Monthly Archives: January 2017

5 Websites to Bookmark Today

30141_laptop_keyboardI spend a lot of time on the internet. Within the first moments of turning on my computer, you can find me on children’s ministry social networks connecting with others, on Pinterest grabbing some cool ideas, sending emails to our volunteers, or opening multiple tabs on Bible Gateway.

Looking at my bookmarks folder, I have over 80 pages saved to comeback to with a simple click. I asked around the office what are some websites my co-workers have bookmarked and, tossing a few of my own, we’ve come up with this list!

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1) Desiring God – This organization exists to help people everywhere understand and embrace this truth…God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him. They take aim to make the glory of God and the goodness of joy the foundation and flavor of everything we do. I know many enjoy listening to Ask Pastor John, a question and answer style podcast. I enjoy their Look at the Book series, in which John Piper breaks down select Bible passages.

2) Adam4d.com – Adam Ford is a Christian, husband, and father of 3 young boys. I’m often checking back to read his “curiously Christian webcomic.” If you’re new to Adam’s work, check out his most popular comics, and if you ‘re familiar with his work then make sure you’ve also got the Babylon Bee bookmarked.

3) The Gospel Coalition – TGC encourages and educates current and next-generation Christian leaders by advocating gospel-centered principles and practices that glorify the Savior and do good to those for whom he shed his life’s blood.  I really enjoy their many, many blog posts. There is so much good content here on a wide variety of subjects. For example, click here to see a list of their posts on parenting!

4) The Bible Project – I love YouTube…but there are more than just cat videos there! The Bible Project creates videos that show the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus. They believe that the Bible is literary genius and has divine wisdom for the modern world. The link above takes you to their channel to start watching these videos, but make sure to check out their website for more information.

5) smile.amazon.com – I do a lot of shopping on Amazon, both personally and professionally, so I have made sure to bookmark Smile Amazon. By making sure I add the smile, a small portion of my purchase goes to a charity of my choosing. I’ve picked to donate to the International Mission Board.

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What sites to you have bookmarked on your browser? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

 

Unwrapping Christmas Part 2

In our last post, we started talking about the family Christmas devotional gifts we made for 2016. Let’s pick up where we left off…

Week 3- Teaching and Preaching

We started week three with a look at John 13:13, “You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am.” We explained how in many ways, Jesus’ teaching was unexpected. He took things that the people were familiar with and changed the way they understood it.

That’s when we challenged families to try our mystery drink. All families knew was that it should taste like something familiar, just in soda form.

lesters-sodas-flavors

We ended up using the peanut butter and jelly flavored soda!

We asked families what it like experiencing this familiar flavor in a new, unexpected way? We explained how we see in the John 13 how Jesus did something His friends didn’t expect.

We explained the story of Jesus doing the lowly task of washing feet and how He used that moment to teach not only how to love and serve others, but to also foreshadow how He would clean His people from their sin.

We also gave families a magic tree. By adding the solution, small green crystals would grow on the cardboard making it look like a Christmas tree.

magic-christmas-trees-growing

But, it takes time for the tree to grow. When Jesus preached, He sometimes used gardening words and pictures to get the point. We used John 15:1-2 and explained that Jesus teaches that the good news doesn’t stop at forgiveness of sins. The gift of Jesus continues! God’s at work in believers’ lives, helping them act more like Jesus! Just as the tree grows, we can grow as Christians as well.

Week 4- Love

We started the fourth week talking about underserved love and 1 John 4:10.

We told families that in this world, there is a lot of pressure. You may struggle with some things. Sometimes people describe this feeling of burdens as if they are being weighed down. Inside the gift this week was special paper.

flying-wish-paper-action-2

We had families take it out, and with a pencil, write down some things that may be weighing them down. It may be a recent loss, fears, or even sin.

We explained how Jesus loves them so much and how He wants them to let go of their burdens and give them to Him. When the instructions were followed, the paper shot into the air and floated  as it burned. All those fears, worries, sin…all gone. We connected this to the gospel and explained how Jesus can forgive us and wants to give us comfort even when life gets tough!

