When I was in high school, our senior high youth group were gathered together up in the youth room on a Sunday night. The group was planning an upcoming Youth Sunday. We were making decisions regarding scripture passages, hymns, and prayers to use. Then, the question was asked, “Who will do the sermon?”
Everyone avoided making eye contact with anyone.
Honestly, I had spent the bulk of the time avoiding eye contact. I was one of the youngest in the room. What did I have to contribute?
Then, from the other end of the table, one of the seniors spoke up and said, “I think Jason should do it.”
It was one of those moments where I was thrilled to be thought of, yet scared to death that they thought of me! I would accept and began working on the “sermon.” When I finished it, I gave it my youth leader to look over. She made some suggestions, among them, “Be careful not to put God in a box.”
Snuggle Time Prayers, Glenys Nellist, Zonderkidz, 2016.
This little book, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Cee Biscoe, is a cute little book perfect for young children. There are sixteen prayers in this little book, each accompanied by a scripture verse. Each prayer is a rhyming prayer based on the scripture verse provided. Rhyming helps in building vocabulary for early learners. Why not do so with prayers to God?
Biscoe’s illustrations fill two pages each. They are full color and bright. The animals bring to life the prayer that accompanies the illustration. My daughter at 14-months, enjoys flipping through the book, easy for her to do with the hard, board-like pages. The illustrations are attracting to her. The illustrations can also be used as a teaching tool.
*I am indebted to conversations with my friend, Kara, who blogs at byrnenlove, for the inspiration for this post.
I should be at church right now.
It’s Sunday morning and I spend it leading worship at Peakland. In fact, today I was scheduled to preach. But, as life tends to do at times, everything got interrupted when baby J got pink eye.
Yep, pink eye.
This week already proved to be full of interruptions. From the Greek Orthodox woman at Starbucks who wanted to talk about Donald Trump to sharing unexpected news with people I care deeply about.
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.
Phil Vischer, one half of the creative team behind VeggieTales, stepped out in faith after loosing his big dream of Big Idea productions and started Jellyfish Labs. Through this new production, he created What’s in the Bible?, which introduced kids to the character Buck Denver.
Buck is the main character in the new film from Jellyfish Labs and Phil Vischer, Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9. If you are familiar with the What’s in the Bible? series, you will recognize some of the other characters. Buck works for the “Gospel Galaxy with Pastor Paul” television program in the call center. He spends his day answering telephones, taking orders, and sending out tote bags in exchange for donations.
The Faith of a Mockingbird: A Small Group Study Connecting Christ and Culture, Matt Rawle, Abingdon Press, 2015.
I remember the first time I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Still impressionable, the character of Atticus Fitch beckoned to me. When I “grew up” I wanted to be Atticus Fitch. I knew then, just as I do now, that being a lawyer was not in the works for me. It was more what Atticus represented. Courage. Boldness. Compassion. Sense of Justice.
I think Harper Lee knew what we all, sooner or later figure out, being Atticus Fitch is not easy. But it is something we all strive towards.
The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and with illustrations by Don Clark, has to be one of the coolest things I have seen in some time. The book leads kids and parents on a journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and the new earth.
The story is written with a lightness and causal tone, that makes it perfect not only for children, but adults, as well! (I love a good children’s book as the next kid.) I could see this a great resource for middle school youth ministry, but also a great addition to any adult Bible study.
What Keeps You Up at Night: How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams, Pete Wilson, W Publishing Group, 2015.
Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee. What Keeps You Up at Night? is his fourth book, where the main idea is that God has a purpose for each of us. Though Wilson never uses the word, you could refer to it as your vocation. What keeps us up at night is fear and uncertainty about fulfilling this God-given purpose.
From there, Wilson explores various ways in which fear keeps us from chasing our dreams – or God’s dreams for us. Fear prevents us from living into the holy life God has called us to. Wilson also provides some practical steps to overcome that fear. Prayer and trust in God are the strongest recommendations. Wilson writes:
It has been almost seven months since I have been to L’Arche in Lynchburg for Spiritual Life Night. I went tonight and it was like a homecoming of sorts. I was invited to stay and sing (not realizing that was why I was there). I was asked about baby J and Megan. There were bright smiles and huge hugs.
Then, without instruction or directions, chairs became to circle up and we all took our places. The red song books were handed out, and one by one we sang each person’s favorite hymn. It was gloriously out of tune. And it was awesome! Through “I’ve Got the Joy” and “Amazing Grace,” we made a joyful noise.