Friday, September 22, 2017

The Transformation We All Long For


For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14).

I can hear Paul's excitement in every word.  He knows that his readers can be transformed into these amazing new creations: full of God's will not fighting it at every stage, wise not worldly.  They can be worthy of their Lord, make their Father happy, do His good work and know more about Him all the time.  They can be strong with His strength, patient and faithful.  They can rejoice.   

His readers wanted this. They needed this.  So Paul poured himself into prayer for them and wrote them this letter. 

If you are like me, you want and need this amazing transformation too.  Yet instead we find ourself in a dry and dusty place.  A place without joy, or growth, or excitement.  


We don't just visit this spiritual desert; some of us built a little shack there (or even a church) and made it our home.  We might even have forgotten that there is anything beyond the Christian to-do list.

Prayed.  Check.

Went to church.  Check.

Read my Bible.  Check.  


Does that sound like what Paul was praying for?  Is that the Christian life he had in mind?

What will it take to transform us?  One by one, family by family, Bible class by Bible class, congregation by congregation into the wise and worthy workers we want to be?

I think I know!  Check out the video below for some thoughts!









Find me linking up at Friday Frivolity, Create with Joy

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The King and His servants-The Parable explained

Are you just to busy to hear God's Call?

Last week’s parable, “The King and his Servants” is a straightforward little tale.  But it is my tale.  I struggle to allow myself to be interrupted by the Lord.  

Sometimes I am the little maid who is absorbed in my ordinary work and misses the call to meet the immediate need in front of me.  

On those days I need to remember the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  Like the Levite and the priest, no deliberate cruelty on my part is needed. Being absorbed in my to-do list is enough to hide the need of my neighbor from me.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The King and His Servants: a Parable

The King and His Servants: A parable from MaidservantsofChrist

Once there was a great king.  He was powerful. The kingdom’s greatest nobles bowed their face to the ground in his presence.  The greatest rulers of his empire gratefully threw their crowns down in front of him.

The King was kind.  He gave generously of his wisdom and advice to all who asked, even the lowest servant.  He forgave even his most entrenched enemies when they begged mercy offering them places of honor in His kingdom. 

The King was a gentle master.  Many, who before had suffered under the cruel hand of another, found life in his service to be a true pleasure.  They would say to one another, “His yoke is easy and His burden is light!”

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Is Theology for Kids? Andy's Story

I wrote this weeks ago.  I had no idea then that the atmosphere in America would take such an ugly shift.  I considered letting this post wait a week or two for things to settle down but I couldn't. Consider this my quiet statement in the storm of shouts: "We are ALL made in the image of God Almighty." 


Is theology for kids?  Isn't it a dusty subject more suitable for seminaries and Bible colleges?  It's not for Sunday School or my kid at bedtime, or is it?  As an answer I'd like to tell you a story about Andy. 

This is Andy.

Andy is my daughter's little frog-he is also the source of a great lesson in the worth of human beings.  FREE theology curriculum for kids 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Forgiveness Matters!

Free Devotional Series for Kids: Forgiveness MattersDevotional 9 focuses on forgiving one another.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!


Forgiving one another

To Do:  As this is the last week, it is a great time to celebrate all your hard work.  You could take your recitation and Bible reading outdoors, to your favorite coffee shop or to the park.  

Questions to Ask: 

What does “forgive” mean? Is it the same as “bear with?”  Simply we bear with people when they have not sinned against us and we forgive them when they have.  

Free Devotional Series for Kids!  Forgiveness MattersWhat is the difference between saying sorry and asking for forgiveness?  Do they mean exactly the same thing?  When we say we are sorry we are talking about ourselves-we feel regretful of our actions.  When we ask for forgiveness, we are asking someone to change how they see us.  We want them to let our bad behavior go, not letting it damage our relationship.  However, in our ordinary lives we use the two statements interchangeably.

Why does Paul say we need to forgive? If the kids don’t immediately remember, you will need to reread Colossians 3:12-14. 

What have you asked God to forgive you for?  What has someone else asked you to forgive them for?  What is the connection? Sensitive kids may struggle to talk about sins aloud.  Be understanding.  However be sure that each child understands that our sin against God is worse than any sin someone has committed against them.

Insights: 

Can you imagine if as parents all the ethics and character we taught our children were rooted in punishment?  "Johnny, you can’t tell lies. If you do, I’ll spank you.”  “Susie, miss curfew and you are grounded.”  While those punishments may not be inappropriate, we certainly want to teach our kids more.  They need to value truth, trustworthiness and responsibility.  And these are grounded in something more than fear. 

In this section of Colossians Paul doesn’t just give some list of dos and don’ts and he doesn’t focus on the terribly punishments we’ll endure if we are disobedient. He grounds his ethic deeply. 

