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, 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 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, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotional Week One

This week, we’ll have the two days before Lent to prepare ourselves for the coming season. Technically, Lent won’t start until Day Three- Ash Wednesday. But I encourage you to go ahead and get started with the two Pre-Season devotions.

 

Needed Items for Activities—

– Day Two: party supplies (balloons, noise-makers, cake, party hats, etc.)

– Day Three: celery, peanut butter (or equivalent), raisins, honey

– Day Four: sturdy board (cardboard, poster board, etc.), blue paint, pasta, white glue (like basic school glue)

– Day Five: partially baked bakery bread OR look over the ingredients to make your own bread

Day One—Monday: Sacrifice

A common theme for Lent is sacrifice. We focus on denying ourselves, giving some comfort or happiness up for a season. After all, Christ gave himself for us; what would be too big to give in return for such sacrifice? In looking toward the “giving up” at Lent, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, when we rid ourselves of the excess in life (and we in the West have plenty of excess), we find that we have more than we need. We realize how abundantly blessed we really are, and we realize that Christ is all we really need.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall not thirst.” —John 6:35 (ESV)

The second thing to keep in mind is not to draw attention to ourselves as we fast. We tend to put everything on social media and share everything. Fasting is best not done in such a way. It is one area of your life you can not put out there.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash you face, so that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” —Matthew 6:16-18 (ESV)

Share with those in your household. Share with your accountability partner if you have one. Those things are fine. But don’t point out to the world how miserable and deprived you are for the sake of the cross. We do keep a list on our fridge during Lent of everything each person is giving up. It helps us keep one another accountable. But that is for our family, our inner circle. That is not for the world or social media.

Last year, one of my kids gave up candy for Lent. Inevitably, the child was given candy. We instructed him to take it and say, “Thank you.” He then had the option of giving it to someone else or saving it for Sunday, the day we break fast.

During this season of self-denial, let us not forget why we deny ourselves. It isn’t to be thinner or better than anyone else.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” —Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)

 

Discussion—

– What will you give up for the 40 days of Lent? Will it be a sacrifice on your part to do so?

Need ideas? Here are a few ideas of fasting for Lent:

• Soda

• Candy

• Sugar

• Caffeine

• Chocolate

• Meat

• Dairy (Chocolate milk is big in our house, so this would be a big sacrifice here.)

• Video games

• Social media (This one tends to be over-used and over-talked-about, but it might be a good fit for you.)

• TV (Also, DVRing all your shows for Sunday watching might be cheating. Think about it.)

• Hot water (It is certainly a luxury you can do without.)

• Eating out

• Make-up

• Convenience, packaged foods

• All drinks but water

• Electronic devices

• Shopping for fun (No long walks around Target, no purchasing anything but necessities…)

• Your favorite toys (For kids, this might be Legos, the trampoline, Hot Wheels, etc.)

Note what isn’t on this list. Things you shouldn’t be doing aren’t here. Why? Because you shouldn’t be doing them. Giving up fighting with your brother isn’t a sacrifice, that is something you should be working on outside of the Lenten season.

Also note, I can’t give up something I don’t currently do. I can’t give up meat, because I already don’t eat meat. So, that wouldn’t really be a sacrifice for me.

– Why would Jesus say to anoint yourself with oil and wash your face while you fast? (Parents, hint: Anointing with oil was the ancient equivalent of bathing.)

– What kind of reward could there be for fasting?

– Should we fast on Sundays through Lent? (Parents, hint: It is the day of the Resurrection. Luke 5:33-35 can also help your discussion.) Some people do fast on Sundays throughout Lent. What you decide will be up to you, but your whole family should decide before together and all stick to the plan.

 

Activity—

Decide what you will deny yourself this Lent. Even young children can participate. We all have something. (Parents, be prepared to help younger children succeed in their task.)

 

Day Two— Fat Tuesday: Devotion

Lent isn’t entirely about sacrifice. It is a time of refocusing our faith— getting back to basics, refining and resetting our priorities. It is a new beginning. That isn’t all negative. It isn’t all in the giving-up. Sometimes we need to add in some good things.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor… So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. —1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31 (ESV)

One thing I am already asking you to do is commit to doing devotions as a family throughout this Lenten season. That is already adding in some good, but there is more you could do as a family and as individuals.

