Monthly Archives: January 2016

What Are You Praying For?

What Are You Praying For_Maybe this morning you dutifully did your quiet time with God. This included reading your Bible or daily devotion book and finishing in prayer. What did you pray for? Do you have list you go through and add an “Amen” and you are done? Does your mind wander on your to do list as you try to focus on your prayers, so it just turns into a quick run down of the top five? It happens, you aren’t alone. I’m guilty of both of those things…frequently. And so I decided I needed to branch out.

The Bible tells us to pray. This is how we can communicate with God and He wants to hear from us. Sure, He already knows what we will say, but He wants us in relationship with Him. And in a relationship, you need to talk. It says in Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Obviously, we’re not expecting him to give us a million bucks, but He will answer our prayers in the way that best fulfills His plan. Here are two things that may help recharge your prayer time.

  1. Read between the lines. When a friend sends an email or you see a Facebook post, really read it. Look between the lines of what was written. See if there is something there that you can pray for. It could be a prayer for a praise, a need, something specific or something general. Consider it a privilege to be able to pray for someone. They don’t even have to know you are doing it.
  2. Listen to those around you. I know this sounds basic, but my kids actually helped me with this one. First, my two youngest were playing and I heard one say, “I’ll be your boyfriend”. Yikes! Boyfriends and girlfriends are long way off, but time flies by. I realized I needed to be praying for future boy/girlfriends for my kids. I need to pray that God is raising up other godly children for my kids to meet one day and have a relationship with. On the opposite end, I feel bad that there aren’t a lot of older kids in the neighborhood for my oldest to play with. A house a couple of doors down is for sale and so I decided to pray for a family with a son the same age to move in.

I know neither of these are life changing ideas. But, as a teacher, I know I have to say the same thing fifty different ways until the content gets through. So, I hope maybe it helps you as you think about your prayer time.

There are prayer needs all around us. We just need to look for opportunities to recognize them and then take action and pray. If we just open our eyes we can easily come up with a whole host of things to pray for. So, I encourage you to look around and see what you can pray for. Put your regular list to the side for a day and read between the lines and listen. There is a world of hurt and a world of things to praise out there. God is just waiting to hear from you!

Matthew 26: Leading Up to Jesus’ Death

Matthew 26 craftHere’s a craft that can be a great conversation  and review piece as you do your lessons before Easter (or anytime) that tells about things leading up to Jesus’ death. Matthew 26 has the great verse in it where Jesus says, ” But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Prophecies fulfilled and people didn’t realize it. How often do we read the Bible and not listen to the message?

Today’s craft will allow your kiddos to match a word with a picture. If you’ve already read Matthew 26, use it to recreate the story. The pictures aren’t in order, but it’s really more about knowing what has happened. And, all the things that had to happen in order to get Jesus to the point where he died on the cross. After all, if he hadn’t died on the cross, our sins wouldn’t be forgiven and we wouldn’t have the hope of eternal life!

Matthew 26 suppliesFor this craft you will need:

  • one paper per child Matthew 26
  • scissors, crayons, glue
  • something to cover the table with

It’s easy to do. Have the kids cut down the solid black line and then cut out each word. Let older kids help the younger ones with reading if you need help. Then, match up the picture, glue it down, and color. That’s it. Have fun continuing to help your students learn the story of Jesus!

If you need a craft for Easter, you might want to try this Rejoice craft.

Has Anything Changed?

Has Anything Changed

We are well into the new year, a time to reflect and make goals for what you want or think the future should be for you. We can get so focused on the moment that it can be hard to see the change. Today, I encourage you to step back and take a look at the big picture. If the New Year’s resolution has already tanked, a big picture look can get you back on track. The last couple of posts have looked at how thorns can help us and how God can use you. But, I think we need to take a moment and look at your faith. Has anything changed?

2 Corinthians 13:5  tells us to, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…”. You can look close in the mirror, really close. PK’s gross example had to do with looking close at that pimple. Eeeew. If you’re that close, all you will see is that pimple. So step back and look at the big picture. What has God done over time in your life?

In the end of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about how he hasn’t burdened people. He has a day job to pay the bills and hasn’t taken money for himself. He’s setting an example. He does this so we can see what a transformed life looks like and so we can use it as an example. He wants others to benefit from his example of living. Mark 10:45 reminds us that, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus came to give, not to take. Paul is trying to live like that as well. His goal is to make disciples. He’s afraid people aren’t getting the message. If our goal is to make disciples, then we need to remember the big picture. It’s not what we get out of it, but what we put into it so others can benefit.

So, have you changed? When you look at the big picture, do you see how God is leading you? It’s messy and hard. You might do all you can for someone and they just turn and throw it all away. It happens. But do you stop? No. You keep going forward for God and trying to make disciples and living for Him. You hear a message and then you don’t let it stop there…you do the message so other people can go through a transformation like you.

