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Jesus Feeds 5000: Crafts and Activities

Resources for Jesus Feeds 5,000

The story in the New Testament about Jesus feeding the 5,000 is one of the many popular Bible stories in Sunday School. This story shows one of the many miracles that Jesus did during His earthly ministry.

There are so many lessons that we can impart to children when teaching the story of the feeding of the 5,000. One of these is God’s power to work miracles. Nothing is ever impossible with God. He used 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish from a little boy to feed 5,000 men plus women and children.  This story helps children understand that God can use them when they give what they have to God.

Jesus Feeds the 5,000
Via school-portal.co.uk

The story about Jesus feeding the five thousand can be taught in so many interesting ways depending on what lessons you want to highlight and teach to your kids or students.

Below is a sample lesson plan that you can use in teaching the story about the feeding of the five thousand. You may use this in Sunday School, a good news or outreach class, VBS or even your own children during bed time or bible story time at home.

Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Memory Cross – Jesus feeds 5,000 craft for kids

Memory Cross craft card is a creative way to help children learn the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  Each card is made up of 4 panels which make an endless loop.  It is something that children will enjoy decorating and playing with which they can take home as a reminder of how God can work through their lives to change the lives of others.  The video below shows how it works.

Visit our store for more information or to request a free sample.  When requesting a sample be sure to ask for the story: Jesus Feeds the 5,000.  You’ll receive a sample of Jesus feeds the 5,000 plus Scripture memory cards and Gospel tracts that people actually love to receive with positive and inspiring messages.  Click here to order our free sample pack.

Bible Story Activities: Jesus Feeds 5,000

Bible Passage: Matthew 14:13-21

Song Suggestion: Loaves and Fishes (Sermon4kids)

Song Lyrics and music: http://www.sermons4kids.com/Loaves_and_Fishes.pdf

Memory Verse: John 6:11
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”

Learning Objectives: After the lesson, the children will demonstrate knowledge of the people and events in the bible story and be able to retell the story and enjoy the lesson-related activities with their classmates and friends.

Story time: Telling the story to the kids in a fun but accurate way that the kids will not lose their interest from the beginning to the end of the story is the most challenging part in teaching the bible story but with God’s wisdom, we will be able to deliver the story to the kids properly. Thankfully, our friends in DLTK’s Growing Together know this and they want to help us deliver our story to the little ones in the most simple and interesting way. Visit their website for a story time suggestion in teaching the kids about the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

Activity Suggestions:

1. Skit: After the lesson, you can test the children’s knowledge to the story by having them perform the story via a skit. The ministry to children has a printer ready script you may easily print to use for this activity.

2. Coloring Pages. Download these printer friendly coloring pages from sermon4kids about “feeding the 5,000” and “Jesus can feed a crowd” for your younger ones. The coloring page is perfect for toddlers and beginners since it’s a very simple drawing the kids will surely love and enjoy coloring them.

3. Name tags are perfect for the little ones before the start of the bible story. Have them ready before the start of the lesson and make sure to give each child his/her name tag before everything starts.

4. Bible Games and puzzles. There are many indoor games and puzzles you can choose from as an activity for your kids as well. DLTK bible has anagrams, crossword puzzle, cryptogram, word search, maze, and word mining games for older (elementary) kids to use during their activity time.

5. Cooking Recipes. Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!

Home Made Bread
Use your favorite recipe to make home made bread with the children.

Fishes and Loaves…kind of
In advance, make tuna salad (or have the children help you to make it!). Let the children spread the tuna salad onto crackers for snack.

Crackers and Fish
Provide cream cheese (or other cheese spread), crackers and goldfish crackers.

The children spread the cheese and then count out 2 goldfish, and place the gold fish on top of their cheese spread.

6. Painting (of some sort).

Coffee Filter Fish
In advance, cut coffee filters into fish shapes. Provide washable markers and spray bottles with water at your easel. The children color the fish and when they spray them with water, the colors blend. BEAUTIFUL effect!

7. Pinterest Craft ideas. Pinterest has a lot of craft ideas in store for use to use for in teaching this story to the kids as well. You may want to use these crafts in one of your future bible lesson activities with the children.

A. Feeding The 5,000

Jesus Feeds 5000
Via Pinterest

Instructions:
Print the template.
Color and cut out each piece.
Glue the fish and loves behind the basket in a random order.
Glue the whole thing onto a piece of construction paper or cardstock.
Cut out the whole figure.
Your kids can write the memory verse on the back.

B. 5 Bread and 2 fish snacks

Jesus Feeds 5000
Via Pinterest

Instructions:
Have each child 5 small bread or crackers and 2 fish biscuits during snack time or while they are doing their coloring activity.