You can commit yourself to doing more for your spiritual life. Read your Bible daily if you don’t already. Pray in the morning when you wake if you don’t already. Listen to uplifting Christian music on your way to work through this season, or turn the radio off entirely and spend the time in prayer. Read a good Christian book. Give the money you would have spent (on shopping or eating out) to a charity or your church. Commit to praying daily for a specific purpose: your church, a ministry, a missionary, families in your church, your community, your family, etc. You can find a million ways to add in the good along with your fasting during Lent.

Lent is a good time to forgive those who have wronged you. Look into yourself for any grudges you may be holding, and let them go. If you know you have wronged someone, go to them this Lenten season and apologize.

Commit your family to being part of your church body this Lent. I’d like to think you have this commitment all the time, but I am all too aware that isn’t the reality of the lives of most people. Weekly church attendance, participation in a small group, participation in the ministries of your church— all of these help you reorganize your priorities. If the priority in your family is anything other than Jesus, you need to tear it down and start again. Anything that keeps your family from Christ needs to go. Anything. It is the simplest, most difficult thing you will ever do, and it isn’t a task that is just done. We all need to make sure that this life isn’t getting in the way of The Life.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. —2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

Discussion—

– Will we, as a family, commit to being together and doing this daily devotion through Lent?

– Will we, as a family, commit to attending church every week this Lent?

– What will you add in that is good in addition to the thing you are giving up this Lent?

– Is our focus, as a family, on Jesus? Is anything keeping us from Him?

 

Activity—

– Have a party to start this season! Bake a cake. Get balloons. This is going to be a good season for your family! Celebrate!

 

Day Three— Ash Wednesday: Preparing the Way

Read Matthew 3:1-12

OR

“John the Baptist” on p.154-155 in Jesus Calling Storybook

OR

“Heaven Breaks Through” on p.200-203 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

 

Discussion—

– What does ‘repent’ mean?

– How can we prepare ourselves this Lent?

– What relationship was John to Jesus?

– Why do you think they called him John the Baptist?

 

Activity—

– John the Baptist snacks: We’ll not go so far as eating locusts, unless you happen to have a store near you that sells such things and you are feeling brave. Instead, we’ll be making ants on a log with honey! Cut some celery into shorter sticks. Fill them with peanut butter or sunbutter, whichever your family happens to use. Take raisins and place them along the “log” in the peanut butter. Drizzle with a little honey. Enjoy. Now, this is far different than what John the Baptist would have really eaten, but we can pretend.

 

Day Four— Thursday: The Baptism of Jesus

Read Matthew 3:13-17

OR

“John the Baptist” on p.154-155 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

“Heaven Breaks Through” on p.204-207 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

 

Discussion—

– What do you think ‘baptism’ means? (Parents, if you’re having trouble answering this yourself, ask you pastor.)

– Why do you think John was hesitant to baptize Jesus?

– Have you been baptized? Talk about your experience. Pull out photos you might have. If your kids were baptized as babies, describe their baptisms to them, and pull out pictures or their baptism outfits to show them.

 

Activity—

– Dove Comes Down art: Today, we’re exploring the wide world of dried pasta art! Grab your white glue and pasta of choice (or multiple kinds of pasta), and let’s get started. You’ll want a base that is sturdy, like cardboard, poster board, tag board, etc. Make that blue with paint, markers, or crayons. Now, glue the pasta into the shape of a descending dove. If you need to print a template, go for it. A descending dove is the perfect shape for making pasta art because it is pretty simple. If you normally toss artwork (like I do) try to keep their Lent art for all of Lent. Find some way to display it in your home during this season to remind your family of what you’re learning.

 

Day Five— Friday: The Temptation of Jesus

Read Luke 4:1-13

OR

“Let’s Go” on p.208-209 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

 

Discussion—

– Is temptation itself sin?

– Did you notice that in Jesus’ answers, he was quoting Old Testament Scripture?

– Do you think memorizing the word of God is a good way to avoid temptation?

 

Activity—

– Sneaky Snake Bread: This sneaky snake will appear again in our story. He was there in the garden, tempting the first people created to sin. He is here in this story, tempting Jesus to sin. And he’ll be hiding in the garden, hoping to see the Son of God reject the cross. The first temptation of Jesus, because he was hungry, was to turn a stone into bread. We’re making bread! If you find yourself short on time, get a partially baked baguette from the bakery. Cut slits in the bread on opposite sides and stuff the bread with whatever you want. (If you want a dessert style bread, stuff with cream cheese or mascarpone and berries. If you’d rather go for a savory loaf, try Mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes. If you want to make it for lunch, stuff it with deli meat and cheese.) Then bake it until it is brown. The alternating cuts can serve to “bend” the bread a little. You can also use olives and peppers to make eyes and a snaky tongue if you’re feeling up to it.