Church isn’t about building up programs or empires, it’s about building up people.        -PK

You can have buildings and butts in the seats, but it can also be void of heart if the visual of “what a church is” overtakes the real mission of the church. Christians need to be people who are committed to people committed to the mission of the church. God reminds of this in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

How is your big picture looking? Are you growing up in your faith? Are you more concerned about building others up rather than yourself? Are you using Jesus and Paul and other disciples in the Bible as your example? When you look at the big picture, you’ll see living a transformed life is not a straight, flat path. Rather, it is hilly, with detours and circles no doubt put there by the one who knows just what you need. I encourage you to look at the picture and map it out if you need to so you are not discouraged by what you think doesn’t matter or hasn’t helped. Instead, I hope you will find that your life has transformed and that each day presents new ways of building people up in God’s love.

 

The Reason for the Thorn in Your Life

got thorns_Roses are beautiful, but when you cut them you need to watch out for the thorns so you don’t prick yourself. Raspberries are delicious fresh off the bush, but depending on the variety, you need to watch out for thorns. Those thorny weeds in the garden or growing up in the cracks of your sidewalk are a pain. And for those, you get the heavy duty gloves out to yank them up with all your might (because you know those roots are big) and your hands are protected from the thorns.

Life has probably handed you some thorns. Whether it’s a temptation, a loss, a gain (specifically of 1.5 billion dollars!), fleas in the house, a broken down car, a divorce, a firing, a kid suspended from school, or whatever else these things are thorns. What are we supposed to do? Sure the saying goes, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” but boy it’s hard, isn’t it?

Let’s turn to the Bible, because God gave us that book so we would have the answers. If that isn’t the first place you turn, you’re not alone. I often try to solve things on my own in the way I think it should happen. But, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  So, God is working through your thorn! Yes, that thing that we classify as “trouble” or “a bother” can be used by God for His purpose! There’s a new perspective on things.

How about Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10? He says beginning in verse 7, “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” God is not putting the thorn there, but He is capable of using it for His glory and purpose.

Maybe you have heard of a side hustle? It’s a side job that brings in some extra income to use to invest, pay for kids sports, or whatever. Like this blog could be a side hustle if I could spend enough time and figure out how to get it out there. My Teacher Pay Teacher store is a side hustle bringing in a small amount. But, have you heard of a side mission?

A side mission is when we get distracted by that thorn, let it consume us, and then try to go off and solve it all ourselves. And, when we try to solve it ourselves we are trying to bring glory and praise for ourselves and be able to say, “Ha, look what I did!” or “Na-na-na-na-na I solved the problem and you didn’t”. Neither are a very humble response.

Listening for God’s response when we cry out about our thorns is hard. It’s hard to wait and it’s hard to hear. Be sure to listen and give thanks when a thorn is lifted. Remember Jesus always had a thorn in his life – he knew he was born to die. And yet, he was perfect. Philippians 2:3-8 tells us to be humble and take an interest in others. Maybe by doing that, your thorn becomes smaller or becomes a back burner issue because your joy is now in helping others with their thorns.

Thorns help keep us motivated…and on God’s purpose.

-PK

And that, is the reason for the thorns in your life. Use them to keep you on mission for God. As I was writing this, I was about halfway through and then had to go to work. I ran into a couple of thorns there and it made me think about what I was writing. I had a choice. I can let the thorn bring me down and cloud my vision or I can put it into Godly perspective and work my way through it with His help. So, I chose to help a friend instead and be present for my kids as we ate some really thick pea soup. I’m telling you, it’s not easy when my human response is to growl like a bear, but I’m going to pray for help and try.

So, try to figure out what your thorns are. Chances are, that won’t be the hard part! Then, look around you. How can your thorn help someone else through theirs? And, what action can you take to help relieve someone else’s thorn which will diminish your focus on your own thorn? Don’t try to hide! Go!

John 11 – Jesus Raises Lazarus

Lazarus craftNo, it’s not a mummy, it’s Lazarus in his burial wrap! What a great story in John 11. At first, it is sad because Lazarus has died, even though they begged Jesus to come and save him. But, then Jesus comes and does a miracle! All in His time.

This is a great story for the kids because it shows that Jesus cares, but He has the situation under control, even when our emotions cloud our faith. Some great things Jesus says in this story are:

  1. Lazarus craft 2verse 4: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
  2. verse 9-10: “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?…It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
  3. verse 11: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
  4. verse25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus suppliesAnd there are even more than that! Read the story again for yourself if it has been a while. For this craft you will need:

  • one Lazarus person Lazarus Person Outline
  • one straw or craft stick per person (this helps with durability and wrapping up Lazarus)
  • toilet paper (imagine the giggles when you take that out!)
  • crayons, tape, scissors
  • something to cover the table

This is easy. Cut your copies in half because each kid only needs on body. Have the kids color the Lazarus and then cut him out. Tape on the straw and one end of the toilet paper and then you are all set. You can go through the story with their paper Lazarus and wrap/unwrap him as you read. Have fun!

