(The Preamble) I had almost forgotten I still had a blog. This road seems quite dusty and untraveled as of late. Far too many of life’s challenges have taken its place and shuffled my priorities past what I can even recognize as “normal” anymore. Still, there is this itch that I cannot shake. No, I don’t need some sort of itch cream, it’s a mental itch rooting around in my brain, struggling to grasp just one spark of life so that the rest of those creative neurons will fire once more. It’s the itch to put to proverbial pen and paper what’s been brimming inside my brain threatening to spill over. It’s the itch that will not subside until I have committed to it once more. So…here I am. Scratching.
Can I tell you a story? ok. here goes.
My 15-year-old twins, on their birthday, were adamant about getting their driver’s permits. So, off we went and, sure enough, they took the test and passed. Then, both of them, with smiles from ear to ear took a photo of their proud achievement. I realized at that moment that I had driven them to that location begrudgingly because they are my babies and I still can’t believe they are old enough to drive. Still, with my heart solidly lodged in my throat, I allowed them to drive me home. They don’t know this, but I still see them as the babies they once were: all diapered up, running around in opposite directions and causing all sorts of chaos and mayhem in our little home. That’s the twins I still see when I look at them, but they’re growing up and, perhaps a small part of me (or maybe a large part of me) doesn’t want them to age. In fact, I wished I could reverse time and keep things the way they were.
I am in this chapter of my life where I am once again sitting in the co-pilot seat and sometimes, if Shanais (their Mom) is in the car with us, I am relegated to the backseat where I become the most epic backseat driver that has ever lived. These co-pilot trips are nerve-wracking. Far too many times than I can count I have slammed on my imaginary brake pedal as my son or daughter has taken a curve too fast or has decided to brake too late as the cars in front are at a standstill. I have experienced heart palpitations and, sometimes it has even skipped a beat, as my trust in these rookie drivers has waned and I secretly think to myself “This state really needs to revamp its driver’s training tests” as I white-knuckle the handle just above the passenger door.
I need to confess something: I have trust issues. I sometimes have doubts that my babies should be driving, and I’m embarrassed to say that I am often surprised when they surpass my road-test “I am worthy” expectations. Sure, they still make mistakes while behind the wheel, but ever-so-slowly they are improving and becoming the driving experts that I know they can become.
The last time I was riding shotgun as one of my “babies” drove, I had an epiphany right there in the passenger seat, white-knuckling the door handle. This must be how our Heavenly Father feels when we still have so much to learn while on this road of life. It sounds kinda cheesy, but I think it’s sort of true. He knows what we are capable of, and yet there are many times that I’m sure he has white-knuckled that passenger door handle as He’s journeyed along with me (and perhaps you). I know that I have trust issues, but I doubt God does. He knows you and me. He knows that we get nervous, or fear failure, or dread having “that meeting” at work, or__________(insert your fear here).
Psalm 139 says that before we were even born God knew us. Perhaps He still longs for that baby stage too, but He journeys with us wherever we go, even when we make mistakes and belatedly hit the brakes with regret.
I am reminded, through these co-pilot scenes in the car with my kids that despite my best efforts, I have to trust that God holds these precious babies in His hands and I can’t always protect them from all of life’s lessons, no matter how hard I try.
I am also reminded of how many times I have failed in this life, and despite my failings, God still loves me and desires for me to get back up, buckle up, adjust the rearview mirror, learn from my mistakes, and mature in my faith as I journey along with Him. It was never a high-speed race to the finish line, but rather a marathon in which we often get banged up and bruised along the way.
So how’s your driver’s education going? Are you still making mistakes? Have you thrown your hands up in defeat recently? Do you fear failure? Are you defeated right at this very moment? God is near. He knows you. He loves you, and you have never been alone…He might have held onto that door handle a bit harder at some points in your journey, but He’s right there with you.
This is just me, pondering on…for what it’s worth.
As with any highly opinionated blog post, selecting just five of my favorite Christmas songs is extremely difficult. I could just pick five, but I have decided to add a bonus category to this selection process. The first five are my favorite Christmas songs. By songs, I mean a blend of hymns/carols and popular seasonal tunes that peak by lyrical and audio tastebuds and compel me to crank up the volume.
The second bonus category I call “My Prerogative” has been selected solely from a poetic and melodic perspective. I have, in this case, thrown out any theological implications or questions and opted to select these additional five because I like them. One might say, “well, that’s cheating; you said top 5.” And you would be right, but it’s my blog, and cue Bobby Brown’s…”It’s my prerogative.”
Let me skip the preamble and get to the good stuff.
I have played a lot of brass band Christmas music in my life, and when I first heard this song, I fell in love with Carol of the Bells all over again. I have always gravitated toward wailing guitar solos and rifs that get cranked up to the 11… For me, this is one version of an old Christmas tune that I find myself cranking up the volume to when I hear it start. Some might contend that this song has been overplayed, but I still can’t get enough of it. A few years ago, I was fortunate to go to a Trans-Siberian concert, and it was everything I expected it to be. There were pyrotechnics, fog, a storyline, and enough electric guitars to melt your face…it was awesome.
Let’s put aside our memes and retorts to the song’s question for just a second and focus on the vocals and the mastery of the minor chords, which always seem to create mystery and awe. I loved the original recording that was sung by Michael English years ago. The song was written by Mark Lowry, and if we don’t delve too deeply into theology, perhaps we could simply ask ourselves, “Do we know Jesus as Lord of all creation?” I simply love the acapella version from Pentatonics because it carries a depth of vocals, and gave me chills the first time I heard it. Am I judging songs on emotion as well as lyrical depth? Perhaps. Some of you will disagree with me, but that’s my opinion and why Mary Did You Know made this list.
3. What Child is This?
This is another Christmas song, sung in a minor key, that absolutely captivates me and creates within me a sense of awe and wonder. There are many great versions of this song, such as the one by Chris Tomlin and All Sons & Daughters, or beautifully done by the One Voice Children’s Choir. I love this song for many reasons, especially when one gets to the chorus and the refrain is boldly proclaimed:
“This, this is Christ the King Whom shepherds guard and angels sing Haste, haste to bring him laud The babe, the son of Mary.“
Amy Grant’s entire Home for Christmas Album is a heartwarming collection of songs that have stuck with me for years, and I find solace while listening to this album on repeat while at work or when I need to relax. Breath of Heaven (another minor song, I’m sensing a theme here) makes me contemplate that Holy birth through an intimate glimpse into the nativity. I can’t help but be drawn in and held captivated by hope and expectation.
The allure of this song stems from the ancientness of this tune. Originally written between the 6th-9th century in Latin sung in monasteries during the last seven days of Advent. The English translation was introduced to the world in 1851. This Christmas song elicits something old and sacred and resonates within my heart everytime I hear its words sung. There are many, many versions available online of this song, and, for the most part, I love them all. It captures in me the joyous expectancy of the Christ-mass again and helps me explore the Savior’s birth, the context and longing for Messiah in the ancient world, and the source of true Christmas in this modern world.
I love, love, love this song. Supposedly written by John Jacob Niles in the 1930’s began as a fragmented collection of lyrics and became a Christian folk tune. The lyrics leave the listener to peer into melancholy three stanzas and meet a Savior who came ordinary folk. It invites all of us to not only the manger but also the crucifixion. Folk songs tell stories and evoke feelings and imagery that appeals to our emotions and our hearts. This song has always strummed those chords within my heart as well.
