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I need a burst of “Faith Growth” please!

A few hours earlier, Peter had just seen Jesus once again do a miracle. Upon the mountain in the distance, Jesus had fed the 5000 with just a few loaves of bread and fish. Now Peter was in a boat crossing the sea. Suddenly a fierce storm comes out of nowhere. In a panic, Peter looks around in despair, only to see through the mist Jesus walking on the water of the sea. Full of confidence in Jesus and His ability to work wondrous things in his life, Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk on water as well. But then a massive wave hits and washes over him. Suddenly, he panics and begins to look at the circumstances surrounding him rather than on Jesus. As he does, he starts to sink into the water, and then into despair. Peter cries out to Jesus. And Jesus, as He always is, is right there to grab him and pull him up.

Peter is so like me. I see Jesus move in miraculous ways around me that are too powerfully coordinated to be coincidental. Full of confidence, I have great faith in what He is going to accomplish in my life, and I take a step toward Him. But then, as my eyes are on Him, the difficulties of my situation swirl around me, washing over me like a wave. Suddenly, I take my eyes off Jesus and begin to doubt. And with that doubt comes despair. I am sinking. But, just in time, JESUS reaches out to me and performs another miracle. He saves me within my circumstances, and my faith grows a little larger. It’s then I realize I have just experienced a small burst of faith growth.

In Peters’s life, these same bursts of faith growth happened over and over, and each time they did, his confidence in Jesus grew a little more. By the end of his life, Peter’s faith had grown so much that he was able to look at the circumstances surrounding him and stand upon his faith in the power of Jesus. Even upon his death, the circumstance of being crucified did not cause his faith in Jesus to waver. Peter did not sink.

I pray that throughout my life, Jesus keeps growing my faith with small bursts of faith growth. I want the ability to sense difficult circumstances surrounding me but still keep my eyes on Jesus. I know this will take time and many small bursts to accomplish. But when it happens, I know I will not sink.

I pray the same for you.

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs ISeeIt! Productions Leadership Ministry Production

Why Has Faith-Based Animation Been Left Behind?

Unlike any other time in the past, Christian movies have begun to penetrate the film market in a vibrant way. Christian adults are more and more excited to see content that speaks to them, not just emotionally, or entertainingly, but also spiritually, with content that encourages them to live their lives better. I applaud this. We have the essential message to share, but for too long, we have not been creative enough to tell it in a way that engages others.

However, while I am grateful to see a renaissance in faith-based movies for adults, I am discouraged by the lack of high-quality animated content for kids. Specifically, where are the Christian “Pixars” and “Dreamworks” of the world? Is it because we have nothing to say in this arena? Do we lack the content that will engage kids in such a way that they are entertained yet leave feeling empowered by God to act more positively? I understand all the arguments; animation is expensive, it’s difficult, it takes so much extra time. But are any of those reasons too big for the God we serve to overcome? Can He not provide for us what is needed to engage children and families with such an important medium? I believe He can. In fact, I believe it so much that I ventured out from 25 years of church work in Children’s ministry to form an animation production company. A company that will make a difference by providing animated content infused with God’s power. Content that will inspire kids, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to become leaders and influencers for Christ in this world. As Christians, we are way behind in this, and we need to catch up fast. There are so many stories out there yet to be written within this medium that will inspire kids; stories that are funny, touching, happy, even sad. But most importantly, stories that take a child on a journey that motivates them to be better than they were before they watched it.

