Posted in From The Altar, On The Reading Chair

The Apologetics Study Bible Review

I’ve had this Bible for several months. I’ve been using it in my personal devotion time to get a feel for it and see what I think about it. Now, I’m ready to give you my full review.

I have the hardcover version, but it also comes in a hardcover thumb-indexed version, an eBook version, a brown imitation leather version, and a navy imitation leather version.

The Bible translation is the Christian Standard Version, which I really like for personal devotion. If you’re unsure of how you’ll like a translation, you can always go to BibleGateway.com and read some passages in the version of your choice. It can help you get a feel for the version without committing to buying it.

Apologetics is the defense of the faith, answering those big questions we might have. This Bible not only explains the Bible in the footnotes sections, but it gives some answers to big questions through articles peppered throughout by Christian apologists.

There are several articles in the front of this Bible to explain some more general concepts. These are articles that cover more than just one specific area of Scripture.

Each book of the Bible has a rather lengthy introduction. It sets the scenes, explaining the context of the book. It also covers some topics related to that specific book. For example, Genesis covers the reliability of the book of Genesis and the relationship of Genesis to Ancient Myths. Clearly, these are only short articles. If you wanted a full study in those areas, there are plenty of complete books, but these articles are enough to at least touch on the topics before you move into your Bible study.

Throughout, there are full articles on various topics, written by a variety of authors. Again, they won’t cover the topics in depth, and related to each of these articles are entire books written about the topic. But they do give you some TL;DR answers to some hot topic issues— maybe even some issues you’ve never even considered.

My favorite feature of this Bible is the Twisted Scripture blocks. They are just small, quick explanations of how some people misuse Scripture. I found those bits to be extremely helpful in my reading. Again, these quick writings are in no way in-depth discussions on the topics, but they will help you as you read to not get lost in the weeds of heresy.

The footnotes are quite expansive. You’ve got two layers of footnotes. The first is the standard Bible footnotes. The second layer is the bigger layer, and they explain the issues of the Scriptures on a deeper level. In some books, they are quite expansive; in others, they are more minimal, depending on the Scripture.

There is a full and pretty awesome concordance in the back. It is pretty lengthy and includes a lot for a simple Bible concordance.

It also has some pretty awesome full-color maps in the back. (I’m a sucker for a good map.)

Now, this Bible is not for those outside of the Orthodox Christian faith. If you believe something that isn’t in-line with the rest of the church, this is going to step all over your toes. If you don’t believe what is in the Apostle’s Creed, this Bible is not for you. (And you probably need to read it anyway.) It doesn’t take stances that I would say are denominational; however, it doesn’t shy away from tough issues. And it just straight “calls it like it is” and doesn’t “beat around the bush” about it.

It calls out bad theology by name. I found that helpful in knowing exactly who or what they were talking about. Some books try not to call out the groups by name, and it can be confusing who or even what they are talking about.

So, be aware that if you believe something that isn’t in the Canon, you will likely be offended at some point in your reading.

Honestly, that candidness is what makes me like this study Bible so much. It is very clear in what it is telling you. I really appreciate this Bible. I love the CSB version, I have several Bibles in that version, and that is my preferred version for personal Bible study.

I recommend this Bible pretty highly. I know the nature of apologetics doesn’t appeal to everyone. There are some who choose to be inspired rather than challenged. This would make an excellent Bible for a teen, young adult, new Christian, or someone solid in their faith who isn’t quite sure what they believe or who wants to deepen their understanding of their faith. They do make a version for students, but I am unsure how it is different from this version. This Bible is for anyone who really wants to get down to answering the questions they may have. Again, this is a Bible. It is intended to be a help as you read and study your Bible. There are entire books on apologetics that you can read if you want, but I do think this Bible will help as you are studying God’s Word to answer some of those big questions. This Bible can be a help to different people across many life situations. While perhaps not the right choice for everyone, I really like it.

