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Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Volunteers

Show Mercy – A Beatitude Devotional

There are at least two reasons we find it hard to show mercy. One is that our first instinct is to strike back. Imagine getting a poisonous snake bite. Striking back at the snake or chasing after it is foolish. You will only get upset, raise your heart rate, and spread the poison further. Not to mention that you could be bitten again! What you should do in that situation is to let the snake go, seek first aid, get the poison out, and slow the poison’s spread by controlling your emotions, and slowing your breathing and heart rate. Striking back at those who hurt us in life is like poisoning ourselves. Instead, we should control our emotions and let the pain go, by showing mercy.

Another reason we find it hard to show mercy is that we don’t think that people deserve mercy. But that is extraordinarily foolish! When you think “he doesn’t deserve mercy” you have just identified someone who is eligible for mercy. That’s what makes it mercy – it is undeserved. No one, including us, deserves mercy. Mercy is giving someone another chance when he or she does not deserve it, just like Jesus did for us and for the woman in the Bible Lesson today.
Jesus showed mercy to the woman caught in adultery despite what she deserved. The law she had broken was His. The heart she had broken was His. He knew far more intimately than her accusers what she had done. He, more than anyone else present, would be justified in striking back at her and giving her the punishment she earned. But he showed her mercy. Jesus treats us with undeserved mercy and if we are following His example we must resist the urge to strike back, and remember that we can only show mercy to people who don’t deserve it.

“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.” Zechariah 7:9 (NLT)

“There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” James 2:13 (NLT)

“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NLT)

READ: Jesus Forgives an Adulterous Woman – John 8:1-11.

This is the teacher devotional from the Elevate series Altitude Kids. To learn how you can teach these beatitudes lessons to the kids in your ministry, check out ElevateKidsNow.com.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Volunteers

Love and Justice – A Beatitude Devotional

beatitude

There are two images of Jesus that people many times have a hard time reconciling. What does Jesus lovingly sitting with the children (Mark 10:16) have in common with the Jesus that we find wielding a whip to drive out people and animals from the Temple? Those two images might seem contradictory, but really they are about the same thing: access to God. Before Jesus lovingly held the children, He angrily rebuked His disciples for standing in their way. And the system that was allowed to grow up in the Temple courts was standing in the way of God’s people being able to pray and worship Him. After Jesus drove out those who were abusing their position, the outcasts, the blind, and the lame were able to come in and worship.

Jesus cleared the room of bullies and made room for the outcasts. Jesus cared for the outcasts. He loved them. Love doesn’t just mean hugs and snuggles. It means protection. We can’t show love to others and not be willing to stand up and protect them in unfair situations. The actions we take might be less dramatic than making a whip and chasing people with it, but they can definitely make a difference. A kind word to someone who has been hurt, a firm rebuke to someone using cruel language, a vote cast to protect the innocent, or a hug around someone who has been excluded are all actions that show others God’s love. As followers of Christ, we have to show God’s love to victims of injustice and teach our children to do the same.

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” Isaiah 1:17 (NLT)

“You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God, and to rescue the oppressed of the earth.” Psalm 76:9 (NLT)

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NLT)

READ: Jesus Cleanses the Temple – Matthew 21:12-17 and Mark 11:15-19.

This is the teacher devotional from the Elevate series Altitude Kids. To learn how you can teach these beatitudes lessons to the kids in your ministry, check out ElevateKidsNow.com.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Volunteers

Selfless Humility – A Beatitude Devotional

humility beatitude

A lack of humility tells you a lot about people. It tells you that they don’t understand that they are a part of something bigger. It tells you that they don’t recognize the contributions and value of others. It tells you they overestimate their own importance. And most of all it tells you that they aren’t looking any further than their own benefit. The opposite of humility may be pride, but often the cause of not being humble is selfishness.

Jesus calls us to a radical kind of selfless humility; the same kind of humility that He demonstrated. Just as He set aside the privilege and power of His position and became one of us, we need to be willing to set aside privilege and power, remembering that we are not better than those around us. Just as He took the lowest place, of a servant, washing His disciples’ feet, we should take lowly jobs with joy, knowing that we are never more like Jesus than when we are serving others. And just as Jesus put our needs above His own desires by dying for us on the cross, we should be willing to give up our desires in order that others’ needs may be fulfilled.

