Category Archives: Devotion and Faith Building

Sunset At The Beach

Have you ever watched the setting of the sun at the beach?

It is such a beautiful site.

We spent a November evening on a North Carolina beach watching the sun go down.

The Fall air was cool and crisp, but we didn’t let that hinder our joy.

There is something very special and exciting about being at the water’s edge.

The colors in the sky were beautiful!

The smell of the ocean and the sensation of breathing in the salty air is a completely different experience than our day to day experience.  If feels energizing, like it is renewing something inside the body and the mind.

I could watch the ocean and sky for hours and never get tired of the view.

The sand feels amazing and was cool to the touch.  We collected some seashells along the beach.

We saw a flock of pelicans flying above us.

Even though it was chilly, we decided to get our feet wet.

We tried to catch the waves coming into the shore.

The waves and the pull of the under tow current were quite powerful and knocked us off our feet several times.

One fella didn’t want to get wet.  He said it was too cold.

But the rest of the group was eager to get wet from head to toe even though we only agreed to get our “feet” wet.

Even though the water was cold and the current was strong, I enjoyed getting my feet in the water too.  The waves kept a constant rhythm with perfect timing.

It felt so peaceful.

We enjoyed an evening walk on the beach and walked to a fishing peer not far from where we played.

The sun set was stunning behind the peer.

It gave the appearance of a glowing fire off in the distance.

The fishing peer went out so far and then was blocked at the end.  It seemed as if the peer would have gone further, but perhaps had been lost in a storm.

Even though a major hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, had come through days earlier,  the rest of the peer was still in good standing and many folks were using it for fishing and enjoying the evening.

I loved the contrast of the peer and the evening sky and ocean waves.

You could sense the determination of this peer to withstand whatever the elements of nature could beat it with.

The structure seemed to rebel against the constant waves, the salty air, and the gusts of wind.

The setting sun was gorgeous!  It peered through the dark clouds sandwiched between the sky and the water.

This experience reminds us of what it might of been like at the beginning. The bible talks about the beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:1-10

Looking away from the sun, in the opposite direction, the sky and the water seemed to be a reflection of each other, a matching blue that seemed to go on forever.

But looking towards the sunset, the colors were vibrant and seemed layered like a rainbow that had been deconstructed.


Sitting above the waves, felts as if we were sitting on them.   Resting on the benches of the peer was a special experience. 

The peer puts you out on the water, away from the shore.

Though you are sitting still, everything around you is in motion and has a rhythm of it’s own.  Everything is moving with a beat, the water, the sky, the salty air on your face, and the sound it all makes has a nourishing rhythm that feeds the soul.

All your senses are enhanced and focused on the beat, the soothing sound of the moving water and the amazing colors of the sky.


After we watched the sun set, we walked up the beach a little bit further for some food.  Later we came back outside to watch the beach in the darkness.

We sat on the steps of a small gazebo looking out over the water.  It was so peaceful.

A long way out, there was a small twinkle of light from ships on the water. 

We could also see the lights of the fishing peer reflect on the water.

But otherwise, we could no longer depend on our eyes to understand our environment.  We could not see the sky, and we could not see the water, we could only sense they were still there in the darkness.

Instead of using our eyes, we tuned our ears to the sounds of the night.  All we could hear was the familiar sound of the waves hitting the beach in a soothing rhythm.  It was peaceful.

The older kids and I wanted to stay outside all night, but the younger kids and daddy were getting sleepy, so it was time to head inside.  Bedtime seemed to come too quickly, yet we welcomed the end of this day feeling relaxed and renewed.

We definitely want to experience the sun setting on the beach again soon.

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Jesus Rescues The Lost

If you would like to motivate and encourage your kids to learn stories from the bible, I would encourage you to read Bible stories with your kids and make the stories into Unit Studies.  Unit Studies are cross-curricular and subjects (such as math, history, art, science, language, etc) follow a central theme and are adaptable so they are great for teaching all ages.

For example, if you are learning about apples, all the curriculum subjects will have an apple theme.  You might do apple math, or apple science, or apple history, or write a poem about apples, etc.  Unit Studies are hands on,  they can be as simple or specialized as you design them to be, and they help children retain what they have learned.  You can teach preschool, elementary, middle and high school all at the same time by varying the level of difficulty of the worksheets, experiments, and reading materials.

This school year we are doing lots of Unit Studies with a bible story theme. Each Unit Study is different, with different themes, but they all center around a theme that came from the bible.  For example, if we are learning about musical instruments, we might choose the ones found in the bible, or if we are learning about castles or fortresses, then we can choose a story or few stories in the bible that mention this and then build on our learning about the history and construction of fortresses.  Perhaps we want to learn about the eyes and we focus on sight and the brain, calculate vision, learn about colors and light,  the disease of blindness, and the miracles of healing sight of the blind that Jesus did.