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Posted in On The Reading Chair, With The Kids

ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

***This blog regularly contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite bloggers as we do receive a small commission if you buy using our links.***

Posted in Around The Church, From The Altar, With The Kids

Lent 2018

If you’re looking for my annual Lent family devotions, they are in book form this year! I was coming up with a way to make the family devotional more user-friendly. Scrolling through an entire week of blog posts is a bit messy. It is free, but it is messy. Then, I had this idea to add a personal devotional for moms to the front. In pitching the idea to The Pastor, we kind of thought, “Why just moms?” So, I enlisted his help in getting both a full 40-day devotional for all people and a 40-day family devotional written. We then put it on Kindle for ease-of-use. (It is also available in paperback if you’re not a digital person.)

The entire thing is really cohesive: The personal devotions and family devotions tie into each other, so you’ll all be walking the same spiritual path together. And as usual, the family devotional includes activities to do! Fun!

The theme of this year’s Lenten devotional is Refocus. Lent is a great time to look over everything and evaluate if you’re living the way you think you should be living. “Does my life reflect Christ?” It’ll challenge you to reevaluate where you put your time and money. It will ask you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments. Basically, it is going to step all over your toes and probably make you uncomfortable and you might even hate me for it. Or… you might refocus your life on the cross and do big Jesus-work this coming year. I think it’s worth the risk.

If you want a free devotional, all my previous years of Lent family devotions are still available here on the blog. Since Lent is always 40 days, always starting on Ash Wednesday and always ending on Easter, any of these can be used any year.

Lent Family Devotional 2017 – This family devotional looks into the life and ministry of Jesus.

40 Holy People – This is a Lenten devotional looking at the lives of those who have followed Christ with great courage and wisdom.

Fruit of the Spirit Family Devotional – This is not a Lenten devotional, but you can use it during Lent if you’d like. It is 9 weeks, so it is a little longer than Lent.

Click here to buy this year’s Lent devotional on Amazon.  My hope and prayer is for families to come together around a table and talk about Jesus. So, whatever you chose to do this Lent, be it using Refocus, using one of the free devotions on my blog, using another devotional book, or just reading through a book of the Bible together after dinner— make sure that you don’t miss Jesus during this season. Let the season bring you closer to Him and closer to your family.

Posted in From The Altar, Out Of My Head

Word Before World

I’m scrolling through Instagram when I wake up this morning and come across a hashtag that gets my mind rolling. #wordbeforeworld . Now, this isn’t the first time I had seen the hashtag. I have seen @wellwateredwomen posting it for several days now. But it was the first time I stopped and took note.

What is the first thing I do when I wake up? Usually grumble about the kids already being awake and lament how late I stayed up the night before. But the first thing I usually choose to do after pulling myself out of bed and getting ready for the day is grab my iPad and start checking social media. I choose to plunge into the world first. Always. The Word part normally comes when I’ve done everything else I need to do for the day. Sure, we get into the Word every morning during Morning Basket time, so I guess I could count that. But before I even do morning basket, I’m checking my social media accounts.

Of course, my mind went to Deuteronomy chapter 6. The people of God are being told not to forget who they are and what God has done for them. They are to teach their children, talk of them in their house, talk of God’s commands walking around going about their day. They are to write them on the doorposts of their houses. And they are to think of them when they lie down and when they rise up.

It got me thinking of the giving of the first fruits, something we remind ourselves when we tithe. We give God the first of what he has given to us. So, what is more valuable than our time? The days, hours, and minutes we have? Why wouldn’t we give the first of our time each day, too?

Essentially, when I choose social media before getting into the Word of God, I’m stating my priorities for the day. Connection, news, self-image- all those things we tie up in social media- I’m saying those are the most important for me. I’m saying that my FOMO (fear of missing out) on the world is more important than my FOMO on God.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with social media. I think we, as Christians, need to remain engaged in social media as a way to influence our culture. But as all our youth pastor’s warned us, we need to be careful of how we let it shape us. So, I’m not saying we should all pull away from social media. I think a host of evangelism can be done through a screen in our culture.

I am saying that I found myself guilty this morning. I realized I’ve not been putting first things first. I’ve been putting them last. When there is time. At the bottom of the to-do list. And those priorities will never stand. The Word will never shape me because I’m not letting it take the rightful place in my life. That is not anyone’s fault but mine.