But this truth doesn’t just apply to movies or cartoon features; it applies to how we teach our children in the church. God led me 15 years ago to begin using animation to tell the truths of the Bible through a curriculum called Elevate. Over those years, I was always amazed at the impact animation had in capturing a child’s attention. But even more important, as I watched those children grow, I was excited to see how the truth revealed within those animated stories made an impact in their lives. It was an impact that most other communication styles did not make. Why does animation do this? Because if you genuinely captivate a child’s attention and then present that child with God’s plan and power, you cannot lose. God’s word, poured into an attentive child’s heart, will not come back void as they grow. I know, because I’ve seen it. As Christians, we must pursue the potential of using animated curriculum in the future, which is another reason we started our animation company. We must continuously press forward, using the latest technology, to present God’s Word through this medium kids love. It’s powerful, it’s captivating, it’s engaging, and with God’s powerful message, it’s life-changing,

Soon, as technology advances, the excuses for not producing animated content will become less and less. When that happens, only those who provide great stories with valuable content will succeed. As Christians, we have the content. We have the message. We have the GOD given creativity to tell great stories. We need to do it. We must recognize within our churches the young animators and storytellers whom God has given the talent to craft creative messages that communicate the love and hope of Christ. We must step up and give them our attention. We need to encourage them with our actions by providing them the technology to learn. We also need to be on the lookout for companies who are striving to use animation to communicate God’s love. And, when we find them, we need to support them by asking them, “What can I do?”.

If you would like to support us in this non-profit ministry of reaching the next generation with essential truths through animation and curriculum, please give by clicking on the Donate Today button on the website ISeeItProductions.com.

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry ISeeIt! Productions Leadership Ministry

A Look Back At 2019 (so far) And How It Led Us To Our First Big Project!

It’s been quite a year! After spending 25 great years in church ministry, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of 2019. In January, all I knew was that GOD was calling me out onto a different path and ministry. And even though there were people who didn’t understand, I completely trusted Him to lead the way. Now, as I look back, I give Him all the praise as He continues to guide me in His beautiful ways. From a worldly perspective, the beginning of 2019 looked like the biggest mistake I could make. But from GOD’S perspective, the beginning of 2019 was a start down a path designed by Him, especially for me. GOD challenged me to step out into the unknown with only my faith in Him to bolster me. Now He leads me down His glorious path. I can’t say that everything has gone perfectly. I still exist in a fallen world where stressors and pressures push on me and try to make me anxious and afraid. But I must say, I have known a peace this last year unlike anything I have known for a very long time, and that is something I would not trade for anything! Philippians 4:7, from the inspired Word of GOD, is a promise everyone must experience. 

So, what does this have to do with our first big project? Well, I’m glad you asked. We have launched a two week Christmas curriculum that teaches kids about the birth of Jesus and the wondrous gift of salvation He offers us. However, we also focus on several keys things that kids need to know, things that will give them a solid foundation for the rest of their lives:

  1. GOD has a purpose for every child’s life. Each child is made unique by Him for a very special reason – to live the life He has designed for him/her to live.
  2. To live out GOD’S purpose for their lives, they first need to become part of His family, which can only come about by accepting His gift of salvation.
  3. To be successful in GOD’S eyes, they must be obedient to His instructions and strive to keep a close relationship with Him.
  4. That they have an incredible task ahead of them in living the life GOD created them to live, and that they should diligently strive to accomplish all the things that only they can achieve.

Kids need to know that their life is blessed and that it is truly wonderful when they live their life for GOD and allow Him to work through them to do His will. That is what these two weeks of “That’s A Wrap” strive to instil in the lives of thousands of kids around the world. 

To Wrap it up (pardon the pun), Christmas is a beautiful holiday of joy, gift-giving, family, and good food. But let’s not forget the most important thing. Christmas is where it all began, and through the birth of GOD’S Son, Jesus, a door was opened so we can experience life the way GOD designed it for us as we walk on His path. What greater gift could we give to children than for them to understand this truth and build their life upon it? 

You can order “That’s A Wrap” at ISeeItProductions.com. Go on and sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you up to date with all the things we are doing!

If you would like to support us in this ministry of reaching the next generation with essential truths like this, you can give by clicking on the Donate Today button on the website.

Children’s Ministry Eternal Thinking Ministry Parenting

The Salvation Story and Christmas

A Salvation presentation at Christmas? Isn’t that a bit heavy to share with your children in church during this season? Christmas is a merry, joyful and happy time; a season of excitement and anticipation. Should we really be talking about the death of Jesus at a time like this?