C. Bread and fish in the basket

Jesus Feeds 5000
Via Pinterest

Materials:
1.5 Paper plates per child
Brown construction paper
Orange construction paper
Scissors
Marker
Crayons
Hole Puncher
Yarn
Instructions:
Begin by drawing 5 circles or loaf-shapes on the brown paper. Cut out loaves and number.
Use this fish template to trace two fish. Cut out fish and number them.
Cut a paper plate in half and lay it over another paper plate.
Hole punch both plates at the same time, lining up the holes to form a type of basket.
Lace some yarn through the holes in order to secure the plates together.
Place the 5 loaves and 2 fishes inside and write the Bible passage on the outside of the half plate, as shown.

Have other resources?  Share them in the comments section.

Finally here is one of my favorite videos of how God is using children.

 

 

The 7 hour challenge to a closer relationship with God

I’ve really been feeling convicted recently to spend more time with God.  I’ve been running around doing, but not being still and listening to Jesus.

Be Still and Know that I am God

The verse in Psalms has been on my mind which says “Be still and know that I am God” along with the story of Martha and Mary found in Luke:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I’m a doer by nature.  Given a choice between sitting or doing, I’ll be doing any day, but that has not helped my relationship with God, or other people but that’s another story.  I’ve felt separated from God, lost because I’m not spending time with him.  My relationship had stopped being personal and started to become something I do, but God has been calling me.  I’ve felt his urging to bring back my heart and walk with him in a relationship that is personal, to spend time praying, and just to be silent and know for myself that our relationship is real.

The 7 hour challenge

That is when I started thinking about the 7 hour challenge.  I probably took the idea from the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss or the 7 habits of highly effective people.  Wherever the idea came from I felt God telling me that I was spending to much time on things that don’t matter and not focused on the one thing that does.

I feel God calling; spend time with me so I committed to spend an hour a day with Him.  I don’t feel him asking me to put a stop watch on our time but to spend time on our relationship.  It is not about a legalistic time but  that my heart and mind should be focused on Him.  I’m spending time reading, praying, memorizing Scripture, writing,  listening to Christian music, walking and watching Christian videos.  Francis Chan is one of my favorite Christian speakers so I included one of his about living the Christian life.  Adam and Eve spent every evening walking with God in the Garden.  It must have been an amazing time since there was not yet sin to separate them from God.

As I’ve been spending more time with God I’ve found my relationship with Him getting closer.  My desire to spend my time doing other things has decreased and my desire to love and serve God seems to be growing, if not every day then every week.  I’ve found my focus to be getting better also.

I’m challenging you to spend 7 hours a week with God and see if your life changes also.  Sometimes you might have to force yourself to spend the time.  I personally have not, at least not yet but I’ve found that the more time I spend with him the greater the change in my life.

Jesus has called us to go make disciples and I’m feeling like the most effective way to start is by allowing God to fill my heart and mind.  When Christians start having a relationship with Jesus that causes their life to change, people will notice and I believe they will be drawn toward the fire that is now burning in our lives.

So I challenge you.  Start spending an hour a day with God and see if your life does not erupt from a small flame to a blazing fire, changing your life and the lives of those around you.  If you also feel convinced that God is calling you to spend more time with Him, take the challenge with me.  Put a comment below and share this post with your friends.  Maybe God is taking to them also.

May the fire of God settle in on your life so that you experience it lighting up your life.

Why teach children to memorize Scripture

Why teach children to memorize Scripture?  Assuming you are a follower of Jesus what is the downside?

Drawback:  It takes work.  My six year old grandchild does not like learning her spelling words, but that does not mean we don’t make her memorize her spelling words.  We do it because we know learning to spell will benefit her throughout her life.  It is the same thing with memorizing Scripture except the benefits last beyond this life.

What other reason is there not to help kids memorize God’s Word?  The only other reason I can think ofteaching children to memorize the Bible for not helping children memorize Bible verses is because you doubt that God’s Word will make any difference in your child’s life.  How many things do kids learn in school that they will never use again?  In school the problem is we don’t know the future so we can’t tell what will help them and what is unnecessary.  With learning the Bible everything we learn will make a difference, maybe not tomorrow but someday, plus you are obeying this command:

Deuteronomy 11:18 says: “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.”  Later on in the same chapter God says: “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today.”  We have this choice today.  We can live for ourselves or live serving God.

What have Christian Leaders said about learning Scripture

Billy Graham:  “I am convinced that one of the greatest things we can do is to memorize Scripture.”

Franklin Graham:  One of the things he thanks his mother for is the value of God’s Word. “My mother always insisted that I memorize Scripture — and I’m glad she did,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “She said that if we didn’t have the Word of God with us, we could always have it in our hearts.”