I had thought of New Year’s Resolutions in abstract terms. I knew I needed more discipline in my spiritual life and my physical life, so I was just going to abstractly focus on discipline. I now realize an abstract one word focus isn’t going to get me where I need to be. Sure, it will help me think of where I need to be. But I need action steps. I need firm commitments to being disciplined.

So, with discipline as my word of the year, my first practical step is going to be Word before World. That is my first firm commitment to the process of being disciplined. Word before World. I will seek Him first.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotional Week Five 

Week FiveThis week you will need:

Day Twenty-six: sticks from your yard, twine

Day Twenty-seven: baking soda, grape juice concentrate, paint brushes, paper, water

Day Twenty-eight: cotton balls, paper, and glue for the alternate craft

Day Thirty: stones you can write on, chalk marker

Day Twenty-five: Monday: Peter’s Confession

Read Luke 9:18-20

Discussion:

– Why would people think Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, or a risen prophet back from the dead?

– Pete finally understands who Christ is and proclaims it. Do you proclaim that Jesus is Lord?

– Does your life reflect your confession of faith?

Activity:

– Jesus Is Lord Experiment: Today, we’re going to write “Jesus Is Lord” on our arm or hand. I’d use a Sharpie, but if you want to use a washable marker, that will work, too. Now, if we publicly proclaim He is Lord, how should we live? How should we act? At the end of the experiment, discuss with one another what you found. Did people notice? Did it remind you of who you want to be?

Day Twenty-Six: Tuesday: Take Up Your Cross

Read Luke 9:23-27

Discussion:

– Here, again, we have this idea of paradox. To save your life you must loose it. Lose your life and you’ll save it. Discuss paradox again.

– What does it matter if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?

– What does it mean to take up your cross?

Activity:

– Make Crosses: Gather some sticks from the yard. Break or cut them with kitchen scissors down to appropriate cross sizes. Use twine to tie the sticks together. Hang them with your other Lenten artwork.

Day Twenty-Seven: Wednesday: Transfiguration

Read Luke 9: 28-36

OR

The Glory of Jesus, p.202-203 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– What do you think about Peter’s suggestion?

– What do you think Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were talking about while the disciples slept?

– Why did Jesus only take 3 of his disciples?

– What do you think glory even looks like?

Activity:

– Secret Message: You will need baking soda, water, and grape juice concentrate. Mix together equal parts of baking soda and water. Use a paintbrush to write a message on a piece of paper. Watercolor paper will stand up best to the liquid, but any paper will work. Let the message dry. Trade papers. Paint the page with grape juice concentrate to reveal the secret message!

Day Twenty-Eight: Thursday: 72 Go and Come

Read Luke 10: 1-12; 17-20

Discussion:

– Do you think these 72 were thinking they might die?

– Do you think these 72 really had any idea what they were doing?

– Would you have been comfortable traveling with no provisions?

– What is peace? How can we strive to have it in our home?

– The Kingdom of God came near no matter what the people did. Why is this significant?

Activity:

– Sheep Among The Wolves Game: Everyone sit in a circle and close your eyes. I will tap one of you. You will be the sheep. Everyone else is a wolf. Then we will go around and ask questions (to me) about who is the sheep. You cannot ask if it is a specific person. You can only ask yes or no questions, like, “Is their favorite color red?” “Do they have a lot of hair?” Etc. I will answer yes or no for the sheep. Play a few times so everyone has a chance to be the sheep.

– Alternate activity: Draw a sheep on paper. Glue cotton balls onto the sheep to make him fluffy.

Day Twenty-Nine: Friday: The Good Samaritan

Read Luke 10:26-37

OR

Jesus’ Great Stories: The Good Samaritan, p.176-177 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– How does this story answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

– Why was it significant that the man was a Samaritan?

– How can you be a Good Samaritan?

– Can you think of any examples of people who lived out this story in their lives?

