fifty men. Only this third captain is just a little wiser and declares, well, pleads, “Man of God, please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants. The fire came down and consumed the others, but please now have respect for my life.”

At this, God spares their lives and instructs Elijah to go and have a chat with the king, where He asks the king God’s question, “Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub?”

Giving the king no time to answer Elijah adds, “Because you have done this, you will never leave this bed you are lying on. You will certainly die.”

So he died. Just like God said he would. The End.

Kind of. Well, the end of King Ahaziah anyway, and 100 soldiers and two captains.

Freaky as it sounds, they shouldn’t have been surprised. They had entered into covenant agreements with God to follow him. They knew that breaking the covenant meant death. Ahaziah should have known before he sent out the first company of soldiers that he was wrong and God was giving him a chance to repent and if he would repent, God would relent.

But instead, he chose rebellion. He chose pride. He chose to reject God, forgetting that God’s wrath would be fired up against him and those who served him. Not only did he fall from the lattice, he fell from grace, and the love of Jehovah God “fired up” with passion to restore him had he only been willing to accept it.

Well, Slap Me Upside the Head–Freaky Friday

Psalm_141-5

Ever said these words?

“God just needs to slap me upside the head sometimes.”

I know I have, and although I don’t necessarily like it when He does, I’m always thankful. I know He will only use the “slap me upside the head” method when I have been unwilling to listen or get what He’s trying to tell me any other way. I know He does it because He loves me too much to let me keep walking in my sin.

Apparantly David understood that, too, and he also understood that God often uses someone else to do the slappin’ because in Psalm 141 verse 5 David says,

“Let a righteous man slap me–that is a kindness; let him rebuke me–that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.”

Love, love, love that David, yeah King David, was willing to be taught and rebuked–even in some pretty drastic ways so that He wouldn’t walk in the way of the wicked. Extreme. Freaky. Courageous. Honorable. Honest. David.

David got slapped once. A prophet named Nathan had to do the slapping. But it changed David’s life, and it shows us today that following God doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, it means we have to be repentant. When I take those words to heart, it changes my life, too.

Extreme. Freaky. Courageous. Honorable. Honest. God.

www.hypersmash.com