Chuck Swindoll – Pastor, Author Insights for Living:  “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture.  No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!  Your prayer life will be strengthened.  Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective.  Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change.  Your mind will become alert and observant.  Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced.  Your faith will be solidified.”

Rick Warren – Pastor Saddleback church.  Author Purpose Driven Life.  “Scripture memory is a habit that most Christians never even tried, but getting your members to hide God’s Word in their hearts brings personal revival and renewal.”

Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California –  “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.”

Martin Luther, father of Protestant Reformation, knew so much of the Bible from memory that when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of justification in Romans 1:17, he said, “Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory,” in order to confirm what he had found.

John Piper, pastor, author Desiring God said: “here are a few reasons why so many have viewed Scripture memorization as so essential to the Christian life.

  • Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer.
  • As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.
  • Daily triumph over Satan
  • Offers comfort and counsel for people you love
  • Communicating the Gospel to unbelievers
  • Communion with God in the enjoyment of His person and ways.

Charles Spurgeon says: “The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in the book case.”

Francis Chan had this to say about God’s Word

We take time to teach our children many things but nothing is more important than teaching them God’s Word.  It is a foundation that will help them in this life and open their hearts to an eternity spent with God.  I hope these words will inspire you to start helping your children memorize Scripture.

What are some ways to help children memorize Scripture?

iPhone and Android apps to memorize Scripture

I started my search on my iPhone since my grandchildren always want it.  The last time I searched for a Bible memory tool specifically for kids I found nothing.  This time I came across Noah’s Bible Memory.  I just downloaded and tried it so I’ll update this blog post in a month after my grandchildren and I have had a chance to try it out, but I like the colors and the kid friendly design.  It was a free app.  There are 25 Bible verses.  Hopefully as more people install the app they will add more verses.  You can find it on iTunes by typing Noah’s Bible Memory.  It is also available for Android phones.  Joel Carson has several other apps to help children learn the Bible.  I encourage you to check them out.

 

teaching children to memorize bible verses

Bible Memorization Coloring Pages

Another fun way to help kids learn to memorize Scripture is by giving them Bible verses that they can color.  Most children love creativity and coloring so why not have them color Bible verses and then help them learn the verse.  Here are a few I found.

  • Joel Carson, creator of the app above also has a free PDF of Scripture verses that kids can color in.  It is beautifully well done and again free.
  • A Kid’s Heart has a number of verses illustrated that you can print out.  Some also allow you to color online.
  • Hubbard’s Cupboard has verses that kids can color, charts and cards that you can make a game out of that is similar to Go Fish.
  • Lori Lindeman has put together an extensive list of Scripture cooling pages on Pinterest.
  • Tony Kummer’s Ministry-To-Children is always one of my favorite resources; always free and is full of great ideas, plus I really like his heart and what he is doing.  Check out what he is doing ministering in Haiti.

Memory Cross Cards

The idea for Memory Cross started with Andy Lambert, a pastor with the United Methodist Church, who was looking for a creative tool that would capture kid’s attention while helping them memorize Bible verses.  We now have a variety of printed and blank cards available.  Click here to learn more.  The video below shows how each Memory Cross works.

If you have other resources share them with us and if you know anyone with children that could benefit from this post please consider passing it along.

Teaching the Beatitudes to Children using Videos

I am teaching the 4th and 5th grader Sunday School class about the Beatitudes and decided to use videos and was so impressed with what was available that I decided to create a blog post and list them.  I spent several hours going through each video and picked out the ones I liked best for this age group.

Each video is on YouTube but if you don’t have internet connection at your church, you can download each one either by clicking the link that I’ve included or adding “ss” to the YouTube file.  For example if the video is http://YouTube.com/watch…. your would put ss in front of the file so it would look like this:  http://ssYouTube.com/watch…  If you get a security warning, which shows up on some browsers with certain security settings, the site is safe.  It will allow you to download the video to your computer.

Saddleback Church Kid’s program put together one of the best series of videos to help children understand the Beatitudes which is why I’m including them first.  There are five videos each covering a couple of the Beatitudes.

Link:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=zzhBF569pRY

Link: https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=1kBAY_pxTCw

Link:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=sqNWBUjadi0

Link:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=AWTs-H03Zp0

Link:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=wSyiIGRNDmc

Link:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=eUx6QOz1Uow

Saddleback used these videos over a 6 week period but you could fit them into one Sunday School lesson if you did not have any discussion but they would be best spread between at least two weeks.

A few other videos about the Beatitudes that I liked are listed below.  I personally did not have time to show them to the kids so I don’t know how they would have reacted to them but I liked them and they certainly should work.

In this video Hillsong sings The Beatitudes.  This video would make a good into into the discussion of the Beatitudes.

