Calvary Temple Puppets – Let Your Light Shine

My love of working with kids was severely threatened when I began waitressing during college.  The excitement I used to get at interacting with children was put to the test whenever a family with little kids would walk in the restaurant and head towards one of my tables.  See, while those kids were here, they would rule that restaurant.  They’d throw everything near them–crayons, cups, food.  They’d scream.  They’d talk at the top of their lungs.  They’d peek their heads over the back of their booth and stare at the party behind them all while menacingly dropping spaghetti into a stranger’s purse.  They’d curl up with their iPad and play Angry Birds at ear-splitting volumes.  (Why do you need to hear the birds in order to play?  That game requires no sound at all.  NONE.)

One family in particular stood out to me.  They were one of the last tables of the night, and the husband and wife had three children under the age of ten with them.  I plastered a smile on my face and prayed that I wouldn’t end the night on my hands and knees, trying to dig all the orphaned Cheerios out of the seat cushions.  But, instead of a hellish experience, the children were…amazing.  They said please and thank you.  The older ones spoke quietly with their parents while the littlest one colored on the place mat (only on the place mat, and not all over the table/sugar packets/menus).

Finally, by the end of the meal, I was able to say (honestly) how wonderful it’d been to serve them.  Their children were so well-behaved and polite.  I remember the dad smiling at me and telling me that they were Christians, and that they wanted their children to be a reflection of Christ’s character.

I was basically like..

How cool was that?  That family had a great opportunity to share Jesus with their waitress simply because she was so amazed at how well behaved the children were.

That’s part of what we wanted to teach our kids with this week’s puppet skit–how to be a light to all the world.

In this skit, Suzie accidentally hurts her little brother Andy, and he’s so angry that he refuses to forgive her.  But, after their fight, Andy tries to witness to a nearby kid, but the kid (Grover?  Champ?  Ad-libbing at its finest, folks!) doesn’t believe him.  See, he’d just been mean to his sister, and didn’t really act like Jesus at all.

Andy learns about the story of how a light, hidden under a basket, can’t be seen.  What good is being a light then?  If you can’t see the light, it’s not worth anything.

One of our great Sunday School teachers did a good job of explaining this principle to our youngest class–the 3 and 4 year olds.

It’s good to train our children to behave in public, but do they know why it’s good to behave in public?  The way we act is a direct reflection of Jesus!

To quote our Sunday School teacher above, “When Jesus comes into your heart, you become like a light!”  You are able to shine your light onto other’s lives so that they can have the light for themselves!

What are some practical ways that you help your children learn how to behave in public?  Do you have any good stories about times you’ve seen kids behaving (or not behaving) when they’re out?

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Pastor Forbe, one of our Calvary Temple pastors who now lives in Africa as a missionary (he blogs about his life here), is one of my favorites to listen to.  He has a funny story for every situation.  So, when I asked him for stories from his childhood about times he did something really bad, he was more than happy to share.

There was a time when I thought I would “help” my dad learn how to swim. So I pushed him into the deep end of the swimming pool. He didn’t know how to swim, and his brothers had to save him. That didn’t end well for me.

And then there was the time when I saw my Mom’s wedding rings laying around and thought that they needed to be put somewhere “safe”. So I put them somewhere safe. One week later and one proper beating, we found them.

Pastor Forbe’s stories had me laughing, so I texted my Mom and asked her if I had ever done anything like that when I was little.  Her answer (I swear, this was her answer) was Gosh, you were such a good kid.  I’m really reaching here.  (I know a few Calvary Temple teachers who might disagree with you, Mom…)

I did have a penchant for hiding. She remembers me hiding very well on two occasions.  Once, I went inside one of those circular clothing racks at a store, and I stayed totally quiet.  Mom said the entire store was looking for me and calling my name for a half hour, and finally once they got really frantic, I popped out and was laughing.  The other time, I hid inside our house, and stayed hidden for so long that Mom thought I’d been kidnapped and called the police.