Activity:

– Put On A Play! This is an excellent story to act out. Even better if you’re willing to get out some supplies to really wrap the injured man up. (An ace bandage, some band aides, a roll of toilet paper.) You’ll need a man, robbers, priest, Levi, Good Samaritan, and an Inn Keeper. If you have an extra person for a donkey, awesome! If you need to duplicate parts, no worries. It is just for fun!

Day Thirty: Saturday: The Woman In Adultery

Read John 8:1-11

Discussion:

– Why would they bring this woman to Jesus?

– What do you think Jesus wrote on the ground?

– Why did no one throw a stone?

– What would it mean to go and sin no more?

Activity:

– Transgressions on Stones. Sometimes we need a physical reminder to drop the guilt, the burdens that we carry. Grab a chalk marker, help the younger kids, write on stones the things you are sorry for. Write the burdens that hold you back. Now take your stones outside and drop them one by one. Once it rains, the words will be washed away. Or you can grab the hose and wash them away right now so you can see the words disappear.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Devotional Week Four

This week you will need: 
Day Nineteen: Art supplies

Day Twenty: Foot washing supplies OR bubble bath supplies

Day Twenty-one: clear bottle or jar with lid, vegetable oil, food coloring, glitter(optional)

Day Twenty-two: pink square paper (for origami)

Day Twenty-three: fish & bread for dinner, construction paper, glue, and glitter

Day Twenty-four: blue Jello cups or mix, whip cream, teddy grahams


Day Nineteen: Monday: Boy Alive!

Read Luke 7:11-17

Discussion:

– What significance would it have been to the widow if her son had not been raised? Think about the culture at the time. Who would she have had to care for her?

– Would you have been afraid to see someone sit up out of a coffin?

Activity:

– Paint a picture of the story. Add this to your Lenten artwork.

Day Twenty: Tuesday: Alabaster Box

Read Luke 7:36-50

OR

Washed With Tears, p.280-285 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– What did the story of the debtors have to do with the woman and the Pharisee?

– Was there significance in the act of washing Jesus’s feet?

– Who can forgive sins?

Activity:

– Foot Washin’! Gather your supplies. If you have one of those pedicure tubs, pull it out! Or just grab a basin and some water. Grab some oils, lotions, whatever you have. Spare no expense. Wash the feet of those in your family. You can either do all of them. Mom and Dad can wash all feet together. Or you can all take turns.

– Alternatively: Make a luxurious bubble bath for each member of the family. Go overboard on bubbles, lotions, and fabulous bath goodness. The goal is to make everyone feel loved through pampering.

Day Tweny-One: Wednesday: Calming A Storm

Read Mark 4:35-41

OR

The Captain of The Storm, p.236- 243 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: The Storm, p.178-179 in Jesus Calling Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Have you ever said to God, “Do you not even care that I am perishing?”

– Do you find that faith calms your fears?

– Have you ever felt the awe the disciples felt in your walk with Jesus? That “who is this that the wind and sea obey him” kind of feeling?

Activities:

– Storm in A Bottle: You’ll need a clear bottler jar, water, vegetable oil, food coloring (blue is the most “sea” like, but you could do any color), glitter is optional.

Fill your water or jar half way with oil. Drop in a few drops of food coloring. Add glitter if you are adding it. Fill the rest of the way with water. Add lid. Shake it around to mix the water and food coloring. Now, you can make a storm in the bottle! Rock it back and forth to make waves. Spin it in circles to make whirlwinds.

Day Twenty-Two: Thursday: Demons Into Pigs

Read Matthew 8:28-34

Discussion:

– Do you find it interesting that the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God?

– We see demon possession in the Bible, yet we don’t hear much about it today. Do you think this is still something that happens? Does this give a new real ness to the term “spiritual warfare”?

– Jesus did something good for these men. Why do the people in the city beg Jesus to leave?

Activity:

– Make an Origami Pig! Origami is paper folding. It may take some practice to get the shapes right, but I am sure you’ll get it with practice.


Day Twenty-Three: Friday: Jesus Feeds 5,000

Read Matthew 14:13-21

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: The Fishes & The Loaves, p.180-181 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

Filled Full!, p.244-249 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Do you think Jesus was tempted to be mad that all these people were following Him when He was trying to be alone?