Link to download video:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=8clFkbP0lQw&index=77&list=PLDtb6MuZ5Mf61WhMTLjeA17cid5qQBg9Z

Finally this short four minute video puts the Beatitudes into today’s language.  It could be used all by itself if you are just looking for one video to show kids about the Beatitudes.

Link to download video:  https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=aml9KYredtI

I talked about using these videos to help kids in Sunday School learn the Beatitudes but you could certainly use them in a small group setting other than SS or even at home with your own children.

Finally if you are looking for a way to help children memorize the Beatitudes check out this card by Memory Cross.  It is a unique way to help children memorize any Scripture, including the Beatitudes.  When you browse our store you’ll find printed cards that teach all kinds of Bible verses and Bible stories along with blank cards that can be used to memorize any Scripture verse.

Watch the video to see how it works and if you are interested click one of the links above.  If you find other videos that do a good job teaching children about the Beatitudes, list them in the comments section below.  Normally we ban links but for this post feel free to post any appropriate links.  Links not relevant to this post will be removed.

 


Teaching Children to Pray: lessons, videos, crafts

Teaching Children To Pray

Teaching children to pray is critical in helping them develop a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

teaching children to pray

Here are some tips to help you teach children how to pray.

For younger kids teach them to pray out loud at first. Your child may not yet understand what praying is so try replacing the word “prays” with the word “talks.” Encourage them to talk with God. It is said of men of old that they walked and talked with God.

Teaching your children love and patience is important when they are learning to pray. These two virtues when practiced keep our hearts soft and teachable. The prophet Samuel was able hear the still small voice of the Lord because his heart was teachable.

Part of praying is asking the Lord to meet our needs. When we teach children that God loves them, we help them feel positive and hopeful about their future. Their prayers will be more uplifting and from the heart.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe and God’s love for us made it possible to have a relationship with Him.  When children are little they may not understand the word “love” but they certainly understand the emotion. You have been there for them from the beginning and you can share with them how God has been there for both of you.

Adults have learned that God may not immediately answer our prayers or answer them in the way we prayed for.  A child, however, has not yet learned this, therefore, we need to teach them patience.

Children can learn to be patient when we set a good example. When I look at the times I become impatient I see an opportunity to teach my children. When I am driving for example, I do not have to be the first person to arrive.  You can share with your children that this is patience. You are willing to wait a little longer to arrive at your destination just like you are willing to wait on the Lord.

When we teach our children to pray we also need to teach them about love. God does not always answer our prayers as we would like, but we can teach children that God loves us no matter what happens.   Sometimes we have to wait for the answer and sometimes the answer is not what we had prayed for.

Even Jesus did not always get the answer he would have liked.  When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed: “My Father, if possible, don’t make me drink from this cup.  But do what you want, not what I want.”  It is hard for adults to understand why our prayers are not answered in the way we wish and it is even more difficult for children but we have to teach them that God is love and that no matter how hard life gets he promises to never leave us or forsake us.

Discussing spiritual matters with young ones can be a challenge. If you have ever attempted it, you know that their insatiable curiosity will lead them to ask many questions which might end up stumping you. So when you are teaching your children to pray, you will have to be very strategic about it.

To start with, you should pray with your child on a nightly basis. He or she will be able to learn by example, and in seeing you bring yourself before the Lord, a good example will be set. But this isn’t limited to nightly kneeling sessions by the bed. Teaching prayer is something that should happen in your day-to-day life.  Watch the video below by Mark Schultz called She Was Watching.

Whenever even the smallest blessing occurs, point it out to your children and thank God for it. This will establish with your child that for everything precious in the world, God is to be thanked.

Be aware of when the prayer of your child is answered. It is too easy to pray for something, and then when it happens think something along the lines of “wow, that was lucky!” If you notice that some prayer of your child has come true, make a huge deal of it and show the child the importance of looking for God in daily life.  If your child is old enough to write, start a prayer journal.  This is a great way for kids to remember how God has answered their prayers.  There are many options for creating a prayer journal depending on the age of your child:  Paper, app, web solution.

From the beginning of your child’s life, teach him or her to enjoy the creation that God has given. Point out the sheer natural beauty of the world we live in, and point out how God has given us the gifts to enjoy.  Teach them to be still and listen to God.  Psalms 46:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Just as you appreciate beauty and miracles through prayer with your children, teach them to use prayer to cope with unpleasant situations. For example, if you pass a car crash, say a quick family prayer. This will teach your child that prayer is multi-faceted, and an outlet for showing gratefulness as well as appealing to God’s good will.  If you take walks with your children pray for the people in the houses you pass.

Teaching children to pray

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says: “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…”

Every evening, bless and pray over your children. Use the classic blessing before bedtime: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” This will help your children to realize that God is always present and protective.