When you were a kid, did you ever do something so incredibly bad that you were convinced your parents were going to disown you?

In this week’s puppet skit, Andy learns about the Parable of the Prodigal Son when he accidentally ruins his dad’s new sports car.  Andy is terrified to admit what he did, and he is convinced that his father will never forgive him.

What Andy learns from the Parable is that no matter what terrible things a son does, a father will never stop loving him.  When the prodigal son truly repented and came home with a humble heart, the father was happy to accept him back into the family.

Now, do you think that son got a new inheritance?  The Bible doesn’t tell us, but it’s possible he didn’t.  When you teach this story to your children, it’s important to remind them that there are always consequences for our actions.  Even though God (and our parents) will always love and forgive us, it doesn’t mean that we never see punishment for what we’ve done.

It can be mind-boggling to think of everything I deserve for my life.  I’ve made some terrible mistakes and decisions–some that everyone knows about and some just between me and God.  If I truly saw all the consequences for all my actions, my life would not be that fun.  We know the Bible even tells us that the wages of sin is death.  All the forgiveness in the world doesn’t change that fact.  How awesome it is that we serve a God who not only forgives us, but also shows us such amazing mercy!

I think there are two important points to this parable that you can share with your children.

1.  Love and forgiveness is always available.  Be someone your children can trust in and talk to when they make mistakes.  If you lose your temper or act harshly every time they admit their faults, then pretty soon, they’ll never want to be honest with you again.  But, if you are someone who responds like the father in the parable (and like Jesus does with us), it will strengthen your relationship.

2.  There are consequences for our actions, but there is also mercy.  When your kids do admit their mistakes to you, be clear that in some cases, there will need to be consequences. Discipline doesn’t mean you don’t love them, but it is a reality they will need to learn as they get older.  I remember in the (very rare) times I needed to get spanked by my parents, they would explain to me what I did, and why I was getting spanked.  I knew my parents never hit me because they were angry or hated me, but because I needed to learn that my actions had consequences.

PS:  Pastor Scott, our head pastor at Calvary Temple, probably wins for one of the funniest kid stories.  When he was little, he once took a BB gun and shot everything off the walls at his house.  As angry as I’d be, I’d also probably think it was hilarious.  How do kids’ minds work?!

PPS:  Please share some of your funny stories!  I’d love to hear them.

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – The Rich Man and Lazarus

Before we get to everyone’s favorite part (those wacky puppets!), I wanted to share some semi-recent, wacky things that I’ve heard in my Sunday School Class that I teach at Calvary Temple in Sterling, VA.  I teach pre-school along with a great team of teachers and friends, and we constantly find ourselves trying to hold back snorts of laughter at the things the kids say and do.

Here are some recent gems:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we do not need to be roaring or growling right now.”

“Please stop licking the table…and no, we do not lick our neighbors either.”

Teacher:  “Hey, guys!  Who is the captain of God’s Army?”
Three Year Old:  “SATAN!”
(Oh geez.  Pastor Jon is going to fire me from teaching.)

This next one is an oldie from one of the kindergarten teachers:

Teacher:  “Does anyone know what Mary found when she looked inside Jesus’ tomb on Easter?”
Five Year Old:  “MAGGOTS!”
(Yeah, we’re seriously all going to be fired.)

Teacher:  “Okay, so whoooo remembers who died for our sins on the cross?  This one is really easy!”
Three Year Old:  “MOSES!”
Teacher:  “Nooo.  Try again.  Think really hard!”
Three Year Old:  “…Gabriel?”

(Okay, seriously, please don’t can me.  I love doing this!)

On to the puppet show.

This week, we learned about The Rich Man and Lazarus.  This is a pretty intense story for kids.  (I mean, some of the imagery is kind of gruesome.  You’ve got a sad, starving man.  A dog licking his wounds–which, seriously, don’t ever tell your kids that part.  I remember being fascinated by that part, and when I was little, after scraping my knee, I chased our poor dog Ruby around the house to see if she wanted to taste.  She did not want to taste my knee, so I figured I would do it instead.  Yes.  This is a story about how I licked my own skinned knee.)

