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Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

Heaven is for Real – The Movie

A month or so ago a good friend of mine, David Almgren, asked me to do a preview screening for the upcoming movie “Heaven is for Real”.

I’m sure by now many of you have seen this movie trailer at the theater and when you saw it you probably said to yourself, “Hey that looks like a pretty good movie…I wonder if it’s done by Christians?”

Well no, not necessarily, and yes, that’s okay!

The movie, directed by Oscar-nominated Randall Wallace, is being released by Tri-Star Pictures and contains some pretty heavy hitting actors such as Greg Kinnear (also Oscar Nominated) and Kelly Reilly (of Sherlock Holmes fame). The movie has been given a hefty advertising budget which Sony has used wisely (unless you haven’t heard of it – then for you, not so much).

Heaven is for Real - Official Movie Trailer

For those of you who may be unaware, “Heaven is for Real” is about a little boy (Colton Burpo) who went to Heaven and came back to tell about it. Here is a brief rundown:

Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small-town Nebraska pastor who experienced Heaven during emergency surgery. This boy, Colton Burpo, talked about looking down to see the doctor operating on him and he also saw his dad who was praying in another room. The family didn’t know what to believe, but soon the evidence was clear.

In Heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one had ever told him about. He also met his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

Told by Colton’s father, often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is that Heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and to be ready because there is a coming last battle.

The book “Heaven is for Real” has sold over 8 million copies and has spent numerous weeks as #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Recently I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with Todd and Sonja Burpo and I came away thoroughly impressed with both of them (they’re Elevate users by the way!). Their genuine heart for getting this message out is very inspiring. After talking to them, I came away renewed and refreshed by their passion for Jesus that has survived amidst the negativity from some within the Christian body. I can honestly tell you that they are great people, with a great heart, and a great love for reaching others with the love of Christ. They are REAL people with a REAL story and I was honored to meet them both.

Now on to the movie itself – here is what I wrote as a review:

     “Heaven is for real is a gripping movie regarding human doubt and the ultimate reconciliation of belief with every day life. From the pulpit, Pastor Todd Burpo has preached on Heaven his whole career. However, when his son, Colton, makes a claim that he actually went to Heaven, there comes a gut wrenching reality check as to whether Todd believes in Heaven enough to make an alteration in the way that he lives. Once he does, he must then convince his congregation to do the same.

    I believe this movie will cause each person in the audience to think more about Heaven in his or her day-to-day life. I also believe that it will bring the viewer to a realization that everyone needs to have an eternal perspective on their life; to understand that there is life beyond the grave, found in Jesus Christ, and that our actions on this earth will ultimately affect our eternity.”

Movie Review – Mike Johnson

Would I recommend this movie? Absolutely! “Heaven is for Real” is a wholesome movie that will open up dialogue within your family about Heaven and the joys that await us when we get there. When you arrive at the theater don’t expect a Salvation Message, because you won’t find it. However, you will see Jesus Christ clearly presented as the Son of God.

As a parent I would use this movie as an opportunity to talk to your child about the glorious gift that Jesus gives to us when we accept Him as our Savior, and that gift is Heaven. Also, be sure to ask them questions about what they think Heaven will be like and what they want to do when they get there. Let their imaginations fly, and listen carefully, because after all, children in their innocence may know more about the Kingdom than any of us.

In closing, take a look at this clip of Colton singing (he’s got a great voice). I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Parenting Uncategorized

Pro-Active Parenting

Recently my wife Karry and I taught a three-week course based on parenting children three years old through fifth grade. The overarching theme of this course was to help parents understand what they need to do in order to help their child be successful.

During this parenting course, one of the key points my wife and I talked about was the importance of pro-active parenting when teaching your child. Pro-active teaching is when you teach your child what is right and wrong before your child is placed in a position where he or she has to make a decision regarding which direction to go next.

Another key point we talked about is the importance of being re-active when teaching your child. Re-active teaching happens when your child does something that God does not want him or her to do and you use that opportunity as a teachable moment to help him or her see why it was wrong and how to handle the situation better in the future.

These areas of teaching are vital in raising successful children, yet they are two areas that we as parents often fail in. That is why we are so passionate about the streaming website called LeadershipForKids.tv. For less than the price of one cup of coffee per month, you as a parent can have a team of professionals ready to help at a moments notice.

Here is how you as a parent can utilize LeadershipForKids.tv to assist you as you use pro-active and re-active teaching with your child:

·      For pro-active teaching, LeadershipForKids.tv will instill morals and values into your child’s moral warehouse, their heart. Then, when a situation arises where a particular moral or value is needed, it will be available and ready to be acted upon.