If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to bake your own bread from scratch, follow these directions:

8 cups white flour

1 T salt

½ oz. fresh yeast

5 T room-temp milk

1 and 2/3 cups cold water

Mix the yeast and warmish milk to activate the yeast. Wait a few minutes to give the yeast some time to adjust. Add the rest of the ingredients into the warm milk and yeast mixture. Once it is combined, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. (This is enough time to give all your kids a chance to knead the dough.) Knead until it is smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap for about 2 hours to let it rise. It should double. Keeping it somewhere warm will help it rise well.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down, and knead it for a minute. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 10 minutes. (These rest times are the magic moments for bread. Skip them, and your bread will be sad.)

Now, you’re going to use your dough to make a snake. Take some and make small stripes. Get as creative as you’re willing to get. Basically, use the dough like Play-Doh. If you’d rather let each kid make their own smaller snake, go with that. While the snake making is going down, preheat your over to 425*. Place the snake(s) on a large baking sheet.

If you want your snakes to be lovely, I would suggest an egg and milk wash. (Whisk one egg and 1 T of milk. Brush that onto the top of the bread before baking.) It’ll make it shiny and beautiful and super-impressive-looking.

Bake your snakes until they are golden brown. Serve them as a snack or with dinner. It is up to you how you consume your snakes.

– Listen to the song A Stick, A Carrot, and A String by mewithoutYou.

 

Day Six— Saturday: Jesus Calls His Disciples

Read John 1:35-51 and Mark 2:13-17

OR

“Twelve Helpers” on p.156-159 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

“Let’s Go” on p. 210-213 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

 

Discussion—

– Have you ever thought about just how crazy this all was? A stranger is coming and asking a bunch of guys to follow Him around.

– Why do you think these twelve were the chosen ones?

– Why do you think the religious officials were surprised that Jesus was spending time with tax collectors and sinners?

– What does Jesus’ response tell us about who He is?

 

Activity—

– Follow the Leader: Take turns being Jesus. Jesus says, “Follow me!” Then we follow along the way He is going. If He jumps, we jump. If He crawls, we crawl.

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.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

We Are Thankful – Week Three

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)

“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Your name.” 1 Samuel 22:50 (NASB)

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Then say, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us and deliver us from the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name, and glory in Your praise.’” 1 Chronicles 16:34-35 (NASB)

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 (NASB)

Clearly this thankful-thing is Biblical. Last week, we listed all our blessings, and for these, we should give thanks.

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Expressing gratitude can be difficult for some of us. Sometimes it is because we are not grateful because we are not focused on being content and counting our blessings.

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Sometimes it is because we aren’t sure how to adequately express our gratitude. Other times, it may be because we try to suppress our emotions, thinking only intellectualism matters. (God made your emotions and uses emotional language to express Himself to us. Your emotions are God-given and can give glory to God. Don’t always suppress them.)

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Gratitude and expressing thanks is a matter of the heart. We have to see the blessing to be thankful for it. We sometimes have to practice this to get to where it is our natural response.

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This week, let’s focus on actually giving thanks. Let’s say, “Thank You,” to God. Let’s say,  “Thank you,” to one another. Let’s learn to express our gratitude.

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Discussion Questions:

  • Do you thank God for your blessings enough?
  • Do you thank others when they are a blessing to you?
  • Do you need to work on seeing things from a grateful point of view?

Activities:

  • Think of someone you have not/did not thank for something they have done in your life. It could be a teacher, pastor, friend, family member, librarian, crossing guard, etc. Write them a Thank-You note. Be specific about what you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be long, but be specific in your thanks. For kids that are too young to write, Mom and Dad can help with the writing, and they can do the decorating!
  • Consider how a Thank-You feel, and share that feeling. Mom and Dad, tell each of your children something you are thankful to them for. (Some examples: Thank you for always being willing to help. Thank you for sweeping the porch today. Thank you for being kind to your siblings. Thank you for giving me lots of hugs and kisses.) After you tell each child, “Thank you,” discuss as a family how it feels to be told, “Thank you.”
  • Have a Thank-You Relay. You’ll need spoons and cotton balls. Give each kid a spoon. Pass the cotton ball from spoon to spoon without using hands. Remember to say, “Thank you,” when you receive the cotton ball! If you have enough people, you can split into teams. You can amp up the intricacy for older kids if you need to or keep it simple for little ones. To take things up a notch, make them spin around, jump, run, or not bend their elbows while they pass the cotton ball! Grab a spoon yourself! This is full-family fun!