The beautiful poetry of Christina Rossetti and the tune written by Gustav Holst and later Harold Darke evoke a classical progression of Nativity, dominion, and salvation for the whole world. The mournful tune haunts me while the words often draw tears to my eyes in contemplation of the Divine. In the Bleak Midwinter is one of my favorite poetic and melodic Christmas songs and I hope it’s yours as well.
The tune was written by Franz Gruber to the lyrics written by Joseph Mohr. The piece has much lore attached to it and has been translated and sung in many different languages around the world. It is a beloved Christmas song and I could not leave it off of this list.
2. Oh Holy Night
I love this song because it is complicated to sing, yet it is beautiful, glorious, and poignant. “Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born…” It always gives me pause and helps me slow down my fast-paced lifestyle to experience the true significance of Christmas.
A friend suggested this song, and now I cannot get it out of my head. Its message strikes at the very nature of our fallenness, yet still speaks to the Savior’s presence in the lowliest of person no matter how hurt and broken that person is – Jesus comes to you and me. Christ is born for YOU. If ever the world needed to hear that refrain it is now. So many come to this holiday season carrying so much hurt, brokenness and despair. The message of hope at Christmas is available to bring healing, restoration, hope, love and joy for all.
That’s It That’s my top 5 (plus 5 more) Christmas song list. Perhaps you saw my list and it resonated with you. Perhaps you read the songs on my list and thought that I missed one of your favorites. Let me know in the comments below if I was one target or way off the mark. I would love to hear how your favorites list matches up to mine.
Have a blessed Christmas, dear friend. I hope the Lord continues to bless and keep you and yours.
YouNot all of us pastors have the luxury of having a full worship band, pianist and an ear for music. Let’s face it, some of us reading this article right now can’t carry a tune in a bucket…and that’s okay. We don’t all have to have the gift of music. Scripture even points out the various gifts that we are all given and appointed with (Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10-11), and just as the focus on speaking in tongues can become an issue, so too then use of music. Don’t get me wrong, music in worship can be most beneficial to the body of Christ, but it should be viewed as a conduit to deeper worship, not the desired end result.
Today, let us focus on this element of worship with the non-musical pastors in mind. If you fit this mold, then take note. My wife is very, very talented in other areas of ministry, but she will openly admit that music is not one of those talents.
There are many, many pastors in small churches or corps that do not have a musical bone in their bodies, and that’s okay. I want to help you find some tools to use within worship that will assist you and your congregation within and even around the conduit of music on Sunday.
1) YouTube Videos/YouTube Video Downloaders.
If you are not musical at all, you might utilize a plethora of Christian worship music on YouTube. There are even Youtube downloaders that you can use to have the videos accessible in places of worship where WiFi and the internet are sketchy or nonexistent. Using a video on YouTube could include modern top 40 Christian songs, a movie clip, or numerous other topics other than just music.
Don’t neglect the power of videos and or worship songs in your Sunday services. Feel free to be creative and intentional in the planning of your service theme too. Caution: This will take time, so don’t just throw everything together on Saturday night and expect amazing results…intentional planning takes time and hours. We are all busy people, but not taking the time to find the appropriate videos and/or music, is noticeable in our services (I’ve been guilty of this too).
2) iSing Worship (app)
This is a great app that does cost a little bit, but is a tremendous tool if you have a portable device like an iPad or iPhone. The app is free, but the songs will you about $3 a piece, which is only a dollar more than what you would pay for songs you currently buy on Google Music store or the apple iTunes Store. When you buy these songs, you then have the ability to include all of the elements of the song (i.e lead vocals, guitar, drums etc.). So, for instance, if you wanted to lead the song you could turn the vocals down and sing with the music like it was Christian Karaoke hour. Or iSing worship could become your worship band in a box by simply hitting play. Be sure, however that you plan the songs you are going to sing ahead of time and have the words either printed or displayed on the screen for the congregation to sing along.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Let’s face it, we all encounter difficult days…some more difficult than others.
There are days that we can manage on our own, and then there are days when we are completely floored by the problems that come our way. The pressures may seem impossible to overcome, and sometimes that may be true…
I know what you’re thinking, “that doesn’t sound very encouraging to me”…let me finish:
The pressures may seem impossible to overcome, and sometimes that may be true…but we were never meant to handle it all on our own.
In the Apostle Paul’s day, the new believers in Thessalonica were encountering all kinds of trouble. Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia which boasted over 200,000 people. This city was known for being a military and commercial port city. So within this large city in Macedonia, these young Christians were encountering all sorts of trouble – even persecution and death because of their new-found declarations of faith. In the midst of their living testimonies, they longed for the day of Christ’s return. What does that mean? They lived in fear every single day, and couldn’t wait for Christ to come back. And so these young Christians lived expectant lives while encouraging each other onward.
The persecution in Thessalonica must have been fierce for the Apostle Paul to remind them that they needed one another and they ought to continue (“just as you are doing”) to encourage one another.
Let’s put this into perspective:
We might not be facing certain death for our faith, instead we might be struggling to pay rent, finding funds to feed our families, enduring a tough problem at work or at home…all of these situations are arduous and, at times they keep us up at night. The killer is silence.
What do I mean?
We think no other Christian is struggling, and if they are it must mean that their faith isn’t strong enough. This could not be further from the truth.
We have this idea that we shouldn’t let other Christians know how discouraged we really are, because we don’t want them to think less of us. Because we don’t want others to talk. Because we fear judgment of others. Because we believe in the perfect Christian life that really doesn’t exist…because we’ve bought the lie that to be a Christian means we don’t struggle with these things anymore.
And so, silence is a killer.
No one knows.
We don’t share.
And our hurts go unchecked, unnoticed, and unaddressed.
How can we encourage one another if we aren’t being honest with each other?
How can we carry each other’s burdens if we allow silence to slowly kill our souls?
We cannot continue to buy the lie that everything is fine when we face times of trial and we keep it private. (Some will laugh at this and say, but church is full of hypocrites and gossipers…then find REAL believers in whom you can confide!)
Healing can begin with out this kind of encouragement, but long is the process and deep the scars. When we have others who will journey beside us, and encourage us, we will find added strength, hope, abundance and encouragement.
So we did a weekend of Messy Church recently, that consisted of 2 hour segments on the topic of the “I Am’s” of Jesus. I would recommend along with leaders at the stations, you have a time keeper to keep the stations and children moving. These Messy Church plans can be adapted and adjusted to meet your church’s needs and the demographics of your congregation. I will also add that you invite your older members and adults to participate and perhaps even become a child in a way to help the children stay engaged. (This can be a challenge, but it is very effective when done correctly)
Theme: “I am the vine”
Scripture Verse – John 15:1-11
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
The Fruit of the Spirit Song 5 Minutes
Instruct Kids and Teachers
1) Bobbing for apples 20 minutes Items Needed: 1 Large basin or feeding trough
4-10 bags of apples depending on the size.
Lots of water
This station is pretty self-explanatory, tell the kids this is a timed activity.
Kids are to put their hands behind their backs and, using only their teeth, pick an apple out of the basin. Use your phone/stop watch to time the kids to determine who has the fastest time in retrieving an apple. Have the kids try this a few times (of course replace “used” or gross apples with new ones), make sure everyone gets a chance to try this activity.
After everyone has taken a turn ask these questions:
What was the object of this game?