·      For re-active teaching, LeadershipForKids.tv will come alongside you to help give appropriate insight during those critical teachable moments after your child has done an action of disobedience. In a moments notice, you can find a video on your smart device that deals with the exact issue your child is struggling with. You will be able to use this video as backup to enhance your own teaching, or, if you don’t know what to say, the video can speak for you.

As parents, we have been given an incredible task: to raise our child to know and love Christ and to live a life that is pleasing to Him. By taking advantage of LeadershipForKids.tv, you can be assured that you will have the tools necessary to make the task of raising your child a successful one.

Children’s Ministry Parenting Uncategorized

A Christmas Memory That Will Last A Lifetime

As a child I remember the “Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar” my family used, where little chocolates and scripture readings sat waiting for me behind little windows that were opened each day. It’s funny how this simple cardboard stand made the joyful anticipation of Christmas even greater while helping me to learn even more about the Christmas story.

Because this is such a fond memory of mine we wanted to recreate that joyful feeling with your children this holiday season too!

On LeadershipForKids.tv we’ve come up with our own wonderful “Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar” that has both a daily reading plan as well as a five-seven minute video your children will enjoy.

Over the next 24 days here is what your children will learn:

Week One: The Light Is Promised
The promise of the Christ and the promises of God.

Week Two:  The Light Is Revealed
God revealing His plan to bring Jesus into the world.

Week Three: The Light Shines
Jesus’ birth is announced to the world.

Week Four: The Light Must Be Shared
The light of Jesus is to be shared around the world.

As a parent, I encourage you to have a special treat that follows the completion of each Scripture reading and video. Nothing big, just something as simple as a piece of chocolate. It will add to the excitement, and it will make a memory and tradition your child will cherish forever.

Not experiencing the amazing benefits of LeadershipForKids.tv yet? No problem! Sign up today for free and utilize it to make this special lifetime memory with your children. Simply go to Leadershipforkids.tv and begin this special Christmas journey today! You can also download the LeadershipForKids.tv App off iTunes or Google Play for easy access on your phone or tablet.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Slaves to a Schedule

slaves to a schedule

“You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” 2 Kings 17:39 (NLT)

The Exodus is such an inspiring story that it is known across the entire world, even by those who have no connection to the Christian or Jewish faith. What is interesting, is that many of the details of the story could apply to us in our modern culture. Here is one such example. The Israelites were enslaved by the nation of Egypt. They were laborers, and their sweat and toil was nearly unbearable. Moses came and requested that they would be able to leave and worship God, but Pharaoh responded by impossibly increasing their work schedule and cutting their supplies. It is possible that Pharaoh believed the Israelites would abandon their thoughts of worship with the crushing demands of a new schedule.

This should sound familiar. Think about it. We too are weighed down with impossible schedules and dwindling supplies of time and energy. When we attempt to set aside time for worship, the world looks at us as time wasters, telling us that we are missing out on the important things of life. In response, we become our own taskmasters. We fill our schedules and calendars with every extracurricular activity, every club, every sport, every trip, every concert, every outing. However, we must realize that this type of schedule does not make us free. It makes us slaves. Many believers have allowed their families to become slaves to a schedule that keeps them from making God and His Church the center of their lives as it should be.

One thing that you need to do is set yourself free from the tyrannical forces that want you to give up the ONE day that God asks you to worship each week. Walk away from anyone or anything that pushes you to constantly give up worshiping God at church. If you do, God will walk with you, and I promise that walking with God and worshiping Him will lead you to a new kind of life – just like it did for the people of Israel.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Keeping Your Commitments

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” (NLT)

Read 1 Samuel 14.

Making commitments is easy. However, being loyal and keeping those commitments can be much harder than we anticipated. Maybe you get tired, run out of time, or something else comes along that sounds more enjoyable. The important thing to remember during these times is that if we don’t honor our commitments, we will never experience some of the great things God has planned for us. In the story, Jonathan’s armor bear could have refused to go with Jonathan. Two men against an entire Philistine outpost? They wouldn’t even have the element of surprise. The plan sounded foolish and there was no guarantee of success. But the armor bearer had made a commitment to Jonathan and he chose to be loyal. As a result Jonathan and his armor bearer set something in motion that would become an incredible victory of the Israelites over the Philistines.
What victories does God have planned for you? Whether it’s your job, school, family, friendships, or your church, you’ll miss out on those victories if you don’t choose loyalty. A commitment that isn’t honored is useless.
Read Proverbs 17:17. Take a few moments to think about the people and things in your life that you have made commitments to. Spend time in prayer that God will help you to remain loyal by honoring those commitments.

