Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Best Surprise Ever 6: Surprising Price

This is Part Five in a seven-part series of family devotions leading up to Easter.  Here is Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four and Part Five if you need to catch up.  
Verse to Remember: God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NIrV)
Big Idea:  Jesus died to set me free.  
Have you ever tried to sell something you owned?  Maybe a baseball card or a comic book or even an old toy at a garage sale?  Or maybe you set up a lemonade stand on a hot, summer day and tried to sell drinks to your neighbors?  
If you’ve ever sold something, how did you decide what the price would be?  Did you ask your parents to look online to see how much your comic book was worth or ask a friend what they would charge for lemonade?
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter what you charged.  What mattered was how much someone was willing to pay. You could have said your baseball card was worth a million dollars, but if no one was willing to pay that price, it wouldn’t really be worth it.  
2,000 years ago, Jesus showed us how much we are worth to God.  He paid the ultimate price for you and me. He didn’t pay for us with money.  He paid for us with his life.
After Jesus was arrested and taken to Pilate, he was sentenced to die.  He hadn’t done anything wrong, but his enemies were jealous of him. They didn’t want the people to follow Jesus.  They wanted people to follow them.
So Pilate turned Jesus over to the soldiers who beat him and took him to a hill outside of the city.  They nailed Jesus to a wooden cross. Then, the one man who had never done anything wrong, the perfect Son of God, took the punishment for the sin of the world.  
But this was all part of God’s plan.  Jesus had come to earth for this very reason.  He came to earth to pay the price for the bad things you and I have done, so we don’t have to.  He died on the cross so we could be forgiven and free.
Now we can be friends with a perfect God even though we’re not perfect.  Now God’s power can change us to be more like Jesus each day. Now we can be a part of God’s family because Jesus paid the price for us.  
Want to know how much you’re worth to God?  Just look at the cross. Look at Jesus. Remember the price he paid for you and remember you are loved.  
Jesus, you are my Savior.  Thank you for paying the price for the wrong things I’ve done so that I can be a part of your family forever.  I love you, Jesus. Amen.
Talk About It:
  1. What’s the coolest gift you’ve ever received?  Who gave it to you? How did that make you feel?
  2. What gift did Jesus buy for you on the cross?
  3. How can we show Jesus we’re grateful for his gift this week?
 Don’t miss the next devotion in the Best Surprise Ever series.  Subscribe here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kidmin Coffee Break 2: Lattes and Leading Up

The Kidmin Coffee Break is a mini-episode of the Simple Kidmin Podcast, where we sit down over our favorite beverage, catch our breath and get re-energized to lead well in Children's Ministry.

What is your relationship like with your leader, supervisor or boss? This person can either be your greatest ally in Children's Ministry or one of your biggest sources of frustration. In this Kidmin coffee break we will take a look at what the Bible has to say about having the healthiest relationship possible with your leader.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Best Surprise Ever 5: Surprising Kingdom

This is Part Five in a seven-part series of family devotions leading up to Easter.  Here is Part OnePart TwoPart Three and Part Four if you need to catch up.  
Verse to Remember: May your kingdom come.  May what you want to happen be done on earth as it is done in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (NIrV)
Big Idea:  Jesus is the King of Kings, and I can help bring his kingdom to earth.
Have you ever built a sand castle?  It’s a blast to sit on the beach and sculpt your own little kingdom, isn’t it?   You can shape the walls and towers and turrets any way you want. At the end of the day, though, what happens to your kingdom?
It all gets washed away.
Jesus knew that the same thing happens with all the kingdoms of earth.  Countries change names, and get taken over by other countries. Rulers come and go.  But there is one kingdom that never ends. God’s kingdom!
That’s what Jesus was talking about when he was taken to a man named Pontius Pilate.  Pilate was a ruler for the Roman government. After Jesus was arrested, his enemies took him to Pilate because they wanted Pilate to put him to death.  
Pilate asked Jesus is he was king of the Jewish people.  Jesus said he was, but his kingdom wasn’t a kingdom on earth.  It was better. It was a kingdom in heaven. Pilate didn’t understand what he was talking about.  He was too busy trying to keep his job and make all the people happy.
Eventually Pilate gave the people what they wanted.  He knew Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong, but he sentenced him to die on the cross anyway.  But here’s the amazing part. By dying on the cross, Jesus made it possible for us to be a part of his kingdom, a kingdom that never ends!
Pilate and his kingdom are gone now, washed away like a sandcastle on the beach, but 2,000 years later Jesus’ kingdom is still going strong.  Someday Jesus will bring his kingdom to earth and will make everything new.
In the meantime, we get to help people see what God’s kingdom is like when we treat them the way Jesus would.  Every time you love people, serve people and are generous to people, you are bringing heaven to earth a little bit every day.
God, thank you for inviting me to be a part of your kingdom.  Please help me to show people what your kingdom is like by the way I treat them.  Amen.
 Talk About It:
  1. What’s the difference between human kingdoms and God’s kingdom?
  2. What do you think it will be like when Jesus brings heaven to earth?
  3. How can you bring a little bit of heaven to earth for someone this week?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Best Surprise Ever 4: Surprising Forgiveness