– How many people would you guess were really there?

– What do you think they did with the leftovers?

– Do you think anyone in the crowd said, “No thanks. I’m on a low carb, mercury free diet?”

Activity:

– What’s for Dinner? Fish & Bread! Yep. Put that one the menu for dinner tonight. See what they think.

– Fish and Loaves Craft: You will need construction paper, glue, and glitter. Each person will need to cut out 5 loaves of bread from brown construction paper. With another color construction paper, you’ll cut out two fish. Use the glue to draw some lovely scales on the fish. Sprinkle with glitter. Glue all to a backdrop piece of construction paper. Add to Lenten artwork!

Day Twenty-Four: Saturday: Walking on Water

Read Matthew 14: 22-33

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: Jesus Walks on Water p.182-183 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– The disciples had seen many miracles, why would they think “ghost” before “Jesus”?

– Discuss the boldness of Peter to even think to step out of the boat.

– Why did none of the other disciples try to walk on water?

– Do you ever feel like you are sinking and need to focus your eyes back on Jesus?

Activity:

– Walking on Water Snack: You’ll need blue jello, whip cream (or cool whip), and teddy Grahams (or Annie Bunny, whatever you use in your house). Make everyone a cup of blue Jello. Let it sit. Before you serve, add whip cream to the top, prop up two teddy grahams on the top of the whip cream! Enjoy.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotion Week Three

This week you will need: 
Day Fourteen: ingredients for Dole Whip

Day Fifteen: Copies of the coloring page + colored pencils, crayons, markers, or watercolor paints

Day Sixteen: Flashlight

Day Seventeen: Coke, Mentos

Day Eighteen: Copies of the coloring page + coloring supplies


Day Thirteen: Monday: Love Your Enemies

Read Luke 6:27-36

OR

Jesus The Teacher, p.164-165 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Does Jesus’s command sound foolish to you?

– What would happen if Christians embraced the foolishness of the Gospel?

– Do you need to work on showing love to those you disagree with? With those who despise you? With those who curse you? With those who wish to see you fail? With those with different political opinions than you?

Activity:

– Role Playing: Sometimes it is helpful to work out scenarios and what we should do so when we encounter something similar, we know better how to respond. Keeping the words of Jesus in mind, how should the following scenarios play out?

• Your friend comes to visit. When they leave, you notice your new video game is missing. What should you do?

• A kid is talking bad about you on the playground. What should you do?

• Your brother takes your toy without asking and breaks it. What should you do?

• Your Facebook friend comments on your post about politics and calls you names. What should you do?

Make up other scenarios to fit your family and your child. Help talk them through the scenarios and what Jesus would have us do.

Day Fourteen: Tuesday: Jesus Cleanses The Temple

Read John 2:13-22

Discussion:

– Why was Jesus upset to find people selling animals and changing money in the temple?

– This passage is a fulfillment of prophesy. Why would that be important for the Jewish people? Why would it be important to us?

– Do we see people doing something similar in a modern context?

– Does Jesus sound a little bit crazy here?

– Did the passage of time make more sense out of his words?

Activity:

– Make a Whip! While my initial thought was to make an actual Indiana Jones style whip, with my crazy boys, I thought better of it. Less whelps on them all to explain later. However, there is a Pin on Pinterest for making a Paracord whip if you are feeling adventurous. We’re making Dole Whips. Because I’m a weanie. And I like food.

You’ll need 5 oz. almond milk, 5 oz. coconut milk, ½ cup pineapple juice, 2 ½ cups frozen pineapple chunks, sweetener of choice (honey for us). Blend it all in your blender. Enjoy! If you made paracord whips instead, Run!

Day Fifteen: Wednesday: Nicodemas

Read John 3:1-15

Discussion:

– Why was Nicodemas confused about being born again?

– Do you think those outside of our faith find this confusing, as well?

– How do physical things we do in our lives and church mirror eternal truths?

Activity:

– Jesus & Nicodemas Coloring Page (Remember to display the finished art with the rest of your Lenten artwork!)