Did you think bobbing for apples was hard or easy?
Who here likes apples?
What kind of apple is your favorite? (types of apples include: Granny Smiths, Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Golden Delicious…just to name a few)
Say: Apples are an amazing fruit that grows on trees.
Each apple grows from a tiny seed that can be found inside of these apples.
Apple trees grow from these seeds and can take up to 3 years to grow and produce new apples.
Apple Trees needs pruning from time to time in order for better fruit to develop.
Ask: What would happen on an apple farm if an apple tree didn’t produce apples?
(answer: it would be cut down and a new tree would be planted in its place)
Matthew 15 verse 4 says, “. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
God wants us to love Him and always keep His word in our hearts. If we do this, we will be able to witness to others through the way that we live our lives. And this is what it means to bear fruit!
Ask: What are ways that we can show God’s love towards others?
-At this time send the kids to the next station-
2) Vine Bracelet Craft 20 Minutes
the trick is using something called a braiding disc, or braiding loom. It’s just a round piece of cardboard with some slots in it, but it makes bracelet-weaving a lot easier compared to the bracelet-making method described in most books .
Ready? First up, you’ll need to gather your materials.
Friendship Bracelet (The whole kits are available at Michaels and other craft stores)
All you need is:
7 strands of yarn, each 2 feet long
1 piece of cardboard, e.g. breakfast cereal box
pair of scissors
Step 2: Make the Starting Knot
Line up the ends of your 7 strands of yarn, then tie a simple overhand knot like this. Make it so that there’s about 1″ (2cm) of loose ends poking out of the knot.
Step 3: Put the Yarn on the Braiding Disc
Poke the knotted end of the yarn bundle through the hole in the center of the braiding disc, like this:
Then clip one piece of yarn into each slot, except the top slot. Your braiding disc should look like this:
Step 4: Braid Your Friendship Bracelet
Braiding your bracelet with the disc is really easy. There are just two steps to learn and repeat.
Hold the disc so that the empty slot is at the top. Un-clip whichever yarn is in the bottom-right slot and clip it in to the top slot, like this:
Now the bottom right slot will be empty. So, rotate the whole disc so that the empty slot is at the top again, like this:
Now, just keep repeating Step A, Step B, Step A, Step B etc, and your bracelet will grow. It seems a bit like magic the first time but it really works!
As you continue, you’ll see your bracelet growing down through the hole in the center of your braiding disc, like this:
Step 5: Un-clip from Braiding Disc
Once the bracelet is long enough to go around your wrist, in-clip it from the braiding disc. It should look something like this:
(I used a bit too much yarn on this one, so the loose ends are quite long.)
Step 6: Tie Finishing Knots
Tie an overhand knot (just like in step 2) right at the point where the braiding ends. Then tie another overhand knot about 2/3″ (1.5cm) away. Trim the loose ends. The end of your bracelet should now look like this:
After the craft, or during SAY:
What would happen if one of these threads were taken out?
What would happen if one of these threads wasn’t included in the braid?
Would you notice? (Of course you would!)
Each thread is just as important as the next, without each piece doing its part in this bracelet, it cannot become what we want it to be.
Think about how God sees us.
He loves each and every one of us.
We are all different, with many different gifts and abilities.
A part from one another, we are all unique and beautiful…but what happens when we put all of us together like these threads? What happens when we all agree, and we have this thing called “Unity”? Is that a good thing?
Say: Just like these threads, when put together, we are so much stronger than when we are a part. Today in our scripture verse, God tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. This means that with God all things are possible, and when we are connected to Him, we are so much stronger! He wants for us to be connected to Him.
Ask: How can we stay connected with God?
(Praying, Reading the Bible, going to Church, hanging out with other Christians…)
So today, as a reminder of how we are to be connected with God, think about this every time you look at this bracelet or as you wear it. Remember that God loves you and has connect us together in an amazing way!
3) Vine Stomping Painting: 20 Minutes
Items Needed: Large Basin – enough for 1 or 2 kids to stand in.
Large Bottles of Paint – Purple, Green, Blue…etc
1 -2 large water basins for washing feet afterwards
Long roll of butcher block paper or construction sheet paper
Instructions: *this will get messy!**
One or two at a time (depending on the size of the basins of paint) have the kids take off their shoes and socks and place them to the side neat and tidy so they don’t lose them afterwards.
Roll out the butcher block paper ahead of time onto the floor – long enough so that every child can get their feet onto the long paper. Once the kids get into the paint basin, have them stomp down (but not so hard that they splatter paint out the basin, just enough for them to feel the paint between their toes). Once their feet are adequately covered in paint, have the kids carefully (CAREFULLY!!) Step out of the basin and right onto the Butcher block paper. Have them create grapes on the vine by only using their feet as the paint brush.
Ensure every child gets a chance to do this creative activity, once they have completed the painting, have each child wash their feet off in the other water basin and dry them with paper towels, perhaps have an extra adult help them in and out of the basins (both the paint and water basins)…to avoid anyone from slipping and falling.
Following the painting activity, have the kids sit down for just a few moments and ask these questions:
Ask: So what was your favorite part of this painting activity?
What was your least favorite part?
Who likes getting messy here?
Who can’t stand getting messy?
Say: So let me ask you about grapes, does anyone like to eat grapes or drink grape juice?
Did you know that a long time ago in order to make grape juice and wine people had to get into large basins like these and stomp the grapes with their feet until they made the grape juice? It must have been a sticky job, but in Jesus’ day grapes were used a lot.
The bible verse that we are learning about today is all about the vine and grapes…Jesus used this idea with those he spoke to in order for them to understand how important a life with God should be. Jesus said “I am the vine and you are the branches”
Ask: does that sound like they are connected?
How are the grapes connected to the vine?
(Branches from the vine connect the grapes, without these branches there will not be any fruit)
How do we stay connected to Jesus?
What do we do to stay close to Him?
4) Outdoor activity20 Minutes
Outdoor or Indoor. This game is a normal game of tag with an added twist. When “it” tags someone, the person becomes part of “it.” Then the two of them must run hand in hand and catch their next victim who will join them. Last one caught by the “Blob” is the winner! The purpose of this game is to get everyone connected. We are the branches and Jesus is the Vine. If we stay in Him, we’ll bear much fruit! Even though the winner is the last one standing, the intentions behind this game is to show that God wants us to be connected to His son always.
5) Devotional & Music 5-10 Minutes
(If time permits) Song: Fruit of the Spirit Video Item Needed: Lamp and extension cord
Ask: So what did you learn tonight?
Who is the Vine?
Who is the Branches?
What was your favorite Messy Church activity tonight?
I am sure that you all know the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” I want you to help me sing that song this evening. While we sing it, I’m going to hold this light up and let it shine all around. (Start to sing the song, but stop when you notice that the light isn’t shining.) I wonder what is wrong, my light isn’t shining. (Someone will probably notice that it isn’t plugged in.) Oh, here’s the problem, my light isn’t plugged in.
Now that we are plugged in, let’s try it again. (Sing) Oh, that was much better. The lamp was shining brightly, wasn’t it? It’s pretty hard for a light to shine when it isn’t connected to the power source, isn’t it? Well, actually, it isn’t just hard — it’s impossible!
