Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun!

      Kids just wanna have fun! They love to laugh and play with their family and friends. Fun is an important ingredient in the recipe for a successful children's ministry. Be careful that you don't leave it out or add too much. A pinch of sugar in the tomato sauce takes the sauce to the next level. A cup of sugar in a cake makes the cake delicious. Understanding when to add a little and when to add more is an often overlooked skill in children's ministry. 
     I don't know about your kids, but in spite of my best efforts my kids always preferred junk food over nutritious foods. I always searched for great tasting recipes that were nourishing, but if I wasn't careful, they would fill up on cookies or puddings. I wanted them to enjoy desserts, just never make the desserts the main course. That is my caution for children's pastors and classroom teachers or leaders--enjoy the fun, but don't make it the main course. Be sure they always leave with a clear message that touches them where they live. Keep the main thing--the main thing!
     Whenever possible use a game to teach a biblical truth. Use a game to evaluate how well they understood the lesson or to re-emphasize  it. A game is a fun way to break the ice and crack barriers. Group and Gospel Light Publishing have tons of books filled with fun games. I love the games from the TV program "Minute to Win It". You can see the videos of the games on line and they also have a Holiday Guide that you can download for free. Here's the link. http://www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/M2WI_Holiday_Activity_Guide.pdf
     Don't limit these fun games to service time; have a family fun night with games and snacks. Money is tight and families are looking for inexpensive things to do as a family. Seize this season to build relationships that are vital for healthy families, children and churches. 
     I'd love to hear how you used the games and the response you got from the players.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm so thankful for you! 
 I want to thank you for the difference
you have made in so many lives.
Thank you for your
faithfulness when it wasn’t convenient…
for your sacrifice when no one was looking…
for your love when it wasn’t returned…
for living a life that glorifies God.
Thank you for reading my blog and attending my workshops. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak into your life. I pray that God will bless you and use you more powerfully than ever before. I love you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Thanks Giver Menu

I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat. The hardest part is the clean-up afterwards; which often influences my cooking. The second most difficult part of cooking is deciding what to cook, which also influences and limits my cooking to a few favorite recipes. From time to time, I try something new. I get a new recipe from my mother-in-law, what a great cook she is, or I actually use one of those recipes from the cooking channel that I love so much. Still, far to often, I hear myself ask the question that I already know the answer, "What do you want to eat dear?"...and if you cook you know the answer, "I don't know. What do you want?"

But Thanksgiving dinner is different. I start getting hungry for cornbread dressing in October, but I resist the temptation so by Thanksgiving my mouth is watering in anticipation.  I make really good dressing, not stuffing; good southern style dressing like my Mother used to make. What a great cook she was! 

I've tried to razzle-dazzle the meal with new favorites, but I personally prefer the traditional fare: turkey, my husband smokes it for hours and it is so delicious; mashed potatoes; sweet potato casserole, my mother-in-laws recipe, but I have to leave out the coconut because both my son and daughter-in-law won't eat it. I just can't imagine anyone not liking coconut--it's one of my favorite things to eat, but then there's not too many things I won't eat. I have noticed chicken feet at the grocery store, but I've never tried them. It might help me lose some weight after the holiday to add them to my menu. I must mention Wayne, has put a pack of them ,as well as other interesting items from the meat counter, in my buggy from time to time.Not gonna happen! My son-in-law looks forward to the green bean casserole. And everyone's favorite is the homemade cheese bread. I try to bring the bread, with slivers of melted cheese throughout, hot  from the oven to the table. 

Thanksgiving is a special time around the Holland house. We'll laugh a lot, eat a lot and sleep a little. And, it's all possible because God has blessed us so much. I'm thankful, so very thankful, for my husband, my family, good food and so much more. I've learned and continue to deliberately remind myself that Thanksgiving is a holiday, but giving thanks makes every day a holy day. 

I shared my menu for eating, but more important, I want to share my menu for  living.

Menu for a Thanks Giver.

Lettuce: Let us give thanks
Squash- squash ingratitude and greed
Tater- par-tic-i- tater- participate in giving thanks
Meat- Meet God with an offering of thankfulness
Rolls- Roll all your cares on Him
Beet- Beet greed by being thankful
Thyme- Give Him your precious thyme (time)
Dressing- Dress in a garment of praise- give Him praise

Every good cook knows the secret ingredient is love—
            Love the Lord with all your heart…

Again this year, we'll all be together. I can't wait for kisses from my Princess, Joybell, Smiley and Jedediah. I'm so thankful to be a grandma!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

After Thanksgiving, Continue Giving Thanks!

