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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.

Behind the Scenes Eternal Thinking Leadership Ministry

Forgetting The Past

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, ‭“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬

I was sitting this morning reviewing some of the verses I have committed to memory, verses that over the last several months have calmed my spirit and renewed my focus and passion. As I was going over this particular verse something jumped out at me in a new way that I would like to share, something that we all tend to deal with off and on. It has to do with forgetting the bad things of the past.

It is easy for us to look at the things of the past and start to dwell on them, to allow our minds to be consumed by them. The problem for all of us is that there are always bad things in our past and dwelling on them leads to nothing but misery and anxiousness. Why? Because ultimately those bad things are dead. They exist in a garbage pile and the only power they hold over us is the power we give to them as they call to come and spend time with them. As we listen, we begin to believe their lies that tell us we are weak and that we have no choice, that we must come back to them and experience them again and again. However, when we keep going back and living with them, their rottenness makes us spiritually and emotionally sick inside. We begin to focus only on how bad this garbage makes us feel and we soon fall into a cycle where the worse we feel, the further we are pushed into the dead garbage surrounding us. Now, it is impossible to focus on the future. Instead, we can focus only on our despondent present which is dominated by the past. What a miserable place to be!

Paul says, forget the past! Turn your gaze and your body in the opposite direction and look forward to what lies ahead. Our focus needs to be on the heavenly prize that God has called us to. A prize of hope, joy, peace, eternal contentment and happiness. Our focus needs to be on the GOOD things that will come as we walk in His ways, things that bring life, not the decaying dead things of the past. Christ calls us to a life of victory, not a life of reliving past anxiety, hurt, sadness and bitterness. But to live this life we must look ONLY to the future – to where life resides.

So, to move forward, we must leave behind any betrayal, disappointment, anger, frustration, hurt, or ill feelings toward anyone who has wronged us. We must then set our face toward the bright, shining SON and press on toward the Heavenly prize. We must focus on the great things GOD wants to do with us in the future, the things He promises to do through those who seek Him and serve Him, and press on. For when we walk this path, the dead things will slowly become farther and farther away. Then, praise be to GOD, their cries will eventually be too distant to be heard.

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

Eternal Thinking Leadership Ministry Production

What is the purpose of life?

A few years back, I did a dramatic message called the Game of Life at Fellowship Church. As I was looking through some old drives today, I discovered one of the times I performed it around six years ago. Sherry Horton, a fantastic actress, participated in it with me and did an unbelievable job. When I first wrote the message, GOD had slowed me down with a broken wrist and banged up head (I had fallen off my roof in the rain). During this period, I had a GOD given desire to write something that would allow people to see the beauty of Salvation and how Christianity is the only religion that can make real sense of this crazy world. 

The day that I was to give the message for the first time, I woke up in a panic. The anxiety and spiritual warfare that hit me was almost unbearable. I remember sitting out on our front porch with Karry and telling her I should probably not do this message. The risk was too high for failure. She reminded me of the circumstances involved in GOD giving it to me and encouraged me to step out in faith and trust that GOD would do with it what He choosed. It’s been 15 years since I first performed it, and I believe that GOD brought it across my path because it’s message is something that needs to be shared.

Behind the Scenes DIY ISeeIt! Productions Leadership

Make Any Idea Come To Life

Awhile back a good friend of mine asked me to consider building a tree house for his son. Within a couple of weeks we were standing in his backyard looking at the tree. It was not a very big tree, in fact there was no way it could support a tree house on its own, but immediately the dream of a perfect tree house began to take shape. The little boy in me came alive as we discussed what it might look like and all that it could be. Drew, my friend’s son, added his input – he wanted a rope with a pulley to bring things up into the tree house, he wanted a ladder and a trap door, he wanted to have plenty of room to be able to walk around and use his imagination. My mind began to whirl with the possibilities. Different images filled my head of what this might look like. At that point how it was going to be done didn’t matter, we would figure that out later. Now was just the time to dream. I thought of a pirate ship wheel overlooking the yard, I thought of a pole that could be slid down from the upper deck, I thought of a hot tub (but only for a second), I thought of lights hanging in the tree, a silver bucket carrying up essential supplies from the ground to the upper deck, multiple tiers on the upper level, a sitting area under the tree house that would provide shade from the summer sun. Many ideas flooded into my head, some ludicrous, some simple, some perfect. This was going to be fun.

But in this stage, there is a problem. The first step of any dream is coming up with the IDEA itself, but many times the IDEA never makes it past the Dream stage, it just stays up in your head – happy, lofty, exciting, ready to drift off with the clouds it co-exists with. But we can’t allow this to happen or it will drift away and amount to nothing. We need to grab that IDEA and pull it down from its lofty heights and wrestle with it. Dreams are tough, they take a lot of effort to subdue. Pulling an IDEA into reality is also scary too. What if I get started and can’t see it through? What if I’m not up to the task? What if my abilities won’t take me where I need to go? And the biggest…what if I fail? Ideas are fun to live with when they don’t threaten us and push us to actually do something. But few things in life are worthwhile without ideas that become dreams. Over the years I have found that GOD is a GOD of dreams and that when He gives you a vision He will also provide the resources if you’re willing to take the next step. And this can even apply to something as small as a tree house.

And so, we decided to take the IDEA of this tree house and give it a chance. But, in order to fully pull it down from the clouds to begin wrestling with its possibilities, a few more steps needed to be taken.

(To be continued…)

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.