My Prayer for You:

Lord, help us to give thanks, to speak from our lips what our heart fully feels. Give us the courage to give thanks out loud and often. May it be a blessing to the people around us. Amen.

Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

We Are A Blessed Family- Week Two

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 (NASB)

If you are reading this right now, you are blessed. We have this amazing tendency to focus on what we do not have rather than what we do have. We think it trite to be grateful for the common, but what is greater to be thankful for than the ordinary? Without the ordinary, we can have no extraordinary.

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We have life. We have one another. We are infinitely loved by our Maker. We get to experience the wonders of this world He created for us. We get to experience the range of feeling He gave to us. We are abundantly blessed.

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Take time to make a list of your blessing. I think you’ll find this list surprisingly long. Let’s keep our blessings in mind this week and think of them often. Let’s take things with gratitude, not for granted. Let’s thank God for all that He has given us.

Discussion Questions:

  • What would you say is your greatest blessing?
  • Do you count your blessings enough?
  • When you list all of your blessings, does anything on the list surprise you? Did someone else’s blessings surprise you?

Activities:

  • Make a Blessing Table Cloth. Get a light-colored table cloth that you are cool with writing on, or grab some butcher paper and use that as a temporary table cloth. (Or you could even grab some osanaburg fabric to use.) Take time during the week to write your blessings on this table cloth. Aim to fill it up by the end of the week. Alternatively, you can grab a jar and write on pieces of paper and put them in the jar. Will your “cup runneth over”?
  • Do the My-Blessings A-Z. (This is a favorite around my house.) Make a list of your blessings using the alphabet ― one blessing per letter. You could make this into a book if you want, or just a list to hang for remembering.
  • Play the “I’m thankful for…” Game: This is a fun, group memory game. The first person says, “I am thankful for…” and then they name something they are thankful for. The next person says, “I am thankful for…” and names the thing the first person said, plus adds on their own. The third person says, “I am thankful for…” and names what the first person said, names what the second person said, and then adds their own. On and on you go.
My Prayer for You:
Lord, help us see how blessed we are. Help us recognize our blessing and recognize that You are the source of our blessings. Show us how much we have. Amen.
Posted in Among The Homeschool, From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

40 Holy People: Week Seven

40 holy people

Day 35: Frances Ridley Havergal: All For Thee

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Frances was born in 1836 in England. She was the youngest of six children. Her father was a minister, so Frances grew up in the Church. Her mother died when she was 14 and she went to live and study at a boarding school.

Frances wrote poetry. Being a musician, she also put her poems to music. She prayed that God would guide and anoint her writing. And He did.

Frances told God that she would do anything He asked. She was always ready to share the story of Jesus with anyone she met, even if it meant stopping what she was doing to talk to them. She even gave all her jewelry to help fund missions work.

On her deathbed, Frances praised God to be meeting Him so soon. She tried to sing one last hymn to the Lord as she took her final breaths.

Watch this video and see if you recognize Frances’ most popular hymn.

Day 36: John Hyde: The Language of The Heart

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John Nelson Hyde was one of six children. His father was a minister in Carthage, Illinois. His father prayed that God would send laborers to the field (meaning people to go into the world and share Jesus). Three of the Hyde children were called into the ministry of God.

John heard God’s call on his life to go to the mission field. He talked about missions, prayed about missions, and encouraged other classmates to go to the mission field, as well. 26 of 46 of his graduating class ended up going to the mission field.

John felt God calling him to India. He served as a village missionary, traveling from village to village on foot or in a horse-drawn cart to share Jesus with the people. He spent much of that time living in a tent. He spent most of his time in India living in that tent.

john was very close to being deaf, so his sending group thought it might be best if he was not on the field. John agree to come home and turned in his resignation. The people in the villages heard that John was being pulled from the field and protested. Saying, “If he never speaks the language of our lips, he speaks the language of our hearts.”