We then connected the facts that if God loves us, we should love others and had families read 1 John 4:7-8.

The other gift was a Top Blaster!

slspito-02These wind-up tops shoot out the spinning part with a light on top. It bounced off walls and other barriers and brought the light everywhere it went. The Bible reminds us that Christians are to be a light (Matthew 5:14). We need to show God’s love to others so everyone can see how great our God is!

We had a blast preparing all these gifts for the families. We hope that these little doodads will remind our children of the lessons they learned during this Christmas season!

 

Unwrapping Christmas

Our church has a focus on family ministry. We want to encourage parents to be spiritual leaders for their children and equip moms and dads to teach their children Biblical truths.

So, when we do our annual Easter and Christmas devotionals, we try to do a family-friendly version as well. (You can check out our Christmas 2016 devotional here.) The theme for our latest Advent devotional was “God’s Greatest Gift.” We looked at God’s greatest gift, Jesus, and how He exemplified the spiritual gifts God bestows on us.

For our family edition, we wanted to give families a chance to do interactive object lessons that corresponded to each week’s gift. To keep with the theme, we wrapped each week’s objects as if they were presents. Each family received two of the gifts each week. One to take home and use, and the other to give to a friend. (We made the lessons to be self-contained, so visiting families wouldn’t be stuck with a partial lesson.)

Each Sunday, after church, we had families taking two gifts each and some other members taking gifts to give to neighbors/friends/relatives. But I know not everyone got a chance to look into the gifts and see what families got to experience! So in this post, I wanted to share what was inside each gift! If you missed out on the fun, consider grabbing a few of these items and trying them out yourself!

Week 1- Mercy

buddha-board-demonstration

Seen here, is the Budda Board sold by Vat19. Using water you can draw on the canvas and the marks will fade over a few minutes. We were able to give families some special paper that reacts to water in the same way, as well as a few paintbrushes.

We explained what mercy and sin were, then asked families to write or draw an example of sin on the special paper using water. We reviewed Romans 6:23 and explained how Jesus was a gift of God’s mercy. Looking back at the paper, the sin marks would be gone by this point. Parents could then connect the activity to the included gospel presentation.

 

612klt1wvhl-_sl1000_We also included these mega-sized jelly balls. These things grow just by putting them in water and waiting(you may remember us using their smaller-sized forms at the Neighborhood Block Parties). After reading Matthew 5:44, we used these to illustrate how we can grow spiritually when we show mercy. As a bonus, you can roll these jelly balls on the water paper and they leave a trail. It was a fun way to end, thinking about what kind of trail are we leaving behind? As Christians, what sort of mark should we leave behind?

 

 

Week 2 – Service

We started our second week with a look at Matthew 20:28 as we explained how Jesus was the ultimate example of service with love. We explained to families how Jesus even gave his life for us and even included a section where families could go deeper into the gospel and explain it in a child-friendly way for those who’ve never heard it presented.

We also looked at Romans 12:11, “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.” (NIRV). We explained how God wants His followers to serve together, and how we we’re all made with different skills and talents to serve in different ways.

419tazrqlslEach family got a pair of mini-hands to take turns using them. They challenged each other to do simple things like lift a salt shaker, change the tv channel, or…(if they were really brave) take a sip of water from a cup. Later they tried working together (two people each with one tiny hand). We asked families to talk about how easy or hard it was to work together with your tiny hands? What are the benefits and challenges of working together with others to serve? And why do you think God made us all with different skills, gifts, and talents?

 

 

mx423Families also received a ribbon wand to play with. These ribbons, when twirled, make really cool designs. It can look like a bubble if spun around, or a flower if flipped upside-down. But, if the wand only had one ribbon, it couldn’t make those cool images. We asked families to think about ways they could work together to help others see God’s love. We wended the experience with prayer and a look at Galatians 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

 

 

Next post, we’ll go over the other gifts we presented to families!