Friday, November 14, 2008

Get Visual

You have to see the beauty of a mountain sunset to really understand how spectacular they are, but a picture can help. Visuals help us see and understand.
It is so important that our children discover the truths conveyed in simple Bible stories. But if we bore them to tears, they won't hear us or the message our stories carry. We must grab their attention and convey the message effectively if we want them to grasp the truth we love.

Get a visual of your class listening and learning and in that visual, you’ll be using good visuals. But hold everything. I know how busy just living life can be these days. Maybe you’ have asked, “With so many balls to juggle everyday, is adding visuals to my class really necessary? I would have to answer with a resounding, “Yes. Visuals are necessary. Visuals play a vital role in impacting your audience.” If you want to make Bible stories come alive, then you need to use visuals.

God used visuals throughout the Bible. So many of the Bible stories use visuals as illustrations. I would call Ezekiel the object lesson book of the Bible. The tabernacle is a visual aid on a grand and glorious scale. Jesus used visuals when he spoke to farmers about seeds or the lost coin or when He asked the woman at the well for a drink of water. I believe Jesus was the ultimate master teacher and He established a pattern for modern teachers to use when He used visuals.

Visuals unlock understanding. In the parable of the sower, Jesus used four types of soil to explain the kingdom of God to His disciples. In all of the soil types the seed sprang up and grew except one. The seeds only lay on the hard ground and the birds gobbled the seeds. Do you remember what the meaning of the hard ground was? Jesus explained, “The hearer did not understand.” Brain research has proven that your brain dumps 90% of everything you do not understand. When people leave our classrooms without understanding the message or truth we have presented, then their brain dumps 90% of that information. That makes teaching for understanding essential. Visuals help you teach for understanding. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” really is true. Read the remainder of this article...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Prayer That Works

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

There it is, that enormous two letter word –if. God’s promises have conditions. If we want to receive the promise, then we must meet His requirements.

…my people, which are called by my name-
God is not talking to the sinner, He is talking to His children- Christian. Sometimes we get caught in the trap of thinking, "If those rotten sinners would change…God says if my people.
…shall humble themselves- Wait a minute, humble-me? We would rather strut than struggle in prayer. Isn’t there another way, one that will glorify the flesh instead of crucify it? But God says if we will humble ourselves and….

…and pray-
How long has it been since you wept over the children in your class? I wonder if maybe one reason we don’t see more lasting fruit is because we have lost our passion to pray? You wouldn’t think of going out every afternoon to look for ripe tomatoes in the garden if you had never planted any tomatoes. Why do we expect to reap a spiritual harvest when we have not done the things God requires to receive that harvest.

…and seek my face-
This denotes intimacy. This is a place where we know God, we know His will and His desires become ours. Psalms 103:7 "He made know His ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel." Israel saw what God could do, but they didn’t know God. You can know God, if you are willing to pay the price to seek His face.

I attended a ladies conference when my children were young. It was nice to get a way with other young mothers. After the service, we began to cut up and play silly pranks on each other. After a while, one young mother excused herself. "I need to get to bed, I pray at 5:00 every morning. Somebody asked why she needed to pray with all the spiritual emphasis of the conference. She explained, "I haven’t always had a regular prayer time, but one night in a dream. I saw Jesus crying. I asked Him, "Why are you crying?" He said, "I want to spend time with you and you re always busy." That was a turning point in my life, now I spend time with Him every morning. It’s just our time to be together." We can’t know Him, if we don’t spend time with Him.

…and turn from their wicked ways-
Do we really have to talk about this one? If we want results we must turn from our sins of unbelief. We must turn from the sins of omission and commission that would rob and defeat us. It is a loving father, not a cruel judge that demands that we release the poisonous snake of sin that brings death.

We don't pray to fill a required time slot. We pray to get results. We must pray expecting. That is why praying the scriptures is so important. What does the Bible say about the situation you are walking through? What are the promises that you can wrap your faith around as you approach the throne of God's mercy and grace.

Last week I discovered an amazing site with scriptural references to guide a believer as they pray for the American Presidential election. Pray the Vote This page contains scriptures to pray or you can click on the daily prayer to see specific prayer guides for each day.

The Presidential Prayer Team page is a guide to pray for the president and his activities daily. This is a great prayer resource regardless of who wins the election because the new president is going to be facing some critical issues.

If we are not hearing from heaven, maybe we need to check our schedules. Have we made time for God or have all the good things we do as teachers and children’s pastors crowded Jesus out. We must have a personal relationship with Jesus and that only comes when we make room for Him.

…will I hear from heaven
God promises that He will hear us. God’s ears are tuned to hear your prayer. Prayer is the key to the all of heaven’s resources. Faith turns the key. Go to the scriptures for your need. When you pray the scriptures, you’ll have the confidence to believe God for what you are asking

…and will forgive their sin- Are you sick of the crime that has infested our land? Are you sick of shooting in our schools and the garbage on the television. It’s time to do something about it besides gripe. It’s time to pray.