     Even if you taught on Thanksgiving last week, you may want to use this illustration the Sunday after Thanksgiving or really anytime you want to talk turkey, ah, I mean about being thankful. You could turn each segment of this short illustration into a prayer as a guided prayer time.
     Ask the children to trace the outline of their hand in their church notebook. Show them how with your hand, stretching and curling the thumb to form the head of the turkey. If your children don't normally take notes (I encourage you to train them to take notes from each service. Remember, the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory), then provide each child with paper and crayon or pencil. Have each child trace around their hand to make the turkey hand print. Let them add legs, eyes and decorations as time permits. Talk to them as they draw. 

     I need your help today. I need you to draw the visual for today's lesson. I want you to draw around you're hand. Look at your hand. What you do with your hands is very important. With your hands you can do good things or you can do bad things. You can hurt people or you can help people. You can encourage people or you can discourage them just by how you touch them with your hand. Your kind touch can bring joy or your hard fist can bring hurt. If your deepest desire is not to lift and encourage others, then you have a heart problem. When you love God, you will love others. Yes, sometimes we need an attitude adjustment and God can handle that for you, if you'll ask. Draw a heart in the center of the hand print. Maybe you've never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and come into your life. He wants to. Ask Him. Maybe you've asked Him, but you're mad and sad inside. He wants to give you a loving, joy filled heart. Ask Him. Let's do that right now.

     I'm sure you've done this before, I want you to make a turkey out of your hand print. Maybe you're thinking Thanksgiving's over and you're right and wrong. You're right that Thanksgiving day is over, but you're very wrong if you think giving thanks is over. Giving thanks is more than a holiday. Giving thanks must be a way of life if you want the best life. Today, let's talk about how to use your hand to express love by expressing thankfulness. 

     Have them write GOD on the index finger of the turkey. (Fold your fingers so only the index finger is extended.) In everything we do, we must keep Him first. He is the giver or every good and perfect gift, so first of all, let's thank God for His goodness. We can thank Him with words. Be careful to never forget they are only words unless you mean them from your heart. Thankfulness is not thankfulness until it is expressed. You can thank God by lifting your hands or by clapping your hands.  Let's thank God right now.

     You have three more fingers or feathers on your turkey. Each is a reminder of something or someone to be thankful for. Before you write anything down, I want you to think for just a minute. On the remaining fingers write the names of three you are people you are thankful for. Is there someone that helps you that you have never said thank you to? Someone like the cafeteria lady, the bus driver or your pastor? Ask God to give you three names that you need to thank.  Write their names on your turkey, one name on each finger/feather. Everyday this week pray for the three names on your hand. Find a creative way to say thank-you. Make them a card, a little gift or write them a letter. Is there a way you can give them a hand? Let's ask God right now to give you the name of someone. You can write it down as we pray.

Gratefulness builds you up, It makes you feel happy! Grumbling deflates you! It sucks and steals all your joy! Gratefulness is expressed by thankfulness.

Friday, September 30, 2011


It opens in theaters today!
We're in children's ministries because we value children and the importance of shaping them with Christian values. Our passion can be blinding sometimes. It is easy to forget the family and how the total package influences the children we want to nuture in the ways of God. This movie is a way to impact parents and encourage men. That is something that our culture does way too little of--encourage men. This is an opportunity too good to miss. Seize the opportunity to use this effective tool to build families and men!

Here are some suggestions to help you impact your church and community with this God given tool:
  1. Download the flyers and post them at the door where parents will pick up their children.
  2. Organize a parents night out, so parents can drop off their children while they see the movie.
  3. Purchase tickets for a young couple that might not be able to purchase the tickets.
  4. See the movie and talk about it. Use all your social networking places like Twitter, Facebook etc.
  5. Advertise the movie in your weekly handout or flyer.

I plan to get to the Early Bird showings today! I'll save money and support the vision to impact the community with Christian values.

My friends Suzanne & Charles go to the Sherwood Church and they loved the movie. It is important for believers to support this movie not only with our attendance, but also with our prayers.

Sherwood Church has been very deliberate in their strategy to involve churches. Creative suggestions and follow up ideas to help people get the most from this movie. I hope you'll visit their link:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bigger Just Got Better

This is written for a teacher to use in their class. For visuals, you will need your favorite candy bar in two sizes, a bite sized and the biggest size you can find. The sad thing is you won't get to eat the big one, you will be giving it away. Think of it this way, it’s better to give than receive or you just saved yourself from eating a million calories. Print out three words strips in 125 font or as big as you can make, “Better in God”; "Bow Inspect Give"; and "Believe in God". Fold each word strip so only the letters B I G are showing. Study the story line and have some fun with this illustration. But everything in the biggest bag you can find.