For the first thirteen years he was in India, John saw very little results. He was robbed and threatened with violence by some. John continued to pray for India to know Christ and he continued to tell the people about Christ. He was known to pray for hours for the people he ministered to. His response to all difficulties and all problems was prayer. Though he saw little results for his prayers, He knew He would eventually see God’s harvest. He encouraged friends and family to pray for India. People all over the world starting praying with John that God would do something big in India.

In 1905, after more than a decade of work and prayer, John finally saw the answer to prayers he’d been looking for. Revival had broken out in India! (Revival is what we call it when many people turn to Jesus at once and the Holy Spirit moves people toward Christ.) For the next five years, John traveled all over India and people came to Jesus.

Two years later, John died. His dying words were, “Shout victory to Jesus!” (Only he said them in Punjab, a language used in India.)

Can you imagine God calling you to a foreign land and not even having a home to sleep in when you got there?

Could you pray for 12 years for something without seeing any answers to your prayer? Do you think that was difficult for John to do?

Coloring Page.

Day 37: William Taylor: Reaching The World

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William Taylor was born to Methodist Ministers in Virginia in 1821. He was the oldest of eleven children. He followed in his father’s steps and became a circuit preacher at the age of 21.

In 1849, William felt called to California. The Gold Rush was just beginning, and William felt God leading him to the opposite coast of his birth. He built a chapel once he arrived in California and then built a house to live in. He became the pastor to unchurched multitudes from sailors to miners, most living very sinful lives. He saw many of these people come to find salvation in Jesus. Those people, then took Jesus to those around them.

After ministering in California for about 10 years, William traveled across the country preaching to people in Philadelphia and then Indiana. Then, William went to Canada to preach the Gospel. In Canada, he heard that Australia was in need of Jesus. So, on William went to Australia. After three years of ministering in Australia, William went to South Africa. He traveled up the coast of Africa by ship, preached as they went along. In 7 months, he saw 8,000 people come to know Jesus as their Savior. From Africa, William traveled to England, preaching the Word of God to the people there. He then went to Barbados, then British Guiana, then Scotland, then to the West Indies. He preached in St. Kitts, St. Vincent, Nevis, Trinidad, Tobago, St. Thomas, and Jamaica. He then went back to Australia, then to Tasmania and Ceylon. In 1870, when he was almost 50, William went to India to preach about Jesus there and found churches. After starting revivals across India, William then went to South America, to take Jesus to the people there. At 63 years old, William went back to South Africa, which was the last place he took the word of God before his death. He set revivals ablaze in hearts on almost every continent of the world in his lifetime.

If one man could reach people in that many countries, how many people do you think could be reached by the whole Church?

Can you mark all the countries that William Taylor ministered in? (Map.)

Day 38: Peter: The Rock

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Peter was an interesting guy. He seemed to always be the first to jump out there. Sometimes, this was good for him. Other times, well, Peter must have gotten used to the rebuking. But even through his mistakes, Peter was still the guy Jesus chose to carry on the Church when He was gone.

Matthew 16:13-20 (CEB) says:

Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.

Peter tells Jesus that he knows Jesus is the Son of God. Way to go, Peter! Jesus tells Peter he’s going to be the leader of the Church from there. And then what happens?

Matthew 16: 21-23 (CEB) says:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”

Whoa! We go from, “Dude, I’m choosing you to be the rock of my Church.” to “Get behind me Satan!” That is quite the turn around. And to Peter’s benefit, wouldn’t we all wish nothing but happiness and no pain for our friends? But that wasn’t what Jesus was trying to do. Being safe wouldn’t accomplish what the world needed. So while Peter wanted his friend and Lord to just be safe, Jesus knew the plan was different.

After this night, you have Peter putting his foot in his mouth again on the mountain with Jesus. Then you have the disciples being unable to cast the demons out of a little boy, and Jesus has to do the work for them, because they lacked faith. After this, Jesus has Peter go fishing to pay their taxes. Then we see Jesus teaching his disciples lessons about lost sheep, falling into sin, and forgiveness. And so on that last week goes until we get to the night Jesus is arrested.

In Matthew 26, Jesus tells Peter that he will betray Him three times. Of course, Peter says that won’t happen. Then he cuts off a guy’s ear who is trying to arrest Jesus, so you’re thinking, maybe Peter really won’t betray Jesus. But then we read Matthew 26: 69- 75 (CEB):

Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, “You were also with Jesus the Galilean.”