One word: YES!

Christmas first and foremost is the celebration of the start of the Salvation Story. We all know that Jesus came to this earth to live as a Man while remaining fully GOD, He lived a perfect life. As GOD and Man, He took the punishment for our sins, so that we wouldn’t be required to take the penalty ourselves. Then, on the third day, He rose again and gave us the glorious hope that we too will rise again and be with Him in Heaven for all eternity. When we accept Him as our Savior, His gift of righteousness is placed upon us, and our sins are covered in His blood that was shed on the cross. Therefore, when GOD the Father sees us, He sees only the righteousness of Jesus, allowing us to now have a relationship with Him.

This righteousness that Jesus gives us is a gift that is, and will forever be, the greatest gift we could ever receive. This gift opens up the door to living the life that GOD has for us. A life of fulfillment. A life of selflessly giving ourselves for others in the name of Jesus. A life where GOD promises to do great things through us and ends with us joining Him in Heaven and spending all eternity in a place that is so wonderful even our wildest dreams are but a shadow of its glory. However, in order for the children in your ministry to receive this gift, you must first present it to them. Just telling the story of Jesus being born as a baby doesn’t adequately communicate the point of the gift He is to all of us, a gift that culminated with His sacrifice for us on the cross and resurrection on the third day.

This is why the salvation story should be presented at Christmas. Children look forward to opening presents on Christmas morning. They enjoy the anticipation and the excitement of imagining the fun they will have while playing with those gifts and the happiness the gifts will bring. But those earthly gifts are temporary and fleeting. Children must also be thinking about the greatest gift that was given to them on Christmas morning. They should enjoy the anticipation of the life He promises to provide them. They should also experience the giddiness of looking forward to the beautiful life they will have in Heaven; a place where they will have happiness and joy, unlike any they will ever experience here on earth. 

Jesus is the greatest gift to humanity, and it all started on Christmas morning. Give your children the greatest gift you could ever present to them and allow them to open the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Give them the chance to experience the joy of becoming His child and all the wonderful things that entails. After all, with as many kids who come only twice a year, this may be your only chance to share Jesus’ gift with them. Take advantage of this opportunity to give them the glorious hope they can only find within GOD’S plan for their life.  So once again yes, share the hope of Jesus during this time of year and help every child to see that Salvation is what Christmas is all about!

That’s A Wrap! Christmas series includes the salvation message in lesson 2. Go to iseeitproductions/christmas to learn more.

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry Leadership Ministry Production Uncategorized Volunteers

How do you know when it’s time to go?

For 25 years I was the Children’s Pastor at Fellowship Church. When I started, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that GOD had called me there and my plan was to ultimately retire there. But sometimes GOD’S plans are not our plans, which I discovered anew as He began to challenge my heart to move onto His next adventure for me.

So, this begs the question. What do you do when you think GOD is leading you toward a new future that you never dreamed of? How do you know that it is truly GOD calling you into that future? When you begin anything in life, how do you know that GOD is truly leading you? These are questions that have far-reaching ramifications and if you don’t know the answer to them you will lead a very wandering, unfulfilled life. Recently I addressed these questions with my good friend Tom Bump in his podcast Kid’s Ministry Collective. If you listen to it at 1.5 speed you can be done in 30 minutes or so. My prayer is that by living out these biblical principles you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that GOD’S plan is your plan. Click here to listen

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry Eternal Thinking Leadership

Servant Leadership Basics

For those of us in leadership positions of any kind, this is a great statement on Servant Leadership…

“Yet when we are in charge of people, we are called to be their servant. We must treat others with respect, care for their human needs and seek what is best for them, even as we seek the best for the organization in which we are a leader.” Theologyofwork.org

Seek the best for those we lead as we also seek the best for the organization we represent. A challenging, but worthy goal.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Volunteers

Standing Up – A Beatitude Devotional

We grow up wanting to be like our heroes. We admire them for standing up against any opposition to do the right thing, and riding into town to save everyone. But when it is time for us to saddle up and ride, it suddenly doesn’t feel exciting anymore. When heroes ride in to face the bullets of the bad guys we feel like joining them, but when standing up for what is right means we might face some cross words from co-workers or friends, we feel like backing down. How is it that facing the disapproval of others can sometimes stop us in our tracks as effectively as a hail of bullets?