In our Messy Church lesson today, Jesus told his disciples a story to teach them the importance of staying connected to him. Of course Jesus didn’t use a lamp to tell his story, because electricity hadn’t even been invented yet. Instead, Jesus used an example that his disciples would understand. He used the example of a vine. You know what a vine is, don’t you? It is a plant with a lot of branches growing out from it. The branches have fruit on them. If it is a grapevine, the branches should have grapes on them.
Have you ever seen a branch that has been broken off of a tree or a vine? What happens to it? That’s right, it withers up and dies. Can it ever have any fruit on it again? No, it isn’t any good for anything — except fire wood.
Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me, you will have much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing.” Jesus wants us to produce a lot of fruit. Good fruit like being kind, generous, and faithful. Most of all, he wants us to love others as he has loved us.
Can we do that on our own? No way. Just as the lamp must be plugged in before its light can shine, and just as the branches must be connected to the vine before they can produce fruit, you and I must stay connected to Jesus to produce the good fruit that God expects of us.
Close in Prayer
Theme: “I am the Good Shepherd”
Scripture Verse – John 10:7-11
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Introduction and Instruction:5minutes
Read the scripture with the children. Say: Today we are going to learn about Jesus the Good Shepherd and how we are to be His sheep who listen to Him and follow Him.
Dismiss to the first station together:
1) Sheep Collage craft20 minutes
Lead the kids through this simple of craft of creating sheep.
Help kids to cut out the sheep body outline, place cotton balls on the body, attach popsickle sticks to legs for support, and ensure all of the kids complete this project.
As you are creating the craft (or after)
Say: What kind of sound does a sheep make?
What kind of food do sheep eat?
Are sheep very smart animals? (The answer is no, they will often eat grass and wander around and often get lost if they aren’t watched closely).
What sort of things do sheep produce? (Wool – clothing, coats, socks…, and meat).
Say: Our scripture today tells us that the sheep hear Jesus’ voice and they will follow him, but they will not listen to the thief or the robber…why do you think that is?
Jesus can be trusted to lead us, because he loves us…just like the shepherd loves his sheep, to the point that he will lay down his life for them…Jesus did just that for us didn’t he? He died on the cross to save us from sin. As we go to the next station, I want you to think about Jesus who is the good shepherd who leads us.
2) Sheep cookies to frost & decorate20minutes Bring kids to the cookie table but encourage them not to eat or grab anything yet.
In this station we ended up using squares of graham crackers, cookie frosting, edible fondant eyes, and marshmallows to complete the ‘Sheep’ cookie creations. The other option is to make sugar cookies and create their designs with frosting, icing and other food decorating items.
Say: We just finished creating our own sheep by putting wool on it and you talked about Jesus being the good shepherd. What makes Jesus the good shepherd and not just the “okayist” shepherd? (He loves us, he died for us, He’s God’s one and only Son)…
Ask: What is your favorite flavored cookie? (Chocolate Chip, Sugar cookie, Gingerbread, shortbread, oatmeal raisin etc.)
What makes that cookie flavor your favorite?
Read:2 Corinthians 2:15 says; “For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish…”
This world needs more of the sweetness of Christ! Ask: Do you know who can share this sweetness of Christ with others? Answer: You can! We all can! Say: When we share our things with others – the sweetness of Christ. When we tell others about Jesus – it is the sweetness of Christ. When we love other people even if they don’t love us back – that is the sweetness of Christ.
So as a reminder of how we are to be this sweetness of Christ for other people, we are going to decorate these sheep cookies with frosting and sprinkles…let’s get messy and creative!
3) Pin the wool tail on the sheep game20Minutes
Directions: Just like pin the tail on the donkey, we are going to pin the wool on the sheep.
Say: We need help to put the wool on the sheep, but of course, we have to do it blindfolded.
This can be a tricky game to play, but let’s give it a shot. (make sure you blindfold the kids tight enough so they cannot see, then spin them around a few times before allowing them to seek out the sheep with the wool in hand.
4) Outdoor activity
Barbarian Capture the flag:25 Minutes
Teams of 4 are competing against each other to get the other teams’ gold and to capture other team’s’ players, and put them in your jail.
Using two ropes, or red surveyor’s tape, divide the field into 4 sections. Each section has one prison area, which is marked off with either ducttape or surveyor’s tape. Each section also has a “gold depot” which is marked using hula-hoops or tape. Each team has their own color, which is a flag strip tucked into the front of each player’s pants. Every team gets an equal amount of “gold” to start the game, which is white socks, gold socks, and 1 gray work sock.
Start of Game:
When whistle blows, teams begin the attack. Another team can only catch you if you are in their section; likewise, you can only catch others in your own section (if you are “green” and you run into the “red” section, then you run across to the “yellow section, red can no longer capture you, but yellow now can). When you capture another team member, take their flag and report to the middle of the field to the scorekeeper, then return flag to the person in your prison.
In addition to capturing opposing team players, you are also trying to get their “gold”, without getting caught. You can only take 1 gold piece at a time, and if you are caught inside an opposition section, you must return gold to that team (no throwing gold into your own section).
What Happens When Caught:
Having your flag removed by another team player inside their section gets you caught. When this happens, you report to their prison area and can only get out of prison if a teammate tags you out, without getting caught themselves. If your teammate gets caught trying to free you, they must join you in the jail area. Once you successfully get tagged out, you and your teammate get a free passage back to your section. NOTE (the game coordinator may call “jailbreak” and free everyone in jail in all the sections at any given time, usually when there is a lop-sided number of players in prison).
How the Game is Won:
The game is won by accumulating points for every prisoner your teammates catch, and for each piece of “gold” left at the end of the game. You can run out of gold during the course of the game, but still get points by capturing prisoners and trying to grab other gold from enemy sections. The team with the most accumulated total points at the end is the winner.
White Socks- 3000 points each
Gold Socks- 5000 points each
Gray Socks- 10,000 points each
Prisoners- 1000 each player
Large, open playing area
2 Ropes (100+ feet each is ideal)
4 different colored flags, one for each section
White, yellow, gray socks
Bean bag fill for each sock
Scorers pad and pen
Duct tape and/or hula-hoops
Red surveyors or caution tape
The purpose of this game is to reveal the intentions behind the thief’s motives – all he wants is to steal what belongs to God. This is a great way to show that. I think the youth will enjoy this a lot.
5) Build a sheep pen10 Minutes Minute to win it block game – build the tallest “sheep pen” as quickly as possible within the 60 second time constraint. The person with the fastest time and tallest sheep pen wins a prize.
6) Devotional / Music10-15 Minutes
Ask: So what did we learn today?
Who is the good shepherd?
Who are the sheep?
Why is it important to listen to Jesus and follow Him?
BIBLE VERSE: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV
Talk about shepherds and sheep. Explain to the children how sheep are not very bright, and they need a shepherd to take care of them, to bring them to green grass and pure water to drink. A good shepherd makes sure the sheep are happy and safe.
1. What will a good shepherd do for his or her sheep?
Jesus tells us that He is our Good Shepherd. What does this mean to you?
Today our Bible story is from the book of John. Jesus is talking about Heaven with the Pharisees and how He is the only way to get to Heaven. Jesus decided to use an example to help them understand. He compared Himself to a good shepherd and all of us to sheep. However, the Pharisees probably still didn’t understand. Let’s read the story, and find out what Jesus is saying to us.
Read John 10:11-15 (The Good Shepherd and His Sheep)
What does a shepherd take care of? (Sheep.)