If you have younger kids, an easy teaching resource like the illustrated The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz is a wonderful way to get started.   It contains 90 Bible stories at an affordable price of $16.99.   They also have The Beginner’s Bible Website for families and teachers to use with lots of coloring pages and activities for free to compliment the stories you are reading.

A quick search on the interenet will provide you with lots of other ideas you can add to your Unit Study as you build it such as more free printables, lesson plans, craft and recipe ideas, etc. and you can use many of the printables to create lapbooks or keepsake notebooks of their projects too.

The stories in The Beginner’s Bible are written in a simple to understand way and include colorful illustrations that engage the kids and keep their interest.   So I wanted to use this as the foundation of the Unit Study learning projects and built additional materials I found into our learning adventure.

Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study & Lapbook

We took advantage of all of the free printables and suggested activities from The Beginner’s Bible Website.   They have lot of resources to choose from including two FREE sample curriculum lesson plans.  They sell a curriculum kit too.  We do not have the kit, but the free lesson plans give you a great teaching format to use to build your own lessons.

I printed out the free lesson plan called “Jesus Rescues the Lost” and created our own unit study.   These resources are made especially for The Beginner’s Bible and help kids understand the stories and truths even more as the activities engage more of their senses (listening, coloring, drawing, eye hand coordination, decision making, etc) in a hands on way.

I made a “Bible Teaching Binder” for myself, and a “Bible Lapbook” for the kids with all of these wonderful free printables.   On the front of the binder I put the suggested reading schedule.   Inside the binder I put the printalbes and any lesson plans I find or create myself.

I keep all of the Unit Study and Lapbook materials in a basket, with pencils, crayons, markers, glue, etc with our Bible so we can easily set this up for our learning time each day.  I also put in any other resources we will be using that relates to the story such as a science experiment, crafts supplies, recipes we will make and other activities, and other books related to the subject we are learning.  There are lots of varieties of ways you can set this up easily so if you don’t like the basket idea, then you could put the printables in folders or daily workboxes or use another method that works in your home.

My binder is huge and will hold all the lesson plans from the Unit Studies I create using The Beginner’s Bible.  I added dividers to help me stay organized.  I kept the first section inside the binder for the Unit Study we are currently working on.  This is where I put a copy of the free lesson plan “Jesus Rescues the Lost” in my teaching binder.  The lesson came with 8 pages of free lesson plans!   Next, I added in various coloring pages and other printables and craft ideas and directions.  I will use the additional sections in the binder the same way for more lesson plans as we create more bible themed studies.  I plan to have about a years worth of plans in the binder by the time we are finished.   The kids will have completed about 30 Unit Studies and 30 Lapbooks by the time we are finished.

The “Jesus Rescues the Lost” Lesson Plan suggested reading three of the stories from The Beginner’s Bible and watching a video, a list of several “Bible Verses” to read from a regular Bible, and a “Memory Scripture Verse” for the kids to memorize, as well as a helpful “Teaching Point” to focus the lesson on.   The lesson plan provided me with a master supply list for activities, and suggested optional supplies for craft projects (we made sheep puppets and a shepherd staff), printouts, and a skit for the kids to act out with props, and a take home family page.  You could spend a week on this lesson, or take three weeks while focusing on understanding one story each week.

The Unit Study in Action

Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study based on the illustrated stories in The Beginner’s Bible and the free lesson plan and suggested printables from the website:

Bible Reading and Speaking:

Read 3 bible stories outloud:  “The Lost Sheep“; The Good Samaritan“; and “The Lost Son“.

Audio Video Observation:

Watched the Free Video for Lesson Plan#23  Jesus Rescues the Lost.

Watched a video about the modern life of sheep in Idaho. This video goes over many different things such as economics, land management, herd management, wool, and contains interviews with the sheep farmers too.

History:

Learned about the history of shepherding sheep.

Math:

Counting: Younger kids counted cotton balls to represent sheep’s wool.

Graphing: Older kids learned to make a graph that followed the sale price of sheep over a period of time.   They also made a graph for the lambs showing the amount of food the sheep eats compared to the rate of growth.

Science:

Learned the major body parts of sheep.

We found this worksheet on Page 23 of a 4H manual we found online and it has worksheets for different animals.

http://www.ohio4h.org/sites/ohio4h/files/d6/files/publications/documents/4H_959_Chapter_2.pdf

Learned nutrition and health care of sheep.

Writing:

Practice writing pages.  Here my youngest son is practicing the letter “P” from the story of “The Lost Son” about the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance and ended up in a pig pen and later returned to his father who welcomed him home.

Additional letters to practice are: J (Jesus), R (rescue, redeem), L (lost), I (inheritance), H (healing), S (Samaritan, shepherd, save, and sheep).

We also practices spelling the word “sheep” with this printable.

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sheep-handwriting-worksheet-0

Older children could practice rewriting the entire story on notebook paper, or writing it in cursive for additional writing practice.