I have two candy bars. (Pull them out of as you talk.) Does anyone here like this candy bar?(Describe the candy bar and explain why you love this one so much!) Would anyone like to have one of these candy bars? (Select a child and offer him/her choose the candy bar.) Which one would you like? (Offer the tiny one and try to convince them to take it.) This little bite-sized one is so good. It has gooey caramel, creamy nougat and crunchy peanuts. Are you sure you don't want this little bitty guy? You want the big one? I thought that might happen. I guess I'll left with the little one. You know big is better.

And what about the rest of you. If you had your choice which would you choose? If you go to your favorite pizza buffet and you see your very favorite pizza on the buffet, fresh out of the oven, do you pick a tiny little sliver or do you go for the big piece? I go for the big one. My favorite is the spinach pizza with lots of jalapeƱos.
Why do we do that? Because most of us believe big is better. We like big amusement parks, big toys, big allowances, big television screens...because we believe big is better, more valuable, more filling, more fun, and more satisfying. 

But somehow our craving for more isn't being satisfied...the more we have the more we want. We want more and more games to play even though the cabinet is bulging with old ones. The bigger amusement parks leave us tired and irritable at the end of the day instead happy. The big pizzas and candy bars leave us fat and unhealthy. I'm not bashing big, I'm just saying maybe the real problem here is not the big we have, but the BIG that we neglect is the real problem. 

Sound confusing? Let me explain...(Show the  BIG strip, then open it to show Better in God.) Things and stuff will never satisfy you...but God can. Jesus purchased your salvation, your joy, your peace. He offers unconditional love and a relationship that is out of this world, literally! Then when He reigns as King or boss of your life, you understand how to really enjoy the things you have. When you understand the Better is found in God, your big just got bigger and better. Not always easier, but better.
How do you take yourself off the throne in your life? Here's another BIG. Bow. Inspect. Give.

Bow: Surrender to God. God I don't want to boss my life. I want to do what pleases you.

Inspect: Father, what is an area that I am ignoring your rules, the Bible? Where am I missing your best?

Give: I give my desires to you. I want to love the things you love and hate the things you hate. 

Understand if you want God's BIG, you must practice another BIG; Believe in God. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He wants to bless you with things that enrich your life, not drain them. Fill your heart with His Word and His promises. Obey His rules. Purpose in your heart that you will have God’s Big that satisfies and not the world’s greed that robs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Have you washed in the Golden Laver lately?

In the tabernacle, if you move from the brazen altar and then continue to the next piece of furniture you will come to the laver. For a long time this piece puzzled me. The altar was where the sacrifice for sin was made. It is a picture of the atoning and cleansing power of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb. But the laver was a place of cleansing also. Why was the laver necessary? What was God saying to the New Testament believer through this section of the picture of the tabernacle?

The laver was only for priest, after they had ministered at the altar. The ministry at the altar was messy; fire, smoke, blood and ashes. When the priest finished at the altar, he moved to the laver, which was made from the offering of the women’s mirrors. It was highly reflective, so as the priest bent over to wash his face, he could see his face to wash off anything that might be there.

Ministry can be messy. It’s too easy to walk away from ministry messed up, so God has made a provision for you to see what’s going on so you can deal with it. Reflect. Are you feeling yucky? What is the source of that feeling? "Wash that man right outta your hair", sorry that commercial jingle just took over for a minute, but I'm alright now. Go to the laver and wash with words something like this. "Father, I've served your people. In spite of doing everything I know to do there is confusion, mistrust and dishonor. (Or whatever is happening.) Wash me. Heal my hurt. I release this situation into your hands. Give me wisdom instead of pain. Give me love instead of apathy. Give me joy instead of dread. Pray this way until you feel a release in your heart from the heaviness."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Throw Away Defeat Trophies

It stayed in Wayne’s junk drawer. You know the drawer; filled with all the stuff that you can’t part with, but doesn’t have a real home because it’s really not worth keeping, but you can’t bear to part with it drawer. I have one too. But the law at my house, and I’m an obedient wife, is “Keep Out.” So I do, but, I gotta tell you, one day I peeped inside the drawer. There was a lot of junk in that drawer, but I was shocked to see the cast and contraption that the ER physician put on Wayne’s hand when he severed the tendon on the middle finger of his right hand. (The severed tendon is another story for another day.) It was a huge contraption that held the finger straight until the tendon could heal.

