Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PACT for the 3rd week of December

December 16 - 22
Mighty God
Things Only God Can Do
Write each of the following instructions on a slip of paper (or just assign one verbally to each kid). Instructions: make it snow 3 feet, make it rain, create a tree full of leaves, create a fruit that tastes good, heal a blind person, etc.
Invite each kid to choose a slip of paper and to complete their assignment within the day. When they look surprised, ask, "What is the problem?" When they assure you that their task is impossible, ask them why.
These assignments are things that only God can do. Only God can make it snow or rain, only God can make a tree or fruit and only God can heal someone. We call things that only God can do, miracles. God has all-power and we can trust Him to help us. He is a mighty GOD!
What miracle did God do for the Israelites as they were entering the Promised Land? (he held back the waters of the Jordan River for them to cross on dry land) 
God's Power
Items needed: rocks, paint or markers
When God held back the waters of the Jordan River so His people could cross, He gave them specific instructions. He told them to make a memorial - a pile of stones to help them remember what God had done.
Make a memorial with your family. Brainstorm to think of good things God has done for you. (Has He answered a prayer? Has He helped you through a rough situation? Has He comforted or encouraged you in a special way? Has He miraculously healed you? Has He saved you and forgiven your sins?)
Go outside and look for a rock (one large enough to write a message on).
Write a date or a simple message (God is good; God is strong; God Rocks; God helped me; etc) on the rock with paint or markers. After the rocks are finished, ask each family member to show their rock and share a time that God helped.
Just as the Israelites remembered God's power and care when they saw the pile of rocks, we can remember God's power and care for us when we look at our rocks.
A Simple Prayer 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Parents, for you about today's tragedy...

As I sit and watch this tragedy unfold and how my own children are at school, I wanted to give you some things that I am thinking about that deal with how Kiera and I will handle this with Madison and Wilson.

  • As soon as our kids get home we will turn off our TV.  Continuing news coverage of developing stories such as today's shooting will only create more fear and unnecessary worry for our children.

  • But, on the other hand, please don't ignore your children's questions.  Below are some ways that Kiera and I plan on talking with our children should they have questions.

  • We will talk as a family about how sin affects the world we live in.  We will be sure to reiterate that this tragedy was not God's will, but instead what happened today in Connecticut was a result of the sinful world in which we live.

  • Undoubtedly as we process this horror one question that will arise will be "How could God allow something like this to happen?"  Reassure your children (and yourself) that God did not stop this from happening but is working and will continue to work to redeem what has happened.  It's OK to let your kids know that God's heart is breaking too.

  • We will assure our children, as much as possible, that they are safe.  It's important for kids to know that danger exists in our world, but it's more important for your kids to know that you as their parents will do everything in your power to keep them safe.

  • We will pray as a family for the following:
    • Pray for the families of the children who were lost.  That God's peace that goes beyond all understanding will surround them during this unbelievable and indescribable time.
    • Pray for the surviving students and staff who have just begun a long road of healing.  Pray for God to help fill the minds of those who witnessed this horror with images of comfort and peace.
    • Pray for the shooter's family as they come to grips with what their loved one has done.
    • Pray for the churches and God's people in and around Connecticut that God's love and comforting Spirit will permeate that town.

  • We will admit to Madison and Wilson that we simply don't know all the answers.  But we DO know that God WILL work to redeem this situation, that His heart grieves for those that are lost, and that God will continue to reign as He has always done.

Hug your kids.  Tell them that you love them.  And help them to understand that God loves them more.

On this sometimes difficult journey with you,

Pastor Beau

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PACT for the second week of December

Believing without Seeing

Items needed: empty water or soda bottle, paper towel

Do a simple experiment to show that things exist (air), even though we can't see them. Take an empty water or soda bottle and lay it down horizontally on a table. Carefully set a small wadded up ball of paper towel in the mouth of the bottle. (The ball should be about half the size of the opening.) Challenge kids to blow the ball of paper into the bottle. 

Why is this so impossible? The bottle is already filled - with air. You’re trying to force more air into the bottle, but there’s no room for the air already inside to go except back out the mouth of the bottle, taking the paper ball with it.
(For more fun experiments about air pressure go here.)

Can you see air? No, but you can see the effects of air through the leaves blowing and limbs swaying.

Can you see God? No, but we can see the things that He has made and see that He is at work in the world, answering prayers and helping people.
Faith is believing in God, although we can't see Him. We believe that there is one true God who made the world and everything in it. We believe that He loves us and wants to have a friendship with us.

What are some ways we can know about God? (we can look at creation and see that if there is a world, there must be a world maker, we can read in the Bible about Him and the miracles He did, we can talk to Him and He will answer our prayers, we can ask forgiveness and know that He will save us, etc.)  

Where Is Your Faith?