This is a cute writing page you can add to your Lapbook or notebook.

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sheep-notebooking-page

Arts and Crafts:

Colored print out pages from The Beginner’s Bible website that correspond to the stories we read.  In this picture, my daughter is coloring a page from the story “The Lost Sheep”.

Created paper sheep puppets with printouts included.  You can glue cotton balls onto the sheep (younger kids can practice counting the cotton balls) and put construction paper on the back and attached to a popsicle stick, and the children can hold onto the stick to retell the story. You can also glue the printout to a toilet paper roll and that helps the sheep stand up on their own.

Lapbook:

We used two folders and some glue and created a Jesus Rescues the Lost Bible Story Lapbook to store their finished learning activities.  If we continue to create lapbooks like this for the entire illustrated Bible, combining two or three stories per lapbook, the kids will have 30+ Bible Unit Studies and Lapbooks for the year.

Building Diorama:

The last step in our learning adventure of Jesus Rescues the Lost, was to create a Lego sheep and shepherd diorama and use them to retell the bible story of Jesus (the shepherd) looking for the lost sheep (us).

 

Building with Legos or other building blocks to create scenes from a story you have read is so much fun.

Movie Creation:

I hope to have time for the older boys create a movie with these props they made where they can record their own retelling of the story.  They love to make stop motion animation movies with Legos.   We ran out of time to make the movie, but I hope we have it completed soon for a followup story.

Optional ideas to include in this Unit Study are:

Field Trip ideas: take a field trip to a sheep and goat farm

Crafts and activities ideas: that would make this project lots of fun such as make a donkey, horse, pigs, a farm, a special ring, a shepherd staff, create a money bag, etc.  Older kids would have fun creating (sewing or crafting) costumes to use to retell one of the stories.  Perhaps they could also wear the costume and retell the story to a homeschool coop class or at a family gathering.

Math ideas: you could practice counting sticks to make a fence or pig pen, or count money in a money bag.   Perhaps they could figure out a pretend hospital bill for services and supplies used for the injured man.

Science and Health ideas: You could also learn about health by making a first aid kit or herbs for healing supplies to care for the wounds of the injured man and nurse him back to health.  You could learn about bacteria and healing wounds and learn the feed rations, nutrition, and digestion for pigs, sheep, and horses.

Cooking: You could also throw a feast and serve guests to represent the father welcoming home the prodigal son.  You could research meals that were served to back in bible times to include in your feast.   You could wear the costumes you made or decorate the table with the crafts and props you made.

Be sure to check out my review story of The Beginner’s Bible and also the Noah and the Lego Ark story for more great ways to encourage bible learning with your kids.

There are so many fun ways to create a Unit Study with this illustrated Bible as the central foundation for your themes.  I am very pleased with how this has turned out and I think this is a wonderful way to learn.  I think Unit Studies and Lapbooks are a special way for kids to share what they have learned, and store the worksheet pages they have completed.

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Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year!

May you seek first

this year of 2017

JESUS

He is Yahuah,

the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,

the only begotten son of God the Father,

the only way to eternity with God.

Seek Jesus,

while he may still be found.

 He is right at the door.   

May your New Year

2017

be filled with Jesus

and blessings beyond measure!

 

 

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New Beginnings

I’m spending time reflecting on this past year, as 2016 winds down and 2017 begins.  It has been a busy year.   Many goals have been met, and some left unmet, as life events have come and gone.

Normally at this time of year, I spend time prioritizing and writing goals and setting new routines for the year ahead.   I still have much left over from last year that I want to achieve in this coming year.   It would be easy to feel disappointed.  But if I allowed myself to be disappointed in areas I see a lack of progress, it would be non-productive at this point.

I can’t be disappointed that I didn’t get it all done, because truly no one can do it all.  It is a lie to believe that you can do everything you want to do.  Unless you are financially wealthy, there is a reality for most people that puts some boundaries and financial limitations on goals.  No one knows what tomorrow may bring or what next week or next month will look like.  We can try to shape the future, setting goals and new routines, but the truth is that the future is not 100% within our control.

If you are discouraged about a lack of progress toward your goals, don’t let it get you down.  Your value is not in the goals you achieve or don’t achieve. Your value is not in the amount of money you earn.  Your value is not even in what other’s think of you.  Look for your answers in God’s word, the bible.

Your true value is what God says about you.   You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.  He was there when you were knitted together.  He knows every hair on your head.  He knows what you need before you do.  He is always there ready to assist you in the challenges you walk through in life.

TRUST

I  have come to learn that the true measure to look at your life with is what Jesus said. Everything about life and eternity is summed up in his words.  If you want to know the truth, FOCUS on the words of Jesus in the scriptures and I promise it will change your whole entire perspective!

Jesus taught us to pray this prayer with complete trust in Father God:

“Our Father, who are in heaven,

Hollowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done.

On earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation.

Deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.

FOREVER!