Prayer, like anything taught to a child, is better taught through actions than by trying to explain. Show your child what it is like to pray on a regular basis. Bring prayer up regularly, and relate it to the current situation. If you can truly impress the importance and the significance of prayer on your child, you will have accomplished a truly great feat as a parent.

Here are some additional resources to help you teach your children to pray.

  • Prayer craft ideas on Pinterest.  1000 ideas that you can use to teach children about prayer.  There are many great ideas on this board.  I encourage you to check it out.
  • Ministry to Children Sunday School lessons on prayer.  Over 75 lessons, videos and crafts that can be used with your children or during Sunday School.  Ministry to Children has in my opinion the best resources available for children on the web and everything is FREE.  Tony is a remarkable person who has created an amazing resource to help raise children that love God and with 9 of his own he uses what he writes about.  If you would like to know more about Tony and Kellie check out their blog and mission work in Haiti.
  • Videos to teach children about prayer.  YouTube is one of my favorite video resources.  There are a ton of videos on children and prayer.  The link I included has 84 videos.  While I did not look at every one the ones I watched before including it in our resources were good, especially for younger children.

We can read the Bible from cover to cover and memorize hundreds of Scriptures but without Love we are nothing.  Prayer opens up our hearts to God.  There is nothing more exciting to me than to see people who are on fire for God, who pray and love God with all their heart, soul and mind, no matter what is going on in their lives.  You can help your child become one of those people who are on fire for God.  May each of our children burn with the love of God.

 

This origami card from Memory Cross is a simple way to help children learn The Lord’s Prayer.


How to change your Dennis The Menace into a firecracker for God

Meet my granddaughter, Autumn.  She is a three year old with more uncontrolled energy  than any child I’ve met and with a determination that rivals Rocky Balboa or Louie Zamperini from the movie Unbroken.

Dennis the Menace Firecracker God

I’ve never helped to raise a child with so much energy, determination and stubbornness.  When she sets her mind on something it is almost impossible to deter her.  At three most of her actions result in mini disasters at our house.

She is fast also.  Leave her alone for one minute and it could be a disaster.  Her calmer five year old sister will usually come in yelling come see Autumn, it’s a disaster, it’s a disaster.  Usually she is right.  We spank her, put her in time out and talk with her, all of which seem to have zero effect in deterring her behavior.

When I listed to the book Unbroken (don’t watch the movie.  It was very disappointing compared to the book.) I realized that Louie and Autumn share a common temperament, unwilling to quit and always getting into some trouble.

If you have a child like this, you know what I mean.  They keep you constantly on the move and a respirate is just a temporary lull in the storm.  So how do you guide them growing up?  You know if they stay away from drugs and other life destroying temptations that they are going to be someone who changes their world, either for God or evil.

So how to you change your Dennis the Menace into firecracker for God?

Here are my thoughts.  If you have a hyperactive, strong willed and stubborn child write your experiences in the comment box.

First expose them to God and his love for us.  That is the one thing that is life changing.  In the book Unbroken Louie survived terrible torture in Japan only to come back and fall apart after the war.  His wife convinced him to attend a Billy Graham event.  That night he gave his life, along with all the bad experiences to Jesus and his life was forever changed.  (The movie left that part out.)

For your kids it might happen at home, church, summer camp or retreat.  I can count in the hundreds the kids I know that have had their lives changed through youth group, summer camp or retreats.  As I write this my granddaughters are down at summer camp at Mt. Shepherd, a Methodist retreat center in Asheboro NC.  At three and five they’ll get to go swimming, do crafts, get exposed to the outdoors, hear God’s Word and get exposed to God’s love through the counselors.

Next help them to find something that they are passionate about and let them focus on that one thing.  At three it is hard to tell but she loves anything involving a ball.  So while she has been to young to participate in soccer there are soccer summer camps available for three year olds in my area.

Going back to the book Unbroken one more time Louie’s life was turn around when his brother got him involved in running.  Ends up he was fast, really fast.  So fast that he probably would have set the world record had WWII not put an end to his career.  For me growing up it was sailing.  I got pretty good, usually capturing one of the first three places in any race, except for the world cup where I placed 13th in our fleet.

Any child needs something that they are good it.  It gives them self confidence and teaches them skills they will use throughout life.  When you have a strong willed child they’ll throw their hearts and minds into a sport they love, allowing them to not only learn a skill but excel as well.

If you live in the United States or other developed country send your children on a short term mission trip.  It will expose them to other cultures and help them realize the Christianity of America is not the norm.  In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy love he says:

During my time in India, the commitment level of believers there shocked me.  I visited thousands of Christians who had been beaten or watched relatives murdered for their faith.  At one point, I said to one of the leaders, “Every believer seems so serious about his or her commitment to Christ.  Arn’t there people who just profess Christ but don’t really follow Him?”

