I wish I had pictures of the kids making these to go along with the Pumpkin Prayer! They had more fun than I expected.
This month has been all about taking Halloween and turning our focus towards God. Yesterday the kids sat in a circle while they listened to the Pumpkin Prayer and watched as the Jack-O-Lantern was carved. I cheated. Before getting with the kids, I had already cut the top off and cleaned out the inside leaving just enough to pull out for that part of the prayer. If I had thought about it, I would have roasted the seeds and let the kids eat them while listening and watching. I cut the eyes as we talked about “opening our eyes” to see God’s love and cut the mouth as we talked about “sharing” God’s word. You get the idea. And at the end, I placed a flashing LED light inside for the kids to see our lights shining for God in all we say and do!
Then it was their turn. No, I was not too comfortable with the idea of handing a bunch of elementary kids sharp objects… so I passed out miniature pumpkins and these awesome acrylic paint markers so the kids could draw their Jack-O-Lanterns to take home with the Pumpkin Prayer. (And down the road they can use the markers to make prayer rocks or story stones.) Then I emailed the Pumpkin Prayer to the parents suggesting that as a family they carve pumpkins as they go through the prayer. We will see how many give it a shot!
Do you have parents reaching out to you for ideas? Are they looking for ways to raise their children with God included regularly? I remember as a young parent, I sure was! I wanted my kids to grow into fine young Christians, but was not quite sure how.
I was recently given a book called, “Around the Word in 60 Seconds,” a tween devotional book. My kids have grown, but man I could have used this! There are 52 weeks of stories about things tween’s deal with in life. Each week you will find a scripture followed by a short story that a tween can relate to. There’s even an action item and prayer. Then, each day of the week there is another verse and a question to think over helping kids think about how God’s word applies to them instead of them feeling like they are not ready for God.
I am providing a link if you are interested, but honestly, there are many options out there. Parents just need to dedicate 10 minutes a day with their kids to talk about God in their lives. Just 10 intentional minutes a day will go a long way. And let’s be honest, in this culture, we need to arm our children with the Armor of God more than ever before.
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Why is it that God’s timing seems to be so different from ours? We have such grandiose ideas and if God would just bless them now, then I could do great things for Him. As I pondered this thought, I turned to the scriptures for answers. I must admit I was not thrilled at the answer, but I was comforted.
God loved Abram. He was a good man, but he and his wife could not have children. And we all know that in that culture, this was highly frowned upon. No children, yet God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, the father of many, and promised him he would have so many descendants they could not be counted. They would be as many as the stars, yet God had not even given them a single child to date. Instead of trusting God to keep his promise, they took matters into their own hands. How often do we try to do this too? And problems came from that calamity of errors; however, God worked through it and eventually blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, Isaac. This led to a long line of descendants making him the father of many. If we stick with God’s plan, things will be simpler, but God is bigger than our faults and can bring about good in spite of ourselves. Just remember, the path may be bumpier.
Later in scripture we read about the Israelites. They disobeyed God so He allowed them to become slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Wow! That’s a long time. But God promised them he would rescue them and eventually, He did. He sent Moses to present the 10 plagues until Pharaoh let God’s people go. They crossed the Red Sea and were free. Of course, they complained. What God provided at that point was not good enough in their opinion. They were impatient. We know the story; God was not finished yet. They suffered some consequences but God gave them beautiful land, land flowing with milk and honey. We need to be patient and trust God’s plan for our lives.
Now let’s take a look at Joseph. He was living the good life! He parents were in love and Joseph was his father’s favorite son. Then one day his jealous brothers sold him into slavery. What an amazing attitude Joseph had though. He trusted God and God took excellent care of him. The Pharaoh trusted him with everything! Then because of someone else’s lie, Joseph ended up in prison. From there, Joseph still appears to have had a good attitude, trusting God. It took years, but God worked him back into a position above all but the Pharaoh. Joseph went through some very troubling times, unfair times. He did not say, “It’s just not fair,” and quit. No, he simply continued to trust God’s plan. We are God’s hands and feet on earth and need to allow God to work through us for His purpose.
I could go on and on with examples of God providing for His people… in His time. I have so many things I want to accomplish for His church; so many children I want to reach with His word. I will continue to pray for speedy results, but I find it comforting knowing that God has a plan and will bless His ministry the way He chooses in His time. I just need to be ready when He calls. I need to be prepared to be His hands and His feet. Remember, the hands and feet are not the brains. Let’s let God do His job and work through us.
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading “Is Children’s Ministry THAT Important?”
Good Reads! Learn more about this generation:
Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World
Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation by Barna Group
It’s a new year and with every new year we set goals with plans to be better people and accomplish more in our lives. As Christians, we plan to be better servants of Christ. This may mean studying more, putting more focus on our prayer lives, being more hospitable, attending worship more often… the list goes on. As Christian parents, we may set goals to help our children become more spiritual, to love God more deeply and to learn more so they are prepared for the struggles in life that lie ahead. We want them to be more involved with their Christian friends. As children’s ministry leaders, we set goals to more effectively reach the children in our church and community with the word of God, praying we will make a big enough impact that it becomes ingrained in their hearts. We want to prepare them for life as well. This means intentional parenting and teaching. I would like to take a moment to reflect on what God says about our children.
Matthew 18:1-6 (NASB): 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Probably was not the answer the disciples were looking for as they wondered which of them was greatest. A child is humble and innocent. In the first few verses, we see that Christ expects his servants to be humble like children. Look at how he sees children, as valuable and having the right nature of a Christian, humility.
In the second set of verses we see that Christ understands a child to be innocent and believing. They will continue to learn more and more about God, developing a deeper love for God… unless someone gets in the way. Anyone causing an innocent child to doubt and take the wrong path should be concerned. It is obvious from these verses that God seriously frowns upon this. Think about it. This is the time when our children are most open to God. This is the time when we need to consistently teach and reinforce our mighty, loving God to our children. In fact, studies show that by the time a child is 13, he or she has already decided who they believe in and what their values are. So, those of us who believe it’s not that important to attend bible class and talk about God daily at home while our kids are young may want to reprioritize.
Matthew 18:10-11 (NASB): 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 [For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]
I love these verses. God really believes children are valuable, after all, they are the next generation of His church. He has angels watching over them, over their souls. But remember, God gave us free choice so as parents and ministry leaders, we choose whether or not to lead a child to God and we know too well what happens in most instances where parents did not choose to make it a priority to lead their children to God. Often times it’s not even that parents don’t believe in God, it is that they did not show their children that God is the most important part of life and nothing comes between us and God. Actions don’t line up with God being most important.
It takes raising children with intention. We can’t sit back and go with the flow. No! Our children’s spiritual welfare, their souls, are important. Think about how much effort is put into making our kids believe in Santa Claus. Now think about how much effort is put into making sure our kids believe in God and know who He is. This can be very convicting. It is a new year, a new start. Begin this year with your number one goal to be raising kids for Christ. Do it with intention and see how much it impacts your family.
Need a suggestion? Here’s a simple, 365-day devotional book you can read with your kids. They are short, but powerful devotionals and remind your kids daily that God is an important part of your lives.
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