We too need more than the fear of Hell to ground our ethic in.  And Paul gives us the answers.  Our thoughts are exalted because Christ is exalted.  We live because Christ lives, so we can’t live like we used to.  We are chosen, beloved, deeply loved, and so we should be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient. We are forgiven by God and so we must be people who forgive. 


As you have worked your way through these devotionals, I hope you and your kids have been able to set your mind on things above.  

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bearing With One Another

Devotional 8 focuses on bearing with one another.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!







Bearing with one another

To Do:  Like last week if the children have fully memorized their work ask them if they'd like to share it with someone.  It could be a family member, aunt, uncle, grandparents.  You could use the phone or Skype.  Or locally a favorite grandparent figure at church, a Sunday School teacher or your minister might be someone they'd like to share with.  Don't forget to start this week's devotional by re-reading the verses Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask:

What does it mean to "bear with" someone?  Don't be surprised if they don't know!  "Bearing with" someone simply means to put up with someone, to be patient, to be tolerant with them.

If "Bearing with one another" means be patient, why does Paul tells us the same thing twice?  Answers might include: It's really hard.  It's really important.  And that they have slightly different meanings (one is the idea of being patient in general and the other is being patient with someone who is different, difficult or annoying).

Who do you have to work hard to bear with?  Help kids focus on behavior or people who are hard to deal with but not necessarily sinning against them.  

What do you do that others have to bear with? This is a great time to help kids see that they can be annoying to their parents or siblings!

Who did Jesus bear with? 

Think of a situation where someone was doing something annoying.  What did you do?  What could you have done? What would be "bearing with" them?  Answers might be something like: "I hate it when my brother hums, especially first thing in the morning.  He's such a morning person.  I think that's annoying.  Often I shout at him to shut up.  Instead I could ignore it.  Bearing with him would be to either make my feelings known in a nice way or just not worry about it!"

Insights: 

In a family there are innumerable ways that people can rub each other the wrong way without actually doing anything wrong.  Add kids into the mix and the ways double.  Humming, tapping, and chewing; leaving underwear on the floor,  leaving the butter out, leaving shoes in the doorway; the way the toothpaste is squeezed, the time to leave for church, the best way to do...anything!  

Have you ever considered the spiritual aspects of dealing with these simple but annoying issues? 

When God places us in a family, He is giving us the opportunity to grow.  To put others first.  To demonstrate patience.  To learn to love others.  In other words He is offering us the chance to be like Him.  Like a rock being tumbled in a stream, the small annoyances and little problems are knocking off our rough edges and allowing us to shine in humility for the Lord. 



Did you miss one? 


The "Why" MattersIdentity MattersCompassion Matters, Kindness Matters, Humility Matters, Gentleness Matters, Patience Matters, Bearing with One Another MattersForgiveness Matters
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Monday, July 31, 2017

Patience Matters


Devotional 7 focuses on patience.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!






Patience Matters

To Do: With only two lessons after this, the kids should be very close to having the verses down pat.  If they are ready, encourage to share them their memory work and their favorite lesson with a grandparent or a Sunday School teacher.  Feeling the approval and encouragement of other adult Christians is crucial to a child's continued spiritual development.  Even if the verses are memorized continue to recite them as a reminder.


Questions to Ask:

When do you have to wait?  Answers might include-the bus, when mom is shopping, after church, at the doctor's, and for Christmas. Be sure and help your child identify times when patience is very difficult for them, for instance when a parent is on the phone, when they are waiting on their turn, and when they are tempted to interrupt.

Is it hard to wait?  Why?  Waiting is even harder for kids than it is for adults.  They have less of a sense of the way time passes and little experience with the fact that all waiting eventually comes to a end.  Learning to wait is in part developmental, in part training, and in part a spiritual exercise in patience.


What does it mean to be patient? Is the only time we have to be patient when we wait?  Other examples of extending patience include being patient with a younger sibling/cousin and being patient with peers at play or in class, being patient with adults who sometimes have difficulty understanding or relating. 


Who is patient with you?  Who is impatient?  As parents we are often loathe to ask our kids questions that reflect on our parenting.  Yet from this our children learn that parents are worthy of respect even when they make mistakes and they see how to be humble, repent, and accept correction.  

How is God patient with us? As adults we may understand this complexly but children may confused. Remind them that God is angry when people hurt each other but He waits and gives us a chance to repent.  Another tack would be to remind them of the story of Adam and Eve.  Although they deserved immediate death, God allowed their punishment to be delayed many years so they could establish the human race.



Insights:

When James calls us all to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, he is illustrating patience (James 1:19). He knows that having this kind of self-control not only over our tongue and ears but over our hearts is the essence of patience. Yet note these verses do not say, "Well, they're just little.  There's nothing you can do.  Kid's will be kids."  Especially in the training of our children, we have to be patient but active.  Listening carefully is crucial, however after we listen we need to discipline.  Considering our words is vital, but we must speak and correct our children.  We should be slow to become angry, yet children need us to pay attention and adjust their behavior so they can grow healthy, happy and strong.