John the Baptist knew how to do just that. He knew that his purpose was to set up Jesus to succeed. What John’s disciples saw as a failure, he recognized as success. He knew that if people were repenting and coming closer to God, then his purpose was being fulfilled even if it wasn’t directly through him. John didn’t want the spotlight. He wanted the message to be heard. We have a choice. We can be like John’s disciples, selfishly wanting our own way and our own reward, or we can choose to be like John, concerned not with whether our position is advancing, but whether the message of Jesus is advancing.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8 (NLT)

“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” Matthew 5:5 (NLT)

READ: John the Baptist Shows Humility – Mark 1:7, John 3:22-31, Matthew 11:11.

This is the teacher devotional from the Elevate series Altitude Kids. To learn how you can teach these beatitudes lessons to the kids in your ministry, check out ElevateKidsNow.com.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Volunteers

The Source of Comfort – A Beatitude Devotional

beatitude

It’s funny that some of the most ordinary things can bring us comfort. Our own bed, when we have been away from it for a while, can seem like a full body hug of comfort. Food can bring comfort too, like that special dish that our mom or dad makes that only comes out right when he or she makes it. Sometimes all it takes for the whole world to seem better is a favorite pair of jeans or a favorite old t-shirt. Perhaps getting comfort from these people and things is one reason that we sometimes forget or fail to seek comfort from the most extraordinary person in our lives: Jesus. When we go through something that shakes us, that causes us pain, we need to remember that Jesus is available to us right where we are if we will just turn to Him. Jesus came to Mary and Martha after Lazarus had already died.

Martha went to meet Jesus, and He comforted her. Then she went to Mary and encouraged her to go to Jesus, and He comforted her. Jesus felt and shared their pain and He joined them in sorrow, weeping with them. Why did He weep if He knew what was about to happen? Was He acting? Playing for the crowd? No. He was comforting them by joining them in their grief and He will do the same for us. We often only think of Jesus when we want a miracle. Martha and Mary both say to Jesus, “If only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But before the extraordinary and miraculous, Jesus’ actions are humble, simple, and loving. He reminds Martha of the promises of God through scripture.

He joins them in weeping. He goes with them to the grave. Then He raises Lazarus. But Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus to comfort Mary and Martha. He didn’t even do it for Lazarus. He did it, “…for the sake of all those standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” (John 11:43) Go to Him for comfort before you go for a miracle. Seek comfort in prayer, by reading God’s Word, and by simply reminding yourself that you aren’t alone. Jesus comforted Martha and Mary and He will comfort you as well.

“‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God.” Isaiah 40:1 (NLT)

“Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” Psalm 119:50 (NLT)

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NLT)

READ: Jesus Comforts Martha and Mary – John 11.

 

This is the teacher devotional from the Elevate series Altitude Kids. To learn how you can teach these beatitudes lessons to the kids in your ministry, check out ElevateKidsNow.com.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Volunteers

Spiritual Riches – A Beatitude Devotional

It has been said that the rich have an advantage over the poor–they already know that money can’t make them happy. Jesus was saying something similar when He said that God blessed those who were poor in spirit. When Jesus said that, it probably confused the people he was talking to in the same way that it does us. After all, how can any kind of poverty be a good thing? But what Jesus was pointing out was that the poor in spirit know that they need God.

Nicodemus knew that he was missing something. So he came to Jesus. People around us should notice that they are missing something that we have. If we have Jesus in our lives, our spiritual “riches” come from Him. They should notice the encouragement we have when times are difficult, the peace we have when things are unsure, and the strength we have to do the right thing when it needs to be done. When they see Jesus working in our life in these ways, they will come to us just like Nicodemus came to Jesus. When they do, we can tell them that in order to have what we have, they need Jesus. No one has enough physical riches that he or she could fill the needs of the poor by giving them all away, but through Jesus, we have the spiritual riches to bring salvation to anyone who realizes that they need Jesus. That is the greatest blessing that anyone can have.

“You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” Revelation 3:17-19 (NLT)

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 (NLT)

READ: Nicodemus Speaks With Jesus – John 3 and John 19:38-42.

 

This is the teacher devotional from the Elevate series Altitude Kids. To learn how you can teach these beatitudes lessons to the kids in your ministry, check out ElevateKidsNow.com.

FC Kids Leadership Parenting

20 Questions To Ask Your Child Instead Of “How Was Church?”

FC Kids Church

When my girls were younger and I would pick them up after church each weekend, my usual question of “How was church?” was met with an unenthusiastic “Fine.” Or if I changed the question up and asked, “Did you have fun?” the usual answer was “Yes.” Or if I would ask them the expectant “What did you learn today?” I would be answered with an indifferent, “I don’t know.”