Where were we?

Right.  Sad, starving man.  Miserable life.  Poor Lazarus.  He can’t catch a break…and he eventually dies after the Rich Man refuses to help him out.  But, the happy ending to Lazarus’ story is that he escapes his suffering and gets to hang out in Abraham’s Bosom, while the Rich Man dies and gets really thirsty/hot/tormented in Hell.  (Again, this is really weird imagery for kids.  Bosom is just a weird word in general, and the thought that some guy wanted to hang out in another guy’s bosom baffled me.  Abraham’s Bosom is….a place?  Or he was actually chilling with Abraham.  I don’t know.  And I’d like to think I have bigger issues in Hell than getting really really thirsty.  This is probably the point where I get fired again, only this time by my Youth Pastor, Pastor Jeff.  Or he could laugh at all this.  He understands weird thought processes better than most.  Once in Youth Group, he told this story equating the parable of the talents to taking care of puppies, and I cried laughing.)

Listen.  I’m super caffeinated this morning (what else is new?) so I know I’m rambling a lot.  There’s a point to all this.

Lazarus was a good guy, had a terrible life, but his eternal reward is heaven.  The Rich Man had a pretty awesome life, but he was a bad guy, and his eternal reward was hell.

Sometimes, our lives aren’t fair.  We covered this a little bit last week with the Parable of the Tares.  But, even if your actions in this life don’t have immediate consequences, they will always have eternal consequences.  Sometimes, good people have bad things happen to them.  But, what gives them hope is their faith in God’s Promises.  He will work all things for good, even if we don’t understand.  We’ve been promised eternal life and happiness, and focusing on those principles can help get our minds off our own temporary situations.

The same thing applies in reverse.  Sometimes, bad people have really great lives.  Nothing bad seems to happen to them.  They make tons of money and live well and do whatever they want.  But, God’s promises also apply to them.  Jesus said “whoever believes on me will not perish but have everlasting life”.  So, if you live a life that is not surrendered to Jesus, your eternal consequences are…not as fun.

###

Okay, so now that you’ve finished, I’m sure you’re going to be really worried if I’ll be back blogging here last week after all my confessions.

Well, let me just save by spot by recounting my interaction with Pastor Jon‘s six-year-old son last night.  He noticed that my niece was watching the video of the puppet skit on my phone, and made a huge face.  See, this lovely little boy is very vocal about hating the puppets (even though, we all know, deep down, he loves them so much).  So, I asked him for suggestions on how we could make the puppet show something he likes better.

His response?  “Don’t do them.”  Sounds harsh, but he has the cutest little voice that it sounded like the least threatening thing possible.  Plus, he died laughing after he said it.

Trying not to laugh where he could see me, I asked him if he had any real suggestions.  (At this point, Pastor Jon’s daughter had made her way onto my lap to squish next to my niece to also watching the puppet video.)

His son looked very serious for a second, and then said.  “You should make all the puppets into Angry Birds.”

I laughed, and his daughter said, “No!  Please do Andy’s makeup all pretty!”

Andy is our boy puppet.

I’m pretty sure we’ll not be putting makeup on Andy, but maybe I can make the Angry Birds cameo happen.

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – Parable of the Tares and Wheat

Continuing our series about The Parables of Jesus in our Calvary Temple Children’s Church, we taught about The Parable of the Tares and Wheat.

This week, our puppets are facing a bully.  A not-so-nice boy named Chad has been wreaking havoc on the playground, pushing Andy off the slide and calling Wendy Wide Load Wendy (the horror!)  The kids are confused why someone like Chad is still allowed to come to church.  After all, he clearly is a terrible person.

To help them out, their Uncle Joey tells them about another parable of Jesus titled The Parable of the Weeds.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells us about a farmer.  (This seems to be a theme with these parables!)  The farmer planted seeds in his field, but during the night, bad men came and planted weeds.  They wanted to ruin his crop.