Amen!”         (Matthew 6:9-13)

 

Don’t Worry Be Happy!

I am thankful my life is 100% in the hands of God the Father, and I don’t have to worry about the future.   I am thankful that HE knows the future and I can trust Him completely even though I do not know the day or hour of events in my own life until they happen.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek.

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6:24-34)

I am thankful for the new year ahead.  I am thankful for new beginnings, and I am thankful that I am totally secure in spending eternity with God through salvation in his son Jesus who gave his life for me and rescued me from sin and eternal damnation.  I have hope and I have a future in HIM!

I am ready for the new beginnings that Father God ordains for my life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  I am not the author of my story.  I am not my own god.  He wrote the story and he knows it from start to finish, and I trust him with my life completely.

I encourage you today to pray to Father God, to lay down your worries, and trust him with your life, your goals, your desires, and trust him with all of your new beginnings too.

Be blessed!

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Be Encouraged

I want to encourage you today to keep going and not give up.  Whatever struggle you may be facing in your life, trust your life in God’s hands and believe in his son Jesus.  Believe God is in control, and he can reach you right where you are at,  believe that he wants a wonderful future for you and he will protect and guide you when you put your life and your hope in him.

Circumstances do not define who you are and are not an indicator of your value.  People’s opinions don’t define you either.  Instead of these thoughts, only allow what God your creator says about you to define you.  His written word, the bible, says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He says he has a hope and a future for you and he will direct your path when you seek his counsel. He will answer you when you call on him, and he will show you many things that you did not know.

We are stewards of what we have been given.   We need to be good stewards of these gifts no matter what the circumstance looks like.  Some people have been given more, and some less. But no matter how much we have been given, we can be the best stewards of it today.  Because when we care for what we have, even if it is very little, we multiply the blessings it produces.

Perhaps all we have in our ability today is to choose to have joy.  That is HUGE!   By choosing joy,  you will see it multiply for yourself and it will multiply in the lives of  those around you. This simple choice can bring huge blessings into your life and give you a lot of hope beyond measure even in the toughest situations.   Being joyful is contagious and it can change the way we feel and the way others feel who come in contact with us.

Even if the only thing we have control over is the body we live in, we can choose to be the best steward of that body as we can be, and we will reap a blessing.   We are given one body to live in. We each have different gifts and talents, but we are similar to each other in that we have a body, and it is fragile at the same time it is strong.   We can learn to be good stewards of this body and multiply the blessings in our health and our emotions.

How can you be a good steward of your physical body?  We can learn how to nourish it, rest it, challenge it, strengthen it, and care for it. We can be good stewards of our body, multiply the blessings, and overcome limitations, illness, neglect, and injuries, and be the best we can be.

Perhaps all that we have today is a loaf of bread, then we can share it and see the blessing multiply in another person’s life too.

Hope, Faith, and Blessings

There is a story in the bible about a widow who only had a little flour and oil left to make one meal of bread for herself and her sons.  There had been a long drought and everyone was out of grain and out of money and she knew that their life was over and there was no hope of any food even in the near future because there was no rain to plant and grow any future crops and no money to buy food even if anyone had some to share.

So in desperation she planned her last meal.  But in the midst of her despair, God heard her and sent a messenger, a prophet of God.  He told her to go ahead and “make the last meal”, but to give some of it to him.   Do what?  This was all she had, and her family was about to die, so how could she give this away?  But letting go, and placing her trust in God and his plan for a better future for her, she obeyed the instructions.

 

1 Kings 14 : 7-16

“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.  Then the word of the Lord came to him:  “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”  So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”  As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”   “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”  Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”  She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”

It is an incredible story of doing our best in the midst of terrible circumstances, sharing the best (even if all we have is very little) we have to bless another person and meet their need, and putting our trust and faith in God to work out the outcome, in return, we will reap a huge blessing!

Be encouraged today, that no matter what your situation may look like,  by acting on your faith in God as your provider, healer, deliverer, multiplier, protector, and the source of life within you, he will reach into your situation and deliver you.   He says his arm is not short!  His arm is long enough to reach you right where you are.  With the help of the Lord, you can and will overcome and reap a blessing that is more wonderful than you have imagined!

Be blessed!

 

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Through the Narrow Gate

The Lord God offers you eternal life.  The only door into his eternal kingdom is a narrow gate.

The path to the narrow gate is straight.  You can’t turn to the right or left as you walk along, because it will send you in a different direction.  To reach the gate, the doorway of the kingdom, you must stay on the straight path.  The path of the road is not fancy, and it has ups and downs, hills and valleys.   But if you keep walking straight ahead, and don’t look back, you will find the gate.

 

One sure way to miss the gate is to get off the straight path.  For example, the path of personal gain and worldly possessions will lead us a different way.

