Archive for April, 2013


Hope

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I remember when I planted these tulips a few years ago.  I went out with my trowel and dug down deep into the ground.  Then I placed the bulbs in and covered them up with dirt.  That was in the fall.  Then I waited several months for spring to come.  Would the tulips grow?  They did!  And now a few springs later I watched again as the green leaves poked through the dirt and then grew taller.  And soon I will see the bright colored tulips again!

It was a lot of work way back in that fall.  And a lot of waiting.  But I know I will see those beautiful tulips very soon!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

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Got Worries?

worried face

Have you ever worried?  Did you know that kids worry?

Children’s Ministry Magazine recently shared a statement from The Washington Post about kids and stress.  It said, “Your kids may benefit from a lesson on worry.  Stress is the leading reason 10-15 percent of school-aged children now need medical attention for stomach pain,” (March/April 2013).  I agree that kids could benefit from a lesson on worry.  Many children have told me about things that they are worried about, from rain storms to school fire drills to parents arguing.  Children do worry.  And so do we.  So what do we do when we worry?

Well, anytime we don’t know what to do, we can look to God.  And, guess what?  God has a lot to say about worry in His Word, the Bible!

When I spoke about worry to a group of children at a Christian school chapel, I brought a special little friend with me.  A small Play-Doh person.  We decided that our Play-Doh person seemed happy and joyful.  But then we imagined that our Play-Doh friend was our age and we shared things that we worry about.  As each worry was shared, our Play-Doh friend was pressed down more and more until it was all pressed down flat from worry.  Our Play-Doh friend didn’t seem so joyful anymore.  When you  have things that you are worried about, do you feel pressed down flat like that?  That’s not how God wants us to live.  He wants us to have joy and know that He cares about us.  So what should we do when we worry?

The Bible has a lot to say about worry, but I like the verse in 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your cares and worries to God because He cares about you,” (NLT).  So when we worry, we should give our worries to God because He cares about us.  Did you know that God cares about you?  He created the whole world just by speaking.  He made the planets, the sun, the stars, the flowers, the puppies.  And He made you!  Since God made you, He cares about you.  In fact, God cares about you so much that He even knows how many hairs are on your head!  This morning when you combed your hair, did you count the hairs on your head?  No?  Why not?  Okay, I didn’t either.  I really don’t care how many hairs are on my head, but God does.  He even cares about things about me that really aren’t that big of a deal.  Can you imagine how much He cares about the things that really do matter to you?  He cares a lot!

So we know God cares about us, but how do we give Him our cares and worries?

First, let’s think of ways that we tend to give God our worries.  One thing we tend to do is to say, “God, I’m worried about this and I know you care about me, but, well, I’m not sure that you can really take care of this.  I’m just going to keep holding onto this worry.”  That’s like giving our worries to God in the same way that we play with a yo-yo.  We start to give it away, but we hold onto it with a string and keep bringing it back to us.  That’s not how God wants us to give Him our worries.

Here’s another way that we tend to give God our worries.  We say, “God, I know you care about me and I’m worried about this, but, God, this is a really big worry and I don’t think you can handle this one so I’m going to keep worrying about this and handle this one on my own.”  When we do that, it’s like we’re giving our worries to God in the way that we play with a boomerang.  If I take my boomerang toy to the park and throw it, it will come back to me.  When we give our worries to God, but don’t trust Him to take care of us, our worries come back to us, too.  Did you know that God is a really big God?  He is!  He keeps all of the stars in place in the sky and He can take care of you!

So here is how we should give our worries to God.  Like a hot potato.  If you pick up a hot potato, you will put it down very quickly or your hands will hurt!  And you won’t pick up a hot potato again.  You will leave it alone and not touch it.  That is how God wants us to give our worries to Him.  He wants us to remember that He cares about us and to tell Him our worries and trust Him to take care of us.

And then, when we do that, we will have joy because we will know that God cares about us.

Are you feeling pressed down flat with worry today?  Give God your cares and worries because He cares about you!

*Note:  The Play-Doh idea came from The Hands-On Bible.  The yo-yo, boomerang and hot potato idea came from notes that I wrote in my Bible a long time ago from a book, but I don’t remember which one.  I’m sorry to whoever I am not crediting for that!

You Could Be A Hero!

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 2.11.09 PM Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 2.10.38 PMDid you know that you could be someone’s hero and you don’t even know it?

Recently I found out that two of my Good News Club children wrote about me for their hero assignment in school.  If you’re a Bible teacher, than you understand how fun this is.  We don’t teach in order to get things like recognition, money or our pictures on Wheaties boxes.  In fact, it costs money to lead a Good News Club and to do many things in ministry and often in ministry no one says, “Thank you.”  It doesn’t matter though, because we teach because we feel called by God.  And we get to teach from God’s Word.  What could be more exciting than that?  However, when parents and children let us know that what we are doing is making a difference in the lives of those that we teach, that is such a blessing!