Some time later, once the wheat began to grow, the farmer’s men noticed that there were tares (weeds) growing up with the wheat.  Some thought they should go through and pull up all the weeds, but the farmer told them to wait until the wheat had fully matured.  At this point, the roots of the wheat was entangled with the roots of the tares, and if they pulled the tares out, they risked hurting some of the wheat as well.

The solution was simply to wait until the wheat fully matured. Then, once the wheat was all cut down, they could separate the bad plants from the good plants.

In the case of the bully, the kids wanted the same thing.  (“Rocks and scorpions!” seethed one of the puppets.) Kick Chad out of church because he was obviously a bad person.

But, the parable taught the kids that it wasn’t up to them to decide who was deserving of salvation and love.  If Chad was kicked out, he might never have the opportunity to learn he was wrong and repent.

This can be a hard lesson for kids to swallow.  We are naturally instilled with a very strong sense of what is fair.  Do something wrong, and you need to be punished.  (Now, obviously as parents, it’s important to discipline your children when they do something wrong.  The spirit behind this parable is more to encourage us to leave the judgement to the Lord.  We are so undeserving of the mercy we’ve received from Jesus, and how can we not want to extend that same mercy to others?)

When you find your kids starting to be angry with their friends or be frustrated with what’s fair, encourage them to remember how much Jesus loves that individual.  Ultimately, God is the one that will judge the right and the wrong.

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – The Parable of the Sower

Continuing our series on the Parables of Jesus, this week in our Calvary Temple Children’s Church, we learned about the Parable of the Sower.

In the skit, Wendy is very excited about a new Bible verse she has learned.  “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart for Jesus.”  In fact, she was so excited about her new verse that she went right away to clean her room, and then she shared that verse with her friends Suzie and Andy.

All three kids then went away to do their chores, and all three kids had very different responses to that verse.

Andy didn’t even try to clean his room.  Instead, he hid his mess under the bed and went outside to play.

Suzie started to sweep the kitchen, but after a few minutes, the job got really hard.  She finally gave up and went outside to play.

Wendy was so excited that she’d done a good job cleaning earlier, but she got distracted by the ZBox 9000, and ended up going to play with that instead of finishing her chores.

Later, the kids come back together and admit to Grandpa Louie what happened.  He shares the Parable of the Sower.

In Matthew 13, we read that Jesus sat in front of a large crowd and began to tell them a story.  A sower (or a farmer) went out to plant some seed.  He threw the seed everywhere.

Some of the seed fell on the wayside (or the sidewalk).  That seed got eaten by birds right away.  In our puppet skit, Andy represented the sidewalk.  Wendy shared the Bible verse with him, but he immediately went and did what he wanted instead.

Some of the seed fell on the stoney ground.  The plant grew up quickly, but the roots couldn’t get down deep because of all the stones. Once the sun came up, the plant withered away and died. Suzie was the stoney ground–she started off obeying, but once the chores got too hard, her resolve weakened and she eventually left it unfinished.

Some of the seed fell on the thorny ground.  The plants grew up alongside some thorns, and as they grew, the two plants tangled together.  For awhile, the plant was healthy, but slowly, the thorns choked the life out of the plant and it died.  Wendy was the thorny ground.  She initially grew up strong, but slowly, the distractions and cares of the world began to choke her life out.  She was much more excited about playing the new video game than obeying her parents.

Last, the seed fell on good ground.  Those plants grew up strong, and they produced a lot of good fruit.


An important takeaway for your own kids is to make sure they know how they can have hearts that are “good ground”.  When you share the Word of God with your children, what is their response?  Do they sulk?  Do they obey quickly?  Do they forget?

If you are having a good heart, you are not only quick to obey, but also quick to share with others.  When we have good hearts and we are producing fruit, then the lives of others will be impacted.  If you tell your child to put something back in the grocery store, and they immediately obey, what do you think the other parents in the store will think?