But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.”

With a solemn pledge, he denied it again, saying, “I don’t know the man.”

A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.”

Then he cursed and swore, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the rooster crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably.

And we see that Jesus was right. Peter denied him. We don’t see Peter again until after Jesus’s death, when he is at the tomb and walked in to find that Jesus’s body was gone. And then Peter is all in. No more denying. No more running. From the empty tomb until his own upside down crucifixion. From the empty tomb, Peter was bold for Christ. He became that rock that the Church was built on. He walked on water. Those moments of denial did not define the legacy of Peter. They could have if he had let them. But he didn’t. He knew Jesus. Jesus’s death was just as much for Peter as for anyone. And Peter worked for the Church Jesus loved to the end.

Do you ever feel like you’ve done something so bad that there is no hope of being good?

Do you want to confess those things to Jesus so He can forgive you and make you a holy person?

Coloring Page.

Day 39: Jesus: Our Salvation

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Luke 22:39-46 (CEB)

Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.”

Luke 22:47-52 (CEB)

While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd appeared, and the one called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him.

Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Human One with a kiss?”

When those around him recognized what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we fight with our swords?” One of them struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.

Jesus responded, “Stop! No more of this!” He touched the slave’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come to get him, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, as though I were a thief? Day after day I was with you in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But this is your time, when darkness rules.”

Luke 22:63-71 (CEB)

The men who were holding Jesus in custody taunted him while they beat him. They blindfolded him and asked him repeatedly, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” Insulting him, they said many other horrible things against him.

As morning came, the elders of the people, both chief priests and legal experts, came together, and Jesus was brought before their council.

They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us!”

He answered, “If I tell you, you won’t believe. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on, the Human One will be seated on the right side of the power of God.”

They all said, “Are you God’s Son, then?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need further testimony? We’ve heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 23:1-49 (CEB)

The whole assembly got up and led Jesus to Pilate and began to accuse him. They said, “We have found this man misleading our people, opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming that he is the Christ, a king.”

Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.”

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no legal basis for action against this man.”

But they objected strenuously, saying, “He agitates the people with his teaching throughout Judea—starting from Galilee all the way here.”

Hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was from Herod’s district, Pilate sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for he had heard about Jesus and had wanted to see him for quite some time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some sign. Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus didn’t respond to him. The chief priests and the legal experts were there, fiercely accusing Jesus. Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt. Herod mocked him by dressing Jesus in elegant clothes and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod became friends with each other that day. Before this, they had been enemies.

Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people. He said to them, “You brought this man before me as one who was misleading the people. I have questioned him in your presence and found nothing in this man’s conduct that provides a legal basis for the charges you have brought against him. Neither did Herod, because Herod returned him to us. He’s done nothing that deserves death. Therefore, I’ll have him whipped, then let him go.”

But with one voice they shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison because of a riot that had occurred in the city, and for murder.)

Pilate addressed them again because he wanted to release Jesus.

They kept shouting out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

For the third time, Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I’ve found no legal basis for the death penalty in his case. Therefore, I will have him whipped, then let him go.”

But they were adamant, shouting their demand that Jesus be crucified. Their voices won out. Pilate issued his decision to grant their request. He released the one they asked for, who had been thrown into prison because of a riot and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.

As they led Jesus away, they grabbed Simon, a man from Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside. They put the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed Jesus, including women, who were mourning and wailing for him. Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Rather, cry for yourselves and your children. The time will come when they will say, ‘Happy are those who are unable to become pregnant, the wombs that never gave birth, and the breasts that never nursed a child.’ Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ If they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time.

When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” All the crowds who had come together to see this event returned to their homes beating their chests after seeing what had happened. And everyone who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance observing these things.

Day 40: You: Your Life in Christ

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So who will you be? What will you do for God? Will you love your neighbor? Will you help the sick? Will you feed the hungry? Will your life point to the cross? Will people see you and want to know Jesus? All of these holy people made the choice to follow Jesus. (Even Jesus made the choice to do the will of the Father.) Every Saint did what they could one thing at a time. What will you do?