I knew our children’s church was fun. I trusted that the teachers spent lots of time preparing a great lesson. Why wouldn’t my girls tell me about it? I didn’t realize the problem was with my questions themselves. These questions were terrible starters to get my girls talking about their experience at church.

So, to help out all the parents who ask these questions to their children as they leave church, like I did, I’ve started a list of questions my girls answered with more than a single word. Try them. Your kid’s may even talk to you about church all the way home!

Questions a child will answer at the end of their time at church:

1.  What did you eat for snack?

2.  How did you help someone today?

3.  What games did you play?

4.  What was the funniest thing that happened today?

5.  Did anyone do anything super nice for you?

6.  Who made you smile today?

7.  What new fact about the Bible did you learn today?

8.  What challenged you today? (This is a great question for older kids)

9.  Who was the Bible Lesson about?

10. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?

11. If you had the chance to be the teacher next weekend, what would you teach the class?

12. Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?

13. What is your teacher’s most important rule?

14. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?

15. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.

16. Did you catch anyone picking their nose?

17. What rule was the hardest to follow?

18. Which person in your class is the exact opposite of you?

19. Which time during church is the most fun?

And the most important question…

20.  What was your Main Point for today?

The last question is by far my favorite, because if your church uses a curriculum, like Elevate, that includes an application statement, or Main Point, then you can be sure your child learned something to put into practice during the week.

In FC Kids we do this so parents can connect with their kids. And it’s not just through the Main Point! There’s a poster by each classroom door in the preschool that gives parents a question to ask their children every week, and we post the Main Point on our FC Kids Facebook page with links to the corresponding lesson on the free website LeadershipForKids.com.

What questions have you used to engage your children in their church experience and to help them apply the Bible Lesson all week long?

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs Leadership Uncategorized

Tweetable Leadership – A Review And Thank You To Jim Wideman

One of my all-time favorite books in the Bible is the book of Proverbs.  What I love most about it is that there are hundreds of bite-size nuggets that give you so much to think about in just a few words, nuggets that are key to living a successful Christian life.

Over the last couple of days I have had the privilege of reading through the new book by Jim Wideman entitled, “Tweetable Leadership”. When I received it in the mail, I opened it up and immediately felt right at home as I saw literally hundreds and hundreds of bite-size statements packed with wisdom and knowledge on how to be a successful leader within Children’s Ministry.

This awesome book is divided up into seven chapters dealing with a wide range of leadership topics such as leading by example, how to keep your life simple to do more, how to stay spiritually healthy, and probably my favorite chapter entitled “What old Jim wishes young Jim knew”. In addition to the bite-size sayings within each chapter, each chapter also concludes with 5 to 6 pages that are traditionally written and packed with insights from Jim.

I would highly recommend that you pick up this book, but I must say that you need to be careful with it. Go ahead and sit down and read through it once, but don’t let the overwhelming amount of information discourage you. This is a lifetime worth of information that you will need to take some time incorporating into your ministry. Take a few of the principles and apply them over a month or so, then continue to add along the way. Trust me, I can honestly say that after 22 years as the children’s pastor here at Fellowship Church, these are the things that will make you very successful over time.

Thanks Jim, for taking the time to put this great book together. I appreciate all that you’ve done for kids ministry in the 19th, 20th and 21st century…just kidding, you’re old but not that old. 🙂

You are an Absolute Children’s Ministry Rockstar!

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

A FREE Kid’s Website Teaching Biblical Leadership Values To Kids!

a free kid's website

As I discussed in my last blog, Children’s Ministry Leaders and Parents must have vision when teaching and raising kids. You must have the vision that, what you pour into a child today, makes an impact in their life tomorrow. At Fellowship Church, we have a firm commitment to reach the next generation of leaders and we feel like the best way to reach 3-13 year old’s is through technology, specifically, a free kid’s website they can access any time, anywhere, and on any device. For us, that is LeadershipForKids.com. While in the past we offered this tool for a small cost, we decided, in order to reach the widest audience possible, we would make the website free. Yes, FREE!

As a parent myself, I cannot stress how important the Bible lessons on LeadershipForKids.com are to the life of a child. Most parents will download apps for their children to keep them distracted, or entertained, but these apps are not necessarily teaching children valuable lessons they will need in life. Instead, I encourage parents to go to LeadershipForKids.com, hand the child the phone or tablet, and let them watch a video based toward their specific age group. LeadershipForKids.com will not only keep your child busy and entertained while you, as the parent, are driving to school or making dinner, but LeadershipForKids.com will also help your child learn valuable Leadership Traits from the Bible. These Leadership Traits will ultimately help your child become a leader who makes a difference in this world.