I complained and he got rid of it, but the point is why do we hold on to things that remind us of pain and defeat of the past? Holding on to it doesn’t make it go away or make you feel better. It just takes up space and spreads toxins in your body and emotions.  (Continued tomorrow)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rehearse Your Victories

I can’t begin to imagine what it must have felt like when Goliath criticized David. OK! I’ll admit it was much worse than just a criticism. Goliath loathed this kid and his words were intended to intimidate and humiliate David. “Do I look like a little dog that you can run off with a stick,” was the meaning behind the ridicule of the towering giant.

I love, love this part, David wasn’t intimidated. He was like the proverbial duck that enjoy a good splash, because the water can’t penetrate the well-oiled feathers. Goliath’s words didn’t penetrate David’s armor.

I know you know this story and your mind probably just ruffled in protest. Maybe you’re thinking, “David was not wearing any armor.” But I disagree; he had the shield of faith. How could he wield that shield of faith so skillfully? Little comments seem to demolish my ego? He faced a formidable foe that had the entire Israeli army wilting and cowering in fear. What was his secret?

Two things kept him cool, calm and collected. First, he knew the source of his faith.  “…but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32) Secondly, he rehearsed his victories. When King Saul complained that he wasn’t mature enough to handle the job, David rehearsed defeating the lion and the bear.

I don’t know about you, but somehow I forget the good things I do, but I can remember stinging criticism for years and years. I remember the complaints far longer than the changed lives and the people ministered to in the altar. But, if we want to experience greater victories, we must lift our focus from the defeat to Jehovah Nissi who always causes us to triumph, even in the face of criticism, lack or disaster.

One way I have discovered to rehearse my victories is by rereading letters, cards and praise reports from a file in my office. I re-read them today. They didn’t puff my ego. They made me want to pray harder, touch more people, and win more victories through the power of God.  (Continued tomorrow)

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Do You Do With Criticism?

I'm sure you've felt it too...the sting of criticism. Whoever said "... but words can't hurt me" was lying or delusional. They do hurt...and like it or not, it is a part of life and ministry. So, what do we do with it?

First, don't just dismiss it. Process it. It could be that the other end of that thorn is a rose. It could be a valuable gift wrapped in rough paper. The revelation hidden in the criticism could be a key to the growth that unlocks your future.

Move past the manner in which the criticism was given and the personality of the one it was given through to the thing that is being criticized. Is the criticism warranted? What can you do different? Ask God to let you see the situation through that person's eyes. What can you learn from their observation? How can you grow?

If the criticism was totally unwarranted, then just dismiss it and forget it.  Let it slide off like water off a duck’s back. Let it go. Don‘t dwell on the criticism because that can drain you of productivity and sidetrack you. Refocus on your priorities and keep moving toward what God has called you to do.

Everyone is not going to agree with you or even like you for that matter, but then everybody doesn’t like coffee either. It is just beyond me that anyone could not enjoy a hot cup of coffee! Sorry for the segway. The Bible actually carries this point farther, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you…” (Luke 16:26 NKJV) Scripture plainly warns us to be wary if everyone is bragging about you. I’ve never had that problem, how ‘bout you? (Continued tomorrow)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Red Mercedes

It was Pittsburg Steelers coach, Ray Horton’s last day on the job. His new assignment is with the Arizona Cardinals as the defensive coordinator. One of the people on his “Say Goodbye To List" was a cook Maurice Matthews. Maurice was always a fun guy, always teasing Horton that he was coaching in “his” position or “When are you going to let me drive my car”, referring to Horton’s shiny red Mercedes.
Horton’s always teased back, “Man, you can’t afford the gas for that car!”
But Horton had more than a final goodbye in mind. His question probably surprised Matthews. “Man, can I borrow whatever money you got on you?” Regardless of the questions rattling in his brain, he pulled out a twenty and surrendered it to the coach.
The car keys jingled as Horton handed them to Matthews with the explanation, "sold for $20!"
Don’t ya just love the generosity of this coach! There is another reality that I love even more;  Our God is a generous God.
The prophet Elijah asked the widow woman a similar question, “Give me what you have.” From the burning bush, God asked Moses what he had in his hand. Oh, and Jesus asked the rich young ruler the same question. I believe it is the question God is asking believers today, “What do you have in your hand?”
What ya got? The widow woman had a little meal and some oil.  Moses had a stick, The ruler had money. Whatever ya got, give it to Him; move to a place of surrender. That place of surrender positions you to receive from God. That act of obedience releases blessings. It 's in more areas than just financial. I’m not talking about how to get a car. I’m talking about releasing the blessings of God into your life. Releasing His favor, His joy, His peace and His abundance into your life.
What is your talent? Are you stewarding that talent? Are you developing, using and surrendering it to God. What about your money and your time?  Have you surrendered them to God’s plan?
I am so glad Matthews surrendered his twenty dollar bill to Horton; and I’m so glad God is even more generous and capable than Horton. Thank you Mr. Horton, you made my day. Thank you God, you make me able to enjoy every day.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The King is Here