Does a good shepherd lay down (or give) his life for the sheep? (Yes.)
What do you think this means? (The good shepherd would risk his or her own life to protect the sheep.)
What does a hired hand do when he or she sees the wolf coming? (Runs the other way leaving the sheep behind.)
What happens to a flock of sheep if there is no shepherd? (They may be attacked by a wolf and get scattered.)
In our Bible story, does the good shepherd know his sheep? (Yes.)
Do the sheep know the good shepherd? (Yes.)
How are we like sheep? (Allow for answers.)
Do we have a good shepherd? (Yes.) Who is our Good Shepherd? (Jesus.)Close in a song (optional) and a word of prayer.
If we end early, a video will be put on for the kids to enjoy, or we will play the above outdoor game again.
Saturday Evening PM
Theme: “I Am the Light of the world”
Scripture Verse – John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Introduction & Instruction time: 5 Min
Reiterate the weekend theme again, ask what the children have learned by recapping the sessions.
Then introduce today’s theme and sing a song or two (optional).
1) Stained glass mosaic craft 20 Min
Using a card stock frame, kids are to layer the bright tissue paper across the middle of the frame using glue or tape in order to make the faux stained glass. Encourage the children to use as many colors as possible or if there are some really creative/artistic students, have them design a dove, cross or other symbol within their stained glass frame.
As the craft is taking place engage the students in this conversation piece: Ask: What is your favorite color in this stained glass craft and why?
Which would you rather experience, complete darkness or a sunny day?
Is anyone scared of the dark?
What scares you about the darkness?
Why does having a night light or flashlight help?
(See where you are going, safety at night…)
Say: When stained glass was first put into churches, it was during a time when most people couldn’t read and only rich people owned books because they were very expensive. So people would come to church and look up at these amazing stained glass windows, and it wasn’t only that they were beautiful to look at, but each window told a story. There were shapes and colors that made up the image of Jesus on the cross…and then next to it would be another window with Jesus standing at the open tomb…and all of these windows could be seen because the light was shining through them.
In our scripture verse today, Jesus tells the listeners, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus was telling the listener and even us today that the true light of Heaven comes only through Him…when we choose to follow Jesus, and when we choose to let His light shine in our lives, we have His eternal light in us that will never be extinguished. His light will guide us each step of the way. So as you look at your stained glass creation, may it remind you of the Light of Jesus, and may it help you to walk in His light!
2) Star creation craft 20 Min
Kids will glue/tape popsicle sticks together to make a star:
After securely gluing or taping the sticks into a star shape, kids will paint, bedazzle and design their stars. Glow in the dark tape will also be available, but use this sparingly. Ask the kids to name different stars and constellations.
(Star example: Northern Star, Sirius, Vega… Constellation Names: Milky Way, Andromeda, Aries, Aquarius…etc.)
Ask: Can somebody tell me how many stars are in the sky? Answer: In the Milky Way alone there are over 250 Billion Stars… Say: That’s like saying how many grains of sand is on a sandy beach or on the ocean floor. That is a really, really HUGE number!
It is amazing to think that God created the Heavens and the Earth and He created all of the stars including the 250 Billion Stars just in the Milky Way Galaxy!! And even with so many amazing things in our universe, God shines His light on us because we are extremely special to Him! Out in space there are places that are very, very dark, but we are in a place in the Universe that is just right for creation and for all kinds of life. We have a great big fire ball in the sky called what? (Answer: the Sun) that is out in the day time, and a moon at night.
Also the stars in the sky have been used for thousands of years to give travelers and explorers direction on this earth. Isn’t this an amazing thing that God has created? May this star that you just created remind you of the light of God and the fact that He guides us with His light. Also may we recognize just how big our universe is and how much God comes to our tiny corner of the world and shines for us. Because He loves us!
3) Game: The Light of the World 25 Min
Scripture : Matthew 5:14
YOU WILL NEED: A bag with slips of paper that tell something to do. Samples are on the last
Choose a volunteer—This volunteer will reach in the bag and pull out a slip of paper. The slip of
paper will instruct the student what to do. This student will be the “Light,” showing everyone else what to do. The “Light” may not speak (unless the instructions say so) but should lead everyone in accomplishing what is written. Once you, as the station leader, sees that the instructions have been followed, tell everyone to give him a hand, then point to someone else and say, “Be the Light.” They’ll come forward and thus the game continues. If a student doesn’t want to lead, don’t make them, but let everyone who wants to go have that opportunity.
After the game: Ask:
What was hard about being the Light?
What was fun about being the Light?
Did anyone feel embarrassed about being the Light?
Was anyone concerned about looking silly or foolish?
Read Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
How does this verse remind you of our game? (Both of them talk about the light; everyone
can see a city on a mountain, and everyone could see us doing the instructions.)
What does Jesus mean when He says, “You are the light”? (That we should live in such a
way that our lives are like a light that guides other people to God; and shine, or show them, His
life and love.
When you’re at school, why is it sometimes hard to be a light? (I don’t always want to do the
right thing; some people think you’re weird if you’re a Christian; I might be embarrassed? I’m
afraid I would look silly; my friends want to do wrong things.)
SAY: It can be hard to be a light. But when we shine Jesus’ love to our friends, we’re doing the
best thing we can, which is showing someone about Jesus. By being a light Jesus isn’t asking
you to do silly things, like what we did in our game. Jesus wants you to bring hope, courage,
and joy to people. He wants you to follow God’s Word and tell everyone that Jesus saves us. SAY: It’s both easy and fun to tell other people about Jesus. It’s as simple as saying, “Jesus
loves you,” or “Jesus will take care of you.” You can shine Jesus’ light to anyone you know
by your words and by how you live.
How can you shine your light so others can see Jesus in you?
What do you think would be some things people do on a playground or in sports
that show they are following the light? What are things people might do when
they are living in darkness?
What would happen if you stood up for someone being picked on in the
playground? How would that person feel? How would the bully feel? How would
you feel? How would Jesus feel?
What would stop you from telling a friend, “Jesus will take care of you,” the next
time they are afraid or upset? How do you think they might respond?
When you see someone at school get hurt, do you ever think about praying for
them? When you hear someone at school say a cuss word, do you ever think
about asking them not to use that kind of language around you?
Is there anything in your life that you do that Jesus wouldn’t like? Does that feel
like darkness? Who can tell more about how it feels when you feel guilty for
something? How can Jesus’ light that guides you help?
5) Camp Fire and S’Mores time. 15 – 25 Min
6) Devotional/ Music 10 -15 Min
Around the camp fire have the kids sit around the pavilion tables. Ask: What was your favorite part of the tonight’s Messy Church?
Theme: Reflecting the light of Christ
Song: This little light of mine..
Object: A mirror and a flashlight
Read Scripture: There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light: he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. John 1: 6-9 (NIV)
Say: Have you ever sat outside on a bright sunny day and used a mirror to reflect the sun’s light? If one of you will take this flashlight and shine it on me I will show you what I mean. You see, as the light shines on me, I hold up my mirror and I can reflect the light to shine on you. I am not the light, I am just letting my mirror reflect the light to shine on you.