In moments like that, we need to remember that there is only one opinion that matters and one person’s approval that we must seek – God’s. If we are truly following God, then going against opposition will not be unusual. Jesus told His followers that they would be dragged before courts and rulers and would face opposition and trouble. He also told them that He would be with them and that He would give them the words to say in those situations.

When we face opposition, we need to remember that we are not the Lone Ranger. We don’t have to ride in by ourselves. God is with us. That doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer. But it does mean that we will be blessed and, in the end, we can’t lose.

“For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” Psalm 84:11 (NLT)

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:10 (NLT)

READ: Peter and John Stand Up to the Council – Acts 4:1-22.

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

Work For Peace – A Beatitude Devotional

When I was growing up, if there was a fight at school, our natural instinct was not to stop it, but to gather around and watch. When the teachers would come to break up the fight and restore peace, they would have to fight through our circle to get to the kids who were fighting. It takes a very brave person to be willing to risk getting between those who are fighting, but if we work for peace as Jesus taught about, we won’t let conflicts get to that point.

When conflict arises between two people, as an outsider, the first instinct is to avoid getting involved. The attitude of “not my problem” is popular because it is easy. It’s tempting to think that we won’t be touched by other peoples’ conflict. However, unresolved conflict can destroy relationships, families, companies, and even churches. It doesn’t take long for a conflict across our border to turn into a regional conflict that we can be dragged into even if it isn’t “our problem.” Instead of looking the other way, we should take steps to intervene.

1. Pray that God will give you the right words and that He will help you find a solution.
2. Find out what the problem or the disagreement is.
3. Get everyone to talk calmly and to try and see each other’s point of view.
4. Encourage people to work toward a solution and find a compromise.

These steps will help us to help others resolve conflicts before they turn into fights. Working for peace is hard work, but working for peace identifies us as “children of God”. That should always be our goal.

“And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 (NLT)

“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” Psalm 34:14 (NLT)

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NLT)

READ: Paul Intercedes for Onesimus – The book of Philemon.

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

Refining – A Beatitude Devotional

The process of refining, or purifying, gold is long, difficult, technologically challenging, and hard work. The purest gold in the world was refined at the Perth Mint in Australia in 1957-58 and had a millesimal fineness rating of 999.999. Today a one ounce gold bar from the Perth Mint is worth over $1,700. But gold is not the only product that banks on it’s purity. If you believe the advertisements, there are an awful lot of “pure” products out there. You can buy pure juice, pure Colombian coffee, pure soap, pure diamonds, pure cotton, pure baby food, pure silk, and yes, even pure manure. Then there are products that promise to purify what you have. You can purify your water, your skin, your carpet, your floors, your air, your
hair, and even your digestive tract. Our world is obsessed with purity of every kind, except moral. And we want purity to come easily in a pill form or a plug-in appliance. But just like the process of refining gold, moral purity, the most important kind of purity, takes time, takes maturity, takes work, and takes making hard choices. Pure gold has hardly anything
else in it, because all the impurities have been extracted. If our lives are to be pure, then we need to extract all the impurities.

What is an impurity in your life? Anything that competes with doing what God wants. Anything that competes with going to church, reading your Bible, spending time in prayer, or telling others about Him is something to remove from
your life. Purity is, many times, about saying “no” to some things so that you can say a bigger “yes” to bigger things. Jesus says that the pure in heart will “see God.” When you are saying “no” to things for the sake of purity, remember that seeing God is far more interesting than anything we might miss.

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Psalm 119:9 (NLT)

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

“God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NLT)

READ: Jesus Teaches About Purity – Matthew 15:1-20.

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

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.