Hugh Latimer was an influential leader in the reformation; a very dangerous time to be trying to influence people that "we are saved by grace and not works." Queen Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and was known as “bloody Mary” for killing Christians. However, King Henry VIII actually killed more Christians than she did. Bishop Latimer understood the cost of his commitment and shares his personal thoughts at the beginning of one of his sermons in his role as the royal chaplain. " Latimer, Latimer, thou art going to speak before the high and mighty king Henry VIII., who is able, if he think fit, to take thy life away. Be careful what thou sayest. But Latimer, Latimer, remember also thou art about to speak before the King of kings and Lord of lords. Take heed that thou dost not displease Him."

How would your ministry be different if every time you prepared for a service, if every time you spoke or touched people, you reminded yourself "I am about to speak before the King of kings and Lord of lords and I must be careful that I don't displease Him"?

The Biblical  Treasury The Sunday School Union 1882

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kid’s In Ministry

Don’t get so busy ministering to the kids that you forget kids can minister too!

 I wanted to help. It didn’t matter to me that I was just a kid. I wanted to do more than sit on a pew. I agree, I wasn’t qualified to teach the class, but there were lots of things I could do. Although my Sunday school teacher couldn’t imagine her class doing anything more than listening to her talk, the state director of the girl’s ministry saw potential. She understood that girls wanted to be involved and she let us. She asked us for ideas that would make the reward ceremony extra special. She let us file and make copies. We carried out trash and we thought we were the most important girls in the world because we were helping.

I remember helping stock the shelves in the Home Mission closet where pastor’s wives of struggling, young churches came to pick out basic supplies for their homes. I will always remember one lady’s joy as we packed her box with sheets and towels. We wrote each other for years after that. What a powerful impact that experience made on my life. I saw first-hand what it meant to pioneer a Home Mission work.

There are children in your class that need to become involved in ministry, before they catch the deadly Pew Potato Disease that is destroying our churches. Churches are filled with pew sitters that haven’t done anything for God in years. If we want children to be involved in ministry then why wait until they have lost that natural desire to serve and then suddenly begin to fret and whine that no one wants to help you in children’s ministry. If you want to raise-up pew potatoes, all you have to do is nothing. But if you want to raise-up a group of children that will love the church and love serving others, then help them take ownership in their church by getting them involved. 

Maybe you are thinking “what can kids do”? The list is endless. They can pick up paper around the church. They can use puppets in outreach settings such as the nursing home and parks. They can share object lessons or short stories in a younger Sunday school class. They can sing specials or as part of a praise team. They can file visuals or make bulletin boards. Children can write notes to the visitors or absentees. They can serve as Watchman on the Row.  They can perform a number of janitorial duties. They can serve as the sound and lighting crew or any other technical requirements. They can put together newsletters or manage your web site. Children have talents that need to be used.

I believe there are three vital steps in involving children in ministry:

1. Help them see the need.

2. Train them.

3. Give them opportunity. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great Basket

Check out my cool basket. It came from Sarah’s Cross Stitch. I love, love my basket. I always have stuff to use as visual aids, so as I plan my program, I stuff my basket. Then when I’m ready to speak everything is in one convenient place and easily accessible. It folds flat for easy storage.  The embroidery is absolutely beautiful! The basket is light, attractive, durable, and it is so cool to have my name on the basket. And people really like it. Everywhere I go, people ask me where I got it, so I thought maybe you’ll like to have the resource link as well. The link is Sarah’s Cross Stitch  (www.scstitch.com).

They do amazing work. I have another bag from Sara’s that has a beautiful hummingbird on it. I keep it with me everywhere I go. I treasure that beautiful bag as well, but it is not a ministry bag. Her bags could be used for gifts for visiting evangelist, special awards, contest prizes or anytime you want something that really shows someone you appreciate their ministry.

Their specialty is embroidery. They embroider shirts, patches and almost anything you need. They have no set up charge and no minimum! Wow! That makes them great for children’s ministries on a tight budget.