Mathew 19:16-22

“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”   “Which ones?” he inquired.  Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”  “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (NIV)

To find the gate, you must seek Jesus, the only son of God, as your savior, believe in him and repent of your sins, and follow him.  He asks that you love God with all your heart, forgive others, and love others as you love yourself meeting their needs.  He is the light of the world and he lights the path God wants people to follow.

John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (NIV)

Be blessed today and seek to enter the narrow gate and follow the one who saves and gives eternal life!  His name is Jesus. 

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Noah and the Lego Ark

Got building blocks, Legos, or craft supplies?

Then get your kids busy reading, building, and re-telling bible stories!  Check out The Beginner’s Bible, or another youth bible you have on hand, for an easy to use resource for kids.  This is a great way to build family time together and a great way to incorporate daily devotions into your kids learning.  Your kids will have so much fun interacting with the bible stories and building props and seeing the stories come to life!

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Noah’s Ark is a great story to retell with Lego’s because just like your child building with blocks of different sizes, Noah was also a builder and he built a big boat with different sizes of wooden boards.  In addition to building the largest boat ever created, called an Ark, Noah was also a husband, a father, and the “ultimate prepper” and “homesteader” and he had to store feed and safely house and care for a huge amount of animals as well as his whole family for an entire year on the floating zoo-boat /house-boat called the ark.  The story of Noah and the ark can be found in Genesis 6, 7, and 8.    As they read the bible, kids will learn about the man called Noah, his faith in God, and also about righteousness, judgement of sin, and God’s plan to save a pure remnant of the human race that were willing to put their faith in him.

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God told Noah it was going to rain, and it would become a flood that would wipe out every living thing on the earth.  Noah was instructed to build a big ark (boat) and he was given the blueprints with detailed instructions to create it.  He built different size pens inside the ark and he was given instructions to save two pairs of every wild animal, three pairs of every “clean” animal,  seven pairs of animals that were to be sacrificed, and to also save his family including his wife, three sons, and their wives, by loading them all onto the ark before the start of the worldwide flood.

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God told Noah that people had become evil and violent and he must cleanse the earth and wipe them out with the flood.  He could no longer stand to live with mankind and watch their evil deeds.   God caused the earth and sky to give forth water for 40 days and nights to flood the earth.  But God promised to protect Noah’s family and anyone righteous who had faith to believe in God.  God gave Noah the plan.  He gave him the specific dimensions, told him what wood to use, and how to build it and save his family and the animals.  His sons helped him build the ark, but the rest of the world mocked him as he worked and preached and did not help him.

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Noah preached and preached to the people about God and the coming flood, but no one believed him and they did not turn from their wickedness and did not worship God. They had never seen rain or a flood before.   They did not care about doing right.  They did not turn away and repent of their wicked sins.  They did not want to trust that Noah had heard the truth from God.  They thought Noah was out of his mind to believe a God they could not see, and believe in a flood and rain that had never happened before, and work so hard to obey God and build a big boat.

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If you don’t have Lego’s on hand, make your boat with paper, or other recycled materials you have on hand, or use other toys your kids might have in their collections.  Besides building a boat, they might have mini characters, and animals, trees, etc. they can also use.  Perhaps they can also create items to represent the weather changes, the flood, and make a rainbow too.   You can use as many props as you want to add to the effect of retelling the story.

Another wonderful way to use this learning opportunity is Language Arts (have the kids read, re-write the story), Science (weather, engineering, physics), Arts and Crafts (create Noah’s Ark themed art and craft projects), Math (how many legos?,  build to scale, use grid paper and draw their own blueprints to scale, etc), Geography (draw or color a map of where Noah was from and where the ark landed), Movie Making (use props and make stop motion animation), Unit Study and LapBook, and have the kids Share their project with Grandparents, Neighbors, and Sunday School class too.  There are lots of ways this method of learning can be used and incorporated into your curriculum.

Your kids will really enjoy this activity.  In addition to building up their faith as they read the bible, kids can relate in a hands on way as they put the story in action and retell the story with their own mini-size boat.

Here are a few Noah and the Ark themed videos we found:

Noah and the Ark Bible Story Animated by Beginner’s Bible

Noah’s Ark Lego Movie Trailer

Arts and Crafts

Noah Preschool Paper Plate Craft and Story

 

Online Bible

If you don’t have a printed copy of the bible, check out Bible Gateway for a digital online version.  You can read it from your computer and your phone and digital reading devices.

You can choose from several languages and several versions to use.   They also offer free bible studies and a free verse of the day they will email you if you desire.

Lapbook and Unit Study

will update more soon.

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Casting Stones

“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Said by the wisest man who ever lived.

He is the living word of God, and his name is JESUS.

casting-stones

(photo source: Morning Star Ministries)

Over the years, I have heard many Christians say mean things about other Christians.  It is sometimes heart breaking to hear their judgmental reasons for choosing leaders, churches, politicians, based on who they think is a better Christian.  But the Savior himself said we are not to judge others, instead we are to forgive them.