Faith in Action
Students in the upper elementary classes were challenged to live out their faith each day. Maybe the whole family would like to join the challenge.
  • Monday - God loves you; love Him back. Today's mission is to say, "I love you and show it by putting Him first today. Think about Him several times today.
  • Tuesday - Today's mission is to show that you believe in prayer by PRAYING! Take five minutes in the morning to pray. Praise Him, thank Him, and ask Him for what you need.
  • Wednesday - Do you believe the Bible is true? Show that you believe it by reading and obeying it today.
  • Thursday - Do you believe that God will take care of your needs?  Show that you have faith in Him and give a tenth of your allowance as an offering to Him.
  • Friday - Do you believe that Jesus is the way to heaven? Show that you have faith by telling someone, "Jesus is the way to heaven. Would you like to know more about Him?"
  • Saturday - Are you glad that God saved you? Invite someone to church with you to hear the good news.
We show that we have faith by the things that we DO.

Monday, December 10, 2012

LEGO Creations... Baby Jesus in a Manger on a Present with a Star

 I'm all about using our God given creativity and imagination.  Every Sunday and Wednesday the kids are given a theme from which they can either draw or build something out of LEGOs pertaining to that theme.

This last Sunday the theme was... Christmas scene.

I love to let them build or draw whatever is conjured up in their minds and then sit back and watch their God given and inspired creativity flow.

It never ceases to amaze me how much more creative these kids are than myself :)  Give me a box of LEGOs and I instantly go to one of two standby models:

1. a car
2. a house

The things your kids come up with are truly, truly amazing...

So amazing in fact, that every now and again I will be posting their artwork for all of us to see!

Without further ado, I give to you:  Baby Jesus in a Manger on a Present with a Star

This lovely piece of team artwork built in less than 15 minutes by two bright and creative students (5th and 4th grade) is now prominently on display in The Great Room.  Not only did these two lovely ladies create a masterpiece, but when presenting their art to the class they incorporated a brilliant reading from the 1 and 2 chapter of Matthew, focussing on Matthew 2:10-11 as their main inspiration.

When the wise men saw the star, they were filled with joy.  The went to the house where the child was and saw him with his mother, Mary.  They bowed down and worshiped the child.  They opened the gifts they brought for him.  They gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   Matthew 2:10-11

"It started out as a wrapped present but it turned into much more," said the 5th grader.  "We thought that the best present we could ever get is Jesus so that's why we made this."

If you would like to come see it in person the viewing hours are Sundays 8-12 and Wednesdays 6:30-8.

Expect more artwork to be added weekly.

On this journey with you,

Pastor Beau

Saturday, December 8, 2012

This Year's Advent Calendar...

Check out my wife's blog to see how we are doing Advent this year.

On this journey with you,

Pastor Beau

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Would God Like For Christmas?

What Would God Like For Christmas?

I can remember being little and actually losing sleep while trying to decide what I wanted for Christmas. Everybody seemed to ask me what I wanted, but it was my grandparents who were especially inquisitive.  “Do you want a new bike? How about a chemistry set? Star Wars? Here, take this Sears Wishbook and mark what you want.”  Later I realized why they did this. It was not because I deserved gifts, it was because they loved me. They desired to give me a gift to express how much they cherished me...a tangible token of their love.

Flash forward thirty years. While Christmas still holds a very special place in my heart, Christmas gifting has taken on new meaning.  I still like getting gifts, but now I find great joy in giving gifts, especially to my kids...not because they deserve them, but because I love them.  I desire to give them gifts to express how much I cherish them...tangible tokens of my love.

If we give gifts to those we love because we want them to KNOW how much we love them, I wonder what we would give God for Christmas? Don't we love Him? Shouldn't we desire to give Him a gift to express how much we cherish Him...a tangible token of our love?

2000 years ago God gave us a gift, not because we deserved it, but because He loved us. God desired to give us a gift to express how much He cherished us...a tangible token of His love.  So, it seems to me the only gift that could possibly express how much we cherish God is to give Him ourselves as tangible tokens of our love for Him.

Why not give God the only gift He ever wanted...yourself?
Pastor Beau

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

PACT for the First Week of December


True Courage
Items needed: white board and marker  (or just a piece of paper and pen)

We are starting a new series of lessons (for the next three months) about  the Israelites' conquest of the Promised Land. This week, we learned about Joshua's need for courage as he led the people. 
Make a list of the...TOP 10 Things that Make You Afraid. Invite kids to add things that can make us feel afraid to the list. They don't have to be just physical fears - how about the fear of being different or the fear of being made fun of?
We all feel afraid. We may not try new things or even do what is right because we are too afraid of failing or afraid of what others may think. We all need courage!
What is courage? (doing the right thing, even when we feel afraid)
Will you be afraid if you have courage? (true courage does the right thing WHILE you are still afraid)

Advent Activity
Collect money to give as a Christmas gift to Jesus by using a special calendar. (After all, it is HIS birthday.) Download a copy of the December Advent service calendar here.