Day Sixteen: Thursday: God Loves Us

Read John 3:16-21

Discussion:

– Have you ever memorized John 3:16? Have you ever looked closely at the verse that follow?

– Why would wicked people not want the light?

– Do you think it is important to let people into our lives to see what our lives really look like?

– What would you say living in the light looks like?

Activity:

– Listen to the song “Oh How He Loves Us”.

– Find the Light hide and seek. You’ll need it to be relatively dark. You can play as a group if you have smaller children. Grab a flashlight. One person turns on the flashlight and hides. The others look for that person, using the light as a guide to find them. Alternatively, you can have a flashlight show in your living room. Turn off all the lights, grab some flashlights, turn on some music about God’s love for us, and let the lights dance across the ceiling.

Day Seventeen: Friday: The Woman At The Well

Read John 4:7-30

Discussion:

– What does Jesus talking to a Samaritan show us?

– What is this living water?

– Why did the woman think Jesus was a prophet?

Activity:

– Mentos & Coke: This one is going to be messy. Grab a coke, or a Sprite if you want the water look, drop in a mento, run. Laugh. Be sticky. The kids will love seeing the “living water”!

Day Eighteen: Saturday: The Centurion’s Servant

Read Luke 7:2-10

Discussion:

– What faith did the Centurion show?

– Did he also show humility?

– Do we have faith like this? That a word can make us well? Heal our hurt? Our brokenness? Our problems?

Activity:

– Centurion Soldier Coloring Page (make sure you hang this finished work up with the rest of the Lenten art!)

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotion Week Two 

Needs This Week:  
Day Seven: blindfold, cups, three drinks

Day Twelve: black construction paper, white school glue, salt, watercolor paint and paintbrushes


Day Seven : Monday: Water To Wine

Read John 2:1-11

Discussion:  

– What do you think was going through the minds of the servants as the collected the water?

– Was the wine Jesus made good?

– Why do you think Jesus told his mother, “My time has not yet come.”?

Activity:

– Taste Test Time! Gather three liquids that you drink. Please don’t get anything gross. I mean, I guess if you have a household of preteen boys, sure, that might work. You’ll also need a blindfold! Each person takes turns blindfolded and tasting the three drinks and guessing what is in the cup. Could the guests have mistaken water for wine? If you want to make it easy for younger kids, choose drinks that are more different- water, juice, milk. If you want it to be more difficult, choose similar drinks- orange juice, mango juice, grapefruit juice or Pepsi, Coke, RC Cola or cow milk, almond milk, coconut milk. Parents- participate! It is fun for kids to watch parents play, too.

Day Eight: Tuesday: Jesus Heals a Leper

Read Luke 5:12-16

Discussion:  

– What is leprosy?

– In Hebrew culture, lepers were considered unclean. It was part of the ceremonial law that Jewish people could not touch lepers. It kept them from spreading disease. Yet, here, we seek Jesus reaching out his hand and touching the unclean. Discuss the significance of that act.

Activity:

– Let’s Put On a Play! Cast the rolls in the story. Jesus, Leper, Priest. Act out the story. With younger kids, you may need to narrate as they act.

Day Nine: Wednesday: Through The Roof

Read Luke 5:17-26

Discussion: 

– What do you think the paralytic man felt when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.”?

– Why would that statement anger the church leaders?

– Which is easier, healing us of our bent nature or healing our bodies?

– Talk about the role of the paralytic man’s friends. Would the man have the ability to even get to Jesus without these people?

Activity:

– Story Time Yoga: We’re just going to move our bodies with the story. Participate or just read and instruct.

Start lying flat on your back, arms and legs extended. You’re a paralytic.

Your friends are lowering you down to Jesus. Reach both arms and legs straight up. Flail them around like you’re falling, if you wish.

You’re on the floor in front of Jesus. Lay flat on your back, arms and legs extended.

Put your hands in prayer position as you hope Jesus heals you.

Jesus says, “You’re sins are forgiven!” Touch your heart, clap your hands, shout “Yay!” But you’re still lying flat on your back.