The folks at Sarah’s Cross Stitch are amazing believers who love God. Every time I get with them I’m inspired to walk closer to God. They are active in their church teaching a Small Group (not in size or effectiveness -  why are they called small groups?) in their home and children’s ministry on Sunday mornings. They are creative puppeteers using visual arts to take their puppetry to higher dimensions. They are good, honest people that are great to do business with. If you have any embroidery needs, I hope you’ll contact them. And tell them Pat Holland sent you!

Sarah’s Cross Stitch - Virginia
10316 Oakton Rd.
Chesterfield, VA 23838

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pack Light

I love to travel. We have been to some glorious places. We’ve seen the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, Mt. McKinley in Alaska, the London Bridge in Arizona and the Sequoia’s in California. We don’t go for the touristy places, we want to explore nature, old landmarks or museums.  I love meeting people and hearing their stories. But basically, I just love to “go”.
I get my love for traveling honest. My grandmother loved to “go” too.  I remember so clearly, my mother would ask Mama ( that’s what we called our grandmother) “Wanna go home with me?” Almost, every time, she would say "let me change my apron". She’d find a fresh apron, lay some clean underwear inside her apron, roll it into a tight roll and tuck it under her arm. She’d return to the living room with it tucked under her arm and a smile on her face and say "I’m ready”. That woman should have won a medal for “lightest luggage” or something. That has to have been some kinda record.
I’m not recommending you travel that light, but with the fees airlines are charging these days for luggage we are all packing lighter. I have three suggestions to help you pack lighter.
Pack for where you’re going. Not where you are.
                How does a Florida girl pack for Alaska? She doesn’t pack shorts and sleeveless shirts, that’s for sure. I wanted to have clothes that would be warm enough and appropriate for where I was going. It didn’t matter that I was from Florida; I needed clothing that was appropriate for Alaska. So I called a friend that had just returned from Alaska. He knew exactly what I should and should not pack.
     1. You gotta know where you’re going. What do you want to accomplish with your life or ministry? What is your goal? What is God’s goal for your life? What is your passion?
     2. Unpack your past. Unpack fear, pain, offenses and prejudices. Unpack jealousy, the dirty clothes, the scraps of paper and junk that litter the bottom of your suitcase from your last trip.
     3. Know what you need. What skill sets will you need for where you’re going? If you want to write, take a course in writing. Start sharpening your skill sets and your knowledge base for where you are going.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's My Birthday

Today's my birthday. I never mention it, but today I will. I mention it only because I want to share some things with you that I  have learned in life and ministry. I would like to make it a "Top Ten List", but you know how long winded I am. However, since it's my birthday I'll just be who I am-long winded! And you don't want to miss the last one either because it's my personal favorite, but if you're squeamish don't read it. 
  1. I’ve learned to be flexible. Steel flexes, iron snaps. The best laid plans are subject to change. In the middle of an Easter program when the pastor says cut it short, you gotta be flexible or you'll snap. Then there are those times when you have an eight foot stage and seven foot ceiling. Or when you've been told to use one room for your class, but when you get there they give you a different room. My personal favorite is when you meticulously plan an hour and a half program and the evangelist rambles, oops preaches, for three hours. (I can say it, because I am one of those evangelist now.)
  2. Think the best of people. Find good in everyone. They’ll love you when you value them. Love people, because love never fails. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood. I’ve learned not to look down on others because they don’t know what I know; everyone knows things I don’t.
  3. Get behind your leader, but don’t kick him/her as tempting as it may be.
  4. Forget about the wrong, remember the good. I’d like to give you examples of the wrongs, but I’ve forgotten them.
  5. Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Ministry is not the place for motor mouths without an off switch.
  6. Never put an Aaron in charge until he has your heart.
  7. You have to play by the rules of the park you’re playing in; never your rules.
  8. I am responsible for only what I’m responsible for - nothing more, nothing less.
  9. There is a God and His name is not Pat Holland.
  10. People can’t follow you if you’re not going somewhere.
  11. I want to develop participators, not spectators.
  12. Don’t become road kill on the road to success. The road to success is strewn with dead quitters (critters). Forgive, guard your attitude and keep moving upward.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sharpening the Axe- Mini Children's Ministry Conference

Pastor Billy Burns stretched me again. That is one of the things I love about him. He is always encouraging me to go higher, to do something different, or better. He did again this year. He called me several months ago with the request to teach a training seminar at his church. Pastor Billy has an amazing team of workers, many of which have been with him for many years. They are a group of people that love God and are passionate about children’s ministry! His large, yet still growing ministry means he is constantly adding and equipping new team members.