…and heal their land-
We experienced a drought in Florida. Even though we are on a private well we could only water our lawns twice a week. Every time I walked in my yard, my wilted flowers reminded me to pray for rain. And when I prayed for rain, I prayed for revival to sweep this land. Only the rain of God's spirit will quench the spiritual thirst in our land.

The Welsh revival, the Charles Finney revivals and all the revivals where great numbers were saved came as a result of prayer. I want to encourage you that God has awesome plans for the children of your city. I believe God wants to raise a Joshua generation. A generation of children that will believe and receive the promises of God. But it will not happen unless the Moses’, the leaders, the teachers, God’s people begin to pray and turn from their sin.

See resources to help you teach children to pray.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kids are Worried Too!

These days I find myself glued to the TV screen. I'm apprehensive, yet hopeful of hearing some good news, but none is forth coming. Even as an adult I must redirect my focus from the local/national news to the Good News. Just as God took care of the children of Israel in Goshen, He will take care of His children today. I refuse to embrace fear. Instead, I embrace faith.

But what about our children? They are also hearing the news. They are feeling the crunch. They are fearful. God never intended for believers to be engulfed by fear. He sent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to provide freedom from fear. But, how can we have peace in troubled times? Is peace really possible when the news is so bad? Absolutely! Peace can and should be a believers reality, even in troubled times.

I think Halloween is a great time to talk about fear, especially this year. Children need real answers on how to have peace in troubled times. Here are some thoughts and suggestions:

1. Teach your children to ask for peace. They need the Prince of Peace to fill their hearts with Peace.
2. Purposefully redirect their focus from the Bad News to the Good News-the promises of God. Give them specific promises to memorize and meditate upon. Share Bible stories and modern stories of the protection and provision of God. Teach them how to find specific promises from the Bible for the things that trouble them.
3. Teach them to guard their thoughts and to pray the scriptures aloud when fearful thoughts come and to pray the solution, not the problem.
4. Teach them to trust God.
5. Lastly, help them develop an attitude of gratitude, continually expressing thanks to God.

We have some wonderful resources to help you teach on peace.


Icky, yucky eyeball? No way! Powerful effective object lesson to remind us of God's watchful eye.

In The News
Are you tired of all the bad news in the papers? With this truly
amazing trick you'll pour water into the paper, open the paper to show the dry pages inside and then pour the water out into a glass.

Missing Peace

Our Gospel Dollar has been cut into four pieces. If you assemble the pieces with the back (green side) showing, the four pieces make a complete dollar bill. If you turn them over and assemble them with the front showing (the black side), there is a rectangular piece missing in the center. Remember- the spectator is the one who does the actual assembling of the pieces. The surprise comes when spectator assembles the face-up bill and it has a hole in it. Jesus' picture is missing!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Leaving Tracks

Sunday afternoon we took a short hike through the woods. The leaves are turning colors. The temperature was perfect. The mountains were glorious!

We crossed a mud road that looked like turkeys must have held a square dance. Turkey tracks crisscrossed the road in every direction. Either they found a mud hole to drink from or a breakfast treat in the mud in the road! The road had far too many turkey tracks for a casual crossing. The roadway told of deer gatherings and a single raccoon crossing as well.

We've seen all these animals often as we walk or drive through the mountains, then we saw the unexpected.

Wayne spotted them first- it was bear tracks. Bear tracks on the same road we were hiking. We don't see those too often--thank goodness! I was so excited to see bear tracks that I had to call my grandchildren to tell them about our adventure. They wanted to join us, but their mama had a different opinion.

As I stooped to look at the tracks and take a picture, I realized the tracks are not a deliberate activity for the animal. They don't plan to leave their tracks in the road, like the squirrels or deers plot havoc in the insurance commercial, which is, by the way, one of my favorite commercials. It's just what happens when they cross or travel down a muddy road. They leave tracks as they move down the path.

That's what you do in the lives of your children or the children you minister to--you leave tracts. You are making an impression whether intentional or not. You are impacting the lives either for good or evil by your attitudes and choices. Yes, and let's not forget what you say and how you say it!

Walk are leaving tracks on a life of a child.

I talk more about tracks in my "Train'em Right CD or also available in DVD . It is a motivational teaching for parents and children's ministry leaders to follow Jesus' tracks so they can help children follow Jesus tracks as well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bad News

It's a rainy, dreary day in North Carolina. Yes, we need the rain. And yes the rain is a good thing. But the fog and overcast skies make me feel bleak-like the news. The news plastered on every channel and the headlines on every newspaper is dreadfully bleak.

America is facing both an economic and energy crisis. Never in my life time have we faced circumstances as critical as the ones we face now.

I understand we are in crisis, but I refuse to play the blame game, instead I choose to become part of the solution. I join the ranks of believers like King David who declared, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in you."

I lift my eyes off the circumstances to the promises of God's Word in 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It's time to pray, not worry!