Reach to the left with your arms as the church leaders ask “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Reach all the way to the right with your arms as Jesus answers, “Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?”

Return your hands to prayer position.

Jesus says to you, “Rise…” you stand up in your spot.

Lean down and touch your toes. “Take up your mat.”

Stand back up and step forward with one leg. “And walk!”

Jump up and down and glorify God!

Day Ten: Thursday: Healing on The Sabbath

Read Mark 3:1-6

Discussion:  

– Have you ever thought about the laws concerning the Sabbath and how we can honor them in a modern context?

– Why do you think none of the church leaders spoke up before Jesus healed the man?

– Why would the church leaders want to destroy Jesus?

Activity:

– Pharisee May I? Game: This is similar to Mother May I, but a little different. One person is the Pharisee. Everyone tries to get from the start line, to the finish line, where the Pharisee is. They ask a question, “Pharisee May I take 4 steps toward you?” If the Pharisee answers, no one moves. If the Pharisee says nothing, take the steps. If you forget to ask the Pharisee before moving, go back to the beginning. Encourage the Pharisee to sometimes answer and sometimes not answer.

Day Eleven: Friday: The Beatitudes

Read Matthew 5:2-12

OR

Jesus The Teacher p.160-161 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Have you ever heard the word paradox? (If not, you can explain it to them.)

– What other paradoxes do we find in Scripture?

– Does this make Christianity untrue?

– Which line from the Beatitudes spoke to you most?

Activity

– Word Art: Make word art for the word Blessed. You can write it in rocks outside. You can make the word from a pile of laundry. You can write it on a piece of paper. You can make the word out of Legos. Bonus: If you can combine paradox in the art, like writing “blessed” in a mess your kids made or making it out of dirty dishes.

Day Twelve: Saturday: Salt & Light

Read Matthew 5:13-16

                       

Discussion:

– Why would salt be such an important concept in those days? (Hint: Lack of refrigeration)

– Are you a city on a hill in your community?

– Is showing your light the same as bragging about your good deeds?

Activity:

– Salt and Light Painting: You’ll need white school glue, black construction paper, salt, and watercolor paints. With the glue, make a simple drawing that represents light. It can be a lightbulb, a candle, a flame, a fire, a window, the sun- whatever light object of the child’s choice. Once you have your object drawn in glue (if you want, you can chalk draw it on the paper and then trace over it with the glue), sprinkle salt over the entire thing. Pour off excess salt. Wait a couple minutes for this to dry. Don’t want to paint in wet glue. Once it is dry, take watercolor paints. Wet your brush, mix your color, and simply touch the brush to the salt. The salt will soak up the color from the brush. Once your art is complete, allow it to dry and display it with your Lenten artwork.

Posted in From The Altar, Under Our Roof, With The Kids

Celebration: Advent Week Three Devotion

“Why the pink candle? The rest of them have been purple.” If your Advent candles are traditional colors, you might have noticed that there are 3 purple candles, 1 pink candle, and 1 white candle. You also may be wondering why purple and pink at all. Why not red and green? Historically, purple and pink, along with white and gold, are the colors of Advent. Purple is a color that represents royalty and preparation. It is dark and serious. Pink, on the other hand, isn’t so serious. It is a color of celebration and festivity. A color of love and youth. (And if your candles aren’t purple and pink, that is okay, too.)

The first week, we lit the candle reminding us to Expect the Savior’s coming. Last week, we lit another purple candle (maybe) to remind us to Prepare for the Savior’s coming. This week, we light the pink candle (maybe) to remind us to Celebrate His coming!

The Advent of Christ is cause for celebration. Yes, we prepare ourselves. Yes, this is a serious season. Yes, we need to search ourselves for any need of repentance. However, we also recognize that our Redeemer offers us life and hope, joy and peace! He has come, and He will surely come again to put things aright.

And so, in the midst of the preparation, in the midst of our busyness, in the midst of our reflection and contemplation, we take pause and remember that Christmas is almost here and Christ’s return could be any day.

This is no call to weep and panic; this is the promise of the One who longs to put things back together. As His people, we look longingly for the return of Jesus, and we celebrate His presence in our hearts, in our lives, and in our midst.