This is Part Four in a seven-part series of family devotions leading up to Easter.  Here is Part OnePart Two and Part Three if you need to catch up.    
Verse to Remember: Lord, you are forgiving and good. You are full of love for all who call out to you. - Psalm 86:5 (NIrV)
Big Idea:  Jesus is loving and forgives me when I blow it.
Have you ever had a friend turn their back on you when you needed them most?  Maybe you were having a tough day at school, and they didn't have time to talk to you, or maybe you needed help with a math problem, and they refused.  Maybe someone was picking on you, and instead of standing up for you, they joined in and made fun of you too. If that's ever happened to you, then you know a little bit about how Jesus felt the night he was arrested.
When the soldiers came after Jesus, all of his friends ran away, even Peter, one of his best friends in the world.  Peter had promised that he would never leave Jesus. He said he would stand by his side even if everyone else deserted him.  
But Peter was wrong.  He didn’t just run away. Peter lied and told people he didn’t even know Jesus.  Can you imagine that? What if you got in trouble at school and your best friend told the teacher he wasn't your friend just to keep himself out of trouble?
Would you want to hang out with a person like that?  Probably not. But Jesus did. Jesus loved Peter no matter what, and he knew exactly what Peter was going to do.  Jesus told Peter, “I tell you, Peter, you will say three times that you don’t know me. And you will do it before the rooster crows today” (Luke 22:34NIrV).  
A few verses earlier, however, Jesus told Peter he had already prayed for him and that his story wasn't over.  Jesus said, “When you have turned back, help your brothers to be strong” (Luke 22:32 NIrV).
Jesus didn’t just predict Peter’s failure.  He also predicted Peter’s forgiveness. He told Peter that after he blew it, he would come back to God, and Jesus would give him an important job.  
Think about that. It would be tough to pray for a friend and encourage them knowing they were going to turn their back on you.  It would be even tougher to forgive them. But Jesus did it anyway. He did it for Peter, and he did it for us.
Jesus loves us no matter what we do.  He loves us just as much on the days we make mistakes as he does on the days we get things right.  His forgiveness sets us free to start over again and again and again.

Jesus, you know my sin.  You know everything wrong I’ve ever done and ever will do.  Thank you for loving me anyway and dying for that sin so I can be forgiven and free.  Amen.

Talk About It 
1. What do you think Jesus was thinking when Peter said he would never leave him?
2. Have you ever had a friend disappoint you?  Did you forgive them or did it mess up your friendship?
3. Have you ever disappointed a friend?  How did they treat you?
4. How does it make feel knowing that Jesus will forgive you and help you to start over no matter what?

Don't miss the next devotion in the Best Surprise Ever series.  Subscribe here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Episode 011: Helping 5th Graders Transition from Children's Ministry to Student Ministry

How do you successfully transition kids from Children’s Ministry to Student Ministry?  How can you set 5th graders up to continue to grow as they move into Middle School?  Check out this episode of the Simple Kidmin Podcast to learn how our Children's Ministry partners with Student Ministry to help families have a smooth and successful transition.

Listen in iTunes or right here on the blog.

5th Grade Celebration

One of my favorite things our church does to help 5th grade families transition is a family experience called 5th Grade Celebration.  You can learn all about it on this week's podcast and check out the order of service and some pictures below.

Order of Service
  • Pre-Service
    • Slideshow of 5th Graders (baby picture and current picture)
    • Ice Cream Bar
    • Photo Booth
  • Service
    • Time Machine Game
    • "God Is" Activity (celebrating what God has done in the past)
    • "Hello, My Name Is" Activity (celebrating 5th graders' identity in Christ in the present
    • Bible Teaching - 1 Samual 17:37
    • Family Prayer Time (families gather to pray over their 5th grader's future)
    • Student Pastor prays over families
    • Closing Countdown / Confetti Moment
    • Dismiss

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Best Surprise Ever 3: Surprising Power

This is Part Three of a seven-part series of family devotions leading up to Easter.  Click here to subscribe to the series.  You can catch up with Part One and Part Two here.