When you go online to LeadershipForKids.com, your child will have access to Music Videos, Bible Lessons, Leadership Videos, and Bible Plans that can be accessed anywhere and at any time! On LeadershipForKids.com you’ll discover more than 400 of your child’s favorite Bible Lessons and Music Videos and over 60 unique Leadership Traits for your child to learn from! Is your child struggling with patience? Watch the Leadership Video “I Will Be Patient!”. Is your child good at encouraging? Watch the Leadership Video “I Will Keep On Telling Others To Do What Is Right!”.

I have been doing Children’s Ministry for over 21 years here at Fellowship Church, and I have discovered that there is one truth that will always stay the same: Learning about God is life-changing! So help change the lives of the children around you by registering and using the site today, and by sharing LeadershipForKids.com with everyone you know!

LeadershipForKids.com is the at-home portion of the Elevate curriculum. To learn more about the curriculum itself go to ElevateAtChurch.com

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Vision And Legacy: Seeing Kids As Leaders

Children’s Ministry leaders and parents, more than anyone else, understand vision. You must have vision when you are working with kids because although you teach kids to love God and love others, you won’t always see immediate results or changes in their lives. As parents and as Children’s Ministry leaders, you need to have the vision that what you are doing now will make an impact in a child’s future. You have to trust that, over time, everything you pour into the life of a child will come out in a positive way.

I saw an example of the legacy left in the life of a child this summer at FC Kids Camp. This year at Allaso Ranch, more than 50 students and adults who attended Kids Camp as a child over the past 21 years, returned to volunteer, as seen in the video above. Why? So they could share their passion for loving God and loving others with children 2nd through 5th grade, so they could hand the legacy off to the next generation. When these students and adults were young, we looked at them and asked ‘are they really getting it?’ and now we can see that they did. These volunteers, because they have lived it, understand why we do what we do in the lives of children and they want to do their part in helping continue the legacy to make a difference in the life of a child.

Because I’ve been doing Children’s Ministry at the same church for 21 years, I was personally able to see these children grow up in the church and come back to serve at camp. However, I know this group of 50 people is only a small portion of those we poured our time and knowledge into. I know there are hundreds or even thousands of kids that have moved elsewhere, who I won’t ever see the fruit of our labor in their lives. So although it’s about leaving a legacy, even more, it’s about having the vision to understand that you are making a difference in the future of these kids, even when you don’t see the fruit now. You need to persevere with the great calling you have been given as a parent and as a Children’s Ministry leader because what you do in the life of a child does matter.

You may not always see the fruit of your labor on earth, but you will when you get to heaven. When you stay committed to God and to church you will be able to more successfully stay focused on the vision God has given you. When you invest your time and knowledge into the life of a child, that child will grow up and have the opportunity to impact others. And before you know it, the legacy of loving God and loving others that you left with one child is being passed down for generations to impact hundreds and potentially thousands of people. Stay committed to the vision and know that you are making a difference.

FC Kids Leadership Uncategorized

Speak the Truth

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

Elijah vs Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 17-18)

“The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.” Psalm 37:30 (NLT)

Other than cats, probably the most popular videos on the internet are fail videos. These are usually humorous, sometimes scary videos where someone is usually trying to do something either dangerous, stupid, or both, and it often goes predictably and horribly wrong. As we watch the video, many times we see and realize what is about to happen and we either laugh or cringe, knowing that there is nothing we can do to change the outcome. But in real life, instead of watching a fail happen and being glad it wasn’t us, we need to realize that we have the chance to step in and stop it from happening.

As Christians we understand that God’s Word gives us guidelines that will help us avoid many things in life that will cause us to fail. We also understand that we have an opportunity to share those guidelines with others. But unfortunately, many times we don’t speak up and warn our friends when we see them about to fail. Then, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, we watch their lives fall apart.

It is increasingly difficult to stand up for the truth that is in God’s Word without being called a radical, a bigot, or troublemaker. It happened to Elijah and it most certainly will happen to us. In today’s story, the king was angry with Elijah for being a messenger of God’s word. Ahab called Elijah a troublemaker. But Elijah didn’t back down. He continued to speak the truth even though many of the people didn’t listen. It’s not our job to convince people, but it is our responsibility to speak out. Leave the convincing to God’s Holy Spirit. Just speak the truth simply and lovingly and challenge people to try it God’s way. When you do, you might just save a friend from a life-changing fail.