Having a heart that is “good ground” is a great way that children can share the love of Jesus with others.  When they are showing the good fruit (or the good works) of their lives, other people will want to see what makes them different.


What are some practical ways that you help your kids to have “good ground” in their hearts?  What are some things that might choke the Word of God out of their hearts?

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

This week, I’m so excited to share one of my favorite ministries here at Calvary Temple.  Every week, a team of volunteers write and perform a puppet skit for our children’s church.  The puppet skits illustrate a specific Biblical principle or story that the kids will be learning about that night.

We’ve just started a series about the Parables of Jesus, and tonight’s lesson was about the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

In Matthew 20, the disciples were, once again, in the middle of a fight.  They were very concerned about their reward in heaven–after all, they’d given up their entire lives to follow God!

In answer, Jesus told them that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who owned a vineyard.  This farmer needed some work done, so he went out very early and hired a man to work for him. Together, they agreed to the wage of one denarius (or about $20 today–which was actually a fair day’s payback then!)

A few hours later, the farmer realized he needed some more help, so he went out and hired another man.  Then, a few hours later, the farmer hired another man.  Then, towards the very end of the day, he hired one last man.

When it came time to get paid, the man who was hired last (who worked the least) was paid just as much as the very first man (who worked the most!)  I don’t know about you guys, but I’d be pretty upset if someone who did a fraction of the work I did got paid just as much as I did.

But, the point of the parable isn’t about fair pay.  Instead, Jesus said that this situation is like the Kingdom of Heaven.  In our puppet skit, Grandpa Louie uses an example from his own life.  He got born again when he was a young boy (back when Andrew Jackson was President and ice cream had been invented!), and he knows that his reward one day will be eternal life in heaven.

But, his dear brother waited until he was very old, and right before he died, he gave his life to Jesus.  Even though he’d only been born again for a few days, he still gets to go to heaven!

What Jesus was trying to teach us in this parable is that farmer is like God–He is the one who decides the wage for our actions.  That agreement is between us and God.  As Christians (and as kids!), sometimes our situations can be more difficult than others.  Sometimes, life is not fair.  But, when we decided to give our hearts to Jesus, our agreement wasn’t that we’d have a fun, easy life.  Our agreement was that we’d get to live in heaven with Him one day!  No matter what happens in our lives (or other’s lives), we need to remind our kids (and ourselves) to keep our eyes fixed on the promises of God, and the anticipation of a life spent in heaven.


Like what you read?  Check out our church website Calvary Temple, VA.  You can also read our Calvary Temple Kids’ Chapel blog to see what Pastor Jon shares with them during the week.   Calvary Temple Church is overseen by Pastor Star R. Scott, who has been preaching here since 1973.

Being Still in the Apple Generation

Psalm 46:10 tells us to Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

We live in a generation that is filled with beeps, tweets, chimes, and tones.  Sit in traffic any night of the week, and you may see the glow of DVD players in the back of minivans.  Kids out at dinner sit quietly and play Angry Birds in their high chair.  Even my two year old niece knows that when I have my iPhone out, she can request any song warbled by any Disney princess.

Now, this is hardly a rant about kids today.  I (your lovely blog writer) am firmly in the Millennial bucket, and I own the full spectrum of Apple products.  I tweet; I instagram; I pin all the things; and I have 302 friends on Facebook.  

And you know what?  I need to be more quiet.  My pastor (Pastor Star Scott) at Calvary Temple Church has been teaching us lately about the importance of being still so that we can hear God’s voice.  1 Kings tells us the story about Elijah waiting to hear from God, and how he saw a mighty wind, and a big earthquake, and then finally in a blazing fire–and God was not in any of those things.  (If we were to translate that into modern day, God’s not on Youtube.  He’s not on Disney Junior.  He’s not in a Yo Gabba Gabba song.)

 Instead, God spoke to Elijah a still small voice.

A question I ask myself all the time is if I am able to be still (quiet, disconnected from life) enough to potentially hear the voice of God?  This same principle is important for our kids.  