Each night after dinner, do what that day's posting tells you and collect the money in a stocking (with Jesus' name written on it) or a wrapped box.
Optional idea: Make a paper chain with the ideas. Write each activity on a 1 inch X 12 inch slip of construction paper. You will need to add a few fun activities for the days where a sticker was to be placed. Staple them together and remove one each day and do what the slip says. It will also be a visual countdown of the days till Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PACT for the last week of November

Share This: 

What's In Your Heart?
Items needed: cans of vegetables or fruit
Invite your kids to look in the pantry and choose the vegetables and/or fruits to eat for dinner.
Why did you choose those? 
(Because I like them, they taste good, etc.)
Would you be disappointed if you choose one and there was something completely different inside? 
We would all be disappointed if the inside didn't match the label on the outside.
Since people can't see inside of us to know what we are like, they must learn about us by the things we say and do. Students learned about five characteristics of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. (Even though this passage speaks about a woman, we can all be a person with these qualities and bring honor to God.)
Would others say that YOU are . . .
1.   loyal
2.   hard-working
3.   loving
4.   good
5.   fears the Lord?
Name each of these characteristics/virtues and ask:
How can I show this by the things I say or do? (For example, if I am loyal, I will speak good about my parents or friends behind their backs. I can be trusted with money. I will obey my parents. I will not hurt others with my words.)
What comes out of the mouth is a sign of what is in the heart (Matthew 12:34). 

What Our Actions Tell Others
Items needed: index cards or pieces of paper, and a pencil
Guess different items' identities to talk about virtue.
Write each of the following items (any items will do) on a piece of paper or index card. (Items:washing machine, pencil sharpener, blender, lawn mower, elevator, coat, cell phone, etc.)
Invite someone to pick a card (do not let anyone see what is written on the card). The others are to guess the items by asking questions that can be answered with a YES or NO. (Will this fit inside my hand? Does it make a noise? Do I own one of these?)
Was it hard to guess the items?
How did we guess these items? 
(By learning more about them—what they do, what noise they make, what size they are, etc.)
Read Proverbs 20:11.
How can others learn about us? 
(By the things we do, by the words we say)
What can somebody learn about you if you do kind things? Mean things?

Psalm 100

Items needed: five pieces of copy or construction paper, a marker, and a small rock or coin
Review Psalm 100 together.
Write each of the numbers 1-5 on a piece of paper. Lay these on the floor (or if it's nice, go outside to do this activity).
Mark a throwing line on the floor and take turns letting the kids throw the rock or coin onto the pieces of paper. If the rock lands on a paper that says "1" he must say the first verse of Psalm 100. Continue until all five verses have been said.
Praise God together by saying the entire psalm!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PACT for Thanksgiving Week

What is Integrity?

What is integrity? (Doing the right and honest thing even when no one is looking.)  *It comes from the Latin word integer (whole numbers), referring to whole, perfect, or complete.
Discuss the following situations and what is the right thing to do.
  • Your mom made some cookies for dessert, but told you not to eat any before dinner. You  are hungry. What is the right thing to do?
  •  Your dad gave you a chore to do and then left to finish another job, what is the right thing to do?
  • You are mad at your sister, so you tell your parents that she hit you. What is the right thing to do?
  • The teacher left the room, but left everyone an assignment to complete. What is the right thing to do?
  • Your mom said, "NO playing electronics in bed!" What is the right thing to do?
Discuss other situations where your kids might be tempted to do the wrong thing.
God wants us to do the RIGHT thing even when no one is looking.

Running Away...From Sin

Do a simple experiment to show that living with integrity means doing what we can to run away from sin.
Items needed: bowl (cereal bowl is fine) with water covering the bottom, pepper, liquid dishwashing detergent, and a Toothpick
  • Sprinkle some pepper over the water.
  • Dip the toothpick into the detergent and place a drop of detergent in the middle of the water.
  • Watch the pepper run away.
Why does the pepper move away?
FYI: Water molecules are strongly attracted to each other and this creates surface tension. (This is what allowed the pepper to float on top of the water.) When you put the detergent in the water, it makes the surface tension weak. The water’s surface tension force is stronger than the detergent’s surface tension force, so the pepper pulls away from the soap and carries the water with it.
God is holy and wants us to be holy; we are to run away from sin.
Read Proverbs 6:16-19.
What are some sins God hates? (Proud look, lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers)
What are some ways you can avoid (stay away from) sin? (Make friends who also want to do what is right, pray and ask God to help you be strong, listen to your parents, love God more than any sin)
If someone asks you to do something you know is not right, what can you do? (Walk away, tell them you need to leave now, say "no, thanks")
No one can completely be free of sin, but God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us keep away from sin. What should we do when we sin? (Be sorry for our sin and ask God to forgive us; He is merciful and always ready to forgive us.) 

Giving Thanks

Since it is Thanksgiving week, make a THANK YOU basket to show appreciation to someone who has been kind to your family (a friend, family member, pastor, neighbor, etc.).
Buy some favorite snacks the intended person likes and put them in a basket. Invite each family member to make a card with a simple message (You are ______; I like the way you _____; Thank you for being so _______; I am glad that _______; etc).
Deliver the basket of cards and goodies to the person together!