Say: If I am going to reflect the light on you, there are a couple of things that are very important: I must keep my mirror facing toward the light. If I turn away from the light, I cannot reflect the light. I must make sure that nothing comes between the light and me. If that happens, I cannot reflect the light. The Bible tells us that “There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light: he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” Who do you think the true light is that the Bible said was coming into the world? That is right! It was Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. In our focus verse today, Jesus even declared to the listeners “I am the Light of the world…”
So, if we accept Jesus as our light then you and I need to be like John. The Bible says that we are to let our light shine, but we need to remember that “Our Light” is Jesus. We are not the light, we are just mirrors that reflect His light. If we are going to reflect the light of Jesus, we must remember a couple of things:
We must keep our faces turned toward Jesus.
We must not let anything come between us and Jesus.
When we remember those two things, we will reflect His light to the entire world.
Pray: (something to this effect) Dear Jesus, we want to reflect your light in the world. Help us to keep our faces turned toward you and help us to keep anything from coming between us and you. Amen.
Theme: “I Am the way”
Scripture Verse – John 14:6
Intro to today’s Messy Church (DYS or Assigned Officers will lead this) 5 Min
Today we are going to begin our Messy Church with a scripture verse of John 14:6
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Suggested Themed Music Videos you could play at the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueMQV2Ax-MM
So in just a few minutes we are going to begin by heading to our first station, but first I want us to say our scripture verse together out loud, let’s read it together:
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Are you ready for Messy Church today?
Let’s open with a word of prayer and then we will go off to our first station.
Pray and Dismiss
Pitcher of Water
Directions: Pour the water into the bowl.
Then rub the needle on the magnet about 10 -15 times
Place the small cork piece into the water, then place the needle on top of the floating cork.
As you do this, explain to the children that the needle, having picked up some of the magnetic attraction from the magnet is now starting to face magnetic north. So it spins until it points north and south. Tell the kids: Now, the Bible is a lot like this in our lives too. When we read about Jesus and what He did while on earth we begin to know more about God, and when we begin to know more about God, we begin to live for Him and we start to point others toward Him through our Godly examples.
Ask: What does it looks to live for God?
(get some of the kids to answer).
Why does it matter if we live for God or we don’t live for God?
Read: Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26 Message Version)
Jesus wants us to point others to God while we follow Him.
If we don’t listen and we don’t care about other people, they may not see God through our lives. So today, I pray that God will give you a love for others in your heart. Let God lead you, and may your words and your actions point others to God.
Let the kids take turns in re-trying this experiment while comparing it to the compass to make sure it is pointing to magnetic North.
2)outdoor game 25 Min
Blind fold obstacle course:
Create an obstacle course (a playground works GREAT) and get your students or leaders to go in pairs. One from each pair is blindfolded, and the other will lead him or her through the obstacle course by using only their voice.
The purpose of this game is to help the person who’s blindfolded navigate the course by only hearing the voice that’s directing them
We’ll need two large trash cans, two long tables, and four chairs at the field near Ramsdale
Circle up the kids and ask them about the game – Ask:
How did you feel when you were blindfolded?
Did you trust the person who was leading you through the obstacle course?
How many things did you run into?
Does it help to have someone there who is looking out for you and helping you?
How confident are you that you could have made it through the obstacle course on your own?
Sometimes life is a lot like this obstacle course.
We often do not know how things are going to go in the future, or even in the next hour. We have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Trusting God can seem like a scary thing at times, especially when we have some big decisions to make in life. But do you know what? God promises to never leave us or forsake us. So sometimes, during this obstacle course we may have doubted the person who was leading us, and maybe we even tripped or ran into something because they didn’t lead us very well…But God isn’t like that. He loves us very much and He will lead us through the good and the bad times. So as we think about Jesus being the way, truth and life today, remember the God leads us and wants what is best for our lives.
3) Devotional / Music (20 Minutes) 20 Min
What was your favorite station today?
Which station did you not like and why?
Can anyone tell me what our theme for today has been?
Recap Scripture Verse (or if time allows, have one or a few of the kids stand and read it for the group)
John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(Suggested Text or can be adapted)
A map and a portable GPS (Even a phone with a map app on the screen)
There was a time when a person going on a trip wouldn’t think of beginning their journey without a road map. (Hold up the map for the children to see.) The map was very helpful to the traveler in finding the way to where they were going. Today we seldom ever use a road map. Do you know why? Most of us who own a car also have a GPS in our car. (Hold up the GPS.) How does the GPS work? When you are ready to go somewhere, you type in the address where you want to go and the GPS connects to a satellite up above the earth and computes the path to your destination. As soon as you start driving, a map appears on the screen and a voice from the GPS gives you turn by turn directions. “Turn right on Main Street in one mile, turn right in one half mile, turn right in 150 feet, turn right.” What happens if you miss your turn? The GPS says, “Recalculating” and immediately computes a new route to get you back on the right path to your destination.
When we are trying to follow Jesus in our daily life, it would be nice to have a GPS to lead us in the right direction, wouldn’t it? It would be nice to have something to keep us on the right path and keep us from getting lost…something that would help us get back on the right track when we made a wrong decision.
That is the way Jesus’ disciples must have felt when Jesus told them that he was going to leave them. Jesus said to them, “I am going to prepare a place for you and when everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me. You know the way to where I am going.”
One of the disciples whose name was Thomas answered Jesus, “No, we don’t, Lord. We don’t even know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Another disciple named Philip joined in, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”
“Philip,” Jesus answered, “Have you been with me all this time and you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show you the Father? Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Anyone who believes in me will do the same things I have done.”
That was all the disciples needed to know to get them on the right path to the Father.
So, how do you and I find our way to the place where Jesus has gone to be with the Father? We have not seen Jesus as Thomas and Philip had, but we can follow the teachings that he has given to us in the Bible — God’s Holy Word. That is our GPS and it will keep us on the right path!
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son to provide the way to eternal life. Thank you for your Holy Word which will keep us on the right path in our journey through life. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
The primary purpose for our founders in creating The Salvation Army was to be a Lighthouse, a beacon to the lost. We were founded to help the lost, the drowning the marginalized in society…those who were not welcome in Church. We are a holiness movement, and our origin story is all about gap ministry. We go to places that the Church has forgotten or, in some cases, refused to go.
Why then do we make it such a focus to emulate or replicate the Church?
I do not wish to disparage any church but as a practice, many times Church (big C) gets it wrong. The Salvation Army was created to be a “door-opener” – a ministry in which people felt comfortable with, where lives were being touched because the physical needs were met first. But over time, I feel that we started looking around at the explosive growth of churches and mega churches and longed to be like them…when our mission and vision is nothing like them. It’s like this: We are all a member of the Body of Christ, some are the hands, some are the feet…but what happens when the hands look over and see the feet and they begin to try and act like feet? What happens is we have a polarizing body that is not functioning as it was intended to function. This is what I believe has become our downfall as an Army. We were called to be the hands of Christ to the unchurched, to the depraved, to the marginalized of society…but we are trying to act and look like another ministry.
Getting Rid of “Church”… 1. Stop labeling “Worship” only what we do with music… We need to rid ourselves of the Church of the worship of music!
Worship is so much more than music on Sunday mornings. Worship is not just your praise band or your brass band and special music. Worship IS holistic and it encompasses every aspect of who we are as Soldiers of this Army, just as Holiness is our aim in every facet of life! Worship is the response to God’s wondrous love for us. We worship in the van as we pick up people for Holiness meeting. We worship as we go to midweek bible study or other such programs. We worship as we clean the corps bathrooms (this might sound funny, but we once had a blind janitor who could be heard singing hymns of praise while he clean the toilets and washed walls – he taught me a lot about worship).