His request was that I teach five sessions that would help his leaders sharpen their axe. Using appropriate tools that are skillfully utilized is vital for any team or ministry. All the workshops would be basic skill sets that every teacher needed, but here’s the clincher, he wanted me to teach each skill set in 35 minutes. You know me, I have a hard time finishing in an hour time frame, but 35 minutes…could I do it? I did, I didn’t exceed my time allotment once. It was so much work to condense and eliminate fluff, but the results was a really concise and practical session.

Pastor Billy’s wisdom is amazing…people are busy…by condensing the sessions we were able to pack an entire day of training into a morning of training. He is a great go to person with tremendous wisdom and experience. Check out his website. http://www.billyburnsministries.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 And the response was amazing. Pastor Billy’s team is always very loving and appreciative when I minister at Trinity Church International, but even the most experienced teachers were so excited. Teacher after teacher shared with me Sunday about different things they used from the seminar in their classes and how effective it was. I am always so appreciative when I hear things like that.

We all need to keep our axe sharp. From time to time we need to review and renew the basic skills that are essential skill sets that enable us to be effective in ministry. Thank you, Pastor Billy, for stretching me again. You always motivate me to grow, condense and sharpen my axe. I must constantly grow so I can more effectively equip children’s ministry leaders.

How long has it been since you helped your ministry team to sharpen their axe? Wayne and I would love to partner with you to encourage, equip and inspire your ministry team. Contact me at pat@letusteachkids.com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Planting the Word

Things to Remember:
    a. Although the church should be a support system, it is your job to teach your children.
    b. If you want to reap a good crop, you’ve got to plant it.
    c. You must cultivate the seed by weeding and feeding.

Let’s look at some suggestions to help you plant good seed, God seed, in children’s hearts.
    1. Recognize and take your responsibility to train up your children in the way they should go.
    2. Make Bible Study a priority in your home. This may mean realigning schedules and activities. It may mean turning off the TV or eliminating activities that consume too much time. Remember the most important thing is for your child to know God.
    3. Get a plan. Decide what are you going to study; theme, subject or Bible reading plan.
    4. Be sure your plan fits your children…their age, interests and needs. Make it age appropriate
    5. Set a time and a place for Bible study. Be consistent, yet flexible. You may discover the back porch has too many distractions for your family, so try a different place. You may find your children are too sleepy for bedtime Bible Encounters. Discover what works for your family.
    4. Understand as with any discipline, getting started is not easy. There will be distractions. Children will not want to sit still. It will take training for them to listen to you if you have never done it before.
    5. Make it fun. Laugh together. Involve the children. Can the children help you tell the story by acting it out or drawing the visual for the story? Let them read or tell the Bible Story, character story or object lesson.
    6. It doesn’t have to be long to be effective.
    7. Don’t substitute moral values only for the Word of God. Give them a biblical base for the values you teach.
    8. Rehearse the weekly memory verse daily. It can be one from church or one that covers a particular area of concern for your family—kindness, faith, fear, etc. Use variety as you go over the verse. Let them use puppets or stuffed animals. Say the verse with a silly voice or really soft voice or squeaky mouse voice. Let them mimic the voice of their favorite cartoon character or let them suggest a voice to use for the memory verse.
    9. Play Christian music in your home. Worship God in your home.
    10. Pray together. Pray for your children. Teach them to pray.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Time to Plant Something

Cabbage or Weeds- Part 2
I am absolutely certain the farmer did not plant the weeds in those fields. The weeds grew because the fields had been neglected. Something is being planted in the lives of your children. If you neglect the job of planting the Word of God in your child’s life then something else will grow.

A good intention does not grow cabbages. Hoping for a good crop does not produce one either. If you want to grow cabbages you must plant them. If you want your children to know the Bible and the God of the Bible, then you must deliberately plant seeds of truth in their lives.

Let me sidetrack for a moment. Do children- or adults for that matter- really need a biblical foundation; or are good morals sufficient? This is huge! A biblical foundation is essential because the seed of God’s Word has power to reproduce itself, while morals alone are driven by human will power. While I understand we must exert human effort to do the right thing, human effort alone does not produce the life or energy that is needed to overcome sin. The seed of the Living Word has life potential inside when cultivated and reproduced in our lives. That cultivation of living seed produces a good crop and a great harvest of whatever we have planted; a delightful harvest that gives you tremendous benefits.