Parents, are your kids able to sit quietly and practice their devotions to God?  Or are you constantly distracting them with iPads or On Demand so that you can have some peace and quiet of your own?

Here are some practical ways that we can encourage our children (and ourselves!) to be more quiet so that they can hear the voice of God:

1.  Praying.  Every church (and every family!) surely has a list of needs that require prayer.  Help your kids write a list of the needs of people close to them and hang it in a quiet place of the house.  Then each day, sit with them and take a few minutes to pray for each of those names.  (The bonus of this practice is that you can also help establish a daily devotional routine.)

2.  Be an Example.  Have your own devotions each day in front of your children.  If they seem curious, let them know that the Bible tells us to take some time to talk to God every day.  (Make a point to disconnect all your electronics.  Don’t let anything else interrupt your time with God.  Your kids will notice!)

3.  Purpose to Disconnect.  Find opportunities during the day to disconnect your family from electronics.  Whether it’s taking a walk together and looking at God’s creation or riding in the car without music or DVDs, get your children comfortable with the quiet.  Kids were able to eat in restaurants, play at home, or ride in cars for centuries without having to be constantly entertained.

4.  Wind Down with the Word.  Rather than read your child about the little train that could or Belle’s Big Adventure, wind down each night with a Bible story.  Sit in bed and read about Joseph or Paul or David.  Set aside time every day to talk about the things of God and the stories of the heroes of the Bible.  

In closing, here are some verses where we are instructed to be quiet before God.

 

Lamentations 3:26 – It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

Isaiah 30:15 – For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest, you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

 

 

 

Essential Bible Doctrines for Children

One of the best things I get to do at Calvary Temple Church is teaching Sunday School every week.  (We have three services a week, and we provide children’s services each time.)  We do Sunday night service a little different from the other days.  After a time of singing songs, all the children from 3 – 12 watch a short puppet skit that teaches a new principle each week.  (Starting next week, we’ll have a lot more about puppets!)  After puppets, the classes break up into smaller age groups to further review the lesson.

My group (my wonderful, awesome group) is the 3 and 4 year olds.   Naturally, sometimes we have a hard time trying to break down these huge, nebulous principles to little kids, so here are a few things that have helped us with our most recent series of lessons we are wrapping up.

Teaching Bible Doctrines to Children

The first thing we establish is that there is a wonderful place called heaven.  It’s where God wants us to live one day.  But, in order to get to heaven, there are several things you need to do.

photo

Our Review Board!

1.  The Bible.  The Bible is our map to God–it shows us what to do!  If we don’t have our map, how will we know the right way to go?  When teaching kids about the Bible, we emphasize that the Bible is true–it all really happened!

2.  God and the concept of the Trinity.  Explaining the Trinity to kids can be tricky, but we try to just focus on the fact that God has three different parts.  He is God, our Father.  God, the Son (who is Jesus).  And God, the Holy Spirit.  I think a good way to explain it is to use myself as an example.  I am Miss Tierney, their teacher.  I am also Miss Tierney, someone’s daughter.  And I am also Miss Tierney, an IT analyst.  I’m still the same person, but I have three very different aspects to who I am.

3.  The Original Sin.  A long time ago, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden.  God was their best friend!  Can you imagine if you were so close to God, you actually got to hang out with Him during the day?  That’s what Adam and Eve had, and it was very wonderful.  The only rule they had was that they couldn’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  (What a mouthful!)  But then, one day, they were tempted by a serpent, and they did the one thing God told them not to do.  That action introduced sin to the world, and it broke their relationship with God.  The only way we can repair that relationship with God is through….

4.  Jesus, Our Savior.   God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to earth to save us from our sins.  Is there anyone that is very close to you in your life?  Can you imagine that person choosing to die instead of you–even though they didn’t do anything wrong?  That’s what God did for us when he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.  But, it’s not enough that Jesus died for us; we have to accept Him as our Savior…

5.  Salvation.  This is one of the most important doctrines that we can teach our children–that God loved them so much He sent his Son to die for them.  But, they have to make that decision to accept that Jesus died, and then make a choice to live for Him every day.  (It’s not enough to know Him, but you have to obey!)  You won’t be let into God’s kingdom in heaven until you’ve given Jesus your heart.