He answered by explaining that nominal Christianity doesn’t make sense for India.  Calling yourself a Christian means you loose everything.  Your family and friends reject you, and you lose your home, status, and job.  So why would anyone choose that unless he or she is serious about Jesus?

Mission trips can be life changing.  Matthew and Andrew Jones founded Poverty Resolutions after visiting Haiti and living for 30 days on a dollar a day, which is the average wage in Haiti.  I’ve included their story below.

Finally pray for all your children, especially your high energy, high maintenance child.  God can use them in a special way.  Don’t get discouraged and don’t stop praying if they don’t come to God as teens.

Comments or suggestions?  Be sure to write them in the comments box.

How to teach children that God loves them

How do you teach children that God loves them so that they really understand and respond to His love?

 If you live in America you probably know people who say they love God but whose lives do not reflect his teachings.  That’s not what I want for my kids, grandkids and children I teach at church.  I want them to be a passionate follower of Jesus, someone who really understands how much God loves them and responds by giving their heart, mind and soul to Jesus, someone who is on fire.
Teach children that God loves them

 

There are so many opportunities to teach children that God loves them depending their ages or whether they are your kids, friends of your children or you teach them.

 

Today I’m going to be writing about helping kids learn that God loves them in a Sunday School setting.  There are videos and ideas that you can use with your own kids at home so don’t leave!  No matter how you arrived on this page if you have kids or are teaching children be open to God’s leading, opportunities will come your way.  We can reach children through words and actions.  If you are a parent, model Christ’s love in your life.  None of us are perfect but if we live a life that has been changed because of a relationship with Jesus that we are passionate about, our kids will pick up on that.

 

With your own children teach them God’s Word and help them memorize Scripture.  There are many helpful tools and we’ve put together some of them in recent blog posts.  God changes lives.  We only help plant and water the seed.

 

I’m teaching Sunday School to 5th graders and we’re going to be talking about how do we know God loves us, which is why I decided to write this article.  I want to help them understand that God loves them, and learn what God wants from us.

 

One of my favorite books is Crazy Love by Francis Chan and he says “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”  Success needs to be measured looking at eternity, not simply by our 76 years we might spend here on earth.

 

I want to open up our conversation with the first half of the video below and then ask how do they know that God loves them, then show the 2nd half.

 

Next I’ll ask them if they know any scriptures that talk about how much Jesus loves me.  Here are 8 verses that talk about how much God loves us.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:37-39 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, evenwhen we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved …

Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Here are a couple other videos that will help children learn about how much God loves them.

 

I am not showing the video below but including it because I mentioned Francis Chan’s book above plus in this sermon he talks about our purpose in life which for me is to love God and love others.  That should be our overall mission in life.

I’ll be closing the lesson asking if they’ve experienced God’s love in their life or want to know God in a personal way and then saying a prayer.

I usually have something the kids can take home to remind them of the lesson.  This time I’ll either be giving them the ABCs of salvation or a card with 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.  

Love to hear your thoughts and comments.  God wants people who are passionately in love with him and who prove it with their lives.  Final quote from the book Crazy Love:  “Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God’s point of view, they’re evil.  Let’s stop calling it “a busy schedule” or “bills” or “forgetfulness.”  It’s called evil.  According to God, we are here to love.  Not much else really matters.

10 Reasons to Memorize Scripture

There are many reasons to memorize scripture.  We are all influenced by what surrounds us or what we surround ourselves with Scripture Memorizationbut the 2nd most power influencer is our mind  (I believe God is 1st).  What we think and believe will guide our path through life.  There are many examples of people who have lived in very difficult situations as children but have risen above their circumstances.  I’ve included a few videos at the end of people who have overcome which I thought you might like.

What influence can be more powerful than connecting with the God who created heaven and earth?  God’s gift of salvation is free but the difference between a saved but ineffective life and one that is on fire and changing the world is how much we’ve allowed God to take control of our life.  What are the best ways to allow God to change your life?  Pray, read and meditate on the Word of God.  If you do this opportunities to serve God will open up before your eyes and you’ll be on an amazing path to walking a life filled with God.

Galatians 5: 22-23 tells us what a life filled with God is like:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Many times I’ve read this verse but didn’t think about what each characteristic meant and how it effected my life.  If you are reading this verse for the first time or like me, have not spent time thinking about the words here are some ideas to help you think about what a spirit filled life is like.

Fruit of the Spirit

Love means many things but the Bible explains what is meant by love in 1 Corinthians 13:   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

How would your life be different if it reflected this kind of love?  How would your relationship with your friends, family and others be different?

The other characteristics of a life lived in a close relationship with God are just as powerful.  