When we consider "patience" as a virtue, we most often ask: Are we patient with our children? Yet our children also observe our patience or lack of patience with others.  For instance how do we drive?  With grace and etiquette or do we shout and snarl at those around us?  How do we wait in line?  What do they see when we are inconvenienced or slowed by those around us?  Our behavior informs their's.

Impatience is a sign not only of a lack of self-control but of self-absorption.  We are impatient because deep inside we believe we are the most important thing going!


Did you miss one? 

The "Why" MattersIdentity MattersCompassion Matters, Kindness Matters, Humility Matters, Gentleness Matters, Patience Matters, Bearing with One Another MattersForgiveness Matters


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gentleness Matters

Gentleness is a virtue to be valued in males and females alike!  Free Summer Devotionals for Kids.  Faith | Bible Study | Children | Parenting |GenderDevotional 6 focuses on gentleness.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!









Gentleness Matters



To Do:


Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you and the kids aren't getting close to being able to say the verses, try saying them twice a day, just before bed, or every time you get in the car.  Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

Is gentleness just for little girls?  Who needs to be gentle and when?  Whether you have boys or girls doing devotionals with you this is a very important time to make it clear that gentleness is not a feminine characteristic but a robustly human characteristic.  Gentleness (in the sense of physically being delicate, exacting, and precise) is needed in many professions: welders, golfers, surgeons, pediatricians, scientists, computer engineers, clock makers, archaeologists, chefs, florists, carpenters, veterinarians  and mechanics. This is a good time if the kids know what they want to be when they grow up to ask them and how gentleness might play a part.

Was Jesus gentle?  Who else is told to be gentle?  Of course Jesus was gentle when he called the little children to come to Him but don't forget that He is also described as gentle (Matthew 11:29, 2 Corinthians 10:1). Who else? 

         Timothy (1 Timothy 6:11)
         God's approved workman ( 2 Timothy 2:25)   
         Women  (1 Peter 3:4 )
         All believers (Titus 3:1-2) 
         Elders/Overseers/Bishops (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

You won't need an exhaustive list but take a moment and make it plain to the kids that the wise (James  3:13) and pleasing disciple is a gentle person.  

Who in your life is gentle with you?  Who are you gentle with?  When are you tempted to be rough and not gentle?  Is it wrong to "roughhouse?"  Kids need to know the difference between the joyful, harmless rough and ready play that they need and enjoy and the kind of "play" that is careless, rough, thoughtless and causes harm.  One way to help them sort it out is with role play.  Have them imagine good and bad scenarios where they could be "rough." For instance the difference in running a little kid over during tag and a full-contact football game.

Insights: 

We live in a confused world.  Our society can not make up its mind about gender.  Scientists define gender with DNA.  Feminists insist that gender is a societal construct (in other words something imaginary that our society imposes on us from the outside).  And from exposure to our society's sexual sin, many have gained the impression that gender is fluid.  
Free Summer Devotional Series.  Why does gentleness matter to the followers of Christ?
When you put these things in a bag and shake them, what comes out is true disorientation.  Boys especially are pushed more and more into rigid boxes of masculinity that don't include virtues that are powerfully godly.  Anger is allowed but sorrow is not.  Excess is allowed but chivalry is not.  Stoicism is allowed but gentleness is not. 

It is important as you discuss things with your kids, male and female, that you present them with a throughly Christian worldview of gender.  For instance, Jesus and David are both pictured as shepherds-rough outdoor work.  Yet both of them wept.  Strength is not always stoic.  They are pictured as both caring for the little lambs and strong and brave to fight off the lions.  They are flourishing, thriving men.  Abigail, Lydia, Mary and Martha, and the Proverbs 31 woman provide a picture of the complexities of being female.  They are hard-workers, skilled in many crafts and business; they work inside and outside their homes, are married and single, and specifically in Mary and Martha's case are honored disciples!

God created gender.  It is in our DNA and we have God-given roles to fulfill.  But we must not let anyone in or out of the church simplify gender to a shadow of what God ordained.    









Sunday, July 16, 2017

Humility Matters

Devotional 5 focuses on a topic that is hard for adults to comprehend: humility.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents, your notes are in italics.  Happy studying! 

Humility Matters 

To Do: Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you've been doing these steadily, you should be getting close to being able to say the verses with some prompting. Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What does it mean to be humble? Be sure and read the dictionary definition aloud after the kids have a chance to brainstorm. Rick Warren and C.S. Lewis both have thoughts on the topic worth exploring.  