John 10:28 Choose Jesus!

Choose Jesus 2Do you hold on tight to your kids hands when they cross the road or just because you can? Imagine how much tighter Jesus holds onto us. John 10:28 says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand”. Sign me up!

The beauty of today’s craft is that there is a little mystery with it. It’s written like a spy. When you give your kiddos the blank piece of paper and tell them to read the message, they might be stumped. Then, give them the tools to find the hidden message. It’s like starting a relationship with Jesus. It can be a mystery until someone tells you! Lucky you, get to tell someone about Jesus so He is not hidden to them!

Choose JesusThis craft will require a little prep work on your part, but not much. I simply can’t do it for you this time! For this craft you will need:

  • one blank piece of white paper per child
  • a white crayon
  • water colors (read my sob story about these here) and paint brushes
  • something to cover the table, floor, or sidewalk (again sob story here)

Prepare each paper by tracing your hand and writing “Choose Jesus!” with the white crayon. The kids can then watercolor over the entire paper however they want and the message should show up. Neat!

If you are looking for some other crafts about God having us in His hands, you might want to check out:

Sin Less Not Sinless

Sin Less not SinlessLiving as the Temple of God means that the church is everywhere you are. Are you representing a loving God through your actions in everyday life? How does sin look in a life that is trying to glorify God?

First things first, don’t try to deny that you sin. Your attitude towards sin needs to be recognition that you are not perfect and no matter how good we are at hiding the sin from people in the world, God sees it and knows about it. Sin is our problem and it hurts our relationship with God. “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us and we acknowledge our iniquities…” it says in Isaiah 59:12.

We all struggle with sin. As we grow we won’t be sinless but we should sin less.        -PK

So, it is time to repent or turn or change your mind about sin. Have godly grief. This is where  you say you are sorry, really, really sorry and recognize that your sin hurts your fellowship with God. Being part of the Temple of God means crying about what God cries about. This is the opposite of worldly grief which says, “Oops, sorry I got caught, but I’ll probably do it again.” It’s a bad sign if you are comfortable with your sin. It’s a good sign if you know changing the habit of sin is hard.

How do you take on the challenge of getting serious about your sin and changing your heart so there is godly grief? Ask God for help. Ask Him to let you feel Godly grief. You need to feel the disappointment and pain that your sin brings on yourself and others as God might. You can’t just keep on glossing over it. And another big way to be serious about your sin and changing is to tell someone about it. That’s right, be accountable to someone else for the sin you keep committing. Pray together for the change in your life which will show everyone you come in contact with that you are a Temple of God.

Asking for godly grief and being accountable are two great ways to begin changing the sin journey of your life. Yes, it’s a challenge, but one that will glorify God as you live. It will also allow you to grow in your relationship with Him. Remember, you can’t hide from God, He knows your heart. You will never be sinless, but you can choose to follow His ways and try boldly to sin less.

If You Already Feel Lost in the New Year

if you already feel lost in the new yearHappy New Year! It is always refreshing to think of the start of something new. Remember looking forward to (or dreading) the first day of school? How about as you look back, do you know when you were going to marry the person you would marry? Did you know it was something new and different this time? Do you have a new project to start, but it seems overwhelming because it is so new? As the media keeps putting resolutions and adding things to do  to your new year’s list, do you already feel lost?

I’m reading the (currently) last book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon called Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. That is a beautiful title by itself. My dad originally got me into the series, always trying to get me into good lit-che-cher (literature) rather than the mindless drivel I tend to read. I’m about halfway through, having saved it for a long vacation from school, so I could read late and pretend to sleep in in the morning. It is so good!

Father Tim, the main character, says:

“Maybe it’s too soon for you to try and figure things out. Know that God has a plan for your future. Watch and wait for his timing, and when it comes, hitch a ride. You’ll know.”

As this new year starts, if you feel like you are already holding on by a thread and still trying to figure out what to do when you “grow up”, rest assured that God has a plan for you. Those aren’t just words from this book, those are words from The Book. Here are 5 great verses to keep in mind as you try to figure things out and jumpstart your new year. If you click on the Proverbs links, you can get a little more thought on the verse.

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:9

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Go ahead, take a leap, hitch a ride, give it a go, or however you want to say it. Follow God’s plan. It’s not yours, but He needs you to execute it. You. He has a special reason for you and only you. Chances are there will be exasperated sighs, some yelling, confusion, and at the opposite end utter joy along the way. But, you won’t know any of it until you trust Him to take you where He needs you. So if you feel lost, even if you are a mature believer, don’t get lost in the voices of naysayers as the new year starts. Build yourself up, build others up, pray, and listen for God’s answer as to what He wants you to do. You’ll get there. Happy New Year!