Joy – Kay Warren wrote the following definition of Joy after studying all the scriptures about joy:  “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

Peace – The third characteristic of a life filled with God is peace.  Peace is an internal assurance that no matter what happens God holds you in his arms.  It is not based on an external circumstances.  In fact just before Jesus went to the cross he said this to his disciples:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

The peace Jesus is speaking of enables believers to remain calm in wildly fearful circumstances. It enables them to hush a cry, still a riot, rejoice in pain and trial, and sing in the middle of suffering. This peace is never by circumstances, but instead affects and even overrules them. – John MacArthur

Forbearance – I don’t know about you but that is not a word I use everyday.  Websters defines it as: “the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry.”  The Bible includes a few other aspects:  holding back ourselves from doing something that is normal to do, think anger, yelling, getting mad, etc.  In other sections of the Bible it means to keep still or silent or to stop doing something.  After studying the various definitions forbearance is a reflection on a restrained and changed life.  We no longer have to react in anger or envy or frustration because the Holy Spirit has given us a new character.

Kindness – Oxford says: “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” The biblical definition is: “The quality of compassion and generosity, characteristic of God’s dealings towards the weak and poor.”  Eddie Foster in Life, Hope and Truth defines kindness as follows:  Kindness is humbly giving of ourselves in love and mercy to others who may not be able to give anything back, who sometimes don’t deserve it, and who frequently don’t thank us for it. Basically kindness means a way of thinking that leads to doing thoughtful deeds for others.”

Goodness – In the Greek Goodness was defined as: “it is character energized, expressing itself in active good.”  Goodness is a characteristic of God who demonstrates it to us through the things he does.  When we live a spirit filled life we’ll actively be doing good to others which will over time transform you and those around you.

Faithfulness – Dictionary.com says: “true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc., reliable, trusted, or believed.” When God says He will do something, He does it. When He says something will happen, it happens. This characteristic can be reflected in our own lives through faithfulness to God and others.  Faithfulness means we can be counted on.  God can count on us to respond to his calling.  Our friends can count on our word and our spouse can count on our faithfulness.

Gentleness – Eddie Foster in Life, Hope and Truth defined Gentleness as: “What is gentleness? It is the humble and meek attitude of wanting to help other people instead of wanting to be superior to them. This attitude flows from a spirit of real love for the individual—having true, outgoing concern for their well-being. Such an attitude is shown in how we think about and treat others and what we say to them.”

Self Control – Oxford defines self control as “the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.”  Rick Warren on his blog lists the biblical characteristics of self control.  Here is the summary:

  • People with self-control master their moods
  • People with self-control watch their words
  • People with self-control restrain their reactions
  • People with self-control stick to their schedule
  • People with self-control manage their money
  • People with self-control maintain their health

10 Reasons to Memorize Scripture

Read, pray and meditate on the Word of God are necessary for the Holy Spirit to fill your life.  If the reason’s above are not inspiration enough here are 10 more reasons to memorize scripture:

  1. God commands us to put his Word into our hearts and minds and dwell on his Word.  Colossians 3:16 tells us to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us to bind God’s law on our foreheads, teach it to our children, talk about it wherever we go, and make it an integral part of our lives.
  2. Memorizing Scripture transforms our lives.  Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  3. Memorizing Scripture helps us fight off temptation.  Just because you are a Christian does not mean you’ll be living a life that is pure and honoring God.  The world and the devil will put many temptations in front of you.  By memorizing Scripture and knowing what God wants you to do you’ll be better able to stay away from temptation.
  4. Memorizing Scripture can help you remain pure – How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9).  In America today purity is becoming as rare as truth in politics.  (I am writing this during an election year.)  I don’t think I’ve ever even heard it preached in any church I’ve attended but God’s standards do not change with our culture.
  5. Memorizing Scripture helps you make wise decisions.  “Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 GNB).  Proverbs is full of verses about making wise decisions but the entire Bible is filled with verses that can help you make wise decisions in life.
  6. You’ll be more successful – Joshua 1:8: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  I’ve run businesses from a couple hundred thousand to 7 million and have experience success and failure.  There are many verses that talk about successfully running a business.  There are also many books on the subject.  One of my favorite is Business Secrets from the Bible that can be found on Amazon.
  7. It will make you a better husband or wife.  The Bible gives us guidance making a better marriage.  There are verses for husbands and wives.  For men check out these verses to memorize.
  8. Memorizing Scripture helps you deal with stress.  In today’s society who is not under stress?  Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback church says: “If you will memorize Scripture, your stress level will decrease dramatically and your confidence level will increase dramatically.”
  9. It helps you become a better witness.  If you live your life following God you’ll come upon opportunities to share your faith with others.  Memorizing Scripture put God’s word at your fingertips which you can then share when talking to others.
  10. It will give you a closer relationship with God.  It all comes down to a close, vibrant relationship with God

If you are looking for some effective ways to memorize Scripture, check this post out:  How to help children memorize Scripture.