* If humility  is the opposite of pride, how was Jesus humble? Direct the kids to first think of the reasons Jesus could have had pride.  This will lead them to see how He went in an opposite direction.  Answers could include: He could have had pride in being God or in how much He knew, or in having God's favor, but instead he was born in a stable, submitted to His parents, and resisted the devil's urges to be prideful (Luke 1-4).  Be sure and take a moment to look up any stories that they don't remember the details of. 

*What do you have that you might be prideful about?  Recognize here that our real gifts are also real temptations to pride.  Answers will be individual to the child but might include being good at a sport, being smart, being pretty/handsome, having lots of friends, nice things/toys.

*What does it mean to be humble when we are victorious?  How is that like/not like being a good sport? Is it wrong to want to win?

*How can an adult be humble?  How can a child?    Take this time to talk to your kids about how you show humility in your daily life.  Be sure and give them room to think about how they can. Be sure and encourage them to think about themselves rather than simply criticizing others.  

Insights:


Humility vs. pride is one of the many places where English fails us.  There is everything good about being responsible for excellence, i.e. "taking pride in a job”. It's good when parents feel joy in their children's growth and maturity, it.e. they are "proud of their kids." And pleasure in completing a challenging job?  That harmless joy is often called, "being proud of myself." These phrases and others uses the word "pride" or "proud" when in fact nothing sinful is meant. 


This truth though should not hide from our eyes the fact that pride is a real and present danger to our souls.  We cannot think we are better than any other saint or sinner.  We cannot imagine that in ourselves we are worthy of respect or honor.  We mustn't insist on the best or think ourselves above some simple job.  Our Savior shows the way here. 

Who, although He existed in the form of God, 
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant, 
and being made in the likeness of men. 
Being found in appearance as a man, 
He humbled Himself 
by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 


Philippians 2:6-8


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kindness Matters

FREE Summer Kid's Devotional Series: Devotional 4 is all about kindness, what it means and how to develop it!  Devotional 4 focuses on one of the most difficult commands to fully apply in the Bible: Be Kind.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!



Kindness Matters 

To Do:

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you've been doing these steadily, you should be getting close to being able to say the verses with some prompting. Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What does it mean to be kind? The answer that will come to a kid's minds is to be nice.  Try to help them dig a little deeper and see that we can be kind even when we are not "nice."  For instance a parent can privately and gently correct a behavior; this is kind although no child finds it "nice."

*Why do you think Paul asked us to "put on a heart of kindness?" Doesn't kindness come naturally? Here my children and I thought of people who seemed to be naturally kind.  Then we talked about the fact that the Spirit of God produces kindness in our lives (Galatians 2:22-24). Even if it is not our "personality" or our "nature", if we are walking in the Spirit we wille learn to be kind!

*Think of a time when someone was kind to you.  What did they do?  Is kindness the same in every situation? One way to work through this question is to explore how kindness is expressed across age groups.  (We are kind to babies when we play instead of ignore them; we are kind to busy young parents when we sit with them and help them at church; we are kind to older people when we visit them and ask about their lives.)

*How does the golden rule help us know how to be kind? (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)  Be sure and begin by reading the golden rule from both passages. Work together to understand way we usual say it vs. how Jesus worded it.  Allow the kids to brainstorm how considering someone else's perspective or desires allows us to be kind to them.  Think up some silly examples of people trying to be kind but failing: for example a 70 year old who gives his 10 year old grandson Icy Hot for Christmas. Then transition into the fact that we ALL want people to be kind to us.  Fulfilling the golden rule requires us to be kind all the time.  

Insights: 

When I was doing this devotional with my kids and got to question 3, they could immediately think of several people who were naturally kind: friends who are generous, sensitive, and thoughtful, who never snap or snarl.  Do you know that kind of person too?  

Ephesians 4:32 Join us for our FREE Summer kid's devotional series to learn more about kindness!I realize that our view of those people from the outside (even family members we know intimately) may not match their "insides."  In other words, they probably have their unkind moments.  Yet for me, kindness is an on-purpose kind of virtue.  In order to be kind, I need to carefully think through what would be helpful, gentle and sweet and then do it.  

And that's ok!  

If our motive, or our children's motive is to love others, to treat them well, and to please God, it is perfectly acceptable for it not to be "natural."  We know that virtues like patience or perseverance require practice and discipline to develop.   But kindness can be learned too!

So how do we teach kindness to our children?  

1. We should point out kindnesses they can do right now: ending cards, doing chores unasked, visiting a sick friend, sharing their toys with a visitor, telling someone they did a good job, not bragging, or giving way to a tired or cranky sibling. 

2. We can help them reason through what they would want to happen in a given situation.  For instance, "If you broke your arm, what would you wish your friends would do?"  

3. We can enable their kindness.  A dollar or two will buy cards and stamps.  Half an hour will let them visit a sick friend.  Many simple kindnesses are beyond the resources of small children!