Scripture Reading:

        Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

        Psalm 126

        John 1:6-8, 19-28

        1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Optional Activities:

·        During this week of Celebration, my family likes to do an act of kindness for our neighbors. We bake cookies, lots and lots of cookies, and we deliver them to our neighbors with our warmest wishes. Some of our neighbors know us really well. Some know us as those Christmas cookie people. We just like to spread some joy during this week. Some people might think it is weird. Some cookies may go in the trash. That doesn’t bother me at all. We are joyfully giving.

·        Have a Christmas party! You could invite some friends, or you can have it just for your family. A special meal, a special dessert, maybe even some balloons. Celebrate the Savior this week!

·        Make cards for people. Send out some cards, not necessarily Christmas cards, though you could include the kids in sending those out. But just make some cards to spread the joy and happiness of the week.

·        Have a Christmas dance party! Crank up the Christmas songs and dance and sing an evening (or afternoon) away! Joy! Joy! Joy!

·        Do something that brings you joy. You can ask each member of the family for one special Christmas thing they love and try to make that happen. Or you can take your list from week one, the expectations, and see if you can achieve any of those. Some ideas to get you started, drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie, drive around and look at lights, grab a peppermint latte from a coffee shop, visit a friend or family member, drop off some toys for Toys for Tots. Just something that makes you happy.

·        Remember yourself and your spouse. Do something for you. Do something just for them. They love chess pie, though you hate it? Make a chess pie this week. You love fancy nail polish? Go get a manicure! This is a week of celebration! Not just for kids, but for adults, as well.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

We Can Bless Others- Week Four

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25: 34-40 (NASB)

Think about a time when someone blessed you. I remember when I just had two little babies. I felt very overwhelmed much of the time. I’m not the most organized person, so I was rarely prepared. Well, one day, we were out and one of the babies had a huge blowout diaper. Of course, I had exactly one wet wipe on my person. I could have kicked myself. Then a complete stranger, another mom, noticed my predicament and “loaned” me her pack of wipes. That was an extremely simple gesture, but in that moment, it was such a blessing. It made that situation bearable for me. I am still grateful for those few wet wipes.

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Imagine if we all just gave a little of ourselves to one another. Imagine what a huge blessing we could be to each other.

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We often find ourselves saying, “But what can I do?” We think we do not HAVE enough to give. But think of it: You HAVE Jesus. You HAVE all that there is to give.

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We can find ways to give. We can find ways to bless others. Through acts, time, words, or things. We can be a blessing. You may not be able to feed all of the homeless people in your area, but you CAN feed one. You may not be able to clothe all of the poor, but you CAN donate your used clothing and clothe some.

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This week, let’s focus on ways we can bless others. Let’s write notes of encouragement. Let’s take food to the hungry. Let’s open our eyes and see how we can bless our world.

Discussion Questions:

  • In what ways are you a blessing to others?
  • Do you recall a time someone was an unexpected blessing to you?
  • What more could you do to bless others?

Activities:

  • Start a Family Food Drive! Decide on a budget, and go shopping for a local food pantry. You can also shop your own pantry. It doesn’t matter how MUCH you give, simply THAT you give.
  • Take on some Neighborhood Trash Duty. Take a family walk armed with a garbage bag. Pick up trash around your neighborhood. This is especially helpful on trash day ― when things might have gotten dropped on the ground. It may not seem important, but it is something you can do to show love for your neighbors.
  • Become a family of Secret Helpers. You can run this two ways. Way one: Each member of the family draws a name from a hat, and they secretly do things to try to bless that person this week. The alternative: Just let them play “Spy and Try” to secretly bless the family through the week. Either way works. They aren’t working for a Thank-You; they are trying to secretly be a blessing.

My Prayer for You:

Lord, open our eyes to the needs of those around us. Prick our hearts and let us be moved to action. Show us how we can be a blessing and give us the courage to do it. Let our hearts be burdened for others. Let us be moved to action and show others the love You so freely give. Let us be a blessing. Amen.