Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Remember what it was like to be a kid?

What are those crazy sounds those little boys are making in the corner as they wheel the toy cars around the table? And do you wonder what those little preschool girls are carefully serving and eating off of those tiny plastic plates?

Kids will be kids. So, why do we quickly forget what that means? Why do we want them to grow up so fast?

Take a moment to watch this video and remember what it was like to be a kid. Remember that no matter what our age, we all still have a little bit of childlike play in us!


source: YouLEAD, from THINK ORANGE

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas is the season of... asking.

One of the great lessons we teach our children at Christmas time, is about... asking! I know, you were expecting me to say "giving", right? Well, from a child's perspective, its all about asking.

Our youngest son, Hunter, gave us a Christmas list when he was smaller, and we were very happy when we were able to fill his little list. But then, on Christmas morning, after he had opened everything, he looked sad. We pressed him until he finally told us he had actually prepared two lists. He kept the second one hidden. He said, "If Santa were real, he would know what I had asked for on the other list!"

Score one for Hunter's scientific approach.

We used it as a teachable moment to have the whole "Santa" discussion with him. We told him about how much we love him, and how we want him to be taken care of, and to find enjoyment in the things we are able to give him. And yes, Renee and I learned our lesson, as well!

Even if we don't always get it right as a parent, we cannot escape the fact that this is one time of the year when there is a whole lot of asking going on! As I was reading John, chapter six, the other day, I was overwhelmed by how much this passage has to teach us, concerning the subject of asking. Its the very familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, with just 5 loaves and two fish. As I read through it again, I was impressed by one key thing. Jesus teaches us to ask God to meet our needs!

To focus the disciple's attention, Jesus asks Philip where they could go and buy food for all of the people. Philip had been with Jesus long enough that he should have turned and said, "Master, I have yet to see a need you cannot meet. Please show us how you will fill all of these people." He should have asked for Jesus to be Jesus.

Instead, Philip went scientific, and calculated the minimal amount of money needed to buy the minimal amount of food. After being presented with the little boy's fish, Jesus pauses to thank the Father, then passes out enough food so that the people were full, and everyone could eat as much as they wanted.

What a miracle!

But then the epilogue. Jesus has the disciples gather the remaining fragments, so that, "nothing is wasted." When I saw that, I realized there could have been no miscalculation on Jesus part, concerning the amount of bread that had been passed out. In fact, with thousands of people spread out, Jesus knew in His Spirit there were uneaten fragments out among the people. He knew what each and every person needed, in order to become full.

I wonder if there were people in the crowd who had Philip's attitude, and had only eaten the minimum amount. Could it be, that while some had eaten until they were full, there were a few who grew anxious as to whether or not there was enough food to go around? Had they taken barely enough, when they should have held out their hand for more?

This Christmas, remember it is no accident that Jesus was born in "Bethlehem", which means, "House of Bread". God even put an exclamation point on the matter, when he provided a manger at the scene of the Nativity. A manger, simply put, is a feeding trough. In a world that is starving for purity and righteousness, and peace, God generously gives us Jesus! He is a buffet of grace.

What a great opportunity we have, to teach children how to ask God to meet their needs. No secret lists. No unfounded reservations. Just good old fashioned "asking" God to give! Its as simple as that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

learning NOT to quit

Yesterday, at WonderWorks, we taught kids how to stick to it, even in the face of adversity. Our lesson was from Nehemiah, chapter 4. The Israelites were working to re-build the wall around Jerusalem, but were facing struggles from inside and outside their city. There was no actual fixed battle, but the war of words was intense! The enemy was almost able to overcome their efforts by simply taunting and threatening.

I pointed out three things to the children. #1 God helps us FIGHT. #2 God helps us FOCUS. #3 God helps us FINISH. Interestingly, I asked the kids if they had ever stopped doing something they loved because other children made fun of them. Hands went flying up! One child shared about giving up flying his kite because another boy made fun of its design. Another young man said he quit riding his bike while he was trying to learn, because he was teased for being uncoordinated as he learned.

Our kids felt the heart of this lesson deeply. I think adults do as well. Quitting can become a habit, and after a while, we find ourselves surrounded by the rubble of unfinished plans. Like the torn down wall around Jerusalem, these experiences rock our confidence and tear down our persevearance.

The Israelites REMEMBERED God was on their side, and fighting with them. They didn't just pray about it. They prayed and worked! They also REDEEMED the stones. Each building block has to be handled with care and cleaned to be useful again. This was a very focused effort. The stones had to fit together, and they had to follow a plan. It took time. Every big decision to start something, must be followed by hundreds of little decisions to keep moving forward. Finally, they RESOLVED to take it personally. They were fighting for their families. For their sons and daughters. Something was at stake!

Lord, help me to fight, help me to focus, and help me to finish!

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a goodwork in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Breaking Bad News to Kids

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10

Kids and Bad News

As a parent, we feel very deeply about protecting our children. We even become tempted to shelter them from any bad news that would be difficult to share or tough for them to comprehend. (we do this with grownups, as well)

Even in the New Testament, leaders were confronted with how to navigate a crisis. Believers who were very deeply devoted Christ, were faced with loss of homes and livelihood, and even persecution. In other words, bad things were happening to good people.

The Apostle Peter sits down and writes a few lines to the elders of the church, who were helping families deal with bad news on a daily basis. In this letter, Peter reminds caregivers of a few basic truths about God’s watchcare in all of our lives.

Peter had learned how to trust Jesus. He had literally been through the storms with Him. I pray you do not need to refer to this blog, at any time in the near future. But, someone much wiser than me once said, there are many storms in this life and we are usually in one of three states. We are about to head a storm, we're in the middle of one, or we are just coming out of one.

I have put together a few reminders we can share with our children, when confronted with bad news. You alone should decide what news is age appropriate, and the amount of details to share. But, when the news is bad, these points will serve as an anchor during rough weather. Be sure and tell your child...

1.     We are in God’s hand. Nothing can remove us from God’s care. His love for us is not changed by our circumstance. His grip is tight. We are surrounded by His grace, and He is still in control. (v.6)
2.     We can tell Him what is wrong. There is no lack of faith in acknowledging the bad news. Trust is knowing that He is taking care of us, even when things are going wrong. Bad news does not prove anything about God. But it can prove our trust in Him. (v.7)
3.     We will look to the Bible for guidance. We will not handle bad news by allowing the enemy any access in our life. We do not need to look to the ways that people who have no faith, cope with difficult situations. This will not take us out of our faith walk with the Lord. (v.8)
4.     We have people around us who can help, because they care about us and they know the kind of thing we are going through. We are not going to become isolated and draw away from our church family. We can pray with other people and get good advice from those we look to for leadership. They have faced bad news, and still trust in Jesus. We are helped by being a part of God’s family. (v.9)
5.     God will help us get through this. There will come a time when we will not hurt this way inside. God will help us feel better and show us how to remember His love. (v.10)

God, We know you are with us, even in this bad time. Help us to get through this, as we trust in your love. We pray for others who are going through bad news, and we thank you for the people around us who love us. We know you are with us right now and will stay with us every step of the way.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.