6.  Sanctification.  A simple definition for this doctrine is “to be set apart” or “to be holy”.  In other words, when you are born again, or have salvation in your life, it doesn’t mean that all your work is done!  You’ll still deal with wanting to do bad things–like disobey your parents or hit your sibling.  Every day, you will have a new decision to make–the decision to continue to do what the Bible tells you to do.  

7.  The Holy Spirit.  This is a special gift that God gave to us to help us continue to be strong.  We tell the story of what happened in Acts, where all the disciples were together praying, and the Holy Spirit visited them.  After this, they were filled with boldness to continue serving the Lord.  I described this to them a little bit like a super power.  Being saved by Jesus is great, and it helps you do to good things for Him.  But having the Holy Spirit helps you be even stronger!

8.  Water Baptism.  Being baptized is something that the Bible told us to do as a symbol to show everyone around us that we are now born again.  When you go under the water and come back up, it’s showing that our old self (our flesh, the bad parts of us) have gone away, and then we are now a new person in Jesus.

9.  Communion.  Communion is another symbol that Christians have, only this one reminds us of what Jesus did for us.  It happens when we eat a cracker (bread) and drink some juice (wine).  The bread helps us remember that Jesus’ body was broken for us when he died on the cross.  (A good time to reinforce that we are healed by the stripes (wounds) on His body.)  The juice helps us remember that Jesus’ blood was shed for us–our sins are forgiven through His blood!  It’s also important to remind them that it’s not something we do during snack time or when we are playing with our friends–it’s something that is very special that is done when we go up to big church.  (what we call the adult service)

10.  The Second Coming of Christ.  This is another one that can be tricky to explain, but as long as the kids understand that Jesus will come back for us someday, then that’s great!  We really emphasize that one day, Jesus is going to appear in the clouds and take all the people who are born again and looking for Him.  (This can translate to some pretty cute conversations where the kids will go home and tell their parents they want to keep looking up at the clouds to see when Jesus comes.)  Another important aspect of this doctrine is their need to always be ready for Jesus.

Of course, these aren’t all the doctrines we believe, but it covers a lot of the important ones.  Other things we’ll teach them is divine healing, guidance (teachers/pastors/etc), or about heaven itself.  These might seem like a lot of ground to cover with your children, but we taught our class all these concepts over the course of about sixteen weeks (which contained several classes of just review).  Now, in our class of 3 and 4 year olds, most of the kids can explain (in a few words) each concept and what it means.  Will they remember all of these as they get older?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it’s good stuff getting in there at a young age to set them up to follow Jesus (which is the most important thing, right?)

Famous Kids of the Bible – Isaac

Isaac was not only special; he was the impossible child–an unimaginable miracle.

God had promised Abraham, his father, that a great nation would come from their family.  But, after nearly 100 years of waiting, that promise had yet to come to pass.  I know parents who have wished for children, but even after rounds of IVF or visits to the doctor or charting cycles, the pregnancy never comes.  Usually after a few years, they either turn to adoption or pour their lives into their nieces and nephews.  

Can you imagine being ninety years old, and still waiting for God to give you your child?  No wonder Isaac’s name translates to he laughs.  When Sarah was reminded of God’s promise, she couldn’t hold back the laughter.  But, just a short time later, she was holding a baby in her arms.

We don’t know a lot about Isaac’s childhood, but we know he must have been very loved.  His parents had waited almost a century for him to come.  

Then, God speaks to Abraham.  Genesis 22:1 tells us that God commands Abraham to take his son–his only son–WHOM YOU LOVE–go to the land of Moriah, and offer him as a burnt sacrifice.  (It’s almost humorous.  Not only does God ask Abraham to take his son, but He almost rubs it in a little bit.  “Hey, Abraham?  You know your son?  Your ONLY son?  The one you really love?  That one?  Yeah, I want you to give him to me as a burnt sacrifice.”)