Verse to Remember: So God lifted him up to the highest place.  God gave him the name that is above every name. - Phil 2:9 (NIrV)

Big Idea:  Jesus is all-powerful and always in control.

What if you had a secret identity that no one else knew about?  Like maybe you were a ninja or a superhero or secret agent, but you just went to school and hung out with regular kids and nobody knew the truth.

Then imagine if a kid started picking on you or even started a fight.  Boy, would they be in for a big surprise!  They would have no idea who they were messing with until it was too late.
The same thing happened to the group of Roman soldiers sent to arrest Jesus.  They had no idea who they were messing with.  They thought they were just going out to arrest some teacher their bosses didn’t like, but when they arrived in the garden, they found someone very different.

Jesus knew the soldiers were coming. It was all part of God’s plan to save the world. When Jesus saw them approaching the garden, he didn’t run or hide.  He went out to meet them.

Here’s what the Bible says happened next:

“‘Who are you looking for?’ he asked.

‘Jesus the Nazarene,’ they replied.

‘I am he,’ Jesus said . . . As Jesus said ‘I am he,’ they all drew back and fell to the
ground” (John 18:4-5, NLT).

Why did a group of big, tough soldiers fall to the ground?  Because of Jesus’ power.  Jesus spoke with such strength and authority, these battle-hardened warriors collapsed like a bunch of wet noodles.  They knew they were in the presence of someone awesome.

Yet, Jesus let them arrest him anyway.  At any moment he could break free or call down an army of angels to take these guys down, but he didn’t.  He chose to follow God’s plan to save the world. Jesus’ friends, however, got scared and ran away.  They forgot that Jesus is all-powerful and that he is still in control even when bad things happen.

Sometimes bad things happen to you and me too.  Sometimes we may hear about scary things going on in the world.  But that’s when we need to remember that Jesus is bigger and stronger than any bad thing.  He made the universe.  He is the King over everything, and he loves us and will help us no matter we face.

Jesus, you are all-powerful.  There is no one bigger or stronger than you.  Help me to remember you are in control even when scary things happen that I don’t understand.  Amen.

Talk About It
  1. How do you think the soldiers felt when they first met Jesus?
  2. What are some thing that scare you right now?
  3. How can you remind yourself of Jesus’ power when you’re worried or afraid?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Best Surprise Ever 2: Surprising Courage

Verse to Remember: No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! - John 10:18 (CEV)
Big Idea: Jesus is courageous and can help me to be courageous too.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?  Maybe you stood up to a bully or stayed in your bed even though you were scared of the dark.  It could be the time you told the truth even though you knew you would get in trouble.  Or the day you chose to do the right thing when everyone around you was doing what was wrong.

Being courageous isn’t easy.  Sometimes it means doing hard things or scary things even when we don’t want to.

Jesus had to decide once if He was going to be courageous.  His Father had sent Him to earth to save the world, but there was only one way to do it.  He would have to die in our place.  See, everyone on earth had done wrong things, and those wrong things kept us from being friends with God.

The only way to save us was for someone to take the punishment for the bad things we’ve done, someone who had never done anything bad himself.  Jesus was the only person qualified to do the job.  He was the only sinless human ever, and he is the Son of God.

Jesus knew if he went through with God’s plan, he would be beaten, nailed to a cross and, worst of all, be separated from his Father for the first time ever.

Jesus had a big decision to make.  He went to a garden to pray and talk to his Father about it.  He said, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want” (Matthew 26:39 NIrV).

That was a courageous prayer.  Jesus asked God three times if there was another way to save the world, and three times he told his Father that he would do whatever God wanted him to do.

There was no other way, so Jesus did the courageous thing.  He obeyed his Father and carried out his plan.  He died on the cross for you and me.  He took the punishment for every wrong thing we would ever do so that we can be forgiven and be friends with God forever.

Jesus’ courageous choice saved the world.  

God, thank you for sending Jesus.  Thank you that he made the courageous choice to die for me.  Please help me to have the courage to do hard things too.  Amen.

Talk About It
1. How do you think Jesus felt when he was praying in the garden?
2. When has it been hard for you to do the right thing?
3. How can we follow Jesus’ example when we have a tough choice to make?

Don't miss the next devotion in the Best Surprise Ever series.  Subscribe here.