Here are a couple videos of people who’s lives have been transformed through a relationship with Jesus.  I hope you enjoy them. As always comments are welcome.

 

 

 

 

How to help children memorize Scripture

Helping children memorize Scripture is one of the most, if not the most important things we can do for our kids.  The impact of Scriptures on the lives of children can be life altering.  As Christians we are commanded to put God’s Word into our hearts and minds and since many people come to Christ as children, memorizing Scripture is an important step in that process.  I cannot think of a better gift Christian parents can give their children than God’s Word embedded into their hearts and minds.  His Word has an impact on the way we think and live and will keep us from many hardships.

Christian leaders have written about the benefits of memorizing Scripture.  Here are a few:

Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, wrote, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.

Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.

Martin Luther knew so much of the Bible from memory that when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of justification in Romans 1:17, he said, “Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory,” in order to confirm what he had found.  Martin Luther started the Protestant reformation.

Rick Warren says: “There are enormous benefits to memorizing Bible verses. It will help you resist temptation, make wise decisions, reduce stress, build confidence, offer good advice, and share your faith with others.”

John Piper recorded his feelings on memorizing Scripture.  If you are a Christian thinking about memorizing Scripture I encourage you to take a moment and watch this video.

The Bible has a number of verses about Memorizing Scripture including: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” (Colossians 3:16 NLT)

Practical ways to help children memorize Scripture

  • Normally I would include our resources last, but in this case I’m listing Memory Cross first.  For working with children individually or in Sunday School, Memory Cross cards are one of the best resources I know of.  You can use it memorize any verse in any translation. The cards break verses down into four parts which makes it easy for children to learn the verse.  I’m working with my 5 year old granddaughter on memorizing Scripture.  She can’t read yet, but she can repeat back a few words from each verse and she learns a new verse each week.  We have a free sample pack if you want to see the card for yourself.

The video below shows how Memory Cross works.

 

Every night (well almost every night) we go over a verse.  At the end of a year she’ll know 52 verses and by the time she is 10 she would have memorized 520 verses!  Memory Cross has printed and blank cards that allow you or your children to write down any verse in any translation.

  • Put music with the Scripture.  Even if you are like me and have no musical talent there are a number of resources available to help.  One good source is YouTube.  Type in the Scripture you are looking to memorize, something like “teach children and then verse.”  You’ll be amazed at how many resources are available.  Here is one I found when I typed in 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

  • Illustrate the verse.  Most kids like to draw so give them a piece of paper and the verse and help them illustrate it.  By doing this you’ll help them think about what the verse means to them.  As an alternative you can go to Google, Bing or Pinterest and type in the verse and click on images (Pinterest will be images by default).  The one below came from Artist Hands of Faith which offers some great resources for parents and children, many of which are free.

children memorizing Scripture

  • Review – Keep the Scriptures your child has learned and review them on a regular basis.  We learn one new Scripture every week and then review that Scripture the end of the following week.
  • Talk about what the Scripture means.  This is a good time to share your faith with your children.

If you have other ways you’ve help children memorize Scripture be sure to put it in the comments box.

 

How to find peace – seek first the kingdom of God

Peace can be an alusive thing in our lives.  When I think of peace the first thing that came to my mind was sitting on a tropical beach with the breeze blowing, reading a good book with no cell phone or distractions and no worries.  How about you?  What is your idea of peace?

Peace on beach

I’ve found that the reality of peace and the accompanying traits: contentment, joy, happiness, love, nothing to worry about and no regrets about the past have little to do with where I am or even my circumstances and more to do with how focused I am on my God.  I’ve also observed that in other people.

The American dream implies peace can be found by becoming successful and earning lots of money.  I’ve never earned a million dollars in one year so maybe I’m below the threshold but from what I’ve seen is that while money can make life more pleasant it cannot give you peace.  The children in the Dominican Republic with little in the way of material goods seem to be as much at peace (and happy) as children in my upper middle class neighborhood.

In Matthew 6:25 – 33 Jesus says a lot about peace, worry and joy.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Personally this verse helps me take the focus off me and put it on God and his kingdom.  What we do and strive for should not be about us and what we want to accomplish but our focus should be on God.  If we do that he promises to transform out lives and we’ll find that peace that may seem so elusive.

One way to do this is to dwell on God’s Word.  Matthew 6;25 – 33 is a good one to start with.  Here are a few more that you might want to check out:

  • John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Another resource to check out is What does the Bible say about peace?  In order to have peace we need to submit our lives to God and allow him to take over our life and then to fill our thoughts with God’s Word.  If you would like more information about what it means to follow Christ visit peace with God.