I read an article about a young Christian man who made a serious mistake when he was young. At the time he made the mistake, he came forward and repented of his mistake and sought forgiveness and help from his church and family.  However his life and the lives of those he hurt was deeply scared by his actions.  Though several years had passed, and because his family is famous, he experienced more than his share of haters from the Christian community who had no understanding of the situation when they found out about his past.  The pressure on his life is intense due to their fame.  Even though he is surrounded by his family and many loving people of the Christian faith, his life will never be the same, and the public is ruthless, mocking, and unforgiving.  The crazyist thing about the whole “scandal” is the ungodly response of the Christians is worse than how the un-churched public treat him.  They do not act like Jesus Christ.  He had a problem, he confessed and was forgiven, yet the Christians accuse him of his past sin and of practicing fake Christianity.

Was Peter a fake Christian because he denied Christ 3 times?

Peter fell down in his faith and committed a terrible sin.  He denied the one and only son of God who had shown himself to him, his closest disciple.  If Peter, who was with Christ 24 hours a day for three years and saw everything he did from the beginning to the end, could sin and deny him, isn’t anyone capable of doing the same?  Jesus said to his followers: “If you deny me to others, I will deny you before my Father”.  Was Peter denied entry into heaven?  No.  Because when he repented of his sin, he was forgiven.  Peter was a true Christian, even though he made the same mistake three times, and Jesus Christ chose to build his Church upon the work Peter would do in sharing the gospel,

Let me ask you Christian…are you without sin?  Are there sins you have committed over and over?   Are you a closet sinner and hide the truth?   What is going on in your home?  Is there divorce, stealing, fighting, adultery, lust, pornography, lies, drug abuse, gluttony, hatred, cursing?  If Christians are divorcing at the same rate as the rest of America, and only 1 out of 20 Christian kids remain in their Christian faith after they grow up, then I believe this indicates a basic fact that there is a whole lot of ungodly sin going on in the lives of Christians today.

How many Christian families in church don’t even establish any boundaries at all for their teens?  From the article: “By 17 years old, 48% of teenagers have had sex. One out of every three teenage girls gets pregnant before the age of 20.  And it doesn’t count as consent just because you’re both under 18.  Another 26.5% of 15-19 year old girls are giving birth to kids – and those are just the ones that aren’t having abortions.”   Many of these kids live in Christian homes. Don’t tell me you don’t know. There are kids in your church right now that are sexually active and some are getting pregnant.   Let us take it a step further. How many teachers, leaders, and even pastors were sexually active before marriage? How many are guilty of other sins we overlook because they are in a position of authority, yet we don’t give each other grace for a similar offense?

Are you without sin?  Jesus said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”.  No one is without sin, and no one should cast a stone at others.

Let us be careful how we judge.  Christians need to be mindful, because the same measure of grace and forgiveness we extend others, will be extended to us. God is not mocked.  Christians need to be mindful and careful of judging (stoning) others.  Jesus told us to say “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” when we pray to Father God.  He also told us to forgive 70 x 7 even when a person does the same thing wrong over and over.  He said we are to turn the other cheek and forgive them.  He also told us to pull the log out of our own eye before we remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  He wanted us to practice forgiveness in our daily lives and not let the sun go down before we had forgiven and let go of resentment and anger.

It is interesting that several spiritual heroes who sinned are listed in Hebrews 11. These people certainly wouldn’t get to speak at Christian conferences today, and they probably wouldn’t fit in at any of the local churches.  They would be seen a backsliders.  In fact, most of them would probably be straight up kicked out of church.

Abraham lied and sold out his wife twice.  He also committed adultery with his employee and got her pregnant.

Sarah scoffed in unbelief when God said she would have a son.

Jacob was a schemer and deceiver who completely ripped off his brother of his inheritance.

Moses was a murderer and was easily frustrated.  His unbelief kept him out of the Promised Land, though he helped free the Hebrew people from Egypt and did many mighty miracles for the Lord.  He still got angry and doubted God at times.

Rahab was a prostitute who slept around.  Yet she became the grandmother of King David.

Gideon was power hungry, and he built many idols of worship and led the kingdom of Israel astray after God helped him succeed in battles and free the Hebrew people from the Philistines.

Samson was a sex-addict and couldn’t control his anger against the Philistines and caused innocent people to die as well as his own imprisonment.

David was an adulterer and a murderer,

Eli completely failed to parent his sons and they became evil in the sight of the Lord and abused people.

And yet the author of Hebrews tells us to consider all of these people and imitate their faith.  To follow after God just as they did. To walk the same path they did.  Why?

Not one person is any better than the other.

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.   Not one person is any better than this young man or Eli, or Sarah, even Peter, Jesus favorite disciple. They were just people.  They sinned.  Yet they asked for forgiveness from God, and God in his grace and mercy, used their lives in a mighty way to be a blessing, to strengthen our faith, and further the message of God’s Kingdom.

