The Plans I Have for You: Devotional, Amy Parker, Zonderkidz, 2015.
About the Devotional:
The devotional is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children’s book author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love, and joy, and recognize that God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.
I was never great at building sandcastles. It seemed that I could never get the right amount of sand and water mixed together to create the castle of my dreams. The sand buckets we used were always the basic round buckets, leaving little opportunities for anything other than round towers. And then there was the tide. It would always come in. It was never a question of “if,” but rather, “when.” When the tide came, the sandcastle never stayed.
Rich Wilkerson, Jr., in his book Sandcastle Kings, pulls on those memory strings as he discusses the spiritually bankrupt world that we are living in and the need/desire to meet Jesus. Using four stories from Luke 7 – the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar – guides the reader into taking a closer look at the many ways we build sandcastles that will one day be wiped away by the storms that will come.
This is the sermon I preached at Peakland United Methodist on the first Sunday of Advent. The text was Luke 21:25-28. You can listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.
The Salvation of Dr. Who: A Small Group Study Connecting Christ and Culture, Matt Rawle, Abingdon Press, 2015.
“Seen through eyes of faith,” author and pastor Matt Rawle writes, “Doctor Who can be lens through which we understand who we are and our connection with God’s saving grace.” Rawle uses his small book to examine spiritual truths from the BBC television series that has run for more than fifty years.
The book is short and assessable to read. It is a small group study, but one could do the study on their own. Each chapter is divided into five sections, which makes it great for daily devotions and reflections with the questions provided at the end of each section. Much like The Faith of a Mockingbird, this book is a tool of discipleship for a small group or an individual. You can also find the leader’s guide and DVD for the complete small group experience.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843, is now a classic. The short novel tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the wealthy man who despises the Christmas holiday and all of its cheer. The book has been reborn in various film versions throughout the decades. My favorite version is Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
I was on my iPhone, causally scrolling through my Twitter feed, when I realized that there were a lot of things being said about Paris. I turned the news on, and saw the reports of what would be multiple attacks across the city, killing hundreds. I like many have been in a state of shock over the events. To the point that my journaling was just a list of words or phrases, no complete sentences, reflecting the impossibility of complete thoughts forming.
Today, I attempted to form that list of words and phrases into a prayer:
Rich Wilkerson, Jr. is known for a lot of things. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal pastor. He took a young adult Bible study into being nine weeks into a new church plant. He is the pastor who officiated the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. He and his wife, DawnCheré, star in the a new reality show, Rich in Faith, on the Oxygen channel. And this week, he adds author to that list.
Wilkerson’s book, Sandcastle Kings, uses four powerful stories from Luke 7 to explain why spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in ourselves, in other people, in material things, or even in organized religion. By examining the stories of the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar, Wilkerson helps the reader take a closer look at all the ways in which we build sand castles that will one day be wiped away by the storm.
I left the house, most likely barefoot, and started walking through the woods. There was a path that had been worn in the dirt from all the other times I had walked this path. It is what I did when I needed to clear my head, ponder something, or escape from the stressors of teenage life. I would later have the epiphany that what was really happening was prayer. I was communing with the Creator.
There was an old stump by the creek where I would go and sit and think . . . . .I mean, pray.
I wrote this for our middle schoolers a few weeks ago to use in their Sunday morning small group. It’s a discussion that focuses on doubt and faith, and that we can trust in God.