2. Stop thinking Church as only what we do on Sunday… This notion of “Church” really should be eliminated so that we can get on with going for souls and going for the worst! Church is NOT what we do on Sundays! We worship the Lord on our Sunday Sabbath day. We collectively get together on this day and sing, pray, encourage one another and hear a message…but Church is not only a Sunday thing. We we have this mindset that Sunday is separate from the rest of the week, and that “Church” should only occur on Sunday then we have lost our mission as an Army. Getting rid of this notion of “Church” will open up the possibilities that our Soup Kitchen days, and our Food Pantry days, and our youth program days…IS ALL MINISTRY!! Every facet of these vital “soup, soap, salvation” elements is another opportunity to share Christ, disciple lives and encourage the downtrodden. This is what Church should’ve been…and what we ought to strive to BE. Your congregation is NOT Sunday, but everyday – everyone who comes to your corps, who receives services, who asks for help, They are your congregation!
3. Create Community Not Programs!
We as an Army are so good at creating programs.
We have programs for everything – we even have programs for programs.
It is not the Army’s mission to create more programs, it is our mission to create community and save souls in Jesus’ name! When we aren’t engaging our community with the elements we are using, perhaps it’s time to rid ourselves of the Church of Programs!!
Programs can become our Church and we are so caught up in our program bubbles that we cannot see what families and individuals are truly in need of. We think, we’ll just start a new program to reach them, when in reality what every person craves is a place to belong and to find encouragement and feel that they are a member of the community.
4. Create an Environment of Ownership!
Lieutenants, Captains, Majors & perhaps a few Colonels & Commissioners – We must stop trying to run everything ourselves. Stop micromanaging. The Army, at times, worships at the Church of the Micromanagers and we must rid ourselves of this Church!! What we do by micromanaging is create a corps of dependency. By this I mean is the attitude or belief becomes “since the Officer runs everything, we can sit back and watch since they don’t need me anyway.” If you have doers in your corps, they will quickly become frustrated and perhaps seek somewhere else that they will be used. Stop micromanaging and start delegating leadership and other duties to others in your corps! Begin to create the environment of ownership.
Do you remember what Jesus did when they were facing a mass feeding problem of about 5,000+ people? He didn’t immediately take charge, instead he went to his disciples and said, “feed these people”. Of course the disciples were in shock and did not know how to proceed, the cost was too high and they only had five loaves and two fish. But do you remember what Jesus did with their effort? He multiplied it.
In a very real sense, the Holy Spirit will do that in our corps too when there is an investment and ownership by others. We as officers and leaders have to relinquish our drive for perfection and our grip on authority and allow others to be discipled and in turn they will own their shared portions of responsibility.
I know there is much more to cover on this topic.
What other Churches do we worship at that we should rid ourselves of?
We are a gap ministry, a safe harbor for hurting people to come and find a home.
The Salvation Army needs to rid itself of Church so that it can fully embrace its Holiness as a Movement of Christ.
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
What do you think? Tell us by commenting, offering your thoughts and opinions.
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect that of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*
“…Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathaniel asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. (John 1:45-46)
Have you ever felt as if you weren’t good enough to be a disciple of Christ?
Perhaps you have uttered similar words about yourself. Things like “Lord, surely you could pick someone better…someone more equipped…someone more eloquent…someone smarter than me.” I know many who struggle with their own self-worth. I also know of others who feel very insecure about their own gifts and abilities.
The important thing to remember is that when you say “yes” to God, He will provide the means. Moses had a speech problem, and was very self-conscious about speaking in front of people, let alone the Pharaoh of Egypt…so God provided him help. (Exodus 4:10)
When faithfulness to God is evident, and we say yes – Jehovah Jireh (My provider) will provide what we need.
Nathaniel’s words “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” were not directed at himself, but rather at Philip’s proclamation of finding Messiah there in that town. Jesus entered Nathaniel’s life and told him things no one knew, which lead Nathaniel to boldly declare, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” That is an amazing declaration at a first visit with Jesus!
Christ wants to do something amazing in your life today!
He longs to equip you beyond what you see in yourself! No matter where you come from, no matter your background or list of insecurities, He wants to make you his disciple!
The question “what good can come from there?” can be answered by a face to face encounter with our Savior. Will you talk to Him today?
Prayer: Lord I confess my own insecurities to you today. I am not equipped for the things you want me to do. Help me to see You for who You are! Also remind me that no demographic or community is unimportant to you- and that like diamonds in the rough, you can will raise up godly people and provide the means to have your glory seen. Speak to my heart today. Encourage me and allow me to your humble servant. In your name I pray these things. -Amen.
Below is a workable outline for a Messy Church Event that you are welcome to use!
We adapted this idea, and obviously we made it our own.
There is a section for each table called “Talk About It” in which we try to get the “journeying groups” to engage in discussion and to really think about the theme and lesson of this specific “Messy Church”. We did add additional questions and I would encourage you to do so as well…this is just a primer, but this teaching method has a lot of potential.
His wife Sarai can’t have children, this makes them sad.
On the journey God promises Abram that he will have more children than there are stars in the sky or grains of sand in the desert.
We are all members of this family.
God’s promise starts with small things but can become incredibly massive (stars in the sky)!
God calls us on this journey as well!Time to Depart On Our Journey! (Go to stations!)
5 Stations: #1 Camp Tent – S’mores
#2 “Stars” Table
#3 Postcards to Family table
#4 Edible Pyramids
#5 Family Portrait Table
#1. Camping Tent – Make S’mores
Need: Graham Crackers, Marshmellows and Chocolate.
Instructions: Make s’mores while talking about camping…
Talk About: The travel must have taken a long time, and they had to endure a lot out in the wilderness. Food wasn’t always so easy to come by, but Abram and Sarai still traveled and did what the Lord instructed of them while on this journey. Have you ever gone camping? What types of items do you need in order to successfully camp? What’s the longest that you’ve ever had to sleep in a tent and on the ground? How do you think this journey felt to Abram and Sarai who were well over 70 years of age at the time? Do you think they always had a good meal while traveling? How do you think they slept each night? Would this journey have been easy on Abram and Sarai?
“…So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” –Genesis 18:6 #2. “Stars” Table – Need: Black or dark paper, a bunch of star stickers
Instructions: Create a starry sky on your paper with the stars provided.
Talk About: While Abram and Sarai were on this journey, God promised them that they would have more children than there were stars in the sky! As you create your starry sky, imagine being Abram and Sarai as they have yet to experience the completion of this promise. What must they have felt? How would they have dreamt this promise would be fulfilled? Would this journey be easy for them? How many family members can you count in your family?
Scripture Verse: “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5
#3. “Postcards to Family Table”
Need: Post card/Cue Cards & Pens, Crayons & markers, coloring pencils.
Instructions: Design a post card to give to someone you love in your family, maybe someone living near you or maybe far away. Use the materials here to make it look beautiful.
Talk About: Families all have ancestors and extended relatives right? Sometimes families can be traced back for hundreds of years. Do you have any royalty in your family tree? Any ancestors who were criminals or famous? We may not don’t always get along, and sometimes we do. But family is family. And we are given time to connect and love each other. Imagine how Abram and Sarai must have felt when they went on this journey and had to say goodbye to their families? Do you think it was difficult to leave everyone behind? They couldn’t write postcards like we are doing right now, but I am sure that they treasured precious memories of the family as they hoped for the vast family God had promised to them in the future.