This is one of those times where it’s hard to imagine why God would ever do this.  How could a loving God demand something like this of one of His devoted followers?  The short answer is…how could we even begin to understand the mind of God?  This is the only time God in the Scriptures where God required a sacrifice like this, and we all know the end of the story.  (Actually, there’s another time this happened.  Someone’s son had to be sacrificed for all the sins of the….yeahhh.  I think God empathized with Abraham just a little.)  Either way, God stops Abraham before he can actually go through with it.  Maybe God wanted to see what was really in Abraham’s heart–would he still trust Him even if He took the most precious thing in his life?  

Isaac had to know something was up.  Again, we don’t know a lot about Isaac’s childhood, but how many kids would follow their father up a mountain, let their hands be tied, and then be placed on the altar?  Genesis 22 says:

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

At no point did Isaac pipe up and be like “Uh, Dad?  What in the world are you doing?”  He didn’t fight back.  He didn’t struggle.  The Bible just tells us that he was bound and laid on the altar.  

Many times, we read these stories to our children and not think anything of them besides the words on the page.  Isaac did this.  Then he said that.  Then God did this.  Instead of focusing on the events of the story, try to bring out the principles operating between the lines.  Explain the reasons why Isaac obeyed his father.  Compare what Isaac did to your own children’s lives.  Ask them what they would have done if they were in that same situation.

In closing, what was the result of Abraham’s (and Isaac’s) obedience?  The Bible tells us that:

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself,declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Look what amazing results obedience can bring!  I don’t know about you guys, but I think this story is so cool and just full of great principles to explain to kids.

One of the biggest things that stands out about Isaac’s life is his obedience.  Even when his father was doing things that didn’t make a lot of sense, he was obedient to whatever Abraham had him to do.  This is a great principle to bring out to kids when we tell them the story.  Isaac was obedient even when he didn’t understand or agree with what was happening.

Isaac also trusted his father.  Are your kids able to trust you?  Do they know you have their best interests in heart?  Do they know how much you care about them and want the best for them?  

Lastly, Isaac had faith.  He was raised in a household where his parents had interacted with angels, dreams, and even audible God’s voice.  God was a very present, very active force in their lives.  When Isaac expressed doubt about the sacrifice, he was instantly silenced when Abraham reassured him that God would provide the offering.  Isaac knew that God had always kept his promises and would always take care of them–why would he start to doubt now?

Are your kids quick to obey at home?  Do they trust you, no matter what?  Are they constantly reminded that God always keeps His promises?

Teaching Children Doesn’t Stop with Sunday School

Family is something we emphasize most at Calvary Temple in Sterling, VA.

2 Timothy 2:2 – “Commit to faithful men so that they can teach others also.”  In other words, we want to pour our energies, lives, and beliefs into the next generation of children who can grow and one day, be able to do the same for their next generation.

Calvary Temple has a robust children’s ministry with a teaching staff comprised entirely of volunteers—many of which came through the same children’s church classes years ago.  From birth until seventh grade (when the children join the adult service), the kids at Calvary Temple are instructed in basic Bible doctrines, stories, and songs.

Pastor Star Scott, our head pastor here at Calvary Temple, counts the teaching of children as one of our most precious tasks as a Christian.  The Bible reaffirms this belief in scripture after scripture.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

3 John 1:4 says that a father can have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 admonishes parents and teachers to not only teach God’s words diligently to children, but to talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Training children to know and embrace the love of God goes beyond the few hours on Sunday mornings.  Pastor Scott has encouraged us that the raising our children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) is a job that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, end when church service does.

The purpose of this blog is to share our teaching methods, ideas, and testimonies of how we raise that next generation.  Whether it’s through weekly puppet shows that break down complicated spiritual principles for young children to crafts and games to easy activities, we want to not only show the ways we teach young minds, but the results of that dedication.