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Last week I posted my Top 5 Reasons for Focusing Kids on Giving at Christmas, but this week I want to stop to think about the Top 5 reasons for Focusing our Kids on Receiving at Christmas . . . yes, I said “receiving“! At Christmas children – and adults, too – think quite a bit about the gifts they would like to receive, but in God’s Word we find some of the most incredible gifts anyone could ever receive . . . and we read they are gifts God wants us to receive! Consider the following .  .  .

  • I Peter 1:3,4,8,9 “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your  faith, the salvation of your souls.” (HCSB) Praise God! Because of His great mercy, He has given us new birth and a living hope through Jesus’ resurrection! He wants us to receive His amazing gift of salvation! There is no better gift we could ever receive! This is a gift we want kids to focus on receiving!
  • Acts 17:11 “11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (NASB) God’s Word is a gift like no other! It allows us the opportunity to know God and how to walk with Him. We want the children in our ministries to receive God’s Word with great eagerness! We want them to be excited about examining the Scriptures every day so they can grow in their walk with Jesus! This is another important gift for our kids to focus on receiving!
  • Matthew 7:7, 8, 11 – ” 7Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. 11you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask.” (CEV) Is there anything so amazing as the truth our Heavenly Father hears us when we pray? Not only does He hear us, but He says if we “ask” we will “receive“! Rejoice with the children in your ministries this Christmas over the incredible gift God gives us of hearing us when we pray and of answering our prayers! We want our kids to know they can and will receive answers to their prayers!
  • Hebrews 12:28 “28 We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder.” (NIrV) God’s Word tells us we are “receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken”! This gift is the gift of hope! God’s kingdom will not be shaken. It is firm and it is everlasting and this does give us so very much to be thankful for! Lead the children in your ministry in worshiping God this Christmas for the promise He has given us of receiving His kingdom!
  • John 14:15-17 “15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (ESV) As if all the other incredible blessings we receive from God isn’t enough, He goes above and beyond and gives us the Holy Spirit to be our Helper! He is with us forever! We can know Him! Amazing!

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“Christmas time is here Happiness and cheer Fun for all that children call Their favorite time of the year!”

Ah, yes . . . Christmas time is here and while children are likely to be focused on the gifts they hope to receive . . . as for many children it is their favorite time of year, I believe it is the ideal time to redirect their focus on giving to others! So . . .  here are my Top 5 Reasons for Focusing Kids on Giving at Christmas . . .

  1. Jesus is our Example . . . He gave to us – John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (ESV)
  2. Jesus told us to give to others . . . when we give to others, we are choosing to obey Jesus  – John 15:12 “‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’” (ESV)
  3. Giving to others brings glory to God! – Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)
  4. It pleases God – Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (ESV)
  5. It shows by what we do God’s love is in us!  – I John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (ESV)

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With the news of the past week it is impossible to not have our hearts grieve for children who have been harmed at the hands of an adult they should have been able to trust. When news like this hits the airwaves, it leaves parents understandably shaken and in need of assurance they can trust the adults who have access to their children. So what can you do to help parents know their children are safe with you? Consider the following . . .

  • Transparency. Share your written child safety policy with the parents of the children in your church and community. This is an excellent opportunity to mail a copy of your safety policy to each family in your ministry and schedule a time for parents to sit down with you to walk through your policy and how you implement it. Invite parents to visit their children’s classes and be sure they know their child’s teachers.
  • Collaborate. Along this note, schedule a time for your volunteers to sit down with the parents. Give the volunteers the opportunity to share why they serve and provide time for parents and volunteers to pray together for the children. Help parents and volunteers come together as a team to disciple their children!
  • Vigilance. Pay attention. Watch. Have a plan for safety in all areas of your ministry and stick to it like glue.
  • Prayer. Make the safety of the children an issue which is at, and which remains at, the top of your prayer list.

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Thankfulness . . . What if???

Lynda Freeman —  November 22, 2011

For the past few weeks I’ve been writing about some of the things I’m thankful for. I recently saw a post on a friend’s facebook which made me stop and think about thankfulness. . .

So . . . yes, I’m thankful, but do I take time every day to thank God for His many, many blessings in my life?  This caused me to ask myself a few questions . . . Continue Reading…

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and for the past couple weeks I’ve been posting about some of the things I’m thankful for . . . God’s Grace, my family and today I want to share another thing I’m thankful for . . .  God’s Word! Stop and think about it for a minute. God loved us enough to give us His Word so we can know Him and love Him back! This is beyond amazing!

Last week Wayne Stocks shared one of his favorite verses . . . Deuteronomy 29:29
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Last week I  posted the first thing I’m thankful for is God’s grace! As I said, God’s grace “is so utterly undeserved and so lavishly given . . . which makes it truly amazing! When I think of God’s grace there is nothing else for me to feel than complete thankfulness.” If God’s grace was the only good thing in my life it would be enough to leave me a forever thankful person!

But there is more I’m thankful for! The second thing I’m thankful for is my family! God has blessed me with the most amazing husband! We met on a volcano and just celebrated our 30th anniversary this past August. My husband Dave shows me every day God loves me – I see God’s love every time I see Dave as he is so patient, faithful, loving . . . he is truly one of God’s greatest gifts to me! God has not only blessed me with an amazing husband, but He gave us two wonderful children – a daughter and a son – and a daughter-in-law! As if they weren’t enough, God’s generosity  overflowed with the addition to our family of the two most fabulous grandsons! I absolutely LOVE being a grandma! I’m so thankful for my family!