So this winter I was excited to find out that two of my kids in club wrote about me for their hero assignment at school.  They had to draw a picture of their hero and put that on the cover of a Wheaties box of cereal and then put their story on the back of the cereal box.  I’ve never had my picture on a Wheaties box before and now it is on two!  (Haha.  Don’t go looking for them in your store.  They’re not real Wheaties boxes.)  The really neat thing about this is not that they wrote about me, but that these boxes were displayed in the school where people could find out about Good News Club and our amazing God.  Now that is very cool!

So are you wondering what makes a hero to children?  Want to know what is important in children’s ministry?  Here are some of the things that they wrote:

“Mrs. Lori has a kind heart.  When we come into Good News Club we get a tasty snack.  When we are stuck on something or don’t know what the answer is she will help us.  After Good News Club is over Mrs. Lori lets us pick from a million books.  And she is kinder than my brother and sister and trust me they are kind.”

“We do athletic stuff like parachute and Duck, Duck, Goose.  If you searched up most athletic person there would be a picture of Mrs. Lori on there.”

“She knows everyone’s name every day.”

“She is smarter than Albert Einstein.  She knows every word in the book that we read.  Mrs. Lori knows what to say when she is up to talk.  If she wasn’t smart we would be dumb when it comes to God.”  (My note:  That book that we read is the Bible.  Both of the children drew it on their Wheaties boxes!)

“Mrs. Lori is friendly.  She is always fair and doesn’t leave anybody out.  When hurt she will always help you.”

“She helps kids when they don’t know what to do.”

“She’s nice to the other people on the Good News Club Team.”

“She’s intelligent.  She knows every word in the stories.  She can say every kid’s name and tell every kid about God.”

“She always puts God first.”

I think it’s fun to see what is important to the children that we minister to.  It seems that things like knowing their names, being kind and friendly, knowing the Bible lessons well, playing fun games and having tasty snacks are important to these kids.  With God’s help, I can keep doing that.

I’m still amazed that God has called me to be a part of teaching children and leading them to know Him.  What a fun task!  And who knows?  You may be a hero today and you don’t even know it.

The thing that I’m really excited about is that what these kids really see in me is Jesus, and He is the real hero!

Candles

English: Glassybaby votive, dark with candle

Do you like candles?  Maybe decorative candles?  Birthday candles?  What about candles that aren’t really candles at all?

The other day I was eating in a restaurant that had candles on the tables.  But there was something different about these candles.  They weren’t real.  They looked real, but they were not real.  They were fake.  Inside the votive cover was a plastic flame with an on/off switch on the bottom of it.  Have you seen those?  They look so real through the votive holder, but inside they are just plastic-covered flickering lights.  And they don’t even get warm.

That made me think about real candles.  Real candles have real flames that get hot.  In fact, they get so hot that as they burn the wax from the candle melts.  You can even use a real candle to light other candles.  And if you’re not careful, real candles can start a fire.  Because they’re not fake.  They are real candles with real burning fire.

So I have a question for you.  If you were like one of these candles today, which one would you be like?  Are you like that plastic candle that looks really neat, but isn’t really flickering with real fire?  Or are you like a real candle that is burning hot with a flame that could start other candles on fire?

I want to be like the real candle.  I think as we spend time getting to know God more every day we become like a real candle.  John 8:12 says this, “He (Jesus) said, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,'” (NIV).  When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, then we have the light of life.  As we continue to walk with Him, we will reflect His light.  Acts 13:47 says this, “For this is what the Lord has commanded us:  ‘I have made you a light…that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth,'” (NIV).  Do you have the light of life?  Is your fire spreading to others?  We have been commanded to tell the good news and we can do that through the way that we live and the words that we say – in the way that we shine like real candles.

Maybe you are feeling like that restaurant candle today, the one with the pretend flame.  Maybe you go to church or even call yourself a Christian, but you’ve never made the decision to believe in Jesus as your Savior.  You can do that today!  Or maybe you decided to believe in Jesus as your Savior, but you haven’t been taking time to really know Him.  You can do that by reading the Bible, talking with God, spending time with other believers and also by telling other people about what God has done for you.  That restaurant candle looked neat on the table, but it just didn’t have real fire.  You don’t have to be like that.

I have to admit that the restaurant candle was interesting for a while, but I want the real thing.  I want to be like a real candle with a real flame that burns.  I want my heart to burn with the love of Jesus in such a way that I will be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, to do my part in bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.  Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us,” (NIV).

Let’s be like real candles today, shining with the light and love of Jesus in our hearts so that others will know the light of the glory of God.