Someone Read Scripture Outloud: “God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.
2-3 I’ll make you a great nation
and bless you.
I’ll make you famous;
you’ll be a blessing.
I’ll bless those who bless you;
those who curse you I’ll curse.
All the families of the Earth
will be blessed through you.”
#4 Edible Pyramid – Table Need: Bread, Lunch meats, spreads, peanut butter, jelly
Triangle mold to cut the bread or knife (adult supervision please?!).
Object: Make pyramid sandwiches but cutting triangles of bread in ever-decreasing sizes with different fillings until you have made a pyramid-shaped structure. Only make sandwiches that YOU WILL EAT!
The ancient city of UR, was a strange place. There were people there who worshipped nature gods in buildings called ziggurats – they looked a lot like the pyramids that we have seen pictures of in Egypt. Despite all of their strange practices, these people never had an encounter with a god. Abram, however didn’t need a pyramid dedicated to a god to meet the real God. Instead Abram first encountered God out in the desert.
Scripture Passage To Read Outloud:
“Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 TheLord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.” – Genesis 12:6-9
#5 Family Portrait Table Need: Paper, Outlines of Cars, Trains, Camels, horses, RV’s.
Poster paints, jars of water, paint brushes.
Instructions: Using the paper with the outlines of transportation (1 per) everyone can paint their family on a journey. Add extended family, church family and even friends. Think about who you will add to your vehicle.
Talk About: Abram and Sarai didn’t journey alone. Some of their family actually came with them. Abram actually had quite a large caravan of livestock, servants and family with him and Sarai on this trip. Do you think they always agreed while on this journey? Do you think it was always easy traveling with their family? What sort of challenges do you think they had along the way? Tell us about some of the trips you have made with your families? How long have your road trips been? Did you always get along?
Scripture Reading To Read Out loud: “So Abram left just asGodsaid, and Lot left with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, along with all the possessions and people they had gotten in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound.” Genesis 12:4-6
Closing Time: Move to another location or gather in a central place in the same room:
Suggestion – hang stars in the room…finish your celebration there!
Sing a couple of songs (if you have time)
Final talk: Highlight our time, celebrate their accomplishments So how was your journey today?
Were you able to glimpse a little of what Abram and Sarai must have gone through as they went on their faith journey with God? Abraham was very, very old, and he was married to Sarah. They were very, very sad because they had no children. But, as we have discussed while on our journeys today, God made Abraham a special promise. God said to Abraham, “Look up and count the stars – if you can. That’s how many people there will be in your family one day…
Ask – “How many stars can you count?” God told Abraham that his family would be so large that they would be as numerous as the stars above us…wow! That’s a lot of family! And you know what? God keeps His promises doesn’t He? Look around the room at all the people here today. Just take a moment and look. We are all a part of Abraham’s family. Does that surprise you? God told Abraham to go on that journey to an unknown place, and because Abraham and Sarah were obedient, God kept His promise to them. This family of God is vast isn’t it? Think about all of the Christians throughout the world both living and dead. That adds up to be millions and millions of people, and guess what? We’re all family because of Abraham and Sarah’s faithfulness.
Prayer Response (Option) Encourage everyone to think of something to thank God for. Ask them to put up their hand to say what they are thankful for. As people give their responses, repeat it and invite everyone to say outlout “Lord God, We Thank YOU!”
“Lord, thank you that we are one big family of your people throughout the world and throughout history. Help us to live as one family, loving each other through thick and thin. Amen.”
(Adapted and Used – Source: Messy Church: Fresh Ideas For Building A Christ-Centered Community. Unit 1)
I will admit it, I was very skeptical of walking around looking for imaginary creatures with my cell-phone. Everyone looks so funny holding out their phones like they are looking for cell service in a mountain pass somewhere remote. I will also admit that I looked like this – when my older son came home talking about this new app that has been blowing up social media and places all around the world:
I mean really? Kids and even adults staring at their cell phones while they are outdoors…what could ever be wrong with that?
Don’t we already have enough of that already with our families all laying around looking like this:
The cynical side of me says, “oh yeah, that’s all we need, something else on our phones that will distract us from what is right in front of us…”
I honestly felt that way about Pokemon Go…past tense, I don’t feel that way anymore, and I’m ashamed not to admit that I was wrong.
Here’s what I mean:
We Need Family Time!
Families who have had trouble getting their children outside during these beautiful summer days need not face this struggle any longer. All you have to do is embrace this craze called Pokemon Go! Check it out for yourself. This app is available on both the iOS app store as well as the Google Play store. Another great incentive – IT’S FREE!! Once downloaded (and hopefully the servers aren’t overloaded anymore) you can begin walking your neighborhood with your kids looking for these Pokemon. Granted I know nothing about the whole Pokemon story-line, but I do know that my kids are excited to journey outdoors and ACTUALLY walk and get some exercise…
I was impressed that even my 15 year old son who is a “cave dweller” that loves to watch YouTube and hang out in the basement all day unless I force him outside, was excited to go discovering with us using the Pokemon Go App. This is great! We talked, we walked and we found more than just imaginary creatures using a fun little app, we found family time again! The kids were yelling and were only too excited to run towards the next stop on our journey. I’m finding that we are not the only ones caught up in this craze, there were hundreds of kids and families out all over our downtown with their phones out laughing and exploring.
Another cool tidbit is this: your children will learn about locations and history as they go exploring. We learned that in our community within one of our cemeteries the first American soldier killed in World War I is buried. This is really cool! Not only is it fun to go exploring but many historical locations house information and education for our kids to discover. That alone makes this not only fun to use, but a tool to teach and to connect with my children.
If you haven’t already, give Pokemon Go…a go.
I am not embarrassed to say that I have enjoyed exploring it with my children.
My first impression was wrong, and I don’t mind if we look like a bunch of nerds walking around with our cell phones out…we’re together, and that’s what really matters.
Have fun, and don’t forget to spend quality time with your children in whatever activity you decide to participate in.
Every once in a while a film comes along that reignites the child in us all.
I remember having this book read to us as children, and I read this book to my children…and now we went as a family to see it on the silver screen.
About The Author: Roald Dahl is a fascinating writer who is best known for such books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, and Matilda. Roald Dahl also wrote several short stories which Alfred Hitchcock turned into episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock presents”. Thus some of his plots and language within these “children’s” novels have a dark side to them. This, in my opinion makes the story even more likable and remarkable.
On screen, Steven Spielberg brings to life one of my all time favorite children’s stories, and he does it in a very “Spielbergesque” way. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the actress who was casted to play Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) does a remarkable job! The CGI is not perfect for character of the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), but it is close and not noticeable once you become completely immersed into the story line.
The movie follows the book very closely, and I caught myself saying out loud “that’s how I envisioned it!” Spielberg has done it again, walking through my (our) childhood, recapturing the mystery, magic and awe! I recommend you take the whole family! You will laugh, you will cry and most of all you will have a “hopscotchy” good time! Remember to drink all of your “Delumptious fizzy frobscottle”…you’ll find out what that means!
Go see if for yourself, I won’t give away the plot, but if you go as the child you once were even if you pay the adult ticket price, you will enjoy it! I’m calling this my hands-down favorite Family Friendly favorite movie of this summer!
Every once in a while a film comes along that reignites the child in us all, this was one of those movies for me!