So how does being thankful for my family “fit” with children’s ministry? Well, being part of a family helps me experience some of the same things all families experience . . . the good times and the bad. The happy times and the sad. I have the ability to share with other parents some of what I’ve learned by being a wife, mom and grandma – and I can learn from others as well. When I see where other families are struggling, my heart aches for them and I can reach out to offer help, understanding, encouragement and most certainly prayer.

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Thanksgiving is just a month away and, as usual for this time of year, our thoughts tend to turn to the things we are thankful for. For the next few weeks, I’m going to look at the things I’m thankful for . . . and share these with you!

First of all, I’m most thankful for Grace! God’s grace is the most amazing gift we could ever be blessed with . . . it is so utterly undeserved and so lavishly given . . . which makes it truly amazing! When I think of God’s there is nothing else for me to feel than complete thankfulness. So . . . how do I show this thankfulness because thankfulness which isn’t shown or expressed is not thankfulness at all. Consider the following  . . .

  • I show my thankfulness for God’s grace by loving others . . . I John 4 – “7My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. 8God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him. 9God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. 10Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. 11Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.” (CEV) 
  • I show my thankfulness for God’s grace by sharing the news of God’s grace . . . I John 4 –13God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us. 14God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him. 15God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s how we stay one with God 16and are sure that God loves us.” (CEV)
  • I show my thankfulness for God’s grace by extending God’s grace to others by forgiving them . . . I John 4 – “God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us. 17If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won’t be worried about the day of judgment. 18A real love for others will chase those worries away. 19We love because God loved us first. 20But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see? 21The commandment that God has given us is: “Love God and love each other!” (CEV) and Ephesians 432Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.” (CEV)

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Last week I posted about trust . . . it takes years to build . . .  and shared ideas on how to build trust with the children, parents and volunteers in your ministry. Today I want to think about how to repair broken trust.

We are people. We are imperfect. We say and do things which hurt others and breaks trust. So, what do we do when we have “broken” trust with someone else? Consider the following . . .

  • be accountable: immediately and sincerely admit what you have done and ask for forgiveness as soon as you realize you have hurt another person. Jesus said in Matthew 5:23, 24 – “23So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God.” (CEV) Far too often – more than we might like to admit – we are careless with our words, we jump to conclusions and misjudge others. These things can cause great pain to others. Jesus said when we do this to stop everything and go make peace with the person we offended. Be accountable immediately.
  • pray with and for the person. James 5:16 says, “16If you have sinned, you should tell each other what you have done. Then you can pray for one another” In Ephesians 5:8-10, Paul said we belong to Jesus, “So act like people of the light 9and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful, 10as you try to please the Lord.” (CEV) Pray with and for the person – this will help them see you are sincerely sorry and truly want to rebuild and repair the broken trust.
  • do as God does and let love be your guide. In Ephesians 5:1,2 Paul said, ” 1Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children. 2Let love be your guide. Christ loved us and offered his life for us as a sacrifice that pleases God.” (CEV) In Ephesians 4, Paul said, “2Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. 3Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace.” And, “26Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry 27and don’t give the devil a chance . . . 31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.”  Do as God does and let love be your guide!

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A friend posted this on their Facebook the other day . . .

It got me to thinking. Trust is an essential part of children’s ministry . . .

  • parents need to be able to trust us
  • children need to be able to trust us
  • our volunteers need to be able to trust us
  • we need to be able to trust our volunteers
So . . . for the next few weeks, let’s take a look at trust. Trust takes years to build . . .
How do we build trust with parents?
  • if we have not already done so, sit down and develop a child safety policy. Put in writing what you do to make your children’s ministry a safe place. Be sure to include the following – volunteer screening (background check, interview, application) – student to volunteer ratios (including minimum number of volunteers who must be present at all times when children are in the children’s ministry) – policy regarding married couples serving at the same time in the same classroom (do you require an additional unrelated adult?) – minimum age for volunteers – bathroom policy – sick child policy – sign in/pick up policy – driver policy (who can drive children on church activities, do you check their driving record?) These are just a few to get in writing. Make this information available to parents.
  • spend time with the parents – get to know them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Pray with them and for them.
  • do what you say you will do.
  • provide opportunities for parents and volunteers to build a relationship – plan socials, prayer times and anything you can do to encourage communication.

In the past two weeks I posted articles explaining that as children understand how obedience is lived in their everyday lives, they’ll see worship as the natural outflow of obedience and a major part of their everyday lives and talked about Able, Seth and Noah and how they were obedient real worshipers! I also posted about Caleb and Josiah and how they are just two examples of Bible people who chose to worship God by giving their all to God! This is a major part of worship!  In fact, if we do not give our all to God, we can’t worship Him. 

Today I want us to consider along with worshiping by obeying, giving our all and music, we worship God by loving others. We do not have to look any farther than at what Jesus said and modeled for us to see how essential loving others is if we are going to be real worshipers of God! In Mark 12 one of the teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Which is the most important of all the commandments?” Jesus said . . .  Continue Reading…