Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Have you ever wondered why the Wise men brought Jesus gifts and what their significance was? This month in grade school we are going to be starting a new series called Happy Birthday Jesus! We will be exploring the gifts that the Wise Men brought to Jesus and why they were significant. This week we will be talking about the Gift of Gold and how this is a gift befitting the King of kings.

Now unless you are keeping a secret from all your friends and neighbors, I doubt any of us have a wealth of gold laying around that we could wrap and FedEx up to heaven (if so, I accept donations...), but there are ways that we can honor Jesus as our King. We will be brainstorming ways in our service to do just this, so challenge your grade schoolers this week to honor Jesus by talking to Him, asking for help when they need it, being thankful, and obeying their parents (I thought you might like this last one).

5/K Lesson: We will explore God creating the animals as told in Genesis 1:1-25. The lesson focuses on the concept that God is loving, so we thank God for animals.

4s Lesson: We will hear the story of Joseph and his Special Coat. The Lesson centers around the concept that God is loving, so we love others.

3s Lesson: We will learn about how God protected Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

2s Lesson: We're discovering how God takes care of us through the story about Noah and the Ark

No Kidz Quest or Cadre 5.0 tomorrow due to the Thanksgiving weekend. Next Sunday, Dec. 4, is our last week of KQ & C5 until January 8. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh

As you will be seeing in a post this coming weekend we are going to be discussing the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus and what their significance was. In some of my research I came across this blog post from a pastor in Georgia named Steve Whipple who describes how they work out their gift giving for a family of 10. I really like the idea he talks about and thought it may be helpful to a few of us.

People ask us from time to time how we do Christmas with 8 children. Well, we’ve done a variety of things over the years, but we have always kept it simple. We don’t put this huge emphasis on Santa and we only give a couple of gifts to each. 
We draw names among the kids. They used to try and buy each sibling something, but as the family grew it just became more practical to draw names. They really enjoy doing this too. Searching for that special gift. We give them a budget (usually $5) and they get to pick a special gift for their siblings. Sometimes they will make gifts too. My oldest daughter knitted scarves for her younger sisters last year.
In recent years we have settled on buying each child “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh” gifts. This is not original to us, but I share it as a possibility for your family too. It really helps keep the perspective of Christmas.
The GOLD gift is something they want…a toy, gadget or something. Not something ridiculously expensive, mind you. The FRANKINCENSE is something they need…usually a clothing item. While the MYRRH is something spiritual…a Bible, devotional book, Christian CD, etc. The total for all these gifts per child may be $25-35 or less. Even at that, it can get expensive. We usually set a total budget and divide it out based on what we can afford. (We NEVER use credit cards..aren’t you proud Dave Ramsey?) However, we have never put a big emphasis on buying lots of expensive gifts. We shop sales and use discounts and coupons as much as we can. Sometimes a toy or game may be given to more than one child, combining the gift. This is helpful on the budget too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 12 Memory Makers For the Holidays

I was thinking today about all the great things I used to do when I was young during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. I grew up close to a lot of my family and all the cousins would get together and have a lot of fun. So I thought between yours and my childhood memories we could come up with some fun things to do during the holidays.

By the way, this is my official disclaimer that these ideas come from a mid 20s man and may be less than perfectly safe for all age groups...

Number 12.
Winter picnic. Every year my dad would load us all up and drive into the mountains where we'd have a picnic or roast hot dogs. Sometimes there would be 3-4 feet of snow where we'd go so we'd take along the sleds too.

Number 11.

Number 10.
Christmas movie marathon - libraries are a great free resource!

Number 9.
Hooky-bobbing. Ok, so here is where my previous disclaimer may be most useful. In Montana we don't salt the roads so it was easy to do locally, but around here you may need a snowmobile or 4-wheeler. We would  hook a sled up to the back of a suburban and my dad or an uncle would drive us around. The nice thing with this is you can moderate your speed according to the age of your rider.
Not what I had in mind...
Number 8.
Shovel a random driveway.

Number 7.
Search for great Christmas light displays.

Number 6.
Serving a meal at a homeless shelter. I don't think I did this until I was in middle school and I did it with my Boy Scout troop, but it was very eye opening and to this day I still have a heart for the homeless.

Number 5.
Ice skating. Manhattan Square Park in Rochester is fantastic and only costs $2 to skate and $3 for rentals. (Kathryn and I went there after I proposed last December).

Number 4.
Sledding or ice blocking. If you have never been ice-blocking before prepare to be amazed. This is basically what you do when there is no snow for sledding. Go to your local grocery store and buy a solid block of ice. Take said ice to a hill and lay a dish towel over the top (this keeps your bum slightly warmer and actually grips to the ice much better). Be ready for a wild ride, these things go much faster than you'd think.

Number 3.
Cards and board games! Monopoly and Yahtzee are personal favorites.

Number 2.
Matinee. Our family tradition is to see a matinee together on Christmas Day.

Number 1.
Collect cans (and search your couch) and give the change to the Salvation Army Red Kettle workers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Thanksgiving Charade

Almost as amazing as the Thanksgiving Day Parade, this week we are putting a challenge to your grade schoolers to see which team can come up with the best skit about what actually happened almost 250 years ago. We will also talk about how, thousands of years before the very first thanksgiving, the Israelites would give offerings to God called peace offerings or thanksgiving offerings. This was a way for them to thank God and unlike most of the other offerings, after the sacrifice of the animals and bread and drinks was made, the one who offered it up to God was able to eat it with his or her family & friends. This was a way to symbolize that the person who offered it was at peace with God and in relationship with Him. See Leviticus 7.

5/K Lesson: Exploring what it means to praise Jesus through the story about Jesus entering Jerusalem on a Donkey.

4s Lesson: Learning that God is loving and we can trust him as shown the story of Noah and the rainbow in the sky.

3s Lesson: Learning that God helps us do great things through activities based on David and Goliath.

2s Lesson: Discovering how God takes care of us through the story about Noah and the Ark

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunday Nov. 13

Hey Parents Express- 
Remember that this Sunday all grade schoolers will be joining you in the main service. Kidz Express for Nursery and Preschool will still be open.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

David vs. Goliath

I recently heard about a man who paid his son to memorize the speech that David gave to Goliath right before his gruesome battle. He knew that if he could instill into his son what it meant to have "the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel" on your side, how much different his life would be. Essential, we hear David saying, "my Dad can beat up your dad."

I don't know why as a child it seems so important for us to have a dad who can beat up everyone else's dad, but I know that on more than one occasion those words came out of my mouth. Maybe it has something to do with knowing and believing that we are secure in who our father is, or our identity, and the authority that comes with being in a family line that holds power and position. I'm not saying that power and position is something that you yourself need to provide for your children, but teaching them that this is already provided for them through their relationship with a heavenly Father. I'm also not saying that this should be a place for us or our children to use our relationship with God to become a bully or push people around with the Law, but to realize as David did, that he had the ability to protect the innocent and stand up for what was right because of his identity.

To often we try to protect others by denying them access to powerful tools because of our fear of their destructive capabilities rather than giving them appropriate instruction in how to properly use those powerful tools. Identity can be one of those powerful tools, check out 1 Samuel 17 and Ephesians 1 for a glimpse at who we are in Christ.