But I need to say it again, “If you don’t plant, you don’t harvest!” If this principle is so obvious, then why don’t we understand that we must plant the Word of God in our children’s hearts? Do you think it’s the church or the children’s pastor’s job to invest and plant God’s Word in your child’s heart? That’s not what I see in the Scripture. Proverbs 22:6 KJV “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Do you think the school system is going to train your child? Something is going to grow in the heart of your child…you can plant good seeds there, but wishing won’t plant them.

When I pass by those empty, weed infested, over-grown fields, I’m saddened. I want to see those emerald-green cabbages growing. But I’m not gonna plant anything in those fields. I don’t have that responsibility or desire, but I do for my yard and my garden. I absolutely have that responsibility for my children and even in a support role, my grandchildren.

Is it easy? No! Kids want to be entertained every minute. They plug in a video on the way to the grocery store…they whine if they have nothing to do for 5 minutes…I’m bored. They’re over stimulated; going around and around on a merry-go-round without responsibilities or self-esteem because we have not guided them with purpose and The Purpose. It’s time that believers join the ranks of the Joshua’s that declare and do “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”(Joshua 24:15)

Does it require preparation…creativity…commitment? Yes, it does. God trusted you with those kids; don’t send them out without preparing them for life. You give them swimming lessons to prepare them for the water. Give them the Word to prepare them for life.

Now for some really good news! When you plant God’s Word in their hearts, it will accomplish something. Isaiah 55:11 NLT “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Seeds take cultivation and time, so be patient, believe God and keep planting. You will reap a harvest if you don’t faint.

Tomorrow I will post 10 suggestions to help you plant God’s Word in children’s hearts through devotions.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weeds or Cabbage

This is not another blog about food. I really do more than cook and eat...honest. I even have a book coming out in a few weeks.

Fields were on both sides of the road which I had traveled for years. I love watching the crops mature. Every year at least two crops of Chinese cabbages were planted and harvested on the fertile fields, but not this year. Instead of the straight rows of beautiful green cabbages that I was so accustomed to seeing, scraggly weeds were growing in their place; sucking and stripping nutrients from the soil. I observed two things from that field.

  1. Something is going to grow in the field.
  2. If you want cabbages to grow, you must plant cabbages.

I am absolutely certain the farmer did not plant the weeds in those fields. The weeds grew because the fields had been neglected. Something is being planted in the heart of your children and grandchildren, which will either shape or twist their character. Something is going to grow. If you don’t cultivate, the weeds will grow? Good intentions don’t grow cabbages. Hoping for a good crop just doesn’t produce them; they must be cultivated. If you want your children to know the Bible and the God of the Bible, then you must deliberately plant seeds of truth in their lives. First, cultivation requires plowing. Plowing softens the soil and prepares it to receive the seed. Mom and Dad, are you praying for your children? We pray when they get sick, or when they are experiencing behavior or learning problems, which we should do. Sure we pray for adult children when they have marriage problems or financial struggles. But, plowing is pro-active. Plowing looks to the future for something greater than what you hold now. Plowing prepares for the future by preparing the ground. It requires, time, faith and patience.

You can’t have a harvest without plowing first. Prayer is plowing. Prayer opens the resources and wisdom of heaven for your children. While I can’t and don’t want to do all the praying for my kids, I want to do my part to help them be productive in life. I can plow…I can pray…but the question is not “can we”, it is “will we”? Hoping doesn’t achieve the needed results. Criticizing, nagging, or arguing doesn’t give them a leg-up. Prayer does! Regardless of how well your children are doing, pray into their destiny. Invest in their future through prayer. These are some dreams that I have and pray into for my children:

  1. That Jesus Christ will be number one, reigning on the throne of their hearts. Deuteronomy 6:5
  2. That they will hear the voice of their Good Shepherd and follow Him closely. John 10:27 3.
  3. That they will know and experience the fullness of God’s love. Ephesians 3:16-20 4.
  4. That they will daily lay aside every weight and run their race purposefully; serving, loving and giving. Hebrews 12:1 5.
  5. That all grace would abound in their lives, so that they will have all they need to fulfill their destiny. 2 Corinthians 9:8

For those of you who, like me, love to pray the scripture, here are some of my favorites. They are also where I derived my prayer goals for my children.
  1. Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
  2. John 10:27 NLT My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
  3. Ephesians 3:16-20 NLT I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. 17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.
  4. Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
  5. 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

    Tomorrow, I want to chat with you about planting the seed. I love spending this time with you. I pray God’s richest blessings on you and your family!