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Posted in Among The Homeschool, From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

40 Holy People: Week Six

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Day 29: Maggie Gobran: Being The Help Needed

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How many times do we see a problem or see a need and think, “Someone should really do something about that?” Maggie Gobran saw a need and instead of looking around to see who would do something, or praying that God would somehow intervene, did something herself. Mama Maggie, as she came to be known, grew up in the middle class in Cairo Egypt. She became a Coptic Christian. She was a marketing manager and computer science professor. In other words, she was living a middle class life and had no intentions of changing that. Then she visited the Cairo garbage slums (see picture below), where people lived among garbage heaps, many of them children and many of them Coptic Christians, just like Maggie.

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Maggie gave up her middle class life, her jobs, her security, to go help those people she saw in the slums. She started Stephen’s Children (http://www.stephenschildren.org/index.php) to help the children and young people in those slums, and now other impoverished areas of Egypt. The organization seeks to show the children love, build self esteem, and hold onto the hope found in Christ. Maggie now has 1500 workers and volunteers working with her and they’ve reached more than 30,000 children and their families.

Have you noticed a need in your community? How could you meet that need?

“You know, we don’t choose where to be born, but we do choose either to be sinners or saints. To be nobody, or the heroes. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do.” – Mama Maggie

Map of Egypt to Color.

Coloring Page. (A Coptic Cross)

Day 30: Shane Claiborne: Making Peace

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Shane Claiborne grew up in Tennessee. Shane is the started of a New Monastic movement. We read about some ancient monks and monasteries. Shane is spreading the same concept, in a modern way. He has traveled all over the world promoting peace and helping the poor. He has worked in Calcutta, Chicago, Rwanda, West Bank, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He now lives in Philadelphia in a faith community that help the homeless.

“Only Jesus would be crazy enough to suggest that if you want to become the greatest, you should become the least. Only Jesus would declare God’s blessing on the poor rather than on the rich and would insist that it’s not enough to just love your friends. I just began to wonder if anybody still believed Jesus meant those things he said.”

Would you be willing to travel the world to help promote peace? What is peace?

What could you do to help the poor in your community?

Coloring Page. 

Day 31: Mary: The Annunciation of Our Lord

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Annunciation is a big word that means to announce. Today, if you’re on time, is the day known as The Annunciation of our Lord. Why? Well, a pregnancy lasts 38-42 weeks, so today would have been about the time the angel came to Mary to tell her Jesus would be born.

Luke 1:26-38 (CEB)

When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.”

Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

An angel comes to tell Mary that her entire life is about to change. At first, she is confused, but the angel tells her all things are possible with God. She doesn’t fight it, she doesn’t argue with the angel, she fully accepts the will of God for her life. She gladly accepts this life changing news.

Coloring Page.

Day 32: John & Beth Muehleisen: Encouraging Others

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John and Beth grew up in America. They currently work on the mission field in Uganda. They have been missionaries for 28 years, raising their children on foreign soil to do the work of Jesus. The main focus of ministry for John is teaching, encouraging, and empowering the ministers God is raising up in Uganda. He is helping them plant more churches and strengthen their brothers and sisters.

The Muehleisen’s have spent their entire life answering God’s call on their life. That call took them far from home and far from their comfort zones. What will you do when God calls you?

John began using a puppet names Lazarus to minister to children in Africa early in his ministry. See a video of John and Lazarus here.

Day 33: William & Catherine Booth: Taking Jesus to The World

William and Catherine

William and Catherine Booth are the founders of something called The Salvation Army. William was a Methodist minister in England in the mid 1800s. The Salvation Army was created as a group of Christians taking the call of God’s salvation out to the world, relieving poverty, and other charitable causes. Not only does the Salvation Army take the word of God to people, they actually help them. The Salvation Army is now in 126 countries.

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight. I’ll fight to the very end!”- William Booth

Coloring Page.

Day 34: James Hudson Taylor: Setting Self Aside

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As a young man, Taylor rebelled against the faith of his parents, who were Christians. But at the age of 17, his eyes were opened, and he accepted Jesus as his Savior. Shortly after, he felt God calling him to China.

James Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant missionary to China. He spent 51 years of his life living in China. He began China Inland Mission (now OFM International). The organization brought over 800 missionaries to China, began 125 schools, and led to 18,000 people deciding to follow Jesus.

While ministering in China, Taylor dressed and groomed himself like the Chinese. He realized his appearance was causing many of the Chinese people not to listen to what he had to say, so he dressed like them so they would hear his words.

His life and stories of his life inspired many people to pursue missions work full time, including Amy Carmichael and Jim Elliot, who we read about earlier in Lent.

Map of China to Color.