Be blessed!

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Before Anything Else

We took a ride late one afternoon and treated our kids to some fun playtime at the park.

on the road

While driving home from the park, two of the kids had a squabble on the back seat.  As we were trying to talk them through it and get them to settle down, I noticed there was a man walking along the side of the highway.  As we approached him, I felt a nudge in my heart to pay attention to him.  But the squabble in the back continued and I felt distracted.

Mathew 6:23

“But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”

I caught just a quick glimpse of him as we passed him. I wasn’t sure, but I thought his side profile looked elderly, and he was carrying two packs, maybe duffel bags or back packs, in his hands.  He looked tired and as if he could barely carry them, and as if his strength was giving out.  He was walking very slowly.  He was in the middle of a rural area of farms and at least 15 miles from town.   He was headed in the same direction as us, but it would take him a long time to get there and it was starting to get dark.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.”

I don’t know how far up ahead we had drove before we slowed down and turned around and headed back to pick him up. By the time we made it back to him, another vehicle was stopping to give him a ride.

My heart sank.

I felt that the squabbling in the van had been a distraction from what was really important.  I was distracted from hearing what the Lord wanted us to do.  We had missed God’s divine appointment to help this elderly man get to his destination.

I knew without a doubt that God had a timing for this man to be picked up. It was as if he had been issued a “bus or taxi pass” for such and such a time at such and such a location.  He had caused us to be at the exact time and location to pick him up.  But I wasn’t listening close enough to hear that God wanted me to stop and get him and fulfill the “get a free ride pass” the Lord had issued him.  I was the taxi the Lord had sent him, and I missed the call.

Even though I realized the message moments later, I missed the divine appointment.   However, this man did not miss the appointment. God sent another laborer in my place.

Hebrews 13:21

“I pray that God will make you ready to obey him and that you will always be eager to do right. May Jesus help you do what pleases God. To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever! Amen.”

May we always listen to the nudges God puts on our heart before we listen to anything else, and may we always be ready to do His good will.

May you be blessed!

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Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine Bright

Have you ever come under attack because you stand up for something?  Have you been critisized because your talents and skills cause you to stand out?  Be encouraged today, because God has placed talents and gifts inside you that are meant for you to stand up and shine brightly with them, expanding the light of his Kingdom, illuminating a dark world, and bring Him glory through it all.

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As I listened to the words of Jesus this morning in my bible study, I realized he is saying he wants you and me to Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine Bright.   He wants you to do good and stand out so others can see his light shining from you. That is not boastful. That is not prideful. Those are the words of Christ Jesus.

Jesus told us to “DO” and to  “STAND” and to “SHINE”.

To “do”, to “stand”, and to “shine” are ACTION words.   They are the opposite of “take a seat”, “stay seated” and “you may be seated” words we hear spoken today.   I don’t think Jesus would have defined his followers the way they appear today, seated and asleep.

If you asked the average person today how they would define a Christian, most would say something like:  “A Christian is a person who follows a religious teacher named Jesus by going to a building with four walls on Sunday to sing about him, pray, and hear a bible story”.  Jesus NEVER ever said for his followers to live like that.   Jesus gave his followers an assignment to stand out, to do good, and to shine and illuminate the darkness.  He told them to go out two by two to heal the sick, cast out demons, feed the hungry, set captives free and preach the Kingdom of God in all the earth. Yet sadly, the “Christian life” amounts to sitting in a pew on Sunday for most believers of Jesus today.

If a person, or group of people, are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will do what he did and obey what he said.  The churches who are doing, standing, and shining, are the churches we see growing exponentially today, just as the early church that Jesus created did. Miracles are happening as those believers pray for others, cast out demons, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, raise the dead, and set the captives free, and thousands of lives are being fed, clothed, and transformed, and the Christian believer is a bright light in that city.

Christians, and their churches, that shine the brightest in a city, also take the most criticism from other Christians that don’t choose to shine.  They have let their lamps grow dark outside of their four walls of their buildings, and they criticize those who stand out and shine bright.

This happens constantly, but I will use this one recent example to illustrate this point.  I recently heard a pastor of a small church in a decaying city criticizing pastors of larger churches.  He often points fingers at them and puts them down in discussions with his congregation.   He says that these larger churches are not truly following God or else they wouldn’t have such large congregations of people.  He says that they are prideful to have musical instruments and singers on stage and putting on a show.  He says these pastors are misappropriating funds to have large budgets for their church to fly around the US and the World and put money into these large outreach efforts.  He says they are showing off and worldly to draw in large crowds.

Yet while he critisizes others,  his own church’s light is dying.  He has no impact in his decaying city.  Even though he stays busy going here or there doing this or that, he and his congregation contain no new life and no change or growth.   In the community and even within the four walls of his building, there is no opportunity for the followers of Jesus to shine, even though he states weekly that they are in the midst of “revival”.   They host revivals (evening sermon meetings that last from anywhere from 3 days to 7 days) monthly through out the year.  I have attend several at that church and other local churches, I have spoken to these pastors and their guest evangelists, and from what I can tell, these churches are not really in revival.    It is just a word that label their meetings that they host that are different than Sunday service.