Note: This devotional is taken from the Elevate series, Dojo Kids.

Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Small Steps Of Obedience

Hebrews 13:6 “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (NLT)

Read Judges 6:12-7:22

Gideon started with no confidence. (6:15) But step after step, he obeyed God. He started small by obeying God and destroying his father’s pagan altars. (6:27) He obeyed God and gathered an army to fight the Midianites. (6:34) He obeyed God by sending away troops as God directed him. (7:3-7) And he obeyed when God told him to sneak down to the enemy camp. (7:9-14) As he obeyed, God was with him and Gideon gained the confidence to say “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” (7:15) The “6:15 Gideon” could never have said that!
Where are you when it comes to confidence? Are you “6:15 Gideon,” “7:15 Gideon,” or someone in between? What steps of obedience do you need to take to move from verse 6:15 to verse 7:15 in your life? We don’t need confidence in our selves. We need confidence in God. And we gain that confidence by each step of obedience we take. Whether small or large, taking steps of obedience to God will lead us to greater and greater things. Gideon’s small steps of obedience led eventually to a great victory.
What small step of obedience do you need to take today? Whatever it is, take it! If you do, you can have confidence that you will have great adventures of faith when you walk in obedience to God.

Note: This devotional is taken from the Elevate series, Dojo Kids.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized Volunteers

Weekly Devotionals To Develop Your Leadership Muscle – Lead By Example

On the curriculum team that I oversee are many talented writers. Each week they write a Devotional around a particular lesson or story in the Bible. At the beginning of every week I will be sharing one of these devotionals with you. I hope they help you and give you the ability to develop your Spiritual Leadership Muscle!

Titus 2: 7 “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” (NLT)

Read Acts 16:1-5, 1 Timothy 1:18, and 2 Timothy 2:2.

Take a few moments to think about some of your best teachers you had growing up. What made them the best? Odds are, they were passionate about the subject matter and they did everything possible to help you learn all you could.
Paul was that kind of teacher. Paul had made it his life’s work to spread the Good News of Jesus everywhere he went. He knew that there was no greater calling and no better way to spend his time. However, Paul also knew that he couldn’t do it alone. He enlisted the help of a young man named Timothy. But Paul didn’t just give Timothy some instructions and then send him on his way. No, Paul spent time showing Timothy how to live the life of a missionary. He taught Timothy how to handle persecution and rejection. He warned Timothy about the dangers he would face. And above all Paul encouraged Timothy. He encouraged Timothy not to give up and to train others as well. Timothy knew what it took to be a good leader because he had a good leader in Paul.

Read Titus 2:7. Are you being a good example to the people who look to you? Does everything you do reflect your seriousness of teaching others about Jesus? Spend time this week thinking about the people you lead or those who look to you as an example. Pray that God will help you to honor that leadership he has given you as you set an example through your words and your actions.

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs FC Kids Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

They're not "JUST kids", they're future leaders

Recently, I had the opportunity to present a message at Fellowship Church entitled They’re Not “Just Kids”. In it I presented the fact that our children are our nation’s and world’s future leaders, and the qualities and values we invest in them now will determine their success in life, and the success of our future.

This message is one that EVERY PERSON who has a child in their life needs to hear! For those of you who work with children within a ministry, or for a living, I hope this encourages you and reminds you again of the importance of what you do. For everyone else, I promise you, it will forever change how you look at children!

Children’s Ministry FC Kids Parenting Uncategorized

Watch Adventure Week on FellowshipLive.com!

Adventure Islands

Ever wondered how Fellowship Church does VBS? Check out this year’s Adventure Week online at FellowshipLive.com at 8:15pm every night this week!

One of our biggest FCKids outreach events at Fellowship Church is our annual Adventure Week! Five nights of activities, Bible lessons, games, snacks, crafts and a theatrical performance. This year’s production is called Adventure Islands. You’ll meet Jack and Jackie, the main characters who have to choose to do what is right, as well as Dip and Dot, who tend to follow the notorious pirate, Blacktooth’s, bad example. Each night this week we will teach the kids leadership lessons on Kindness, Generosity, Forgiveness, Service and Following God!

Go to FellowshipLive.com at 8:15pm and watch the performance on Adventure Islands!

Parents – your kids can earn the Adventure Islands leadership badge on ElevateAtHome.com!