Revival is basically spiritual CPR.  To revive is to breathe new life into a dying or dead situation. Their church and their city continues to die despite their efforts at “revival”.  It is not effective. There is no spiritual CPR happening in the revival meetings that I have seen for many years.  Many years ago in the 1970’s and mid 1980’s I did witness true revivals that changed cities. But after that, except for a few dynamic on fire churches, what I witnessed across this nation was a sleeping church who’s light grew dim in their communities.

Christians speak about revival, but many have become lukewarm in allowing God to be Lord in every decision.  They trade out God’s word about living: eating, raising children, marriage, healing and raising the dead, casting out demons, etc. instead for an acceptance of government guidance in regards to daily living, education of children, health care, jobs, morals, etc.  They enjoy a “tax exempt” status and follow the social / political rules.  They may get a pat on the back or their name in the paper if they do a good event, but sadly most churches, don’t bring positive change to their communities.  Though God is honored during the service on Sunday or Wednesday, God is not the Lord of their daily living decisions 24/7.   Instead the congregation often seems to hide behind the four walls of the church building, hides their gifts and talents that were purposed to expand the Kingdom within their cities, and wait…wait…wait…asleep…until Jesus returns…all the while they never realize their lamps ran out of oil and they no longer were effective to shine God’s light into a dark world.

I just want to shout from the rooftops “WAKE UP O CHURCH!  WAKE UP O BRIDE OF CHRIST WHO HAS FALLEN ASLEEP.  YOUR LAMPS NEED TENDING.  KEEP SHINING BRIGHT AND STAND UP AND STAND OUT”.

“Your eyes are like a window for your body.
When they are good, you have all the light you need.
But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark.
If the light inside you is dark, you surely are in the dark.”
Mathew 6:22-23

How do we keep our lamps supernaturally full and shining bright?  Jesus is returning for a Bride who is awake and her lamp is full of spiritual oil and she is shinning bright and doing good, obeying the commands of Isaiah 58 while she loves God with her whole heart and loves her neighbor.

Jesus said to becareful because you will fail at shining if your light goes dark.  That seems obvious.  But he made it very clear as if it were not obvious or like we might forget if not reminded.  As if we are like the man who looks in the mirror and steps away and forgets what he looked like in that mirror.  He is right.  We easily forget that we must not let our light go dark. Jesus said if your eyes are bad, and you let darkness into your life, you can not shine.   How can your eyes bring darkness into your life?  The eyes are the door that Satan uses to tempt you. When you follow through with that temptation you bring darkness into your life.  So it is key to remove the darkness and temptations from in front of your eyes and look upon Jesus and obey him.

Jesus said if you love him, you will obey him.  He said to shine bright, stand out, and beam as brightly as you can like a lighted city on a hill, and a lamp on a high stand in your house.   Think about that for just a minute.  Has your power in the house ever gone out and you had to light a candle or use a lamp for light?  I have had this happen many times in my life, and I put that candle or lamp on the highest table in the center of the room so that the room is lit up and I can see where to go and what I am doing.  That candle or lamp can shine so bright that we can even cook a simple meal, or play games by it’s light.   However, if I placed that light in a corner of a room, it would not light up the room well enough for us to see.

When we stand out and shine, we send forth HIS light that is in us so that God will be glorified. Others will give God praise when they see you doing good and shining bright. Christians who stand out, who shine bright, often come under attack from both other Christians and non-Christians.  It can be a hard and lonely choice to stand out, and would be much easier to hide, or sit on a pew and let others do the shining.  But to obey Jesus (not your denomination, not your pastor, not religious rules or traditions),  as a child of God, you must be placed on a high place and stand out so that everyone around you can see what is around them with the light that you are shining forth.  The darkness of their situation is transformed and lit up by the light you shine.  You are the lamp that must shine bright while you are doing good. Don’t get burned out doing good, don’t fall asleep, and don’t hide your light or let it go out.

Think about it.  If every Christian obeyed the words of Jesus and stood out on a high place and shined forth God’s light while doing good, surely this world would experience true revival.  It would look a whole lot different. Surely multitudes of people would come to Jesus and give God praise for the good they see you do and the church would truly experience a spiritual CPR revival and grow exponentially.

“You are like light for the whole world.
A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden,
and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot.
A lamp is placed on a lampstand,
where it can give light to everyone in the house.
Make your light shine,
so that others will see the good that you do
and will praise your Father in heaven.”
Mathew 5:14-15

 

O Church!

Wake up, stand up, and be the light of the world, giving light to everyone while we stand out and shine bright while doing good.

Be blessed!

 

This post will be linked up with:

Raising Homemakers

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